By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Drew McIntyre vs. Kofi Kingston for a WWE Championship shot at Hell in a Cell: The highlight of a mostly forgettable night of television. McIntyre and Kingston worked a good match that concluded with the expected outcome of McIntyre earning another shot at the WWE Championship at Hell in a Cell. Here’s hoping that Kingston will remain a singles wrestler rather than reverting to meaningless tag team matches with Xavier Woods. The New Day duo obviously work well together, but WWE desperately needs more singles stars on the Raw brand. As for McIntyre, he really needs to win the WWE Championship at Hell in a Cell. Kingston pointing out how many times McIntyre has tried and failed to beat Bobby Lashley is not doing McIntyre any favors.
Randy Orton vs. Xavier Woods: Orton using Riddle’s finisher a week after Riddle performed the RKO was unexpected fun. It was jarring to see Orton go from playing the sadistic heel role to being part of a comedic odd couple tag team act, but he and Riddle have managed to win me over.
AJ Styles and Omos vs. Jaxson Ryker and Elias for the Raw Tag Titles: A soft Hit for a mildly entertaining match. Elias walking out on Ryker felt like it came out of nowhere. Clearly, the plan is to play on Ryker’s military history given his backstage comments about serving in Iraq. Is Vince McMahon so out of touch that the wrestler formerly known as The Drifter will play the role of a draft dodger? I’m mostly kidding, but I can’t say that I’m excited by the idea of a feud between a military man and WWE’s wannabe rock star character.
Jimmy Smith: A soft Hit. The bar was set low by Adnan Virk’s brief run as the voice of Raw, but Smith was better in week one than Virk was at any point during his stint. Smith still has a lot of work to do and hopefully he will continue put the time in behind the scenes. Corey Graves and Byron Saxton deserve credit carrying their green broadcast partners lately. I’m still not sure why WWE decided to cut Tom Phillips, who seemed to be everything that Vince McMahon and Kevin Dunn look for in a play-by-play voice.
WWE Raw Misses
Charlotte Flair vs. Nikki Cross in a two-minute challenge: Cross has survived two minute matches with Flair and Rhea Ripley over the last two weeks. While it’s nice to see Cross getting some television time, surviving two minute matches doesn’t do much for her, and it’s not doing any good for Flair and Ripley heading into their pay-per-view match. Are the creative forces planning to add Cross to the match to give themselves the easy and highly predictable out of having Cross take the loss?
Shayna Baszler vs. Reginald: Another silly Lily finish. It’s amazing to see just how poorly Baszler has been booked on the main roster. She went from NXT badass champion to having a brief vampire fetish to now losing matches because of a cursed doll. And if Baszler wanted to have a chat with Alexa Bliss, why didn’t she just have it when they were sitting next to one another rather than tell her that it would happen next week?
Mace and T-Bar vs. Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik: Mace and T-Bar continue to come off like The Ascension 2.0 during their bad backstage promos. It seemed like WWE might be giving the Lucha House Party duo an overhaul when they aired a video package on them recently, but they were cast in the same loser tag team role in this match.
Sheamus faces Ricochet and Humberto Carrillo in non-title matches: A pair of distraction finishes that did nothing to boost Ricochet or Carrillo. I enjoyed Sheamus feuding with both men on previous shows, but these matches put a damper on my enthusiasm for the U.S. Title program. As if Sheamus doesn’t work stiff enough, I feel pity for Carrillo knowing that he will be working with him again after appearing to break Sheamus’s nose with a vicious forearm.
Lana and Naomi vs. Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke: Both teams have been established as teams that can’t hang with the WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions. Granted, we have new champions in Natalya and Tamina, but it’s hard to imagine the outcome of their matches with either team being any different. Fans really took to Naomi as a singles wrestler. While Lana has improved in the ring, creative should really consider pulling the plug on their mid-card tag team in favor of booking Naomi as a singles wrestler.
Cedric Alexander vs. Shelton Benjamin: A 30-second repeat of last week’s match and the thumb to the eye finish. Isn’t that what replays are for?