By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Cody Rhodes and Brock Lesnar: A strong final push for the rubber match of the feud. They followed up on Lesnar destroying Cody in front of his friends and family by having Lesnar dominate Rhodes again. I like that they doubled down on the heat and it left me assuming that Cody will avenge the attacks by beating Lesnar at SummerSlam.
Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler: Strong, emotional performances from both wrestlers. They both explained their side of the story well. Rousey felt like she was a good friend to Baszler, who laid out why she felt taken advantage of. The addition of the MMA Rules would scare the hell out of me if Vince McMahon was still as involved as he was once in the day to day booking. I can’t even imagine what his vision of MMA Rules would be. There’s still no guarantee that they get it right, but I am curious to see what they have in mind.
Intercontinental Champion Gunther vs. Chad Gable in a non-title match: Gable surviving the five-minute challenge was a fun surprise that the live crowd really got behind. The explanation of the restart left something to be desired. It came off like Gunther demanded the restart and some random crew member at ringside approved it and then relayed his decision to the ring announcer. It would have made more sense if Gunther had demanded that the match continue, only to have Gable say he would only do so if Gunther put the title on the title on the line. After all, Gable’s character had the leverage of Gunther not wanting a loss on his record. I’m surprised they didn’t take that approach since Gable was losing the match. Nevertheless, it was great to see Gable ditch the comedy and be put in a position to showcase his in-ring ability. I hope there’s more of that to come.
Seth Rollins and Sami Zayn vs. Dominik Mysterio and Damian Priest: A good main event with the babyfaces going over. More importantly, they included a spot where Finn Balor hesitated before handing the Money in the Bank briefcase to Priest, which the broadcast team played up as Balor potentially costing Priest a successful cash-in. I like the added friction between Balor and Priest, but it contradicted the scene from last week when Priest considered cashing in and thought better of it once he spotted Balor staring a hole through him. Priest and Balor previously agreed that Balor gets the first crack at Rollins at SummerSlam, so Balor outright refusing to give Priest the briefcase would have felt justifiable and more consistent with the story. On a side note, Balor delivered another strong promo heading into his match with Rollins. The Balor reclamation project has been really impressive in that he went from being a guy who felt too damaged to be more than a mid-card act to now being in a place where he won’t feel out of place if he wins the World Heavyweight Championship at SummerSlam.
Ludwig Kaiser vs. Matt Riddle: A strong match with the added dynamic of Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci now living in fear of taskmaster Gunther. I’m happy they haven’t gone back to Gunther chopping the hell out of Kaiser when he loses, but I like the way Gunther is demanding excellence from his pledges. Hopefully this will lead to Kaiser and Vinci being elevated so that they feel like more than sidekicks to Gunther. Riddle continues to take losses and slide down the card to the point that I was a little surprised to see him listed among the names featured in the press release for the live event in India.
Logan Paul and Ricochet: It took the full build to get me invested in this match, but they pulled it off. Ricochet’s mic work has improved, though I still wouldn’t label it as one of his strengths. Paul’s douchebaggery has carried the build. Who doesn’t want to see that character take an ass kicking?
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Tommaso Ciampa: A soft Hit. It looked like Ciampa came ready to go while Nakamura worked at his usual passable, yet uninspired pace. The finish was intriguing in that Nakamura held the tights while getting the pin. Bronson Reed seemed to enjoy that while he was watching the match on a backstage monitor. I had this pegged for a Triple Threat, but perhaps Nakamura is turning heel and could join forces with Reed. That would give Ciampa the incentive to call in his former tag team partner Johnny Gargano for some help.
WWE Raw Misses
Maxxine Dupri vs. Valhalla: The match got over with the live crowd, but it wasn’t pretty. I suppose that’s to be expected from Dupri at this stage of her development. I’m having a tough time getting invested in Dupri’s story when it feels like a second rate version of the Thea Hail story that is playing out in NXT.