By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Intercontinental Champion Gunther vs. Kevin Owens in a non-title match: An extremely pleasant surprise in that this was an unadvertised match that stole the show. The finish was a television special that gave Gunther a win while also protecting Owens, who got caught up in trying to fight off Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci. Even so, this was a really fun match with top notch work from both wrestlers.
Seth Rollins vs. Damian Priest for the World Heavyweight Championship: A good main event that lacked any sense of drama regarding the outcome. Some of that is due to Rollins inexplicably pinning Priest in last week’s tag team main event, but mostly because no one expected Rollins to come up short in his first title defense. Priest being annoyed by Finn Balor showing up despite the stipulation that Judgment Day was banned from ringside was an interesting development. It came off like Priest could be turning babyface. It’s a questionable move given that there’s a greater need for top heels on the Raw brand with Seth Rollins, Cody Rhodes, Kevin Owens, and Sami Zayn holding down the top babyface spots.
Miz TV with guest Cody Rhodes: Dominik Mysterio reclaimed bragging rights over Don Callis for getting the most heat from the live crowd. It’s going to be fun to watch that back and forth battle in the weeks ahead given that they are both generating massive heat. I really like the idea of Cody facing Dom, ideally at Money in the Bank since Cody’s third match with Brock Lesnar is reportedly going to happen at SummerSlam. While I doubt that it will happen, I’d actually love to see Lesnar interfere to give Dom a cheap win that Cody can always avenge somewhere down the road.
WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler vs. Kayden Carter and Katana Chance in a non-title match: An effective match both in terms of giving the new champions a win while also making Carter and Chance look good in defeat during their Raw debut match. I like Carter and Chance as a team, but their generic party girls gimmick does nothing for them.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Ricochet: An entertaining match with a weak finish. You had to know this match wouldn’t have a clean finish, as they want both guys to feel strong heading into the Money in the Bank ladder match. If nothing else, it was good to see Bronson Reed get some of his heat back by attacking both wrestlers. It left me even more suspicious that Reed will find his way into the MITB match in a second chance qualifier. And if WWE isn’t doing a second chance qualifier, I wish they would declare that so that the qualifying matches feel a little more important.
Becky Lynch vs. Sonya Deville in a Money in the Bank qualifier: An effort was made to make it seem like the deck was stacked against Lynch by having Chelsea Green at ringside while Trish Stratus and Zoey Stark watched from ramp. And with the threat of a second chance qualifier looming, it did feel like there was at least a slight chance of a cheap finish that would postpone Lynch’s MITB entry. Rather, they took the straight forward approach by having Lynch win while also destroying Deville and Green at ringside. I continue to hope that the creative forces recognize that they have something with Green playing the Karen role, but they seem hellbent on making her and Deville pushover heels who lose 95 percent of their matches. Why?
WWE Raw Misses
Zoey Stark vs. Natalya in a Money in the Bank qualifier: The otherwise lively crowd was nearly silent throughout the match. Stark continues to impress in the ring, but Natalya feels ice cold as a character and there was no reason to think she had a chance of winning.