By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Randy Orton vs. Big Show in an unsanctioned match: WWE has started to do a better job of building up their television main events. It started on Smackdown for the good build throughout the show for the AJ Styles vs. Matt Riddle match for the Intercontinental Title, and it continued on Raw with good mic work from both men and Christian that led up to the match. The actual match was straight forward and concluded with the expected finish and post match punt kick. The only negative is that the punt kick felt rather tame given that WWE had Seth Rollins gouge out the eye of Rey Mysterio the night before. Even so, Orton continues to do terrific work and Show was a quality victim for the Legend Killer persona.
Seth Rollins vs. Aleister Black: A Hit for a well worked match, but it continues to be frustrating that WWE isn’t doing more with Black. Creatively, they’ve never seemed to understand the character. I view him as a dark and brooding loner, but they’ve had him work in a tag team in the past and now book him to fight for Rey Mysterio for no particular reason. Black has main event level talent and charisma. Will he be the latest in a long line of “can’t miss” NXT wrestlers to be wasted on the main roster? Meanwhile, Seth blaming the fans for turning him into the Monday Night Messiah felt repetitive, and he lost something when he was booked to vomit after gouging out the eye of Rey Mysterio. Vince McMahon could have delivered his beloved vomit moment by slotting a referee in that role rather than make the heel look squeamish rather than demented and ruthless.
The Street Profits vs. Andrade and Angel Garza in a non-title match: A nice return win for Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins. I was surprised to see the tag champs win this non-title match given WWE’s track record with that sort of thing. I hope they have another plan in place to elevate Andrade and Garza into title contention because they have a lot of potential as a team. Ford was especially impressive in this match both in terms of his flashy offense and the charisma he displayed without going ridiculously over the top for a change. Hopefully their break from television will help people forget the series of corny games with the Viking Raiders, and both teams can start being pushed as serious acts.
Bayley vs. Kairi Sane in a non-title match: Another surprising outcome. Obviously, I’m not that I’m surprised to see a champion lose a non-title match on WWE television. Rather, I was surprised Sane won given that she’s reportedly wrapping up her run with the company and moving back to Japan. Was this win meant to be her parting gift? If so, it’s a shame it took her leaving in order for her to get a meaningful singles match win on the main roster. Shayna Baszler watching the match on a backstage monitor makes her the leading candidate to take out Sane in an injury angle to set her up as Asuka’s challenger for the Raw Women’s Championship at SummerSlam.
Bobby Lashley, MVP, and Shelton Benjamin vs. Mustafa Ali, Ricochet, and Cedric Alexander: A solid return for Ali. Only time will tell whether he will actually get a singles push coming off this win or if they are just setting him up to lose to Lashley or MVP. I really hope there’s a plan for the talented Ali beyond wasting his talent as the company continues to do with Ricochet and Alexander.
WWE Raw Misses
Ruby Riott vs. Peyton Royce: The inclusion of Bianca Belair during the backstage segment that set up this match was odd. I’m all for Belair getting more television time, but she’s so charismatic that the verbal segment left me wanting to see her in the ring rather than Riott and Royce. The match was fine, but Riott’s battles with the IIconics are not holding my interest. I assume the storyline is being stretched out while the company waits for Liv Morgan and now Billie Kay to return.
Stephanie McMahon ruling: It should have been as simple as Stephanie ruling that Asuka is still the champion and then setting up the same rematch. Instead, Banks inexplicably kept the championship belt and Asuka didn’t even seem to mind as she stood across the ring from her throughout the Bayley vs. Sane match. And how strange is it that Stephanie was booked to address the status of the Raw Women’s Championship, yet no one seems to mind that MVP is walking around with the U.S. Championship? For what it’s worth, Asuka and Crews both remain listed as champions on the WWE website.
Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler: The pay-per-view title match was more than enough. No one views Ziggler as a serious threat to win the WWE Championship, and he’s cold enough as a character that I take zero pleasure in seeming him get his comeuppance. On the bright side, I assume that WWE will be moving to McIntyre vs. Randy Orton for the WWE Championship at SummerSlam, which is the most compelling match that the Raw brand has to offer.