By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Brock Lesnar attacks Cody Rhodes: WWE is famous for making babyfaces look bad in their hometowns. But this was an example of a heel getting good heat for dominating a babyface in his hometown. The key is that Cody came off feeling sympathetic rather than pathetic. They made good use of the Rhodes family being at ringside by having Lesnar dominate Cody in front of his own mother. The angle was about as basic as it gets and yet it worked to perfection.
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn vs. Damian Priest and Dominik Mysterio for the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Titles: All four of these guys were in last week’s rough main event match. They seemed extra motivated and came through with a really good bounce back match that closed the show on a high note. But the creative forces really need to start doing more with the tag team division. It’s time to start building up future challengers by having them climb the ladder as opposed to lazily booking multi-team No.1 contenders matches.
Intercontinental Champion Gunther vs. Matt Riddle in a non-title match: The Riddle character has run out of excuses. They didn’t play up the idea that he had any any injuries coming into this match, and they even banned Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci from ringside. Gunther still went over clean and decisively. It was a very good television match that left me wishing they had more time. While Gunther is obviously moving on to face Drew McIntyre in what should be a hell of a match at SummerSlam, I’m curious to see what comes next for Riddle.
“The Viking Raiders” Erik and Ivar vs. “Alpha Academy” Chad Gable and Otis: Prior to the match, Gable didn’t really land on anyone after Otis launched him in the direction of the Viking Raiders, who were standing on the longship. This was followed by a poor Maxxine Dupri dropkick on Valhalla. They got the rough moments out of the way before the opening bell and then went on to have a really entertaining match. The hardcore elements helped win over the crowd, but the the real fan favorite spots involved Gable and Otis performing impressive power moves on super heavyweight Ivar.
Seth Rollins and Finn Balor: The backstage interview angle featured good intensity from Balor. The most notable aspect of this segment was Rollins dropping his over the top persona and getting real with Balor. We haven’t seen that side of Rollins in some time, so it was an attention grabber when he dropped the schtick and spoke in a more serious tone. I wasn’t a big fan of the Rollins vs. Balor title match at Money in the Bank. All of the beatings that Balor gave Rollins heading into the match were needed to rebuild Balor and to make it seem like he had a chance to win, but they also required Rollins to sell his injuries during the match, which slowed things down. There are no such injuries to sell this time around and I’m really looking forward to seeing these two go balls to the wall at SummerSlam.
Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez vs. Sonya Deville and Chelsea Green for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles: A logical title change with Rodriguez presumably challenging Rhea Ripley for the Women’s World Championship at SummerSlam. The injury angle that preceded the match didn’t look very convincing, but it gave Morgan and Rodriguez an out for losing. I really hope Deville and Green have a lengthy title reign. The titles still don’t feel like they matter, in part because they change hands so frequently. It would also help if they established more tag teams so that it feels like there’s an actual division rather than just the tag team champions and a makeshift team that serves as the challengers of the month.
Bronson Reed vs. Shinsuke Nakamura: A solid match that established Reed as being on the verge of getting the win before Tommaso Ciampa attacked him for the DQ. It seemed like they were setting up a Triple Threat with Reed vs. Nakamura vs. Ricochet at one point, but it never materialized. With Ricochet working Logan Paul at SummerSlam, I wonder if Ciampa has essentially replaced him in whatever they had planned.
WWE Raw Misses
Shayna Baszler and Ronda Rousey: It looks like they are going with Rousey as the heel in this program after some early back and forth confusion. Then again, would it surprise anyone if they changed directions again next week? To be fair, this wasn’t a lousy segment by any means, but there’s no denying just how rushed this storyline is.