By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
WWE Champion Big E vs. Kevin Owens in a non-title steel cage match: The show opened strong with a quality cage match. I was surprised that the entire Bobby Lashley beat down angle took place during a commercial break. If the goal is to keep viewers from flipping over to Monday Night Football, then why not do something heading into the break to tease viewers that the Lashley attack was coming? One can only assume that the Lashley attack means that what started as a singles match and became a Triple Threat is about to become a four-way match for the WWE Championship at the WWE Day 1 pay-per-view.
Becky Lynch vs. Liv Morgan for the Raw Women’s Championship: A solid main event. WWE waited until moments before the match started to finally air portions of the Morgan documentary. Many fans came away from that documentary as new supporters of Morgan, but the problem is that only a fraction of the Raw audience actually saw it. Between the airing of a few notable clips from the documentary and Lynch cheating to beat Morgan, this was a good night in terms of giving fans some incentive to rally behind Morgan.
Bianca Belair vs. Doudrop: A quality match with a count-out finish designed to leave viewers wanting more. Doudrop is a very good heel who continues to be saddled with a terrible ring name. The name was bad enough when she was the sidekick of Eva Marie, and it really doesn’t work now that she’s a singles heel.
AJ Styles and Omos vs. The Street Profits in a tournament match: This appeared to be step one in the breakup angle of Styles and Omos. I’m curious to see who ends up in the babyface slot if they end up feuding. It was hard to tell in this match because Omos lost his temper with the Street Profits and cost his team the match, but the Styles character seemed more levelheaded about the way they lost than I would have anticipated.
Finn Balor vs. T-Bar: A bounce back win for Balor coming off his loss to Seth Rollins. The post match attack by Austin Theory was fine, but those skits featuring Theory and Vince McMahon are just strange and uneventful. It should mean so much more when Vince McMahon appears on television.
Queen Zelina vs. Nikki ASH: Another win for Zelina. It seemed as simple as that in the moment, but then it became clear that this was also about establishing ASH’s growing frustration. I really hope this isn’t a wannabe superhero gets her mojo back storyline. I’d much rather see her move on from the kiddie character by taking a dark turn. Either way, it’s sad to see Rhea Ripley wasted as an odd couple partner in a flat tag team.
WWE Raw Misses
Miz TV with Edge: While I continue to hope that this program somehow elevates Miz from pest heel status, it feels like a big step down for Edge right now. And it didn’t help the cause that Miz literally dropped on his back when Edge merely teased punching him. The mic work between the two is good, but they are paying the price for how poorly Miz was booked throughout his most recent run with John Morrison.
Riddle and Randy Orton: Riddle’s comedy just isn’t clicking with me and there was a lot of it on this episode. Orton is a lot more fun when he has no time for Riddle’s antics. Unfortunately, he’s been playing along a little more lately by having a wig placed on his head and by agreeing to put on the WWE blazer last night.
Damian Priest vs. Robert Roode for the U.S. Championship: The match was well worked, as is typically the came with Roode matches. The problem is that no one views Roode or Dolph Ziggler as threats to actually beat Priest for the title, meaning that this just comes off as television filler. Worse yet, Priest needs a real program. They had him plow through Apollo Crews and now he seems to be spinning his wheels. Crazy thought. Repackage T-Bar and turn him loose in a feud with Priest. Unfortunately, I think it’s more likely that Priest will end up working with Veer Mahaan, assuming he ever escapes the “coming soon” limbo period. I had Finn Balor pegged for the slot of getting Mahaan over, but it looks like Balor has been paired off with Austin Theory.
Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio vs. Alpha Academy: The match was brief and it felt more rushed than meaningful when Dom pinned Chad Gable. I’m not a fan of the idea of WWE holding a tournament to determine the No. 1 contenders to the Raw Tag Titles. I enjoy a good pro wrestling tournament, but WWE’s tag divisions don’t have many teams to begin with, and holding a four team tournament just means that three of the teams involved will end up taking losses. So while it will lead to a tag title match, I don’t feel like it’s worth hurting the other teams involved to get there.