By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Shawn Michaels and Randy Orton: If this had been a live episode, I would have wondered if they rushed the segment because they were short on time. But we’ve seen Orton deliver RKO’s and punt kicks to Christian, Big Show, and Ric Flair in recent weeks, so it’s not like this needed to be longer than it was. Michaels had a good outing. He delivered a good promo in this segment and his backstage conversation with Drew McIntyre came off well. McIntyre and Orton showed good intensity with their show closing staredown.
Sasha Banks and Bayley vs. Asuka and Shayna Baszler in a non-title match: Banks and Bayley continue to be overexposed, and Asuka being tied to them in the storylines actually makes her feel the same even if we don’t see her on both shows every week. Even so, the trio continues to find their way into the Hit section more often than not, which is typically a credit to their in-ring work. Nia Jax interfering did nothing for me and I couldn’t care less about her issues with Pat Buck. Jax feels ice cold and I have zero desire to see Baszler turn babyface to work against her. I assume the result of the tag match means that Asuka and Baszler will be challenging Banks and Bayley for the WWE Women’s Tag Titles at WWE Payback, especially after the champions laughed off all of their other potential challengers.
ThunderDome: We haven’t seen Kevin Dunn’s Frankenstein yet, but the company has done a good job of building up interest in their new production gimmick heading into SummerSlam weekend.
WWE Raw Misses
Overall show: The pacing of this show was absurdly chaotic. It felt like they couldn’t just focus on a single match or promo, they had to have some type of interruption during nearly every segment. I get the idea of trying new things, but when they cram so many things into one episode, very little of it feels memorable by the time the show is over.
Drew McIntyre promo: The WWE Champion’s go-home promo for SummerSlam was interrupted by Retribution. Can you imagine what Steve Austin’s reaction to this script would have been if WWE creative tried to do this to him back in the day? Fortunately, the company already did enough to build up McIntyre vs. Randy Orton on previous shows. I am looking forward to their match more than any WWE match we’ve seen during the pandemic.
Retribution: The production truck invasion was flat and poorly timed. And that was it? I hope the payoff to this is somehow great, but the build to whatever it is has been awful.
Raw Underground: The only compelling fight was Arturo Ruas vs. Riddick Moss. It ended because they rolled to ringside, punched spectators, and then Shane McMahon told them “great job” and called off the fight. We also had Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir make their Raw debuts only to have Nia Jax beat them up. And rather than reinvent himself in this format, Dolph Ziggler continues to dress like he’s going to a glam rock festival. I was actually hoping that WWE’s move to Amway Center would put an end to what feels like a directionless concept, but that won’t be happening since they actually advertised Ziggler vs. Ivar for next week. The best thing I can come up with for why Raw Underground exists is that WWE is using it to introduce some of the wrestlers who will be revealed as members of Retribution. If that’s not the case, then I really don’t see what purpose these quick and typically bad fights serve.
MVP, Bobby Lashley, and Shelton Benjamin vs. Apollo Crews, Mustafa Ali, and Ricochet in an elimination match: Ali and Ricochet were made to look like complete scrubs when Lashley destroyed them with ease. Worse yet, Crews pinned his pay-per-view challenger again. If Lashley is such a badass who plows through everyone and put Crews on the shelf with an injury, why isn’t he challenging for the U.S. Title at SummerSlam?
Apollo Crews vs. Shelton Benjamin: As if MVP losing to Crews in the previous match wasn’t enough, Crews winning this match means that Lashley and Benjamin are not allowed at ringside. If we’ve already seen Crews beat MVP on multiple occasions, and MVP can’t get help from his cronies, then why should viewers see MVP as a threat to beat Crews on Sunday? I assume that this is setting the stage for Cedric Alexander to interfere on MVP’s behalf and become the newest member of The Hurt Business, but it would be nice if the company gave us a reason to care about the actual match.
Zelina Vega revealed as the person who poisoned Montez Ford: If they were going to reveal Vega as the perpetrator, why would they have her lose to Bianca Belair a week before the reveal? The idea should be to make viewers want to see Belair get revenge after the reveal. Speaking of revenge…
Montez Ford vs. Andrade: I guess Ford already got his too, so we can just move on now. Wait, there’s a tag title match between the champions who have beaten the challengers at nearly every turn. It probably means the heel duo is going to win the tag titles on Sunday. But Vince McMahon has to stop booking for what he thinks will make for a surprising out when it comes at the expense of making viewers actually care about the match in the first place.
Natalya vs. Mickie James: This was nothing more than a backdrop for Seth Rollins to approach Samoa Joe and act like he was in denial over the “rumors” of Rey Mysterio returning to Raw. The match was a complete afterthought and it continues to be a shame that the peak of James’ return to WWE was her brief stay in NXT. She deserved better.
Seth Rollins, Murphy, Rey Mysterio, and Dominik Mysterio: And why was Rollins in denial about Rey Mysterio showing up? If the Rollins character thought Rey was still severely injured, then shouldn’t he have relished the thought of a vulnerable Rey returning prematurely? While I am looking forward to seeing how Dominik does in his in-ring debut, all the talk of Rey’s career possibly being over due to an eye injury feels so repetitive.
Ruby Riott vs. Peyton Royce: The Riott and Liv Morgan vs. IIconics feud continues to feel flat. As much as fans will be quick to point the finger at The IIconics, it’s not like there’s much chemistry between Riott and Morgan despite their Riott Squad past.
WWE 24/7 Championship: Pull the plug already. The R-Truth gag has more than run its course. Worse yet, when someone else wins the belt, it doesn’t give that person a boost because the comedy title feels so worthless.