By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Seth Rollins vs. Damian Priest vs. Shinsuke Nakamura in a Triple Threat tournament match: The show peaked with this opening match. Rollins was the heavy favorite, but Nakamura at least felt like a dark horse candidate to advance. My optimism regarding Nakamura didn’t last long. He took the pin in this match even though Priest was selling a knee injury, and then Nakamura went on to have a backstage segment that continued to lay the groundwork for his nothing happening feud with The Miz. As odd as it seems, Priest lost clean to a celebrity musician and yet he feels more relevant than ever. Priest upped his game during his feud with Bad Bunny and comes across more confident in the ring and on the mic.
Zoey Stark vs. Nikki Cross: The live crowd sat on their hands throughout the bulk of the match, but they did seem impressed by Zoey’s Z360 finisher. Stark did a nice job on the mic during her backstage segment and then looked good during her in-ring debut on Raw. Is Cross done stalking Candice LeRae?
Dominik Mysterio vs. Xavier Woods: A Hit for Dom going over. Woods had a good match with Gunther recently, but I’m beyond bored by the tired New Day humor and his awful trombone. Bonus points to Dom for the “Dom-Dom rocks” clap afterward.
Smackdown Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley vs. Dana Brooke in a non-title match: A dominant win for Ripley over Brooke, who felt like she disappeared once the company scrapped the WWE 24/7 Championship.
WWE Raw Misses
Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor for a spot in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at Night of Champions: It felt like the creative forces opted for match quality over actually having a compelling semifinal match. While I appreciated the callback to their 2016 SummerSlam match for the WWE Universal Championship, there was no reason to view Balor as a legitimate threat to win this match. So while the match was well worked, it was highly predictable and made for a fairly flat ending to Raw. Retooling the tournament to have Rollins face Nakamura in the main event would have been much better.
Cody Rhodes vs. Finn Balor vs. The Miz in a Triple Threat tournament match: They lost me before the match even started. It was ridiculous to have Miz in the match when the guy hasn’t won a match in 2023. I’ll never understand why they don’t give him more in-ring credibility by having him win more often. Brock Lesnar attacking Cody Rhodes and costing him the match was well done and Hit worthy.
Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn vs. Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci in a non-title match: A Hit from a match quality standpoint, but I’m down on the idea of having Kaiser and Vinci lose during their first appearance on Raw coming out of the draft. Kaiser and Vinci are a terrific tag team and I hope the creative forces intend to focus on that rather than keeping them in henchmen mode. Imperium has the potential to be a great three-man faction rather than simply being all about Gunther.
Otis vs. Mustafa Ali: A silly match that gave Ali a win. While it beats the alternative for Ali, the focus was on the bickering between Chad Gable and Maxxine Dupri while Ali’s win felt like an afterthought. This Otis/Gargano/Dupri storyline feels dragged out.