Here we are for another hopefully above par episode of RAW. Every since WrestleMania and this “New Era” begin, Raw has been, dare I say it, a watchable show. They are getting new faces on the roster, better storylines than they have had recently and just an all around decent show. Now don’t get me wrong, the three-hour time slot is still a little wearing on my patience and the filler like R-Truth and Goldust is still awful, but let us take any positive we can from this. While we still may see a clunker of a show from time to time, they are on a roll right now, let’s see if they can keep it going. The build to Extreme Rules is on, and we are live in St. Louis Missouri with the pitiful team of Michael Cole, JBL and Byron Saxton on commentary. Let’s get to the action!
Promo Time: Stephanie McMahon
RAW opens this week with Stephanie McMahon heading to the ring carrying a gift bag. Before she can get much out, “here comes the money” rings out and Shane heads to the ring. Stephanie talks about being a good business partner and gives him the gift bag which contains the photo of young Shane and Vince that Vince destroyed weeks back, but in a new frame. They ask the crowd whose ideas they want to hear for the show, but before they get any out, Kevin Owens interrupts. Kevin Owens is hands down one of my favorite in-ring and on the mic workers on the roster today. The past few weeks he has shown why he is a valuable talent more than ever. Owen’s tells the siblings how touching it is they are getting along. He pitches them his idea of a rematch for the Intercontinental title now that he has taken care of Sami Zayn. Cesaro makes his way to the ring. After some banter, Shane books Owens against Cesaro to determine who gets a shot at The Miz’s Intercontinental Championship. The match is up next. Not a bad opening for RAW. Short, to the point and as I said, Owens is entertaining.
Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro
The Miz and Maryse are out on commentary for this match. Cesaro has control early, but Owens quickly takes over using the injured shoulder of Cesaro to his advantage. Cesaro since coming back has used the shoulder injury perfectly always selling it at the right times and lending it to the story of the match. Owens hits an insane looking frog splash. He has been using this a lot over the past few weeks, and you know it is great when it makes you cringe every time he nails it. The fight spills to the outside where Owens tries to take The Miz’s title belt to use on Cesaro, but The Miz puts a stop to that quickly. With the distraction, Cesaro uppercuts both men. Cesaro gets Owens back in the ring and attempts the Cesaro Swing, but The Miz attacks him to end the match. After the match, Owens gets into it with The Miz, but Cesaro takes them both out. The numbers game catches up on Cesaro, but Sami Zayn runs down and hit a suplex on Miz and a Helluva Kick on Owens. Sami picks up the Intercontinental Championship and holds it high to cheers from the crowd. This match was a mere addition to the progression of the Intercontinental Championship storyline. I am happy to see the names involved with this, starting to build credibility back for the title.
Final Rating: **
Backstage Dean Ambrose is talking with Stephanie McMahon. He tells her he is not buying how she has been acting, and she is still the same old Stephanie. She says she will be a guest on the Ambrose Asylum tonight, and he can ask her anything he wants. Oh, joy...
Also, backstage we have the awful continuing saga of R-Truth and Goldust. Truth is trying to teach Tyler Breeze how to rap which only makes me feel even more bad that this is where Breeze’s career has gone. After Breaking Ground, wasn’t he supposed to be a big deal? Goldust shows up and says he has a partner who is Fandango.
This must be the night of the backstage segments. Backstage we have AJ Styles talking to Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows. They are telling AJ how well he did against Reigns at Payback and that he will beat him at Extreme Rules. Reigns steps in and says after Payback, he has a lot of respect for Styles, but not for Anderson and Gallows. The Usos walk in, and they set up a six-man tag match for later tonight.
Tyler Breeze vs. Goldust
This is more of the underwhelming show filler I like to call the “not so epic saga of R-Truth and Goldust.” Fandango is right where he belongs in the middle of all this, but poor Tyler Breeze just keeps falling down the roster ladder. Breeze puts on a skull cap which causes Goldust to ask Truth why he never got one. Fandango gyrated outside which provoked Truth to show off his dance. This distracted Goldust enough for Tyler Breeze to roll him up for the win. Finally, Breeze gets a win, but being a part of this just felt like a loss for him in the big picture.
Final Rating: *
The New Day & Big Cass vs. The Dudley Boyz & The Vaudevillians
We get a quick promo out of all four teams before this match starts. All of them focused on Enzo’s injury, and the Dudley Boyz and Vaudevillians complain about wanting a tag team title shot. Big Cass also mocks Bubba Ray’s old ECW stutter which gets a good laugh from the crowd. They come back from the break with the eight-man tag match in progress. Simon Gotch is worked over by the face team while the New Day roll through their usual antics. Woods comes in and gives the heels the upper hand for a brief time before getting a hot tag to Kofi, but his offense lasts for a short time before he begins to be the beat down. Kofi is able to break away with a dropkick to English and Gotch and gets the hot tag to Big Cass. Cass runs wild on all the heels with big boots and elbows showing off his powerhouse ability. In the end, Cass was able to avoid a 3D from the Dudleys and hit the East River Crossing on D-Von for the victory. Not an awful tag match that did its job in getting Cass over as the dominate big man.
