By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Rhea Ripley attacks Liv Morgan: A great injury angle. Ripley wrapping the chair around the arm of Morgan and then stomping it made Ripley look vicious. Ripley doing it a second time made her look downright ruthless. The key to the angle was the excellent selling from Morgan, who was believable and truly sympathetic. I don’t know how long Morgan will be sidelined, but she did excellent work on her way out. By the way, Corey Graves stating during the beatdown that this is what would happen if Oppenheimer took place in Barbieland was timely and hilarious.
Seth Rollins and Finn Balor contract signing: A good heat building segment. Damian Priest looking at the Money in the Bank briefcase while Rollins was down only to have Balor stare a hole through him was great. The resurgence of Balor is really remarkable. It was impressive enough when he was built up to feel like a modestly credible challenger for Rollins at Money in the Bank after years of creative misuse. But it’s amazing that he now feels like an actual threat to win the World Heavyweight Championship at SummerSlam. I don’t know if that will happen, but the story of Balor holding the title while Priest has the MITB contract is certainly intriguing. It’s like the Raw version of the story I hoped to see on Smackdown with Solo Sikoa winning MITB to make Roman Reigns more paranoid than ever.
Cody Rhodes promo: Cody continued his streak of strong promo work by playing to the local fans while also furthering the build to his SummerSlam rubber match with Brock Lesnar. I’m sure he puts a ton of thought into these verbal segments, but he’s making it look easy at this point.
Becky Lynch vs. Zoey Stark: Although there was no mystery regarding the outcome due to the over the top stipulation that Lynch would have to get a “Thank you, Trish” tattoo if she lost, this was a well worked match. Lynch went over clean and yet Stark looked really good in defeat.
Dominik Mysterio vs. Sami Zayn for the NXT North American Championship: It was interesting that Dom spoke over the boos rather than act like he couldn’t get a word in during the promo that set up the match. I was not a fan of the referee inconsistencies in this match compared to most other WWE matches. The referee didn’t actually see Kevin Owens punch Damian Priest, so he actually ejected Owens from ringside for being on the apron even though Trish Stratus climbed on the apron and wasn’t ejected in the opening match. Worse yet, the referee ejected Priest and Rhea Ripley despite not seeing them do anything. Granted, most fans probably won’t care, but I’m the type of viewer who wants some level of consistency with things like this. Putting it all aside, Dom is on a roll as the man the fans love to hate, and it was logical for him to keep his title in a flukey manner due to the type of heel character he plays.
Drew McIntyre vs. Ludwig Kaiser: Corey Graves was actually the story of the segment due to his hilarious impersonation of Kaiser. Aside from that, this was a quality match with the expected momentum building win for McIntyre heading into his title match with Gunther. The post match angle continued the momentum with the crowd pleasing spot where he put Gunther through the broadcast table.
Bronson Reed vs. Tommaso Ciampa: There were a couple of times when it felt like Ciampa was bouncing back too quickly from some of Reed’s power moves, but I really enjoyed the physicality of the match. One negative is that it felt fairly obvious that the match wouldn’t end until Shinsuke Nakamura came out due to the backstage warning that Ciampa gave him.
Damian Priest vs. Apollo Crews: More of an in the middle for a basic momentum building win for Priest.
WWE Raw Misses
Ricochet and Logan Paul: Ricochet laid it on too thick with his promo by talking about how WWE wrestlers don’t see their families for months at a time. The Paul attack was fine, and Ricochet getting the better of him gave Paul a reason to appear on next week’s SummerSlam go-home show. The announcement of the three SummerSlam matches last night didn’t pack much of a punch. They were all given solid builds, but it felt like there should have been more fanfare to make these matches feel SummerSlam special. Ricochet and Paul really need to come through with something special because it actually feels like a step down for Paul to be working with Ricochet given some of Paul’s recent higher profile matches.