By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Big E cashes in the Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE Championship: Raw desperately needed a shakeup. The upcoming draft will help, but they really needed to do something big to garner attention with the return of Monday Night Football as competition. The call to have Big E cash in successfully was the shot in the arm that the brand needs. It won’t solve the problem of all the filler that exists during the bloated three-hour show, but it gives Raw another star while also freshening up the title picture
Bobby Lashley vs. Randy Orton for the WWE Championship: A good match. The looming threat of Big E cashing in his MITB contract made the outcome feel predictable, but it’s not like a lot of fans were predicting an Orton win when this match was originally advertised for Extreme Rules. The timing of Big E announcing his cash-in also gives the Orton character heel logic justification for seeking revenge should Orton stay on Raw and eventually turn heel again. By the way, Lashley had a strong reign as champion. He is not to blame for the sad state of Raw. If anything, Lashley and previous champion Drew McIntyre were a couple of the few bright spots on the slumping brand.
Raw opening segment with Big E, Randy Orton, Riddle, Bobby Lashley, and MVP: This was exactly what it needed to be. WWE needs to deliver big with its opening segments to give viewers watching before the Monday Night Football game kicks off some incentive to check in on Raw. They accomplished that in this segment by setting up the WWE Championship match while also driving home the idea that Big E would cash in his MITB contract. WWE can’t stop every viewer from flipping to the MNF game, but the key is giving them a reason to either stick around, record the show, or flip back to Raw during halftime, commercial breaks, and for the main event segment.
Damian Priest vs. Jeff Hardy for the U.S. Championship: There were some clunky moments, but it was nice to see Priest involved in a fresh matchup. It was also nice to see Hardy involved in something meaningful after he was inexplicably tasked with chasing the WWE 24/7 Champion last week.
Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, Mustafa Ali, and Mansoor vs. AJ Styles, Omos, Mace, and T-Bar: The Hit goes for the booking of Omos and the way his matches are laid out. Omos is always booked strong. While his in-ring moveset is limited, his key moves are protected and pack a punch. The live crowds always react to Omos tagging into a match or even if he simply teases getting physical from ringside. Vince McMahon isn’t known for showing much patience in his booking these days, but he’s done just that with Omos thus far.
Raw Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair vs. Shayna Baszler in a non-title match: A solid match that once again left me confused as to which wrestler the creative forces want the fans to root for. The same issue exists heading into next week’s Baszler vs. Nia Jax match. The post match angle with Flair and Alexa Bliss did nothing for me because I’m just not a fan of the doll silliness, but the live crowd clearly enjoyed Bliss and her introduction of the Charly doll.
WWE Raw Misses
Rhea Ripley vs. Natalya: Here’s hoping that Ripley and ASH end up on opposite brands via the draft. ASH is a cute comedy character for the kids, but Ripley loses cool points every time she teams with her. RKBro has a special charm to it that just isn’t there with the Ripley and ASH odd couple team. As for the match, it was well worked and competitive. Unfortunately, the creative forces have done a number on Natalya and Tamina by having them take so many non-title losses to the point that their matches have become turnoffs. It’s a shame because they rose from the undercard ashes and made people care about their tag title win, but it’s been mostly downhill since then.
Nikki ASH vs. Tamina: The finish was botched with Tamina clearly kicking out before the referee made the three count. It also felt like the colder of the two matches involving the WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions.
Eva Marie vs. Doudrop: Is this over yet? Can we just cut to the part where Doudrop forms a tag team with Nikki Cross so that Rhea Ripley can move on?
Drew McIntyre and The Viking Raiders vs. Jinder Mahal, Veer, and Shanky: Mahal and his crew continue to be channel changing material. So the best things I can say about the match is that it was brief and McIntyre got a win after taking a couple of losses over the last two weeks. The draft can’t get here soon enough for McIntyre, though it is worth noting that he’s eligible to challenge for the WWE Championship again now that Bobby Lashley dropped the title.