By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Finn Balor and Damian Priest vs. Cody Rhodes and Jey Uso for the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Titles: The show was built around this match and they delivered the big Drew McIntyre heel turn. The actual match was fine, though they never really convinced me that the babyfaces were on the verge of winning. The McIntyre turn was the real Hit. I suspect that some of the fans who are claiming this was too predictable also predicted McIntyre turning heel several times in the past before the company actually followed through last night. The slow burn that led to the McIntyre turn was really well done. He didn’t just snap and turn out of the blue for shock value. They laid out his character’s disappointments and showed his growing frustration before they finally pulled the trigger. It all made for a really good cliffhanger. We assume that McIntyre will be added to the WarGames match and there’s a lot of buzz over the wrestler who is expected to be added to the babyface team, but they left us waiting until the brand’s Survivor Series go-home show to make anything official. And WWE needed a strong hook for next week’s show given that it will face its strongest competition of the year in the form of the Philadelphia Eagles vs. Kansas City Chiefs in a Super Bowl rematch on Monday Night Football.
World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins and Sami Zayn vs. Dominik Mysterio and JD McDonagh: The interference finish was logical in this case, as there was no reason for the babyfaces to go over clean when all four men will be in the WarGames match. The interference set the table for the big brawl, which led to Adam Pearce banning all four wrestlers in the match from the building before the main event tag team title match. As much as I grumble about cheap interference finishes, there are times when they serve an actual purpose.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Otis: It was surprising to see Otis get as much offense as he did. It felt like Nakamura gave up too much offense to Akira Tozawa before beating him last week, whereas it came off like Nakamura picked up a hard earned victory by overcoming the powerhouse this time around. Meanwhile, I continue to enjoy Nakamura’s subtitled promos. I just hope they have someone interesting in mind for the target that he continues to reference.
The Miz vs. Ivar: The Miz showed some rare toughness by taking a lot of power moves from Ivar and continuously kicking out. He also lived up to what he said in his promo about doing whatever it takes to win by using the ropes for leverage while pinning Ivar. Bronson Reed performing his Tsunami Splash on Ivar after the match sets up another “big meaty men slapping meat” match, which get over big with fans these days.
WWE Raw Misses
Ludwig Kaiser vs. Tommaso Ciampa: The referee ejected Giovanni Vinci from ringside at one point, and then watched him come back and hit Johnny Gargano at ringside to set up a distraction finish. This made no sense whatsoever. And it was especially foolish to do this on a night when the main event of the show was built around four wrestlers being banned from the building.
The Creeds, Alpha Academy, and New Day: Alpha Academy and New Day more than fill the quota for lighthearted comedy tag teams. Keep the Creeds and DIY out of their bad backstage skits.
Tegan Nox vs. Piper Niven: A formula match with a potential challenger pinning one of the tag team champions to set up a future title match. It’s a shame the company hasn’t done more to establish Niven as a badass so that pinning her would mean more than it does.
Xia Li vs. Indi Hartwell: Hartwell threw two bad looking clotheslines and failed to make the most of the limited television time she was given. There’s clearly an effort to get Li’s knockout kick over as a big deal. It will be interesting to see what they do next week when she faces Becky Lynch in a Raw match. Lynch would not gain a thing from beating Li and yet it does not feel like Li’s character has been set up strongly enough to be made if Lynch were to put her over.