By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Braun Strowman vs. Keith Lee vs. Sheamus in a Triple Threat: I wasn’t a fan of the setup or what happened afterward, but the actual match was the highlight of a rough night for Raw. In fact, I’m not sure why they didn’t come up with a way to advertise this match in advance given that the guitar on a pole match and what was listed as a pair of non-title matches weren’t exactly strong hooks. WWE creative has to know that as flat as the brand vs. brand formula is, the annual bit where the heels try to claim they are team captains is even more tired. And I was actually hoping that the Team Raw members would put their differences aside while Smackdown would do the same to create a big showdown match feel rather than the usual match between two teams with internal bickering. Give us something that feels different.
Raw Tag Champs Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods vs. Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin in a non-title match: This is not a case where I will grumble about the tag team champions losing a non-title match on television. There are times when WWE goes overboard with that approach, but it was perfectly logical in this case to establish Alexander and Benjamin as a quality team who are threats to the tag titles. It also provides the duo a sense of purpose beyond serving as henchmen for Bobby Lashley and MVP.
Drew McIntyre vs. The Miz and John Morrison in a handicap match: A soft Hit for all three wrestlers doing a nice job and McIntyre looking strong. At the same time, Miz and Morrison haven’t changed a bit since Miz took the Money in the Bank contract from Otis. They still act like comedy goofs and it’s hard to take them seriously when they lost another handicap match. Are they making Miz look weak so that he’ll be a short-term, vulnerable heel champion? Or are Miz and Morrison just stuck in this same mid-card spot with no sense of direction?
WWE Raw Misses
Jeff Hardy vs. Elias in a Guitar on a Pole Match: I can’t pretend to care about a feud that feels beneath Hardy. I am bored by Elias’s delusional musician gimmick. I was hoping he would return with a new twist following his injury layoff, but it’s just more of the same. I would love to think that this match was the blowoff since Hardy went over strong, but seeing is believing.
Ricochet vs. Tucker: Poor Tucker. You know he’s in a bad place when he lost to Ricochet in seconds and then took a post match beating from the terrible Retribution faction that Hurt Business claimed they ran off just a few minutes earlier. What in the world was up with Tucker’s bad jobber gear with his defunct “Knight” name on the back? I initially suspected that the Retribution attack on Tucker might be some sort of initiation, but then they delivered the same type of beating to Ricochet. Why did creative feel the need to split up Heavy Machinery? Do they have an actual story in mind for Otis on Smackdown now that everyone his character was friends with or feuding with has been moved to Raw?
Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax vs. Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke for the WWE Women’s Tag Titles: WWE has addressed the lack of depth in their women’s tag team division by creating some makeshift tag teams, but they’ve done so at the expense of the Raw women’s singles division. Are they going to build up anyone to challenge Asuka or are they just waiting for Charlotte Flair to return? The actual tag title match featured challengers who have zero chemistry together, and tag team champions who would be more valuable pushed as strong singles heels. We are approaching the two-year mark since the women’s tag titles were reintroduced. They have had some quality teams serve as champions, but we’re still waiting for a quality title feud and I don’t think we’ll get one from the current mix of teams.
U.S. Champion Bobby Lashley vs. WWE 24/7 Champion R-Truth in a non-title match: The match felt harmless yet repetitive, and the latest 24/7 Title change felt just as meaningless as the last 40 title changes.
Nia Jax vs. Lana: It looks like the creative forces have convinced themselves that Lana is getting over with the fans out of pity from her weekly table bumps. There are no fans in attendance so we’ll never know for sure, but I suspect that live crowds would be cheering the table spots. After all, every crowd everywhere chants “we want tables” and it’s not like Lana’s character has been endearing. Even if I’m wrong and they actually get Lana over as a sympathetic babyface, I’ve seen nothing to make me think she has the in-ring ability to become a consistent player in the women’s division.