SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment – HIT: This wasn’t a great way to start Raw, but it was good enough to get a hit as a way to follow up on the WWE Championship match at SummerSlam between Bobby Lashley and Goldberg. MVP was good as usual in his promo, but I’m not looking forward to the eventual rematch between Lashley and Goldberg, likely at the next Blood Money show. I have been wondering who would be the next to challenge Lashley, but could never come up with a good option among the Raw roster. Damian Priest was a surprise as it seems like he’s six months away from a WWE title shot. But, it is too early to tell if he will be getting that match any time soon. In the moment, I was a bit hesitant about him coming out, but he did a nice job and got a good reaction from the crowd.
Priest & McIntyre vs. Lashley & Sheamus – HIT: The match between Lashley and Priest was very short before Sheamus came out and attacked Priest to cause a disqualification. At that point, Drew McIntyre made the save to set up this tag match which was good. It went a good length at about 15 minutes. Throw in the opening segment, the commercial breaks and the short singles match, and these four took up a huge amount of time to start off Raw. But, that worked well and it was enjoyable to watch. The follow up with Sheamus coming for Lashley for walking out on him worked well too. Is this going to lead to a Sheamus babyface turn? It hasn’t been that long since his heel turn which didn’t come that long after his last babyface turn either.
Doudrop and Eva Marie – HIT: This is a minor hit. Doudrop was solid in her promo. I really don’t mind the name Doudrop so it was ok with me that she has accepted it despite getting it from Eva Marie. It was good to see he finally telling off Marie and standing up for herself. But, it felt like too little too late. The attack by Marie worked to put heat on her and give Doudrop a bigger reason to want revenge. Hopefully Doudrop plows through her next week, but I assume that Marie will introduce a new protege to help her and actually feud with Doudrop.
Kross vs. Ricochet – MISS: The only things that Karrion Kross had going for him were his crazy entrance and Scarlet, both of which WWE has taken away from him. So to make up for it, they decided to give him a weird gladiator mask. It was terrible. I don’t get what WWE has done with him on Raw at all. He is back to getting squash wins which makes sense, but I don’t want to see those wins come at the expense of much more talented wrestlers like Ricochet. Kross just isn’t that good.
Moist TV – MISS: WWE should have known that Logan Paul would get a big heel reaction. Even if they didn’t know it before SummerSlam, he got booed every time they showed him on the big screen during the PPV. They didn’t learn their lesson, so they were presenting him as a face on Moist TV. This was all awkward. It worked to further the tension between John Morrison and The Miz who was upset about being left off the show. That tension would explode later on, but I will get to that momentarily. Whatever the endgame plan is for Paul, they should really rethink how they are using him as he won’t get over as a face with the fans.
Miz and Morrison Break Up – HIT: The Miz vs. Xavier Woods was ok. WWE wants to sell some nWo inspired merchandise for New Day, so they are keeping Woods on tv without Kofi Kingston who has mysteriously disappeared. I have to assume that Kingston would have played Kevin Nash to Woods’ Scott Hall at SummerSlam. That segment should have been cut from the PPV, and I’m not sure it makes sense to have Woods doing a ripoff of a faction when he is alone. Moving on, the match was a backdrop to have Miz attack Morrison afterwards. I am tired of their team so I want to see them go their separate ways. I hope they tweak their characters as they are both stale, but I am worried that they will be exactly the same as singles as they were as a team.
Mahal vs. Mansoor – MISS: I get wanting to give Jinder Mahal a strong win after losing decisively to McIntyre at the PPV. I get wanting to have Mansoor lose to continue his storyline where he loses doing things his way, but wins doing things Mustafa Ali’s way. But, that’s not what happened. Mahal lost and Mansoor won. So, while Mahal stood tall and looked tough, he still lost. And while Mansoor got his ass kicked, he still won. So, why was Ali so upset? They had a simple story to tell, but they got too cute and let the booking get it its own way. Plus, the idea of Mahal snapping at that point in the match didn’t make much sense either.
Bliss Challenges Flair – MISS: The long promo from Charlotte Flair about once again becoming the Raw Women’s Champion was pretty good. It started out a bit robotic as Flair still falls back on some bad habits with her mic performances. But, it got better as it went. The weird way her music interrupted halfway through the promo didn’t help things. It made the promo feel too long. I would have been fine if it had ended when the music hit. Some editing would have helped. I get wanting a challenger to come out right away, but sometimes it is ok to let a win or in this case a promo breathe a little. Did we have to get a challenger coming out right away? I am very happy that they are going away from either Rhea Ripley or Nikki Cross. Flair needs a difference challenger. Unfortunately, they don’t have a good option, so they go with Alexa Bliss. I have zero interest in seeing her and her stupid doll challenging Flair for the Women’s Title.
Ripley & Cross vs. Jax & Baszler – HIT: This is another minor hit for the good action in this match despite problems with how it was presented. It was a good match. But, I swear Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler broke up a few weeks ago. They sort of covered for that in a pre-match backstage scene between them. Another issue is that Ripley & Cross came across too much like RKBro here. The team of a badass, no nonsense wrestler and a goofy sidekick who they sort of like, sort of respect, but ultimately tolerate is already being done on Raw. Presumably, Ripley & Cross are being built towards an eventual Tag Title match.
Styles vs. Riddle – HIT: The Championship celebration for RKBro was fine. It was amusing enough, and set up the gifted scooter for Randy Orton to use later on Omos in the main event. That main event was not-surprisingly a very good match between AJ Styles and Matt Riddle. These two have shown great chemistry in the ring together in multiple matches in the past and that was on display here. Orton using the scooter to neutralize Omos and keep him from interfering allowing Riddle to get the win worked well. The only issue is that at some point they need to move both of these teams onto something new.
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.