By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Randy Orton and Riddle: The odd couple storyline is carrying the show and there seems to be genuine fan interest in seeing them win the Raw Tag Titles. Omos isn’t asked to do much, but AJ Styles is doing a great job of handling the heavy lifting for the heel side of this program.
Karrion Kross vs. Jeff Hardy: Well, at least they didn’t have Kross take another loss on go-home week for NXT Takeover 36. I still have no idea why they didn’t have Kross debut next Monday after Takeover. It’s not like they’ve done anything with him on Raw that couldn’t have waited.
Elias: Only time will tell whether the end result will be an improvement, but I continue to be intrigued by the idea of overhauling the Elias act.
The Miz and John Morrison: A soft Hit for the tease of friction between the two. Unfortunately, it seemed like they were right back on the same page later in the show. Hopefully that was just a swerve, because these two desperately need something new.
WWE Raw Misses
Bobby Lashley and Goldberg: The latest face-to-face segment offered nothing new aside from Gage’s football team showing up. They kept it short, but I can’t say this angle did anything to get me more excited about seeing their SummerSlam match. There must be a reason that Gage has been introduced. Is he throwing in the towel to spare his father on Saturday? I hope it’s not as simple as MVP does something to Gage at ringside to distract Goldberg just long enough for Lashley to spear him.
Final push for Nikki ASH vs. Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair: I hope that Nikki envisioned this character being a flash in the pan. The live event crowds have already started to sour on it, and it feels like it’s only a matter of time before the Pollyanna routine is rejected by the masses. I’d love to think that she saw it coming and already has plans for a dark heel twist. Anyway, Ripley beating ASH in a rematch felt fine in the moment, but then Ripley ended up taking the loss in the tag team match later in the show. So that means the champion and one of her two challengers lost on the go-home show heading into their Triple Threat. Why?
Drew McIntyre vs. Veer and Shanky in a handicap match: At least they kept it brief. McIntyre’s feud with Jinder Mahal and his henchmen continues to feel ice cold. It really needs to end at SummerSlam, but I have a bad feeling that the creative forces are going to drag this out for another month, if not longer.
Alexa Bliss, Eva Marie, and Doudrop: The build to Bliss getting Eva in the ring was so rough that I was actually surprised when they announced their match for SummerSlam. Eva slapping Doudrop was somewhat effective in terms of putting heat on Eva while making Doudrop look sympathetic, but it would have meant a lot more had Doudrop’s character not bounced back and forth between appearing to be used by Eva one week to being a willing accomplice for her the next.
Mace vs. Mansoor: The teams of Mustafa Ali and Mansoor are just trading meaningless wins and losses with Mace and T-Bar in singles and tag matches. The parity booking has already left me feeling numb to their feud.
Reggie in the park: Reggie’s speech about his love of parks was so awful that it actually it made me laugh, which is more than I can say about the intended comedy with R-Truth dressed like a bush and Akira Tozawa wearing a trash bucket.
Overall Show: Oh, this show. This uninspired, unimaginative, repetitive, and lifeless show. WWE has a pair of billion dollar television deals, a billion dollar streaming deal, and a chairman who can point to those deals as proof that his current creative work is a success. Regular viewers know the real story. They know that Raw has been going through the motions for years. They know that the show is filled with rematch after rematch of tired feuds that always overstay their welcome thanks to a barrage of bad television match finishes. They know that the show features a cast of talented performers who won’t live up to their potential because they don’t get the creative support they need and deserve.
Many fans have thrown in the towel. Some of us stick around and just continue to hope that it will all somehow get better. Sure, we get the occasional moment that provides us with a glimmer of hope, but that hope is almost always washed away within a week for two thanks to the the terrible creative follow-up. I give segments Hits. I give segments Misses. But the overall show rarely leaves me feeling like it was three hours well spent, let alone excited to see what comes next. Raw just plods along with episodes that range from being slightly better than the mediocrity that we have come to expect to being downright terrible. But I can’t even remember the last time I felt that a Raw episode was truly great.
Raw is just a sad and bloated shell of its former self. And when the long, uneventful three hours concludes, the best way to feel good about things is to remind yourself that the worst three hours of pro wrestling for that week is over. After all, it is nearly inevitable at this point that every other pro wrestling show on television – WWE and non-WWE – will be better than the once mighty WWE flagship.