By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
John Cena’s 20th Anniversary Celebration: The usual positive speech from Cena along with some great production work throughout the night. The big surprise was seeing Paul Wight, Bryan Danielson, and Chris Jericho appear via taped testimonials. WWE and AEW each deserve credit for putting aside their differences and making this happen.
20-man battle royal for a spot in the Money in the Bank ladder match: This was the more intriguing of the two MITB qualifiers. Sure, Riddle felt like the obvious pick to win, but there were at least some other candidates so that it didn’t feel nearly as predictable as the women’s elimination match. Riddle initially earned his shot at the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship by defeating Sami Zayn on Smackdown. WWE followed up by awkwardly adding the stipulation that Riddle would not get another shot while Roman Reigns is champion if he lost the match. Once Riddle lost to Reigns, they said that Riddle’s only path to another title shot would be winning the MITB ladder match (and I suppose there’s also the Royal Rumble). With all of that in mind, my guess is that WWE has been planning to have Riddle win MITB since they added the stipulation to his match with Reigns.
Bobby Lashley vs. “Alpha Academy” Chad Gable and Otis in a handicap match with Theory as special enforcer: I’m not a fan of Alpha Academy being positioned as undercard fodder, but it definitely made Lashley look good to beat them while Theory was at ringside. Lashley needed a boost coming out of his forgettable feud with Omos, and I assume it will be capped off with him beating Theory to win the U.S. Title on Saturday.
Judgment Day recruits Dominik Mysterio: An interesting development. Whether Dom turns on his father or nothing changes, this was a good hook for next week’s Mysterios vs. Finn Balor and Damian Priest tag team match.
Jey Uso vs. Montez Ford: The usual good singles match involving one of the Usos and a member of the Street Profits. While Ford’s sky high frog splash really is a thing of beauty, it strikes me as a move that should be saved for special occasions. The impact has to take a toll on Ford. Like any move, the more you see it, the less special it feels.
Cody Rhodes interview: It was odd that WWE didn’t make more of a fuss over this segment in advance. I don’t believe they even mentioned it was going to take place until just before the commercial break that preceded it. The interview airing on the MITB go-home show combined with Cody talking about about Seth Rollins was interesting. Will Cody provide some type of distraction that prevents Rollins from winning? There’s still an open slot, but it would be pretty lame if Cody somehow ended in that position and waited until everyone else was down to pull down the briefcase.
WWE Raw Misses
Becky Lynch vs. Xia Li vs. Doudrop vs. Nikki ASH vs. Tamina vs. Shayna Baszler in a six-way elimination match for a spot in the Money in the MITB match: A painfully predictable main event. Really, the highlight of Lynch’s night was when she sat and stared at the ground while everyone else was applauding John Cena in the opening segment. Lynch’s struggle to qualify for the MITB match felt like an inferior version of the story that Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens might not find a spot on the WrestleMania card.
AJ Styles vs. The Miz: A plodding match that dragged on for over twelve minutes before closing out with a weak count-out finish. Has anyone ever looked more beat up from a Miz match than Styles did with those cuts and scrapes on his face?
Alexa Bliss vs. Liv Morgan: A cold match between two babyface wrestlers. Morgan going over was positioned as an upset, but it was hard to feel good for her character when she acted so self satisfied afterward.