By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Becky Lynch vs. Asuka in a Money in the Bank qualifier: The usual quality match from Lynch and Asuka. Their feud has suffered due to injuries and the Sasha Banks and Naomi situation causing the creative forces to book them in and out of number one contenders matches and a Triple Threat title match. As such, their feud has been more rushed and overexposed than it would have been if not for the need to call various audibles. Asuka’s character is still as one-dimensional as ever, but Lynch continues to do a great job of conveying her character’s growing frustration. I assume that part comes to an end next week when she finds her way into MITB, but more on that later.
Elias/Ezekiel and Kevin Owens: There are only so many things the company can do with the Elias and Ezekiel gag from a production standpoint. So, yes, it was predictable, but the production team did an excellent job. Owens continues to make the most of this oddball story and they’ve really been able to get more out of this than I think anyone could have anticipated.
Bobby Lashley vs. Chad Gable, Otis, and Theory in a gauntlet match: A good sequence that produced some quality ring work during the first stage with Gable. Otis was protected to some extent when Gable interfered and stopped him from being pinned. Lashley making quick work of Theory was interesting. They are not setting up their U.S. Title match as a showdown. Rather, Lashley looks far superior heading into the match that will likely result in a title change so that Theory is free to take another loss to John Cena at SummerSlam. Theory is young enough to absorb these losses and bounce back. Here’s hoping that he follows those expected losses by taking a more serious turn because playing this goofball character will eventually limit his upside. On a side note, it was interesting that Theory said Adam Pearce approved the gauntlet match rather than taking the more logical approach of stating that his heel mentor Mr. McMahon made the match for him. Are they starting to distance the Theory and McMahon characters?
Becky Lynch vs. Asuka vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Liv Morgan vs. Carmella in a five-way for a shot at the Raw Women’s Championship at Money in the Bank: Hey, it’s WWE’s bi-weekly multi-woman match for a shot at the Raw Women’s Championship! I can’t fault the company because they were dealt another bad hand with Rhea Ripley being sidelined right after she became No. 1 contender. Carmella replacing Ripley in the match isn’t the most exciting move, but it’s fine because the MITB ladder matches are the real selling points of the show.
WWE Raw Misses
Riddle vs. Omos in a Money in the Bank qualifier: Any sense of outrage over Riddle failing to qualify for the MITB match is on hold. With Riddle and Lynch on the outside looking in, I assume they will both win second chance qualifiers next week. Furthermore, I suspect that Riddle will enter and win the MITB match now that it has been established that the MITB contract is the only way for him to get another shot at Reigns (until the Royal Rumble). Even so, this felt like a flat way to follow up on Riddle’s highly rated title match with Roman Reigns on Smackdown. By the way, if I’m wrong about Riddle, then Sami Zayn would be a riot as the MITB winner given his current relationship with The Bloodline.
AJ Styles vs. Ciampa: The ring work was good. But I had to laugh at WWE introducing the story that Styles has been in a slump only to have him end it just minutes later. The real Miss is for Ciampa being wasted. This is a guy who drew as much heat as anyone when he had an entire arena booing his every move during a red hot NXT Takeover match with Johnny Gargano. Given Vince McMahon’s size hangups, it’s unrealistic to think Ciampa will ever be in the world title mix, but they could still get more out of him than they are.
Angelo Dawkins vs. Jey Uso: Jimmy Uso beat Montez Ford last week in what felt like a mild upset. Unfortunately, that set up this highly predictable match that saw Dawkins even up the singles matches between the two teams heading into their tag title match at Money in the Bank.
Vince McMahon appearance: Um, okay. Will he make forgettable appearance on WWE Main Event too?
I saw the theory that Vince is going on TV as often as possible now because he knows he has a short window before he won’t be allowed on TV ever again. Time will tell I guess.