SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment – HIT: In general, I’m not a fan of these parade of challengers segments. They did something similar with the women on Smackdown last week. I did enjoy this as the mic work was good from all those involved. It also set up two big matches for later in the show (but what happened to the three matches that they advertised last week?). I particularly got a kick out of Randy Orton telling Matt Riddle that that’s not how an open challenge works. The dynamic between all these guys worked well and this was a fun segment.
Ripley vs. Baszler – HIT: This was a good match between Rhea Ripley and Shayna Baszler. I wish both of them had been presented better on Raw since they were so much better on NXT. But, they are still talented workers who can have a good match against each other like they did here. The distraction at ringside as Nia Jax destroyed Nikki Cross was ok. That was followed up by Jax squashing Ripley in the ring to set up her possibly doing the same to Charlotte Flair in their match later in the show.
The Viking Raiders vs. Mahal & Veer – HIT: The Viking Raiders are dippy characters, but a really good tag team. I want to see them in a new role, but at least give them something to do now that they are out of the Tag Team Title picture. You have to have matches like this to build up teams to eventually get a title match. This was a strong win for the Viking Raiders and if Jinder Mahal and his cohorts are just jobbers, then I don’t mind seeing them on my tv.
Priest vs. Sheamus vs. McIntyre – HIT: A good Raw continued with this United States Championship match which is the first of the two big matches set up in the opening segment. Damian Priest is actually getting protected which is great to see. I assumed he would retain the Title by beating Sheamus, so I was very surprised when he got the pin fall on Drew McIntyre. That sends a message to the fans that WWE is getting behind Priest which is great. They need new stars and he can be one if treated properly. Plus, the match itself was great start to finish. It was definitely the best match of the night and one of the best Raw matches in a long time.
Kross vs. Carrillo – MISS: Unfortunately, after that match the good Raw stopped being good for awhile. There was a stretch of things (Goldberg video, Doudrop/Eva Marie non-match, 24/7 silliness) that weren’t good, but didn’t quite register on the Miss list either. Then we get to this boring squash match. I don’t mind squashes, but I’d rather see Humberto Carrillo get a push than Karrion Kross. His look is so stupid. He is boring in the ring. How is he going to do two dull rest holds in a squash? I didn’t understand how the match was booked with those rest holds and then Kross trying to pin Carrillo after several rudimentary moves like a back elbow. If you want to do a squash, have him plough through his opponent quickly, with impressive looking power moves, and never go for a pin until the end.
Flair vs. Jax – MISS: This was an ugly match. There has been a lot of talk about it this week as there were times when it looked like Flair and Jax were shooting on each other. Jax can be sloppy and careless in the ring and that was certainly the case here as she seemed to carelessly drop Charlotte on her head. They did not work well together at all. Even if the match had been good, I would have questions the heel vs. heel nature of it. I would question having Flair lose so soon after winning the Women’s Title. I would question giving a push to Jax. I wasn’t thrilled by the idea of Alexa Bliss challenging Charlotte last week, but what happened to her? I hope she is ok in real life. But, it was odd how they switched to Jax this week. I certainly don’t need to see another match between these two.
Morrison vs. Omos – MISS: The bad stretch of Raw continued here. We don’t know why The Miz wasn’t on Raw, but his match against John Morrison was another match that was promised but not delivered. Omos isn’t interesting to me. He isn’t good in the ring. He is ok, but obviously isn’t being asked to do much. He had some bad positioning in this match like when he wasn’t anywhere close to the ropes when Morrison was attempting a spring board move. Morrison came up way short before getting clotheslined. The same thing happened on the sloppy spot with the stairs on the outside. Morrison slipped to make things worse. It just wasn’t good.
Styles vs. Woods – HIT: Xavier Woods feels lost right now without Kofi Kingston. But, he’s very talented and had a good match against AJ Styles. It was good to see Styles getting a clean win. Pair that with Omos’ win and the former Tag Team Champions had a good Raw to keep them strong going into what will presumably be a rematch against RKBro down the line. That was the right way to go.
RK-Bro vs. Lashley & MVP – HIT: The Tag Team Title match was a good main event. You knew RKBro wasn’t going to lose and they had to keep Bobby Lashley Strong, so MVP losing was the predictable outcome. But, sometimes predictable is still good. That was the right ending. I enjoyed Styles doing guest commentary. The interference from him and Omos worked fine. The match built well to Orton clearing Lashley as well as Styles & Omos out of the way, so that Riddle could get the win over MVP. The spear from Lashley on Riddle afterwards followed by the RKO from Orton to Lashley was a strong ending to the show. It will be interesting to see what happens with these five guys going forward. Does Orton get a WWE Title match? If so, does it happen the same night he and Riddle have to defend the Tag Titles against Styles & Omos? I’m curious to see how it plays out.
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.