By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Randy Orton and Riddle vs. Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods: The best match of the night. The teams were given over 20 minutes to fill and they did so with an entertaining match that never dragged. Meanwhile, MVP stirring the pot with Kingston and Woods is an interesting storyline with some intriguing possibilities.
Drew McIntyre and The Viking Raiders vs. Bobby Lashley, AJ Styles, and Omos: You had to know this was coming when Erik and Ivar showed up during the McIntyre vs. Styles singles match. I honestly wonder if WWE would have been better off skipping the McIntyre vs. Styles match and simply advertising the six-man tag match. McIntyre vs. Styles should feel like a big match, but it just doesn’t when Styles spends most of his time in the tag division. Plus, I get the sense that there is fan interest in Omos’s early matches. The six-man tag played out nicely with McIntyre getting a distraction pin over Lashley heading into their championship match at the pay-per-view. I just wish that WWE didn’t overuse the distraction finishes.
Raw Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley vs. Asuka in a non-title match: The creative forces are burning through big Asuka matches by giving away losses to Ripley and Charlotte Flair on recent Raw shows. The presentation of these matches has been underwhelming. It feels like WWE is more concerned with filling television time than actually taking the time to build up these matches to the extent that they actually mean something. Even so, the match was well worked and the right person went over, even though I still have no clue what they want viewers to think of Ripley. Just when it seemed like she was in babyface mode, she barked at a backstage interviewer in a heelish manner.
Rhea Ripley and Charlotte Flair brawl: Where has this been? The creative forces spent a month making the champion and the challenger take fluke losses to Nikki Cross heading into the Raw Women’s Championship match at Hell in a Cell. They haven’t even established Ripley’s character, but they found time to give Cross enough wins that I’m actually shocked she wasn’t added to Sunday’s title match. Barring a last minute switch, it looks like they will go through with Ripley vs. Flair. The pull apart brawl was intense and breathed some life into their feud at the last possible moment.
Piper Niven vs. Naomi: It’s embarrassing that the broadcast team had to act like they’d never seen Niven before. In fairness, it’s certainly possible that Jimmy Smith had never seen her before, but surely Corey Graves and Byron Saxton are familiar with Niven, who was never mentioned by name. Putting that aside, Niven is a nice addition to the roster and I like the idea of her wrestling in place of Eva Marie, who heelishly claimed victory despite not actually wrestling the match.
WWE Raw Misses
Jeff Hardy vs. John Morrison: Morrison is Johnny Drip Drip and he now has a Drip Stick. Seth Rollins is being described as Drip on Smackdown. The WWE social media pages make repeated references to Drip, including most recently when they described Beth Phoenix’s attire at NXT Takeover. The company’s overuse of Drip is almost as annoying as when your parents first discovered and then overused emojis. Anyway, Hardy taking a clean loss to Morrison, who loses to everyone, was bad. The Miz and Morrison have been booked terribly throughout the pandemic era. Miz’s injury gives the company the perfect excuse to take him or even both men off television temporarily in hopes that viewers will forget how much of a joke their characters have become.
Jeff Hardy vs. Cedric Alexander: Hardy putting his career on the line to set up this match going into a commercial break was a nice hook and all, but it was too good of a hook for a single commercial break. WWE has three hours to fill on Monday nights, so why not build up the stipulation for at least a week and sell viewers on the possibility that Hardy’s WWE career might actually be in jeopardy? There are more than enough fans who see Matt Hardy working in AEW and would have bought into the possibility that Jeff could be joining him. Instead, they rushed through the match and gave Jeff a win after Alexander got cocky by trying to beat him with his own finishing move. Is there a plan for Alexander to correct this flaw or is this all there is to his “Prime” persona?
Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax: The good news is that Lily disappeared and is hopefully going to permanently collect dust in the WWE warehouse. The bad news is that Bliss has developed hypnotic powers. Make it stop.
Elias vs. Jaxson Ryker: A repeat of last week’s finish with Elias taking another intentional count-out loss. This new feud feels DOA.