By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Smackdown Tag Team Champions Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso vs. Big E and Drew McIntyre in a non-title match: The babyface duo melting down heading into their WWE Championship match at Crown Jewel was well done. I’m all for adding some tension going into their match rather than have it be a friendly babyface encounter. I still assume the match ends with a handshake and a hug, but it’s important to have that friction between the two characters going into their match. The addition of the Usos to the show gave Raw a fresh and unexpected main event. On a side note, please tell me that WWE officials aren’t oblivious enough to have McIntyre carry that giant f’n sword to the ring in Saudi Arabia.
Xavier Woods vs. Ricochet in a King of the Ring first round match: A solid KOTR match with Woods advancing to the semifinals of the tournament that he’s spoke of winning for many years now. Unfortunately, we haven’t really seen Woods talk about his long desire to win KOTR on WWE television unless you count him obnoxiously yelling “crown me” over and over again last week. Rather than assume that everyone is watching his online shows, hopefully we’ll actually hear his character explain on Raw why the tournament means so much to him.
Doudrop vs. Natalya in a Queen’s Crown tournament first round match: At three minutes, this was actually the longest of the Queen’s Crown opening round matches. There was no storyline between the two heading into the match, so Natalya’s aggressive slaps early on were effective in terms of commanding the audience’s attention and creating some friction between the two wrestlers.
Shayna Baszler vs. Dana Brooke in a Queen’s Crown first round match: The Queen’s Crown opening round tournament matches were all ridiculously short in length. It made sense for Baszler to make quick work of Brooke given that her character is suddenly being pushed as a truly dominant badass again for the first time since she was called up from NXT. That said, the short length of the other tournament matches made Baszler’s win feel par for the course.
Omos vs. Riddle: The RKBro vs. AJ Styles and Omos feud feels like its overstayed its welcome and needs to wrap up at Crown Jewel. Nevertheless, WWE deserves credit for consistently protecting the monster status of Omos. He never looks overly vulnerable and continues to come across like one of the most dominant wrestlers in the company despite being limited in the ring.
Austin Theory vs. Jeff Hardy: A soft Hit for Theory getting a fairly forgettable win over Hardy in his re-debut match on Raw. Hardy has taken so many losses that this actually would have been a good spot for Theory to go over clean given that Hardy will need to be rebooted when he moves to Smackdown anyway if the company has any plans for him. And I definitely could have done without the 24/7 silliness, which didn’t seem to serve a purpose aside from getting Reggie and his usual stalkers on the show. Still, I like the selfie gimmick that Theory is doing and he’s off to a decent start.
WWE Raw Misses
Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair vs. Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks: The chaotic pre-match brawl just didn’t click. It didn’t help that the San Francisco crowd was light in numbers and less vocal as a typical WWE crowd. The match ending with more brawling between the four wrestlers felt like an uninspired copout finish.
Kofi Kingston vs. Jinder Mahal in a King of the Ring first round match: WWE teased viewers with the only truly compelling matchup of the KOTR tournament and then went with Mahal going over to deprive viewers of Kingston vs. Xavier Woods in the semifinals. Perhaps I’m giving him too much credit, but it’s not like Vince McMahon to tease something he doesn’t intend to deliver, so I wonder if the plan is to circle back to Kingston vs. Woods in a non-tournament match.
Mustafa Ali and Mansoor vs. Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin: An 80-second match that didn’t do much for either team. It beat Alexander and Benjamin taking another loss, but the focus of the segment was obviously to set up the Ali and Mansoor split.