By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Seth Rollins vs. Bobby Lashley to become No. 1 contender to the U.S. Championship: After two hours and 59 minutes of a mostly throwaway show, Raw finally had a notable storyline development with Adam Pearce firing Lashley. The actual main event featured the usual good work from Lashley and Rollins. The story of the referee tweaking his ankle or knee was better than the repetitive big ref bump spot. Lashley striking the second referee with his elbow was done in a way that should give his character an out in that it came off accidental. I’m not sure where this is going, but that’s what makes it a good hook for next week’s show.
“The Judgment Day” Dominik Mysterio, Finn Balor, and Damian Priest vs. Akira Tozawa and “The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins: Dominik has gone from being a cute story as part of a father and son tag team to becoming one of the most consistent heat drawing heels in the company. It was a good night for Priest, as the match was laid out in a way that really showcased his power spots. The Profits still feel like they are spinning their wheels creatively. Tozawa is carrying the baggage from his 24/7 persona, but he’s so good in the ring that he’s able to wake up disinterested live crowds with his high speed offensive outbursts.
AJ Styles vs. Chad Gable: A soft Hit for a well worked match that was still somewhat underwhelming. For two wrestlers who are capable delivering a show stealing performance together, this was a fairly routine nine-minute match. As great as Styles is, I can’t remember the last time that I was truly excited about one of his matches. It’s no coincidence that I also can’t remember the last time that Styles was booked in a compelling storyline. Meanwhile, the story with Gable remains the same in that he’s a tremendous in-ring talent who feels wasted as a mid-card comedy tribute to Kurt Angle.
Rhea Ripley vs. Asuka: I was surprised that this rematch was thrown out there with no fanfare. Even so, it was a quality match that provided the fun of Dominik Mysterio being temporarily blinded by Asuka’s mist. Dom’s over the top reaction, which included calling for “Mami” was a riot. I also laughed at Damian Priest telling Dom that “something else could burn worse.” It seems like something is happening with Asuka that will ideally lead to her being repackaged. She has abandoned the face paint and it seemed like the production crew went out of their way to show her looking bothered by this loss.
Alexa Bliss vs. Bayley to become No. 1 contender to the Raw Women’s Championship: A soft Hit for the latest showing of Bliss still being under the spell of Bray Wyatt. It was nice to see Bliss win to set up a fresh title match, and the post match scene with her setting up for Sister Abigail after the Wyatt logo appeared on the screen was a nice tease that something is on the verge of happening.
WWE Raw Misses
Johnny Gargano and Dexter Lumis: Another week of Johnny Wrestling playing Johnny Sports Entertainment by working as the mouthpiece for the Lumis character. What a waste. I get a mild kick out of the lighthearted Lumis and Miz feud, but the creative team needs to get Gargano away from it as soon as possible. On the bright side, I did appreciate the explanation that Miz isn’t actually broke. It’s asking a lot for viewers to believe that Miz is broke, but the story that his wife gives him an allowance is really funny and perfect for his character.
Solo Sikoa vs. Elias: Why in the world did it take badass Sikoa eight minutes to beat undercard comedy figure Elias? I did enjoy Kevin Owens taking issue with Elias asking him to be in his corner given their history. I was also happy to see the way they doubled down by having Owens drop Elias with a Stunner after saving him from Sikoa.
Iyo Sky vs. Candice LeRae: The LeRae character continues to play to quiet crowds on the main roster. The Poison Rana spot at ringside was unnecessary and poorly executed. Why was this match given more time than Styles vs. Gable?