By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Seth Rollins and AJ Styles vs. Damian Priest and Finn Balor: A good match that never should have taken place (more on that later). I like the tease of Dominik Mysterio teaming with Priest and how it led to Balor blindsiding Rollins. I didn’t care for the referee rewarding the heels by then absurdly calling for the bell to start the match. Otherwise, this was an enjoyable main event with the expected outcome. There was no way that Rollins was going to lose in his first appearance since winning the World Heavyweight Championship, and I figured that they wouldn’t have the man he beat for the title lose again just 48 hours later. I am mildly surprised that they didn’t just go with Rollins vs. Priest for the new title because it would have helped support Rollins’ claim that he’ll be a workhorse champion. Furthermore, it would have made more sense to have Priest lose in a championship match rather than waste a loss on a throwaway tag team match.
Bronson Reed vs. Shinsuke Nakamura in a Money in the Bank qualifying match: An entertaining match with an outcome that felt like a minor upset. I don’t like seeing monster heel Reed take losses, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he still ends up in Money in the Bank. After all, WWE loves doing their awful second chance qualifiers.
Ricochet vs. The Miz in a Money in the Bank qualifying match: A better than anticipated match. Miz broke out of his usual comfort zone by performing some unexpected moves. Ricochet going over was no surprise given that his high spot style makes him a perfect fit for the Money in the Bank ladder match.
Trish Stratus and Zoey Stark attack Becky Lynch: I’ve written many times about the lack of meaningful heels in the women’s division and the toll it has taken on Lynch and Bianca Belair. The Night of Champions event was a step in the right direction with Asuka winning the Raw Women’s Championship while they also put heat on Stratus and Stark. The creative forces wisely doubled down on the Stratus and Stark heat on Raw. I don’t know how long Trish is going to be around, but I hope that Stark is going to feel like a top heel after the legend heads home rather than being cast as another hapless lackey.
Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci vs. “Alpha Academy” Chad Gable and Otis: A soft Hit. Kaiser and Vinci are a great team and hopefully the idea is to rebuild them after inexplicably having them lose to Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn in their first match on Raw after the draft. Owens and Zayn were comical on commentary, but they were also distracting to a point where they took some of the focus away from Kaiser and Vinci (Vahalla showing up and chasing Durpi to the back was no help either). If Owens and Zayn don’t take Kaiser and Vinci seriously, then why should viewers? Hopefully there’s a plan for the heels to do something that forces the champions to be more serious.
“Indus Sher” Veer Mahaan and Sanga squash win: This is the easy part. It’s not difficult to build up a powerhouse tag team by having them plow through undercard talent. The real work begins once they start to work with teams that matter.
WWE Raw Misses
AJ Styles wrestles on Raw: We’re less than a month out from the conclusion of the WWE Draft and they already had a wrestler cross over. I was fine with Styles making an appearance on Raw, but working a match was too much. Sure, I appreciate that they showed Adam Pearce having it cleared by an unnamed higher-up during a backstage segment, but I would have appreciated it even more if Pearce had simply said it wasn’t allowed. I just want the draft to actually feel like it matters for once. Unfortunately, this company just can’t wait to break its own rules. I’m not surprised in the least because they’ve done this so many times in the past, but they shouldn’t get a pass just because they’ve made people numb to it.
Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler vs. Raquel Rodriguez and Shotzi vs. Bayley and Iyo Sky vs. Sonya Deville and Chelsea Green for the vacant WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles: The expected outcome occurred with Rousey and Baszler winning the vacated titles. Hopefully they’ll have more luck than all of the teams that came before them because these titles feel worthless. There was a time when I would have been really excited about Rousey and Baszler holding the tag titles. Sadly, Rousey no longer feels like a special attraction, and Baszler has been beaten down with bad booking since the moment she arrived on the main roster. I hope they can breathe some life into the tag titles, but the creative team has to do its part.
JD McDonagh vs. Dolph Ziggler: The live crowd was beyond quiet while McDonagh destroyed Ziggler at ringside. Beating the hell out of Ziggler’s character these days packs only slightly more of a punch than doing the same to a local enhancement wrestler. If nothing else, McDonagh and Ziggler should have some quality matches together if the plan is for them to feud with one another.