By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Damian Priest and Finn Balor vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn for the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Titles: A terrific main event. It’s a shame it was tarnished by the referee clearly having to go out of his way to miss JD McDonagh interfering at the end of the match. But there were plenty of good near falls and suspense along the way, and the post match brawl made for a fun way to close the show. As much as it feels like they are building to a War Games match, there are currently no shows listed with a two-ring arena configuration that I’m aware of.
Dominik Mysterio vs. Dragon Lee for the NXT North American Championship: A really good main roster debut for Lee despite the fact that he was pinned clean. This wasn’t a case of an NXT talent being buried by the main roster star. Lee really got over in defeat, and it was a credibility boosting win for Dom to defend his title without help from his Judgment Day allies. Dom and Lee worked really well together. Dom has really upped his in-ring game and continues to be the man the fans love to boo.
Drew McIntyre vs. Kofi Kingston: An intriguing match with McIntyre breaking bad slowly. The frustrations of the McIntyre character feel understandable, which makes for a more compelling turn than having him turn on a babyface ally just for shock value. The post match angle with McIntyre choosing not to save Kingston from an attack by Ivar was perfect. And major props to The Miz for his performance on the Miz TV segment that set up the match. While the Tiny Balls bit is an eye roller, I laughed out loud when Miz responded to Xavier Woods’ weak dick jokes by saying, “Hey, Big D and Massive Miz were having a conversation.”
Seth Rollins and Shinsuke Nakamura: The Rollins character took a logical approach by telling Nakamura to take it or leave it after Nakamura took his sweet time accepting the rematch. The Nakamura videos continue to be top notch and the Last Man Standing stipulation is a good one. It works for the tone of the feud, and WWE can also play up the possibility that whoever wins the match could be vulnerable to Daman Priest cashing in his Money in the Bank contract.
Bronson Reed vs. Otis: WWE clearly wanted to take back Big E’s “big meaty men slapping meat” line after AEW fans had so much fun with it during the Miro vs. Powerhouse Hobbs match at All Out. I got a kick out of listening to the live crowd gasp over some of the big men spots. The pro wrestling industry has done a 180. There was a time when big man matches were common while seeing a basic moonsault felt truly special. We see so many flips and dives these days that they have become the norm, whereas seeing a battle of the big men feels like a rare treat.
Nia Jax vs. Zoey Stark: Another case of a wrestler taking a clean pin and yet gaining something in defeat. Jax was confident as ever on the mic after squashing a good portion of the Raw women’s division in recent attacks. Stark showed equal confidence when she got right in Jax’s face and didn’t back down. Stark also got some offense in during the match and it came off like she lost because she collapsed under the weight of Jax while attempting to perform an impressive power spot. Most importantly, the creative forces have done a great job of making Jax feel like a dominant monster in short order.
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Ludwig Kaiser: A soft Hit. It feels like Ciampa is being rushed into title contention. Even as someone who loved his NXT work, it’s tough to view his character as a threat to win the Intercontinental Title given how forgettable most of his main roster has been. Gunther and Ciampa worked well together in NXT, so hopefully their match will give Ciampa a boost even though I assume he’s taking the loss.
WWE Raw Misses
Natalya vs. Tegan Nox: A soft Miss. The match quality was solid, but the fans were quiet, presumably because they have no reason to care about Nox if they didn’t see her in NXT. The fans who have only seen Nox on the main roster know nothing about her character, so they have no reason to be excited about her challenging for the NXT Women’s Championship next week. This feels far more rushed than Ciampa getting an Intercontinental Title shot.