By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Seth Rollins vs. Dominik Mysterio in a steel cage match: Another stellar performance from Mysterio. Dom unquestionably is benefitting from working with Rollins and Murphy, but he is doing a tremendous job at this early stage of his in-ring career. Rollins had a really good night with his hot and cold treatment of Murphy. I missed it live, but Alyiah showing concern for Murphy after Rollins destroyed him was an interesting development.
WWE Champion Drew McIntyre vs. Keith Lee in a non-title match: I was hoping for a longer match that would allow Lee to show off what he can do in the ring, but it was fun while it lasted. I like that they added the stipulation to the match that Lee had a chance to earn a spot in the WWE Championship match at Clash of Champions, but it would have been more interesting had they waited until next week to have McIntyre challenge Randy Orton to an Ambulance Match at the pay-per-view. The Retribution attack was an easy way out of delivering a clean finish. The Hurt Business coming out to fight the duo made them look like babyfaces, and it was even worse when the four heels were able to hold their own with the army of Retribution members. On the plus side, the stereo dives by McIntyre and Lee was a cool way to end the show.
Raw Tag Team Champions The Street Profits vs. Smackdown Tag Team Champions Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura in a non-title match: An entertaining tag match that surprisingly concluded with a clean finish. I continue to wonder if the plan is for Cesaro and Nakamura to get their win back over the Profits on Smackdown with the goal of setting up a match to unify the titles at Clash of Champions.
Cedric Alexander vs. Ricochet: A well worked match. It was interesting that Shelton Benjamin no longer seemed concerned about Alexander’s motivations for joining the group. Alexander delivered a good promo, but it may have been too good in that it’s hard to blame him for joining the Hurt Business. Meanwhile, Ricochet and Apollo Crews are coming off as scrubs rather than sympathetic babyfaces.
Braun Strowman visits Raw Underground: We learned that WWE has another way to work around their own brand split when Michael Cole stated that anyone can appear inside Shane McMahon’s backroom fight club. Strowman felt ice cold on Smackdown for months. This setting worked for him in that it allowed him to dominate multiple opponents and look like a badass. The big tease for Strowman vs. Dabba-Kato for next week grabbed my attention. Will Retribution make their first appearance on Raw Underground? One way or another, it’s hard to believe that we’ll see a clean finish to that fight.
U.S. Champion Bobby Lashley vs. Erik in a non-title match: A soft Hit for a dominating win for Lashley, perhaps with the intent of writing Erik off of television while Ivar recovers from his injury.
WWE Raw Misses
Asuka vs. Mickie James for the Raw Women’s Championship: A rough match with a strange finish. It was hard to tell if there was legitimate concern that James was injured, if the match was rough enough that someone made the call to end it early, or if the referee just plain screwed up. I don’t think it was the latter given that James wasn’t even in a submission hold when the referee called for the bell. While this match was disappointing, it’s odd that creative rushed into and through Asuka vs. James so that they could rush into Asuka vs. Zelina Vega.
Aleister Black vs. Kevin Owens: Another Retribution finish. The lights flickering finishes are the worst and defy logic. The flickering lights are somehow distracting for the person who is on the offensive and even on the verge of hitting their finisher, yet the person who has been taking the punishment apparently isn’t distracted in the least and somehow seems to get an energy boost that leads to them stealing the pin.
Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan vs. Natalya and Lana: Did WWE officials cut time from this match because the show was running long? Either way, this felt rushed. It’s worth noting again that Miro/Rusev told Vince McMahon to kiss his ass on AEW Dynamite last Wednesday, then his wife was put through a table on Monday.
Retribution: We apparently learned that the core Retribution members are bitter former WWE Performance Center trainees. The promos have been forgettable and the faction being used as an out for delivering clean match finishes is a turnoff. Speaking of turnoffs, the WWE production crew really needs to pull back on those obnoxious camera cuts during the Retribution attacks.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features referee Rob Page discussing the difficulty of reffing tag matches in the modern era, making three counts if a wrestler's shoulders are down even if it wasn't the planned finish, the growth of F1rst Wrestling, and more...