Powell’s WWE Raw Hit List: Gunther vs. Sheamus, Ricochet vs. Ilja Dragunov, Lyra Valkyria vs. Dakota Kai, Iyo Sky vs. Natalya, and more King and Queen of the Ring matches

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

WWE Raw Hits

Gunther vs. Sheamus in a King of the Ring match: Another strong match from Gunther and Sheamus to close out the show. Gunther advancing in the tournament was the logical choice and hopefully they are working toward a Gunther vs. Dragunov match in the semifinals. It’s good to see the tournaments return, as it gives purpose to the television matches it produces. Ideally, though, it would have been nice to find out why entrants were selected (perhaps via the general managers based on Bron Breakker being upset with Adam Pearce?) and how the brackets were determined.

Ilja Dragunov vs. Ricochet in a King of the Ring match: A good win for Dragunov in his first match since being drafted to the Raw brand. In order for Dragunov to face Gunther in the semifinals, Dragunov needs to beat Jey Uso in the quarterfinals. They could go with outside interference or a lame distraction finish, but if they are serious about making Dragunov then he should just beat Jey clean in a competitive match. I’m not holding my breath, but Jey is more than over enough to absorb the loss.

Iyo Sky vs. Natalya in a Queen of the Ring match: The first ever meeting between Sky and Natalya was a good one. The distraction finish was unnecessary given how often Natalya loses. Sky should go deep in the tournament given that she’ll face the winner of the Shayna Baszler vs. Zelina Vega match. As much as I’d love to see the tournament used to elevate Baszler into a meaningful position, the fact that her opening round match is not being televised seems to suggest that’s not the plan.

Jey Uso vs. Finn Balor in a King of the Ring match: They got the tournament off to a good start with a competitive match that concluded with a clean win for Jey. I’m anxious to see what type of match Jey and Dragunov put together next week. Dragunov’s work with several green wrestlers in NXT showed that it’s nearly impossible to have a bad match with him. By the way, the segment with Balor acting like he would receive an opening round bye because his scheduled opponent Drew McIntyre was not medically cleared would have been fine had the company not already announced Jey as McIntyre’s replacement.

Lyra Valkyria vs. Dakota Kai in a Queen of the Ring match: A solid main roster debut for Valkyria. The match was a little more competitive than I anticipated, as Kai often comes off as the pushover of the Damage CTRL faction. The match was a nice reminder that Kai can hold her own when she has the right opponent. All of that said, the jury is still out on Valkyria clicking as a character. She never found her voice in NXT. It’s a shame that Kai had to replace the injured Asuka, as Valkyria vs. Asuka was the most intriguing of the Queen of the Ring first-round matches.

Chad Gable vs. Bronson Reed: An in the middle as opposed to a Hit or a Miss for a quick match that set up their Triple Threat match with Sami Zayn for the Intercontinental Title. Obviously, a longer match between these two would have been enjoyable, but the segment accomplished what it needed to in fairly short order.

WWE Raw Misses

CM Punk promo: A nothing happening segment. Punk acted like he was going to take over the show until Drew McIntyre returned. Punk rambled for a bit while checking his watch, his music played, the segment ended, and then neither he nor McIntyre made another appearance during the show. On a side note, WWE made the mistake of assuming that everyone was familiar with the social media posts about Punk being locked inside WWE Headquarters over the weekend.

Michael Cole’s interview with Becky Lynch: Time stood still when Cole asked Lynch about her Kentucky Derby outfit and then followed up by asking for more details about her hat. I like that they took the time to walk through the new additions to the Raw women’s division coming out of the draft. Unfortunately, none of those potential fresh matchups for Lynch really jumped out. The highlight of the segment was Liv Morgan acting like she was going to help Lynch fight off Damage CTRL only to leave Lynch hanging.

Zoey Stark vs. Ivy Nile in a Queen of the Ring match: A soft Miss. There were some clunky moments, but it was still a passable match. The bigger issue was the lack of crowd interest. The fans like Nile even though she’s wasted in a tag team with Maxxine Dupri. Conversely, while Stark is very good in the ring, her generic character has not clicked with the fans.


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