By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Keith Lee vs. Sheamus for a shot at the WWE Championship: A decent match that sets the table for what has the potential to be an excellent WWE Championship match between Lee and Drew McIntyre next week. I suspect that Sheamus will get involved in the finish, but hopefully Lee and McIntyre are given enough time to shine before then.
Ricochet vs. Mustafa Ali: The best match of the night. I truly feel pity for everyone associated with the bad Retribution gimmick. There are a lot of talented people involved in this mess. Ricochet and Ali had a terrific match and are clearly trying to do everything they can to make it work, but it feels unsalvageable at this point.
The Hurt Business vs. Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, Riddle, and Jeff Hardy: A good eight-man tag match with the now predicable finish of Hardy submitting to Lashley’s Hurt Lock submission finisher. The broadcast team labeled Hardy losing to Lashley as a weekly occurrence, which gave me a glimmer of hope that it’s actually leading to something.
The Miz vs. Gran Metalik: Sure, Metalik’s win was all about Miz being despondent over losing the Money in the Bank briefcase, which he regained later in the show. Still, it felt like a rare upset rather than just another predictable television match.
Shayna Baszler vs. Dana Brooke: Baszler was made to look dominant by beating Brooke and then putting her finisher on Mandy Rose afterward. It’s not too late for WWE creative to push Baszler as the badass heel that she was in NXT, but seeing is believing.
Overall show: Baby steps. This wasn’t a hot show by any means, but it was an improvement over other recent Raw shows. The pacing was improved and it didn’t feel like a chore to sit through.
WWE Raw Misses
Alexa Bliss and Randy Orton: The company that boasts of being family entertainment actually closed this show with a woman pouring gasoline over herself and begging a man to set her on fire. I don’t offend easily and this didn’t bother me, but it sure seems contradictory to WWE’s corporate message. The storyline continues to be absurd and we’re still left wondering who the writers want viewers to root for. Yes, Orton burned The Fiend alive (so ridiculous) at the pay-per-view, but only after The Fiend tried to do the same thing to him during the rocking chair spot at ringside. And why did Bliss go from telling jokes about The Fiend being set on fire to being teary-eyed and so desperate to join him that she was willing to be burned alive all in the course of the same show?
AJ Styles vs. Elias: Another match where viewers were left to choose between two heels. This was rough for a Styles match. I don’t think it would suddenly make him a world class worker, but I can only imagine that Elias would benefit from working in more traditional gear rather than jeans and the clunky work boots.
Charlotte Flair vs. Nia Jax: A decent match that concluded with an uninspired finish and made the whole segment feel like worthless time filler. Flair vs. Jax is a big enough match in the current Raw women’s division that it should only take place when it can be booked in a meaningful manner.