By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Big E vs. Bobby Lashley in a non-title, No DQ match: The attention to detail in this match was strong when it came to making Big E look as good as he could in defeat. Lashley speared Big E, which led to Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens running out to make the save. But they arrived before Lashley could even made the cover, so wasn’t framed as if Big E was definitely going to lose at this point in the match. And while Big E ultimately did lose, it was only after he took out Owens and then delivered a fiery speech to Lashley to stand up and finish it one on one. At that point, MVP hit him with the cane in a cheap shot, which allowed Lashey to spear and pin him. So Big E took the loss, yet didn’t look weak by any means, which is very important with his clean loss to Roman Reigns at Survivor Series still fresh in the minds of viewers.
Becky Lynch and Liv Morgan: A good verbal segment with Lynch going after the fans again to get heat rather than taking the more subtle approach. Morgan came off well in showing that Lynch cheated to beat her, and I like that Lynch shrugged it off by saying that Morgan should have beat her to the punch. Lynch’s violent attack on the arm of Morgan was nicely done. Morgan’s tearful selling of the attack would have meant a lot more if she didn’t seem to cry about something nearly every week.
Otis vs. Riddle: A truly unexpected finish to the opening match. It was surprising to see him actually pin Riddle, and also because Otis actually won in his home state rather than being humiliated like so many WWE wrestlers have been over the years. The post match angle was also strong with Otis stuffing Randy Orton’s RKO attempt and leaving him lying with an elbow. I assume this is setting up a tag title match, but it felt more like a singles push for Otis. If WWE wants viewers to see Alpha Academy as a threat to beat RKBro, then they really need to stop positioning Chad Gable as such a weak link. Regular viewers know that while Otis made to look strong, Gable takes routine losses for the team. I get that they may have singles plans for Otis somewhere down the road and I’m all for keeping him strong, but it would help in the moment to establish that Gable can hold his own and isn’t just a fall guy.
Bianca Belair vs. Doudrop: Another good match from these two. Doudrop is so much better as a heel (now if only the company would give up on that awful name). The post match angle was simple and effective with Doudrop returning to cheap shot Belair on the stage to get her heat back.
Bobby Lashley vs. Kevin Owens: I got a big kick out of Owens tapping out before Lashley could even apply the Hurt Lock properly. It worked for his character and his heel logic that he tapped out to avoid the possibility of being injured was solid.
Damian Priest and Finn Balor vs. Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler: Another surprising outcome with the heel duo scoring the upset win, albeit with help from a distraction caused by Austin Theory’s latest selfie photo session. Balor and Theory are obviously feuding, and I suspect that Ziggler will be challenging Priest for the U.S. Championship soon after hitting him with that cheap shot after Priest beat Roode last week.
WWE Raw Misses
Bobby Lashley vs. Seth Rollins: A soft Hit for the least entertaining of Lashley’s three matches. I get the idea of Kevin Owens attacking Rollins with the goal of getting Lashley disqualified to prevent him from getting into the WWE Championship match at WWE Day 1. That part was clever. But it was tough to accept the idea that Rollins would pal around with Owens the remainder of the night even if they did have a common goal, especially given all of the issues they had leading up to the originally advertised Triple Threat match. I’d love to see them form a long term alliance if Owens ends up re-signing with WWE, but I hope any union between them makes more sense than this did.
Rhea Ripley vs. Queen Zelina: I get the story they are telling with Nikki ASH having confidence issues. And while I applaud the idea of putting consistent heat on the heel WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions, I’m more than ready for Ripley to move on from this tired tag team with ASH. There’s a place for ASH’s kid friendly act, but this all feels beneath Ripley, and the odd couple tag team has never quite clicked. I continue to hope that ASH will eventually snap and become something similar to the Sanity version of her character.