WWE SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH:
Bayley(c) vs. Asuka - 6.75/10
A very good match which would make me want to see these two have a rematch and get more time if I wasn’t so damn sick and tired of Bayley. Bayley via roll-up after Sasha got involved on her behalf.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Good. The moment the bell rang, Sasha charged into the ring and pounced on Asuka and started raining furious punches down on her to soften her up for their match later. Bayley joined in to help Sasha hit Asuka with a double-team move.
THE MYSTERIOS BACKSTAGE - Good. We got to see Dominik’s mother (well… the woman who raised him. We all know his real mom is some nameless fling Eddie Guerrero had when he and Vickie were on the rocks). Dominik asked Rey to promise not to get involved tonight and to let Dominik be his own man. Rey said it was hard for him to do, but promised that he would do so.
WWE RAW TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
The Street Profits(c) vs. Angel Garza & Andrade “Cien” Almas (w/Zelina Vega) - 4.5/10
Kevin Owens was on commentary for this match for some reason. At the end of the match he would tell us that he has invited Aleister Black to be his guest on the KO Show tomorrow on Raw.
Garza looked very impressive in this disappointingly short match. The finish saw Zelina get up on the apron to argue with the referee at a point where she seemed to have no reason to do so. Moments later, Garza superkicked Ford and he stumbled backwards into Zelina, knocking her off the apron. Andrade went to check on her so he wasn’t there when Garza needed to make a tag, and Garza got beaten by the Street Profits’ finishing combo. After the match, Garza was upset that Andrade wasn’t there for him, so yeah; back to the dissension storyline. That sure was a nice month where these two weren’t arguing, but it’s over now. Maybe it will actually go somewhere this time.
KAYLA BRAXTON INTERVIEWS SASHA AND BAYLEY - ARE YOU F*CKING KIDDING ME? Even on a f*cking Pay-Per-View, these two have to cut a promo, apparently. What was even the point of this? To tease that Bayley wouldn’t interfere on Sasha’s behalf the way Sasha did for her? Why wouldn’t she? Even if these two aren’t really friends and are just using each other, it is in both of their best interests to keep their alliance alive and continue using the other.
NO DISQUALIFICATIONS MATCH IN WHICH THE LOSER MUST LEAVE WWE:
Mandy Rose vs. Sonya Deville - 6.5/10
They had good intensity and build up the knee strikes well throughout the match. Mandy won, so yeah… I think the reason the stipulation was changed was the reason everyone assumed.
Seth Rollins (w/Buddy Murphy) vs. DOMINIK MYSTERIO (w/Rey Mysterio Jr.) - 7/10
This was a good, dramatic match. Maybe a little overdramatic, at times, but it worked. The thing I liked most about his match, though, is that they worked it like Dominik was a novice. He knows some moves, but he wasn’t going out there and doing Fisherman’s Busters and Cancun Tornados and Tiger Suplexes and things like that, which made it much easier to feel sympathy for Dominik as someone who was in over his head. It also made it easier for him to come out of this in a better position than the one he went in with even though he lost.
WWE RAW WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH:
Sasha Banks(c) vs. Asuka - 8.5/10
Sasha picked up where Bayely left off, targeting Asuka’s knee. So much of what they did here was wonderfully smooth and there were some great reversals and variations on their usual spots. The finish saw the same situation as in the opener, but with two differences:
1. Instead of eating the hip-attack like Sasha did, Bayley avoided it and got elbowed off the apron.
2. Instead of going for a roll-up, Sasha went for the Banks Statement, only to have Asuka reverse it into the Asuka lock and get the win.
The announcers harped on the first point, but personally, I don’t think that’s relevant at all, and I wouldn’t have mentioned it here if I didn’t feel the need to point out the flaw in the logic of this storyline. The announcers pushed that Bayley didn’t “take the bullet for Sasha” the way that Sasha did for her, but I don’t really see how that’s relevant. The point of what Bayley did- just like the point of what Sasha did in Bayley’s match- was to distract the opponent, and it worked. It’s not Bayley’s fault that Asuka was able to counter the move that Sasha went for.
