It’s the go home show before Extreme Rules this weekend! RAW better be good, right? Well it seems for me at least, the honeymoon phase post-Wrestlemania is over as RAW has got me back to looking at the clock and wondering how much longer it’ll be. That’s not to say it was an inherently bad episode – it definitely had some good moments – it’s just that I found the overall show was lacking in the “WOW” department.
AJ Styles & Roman Reigns
AJ Styles opens the show before Roman Reigns interrupts. What we have here is weird – clearly in the WWE’s mind, Reigns is the babyface and Styles is the heel. But it doesn’t quite work like that as hating Reigns is just a by-product of a lot of fans displeasure of constantly being fed story-lines they don’t like or just don’t work. Reigns has the potential to be good and I’ve always been a fan, but he will always suffer being booked the way he is. In an ideal world, yes Reigns could be a great babyface with The Usos, and yes Styles could be a great heel with the rest of The Bullet Club in the form of Anderson & Gallows – but it’ll never happen when you have Reigns in the mix.
And what makes this whole feud even staler for me is that the WWE constantly portrays Reigns as the underdog, even against someone who is considered a “newbie” in the WWE and someone who would wholeheartedly benefit from being the underdog. These guys do put on a good match, as evident from Payback, but their promos and the continuation of the storyline doesn’t feel organic to me and I feel like it’s run it’s course already. Because, what’s the pay off, realistically? Reigns wins, right? I would love Styles to become champion at Extreme Rules but the chances of that are as slim as CM Punk returning to WWE. So I can’t get excited about this feud and I can’t bring myself to care.
Anyway, the segment was short and sweet and we’re informed that The Usos will face Anderson & Gallows later with their respective “families” in their corners of the ring.
Sami Zayn vs Cesaro vs Kevin Owens vs The Miz w/ Maryse
The one thing WWE is doing well lately is the feud and build up for IC Title match at Extreme Rules (shock fucking horror). What’s excellent here is that normally in a Fatal 4 way match there isn’t a lot of reasoning for why some men are involved – it’s usually just to fill a space or get everybody paid – but with this current feud, I genuinely feel like every man here has his space because he deserved it and it’s where the story naturally leads to. The Miz is champion; Cesaro and The Miz have a bit of background and Cesaro has constantly been a contender for the IC Belt in recent memory; Kevin Owens dropped the title at Wrestlemania and desperately wants it back and Sami Zayn is the underdog who stands a legitimate chance of becoming IC Champion, if it weren’t for his ongoing battle with KO who is always trying to one up him. So it’s nice to have a coherent background and interlinking stories with these guys and apart from The Miz (still not sorry), I love watching these guys fight.
This initially starts of with KO and The Miz on commentary watching a singles match between Cesaro and Zayn. As much as I love KO on commentary, having 5 people does become a bit of a clusterfuck, but it quickly moves on as KO and The Miz end up brawling outside of the ring. It spills into the ring with Zayn and Cesaro becoming involved and the match is called off.
Shane McMahon appears to tell the lads that it will now be a tag match – with The Miz partnering with KO (KO: “But he’s the worst one!”) facing Cesaro and Zayn.
Weirdly enough and well, I guess totally unsurprisingly enough, Steph appears and in an effort to get herself over everybody else, tweaks the match so KO and Zayn are on the same team, against The Miz and Cesaro. Steph actually received a cheer when she added that if KO attacked Zayn, he would be disqualified from the IC Title match at Extreme Rules.
The interaction between all 4 here is great – the little details of the match are the ones that stand out. KO is constantly berating Zayn (KO: “You hear that? They’re booing you!”) and The Miz and Cesaro’s alliance breaks down with The Miz trying to steal Cesaro’s moves. Even though this match is so stuffed with adverts that I genuinely considered ordering a pizza and diabetic medication at the same time (thanks, America), we still get treated to a great match.
Working on the breakdown of Cesaro’s alliance with The Miz, Zayn is able to win the match, giving him and KO the win. KO quickly reminds everybody how much he hates Zayn with a swift kick to the face and the post-match drama ends and we’re back to 4 men with 4 different agendas.
