By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Drew McIntyre’s COVID-19 and Goldberg promos: It took roughly ten months, but WWE finally delivered a meaningful message about mask use and social distancing during the pandemic via McIntyre. It is worth noting that the company has had other wrestlers test positive for COVID-19 and never mentioned it on television, which makes it hard not to wonder if part of the reason that McIntyre was allowed to deliver the message was because company officials felt it was good for his babyface persona. At least the message was finally delivered, and obviously I wish McIntyre the absolute best in his battle with the virus. McIntyre also delivered a good response to Goldberg’s oddball promo claim that the WWE Champion is somehow disrespectful to the legends even though he’s been cast as the most respectful person in the company to the legends.
Charlotte Flair vs. Lacey Evans: Ric Flair turning on his daughter over a piece of side action feels like a desperation storyline straight out of the dying days of WCW Nitro. And yet as much as the story is flawed and just plain weird, it’s actually one of the more interesting stories on a show filled with lousy storylines.
Keith Lee vs. Sheamus: A solid match with Lee going over clean in the end. I continue to wonder when Sheamus will get some meaningful wins if his storyline ends with him stabbing McIntyre in the back and challenging for the WWE Championship. But the important thing now is trying to convince some viewers that Sheamus is actually a babyface to avoid having McIntyre look like the only person in the world who doesn’t see the turn coming. Perhaps that’s why Sheamus hugged Lee after the match in a sign of respect? More on this later.
AJ Styles vs. Drew Gulak: A soft Hit for a straight forward match with an easy to follow stipulation. It doesn’t take much to stand out as a positive on Raw these days. Styles has feuded with Elias lately, and now he worked with Gulak. It seems like he’s shifted to a babyface slot, but they have the directed virtual fans giving him the thumbs down, so I still have no idea what to make of him. On a positive note, it was nice to see the company establish that not just anyone can declare themselves for the Royal Rumble matches.
Xavier Woods vs. T-Bar: A soft Hit for a solid match. Make no mistake about it, Retribution is still a terrible faction and the wrestlers stuck in it deserve better. I look forward to the day when they finally come to their senses and we get the Raw “debuts” of Dominik Dijakovic and Mia Yim.
WWE Raw Misses
Triple H, Randy Orton, and Alexa Bliss: The addition of Triple H to the show was a nice hook and he served as a quality replacement for Drew McIntyre. It was logical for him and Orton to renew their rivalry. But they completely lost me when Triple H, who was introduced by his company executive title, said he was never more proud of Orton than when he burned The Fiend alive. Triple H even went so far as to say that he would have done the same thing. What?!? As ridiculous as it is that a company executive would be scripted to endorse such a thing, it’s also counterproductive in that it’s the type of thing that every WWE character be outraged by. The same Triple H who praised Orton for attempted murder was bothered by the way he taunted the legends last week. Um, okay? The fight between Triple H and Orton was entertaining until the supernatural finish with Triple H’s sledgehammer starting on fire right before he magically disappeared. I mean really… I continue to believe that there are fans of this logic defying nonsense, but the ridiculousness is going to turn away more viewers than it turns on even if there is a short term curiosity gain.
Sheamus and Keith Lee vs. The Miz and John Morrison: It was bizarre to see Lee act like pals with Sheamus, who has taken repeated cheap shots at him. They won their match over a hapless Miz and Morrison duo that really need time away from television, and then just about the time I accepted the idea that they are going to be friendly with one another, the show came back from a commercial break and Sheamus and Lee were fighting again. And then once their singles match was over, they actually hugged again. Pick a direction already.
Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler vs. Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke: Baszler stole the glory from her partner, just as we watched Sheamus do during his tag match earlier in the show, and just as Cedric Alexander has been doing during some of his tag matches with Shelton Benjamin.
Bobby Lashley vs. Riddle for the U.S. Championship: Lashley destroyed Riddle in less than two minutes. They tried to give Riddle something of an out by having Lashley attack him before the bell, but it wasn’t enough. It’s now been established that Riddle isn’t a worthy challenger, and they repeatedly established that Jeff Hardy isn’t a worthy challenger without even giving him a title shot. So what’s next for Lashley? And where do Riddle and Hardy go now that they’ve been defined down?
Jaxson Ryker vs. Jeff Hardy: The latest crappy distraction finish. Do the creative forces realize how bad it makes veteran babyfaces look to constantly fall for these half-assed distractions?
Jeff Hardy vs. Elias/Riddle vs. MVP: As if the similar stories with wrestlers stealing glory from their tag team partners wasn’t enough, we had two babyfaces lose decisively only to challenge the inferior sidekicks of the heels they lost to. Where’s the quality control on this awful show?