SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment – HIT: It was good to see Sami Zayn starting off Raw to address his best friend Kevin Owens moving to Smackdown last week. He got to talk about what that means to him, while also putting a focus on wanting to win the World Championship now that he’s back to being on his own. I will also say that in the bigger picture, this was a good move for WWE to split up Zayn and Owens without having them break up. The interruption from The Judgment Day followed by the save by Jey Uso all worked well to hype the main event Tag Team Title match. The backstage encounter between Zayn and Uso later in the show was strong to continue the story about Uso coming to Raw and all the ramifications of that move.
Ricochet vs. Nakamura – HIT: This was a good Falls Count Anywhere match which allowed Ricochet plenty of opportunities to show off his amazing athleticism. Shinsuke Nakamura was good in his role in the match, continuing to show more of a vicious side which came out in his recent feud against Seth Rollins. It was good to see Nakamura getting the win here as he needed a bounce back after failing to defeat Rollins for the World Title.
Rollins – McIntyre – HIT: Drew McIntyre continues to play his role to perfection. I am thoroughly enjoying how he is playing a babyface but with some heel tendencies. He keeps making good points, but in a way where you could see him snapping and turning heel if he keeps falling short. Rollins played his role well too, pointing out how McIntyre needs to get over what happened to him in the past, especially in regards to The Bloodline. It was all well scripted and performed to hype their World Title match at Crown Jewel.
Kaiser vs. Gargano – MISS: The action in this match between Ludwig Kaiser and Johnny Gargano was certainly Hit worthy. But, Gargano just came back from a long hiatus. He hasn’t done a good job of connecting with the fans since his return to WWE. It has been a disappointing time and there is hope that re-teaming with Tomasso Ciampa as DIY will help to ignite his WWE career considering his amazing talent. I would not have had him lose his first match back after rescuing Ciampa and reforming their team. That kills his momentum before it even really gets going.
Ripley vs. Baszler – MISS: This match was fine, but it suffered from being part of this big “who is the baddest woman on Raw” angle with five women all fighting in a way that doesn’t help any of them. This non ending brawl with Rhea Ripley, Shayna Baszler, Nia Jax, Raquel Rodriguez and Zoey Stark lead to the announcement of a 5 way Women’s Title match at the PLE. None of the women stand out as a strong babyface. Rodriguez is the closest, and clearly cast in that role, but she isn’t connecting with the fans well. I think Baszler and Stark are both supposed to be faces too, but I’m not even sure. Clearly Ripley is a heel but often gets face reactions. Jax is the only one clearly playing a role and getting the desired fan reaction.
Jade Cargill – HIT: WWE continues to do a great job of presenting Jade Cargill as a huge deal. We keep seeing her show up on PLEs, NXT, Smackdown and now Raw. She’s shared screen time (albeit just a short amount of time) with stars like Charlotte Flair and now Becky Lynch. She looks like she belongs. I can’t wait to see what actually happens when she officially lands on a brand and starts wrestling.
Gunther vs. Reed – HIT: This was a very good Intercontinental Title match. It was heel vs. heel which I’m not a fan of in general, but this was such a good match that I didn’t care. The announcers did a nice job of reinforcing the story that Gunther and Bronson Reed were telling in the match with Gunther changing up his usual tactics given that he isn’t the bigger man in the match like he usually is. The match was well booked and the action was very good throughout. This is a clear case of why Gunther is so smart to have won matches with so many moves. You couldn’t imagine him lifting Reed for the power bomb, but you could see him winning with the top rope splash or the sleeper. Neither of those worked, which added to the drama of the match and when he actually did hit he power bomb, it was a huge moment. My only complaint is the ‘Big’ moniker for Bronson Reed. That sucks.
Alpha Academy / New Day – MISS: This was one of the most annoying things I’ve seen on a tv all year. This was both Alpha Academy and New Day at their worst. They have so much talent and can undoubtedly have a great match against each other. But the obnoxiousness level was turned up to 11 in this backstage encounter. Throw in the weird bit from Akira Tozawa and I wanted to change the channel more than anything while watching this crap.
Cody & Uso vs. Balor & Priest – HIT: This was a good WWE Tag Team Title main event, but I’m not sure about the ending. I question putting the Titles back on Judgment Day and taking them off of Jey Uso & Cody Rhodes so soon. It makes it seem odd to have them win the Titles in the first place. I didn’t see the Jimmy Uso interference coming so that was at least unpredictable. And more importantly, it was a good long match. These are four talented wrestlers and they put on a good show. I guess this will lead to an Uso vs. Uso match at Crown Jewel. I’m not sure how I feel about that just yet. Overall, this was just a minor Hit given the outcome.
(Jon Mezzera is PWTorch.com’s WWE Raw Hits & Misses Specialist, providing his point of view for Raw each week. Email him at email@example.com. Follow Jon on Twitter/X @JonMezzera.)
OR CHECK THIS OUT AT PROWRESTLING.NET: Powell’s WWE Raw Hit List: Cody Rhodes and Jey Uso vs. Damian Priest and Finn Balor for the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Titles, Gunther vs. Bronson Reed for the Intercontinental Title