By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
AJ Styles and Omos vs. “The Viking Raiders” Erik and Ivar for the Raw Tag Titles: It’s actually a shame that Styles and Omos already plowed through the Viking Raiders in two straight title matches because the teams, particularly Styles and Erik, work well together. With Styles and Omos moving on, it’s hard to be excited about what comes next for the Viking Raiders given the lack of other meaningful tag teams on Raw. Nevertheless, this was an enjoyable match that was capped off with Styles hitting his springboard 450 splash, which is still a treat after all these years.
U.S. Champion Sheamus vs. Damian Priest in a Championship Contenders Match: Sadly, it looks like “Championship Contenders Match” replacing “non-title match” for seemingly no good reason is here to stay. Anyway, Priest came out of this looking like a strong challenger heading into what I assume will be a U.S. Title match at SummerSlam. Sheamus also had an out for losing due to his mask falling off and leaving his injured nose unprotected. For better or worse, Jimmy Smith was clearly trying to call matches with more enthusiasm this week, but he probably got an earful for saying that Priest’s late kick hit Sheamus’s ear rather than his nose. Smith was actually right in that description, but that’s clearly not the story they were trying to tell given that Sheamus immediately sold his nose.
NXT Champion Karrion Kross vs. Keith Lee in a non-title match: Kross picked up his first Raw win over the man he beat to win the NXT Championship the first time. Obviously, we’ll have to wait for Jeff Hardy to recover from COVID-19 and return to the ring to see how they intend to follow up on Kross’s bizarre loss in his Raw debut. The presentation of Lee continues to be alarming. He’s lost both matches since he returned to television and he hasn’t received any promo time. By the way, why in the world would the company pull Scarlett from Kross’s act on Raw?
WWE Champion Bobby Lashley vs. Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin in a handicap match: A Hit for Lashley looking dominant, but it’s still disappointing to see what’s happened to Alexander and Benjamin. Things were really looking up or the duo when they won the Raw Tag Titles as part of the strong Hurt Business faction. I still don’t understand why they were pulled from the act and turned into undercard players when they were doing well as a tag team and the company clearly had no plans for them outside the faction.
Drew McIntyre vs. Veer: A soft Hit. It feels like a big step down for McIntyre to be in this feud. The bit with the lawyer was poorly developed. The creative forces really should have done more to make viewers want to see McIntyre get his hands on him. The attorney never spoke and did not interfere in the match, and therefore it felt underwhelming when he took his ass kicking from McIntyre.
Riddle vs. John Morrison: Riddle’s entrance theme received one of the better pops of the night from the live crowd. The involvement of AJ Styles and Omos led to Morrison getting a surprise win and is presumably setting up Riddle and a returning Randy Orton as challengers for the Raw Tag Titles at SummerSlam.
Mace and T-Bar vs. Mustafa Ali and Mansoor: The match was fine and I’m mildly curious to see where the Ali and Mansoor relationship goes from here. I can’t imagine that this segment performed well in the ratings given how badly most of these characters have been abused. It held my interest so hopefully if it’s not a ratings winner to start, the call won’t be made to cut bait prematurely.
Overall Show: It’s actually sad that I found more enjoyment in this largely phoned in episode of Raw compared to last week when they actually tried to put their best foot forward. WWE went all out with John Cena and Goldberg on last week’s show, whereas they went light on star power this week and ended up producing a better show by keeping things simple.
WWE Raw Misses
Nikki ASH vs. Charlotte Flair in a Championship Contenders Match: The ring work was solid and ASH took a heck of a beating from Flair as those chop welts on her chest showed. ASH was well received during the opening segment, but she started to lose some of the live crowd as the night went on. Her Pollyanna act is better in small doses. She was overexposed last night and it doesn’t seem like that’s going to change given that they booked the rematch for next week.
Reginald vs. R-Truth for the WWE 24/7 Championship: The live crowd went from being as vocal as they were all night while singing along with Truth’s entrance theme to falling silent for Reginald. Sure, there were a few gasps as he performed his impressive acrobatics, but his oddball character has never clicked. I don’t think the fans know how to react to him. He was aligned with heels Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler previously, and if he’s a babyface now then it was an odd choice to have him work against the popular R-Truth.
WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Natalya and Tamina vs. Eva Marie and Doudrop in a Championship Contenders Match: Another match where it was hard to tell how the creative forces wanted the fans to react. Natalya and Tamina worked as heels in the Money in the Bank ladder match and have also been heels when facing Shotzi and Nox on Smackdown. They were seemingly babyfaces in this match given that they worked against Eva Marie, and I’m still not sure how the company want fans to feel about Doudrop. The Natalya injury was unfortunate and here’s hoping that it turns out to be minor. On a side note, I consider Lilly to be one of the most ridiculous things the company has ever featured on television, which is really saying something, but even I got a little chuckle over the doll being featured in the Eva-Lution parody video.