By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Randy Orton vs. Drew McIntyre for the WWE Championship: It’s a rare treat to see a world title change on television these days. WWE teased viewers with a potential Miz cash-in and the threat of The Fiend is always there, but this turned out to be a strong, straight forward championship match. The first McIntyre world title win at WrestleMania just didn’t pack the punch that it should have due to the unique circumstances created by the pandemic. And while fans are still not back in the building, more people were able to see this match because it took place on Raw, and the atmosphere created by ThunderDome is a big improvement over the empty venue approach. I can only hope that the creative forces are cognizant of McIntyre vs. Roman Reigns being a WrestleMania worthy main event match and won’t do anything to change that via the booking of their match at Survivor Series. Putting that aside, the new Survivor Series main event looks terrific on paper and is a big improvement over the previously advertised heel Orton vs. heel Reigns match.
Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods vs. Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin for the Raw Tag Titles: The pre-match verbal exchange was terrible and the finger of blame is pointed right at Kingston for that sorry ass Jerk Business line. The actual match was entertaining. I thought WWE might want to save the first New Day vs. Street Profits for somewhere down the road, so I was open to the idea of a title change, which made the near falls feel more dramatic. Ultimately, I’m happy that they stuck with New Day vs. Street Profits, as it’s behind only the McIntyre vs. Reigns on the list of fresh and intriguing Survivor Series matches.
Bray Wyatt vs. The Miz: The supernatural elements and over the top horror movie villain no-selling of The Fiend persona turns me off, but there’s no denying that Wyatt and Alexa Bliss are a compelling act. Bliss is doing terrific work in her Harley Quinn-like female sidekick role. I wonder if they are building toward Wyatt and Bliss feuding with McIntyre and fellow Scotland native Nikki Cross. On a side note, The Miz and John Morrison have been made to look even worse since Miz took the Money in the Bank contract from Otis. I guess there’s a chance that WWE creative is setting up Miz to be the most vulnerable heel world champion in the modern era, but the alternative is that Miz and Morrison are on the road to becoming as irrelevant and unthreatening as the duo of Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode.
Overall show: A world title change in the main event and solid hype for the Survivor Series pay-per-view made this one of the better Raw shows in recent memory. Granted, that’s not saying much, but here’s hoping the show can start to develop some momentum.
WWE Raw Misses
Asuka, Mandy Rose, and Dana Brooke vs. Shayna Baszler, Nia Jax, and Lana: The Raw women’s division is a lopsided joke. WWE continues to pay the price for pushing Asuka, Sasha Banks, and Bayley so aggressively while failing to elevate anyone to serve as a credible threat to Asuka. The same mistake is being made in the women’s tag division, as they are building up Baszler and Jax as being so dominant that there’s no reason to view any of their challengers as serious contenders. The Raw women’s division has become a boring, predictable turnoff. The ongoing storyline of Lana being put through the broadcast table seems designed to make Lana look sympathetic, but the jury is out as to whether it’s actually working. The ThunderDome fans giving her the thumbs down treatment during her entrance seemed telling. And even if it somehow works, Lana still needs to prove that she is passable enough in the ring to justify a major push.
Keith Lee, Braun Strowman, Riddle, and Sheamus vs. “Retribution” Ali, T-Bar, Mace, and Slapjack: Retribution is colder than the required storage temperature of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. So even though they finally won a match, the best thing that creative could do is tap out and give the faction’s members an honest chance to get over using their regular personas. The bickering between the Team Raw members might be a mildly intriguing storyline if the masses actually cared about whether they can put their differences aside during their meaningless battle for brand supremacy at Survivor Series. Sheamus is clearly being groomed for a feud with Drew McIntyre, and one can only hope that there are good plans for Lee, Strowman, Riddle, and AJ Styles coming out of Survivor Series, as all four men being placed in quality programs could help make three-hour marathon that is Raw feel more tolerable.
Jeff Hardy and Elias: Hardy seemed more upset with Elias for distributing his silly wanted flier than he ever was when Sheamus labeled him a drunk and a junkie during their Smackdown feud. This storyline is built around the mind-numbingly stupid premise that Elias still blames Hardy for the hit and run accident on Smackdown despite the the Hardy character being cleared of any wrongdoing. It’s time to get Hardy out of this clunker program and into something where he can actually make a difference.
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