By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Chad Gable vs. Ricochet vs. Tommaso Ciampa vs. Matt Riddle in a four-way for a shot at the Intercontinental Championship: A hell of a four-way match and a really nice night for Gable. How could you not love Gable taking his young son on a post match victory lap around the ring. It’s great to see the grossly underutilized Gable doing more than comedy. In fact, I’d love to see move on from Alpha Academy and evolve into a more serious character. It’s probably wishful thinking, as I don’t expect Gable’s feud with Gunther to last long. I’m just happy that we get to see a rematch after the great match they together last week.
Rhea Ripley and Raquel Rodriguez: Rodriguez is finally getting to show off her mean streak after months of being a bland smiling babyface. The intensity of the feud is building nicely and I’m happy they didn’t rush this by giving them a SummerSlam match. Ripley throwing her shoe at Candice LeRae during the pull apart brawl was hilarious.
Cody Rhodes, Seth Rollins, and Shinsuke Nakamura vs. “Judgment Day” Dominik Mysterio, Damian Priest, and Finn Balor: It was a letdown when they teased viewers with Rollins vs. Rhodes only to go with another meaningless six-man tag main event. That said, I don’t think anyone who has been watching for more than a month was truly surprised by that development. The friction between Rollins and Rhodes on one side while Priest and Balor had even more friction on the other made for an interesting dynamic. Nakamura taking out Rollins after the match presumably sets up a predictable World Heavyweight Championship match for Payback. But what’s next for Cody coming off his big win over Brock Lesnar?
LA Knight and The Miz: A good verbal exchange with believable jabs and comebacks delivered by both wrestlers. Knight flubbed one line and it seemed like he forgot another briefly, but it all came together nicely. There is the issue of a Smackdown wrestler appearing on Raw. Personally, I’m not bothered by wrestlers crossing over for verbal segments, but I do get annoyed when the rules are blown off for actual matches, which is probably where this is going. Ideally, though, they will save the match for Payback and come up with a simple storyline explanation. It would actually be fun if Miz retaliated by leaving Knight lying on Smackdown and then hid behind the brand split rule, only to have Adam Pearce waive it for one night.
Bronson Reed vs. Shinsuke Nakamura: This was a Miss in the moment, but Nakamura going over made more sense when he turned on Rollins later in the night. While it feels like Reed is taking too many losses for a monster heel, I guess they wanted to give viewers some closure to this awkward feud while also giving Nakamura a meaningful win. There’s a good argument to be made for Reed being a stronger challenger for Rollins than Nakamura. But it’s possible that the creative forces wanted a one and done challenger for Rollins at Payback. If so, then it’s wise to save Reed for a more meaningful championship program somewhere down the road.
Ludwig Kaiser vs. Otis: In the middle. This brief match served a small purpose by adding heat to Imperium for their post match attack, which gave Gable a reason to come out and run them off.
WWE Raw Misses
Shayna Baszler vs. Zoey Stark: The in-ring work was fine, but the match felt like it went longer than it needed to. Baszler received a minimal boost from beating Ronda Rousey, and this felt like a time for her to follow up with a dominant win over a different opponent even with the injuries she sold coming out of the SummerSlam match. The confusion regarding Baszler’s persona continues. She came off like a babyface during this match and then like a heel when she spoke to Becky Lynch backstage. Pick a direction.
“New Day” Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods vs. “The Viking Raiders” Erik and Ivar: It’s great that Kingston is healthy and back in the ring following his ankle injury, and the live crowd was happy to see them. But I’m so bored by the New Day schtick. If it works, it works, but can they at least ditch the awful trombone?
WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles: Send those cursed belts down to NXT and leave them there for at least six months. NXT has a deeper women’s roster than Raw and Smackdown, and they have more actual women’s tag teams than both brands combined.