By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
WWE Champion Bobby Lashley vs. Drew McIntyre in a non-title match: The usual strong match between Lashley and McIntyre. MVP making a pitch to have Braun Strowman take out McIntyre gave the match an added hook that also plays into their Triple Threat at the pay-per-view. But why did backstage interviewer Kevin Patrick say that “reports indicated” that MVP made a business proposal to Strowman when viewers actually saw it? Please tell me we’re not back in the mode where WWE acts like the wrestlers and broadcast team members don’t know the cameras are present in the backstage area. Anyway, Strowman felt like the weak character going into the Triple Threat, so it was a good move to make him look dominant on the brand’s go-home show.
Cedric Alexander vs. Shelton Benjamin: One of the most entertaining matches of the night. It’s a shame that WWE just threw the match out there without any promotional build. And while it seemed questionable to have Benjamin take the first win over the young heel, they told a story that Alexander’s cockiness cost him the match. These two got a raw deal when they dropped the tag titles and were booted from The Hurt Business, so I really hope that they get a chance to have a quality feud together.
Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, Randy Orton, and Riddle vs. AJ Styles, Omos, Elias, and Jaxson Ryker: A decent eight-man tag match that gave Omos time to shine without having him make contact with Orton. The post match bit with Orton taking out Kingston and Woods with RKO’s was effective in showing that Orton is still a wild card and didn’t become a smiling babyface just because he’s teaming with Riddle.
Lucha House Party vignette: The content of the video was nothing special and the “Lucha Lit” phrase was cheesy. Still, the brief video was encouraging in that it seems that Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik are getting a minor reboot. There are new characters on Raw along with some regulars who seem to be getting more creative attention. Only time will tell which characters click, but it’s nice to see the creative forces trying some new things.
WWE Raw Misses
Raw Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley vs. Asuka in a non-title match: Only a decent match, which is surprising given the talent involved. I was legitimately surprised to see a clean finish given that both women will be in the Triple Threat title match on Sunday. The match felt overshadowed by Charlotte Flair coming out and joining the broadcast team. Flair’s new persona is a welcome change from the tired royalty act. And while Flair is off to a really good start, I wish the creative forces would dedicate even a quarter of the time they have given to revamping Flair to actually establishing Ripley’s character.
Charlotte Flair, Nia Jax, and Shayna Baszler vs. Asuka, Mandy Rose, and Dana Brooke: The story of the match was apparently that Lily the doll has special powers that made Baszler’s knee go out. Longtime fans have already suffered through this type of supernatural nonsense. It was terrible then and it’s terrible now.
Jinder Mahal vs. Jeff Hardy: The same old Mahal character now with a pair of heavyweight sidekicks. The Singh Brothers were actually the best part of Mahal’s old act, so it’s hard to be excited about a character that never clicked now being aligned with a pair of green newcomers who are on the main roster because of their size. Meanwhile, Hardy continues to rack up losses. On a brand starved for more star power, the misuse of Hardy continues to be baffling.
Damian Priest vs. John Morrison: Priest has upside, but it’s hard to get excited about him when he can’t escape this feud with Morrison and The Miz. And for the second straight week, the Morrison character got a visual pinfall over Priest. Morrison doesn’t beat anyone these days, so it sends a bad message about Priest that Morrison would have beaten him twice had it not been for Miz distracting the referee.