The Shining Stars vs Corey Hollis & John Skyler
They finally get their debut… and the crowd is dead. Like, super dead. I actually feel bad for them. I swear I heard someone in the audience groan. Also, I’m sure as hell Cole got Epico and Primo confused, so yeah, this is gonna be great for them and ALL OF US BEING FORCED TO WATCH THIS LACKLUSTRE MATCH.
The match is short and inoffensive. The Shining Stars win. I had to Google the names of the other two involved. Moving swiftly on…
Dean Ambrose and Chris Jericho
I still can’t believe this feud is on going – I am utterly bored by this feud. Ambrose and Jericho are individually all kinds of great, just evidently not together and not when confined by the strictures of being PG.
Ambrose says he wants an extreme match at Extreme Rules but I feel it’ll be as tame as Ambrose’s match against Brock earlier this year – the definition of anti-climatic. Credit where credit is due though, Ambrose always goes out of his way to sell whatever it is he has to sell and you can tell he is desperately trying his hardest. The gimmick of an ‘Asylum Match’ against Jericho is now on the card for Extreme Rules and my interest has definitely piqued. Let’s hope it’s a good match and Ambrose wins, because honestly, what else is the point?
Becky Lynch vs Dana Brooke
Following Dana’s debut last week and Emma’s unfortunate injury, Becky Lynch goes one on one against Dana in her first match on RAW. The match is quick and Becky seems to be carrying Dana throughout most of it – which is what makes Becky such a great opponent. I’m gutted Emma isn’t in the mix any more but here’s hoping for good things from Dana, who has room for improvement. She wins her first RAW match after grabbing a cheeky pin over Becky. Not much to see here.
The Golden Truth vs Fandango & Tyler Breeze
I honestly can’t behind this at all. The Golden Truth has been building for 5 months now (that’s if Cole is to believed, mind) and it just seems so utterly pointless. On the other hand, it does give something for the older guys to do, it does give them screen time and it does provide light-hearted entertainment to fill out the show. But how has this been given more love and attention than Goldust’s time with Stardust, which had potential to be fucking great? Honestly, I don’t know what goes on in creative and I don’t think I want to.
At least the younger guys win, as a dangerous kick from R-Truth hits Goldust and Breeze secures the victory.
The New Day
So the best segment of the show, without a doubt, goes to The New Day. Xavier reveals a time machine – The New Day-Lorean – and persuades Big-E and Kofi that they need to go back in time to better understand The Vaudevillians. “Why is the keyboard sticky?” Big-E shouts as Xavier bundles them inside of the “time-machine”.
And honestly, the best comedy segment in a damn long time happens as Kofi’s old theme music starts playing and he hops out of the box speaking with a thick Jamaican accent. Xavier comes out telling him they haven’t gone back far enough and Kofi is pulled in kicking and screaming that “2009 was my best year!” Just… 10/10.
I think the thing I love about The New Day is that it’s so natural – these guys are clearly like this off camera as well and you can tell they are in their element when they’re given the freedom and trust to do whatever they want. They nail their promos every week and manage to combine funny with credible without ever crossing over into cringe-worthy territory.
The Vaudevillians ambush them and creates legitimate heat – who knew the tag team division could be so great? The New Day has single-handedly given credence back to the division and I cannot wait for the title match at Extreme Rules.
The Usos vs Gallows & Anderson
I have to give credit to The Usos here – you can’t deny that they are a consistently good team and the majority of their matches are thoroughly enjoyable. Whether this feud is getting a bit dragged out or their overall gimmick is confusing, they do always give their best. They are fun most of the time, in the virgin, stale, inoffensive kind of way.
Reigns and Styles are ringside with their respective families for the match and when the fight finishes – The Usos pick up the victory with their usual superkicks – a brawl breaks out between all 6 men. AJ Styles goes to smack Reigns with a chair but – SURPRISE – Reigns smacks him first with his fist and then the chair. He then Superman punches G&A, but Styles is able to use the distraction to his favour and hits Reigns with the chair a few times before delivering the Styles Clash onto the said chair. Did I mention a chair was involved? HASHTAG CHAIR. HASHTAG EXTREME. Guys, there’s a chair, it’s totally extreme.
