Tonight on RAW, the go home build for Extreme Rules. Which means… more of what you’ve been watching the past three weeks. If you like that, you’ll enjoy it. If you don’t, this show won’t help.
3 Things to Watch on the DVR?
Nothing this week. There is no must see. The same people are all grouped together. That’s not to say what was on RAW was bad, I just can’t – in good conscience – single anything out as special. It’s really an all or nothing show as far as viewing goes.
That said… Live from Greensboro NC, it’s WWE Monday Night Raw!
AJ Styles is here to tell you there’s no plan with him and The Club to get The Belt. Roman Reigns is out to put over Styles about winning everywhere else but the WWE. This again? Reigns thinks Styles is a liar and is going to be in the Usos’ corner. Styles’ going to be in The Club’s corner and everywhere else and he’s going to be the guy to beat The Guy. Reigns reminds Styles it’s not going to be a wrestling match, he can beat Styles’ ass (Main Event Face Gratuitous Swear Alert). The fans are not fans of Reigns. The Club comes out and the Usos sneak into the ring to flank Roman, AJ gets hit with a right hand and Les Boulez restrain AJ.
Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn – No Contest
Kevin Owens, Miz, Maryse, JBL, Cole, Saxton, all on commentary. What could go wrong? This match was set up on SmackDown due to an inadvertent Helluva Kick by Zayn on Cesaro. Owens speaks French to Maryse, which is a nice touch. Miz is comparing his resume to Owens. Sometimes it feels like a lot of the New Era is having established WWE stars tell indy darlings they’re lucky to have a job. This match doesn’t really get started as Owens decides to leave only to attack Miz. They all end up fighting in the ring…and….
HERE COMES THE MONEY….
Shane does his best Teddy Long, and LET ME HOLLA AT YOU PLAYA, we got a tag team rematch from SmackDown, that is, until…
STYLE AND GRACE I’M NEVER GONNA BE DONE….
Stephanie reminds Shane of the Smackdown match and we get Cesaro and Miz vs. the Team Formerly Known as Steenerico. Stephanie adds that if Owens walks out, he’s out of the Fatal Four Way, and so we get….
Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn def. Cesaro & The Miz
In the early going Cesaro and Miz try and work well as a team, while Zayn and Owens snipe and give passive-aggressive tags to each other. Owens is just a sarcasm machine in this match, killing everyone. Cesaro apes Miz’s move set which is humorous. Owens gets a hot tag and the crowd gets behind Owens, which is kind of cool. Miz blind tags Cesaro, throws him out to attempt a Cesaro Swing, Cesaro comes back in with a Skull Crushing Finale. Zayn with a Helluva Kick and the pin. Owens kills Zayn post-match just to re-establish the rivalry.
While not a great match, still fun to watch due to the stories the two teams were telling. But why not when you have the “uneasy tag partners” not tip your hand and have one try to get along, which could be established if wins meant something, which…(old man gratuitous ranting deleted).
Chris Jericho tells Renee Young he wants an apology for the jacket. I’m sure he’ll get it. That’s how this works, right?
The Team Formerly Known as Los Matadores Now Known As The Shining Stars def. Scott “John Skyler” Jackson and Bryan “Corey Hollis” Kennedy
The ring is an island and every time they get in it it transforms into Puerto Rico. So…a tourist trap surrounding cities with abject poverty? For some dumb reason John Skyler and Corey Hollis who have been seen in NXT and are a great team on the southern indie circuit are called Scott Jackson and Bryan Kennedy despite having Skyler and CH on their trunks. I don’t understand WWE logic, but if looking like geeks here means they sign Skyler and Hollis, fine. Give me Skyler and Hollis vs. the Revival as a real feud please. The Puerto Rican Tourism Board win with Total Elimination, now called the Shining Star.
