By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Drew McIntyre vs. Sheamus in a No DQ match: Another strong outing for McIntyre and Sheamus. The finish was a creative way to avoid either man taking a pinfall loss. Will there be a rematch at WWE Fastlane or will both men end up in a multi-person match either for the WWE Championship or perhaps even in some type of match to determine who will challenge Lashley at WrestleMania?
Bobby Lashley vs. The Miz for the WWE Championship: The pre-match video for Lashley was a really good piece of production work. There was zero question as to which wrestler would go over despite the match going over nine minutes. Lashley was dominant and hopefully this was designed to remove Miz from the title picture. On a side note, whatever happened to Keith Lee, who could be built up to be a strong challenger for Lashley’s championship?
Shelton Benjamin vs. Xavier Woods: More of an in the middle segment. WWE used the old formula of having a future challenger beat one of the tag team champions in a non-title match. There was a time when WWE ran that formula into the ground. They have been better about it lately, but this still felt like it was thrown together with very little thought.
WWE hypes two title matches for next week’s Raw: It’s not embellishment to say that this was the most surprising thing that happened on Raw. WWE can rarely be bothered to advertise one match a week in advance let alone two matches. Hopefully this is the beginning of a trend, as that would require creative discipline from Vince McMahon to actually map out a direction rather than just make things up on the fly. Now if only they would come up with some Raw matches for the Fastlane event.
WWE Raw Misses
Shane McMahon and Braun Strowman: I’m waiting for a dunce hat on a pole match involving Strowman, R-Truth, and Riddle. All three characters are scripted to be absolute morons, and only Truth has enough charm to make it work. Shane taunting Strowman about his lack of intelligence should make Strowman the babyface, so why did the WWE production team pipe in boos for him? It’s really sad to think about just how over Strowman was heading into his first championship match with Brock Lesnar compared to where he’s at now.
AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton: This Miss goes beyond the black goo that Orton choked up. Make no mistake about it, the Orton and Alexa Bliss saga is terrible. But it’s also a problem that the announcement of the match didn’t move me in any way. Styles and Orton are two of the best wrestlers on the entire WWE roster, but both men have been hurt by the booking. Orton had a career resurgence that started with his Edge feud, and now he’s bogged down in a supernatural storyline that has cooled him off considerably. Meanwhile, it feels like Styles is just floating around without a real direction or purpose beyond providing good matches.
Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax vs. Naomi and Lana for the WWE Women’s Tag Titles: The presentation of the title match was abysmal. It was just thrown out there without any fanfare. I was surprised that this was the only women’s match on Raw during International Women’s Day. WWE got involved on social media, but then they offered only this throwaway match during the three-hour marathon that is Raw. And don’t even get me started on Reginald moving over from Smackdown to join Jax’s act.
U.S. Champion Riddle vs. Slapjack in a non-title match: It’s hard to take a champion seriously when he spends the moments leading up to a match worrying about where he should park a scooter. The match was fine, but Retribution continues to be the worst WWE faction in ages and it’s hard to take anything they do seriously. Faction leader Mustafa Ali is an exception because he’s not forced to wear a bad Purge costume, and it will be fun to see what type of title match that he and Riddle can put together next week.
Charlotte Flair, Mandy Rose, and Dana Brooke: So Rose and Brooke think they belong in the singles title picture even though they’ve spent most of their time losing tag team matches. As if that’s not strange enough, snooty Charlotte thinks they need to prove themselves to her to show they are worthy of challenging for a championship that she doesn’t even hold. I assume this will lead to Flair beating both women in segment killing singles matches, but the path they chose to get there was bizarre.