Powell’s WWE Raw Hit List: Cody Rhodes vs. Kevin Owens, Finn Balor vs. Theory for the U.S. Championship, Sasha Banks and Naomi vs. Rhea Ripley and Liv Morgan for the WWE Women’s Tag Titles, Randy Orton and Riddle vs. The Street Profits in a non-title match, Bianca Belair and Sonya Deville

By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

WWE Raw Hits

Finn Balor vs. Theory for the U.S. Championship: An entertaining title change. Balor seems to work better in challenger mode on the main roster, and this was obviously meant to be a crowning moment for Theory given the rare heel celebration followed by the Vince McMahon moment on the stage. They certainly tried to make it feel special, but winning the U.S. Title only means so much these days given how much WWE has lowered the value of its secondary titles. In fact, if WWE brings back the concept that wrestlers are desperate to find spots on the WrestleMania card next year, maybe the story should be that no one wants to be the U.S. Champion or Intercontinental Champion given that those titles didn’t even crack the WrestleMania 38 lineup.

Bianca Belair and Sonya Deville: Deville’s self-serving middle management character is easy to dislike. It also makes her feel like a bit more of a threat to beat Belair given that she wields some semblance of power. Deville’s character has also helped reestablish the Adam Pearce character as a neutral party. Pearce is calling out Deville, and I got a kick out of him fining Belair a dollar for putting her hands on Deville. It will be interesting to see if next week’s Raw Women’s Championship match is an actual match or if it will be an angle that puts heat on Deville in Belair’s hometown to set up the actual match for WrestleMania Backlash.

Cody Rhodes vs. Kevin Owens: I really liked the story of Seth Rollins booking Cody against a mystery opponent. It was a case of turnabout being fair play coming out of WrestleMania, and Rhodes looked good for accepting the match without hesitation. I also enjoyed the work between Rhodes and Owens during the main event. Unfortunately, I got the sense that the live crowd expected an actual surprise. WWE fans have been conditioned to assume that most mystery opponents in television matches will end up being someone who is on the active roster. In this case, I can understand why the crowd may have had their hopes up for a true surprise, as Cody certainly exceeded the expectations of a lot of casual fans when he was Rollins’ mystery opponent at WrestleMania. And while it was the right move for the finish of the match to have Owens walk out to avoid giving away a clean finish to their first television match since Cody returned, it also made for an unsatisfying end to the show.

Sasha Banks and Naomi vs. Rhea Ripley and Liv Morgan for the WWE Women’s Tag Titles: The wrestlers delivered spirited performances. Unfortunately, the match was only given a little more than seven minutes and also included a commercial break. As much as I wish they had been given more time, what we saw was a lot of fun. The outcome of the match was never in question, and the turn of Ripley was another case of WWE going overboard with foreshadowing to the point that everyone other than Morgan and the broadcast team knew that Ripley was turning.

Raw Tag Team Champions “RK-Bro” Randy Orton and Riddle vs. “The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins in a non-title match: Did the Profits become heels without actually having a heel turn? It was a good match and it also had the only unexpected outcome of the night. Orton and Riddle have beaten Alpha Academy repeatedly, so it’s good to see the Profits bounce back from their loss to the Usos last week, as the company will need credible challengers for whichever team(s) holds the tag titles coming out of WrestleMania Backlash. My guard is up for a possible copout finish in the unification match. If WWE intends to actually unify the tag titles, it would be a good idea to go with a stipulation that says there must be a winner.

WWE Raw Misses

Commitment Ceremonies: There were a couple of comical moments, but this silliness of the segment just wasn’t for me. The live crowd’s taunts along with chants that were unrelated to the segment seemed to suggest that I’m not alone.

Edge and Damian Priest: I really want to like this alliance. It just hasn’t clicked with me yet. As someone who likes things to feel as real as possible, I am able to write off the arena lighting changes as a mind game. But there was a disconnect when the same lighting was used backstage in AJ Styles’ dressing room. This seemed to suggest that Edge has developed some sort of magical light changing powers, and I have zero desire to see him or Priest become a hocus pocus characters.

Veer Mahaan vs. Jeff Brooks: A soft Miss. It felt like they got the order wrong in that it would have made more sense for Veer to destroy a local wrestler last week and work his way up to Dominik Mysterio this week. Instead, we got a repeat angle that packed less of a punch because viewers had no reason to care about Brooks.

Kevin Owens and Ezekiel: Another soft Miss. The gag of Elias claiming to be Ezekiel is going to run out of steam quickly if there’s not more to it. One would hope that the company had the foresight to film several videos with Elias before he changed his look, but there’s been no hint of that thus far. If anyone can make this work, it’s Owens, and yet this feels like an underwhelming landing spot for him coming off his terrific performance during the build to his WrestleMania match with Steve Austin.


Readers Comments (3)

  1. Amen on that last Miss. I am wondering, is Owens becoming a victim of his own success? I worry that the “if anyone can get this over, Owens can” mentality will lead the crack writing team to set him up for all their worst ideas. He certainly deserves better after his outstanding work before and during Wrestlemania.

  2. I thought there were vignettes months ago with Elias claiming he’s “dead”..

  3. I did get a few chuckles out of KO being paranoid about Elias just like Sami Zahn’s conspiracy theories.

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