By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Seth Rollins vs. Montez Ford: A strong match between arguably the most consistent in-ring performer on the WWE roster and a rising star. Ford stealing the match from Angelo Dawkins by leaving him hanging on the rock/paper/scissors game is one of those things that can be shrugged off as cute, and yet it can also be a small hint pointing toward a Ford heel turn or even one of the little things that builds up the frustration within the Dawkins character if they opt to turn him. Either way, I love that the broadcast team not longer have to be the only people in the world oblivious to things such as the speculation that the Profits could be on the verge of a split. It was also interesting to hear Rollins mention his interest in going after the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship. Rollins going after his old Shield mate or serving as the first challenger for Drew McIntyre depending on the outcome of the Clash at the Castle match works either way.
Edge: The Judgment Day version of Edge just didn’t click. It was wise to go back to what has worked in the past rather than run the risk of taking another swing and a miss with a new persona. And it’s not like Edge can’t add some new twists on his old persona as he moves forward. His promo was basic and that’s all that was needed. The fans wanted the Edge back that they know and love, so they quickly accepted his acknowledgment that he’d been an asshole and were clearly ready to move on with him based on the big reaction they gave him when he returned after the main event.
Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso vs. Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio for the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Titles: A good television main event. The Usos have racked up victories in title defenses without losing a slew of non-title matches. They feel like the strongest tag team champions that WWE has had in ages, as well as key members of The Bloodline rather than just being henchmen for Roman Reigns. The post match angle was an interesting development with Edge attempting to spear Finn Balor only to have Rhea Ripley shove Dom in Edge’s path. Had I placed a prop bet on Dom joining Judgment Day a while back, I’d be digging through the trash today while trying to find a betting slip that I prematurely gave up on.
Raw Women’s Champion Bianca Belair vs. Iyo Sky in a non-title match: The segment with Lynch explaining her abrupt change in direction was well explained in short order. It’s a shame that she will be missing time due to a separated shoulder, but I’m really looking forward to seeing if she can regain the magic of her original run as The Man. It was a good night for the women’s division in that they focused on the key players while some of the more damaged acts were given the night off and will hopefully become restoration projects. The actual match was entertaining and while the no-contest finish was underwhelming, it was also understandable in that neither wrestler needed to take a loss. Now if only the company could find a new merchandise item for Alexa Bliss so that she can ditch the ridiculous doll. On the bright side, I don’t recall hearing the silly “championship contenders match” slogan, so hopefully that’s been scrapped.
AJ Styles vs. Mustafa Ali vs. The Miz in a Triple Threat qualifier for the match that will determine the number one contender to the U.S. Championship: The video package spotlighting the historic and more modern U.S. Champions was really well done and encouraging. It’s been a long time since the secondary championships meant what they should in WWE, and it looks like one of Paul Levesque’s first orders of business is to change that. The actual match was competitive and I loved the finish with Ali’s legs bouncing off the mat following his splash on Miz, only to have Styles grab them and hit a Styles Clash on top of Miz.
Ciampa vs. Chad Gable vs. Dolph Ziggler in a Triple Threat qualifier for the match that will determine the number one contender to the U.S. Championship: My only complaint about both Triple Threat matches is that there was zero explanation offered as to why these six wrestlers were chosen. They might as well have told us that there was a random draw because there really wasn’t a good way to explain it otherwise. Even so, this was another quality match and it was nice to see Ciampa get a meaningful clean win on the main roster.
Ciampa vs. AJ Styles for a shot at the U.S. Championship: The Miz playing such a big part in Ciampa winning the match prevented this from being as impactful as it would have been had Ciampa simply beaten Styles clean. My guess is that The Miz is going to do something that costs Ciampa during his title match with Bobby Lashley next week. If would kill two birds with one stone if they want to protect Ciampa in a loss, and it’s an easy way to end the awkward Ciampa and Miz alliance. With next week’s Raw being in Cleveland, I wonder if Ciampa’s former partner and rival and fellow Paul Levesque favorite Johnny Gargano will show up.
WWE Raw Misses
None: Paul Levesque and his crew took what they had to work with from previous storylines and started to put their twist on things. They delivered a good three-hour pro wrestling show and started the process of putting the wrestlers in places they seat fit without just blowing up everything in reboot style. They didn’t hot shot in a way that felt unnatural with wrestlers who meant little last week suddenly being cast as major players. Levesque and his crew didn’t swing for the fences and yet the signs of change were still obvious. It’s going to take some time for them to move the pieces around, but it’s going to be fun to watch them do it, and hopefully it will be even more fun once everything is in place. This was a good, logical start of the new creative era.
Doesn’t your Dominic Mysterio prediction only work if they go with the old WWE trope of wrestlers not having access to a TV or anyone pointing out to them what happened? I was hoping that might be one of the Vince-isms that would be done away with.
Good call Jason. This was a good to very good show
I’m glad they are making improvements rather than a radical “Russo reset” because the latter rarely sticks long term
it was a decent raw….but a statement raw it was not!
You don’t like the “Championship Contenders” concept? I thought it makes non-title matches more interesting, ala ROH’s “Proving Ground” deal.
Nope, just another bad Vince phrase. Let’s be real. If a wrestler beats a champion in a non-title match, that wrestler is going to get a title shot.
I just don’t see it. If the creative shakeup hadn’t been such big news people wouldn’t be noticing a difference. This was still a bad show filled with the same flaws: drawn out matches, incessant recaps, self-congratulatory promotion, etc. It still feels like they’re stretching everything to fill 3 hours rather than giving their best. Or maybe this is their best, and that’s unfortunate.