By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Sheamus vs. Riddle in a qualifier for the Triple Threat to determine the No. 1 contender: The best match of the night. They were given plenty of time and made the most of it by delivering a good, physical match. I was happy to see Sheamus lose if only because it means the company is not rushing into his feud with Drew McIntyre at TLC. The company needs to play the long game with this storyline to get the most out of it. The thing working against them is that Sheamus is a heel and therefore viewers must naturally assume that it’s only a matter of time before he turns on McIntyre. Ideally, the Sheamus character will show loyalty to McIntyre on multiple occasions. Once viewers start to think of Sheamus as a loyal friend to McIntyre, that’s when he should stick the knife in McIntyre’s back.
Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods vs. Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin for the Raw Tag Titles: A Hit for match quality. But I have no idea why creative is in such a hurry to have the New Day duo plow through their limited competition in the Raw tag division. It seemed like this was the right time to put the tag titles on Alexander and Benjamin to put Kingston and Woods in chase mode.
Keith Lee vs. Bobby Lashley in a qualifier for the Triple Threat to determine the No. 1 contender: A fun first-time match. Lee looked massive while standing across from Lashley. If Lee doesn’t win the tournament, I would welcome a U.S. Title feud between the two.
Alexa Bliss vs. Nikki Cross: I’m not sold on the approach that Bliss took during this match working long term, but it was compelling in the moment. Cross fell for Bliss’s antics this time and that’s fine, but I am curious to see how the Bliss character will work in the ring now that it’s been established that Cross can no longer trust her.
WWE Raw Misses
Randy Orton vs. AJ Styles in a qualifier for the Triple Threat to determine the No. 1 contender: The match quality was a Hit. The finish was meant to protect Orton while allowing Styles to move on to next week’s Triple Threat. But who are viewers supposed to side with in the apparent Orton vs. Bray Wyatt feud? Orton has been the most sadistic heel on the roster in 2020 and The Fiend is right behind him. There has been a lot of talk about Bray Wyatt turning babyface, but his brainwashed sidekick Alexa Bliss was clearly the heel in her match with Nikki Cross. It’s possible that they are building toward a Triple Threat involving Drew McIntyre, but the tournament to determine the new No. 1 contender seems to suggest otherwise.
WWE Women’s Tag Champions Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler vs. Asuka and Lana in a non-title match: The Lana story continues to be a turnoff. Viewers are supposed to feel pity over Lana being put through a table nine times, which is questionable enough considering how much pro wrestling fans love table spots. But now the company is asking viewers to feel good for a delusional character who acted over the moon about winning a Survivor Series elimination match in the flukiest way possible.
Riddle character: Matt Riddle moved to the main roster and lost his first name and 20 IQ points. Riddle’s stoner persona has been fun over the years, but the main roster version of the character is more stupid than stoner. Riddle’s in-ring work screams main event, but his current character is mid-card comedy at best. Hopefully the creative forces are working out the kinks and Riddle won’t be such a doofus going forward.
Braun Strowman character: Riddle is a Rhodes Scholar compared to Strowman. The Strowman character is such a dope that he actually took offense to Adam Pearce using the phrase “last but not least.” This character is so dumb that Pearce’s character should pull him from the ring because any wrestler who fights Strowman is at risk of being arrested for abusing a vulnerable adult.