By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
WWE Champion Bobby Lashley vs. Braun Strowman in a non-title match: The coin toss bit to determine whether Lashley would face Strowman or Drew McIntyre was odd, especially when they held the coin toss so early in the show. Why not just advertise Lashley vs. Strowman in advance? For that matter, why wait until the last seconds of the show to announce Lashley vs. McIntyre for next week when they could have hyped it consistently throughout this episode? WWE rarely announces anything a week out, so I guess this is minor progress. The actual match was fine with the McIntyre distraction causing the finish. I just wish that WWE didn’t go so overboard with their repetitive distraction finishes.
AJ Styles and Omos vs. Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods for the Raw Tag Titles: A WrestleMania rematch that felt somewhat like a WrestleMania repeat. Kingston appeared to avoid disaster when Styles did what he could to break his fall on the trust fall dive. Omos is clearly limited in the ring, but he feels like an attraction.
U.S. Champion Sheamus vs. Mansoor in a non-title match: This was a big Miss in terms of it being a Raw debut match for Mansoor. On the flip side, Sheamus got a bit of heat back after being worked over by Humberto Carrillo last week. Meanwhile, Carrillo taking the beating backstage only to come back for more was effective in terms of showing off the heart of the character.
Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik vs. Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin: The “somebody has to win” match of the night. Dorado and Metalik lose more than they win, and Alexander and Benjamin have been in free fall mode since they were booked to lose the tag titles. The post match angle with Alexander blaming Benjamin puts an end to a team that was just hitting its stride when they were pulled from The Hurt Business. It’s a shame that the company gave up on them as a team, but at least it looks like they will be feuding with one another rather than continuing to lose tag matches.
Randy Orton and Riddle vs. Jaxson Ryker and Elias: A solid win for the Odd Couple tag team. Styles and Omos have already plowed through New Day twice, which leaves The Viking Raiders and Lucha House Party as the other remaining babyface tag teams. My guess is that Styles and Omos plow through LHP and eventually feud with Orton and Riddle over the tag titles.
Charlotte Flair vs. Dana Brooke: A simple showcase win for Flair. The bigger story was Sonya Deville adding her to the Raw Women’s Championship match at WrestleMania Backlash. The story between Deville and Adam Pearce is somewhat compelling, but they really need to explain why Pearce doesn’t simply overrule the decisions that Deville makes without his blessing.
Overall show: Raw continues to be the worst of the many pro wrestling television shows that I watch each week. But at least they finally seem to be shaking things up. The Miz and John Morrison might be splitting up. Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin did go separate ways. Eva Marie is returning. Humberto Carrillo matters again. Mansoor debuted. None of these examples are game changers, but hopefully the company can freshen up the undercard to help fill the three hours.
WWE Raw Misses
Damian Priest vs. John Morrison: Morrison’s new self imposed nickname of Johnny Drip Drip seems like it’s something meant to entertain people backstage more than it’s meant to entertain viewers. I’m all for the idea of The Miz and Morrison splitting up given how beaten down their characters are. Better yet, Priest can finally move on to something new. His feud with Miz and Morrison isn’t helping him. What does it say about Priest that the weak Morrison character got a visual pinfall on him while Miz distracted the referee?
Angel Garza vs. Drew Gulak: We hear a lot of hyperbole in pro wrestling promos, so I didn’t think much of Garza threatening to shove a rose up the ass of Gulak. Much to my surprise, Garza made good on this threat by shoving a rose down the back of Gulak’s trunks and then literally kicking his ass. Is this really going to be Garza’s new thing? I’m all for doing more with Garza, but this was just plain weird.
Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler vs. Naomi and Lana for the WWE Women’s Tag Titles: A two-minute title match that we’ve seen before and will surely see again. Both WWE broadcast teams tell us over and over that Jax and Baszler are the most dominant champions the women’s division has ever seen, but they just keep being booked to look weak. In this case, it took a distraction from Reginald to get them a win.
Rhea Ripley: Why isn’t she plowing through opponents to help establish her to the Raw audience? Is this company so caught up in parity booking that they can’t even have a new champion destroy undercard wrestlers? And I’m still baffled by Ripley being cast as a heel when the Raw women’s division desperately needs top babyfaces.