By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Keith Lee and Riddle vs. Braun Strowman and Sheamus: I don’t care about brand supremacy. And I sure as hell don’t care about the annual traditional of heels claiming to be the captains of the Survivor Series teams. Still, everything came together nicely in this unexpectedly fun match in which AJ Styles served as special referee and took repeated shots from his Survivor Series teammates. The tease of the big man getting involved was a great hook going into a mid-match commercial break. By the way, how hard is it to come up with a name for this poor guy?
Drew McIntyre, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods vs. Randy Orton, The Miz, and John Morrison: This was all about McIntyre and Orton. Miz and Morrison have somehow been defined down even more since Miz stole the Money in the Bank contract from Otis. Kingston and Woods felt like they were just along for the ride since they are not actually feuding with Miz and Morrison. The character work of McIntyre and Orton carried the segment as they did a nice job of setting up next week’s WWE Championship match. By the way, I hope the company isn’t planning on booking a title change next week so that they can rush to McIntyre vs. Roman Reigns to give the Survivor Series card a late boost. McIntyre should be champion again soon, but there’s no need to give away a potential WrestleMania match just to make the Survivor Series event feel stronger.
Jeff Hardy vs. Elias vs. Riddle in a second chance qualifier for Team Raw at Survivor Series: It’s not that I gave a damn about which wrestler would quality for Team Raw, but this turned out to be a decent match. It benefitted from being the opening match rather than taking place late in the marathon show.
Bobby Lashley vs. Titus O’Neil for the U.S. Title: A simple angle followed by a brief squash win for the dominant Lashley. Creative is doing a good job of making Lashley look dominant, but hopefully they have a plan to make one of the babyfaces feel like a real threat to take the U.S. Title soon.
WWE Raw Misses
Overall show: Three hours feels like an eternity when there are so many damaged acts. Smackdown has shown significant improvement since Roman Reigns turned heel while it continues to feel like a chore to watch three hours of Raw. By the way, the first thing WWE advertised was Drew McIntyre appearing on A Moment of Bliss, but that was scrapped without explanation. There was also no sign of Bray Wyatt on last night’s show. Coincidence? And since we’re on subject of MIA, whatever happened to Shane McMahon and Raw Underground?
Mustafa Ali vs. Ricochet: This might be a first. The best match of the night landed in the Miss section. While the work of both men is to be applauded, I couldn’t shake the feeling that what I was watching just didn’t matter, and it wasn’t just long show fatigue. The Retribution angle is awful and while all Ali and Ricochet can do is work hard and hope for the best, I just don’t see it being enough to salvage this train wreck of a faction. Ali and Ricochet are very talented, and there are also some talented people stuck in those corny Retribution masks. WWE creative would be wise to pull the plug on Retribution immediately and then give everyone involved a fresh start.
WWE 24/7 Championship: Will they ever stop telling the same joke? The gag stopped being funny months ago. Sure, R-Truth has the occasional comedic moment, but there’s no reason he couldn’t have those without this worthless title belt. Watching Truth lose and regain the championship week after week holds no appeal for this viewer and I truly feel pity for everyone who has to chase him.
Shayna Baszler vs. Lana: The big plan to make Lana a babyface is to book her in weekly pity party segments where she’s destroyed by heels and put through the broadcast table by Nia Jax. Oh, but she’s not quitting! Maybe she should. One of these days, she’ll probably get some measure of revenge in the form of an upset win over Jax. And then what? Lana has always been a better personality than a wrestler, and I just don’t see her clicking as a meaningful babyface wrestler no matter how sympathetic they try to make her out to be. Meanwhile, Baszler continues to feel wasted despite being a tag team champion. She is just another example of a readymade NXT star who has been booked terribly on the main roster.
Raw Women’s Champion Asuka vs. Nia Jax in a non-title match: Creative is paying the price for spotlighting Asuka, Sasha Banks, and Bayley while making everyone else in the women’s division feel like afterthoughts. They clearly can’t come up with a strong challenger for Asuka on the Raw side, and it feels like they are just killing time until Charlotte Flair returns. The in-ring work was fine, but it was easy to see that this was more about working in the weekly spot of Lana being put through a table than it was about doing anything meaningful with the Raw Women’s Championship.