By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Drew McIntyre and Randy Orton: Did WWE rent an ambulance for a month and are now trying to get as much use out of it as possible? We’ve seen Bray Wyatt, McIntyre, Sasha Banks, and now Orton hauled away over the past few weeks and I’m probably forgetting others. Anyway, the idea was for McIntyre to avenge being punt kicked three times by Orton by returning the favor with three Claymore Kicks throughout the show. It didn’t help Orton, but there’s no reason to think that he won’t get his heat back before the pay-per-view. Meanwhile, these segments made McIntyre look strong and reenforced that the company is committed to him as a main event player.
Dominik Mysterio vs. Murphy: A minor Hit for the latest match in the seemingly never ending Mysterio family vs. Seth Rollins and Murphy feud. I don’t mind a long feud, but this lengthy program is surrounded by other tired feuds. It’s cool if they still have ideas for this feud, but they really need to shake up some of the other programs that appear in the Miss section. This didn’t feel worthy of the main event slot, but I did like the feel-good ending with Murphy taking kendo stick shots from all four family members. Now if only the production truck would pull back on the absurd number of camera cuts.
Bobby Lashley, MVP, and Shelton Benjamin vs. Apollo Crews, Ricochet, and Cedric Alexander: This tired feud needed a storyline development and it got one in the form of Alexander’s heel turn. We’ve seen too much of these six wrestlers going at it lately, so hopefully the Alexander turn can breathe some life into things. It is interesting that Shelton Benjamin seems leery of Alexander’s motivations. We don’t really see skepticism amongst the wrestlers following a turn, so I assume there’s a reason for this.
WWE Raw Misses
Retribution: The invading faction has its own logo and is now getting promo time. Even if you can get past the silliness of that, the promos were mostly gibberish. There were hints that these wrestlers were wronged by the company and it’s led to speculation that they are bringing back some of the laid off talent to play Retribution members. With that in mind, I can’t help but wonder if Akam and Rezar’s releases were legitimate or part of this storyline. Vince McMahon doesn’t typically give up on young powerhouse types, and the WWE announcement regarding their releases differed from past release statements in that it did not include their real names. Either way, the Retribution reveal better be great to make up what has been a lousy invasion angle thus far.
Raw Tag Champions The Street Profits vs. Angel Garza and Andrade in a non-title match: Again? There was a storyline development with Garza walking out on Andrade and Zelina Vega, which pretty much brings us right back to where we started with this program in that Garza and Andrade can’t get along. Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura showing up to set the table for next week’s champions vs. champions match should give us at least a one week reprieve from this long, lopsided feud that just won’t seem to end. How sad is it that this bad feud has played out this long, yet WWE creative has done nothing to build up another team as the next challengers for the Street Profits?
Randy Orton vs. Keith Lee: It’s not encouraging so early in Lee’s run to have the “this again?” feeling when the match was announced. Lee scored a big pinfall victory over Orton at WWE Payback and yet he feels like he’s losing momentum. He didn’t take the pin in this match, but the finish was done in a way that showed Orton was on the verge of beating him before Drew McIntyre interfered. It’s time to find the right opponent for Lee so that they can turn him loose in the ring and let him show off his impressive athleticism.
Aleister Black vs. Kevin Owens at Raw Underground: It was portrayed as if Raw Underground finally had a long, heated battle, but WWE cared more about showing us handicap matches, commercials, and promos. The Dabba-Kato attack on both men at the end of the brawl was encouraging. Hopefully this means the former Babatunde will be escaping Shane McMahon’s pointless backroom brawls and moving into actual matches in the main room soon.
Shayna Baszler vs. Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan in a handicap match: The Nia Jax vs. Riott Squad handicap match also gets a Miss. Jax and Baszler playing bickering tag partners isn’t making for compelling television. I’m not crazy about the idea of making them a tag team in the first place, but if they are going to do it then why not make them look like a badass duo? And I don’t see how any of this made Riott and Morgan look good. At this point, I guess I should just be happy that Riott and Morgan are finally finished feuding with The IIconics.
Peyton Royce vs. Billie Kay: Speaking of which, the in-ring work was better than their tag matches, but I still have no idea who creative wanted viewers to root for or what purpose this actually served.
Asuka and Mickie James vs. Natalya and Lana: WWE creative is rushing into the Asuka vs. James title match next week. I wish they would have taken the time to reestablish James by showing her climbing the ladder of contenders to earn this match. Instead, she lost a bunch of matches, disappeared from television, and returned only to have a quick feud with Natalya and Lana, and for some reason she’s already getting a title shot. On the bright side, Asuka vs. James should be good in the ring if they are given enough time.
Bobby Lashley, MVP, Shelton Benjamin, and Cedric Alexander vs. Apollo Crews, Ricochet, and The Viking Raiders: The finish of this match was a mess, but it’s understandable given the Ivar injury. Here’s wishing him well.
WWE 24/7 segment: The insulting ninjas need to go away and take this worthless comedy title belt with them.