By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Seth Rollins and Drew McIntyre: The McIntyre video package promo was really well done. He did a good job of walking viewers through the key points that left his character so frustrated. Rollins followed up with a gem of a promo in which he told McIntyre to get over not winning the WWE Championship in front of fans. Rollins laid out the real hardships that some people went through during the pandemic. This felt like an important promo if the creative forces don’t want viewers to continue nodding along with McIntyre and instead want him to come off like his character is throwing a pity party for himself. Rollins not only made McIntyre look petty, he also made himself feel like a man of the people. Both wrestlers have done a wonderful job of setting the table for their match, which is by far the Crown Jewel match that I am most looking forward to.
World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins vs. JD McDonagh in a non-title match: It was odd to hear Michael Cole tell viewers that this was Seth’s first singles match on Raw in over four months. It contradicts Rollins’ mission statement that he would be a workhorse champion when he first won the title and was issuing open challenges. But the actual match was entertaining. And while it never felt like Damian Priest coming out with his Money in the Bank briefcase would lead to a cash-in, it was a nice reminder that he could do so at Crown Jewel.
Miz TV with Gunther: A pleasant surprise. I was anticipating the usual approach of Miz chumming it up with a heel guest. Rather, the Imperium trio took Miz to task for being a sports entertainer in a way that actually made Miz feel somewhat sympathetic. I really hope this leads to the Miz character gaining enough in-ring credibility that there will be some mystery regarding the outcome of his future matches.
Julius Creed and Brutus Creed vs. “Alpha Academy” Chad Gable and Otis: A nice Raw debut for the Diamond Mine trio. We’ve seen some NXT wrestlers lose their main roster debut matches, but they got it right by having the Creeds go over clean.
NXT North American Champion Dominik Mysterio vs. Ricochet in a non-title match: An enjoyable opener despite the usual Judgment Day distractions and/or interference.
Xia Li vs. Candice LaRae: Only time will tell whether the new investment in Li will pay off, but LeRae did a really nice job of selling her spin kick finisher.
“DIY” Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa vs. Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci: A soft Hit. The reintroduction of DIY has been flat, and that’s coming from someone who watched their rise and fall in NXT. I feel bad for viewers who don’t know their history because apparently WWE has no interest in retelling it even though their NXT run played to a fraction of the audience that watches Raw. The match was well worked. It’s just a shame that beating Kaiser and Vinci doesn’t mean anything. The Imperium duo are a very good tag team, but they have taken far too many losses since coming up to the main roster.
WWE Raw Misses
Damian Priest vs. Sami Zayn: A beyond lazy disqualification finish. Jey Uso ran out and simply superkicked Priest right in front of the referee for the disqualification. Was it supposed to be this simple? When Jey came out, he quickly took care of Dom and then Balor at ringside. He grabbed Dom again, but something seemed off because Dom quickly pulled away and then Jey headed to the ring for the superkick spot. Either way, this was a lousy finish and there was no sign of Zayn being upset with Jey for costing him the match, though I suppose that could come up next week. Cody Rhodes making the save and then delivering a passionate promo on Priest was well done and gave their Crown Jewel match a boost. But it feels like Zayn and Jey are just randomly fighting Judgment Day members each week with no creative purpose beyond that.
Natalya vs. Chelsea Green in a Trick or Street Fight: I got a big kick out of Green and Piper Niven dressing up like the Hart Foundation for Halloween. Beyond that, this was sports entertainment nonsense that just isn’t for me. Who would have guessed that Green would finally pick up a singles win during a holiday silliness match?