Rollins vs. Owens: Week 2 of Seth Rollins’ open challenge for the Intercontinental Championship featured a strong match against Kevin Owens. It went 15 minutes and featured good back and forth action throughout. This is obviously not surprising given the talent of these two wrestlers. This worked on multiple levels. It was a long fun match to watch. It fit in with the open challenge and makes fans look forward to seeing who will challenge Rollins next. It also fit in with Owens’ storyline for the rest of the show of trying to get into a Money in the Bank qualifying match which played into the main event.
The B Team: This was a fun progression for the team of Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel, now known as The B Team. Their scene with Kurt Angle when they came up with the name was amusing. All three performed well in it. I much prefer that use of Angle instead of the afraid-of-being-fired-by-Stephanie-McMahon Angle we saw at other times in the show. Their match against Breezeango later in the show wasn’t anything special, but the win after emphasizing that they never had won before worked well.
Banks & Natalya & Moon vs. The Riott Squad: This was a good six-woman tag match. The problem is that whenever The Riott Squad has been booked in these even odds situations, they always lose, going back to their early days on Smackdown. So here on Raw, they told the story that the Riott Squad was getting the better of the other women on the roster by using the numbers game. Here, they lost without it. That defined them down. Now Natalya has been involved with Ronda Rousey, so having her get the win to look strong made a lot of sense. But, with the Rousey vs. Nia Jax announcement (much more later), are they going away from that?
Bayley vs. Bliss vs. James: Alexa Bliss seems like the perfect Ms. Money in the Bank to me. She can actually carry the briefcase with authority as a former multiple time Women’s Champion who actually can wrestle in the ring, unlike Carmella. I really hope that WWE thinks more about the two winners this year considering they picked two wrong winners last year. It is fine to use the briefcase to elevate someone new into the Title picture, but that person needs to feel like a credible challenger which didn’t happen last year. Or it needs to someone like Bliss who is already established, but is down at the moment, and whose character fits in with the gimmick perfectly. That is all to basically say that the right woman won this match. It was a good triple threat that played nicely into the relationship between Bliss and Mickie James. Bayley had her spirited comeback attempts which would have worked much better a year ago, or better yet, two years ago. She has been so damaged by WWE’s booking. But, this was still a good match that was well planned out and well executed.
Strowman & Balor vs. Ziggler & McIntyre: This was a very odd mix of wrestlers in a match where neither team really should lose. You don’t want Braun Strowman losing any time. Finn Balor as part of Money in the Bank should also be protected before that PPV. On the other side, Ziggler & McIntyre are a new team that can’t afford a loss. So, it was odd that this match had to happen in the first place. But, somehow it all worked. I enjoyed it. I liked the goofy chemistry between Strowman and Balor like when Strowman surprised him by using him as a weapon and then told him to stand up because he wasn’t hurt. We got a tease of a potential Strowman vs. McIntyre singles match which could be very good down the line. We got to see Strowman doing his running shoulder tackle on the outside of the ring on someone other than Owens, and it was quite impressive in how it destroyed Strowman’s trophy. The end felt like it at least protected Balor a little. But, he hasn’t been winning a lot of matches lately, so hopefully he will be booked stronger in the upcoming weeks.
Owens vs. Lashley vs. Elias: Elias should have won this match. He is the type of wrestler who could be elevated with the MITB briefcase. He is credible enough at this point in his career that you could see him getting a major Title win with a cash in. He is popular, even though he is a heel. He would get a pop every time he teases cashing in. He would be a new face getting elevated who actually deserves it. The match was good and I’m ok with Owens getting into MITB, but Stephanie could have just abused her power to add him as a 9th man in the match down the line. The match itself was good. It was a strong main event to end a show that featured pretty good wrestling action from start to finish. The interference from Sami Zayn worked well to further his budding feud against Bobby Lashley, and Zayn was much more fun in his over the top rooting for Owens to win at that point than he was in his overly long promo earlier in the show (more later).
Rousey vs. Jax: I didn’t like this announcement for several reasons. For one, it is way too soon for Ronda Rousey to be getting a Title match. For another, there is no good storyline going to explain it. For another, Nia Jax isn’t the type of opponent who can help elevate Rousey this early in her in ring career to help her develop as a wrestler. Jax just isn’t good enough. For another, Rousey has a good storyline going with Natalya and Mickie James. There is a logical progression set up with her teaming with Natalya against James and Bliss. After winning that tag match, you set her and James up for her first singles match. After beating James, Natalya comes in the ring to raise her hand, and then attacks her, turning heel and setting up that match. This is all pretty obvious and can be a really nice long storyline featuring her next three matches in a logical way which will be much more beneficial in terms of working with much better workers than Jax without interjecting this into it. The encounter at the press event wasn’t well done either. Hopefully, I am wrong and things will go well. But, I have my doubts.
Reigns – Mahal: This was such a bad storyline. I don’t even know what WWE wanted the fans to think in all of this. If they are trying to turn Roman Reigns heel and Jinder Mahal face, then I might be able to understand it. But, Mahal certainly wasn’t acting like a babyface last week. This certainly got sympathy on Mahal which I don’t think was the goal. Of course, the announcers called the overwhelming boos for Reigns a typical London reaction when in reality, it is a typical reaction everywhere. I also don’t like the weak Kurt Angle under Stephanie McMahon’s boot character which was so prevalent in this storyline throughout the show (and with Kevin Owens too).
Zayn’s Promo: This felt like it went on forever. Sami Zayn had some good material, but it was spread far too thin. I laughed when he complained that Lashley was wearing the same type of hat that he always wears. I like the possibility of a Zayn vs. Lashley feud. However, I don’t look forward to meeting Lashley’s sisters next week. I didn’t want to be reminded of the terrible sit down interview that Lashley gave about them last week. I guess it is good that the interview had some larger purpose to it, but I fear what that will end up turing into. Ultimately, this promo just dragged and wasn’t good enough.
For another view from the original Hitlist author, compare Jason Powell’s views to mine by visiting prowrestling.NET’s “Hitlist” section here.
Jon Mezzera is PWTorch.com’s WWE Hits & Misses Specialist, providing his point of view for Raw and Smackdown each week. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JonMezzera.