By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Randy Orton, Big Show, and Ric Flair: Orton continues to shine during what has become the most compelling run of his career. The tease that Orton might be eyeing up Flair as a punt kick victim was nicely done, though I was surprised that Flair standing between Orton and punt kick target R-Truth wasn’t positioned as a bigger moment. Big Show is holding up his end well even if it does seem predictable that he’s being fed to Orton. It was surprising to see Orton vs. Show announced for Raw rather than the pay-per-view. At the same time, it’s a logical move given that WWE needs a television ratings boost and because they earn revenue from television than from WWE Network and pay-per-view.
Sasha Banks and Bayley vs. The Kabuki Warriors for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles: A nice main event title match. Banks and Bayley are overexposed by appearing on three nights of WWE television per week. That said, it’s rare that their singles or tag matches end up in the Miss section. I just hope the company realizes that less is more before they burn out the audience on the talented duo.
Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins: A unique match with Aleister Black, Rey Mysterio, and Dominick Mysterio serving as unofficial lumberjacks. This wasn’t as hot as the Owens vs. Rollins match at WrestleMania, but it was still enjoyable to see the Rollins character get his. The match didn’t increase my level of interest in the eye for an eye match, but I can’t even imagine what they could have done to make that happen.
Andrade and Angel Garza vs. The Viking Raiders in an elimination match: A well worked elimination match. While the Andrade and Garza squabbling bit hasn’t felt necessary at times, it has drawn into their matches while wondering whether they will get along or self destruct.
Bianca Belair and Ruby Riott vs. The IIconics: It was a pleasant surprise to see Belair return from WWE Main Event purgatory. Hopefully she’s back on the main show to stay and the creative forces have real plans for her.
Shayna Baszler returns: The promo was overly wordy, but it was great to see Baszler back on the big show where she belongs. And thank goodness they didn’t saddle her with the worthless WWE 24/7 Championship. WWE could build their Raw women’s division around Baszler and Belair if they book them properly.
Bobby Lashley vs. Ricochet: It continues to be disappointing to see Ricochet wasted, but the creative forces are doing an excellent job of making Lashley feel like a major player.
WWE Raw Misses
Extreme Rules go-home show: Raw was a solid three-hour episode, but it failed to increase my level of interest in the Extreme Rules pay-per-view. In fairness, it’s hard to be excited about a show that includes an eye for an eye match, a swamp fight, and a bar fight. The abundance of quirky stipulations just don’t do anything for me. In fact, I find myself looking forward to the Impact Wrestling Slammiversary pay-per-view more than WWE Extreme Rules. It doesn’t mean Extreme Rules can’t turn out to be a great show, but it’s just not appealing to me on paper.
Drew McIntyre vs. Dolph Ziggler final push: There’s nothing they could have done to sell me on this title match. There’s a chance their match could steal the show from a work rate standpoint, but I don’t think anyone buys Ziggler as a threat to win the WWE Championship. The VIP Lounge segment was fine. The backstage pull apart felt like the creative forces were going through the motions, as it just didn’t feel like a meaningful segment.
Aleister Black vs. Murphy: The match was fine while it lasted, but it’s a shame that these two are cast as secondary players. I’m okay with Murphy serving as a henchman for Rollins for the time being, but they should be establishing an actual personality for him beyond just being subservient to Rollins. Meanwhile, Black should be positioned as one of the top stars of the brand, not shoehorned into the Rollins vs. Mysterio feud as a friend of Mysterio.
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