Powell’s WWE Raw Hit List: Seth Rollins vs. Jinder Mahal for the World Heavyweight Championship, Finn Balor and Damian Priest vs. R-Truth and The Miz in a non-title match

By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

WWE Raw Hits

Drew McIntyre and Cody Rhodes: McIntyre hit hard with his comments about Cody coming off like a politician. There was definitely some truth in those comments. It’s clearly working for Cody now as the top babyface in the company, but there will come a time when those aspects will make him a tremendous heel. Cody stood his ground nicely by establishing his sincerity and his fans won’t view him any differently than they did before this segment. The truth spouting McIntyre heel character continues to be a gem. I don’t see him as a realistic Royal Rumble winner, but the creative forces have established issues between him and numerous wrestlers, so there’s plenty of storytelling they can do with him during and after the Rumble.

Rhea Ripley and Becky Lynch: The first major confrontation to set up what I’m guessing will be the Women’s World Championship match at WrestleMania. Both wrestlers played their parts well and left me anxious to see their showdown match. Lynch talking about the voice in her head telling her that Ripley might be better than her was a good way to establish her as a minor underdog to the dominant champion.

“DIY” Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa vs. Dominik Mysterio and JD McDonagh: The DIY reunion was off to a shaky start to say the least. Fortunately, it appears someone remembered that it’s not quirky Gargano promos or campy backstage humor that got these two over in NXT, it was their excellent tag team matches. This match was given plenty of time and this was the best television outing that Gargano and Ciampa have had since they reunited.

Seth Rollins vs. Jinder Mahal for the World Heavyweight Championship: First and foremost, here’s hoping that Rollins gets good news from the MRI exam on his left knee. He has earned the WrestleMania main event spotlight and it would be a real shame if that’s taken away from him due to injury. The actual match was solid. I don’t think anyone really believed Mahal was going to win the championship, but I really enjoyed the big near fall spot with Veer Mahaan hitting Rollins with the Money in the Bank briefcase that led to Mahal putting Rollins down with his Khallas finisher. Given the ridiculously strong competition the show faced from the NFL playoff game, the Emmy Awards, and the big night in politics, it was a good week to go with a “fine if you saw it, fine if you missed it” title match in the main event slot.

Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions Damian Priest and Finn Balor vs. The Miz and R-Truth in a non-title match: Truth continues to provide comedic moments that the live crowds are eating up. I was concerned when they first tied him to Judgment Day that mixing humor with the top heel faction on Raw was going to be a mistake. I was dead wrong. Truth’s antics have been a lot of fun. I got a big kick out of the way that JD McDonagh was left out of Truth’s bootleg t-shirt money because Truth doesn’t consider McDonagh to be a member of the faction.

Ludwig Kaiser vs. Xavier Woods: Gunther declaring for the Royal Rumble match in the segment that preceded this match would have been the most newsworthy aspect of the night had it not been for the Rollins injury. I got a kick out of Woods questioning whether Kaiser had to ask his daddy permission to accept his match challenge because it led to the perfectly played moment where Kaiser thought about responding and then looked at Gunther out of the corner of his eye to make sure he had his approval. It was also good to see a serious Woods for a change.

Ivar vs. Akira Tozawa: A cute upset win for Tozawa followed by Ivar getting his heat back by destroying him after the match. I like seeing an occasional upset to help break up the typically predictable undercard matches.

WWE Raw Misses

Shayna Baszler and Zoey Stark vs. Tegan Nox and Natalya: The entrances for both teams played to the proverbial sound of crickets. I feel bad for the wrestlers involved in these women’s tag team matches. They are working hard, but the booking of them trading wins and losses isn’t helping anyone get over. On the bright side, I really enjoyed the finish of the match with Natalya rolling onto Baszler while she was locked in the Kirifuda Clutch. We’ve seen similar moves result in a pinfall, but in this case Baszler escaped the pin and maintained the submission hold that forced Natalya to tap out.

Indi Hartwell and Candice LeRae vs. Chelsea Green and Piper Niven: See above. I remain disappointed that the creative forces took the titles off of Green and Niven so quickly. Green’s Karen persona is great and there’s so much more that they could have done with her and Niven from a character standpoint. Granted, they still could, but it feels like the former champions are back in the mix of teams that trade trivial wins and losses. It feels like they are all being set up for one big forgettable Tag Team Turmoil match that will get them all on the show at WrestleMania.


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