By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Randy Orton vs. Keith Lee vs. Seth Rollins a shot at the WWE Championship at WWE Clash of Champions: A good main event with Orton going over while Lee was protected from taking the pin. Coming up short in this match stunted some of the momentum that Lee had coming off his Payback win over Orton, but they put over the Spirit Bomb as a strong finisher by having him hit the move on Rollins only for Orton to steal the pin. I had no issue with Lee taking an RKO from Orton to take him out of the pinfall. The move was done in classic “out of nowhere” style and viewers were left to wonder whether it would have been enough for Orton to actually pin Lee. Orton winning this match felt predictable, but not in a bad way since it was the logical move to set up a rematch with Drew McIntyre at Clash of Champions.
Dominik Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins in a Triple Threat qualifier: Sure, it was ridiculous that Dominik’s character was given a chance to earn a WWE Championship match so early in his career, but I’m not complaining since it was a fun “what if?” and led to the best of the qualifying matches. Dominik came through with yet another entertaining match. Rollins is doing a really nice job as the veteran in their matches, but Dominik deserves a lot of credit for how well he’s performed as a true rookie.
Randy Orton vs. Kevin Owens in a Triple Threat qualifier: The pre-match attack by Aleister Black continued his storyline with Owens while also giving Owens an out for losing in just 16 seconds to Orton. Owens’ previous Raw loss to Orton is still fresh in the minds of viewers, so it was better for Owens to lose in this manner than it would have been to lose to another full length match to Orton.
Bobby Lashley, MVP, and Shelton Benjamin vs. Cedric Alexander and The Viking Raiders: They told a decent story with Alexander scoring the upset pin over MVP, followed by MVP appearing to show a touch of respect by holding off Lashley and Benjamin from attacking him after the bell. Of course, this led to all three men attacking Alexander in the backstage area until Apollo Crews and Ricochet made the save. The babyface trio might steal some wins in matches, but they still come off as a weak trio.
Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan vs. Peyton Royce and Billie Kay for a shot at the WWE Women’s Tag Titles: The stipulation that the losing team must disband provided a nice hook. WWE was a tad lazy by only focussing on the history of The IIconics going into the match, which made it obvious that they were going to lose. Still, I am looking forward to Royce moving on as a singles wrestler. It will be interesting to see if Riott and Morgan can get over now that they are finally finished feuding with The IIconics. Will they be framed as legitimate contenders or are they merely sacrificial lambs for the new WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions?
Overall show: The show flowed nicely and the format with the qualifying matches that led to the Triple Threat main event gave purpose to all four matches. This was a nice bounce back edition following last week’s train wreck episode.
WWE Raw Misses
The Street Profits vs. Andrade and Angel Garza in a tornado tag match: I got a kick out of Garza running off with Demi Burnett once Retribution showed up. And I laughed out loud when he left her behind while running away from Retribution in the backstage area. Montez Ford singing “Too short for the roller coaster” regarding Zelina Vega was one of the funnier things the Profits have done in recent memory. But what should be a hot tag team feud has been so lopsided in favor of the Street Profits that their matches pointless.
Keith Lee vs. Dolph Ziggler in a Triple Threat qualifier: A minor Miss for the match going longer than it needed to. Ziggler did a nice job of bumping around for Lee, and I remain pleased that Ziggler’s pre-match attack meant that I didn’t have to suffer through his entrance music.
Mickie James vs. Lana: It looks like they are setting up James with her most high profile match since she faced Asuka at NXT Takeover: Toronto. And while I am all for the company booking her strong and treating her like a legend, they really should have started this push a couple months ago so that it felt organic rather than rushed. Meanwhile, Lana and Natalya playing WWE’s latest version of Mean Girls still isn’t clicking with me.
Raw Underground: I continue to wonder if there’s an actual direction or if what we see is what we get. Is part of the goal to introduce some new faces so that viewers will be familiar with them if they are revealed to be members of Retribution? By the way, whatever happened to Dabba-Kato and Arturo Ruas?
Retribution attacks: Another week, another attack. I will give WWE credit if they are building up to a big reveal to counter the return of Monday Night Football, but as of now the storyline feels directionless. There’s no stated purpose behind the attacks or even a hint that the group has a leader. It’s time for a development of some kind, even if it’s just one member being caught, unmasked, and offering some hint as what the group hopes to achieve.