I also don’t really like the booking here. The idea has always seemed to be for Sasha to be the babyface eventually and that would require Bayley being in a position to lord things over Sasha so Sasha losing makes sense, but at the same time, they’ve made Sasha so unlikable recently that I have no desire to see her be a babyface. It also returns the story to the status quo ante, making this whole feud with Asuka feel like it didn’t accomplish anything, whereas Bayley losing her title but Sasha retaining hers would at last give us a new situation by switching the roles around.
WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Drew McIntyre vs. Randy Orton - 8/10
We start off with Rand Orton stalling like he’s Cody in ROH. You know… because Cody got such rave reviews for doing that, so it’s definitely a good idea to copy it.
I’m not going to lie to you all; that start got me scared that we were going to get lazy Randy Orton tonight, but that turned out to not be the case. These two had the usual great intensity and did a great job of building a match around teases of their much-hyped finishers. Between that, the flash-pin finish without a finisher ever being hit, and just a general sense that these two are definitely capable of more, hindsight tells me that they were holding back for an inevitable rematch, but if you can put on an 8/10 match while still holding back, more power to you (and I do think that the Flair stuff actually did help them because it allowed the figure four to feel like a bigger spot here).
KEITH LEE DEBUTS ON RAW TOMORROW NIGHT - Cool… but on the other hand, I just don’t get why you would build him up the way you did and put two belts on him just to call him up. Surely there was someone else Cole could lose to… or, better yet, just keep the belt on Cole and hold off on the Pat McAfee match.
FALLS COUNT ANYWHERE MATCH FOR THE WWE UNIVERSAL TITLE:
Braun Strowman(c) vs. The Fiend - 5/10
When did this become a Falls Count Anywhere match? And WHY? Do you really need THREE no DQs matches on one show?
Anyway, they brawled a bunch and hit each other with some stuff. Braun got the advantage but instead of following up, he decided to go cut up the mat and expose the wood under the ring. The Fiend proceeded to hit him with a series of moves on the wood and pin him, making him look like an idiot. Oh, and now The Fiend is the champion, because that worked out so well last time.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Fine. Roman Reigns comes back and attacks both guys. I guess this is the thing we weren’t supposed to see coming. On the one hand, attacking people after they’ve wrestled a match and you haven’t- and especially when you have no beef with them- is pretty heelish, so they have once again managed to fail at making Roman Reigns a babyface. On the other hand, I suppose that the past few months have made other people come around to what I had been saying all along, which is that The Fiend is just stupid Bray Wyatt magical bullsh*t all over again and thus there won’t be as much pushback for Roman taking the belt off of him as there would have been had they done so at WrestleMania as originally planned.
This was an okay show from WWE. I’m liking the shorter PPVs, but if Raw is three hours, I’d like my PPVs to go at least three and a half, and when you consider that Smackdown had two big title matches on their show last night, and pushed names like Owens, Lashley, Sheamus, Riddle, Ziggler, Miz, and Corbin (not to mention AJ Styles and Jeff Hardy from one of the aforementioned title matches on Smackdown, and that’s not counting people currently at home like Daniel Bryan) were nowhere to be found, it left this show feeling a little small. At least put the US Title match on this show and give it time instead of giving it six and a half minutes on the pre-show, and give the Raw Tag Team Title match more time.
The other thing that made this show feel small was the booking. It felt more like a set-up PPV than the second or third biggest show of the year, with many of the finishes being angles or something else clearly intended to enable a rematch (WWE Title, Raw Tag Titles, both women’s titles. I’m not going to include Seth vs. Dominik here as it felt like a big enough moment to warrant the SummerSlam match, and we all knew the feud wouldn’t end without at least one more Seth vs. Rey match). Only Mandy vs. Sonya felt like something that definitively ended a feud, and only the main event with its title change and then big return felt like something truly newsworthy.