The Ambrose Asylum
Dean Ambrose didn’t like the straightjacket on SmackDown. He wants to talk to Jericho. Jericho is looking more “too old for the club” ridiculous by the week: this time it’s vest, scarf, and leather pants. May this bit be heightened forever. Ambrose isn’t going to apologize, he’s going to challenge Jericho to a match. Jericho accepts, says he’s the real lunatic and will show no remorse. Jericho gives the Gift of Jericho, Ambrose gives a cage with weapons on top of it. It’s an Asylum Match, or for those four TNA fans, the match formerly known as a Clockwork Orange House of Fun.
THE SON OF MITCH IS A WEAPON! THAT PLANT HAS A FAMILY!
The novel concept of a cage match with no escape, me likey. Weapons, me likey. The chance of actual violence or blood, I’m not optimistic. This match is worthy of a blow off for a blood feud and we’re getting it over a fake tv show, a plant and a jacket. Extreme!
Plus let’s not forget that historically, Ambrose is crazy and gets all these no holds barred kind of matches because they fit his wacky nature…and then promptly loses at his “specialties.” It’s the most baffling trait next to the prop comic aspects.
Dana Brooke body shames men backstage. Be a Star, Dana. Perhaps if they got surgery they’d be worthy. Dana’s fighting Becky, go watch Becky’s episodes of Up Up Down Down.
Dana Brooke def. Becky Lynch
Lynch is a straight fire babyface, imitating Brooke after initial offense. She owes Sasha Banks a dollar for gimmick infringement. Dana teases leaving but fakes out Becky and rams her head first into the barricade. Some vicious mat based stretching as Dana tells Little Naitch (back to being a normal referee) that Becky gave up, which amuses me. Dana gets a clean win after hooking the legs on a sunset flip attempt. I didn’t expect it to be clean. Becky is left to be frustrated, along with fans of Becky.
Darren Young and Bob Backlund do some split screen bad comedy. Bob’s an old luddite. Darren’s a fan of modern technology. This is going to make Darren Young great again, which I take to mean like “Black Cena” Nexus-era Darren Young.
The Dudleys visit Stephanie and Shane McMahon. The Dudleys want some local North Carolina small guys to beat, perhaps an allusion to the brothers Hardy currently in TNA. Shane sets up a match betwixt Big Cass and one of the Dudley Boys, and they get to choose which one.
Breezango def. Golden Truth
Golden Truth gets a musical recap package in anticipation of their debut. Seriously, we got five minutes worth of recap of this memorable build. Then we get the worst mashup of themes in WWE history and Goldust has to “dance” to Truth’s hip hop to boot. Somewhere in America, a non-wrestling fan is walking into a room, looking a friend or loved one watching this and thinking less of that person. At least one divorce just happened due to this.
…and what could be a hot team in Fandango and Tyler Breeze get a terrible name. But they shockingly (to me) get the win and a clean one at that off of a Golden Truth miscue. I tend to think Breeze and Fandango could be a great smaller aerial team in the vein of Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel if they had let Slater and Gabriel live up to their potential. Give them some double team moves that kill guys to make up for size (which is a lost art in the WWE) and play to their athleticism. I’m all in for building them for a New Day feud.
As soon as I think that, Goldust and Truth argue backstage as Truth tries to mend fences. R-Truth does some malapropisms to act stupid which continues to be the most disturbing part of this show from a cultural sensitivity perspective. I laugh that the WWE Universe WANTS the Golden Truth. Breezango come by and mock them, calling them Golden Girls, and I’m guessing Goldust is Dorothy and R-Truth is Rose. I assume “getting the Chakra aligned” means returning the favor to Breezango on SmackDown and my optimism on Fandango/Breeze leaves as soon as it is formed.
The New Day is brought to you by Booty O’s. The Vaudevillains are always talking about how great the bygone era is. Xavier Woods has a child’s time machine (refrigerator box with decorations). They enter and Kofi Kingston comes out to his old theme and Jamaican accent. Oops, they didn’t go back far enough. More comedy, after comedy and comedy. They come out again in black and white, and all their modern stuff is now old and they have wacky facial hair. The bygone era sucks, and the Vaudevillains attack and give Kofi a sweet neckbreaker/power bomb combo and run Xavier into the time machine, followed by a double power bomb. I like the vicious Vaudevillains, this is one of the few acts better on the main roster than they ever were in NXT.
