By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Drew McIntyre vs. Braun Strowman: A strong main event with an interesting finish. Bobby Lashley and MVP interfered on behalf of McIntyre with the goal of preventing the WWE Championship match at WrestleMania Backlash from becoming a Triple Threat, yet Mace and T-Bar went after McIntyre moments later and actually helped Strowman get the win. It’s hard to imagine that the former Retribution members are in cahoots with Strowman given that they’ve been having matches against him, but it was still an unexpected twist. It’s hard to have faith in the Raw creative forces paying this off in an interesting manner, but they set the table for something so we’ll see where it goes.
Sheamus and Humberto Carrillo: It was a pleasant surprise when Carrillo tried to take up Sheamus on his latest open challenge after getting his ass handed to him last week. Carrillo is a talented wrestler and it’s encouraging to see that he wasn’t just in jobber mode last week when Sheamus destroyed him. Carrillo’s character showed heart by coming back for more, and he could be elevated into a meaningful position by working with Sheamus if they play this right creatively.
Randy Orton and Riddle vs. Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin: The Riddle character is painful, but WWE’s latest Odd Couple tag team pairing of him and Orton is mildly intriguing. I continue to feel bad for Alexander and Benjamin, who were doing a great job as the Raw Tag Team Champions and have gone on to lose every match since dropping the titles and being booted out of The Hurt Business. I still don’t get understand why creative pulled the plug on their push, especially when they were one of the few over acts on the Raw brand.
Charlotte Flair vs. Mandy Rose: It was a solid night for Flair. Sure, it was odd that she didn’t even miss a show after she was suspended indefinitely and fined last week, but they tried to explain it away (more on that later). I continue to enjoy the new version of Flair, which feels much more genuine than the cliche royalty line spewing character that she had been playing.
WWE Raw Misses
Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville: While I have no desire to see the return of a full-time heel authority figures dominating WWE television shows, I have enjoyed the Deville character undermining Pearce in small doses. They took it a step too far by having Deville reinstate Charlotte Flair and then facing no repercussions. Why wouldn’t Pearce simply overturn the reinstatement if he has more power? And when he called her out, he simply stormed away without punishing her, let alone stripping her of her power. Pearce and Deville are playing their roles really well, but the writers failed them this week.
Braun Strowman (and Drew McIntyre) vs. Mace and T-Bar in a handicap match: It’s hard to be excited about Mace and T-Bar when the best they could get is a count-out win. Granted, Strowman and McIntyre are main eventers, but Mace and T-Bar were so damaged as part of Retribution that it feels like they should be racking up clean wins over other teams as part of a big rebuild if they have any chance of getting over. It’s great that they ditched the bad Purge masks, but those generic names are still awful. Meanwhile, Strowman and McIntyre came off like a couple of meatheads for waiting until seconds before their match to have their little bitch session about whether McIntyre owed Strowman his gratitude for stepping in as his tag team partner last week.
Rhea Ripley, Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler vs. Asuka, Naomi, and Lana: Is there a roster shakeup coming? Is Becky Lynch returning soon? If the answer is no to both questions, then why in the world is Ripley a heel? Asuka is the only over singles babyface on the Raw roster, and it feels like her character has cooled off. Meanwhile, the brand has Charlotte Flair, Jax, Baszler, and Alexa Bliss on the heel side. The actual match played host to the latest lousy Jax slip. The best thing I can say about that nonsense is that they at least had the common sense to keep Ripley away from the puddle.
Damian Priest, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods vs. Elias, Jaxson Ryker, and The Miz: No match involving this beaten down heel trio needs to go nearly seventeen minutes if the goal is to make the babyfaces actually look good. But that wasn’t the goal here. Clearly, the main purpose of the match was to fill a bunch of television time. By the way, why is Priest still wasting his time with Miz and John Morrison? It’s time for him to on. For that matter, unless Bad Bunny is returning soon, it’s time for Miz and Morrison to turn the page also.