By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Drew McIntyre vs. AJ Styles vs. Riddle in a Money in the Bank qualifying match: A very good television main event. There was no reason to expect Styles to win, and they didn’t help the cause by playing up his tag team feud with The Viking Raiders earlier in the show. The involvement of Riddle was interesting, as it made the match feel fresh, and it seemed like there was at least a small chance that creative wanted him and Randy Orton in the MITB ladder match together. Ultimately, they went with McIntyre, who remains my favorite to win MITB. But WWE has done some damage by having various wrestlers point out how many opportunities McIntyre has received. I hope the hard work of McIntyre is enough to make the masses rally behind him as opposed to turning on him because they want someone new in the main event picture.
Rhea Ripley, Mandy Rose, and Dana Brooke vs. Charlotte Flair, Natalya, and Tamina: After sitting through so much nonsense, it was refreshing to see a straight forward match on this show. However, this match spotlighted the need to establish definitive babyfaces and heels amongst all six women. Yes, I realize it doesn’t matter to every fan, but I do believe it matters to the vast majority of fans.
Battle Royal for a spot in the second chance Money in the Bank qualifier: The absence of Randy Orton made for an interesting open to the show with the surprise addition of the battle royal. The broadcast team tried to make it seem like Riddle was an underdog even though he had already qualified for MITB and felt like the favorite given his connection to Orton. It was nice to see Damian Priest booked to make a solid showing as the runner-up.
Kofi Kingston and MVP: A decent segment without most of the New Day comedy antics. But it still feels like it’s too little, too late. Kingston just doesn’t strike me as a strong threat to beat Bobby Lashley for the WWE Championship. Kingston was damaged as a singles act due to the loss to Brock Lesnar. Actually, it wasn’t so much the eight-second loss as it was that his character’s only sign of frustration over the loss was smushing a pancake in his hand before he back into New Day comedy mode. Raw desperately needs another strong male babyface, so hopefully they can find a way to make Kingston work in this role. But the creative forces have to know that scripting Kofi to boast about his flukey win over Lashley is making him look awful.
WWE Raw Misses
Ricochet vs. John Morrison: The wrestlers worked hard and the match concluded with a cool spot that saw Ricochet perform a springboard dive onto Morrison, who was seated on the ringside barricade. Unfortunately, the damage was already done with the drip stick and other lighthearted silliness that creative just can’t seem to avoid during Miz and Morrison segments. Miz really should have been given time away from television while he recovers from his knee injury so that he also could have recovered from being booked so poorly. Instead, he’s still around and his character is becoming even more damaged by all of the comedy that rarely clicks.
Nikki Cross vs. Shayna Baszler: The almost a superhero tagline for Cross’s character does nothing for me. Then again, neither does the gimmick itself. It’s a shame that Baszler and Nia Jax have become comedic losers who are easily manipulated by Alexa Bliss. It will be so interesting to get a feel for what live crowds think of all of this once WWE returns to the road next month.
Jaxson Ryker vs. Elias in a strap match: Who is Raw targeting? We have a demonically possessed woman who dresses and acts like a child and a wannabe superhero in one segment, and then we have a psycho babyface who whips himself with a belt repeatedly in another. Anyway, Ryker and Elias were off to a good start when the match ended prematurely. In other words, they weren’t given nearly enough time to make this match feel like it mattered.
Asuka and Naomi vs. Eva Marie and Doudrop: Eva’s revenge play backfired when Doudrop was able to score the upset win after Eva dropped out of the match. But did it really need to come at the expense of Asuka? It’s fine if they are going to tell a story with Asuka losing, but it didn’t feel like there was any focus on her coming out of the match.