By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Seth Rollins vs. AJ Styles in a Money in the Bank qualifier: The best match of the night. I wish it felt like the stakes were higher in that the winner is in the MITB match and the loser is definitely out of the match. WWE’s use of second chance qualifiers in recent years left me wondering if Styles will still find his way into the match. If WWE doesn’t intend to have a second chance qualifier, they would be wise to announce it so that viewers know that the stakes are high.
Miz TV with Paul Heyman: A good show opening segment that provided solid hype for Friday’s Roman Reigns vs. Riddle match for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship. It must be noted that WWE is getting strange with its match stipulations. First, they announced that Riddle had to beat Sami Zayn or he would be barred from Smackdown. As a Raw wrestler, he already should have been barred from Smackdown. And then after making the title match official on Friday, somehow the story now is that Heyman got WWE to add the stipulation that Riddle must win or he can never challenge Reigns for the title again. Why would anyone agree to that one-sided stipulation after Riddle already earned his title match?
Becky Lynch: The attack on Dana Brooke along with her lack of interest in the worthless WWE 24/7 Championship were enough to land this segment in the Hit section. Lynch’s character is becoming less stable by the week and she’s playing it perfectly.
Judgment Day and Bianca Belair: Rhea Ripley standing front and center with Damian Priest and Finn Balor at each side worked for this viewer. It may have simply been due to this segment being built around her and Belair, but I think it would be fun if Ripley ends up being positioned as the leader of the faction. Either way, I am really looking forward to Belair vs. Ripley at MITB (while praying that WWE does not add hocus pocus nonsense to the Judgment Day act).
Riddle vs. Ciampa: A surprisingly competitive match. With Riddle challenging for the title on Friday, you had to know he was going over clean. But this was hardly the squash match that it seemed like it would be when Ciampa didn’t get a televised entrance. Ciampa had a good amount of offense and had a really close near fall before Riddle put him him away. Hopefully this is a sign that Ciampa isn’t going to be a glorified enhancement wrestler or a regular chaser of the WWE 24/7 Championship.
Jimmy Uso vs. Montez Ford: A good match with a mild surprise in Uso going over. Granted, this probably means that Angelo Dawkins will even things up by beating Jey Uso soon. Even so, it was nice to see a match that didn’t feel like formula WWE booking.
Kevin Owens vs. Ezekiel: Just about the time it felt like this feud had overstayed its welcome, Ezekiel announced the return of Elias for next week’s show. Only time will tell whether the Elias segment works, but it’s a fun hook for next week’s Raw.
WWE Raw Misses
Bobby Lashley vs. Theory in a pose-down: I felt bad for the fans in the building who purchased Raw tickets only to have their main event segment be forgettable a pose-down. Conversely, I would actually be thrilled if I went to a body building event and the final segment was an unadvertised wrestling match, but I digress. I continue to assume that Lashley will beat Theory for the U.S. Championship to free up Theory for a loss to John Cena. I suppose the alternative is that they all meet in a Triple Threat match or the title, but I’m guessing that WWE wants to go with a feel-good ending for Cena’s return, and I don’t see any reason to put the U.S. Title on him at this point in his career.
Alexa Bliss and Liv Morgan vs. Nikki ASH and Doudrop in a Money in the Bank qualifier: The match was fine, but I’m puzzled by the call to go with a tag team qualifier. I would be more understanding if they had told a story by creating some friction between Bliss and Morgan heading into Money in the Bank, but they were all smiles after the match. WWE has three long hours of Raw to fill on a weekly basis. The MITB qualifiers gives the company a chance to add stakes to what would ordinarily be throwaway matches. So why not have two qualifying matches rather than one awkward tag team qualifier?
Veer Mahaan vs. Rey Mysterio: Beating the legendary Rey Mysterio should be a feather in the cap of Mahaan. Unfortunately, his win over Rey didn’t feel any more meaningful than when Mahaan defeated Dominik Mysterio.
MVP vs. Cedric Alexander: Are they actually telling a story with Alexander or just burying him before they send him off to chase the WWE 24/7 Championship or have him follow Apollo Crews to NXT?
Mustafa Ali vs. Chad Gable: It seemed like the idea was to have the Otis distraction give Ali an out for losing. Ali has taken so many losses that a finish like this is no longer enough protects him because the damage has already been done.