By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
U.S. Champion Seth Rollins vs. Austin Theory in a non-title match: A terrific that’s definitely worth going out of your way to watch if you didn’t see the show due to Halloween. Was this meant to be a test drive for Rollins playing a babyface character or will he simply work a tweener role while defending the U.S. Championship against all comers? Either way, this was Theory’s best WWE match and it shouldn’t surprise anyone that he had it with the consistently great Rollins. Theory came off like a gullible doofus when he was playing the part of Vince McMahon’s chosen one. The character quickly becoming more effective now that the character is maturing and he’s less of a comedy goofball.
Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley brawl: A simple and effective pull apart brawl. We’ve seen wilder brawls where wrestlers get away from the people holding them back several times, but that wasn’t necessary in this case. The number of wrestlers, producers, and referees who came out to keep these two apart made this feel big time, as did Triple H making a rare appearance in the authority figure role by threatening to call off their match at WWE Crown Jewel if they made further contact. The creative forces had three angles to set up Lesnar vs. Lashley for Crown Jewel and they definitely pulled it off.
Roman Reigns and Paul Heyman: A solid segment with Heyman and The Miz driving home the idea that Logan Paul has steel pins or screws in his hand, which makes his knockout punch more dangerous. WWE did a great job of creating the spectacle vibe at the initial press conference they held for the Reigns vs. Paul match in Las Vegas. I’ve been a bit underwhelmed by the lack of outside the box promoting since then. I really thought they would have some additional ideas to reach out to Logan Paul fans who are not already pro wrestling fans, but it just hasn’t happened. Even so, they told a solid story of Paul’s knockout power making him a threat to land one lucky punch. The match doesn’t feel as big as it could have, but I still find myself intrigued by the Crown Jewel main event.
Raw Women’s Champion Bianca Belair vs. Nikki Cross in a non-title match: An entertaining match with a surprising loss for Cross in her first match since being repackaged. I didn’t expect Cross to beat Belair clean, but I thought there was a chance that she would steal a pin somehow and be added to the Raw Women’s Championship match at Crown Jewel. The scene with Bayley later talking with Cross in the backstage area was interesting. It wasn’t paid off on Raw, so perhaps it will lead to Cross playing a part in the title match on Saturday.
Karl Anderson vs. Damian Priest: Anderson getting a backslide pinfall win was mildly surprising. The heels got their heat right back by getting the better of The OC trio in a post match brawl. Dominik Mysterio continues to draw great heat, and I got a big kick out of Corey Graves suggesting that Dom has BDE. I thought we might see The OC introduce someone to counter Rhea Ripley since they seemed to be moving in that direction last week, but perhaps they are saving that moment for Crown Jewel.
Dakota Kai and Iyo Sky vs. Asuka and Alexa Bliss for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles: More of an in the middle than a real Hit or Miss for the latest women’s tag team title change. The match was fine, but I can’t say that I understand the hot potato approach that the company has taken with the tag titles since the previously vacated titles were won back in late in August. We’ve already had two title changes since then and it’s hard to get excited by the cold duo of Asuka and Bliss winning the belts. I was actually hoping that their recent time away was leading to both women being repackaged and going in separate directions
WWE Raw Misses
Johnny Gargano’s tell all on The Miz and Dexter Lumis: At his best, Gargano was the heart and soul for a good portion of the NXT black and gold era. He was an undersized babyface with a likable personality that connected with fans. The act eventually ran its course and he turned heel and produced a lot of fun comedic content with The Way faction. But his move to the main roster really should have led to a reset. His initial mission statement promo was great and I welcomed the idea of watching Gargano climb the ladder in WWE and work his way into contention for title shots and achieve his dream of having a match at WrestleMania. Sadly, he’s quickly become a comedy figure in the Miz and Dexter Lumis saga and the qualities that made his babyface persona so effective in NXT haven’t been showcased. Sure, the investigative report was good for a few chuckles, but this just isn’t the version of Gargano that I looked forward to seeing on the main roster.
Matt Riddle vs. Otis in a Trick or Street Fight: It’s just not for me. I got a kick out of Gable and Otis doing a Halloween take on the old Saturday Night Live skit with Patrick Swayze and Chris Farley, but the Halloween themed match is an example of bad sports entertainment in my book. And I still have zero interest in Riddle teaming or feuding with Elias.
The Miz vs. Mustafa Ali: A soft Miss for a match that failed to connect with the live crowd. Ali came off like he was trying too hard by looking to the fans as much as he did, and the production crew made a wise call to cut to a shot that didn’t show the fans opposite the hard camera when Ali looked to them, as the sound indicated that he didn’t get much of reaction. Ali is a talented wrestler who can always be counted on to have good matches, but I couldn’t even tell you what his character is supposed to be these days. He’s come off like one of the countless wrestlers who have complained about lack of opportunities even though viewers have watched them lose countless matches over the years.
JBL and Baron Corbin: It’s surprising that the early lack of chemistry hasn’t led to any changes aside from Corbin switching to black ring gear. Corbin continues to give off a Happy Corbin vibe with his hat and entrance, and he continues to smile and act arrogant when it feels like he should be showing off more of a mean streak to mesh with the buildup that JBL is giving him. There’s potential for these two if some tweaks are made, but everything about this act currently feels ice cold.