By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Kevin Owens vs. Jey Uso: The best match of the night combined with the my favorite WWE storyline with the relationship between The Bloodline and Sami Zayn. It was logical to add Owens to the mix. I hope the creative forces squeeze everything they can out of the highly entertaining Zayn and Bloodline relationship, yet when the time is right there is money in Owens and Zayn reuniting to chase the Usos for the tag team titles.
Seth Rollins and Matt Riddle’s heated verbal exchange: The interview portion of the exchange was strong enough to serve as good go-home hype for their match at WWE Clash at the Castle. The bonus scene with Rollins taking a dig at Riddle over his wife divorcing him and taking their children sent this feud into overdrive. This is the type of realism that has been missing from the WWE main roster product for years. It was also good to see that Riddle got his first name back. It’s even more important that he’s been able to add a new dimension to his character by showing a far more intense side of his persona.
“The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins vs. “Alpha Academy” Chad Gable and Otis: A strong tag match. These teams have worked together a lot, but enough time had passed between their television matches to make this matchup feel fairly fresh again. The involvement of Kurt Angle was a mixed bag. The shoosh exchange with Gable was basic and underwhelming. I get the feeling that the shoosh routine is over more with the creative forces than it is with the actual audience. The tried and true bit with milk being Angle’s drink of choice after the match was a fun callback.
AJ Styles and Dolph Ziggler vs. Finn Balor and Damian Priest: The match actually fell below expectations, but it was a quality bounce back win for The Judgment day duo. The angle with Edge and the Mysterios was the real Hit. It was interesting that Rhea Ripley was able to talk Dominik Mysterio into handing her his kendo stick. Rey’s backstage chat with Dom set the table for a snubbed Dom being at ringside rather than working the match on Saturday.
Overall Show: The pacing of the show was the best it has been since the creative change. None of the matches overstayed their welcome, and they had a better balance of in-ring action and verbal segments. This was also a good go-home show for the Raw side of Saturday’s Clash at the Castle event.
WWE Raw Misses
Raquel Rodriguez and Aliyah vs. Iyo Sky and Dakota Kai for the vacant WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles: A soft Miss. The outcome of the match was surprising and not in a good way. Rodriguez has a bright future on the main roster. And while the jury is still out on Aliyah, but there’s just no chemistry between the two. The Sky, Kai, and Bayley trio could have used the boost that the tag team titles would have provided. On the bright side, I liked seeing this match in the main event slot. Viewers were all but guaranteed that they would see new champions crowned, and it sent the right message to have the beaten down tag team titles featured in the main event. It may not pay off for the company in the ratings this week, but it was a clear step toward the long term goal of making the the women’s tag team titles feel meaningful.
U.S. Champion Bobby Lashley vs. The Miz in a non-title match: The match was built around Miz being traumatized after being abducted by Dexter Lumis last week. And while that’s been a fairly interesting story thus far, I didn’t care for the way that Lashley felt like an afterthought even though he ultimately went over. It also felt strange to see Lashley struggle to beat a jittery Miz. Lashley will be fine coming out of this, but I just didn’t care for it in the moment, especially given the company’s recent efforts to make the secondary championships feel more important.
Bianca Belair, Alexa Bliss, and Asuka vs. Dani Mo, Kayla Sparks, and Katie Arquette: I was fine with the enhancement match approach. My issue is with the cold team of Belair, Bliss, and Asuka. Belair is a strong champion and she’ll be fine coming out of the WWE Clash at the Castle event. But something needs to happen to breathe some life into the cold Bliss and Asuka characters.