By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Bobby Lashley and Drew McIntyre contract signing for the WWE Championship match at Hell in a Cell: A predictable segment, but it was exactly what it needed to be. Once Kofi Kingston started pointing out how many times McIntyre tried and failed to regain the championship, it seemed like this match had to be billed as McIntyre’s last chance to take the title from Lashley. It was also refreshing that McIntyre didn’t just accept the stipulation without asking for something in return. He actually requested the Hell in a Cell stipulation, and I like that Lashley didn’t flinch before signing off it. It hasn’t been perfect, but this feels like the culmination of a long feud, which is exactly what a Hell in a Cell match should be.
Kofi Kingston vs. Riddle: MVP’s backstage speech to Kingston was the most interesting segment of the night. It left the door open for Kingston taking his words to heart and perhaps even turning heel. It didn’t really trigger any noticeable changes in Kingston during his match with Riddle, but it was still very well worked. At this point, I’m just happy when we are able to get through a New Day match without a trombone distraction finish.
Rhea Ripley and Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka and Nikki Cross: The match was entertaining and gets a Hit for that reason. But it’s hard to see how these recent losses to Cross are helping build interest in the Ripley vs. Flair match. I assume that Cross will be added to their pay-per-view match and take the predictable loss. Either way, the creative forces need to figure out a real plan for Ripley. Yes, she’s the Raw Women’s Champion, but they haven’t even cemented whether she’s a babyface or a heel.
Battle royal for a shot at the Raw Tag Titles: It was a bit of a mess with two teams being represented by just one wrestler, but I like the idea of putting over the Viking Raiders rather than rushing to Randy Orton and Riddle into challenging for the Raw Tag Titles. I just wish that the Viking Raiders would get back to being badasses like they were in their War Machine days rather than being cartoonishly jolly Viking cosplayers.
Cedric Alexander vs. Jeff Hardy: It was good to see Hardy pick up his second singles match pinfall victory of 2021. How strange is it that a company that is sorely lacking star power has done nothing meaningful with the eternally popular Hardy for the last six months? Anyway, the finish also played into the story that Alexander’s cockiness costs him in the end. I hope there’s a storyline plan for Alexander to stop showboating and start picking up more wins as the story unfolds.
Mansoor vs. Drew Gulak: More of an in the middle than a true Hit or Miss. Mustafa Ali’s unsolicited advice for Mansoor is mildly compelling. I assume that it will lead to what could be a solid mid-card feud.
WWE Raw Misses
Alexa Bliss, Lily, and Shayna Baszler: I watched The Conjuring 3 over the weekend. Oddly, the horror movie did not dedicate its final ten minutes to a pro wrestling match. If it had, there would probably be defenders praising the filmmakers for doing something different, yet they would be dramatically outnumbered by fans and critics who simply wanted the film to stay true to its genre. Anyway, this wasn’t even done well for what it was. WWE has a massive production budget and the best they came up with was flickering lights, their usual pyro, and mirror tricks. Here’s hoping that WWE will get this nonsense out of their system before they go back on the road.
Humberto Carrillo vs. Ricochet for a shot at the U.S. Championship: Sheamus was a blast on commentary and the guy is a trooper for even appearing at Raw given his nasty nose injury. The Spanish Fly off the apron was wild, but the double count-out finish that it led to didn’t do anything for anyone.
Jaxson Ryker vs. Elias: The American Hero facing a wannabe musician who runs away. This feud is just getting started and yet it already feels ice cold.