I don’t know if I’m just becoming disillusioned with wrestling or it’s because it’s gone 3am when I’m watching it, but I seriously struggle with keeping my interest during this match and most of the previous segments. RAW is becoming a slog again, purely due to the fact that it seems to be the same thing week in, week out. Even with the “new era” and the new talent, I still feel like it’s falling victim to the same awful booking: confusing and ultimately pointless stories that are played out to death with no real ultimate pay-off.
Big Cass vs D-Von Dudley
Still Enzo-less, Cass proves that he is wholly capable of being a singles wrestler. The match is quick and unsurprisingly, Big Cass picks up the win. It’s nice to see a quick simple match with no cheap finishes. Hey, guys, WWE did their jobs!
Kalisto vs Alberto Del Rio
Because we haven’t seen THIS match before…
But in all seriousness, it’s guaranteed to be fun, as these guys have good chemistry together. Del Rio dominates the majority of the match and throws Kalisto around the ring and outside of the ring.
Backstage, Sin Cara is watching the match before he is attacked by Rusev. Del Rio forces Kalisto to watch the unfolding drama backstage before managing to turn the match around. A small back and forth takes place between the two as Rusev makes his way down the ramp, kicking Sin Cara in front of him. Personally, what makes this more fun is to imagine that Rusev is trying to play football with a small Mexican man and is horrendously bad at it. Kalisto, suffering from the distraction of seeing his bae thrown around by Rusev outside of the ring, falls victim to a sneak attack from Del Rio, who picks up the win.
Rusev enters the ring to continue his punishment of Mexicans (maybe he’s trying to get brownie points from Trump?) and puts Kalisto into the Accolade. I genuinely believe that Rusev has a lot of untapped talent and potential and if utilised properly, he could become a truly dominant force in the WWE. I hope the recent disbandment of The League of Nations pushes Rusev back into the brutal machine he was before that… and before that ridiculous feud with Ziggler.
Women’s Title Match Contract Signing with Charlotte and Natalya
Ric Flair comes stumbling out and I’m honestly concerned he’s going to collapse at any given moment. Anyway, he attempts to introduce Charlotte, who is nailing her run as a heel champion.
Charlotte and Natalya go back on forth on the mic for a bit and Charlotte excels: I cannot describe my love for her, she is a natural, for lack of a better way of explaining it. Her feud with Natalya is your typical good versus evil and I don’t think they get enough love for how great they both are.
It’s then revealed that if Ric Flair even so much as turns up at ringside during the match at Extreme Rules, then Charlotte will automatically forfeit the title. In addition, if she refuses to sign the contract, then she will have to forfeit the title immediately. She signs it, and Ric Flair lets loose in a tirade that may not entirely be kayfabe. Hopefully this is the start of Ric being pushed away from Charlotte and letting her have the time and space to develop her own character, even if yes, she does borrow tricks from her dad, like so many superstars have done before.
But in true McMahon style, they have to have the last word as Steph slaps Ric (is she legitimately turning face?!) when he tries to challenge Shane to a fight. Regardless, then night ends with Natalya putting Charlotte into a sharpshooter as Ric is escorted out by security.
Not the best episode of RAW by all accounts and especially not so when you realise a PPV is this weekend. I hope the Women’s Title Match is completely left alone by everybody else so it gets the big match feel it deserves and I’m genuinely looking forward to the Tag Title Match and the IC Title Match. Other than that… The evening falls a little flat.
There is a huge Seth Rollins shaped hole in the WWE right now.
There’s also a hole where Bray Wyatt used to be…
There’s not a hole where Ryback used to be, however.
Cena’s back in 2 weeks, if you didn’t notice WWE’s incessant reminders…
Having the Women’s Title segment close the show was a nice touch; it gives their match a proper ‘title-match’ feel.
I lost 3 paragraphs as I clicked the back button on my mouse and genuinely considered just writing out “shit” over and over for most of the segments.
Agree with me? Disagree with me? Want to have a go at me for wasting your time? Find me @Rachelskiiiiiii