By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins: A strong main event with a count-out finish that told a story and didn’t come off as a cop out. Big E accidentally getting in the way of Owens at ringside and preventing him from beating the referee’s count was nicely done in terms of giving the Owens character a reason to snap. I would love to see Owens align with Rollins, but I suspect they are building to a Triple Threat match with Big E for the WWE Championship given that all three men have issues with one another.
Liv Morgan vs. Rhea Ripley vs. Bianca Belair vs. Carmella vs. Queen Zelina in a five-way match for a shot at the Raw Women’s Championship: An entertaining match with a satisfying finish that protected Belair while giving Morgan a good win. Morgan challenging Becky Lynch feels fresh and I’m hopeful that they will get some promo time to set up what I assume will be a television match. Ripley desperately needs to move away from teaming with Nikki ASH.
Bobby Lashley vs. Dominik Mysterio for a spot on Team Raw at Survivor Series: A strong return for Lashley. It was nice to see MVP, but it was odd that we didn’t hear from him on his first night back. The story of Adam Pearce booking this match was an odd one. I can live with him having second thoughts about putting Dom in the Survivor Series elimination match or even potentially screwing with him by booking this match, but can anyone explain why he claimed that he wanted Team Raw to win when he oversees both brands?
Randy Orton, Riddle, Montez Ford, Angelo Dawkins vs. AJ Styles, Omos, Robert Roode, and Dolph Ziggler: A lengthy match with good work from most of the wrestlers. It felt like they went long just for the sake of filling a lot of television time, but at least the match had an interesting finish that wasn’t as simple as one of the babyfaces pinning Roode or Ziggler. Rather, they created some tension between the heel teams by having Ziggler steal the pin from Styles. Roode and Ziggler have taken so many losses that it feels like they are one loss away from becoming irrelevant, so hopefully the creative forces will continue to give them wins.
WWE Champion Big E vs. Chad Gable in a non-title match: What might have been. This was a good match that could have been so much better had they been given more time. Gable is in a better place than he was during the awful Shorty G run, but it’s obvious that the creative forces still see him as a mid-card act and their real focus is on building up Otis. All of that said, major props to the timely, comical jabs at Aaron Rodgers.
WWE Raw Misses
Doudrop complains about Bianca Belair’s opportunities: The WWE creative forces have been doing good work with Raw coming out of the draft, but I was baffled by their decision to have Doudrop complain about the title opportunities that Bianca Belair has received. They took a similar approach with Drew McIntyre a while back and it really hurt him to have other wrestlers point out how many title shots he had and how many times he came up short while chasing Lashley. I’m all for Doudrop turning heel and I’m begging them to go back to her Piper Niven name, but no good can come from a babyface Belair being positioned a management favorite who can’t get the job done.
Survivor Series hype: Did WWE forget until recently that they have a pay-per-view a week from Sunday? How else does one explain the strange decision to randomly announce the Team Raw vs. Team Smackdown elimination matches on a Saturday afternoon? They also failed to make the Roman Reigns vs. Big E match feel significant when it was casually announced while a graphic for the match appeared on the screen. As much as I’m not a fan of the brand supremacy theme, it’s still a Big Four pay-per-view event and the final WWE pay-per-view of 2021. This shouldn’t feel like a throwaway show and yet it currently does.
WWE 24/7 Division: They shook things up a bit by having a bunch of title changes rather than going with the usual Reggie match. Even so, the light humor segments don’t do anything for me and I never feel like they generate any real excitement from live crowds either.