The Usos def. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
This was a main event style tag match with plenty of false finishes. The Usos seemed especially fired up for this one and the crowd kept them in it, and despite the presence of Reigns, the crowd cheered even when Roman led them. The Usos win clean with a top rope splash, which defied my expectations of Styles and Reigns getting involved for a screwy finish. Not sure if this hurts the Club or not. AJ and Roman tease a staredown post-match but a Luke Gallows attack from behind runs Roman into AJ. A chair once again enters the situation and this time AJ decides to use it but gets caught by Roman, Roman returns the favor, but after fighting off Gallows, gets a chairshot from AJ and Styles Clash on the chair for added measure. Commentary hypes it as AJ crossing the line, but that makes no sense as Roman has already used a chair on AJ and the previous week showed he was more than willing. So what’s the story here? AJ is a “fake” good guy because he decided to use a chair against the real good guy who had already used the chair? They really made something that should be simple convoluted and the payoff of AJ possibly being a heel didn’t pop because of it.
But the tag match was good while it lasted.
Big Cass def. D-Von Dudley
Cass cuts a promo with plenty of pop culture insults (Steve Urkel, Bubba’s former stuttering gimmick, Fred Flintstone). Quick match, as Bubba tries lots of distractions, D-Von takes advantage and then more distractions leads to Cass reversing fortunes, killing Bubba with a boot off the apron and hitting the East River Crossing for the win, Cass spells SAWFT post-match (which had been interrupted by the Dudleyz entrance).
Cass’ promo felt like it was written by Enzo, and that’s not a bad thing, but there’s a certain menace missing from Cass’ delivery versus when Enzo delivers the same kind of lines. Enzo has the tone of looking for a fight. Cass has the tone of trying to get to the catchphrase. But given the position Cass has been put in, he delivered in a Sports Entertainment way–the crowd chanted “How You Doin'” and were into Cass.
Kalisto def. Alberto Del Rio
That which is dead may never die. WWE is contractually obligated to namedrop Rey Mysterio Jr. or Eddie Guerrero during Kalisto’s match. During the match, Rusev attacks Sin Cara, who has been watching the match backstage. Are the Lads getting back together? Del Rio makes Kalisto watch the attack on the big screen, but it unfortunately gets the crowd chanting for Lana, who was watching the Sin Cara attack. Del Rio takes too much time on the double foot stomp on the top. Rusev beats on Sin Cara all the way down the ramp as Kalisto hits his flying offensive comeback on Del Rio (seated senton, corkscrew forearm). The beatdown distracts Kalisto enough for a Back Stabber and the win by Del Rio. Obviously, a non-title match, but there’s a new linear U.S. Champ if you keep track of such things.
Rusev kicks Kalisto in the head and gives him the Accolade to finish the beatdown. Props to Kalisto for using his flexibility to make it look like a million dollars. Rusev taunts the fallen champ with the title as referees separate the two.
Charlotte & Natalya – Contract Signing
This is your main event in Greensboro, which as we’re reminded, is Flair Country. Stephanie plays a try-hard babyface trying to get the crowd to chant for her like they do Shane. Meh. Nattie gives the exposition of NXT to now and Charlotte plays up they’re in Flair Country. The twist here is the contract says if Ric Flair comes to the ring, Charlotte loses the title. Flair proceeds to cut what begins as an interesting promo on Stephanie that gets cut off by Shane and Charlotte. Charlotte tries to stop her father, but Crazy Old Flair is ready strip and fight. But here comes Stephanie to emasculate with The Contractually Obligated Slap. Charlotte gets cut off by another terrible double leg by Nattie and a Sharpshooter. Charlotte taps to end the program.
Your usual go home show for a PPV, nothing special, a bit of time filler, and no real heightening while distracting you with a couple of new stories (Dana, Golden Truth). Those who are probably going to win at the PPV lost to establish doubt. See you this week for Shake Them Ropes and the post-show after Extreme Rules.