Final Rating: *3/4
Becky Lynch vs. Emma
This feud has been building in the background for a couple of weeks now. It is good to see WWE branching out and bit and not just focusing on one Women’s division feud at a time. Becky and Emma are acting as the mid-card of the division right now. Emma has also been racking up some solid performances since getting back to the main roster. Her skills definitely fit it with this group of women. This is a classic heel vs. face match with Emma working over Becky and Becky trying to make the big comeback. Becky goes for her finisher, but Emma rolls under the bottom rope to break it up. As Becky is being backed off by the referee, Emma uses a classic poke followed by her finisher to pick up the win. Classic heel victory to intensify the feud and not a bad match for the time they were given.
Final Rating: **
Promo Time: Ambrose Asylum
Ambrose starts out the segment introducing his plant, “Mitch”. That when I know this is going to be another awful segment we know as the Ambrose Asylum. He introduces Stephanie McMahon and talks about his skepticism about how nice she has been lately. Stephanie says Ambrose is just paranoid. Ambrose shows the Roman Reigns spear on Stephanie from WrestleMania, and she says that was just Roman teaching her a valuable lesson. Ambrose says everyone seems to love Shane as the crowd begins to chant “Shane O Mac.” Stephanie brings up Shane leaving for seven years again. At this point, you can see that Ambrose is trying to get her to blow her top, and she is maintaining her composure the best she can. She says she has learned the lesson of change from her father, and now that the Ambrose Asylum has been on for a few weeks now, she is canceling it. She tells Ambrose to clean up and take off. Ambrose grabs his plant and beings to leave as Stephanie announces the return of The Highlight Reel to replace the Asylum. Chris Jericho makes his way out and after a few words begins to brawl with Ambrose. Ambrose goes for his finisher, but Jericho avoids it and hits the codebreaker. Jericho takes “Mitch” the plant and much to the dismay of the live crowd, smashes it over Ambrose’s head. Stephanie is always good in these segments, and this only adds a little spark to the already dead feud of Ambrose and Jericho.
Battle Royal for the United States Championship Number One Contender
From the looks of things, I would say we have about twenty men total in the ring for this battle royal with the opportunity to face Kalisto for the United States Championship on the line. Baron Corbin, Sheamus, and the returning Titus O’Neil all get entrances. I am already having trouble staying with this show by this point, and now we have a glorified jobber battle royal. I won’t go through all the eliminations because most of them don’t matter. The majority of guys were space fillers in this match, and you knew were going to go. Corbin gets eliminated by Ziggler, which pisses him off, so he pulls Ziggler from the ring and beats the hell out of him. Because he didn’t pull him out over the top, Corbin throws a limp Ziggler back in only to be eliminated by Rusev seconds later. Down to the final competitors, it is Sheamus, Rusev, Del Rio, Sin Cara and Zack Ryder. Sin Cara doesn’t last long leaving Ryder with the League of Nations. Sheamus is eliminated by Del Rio, Del Rio by Ryder and then after teasing he might win, Ryder was put out by Rusev. Rusev is your new number on contender for the United States Championship.
Final Rating: *
Promo Time: Charlotte & Ric Flair
Charlotte and Ric Flair make their way to the ring and rehash the “Chicago Screw Job” that happened at Payback. On a side note, that was the worst finish to a match I’ve seen in a long time. They run down Natalya and the Harts before calling out referee Charles Robinson, or as I remember him “Little Natch. Charlotte asks Robinson is Natalya tapped during their match, and he says she didn’t tap, but she verbally submitted. Robinson stumbling on his words says his past friendship with Ric Flair played no part in his decision, and the decision was final. They dismiss Robinson to the back before Natalya comes out and grabs the mic. Natalya talks about being screwed out of the championship by them that it is all Ric’s fault, and the Harts will always be better than the Flairs. Charlotte goes on the attack, but Natalya dumps her out of the ring. Ric then heated up taking off his jacket, watch and ring looking ready to fight. I was waiting for him to give a big elbow drop to the jacket like the old days. Natalya puts Ric in the sharpshooter, but Charlotte slowly but surely pulls Ric to safety. Natalya puts on Ric’s watch and ring looking very proud of herself.
Backstage Stephanie tells Charlotte that she will defend her title again against Natalya at Extreme Rules in a submission match. She also adds that this time Ric will be barred from ringside. Ric looks pissed. His facial expressions are still so great.
Roman Reigns & The Usos vs. AJ Styles, Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows
This one starts off quick with JBL calling it “The Family vs. The Club”. Good to know with all of the writing staff and one of the greatest wrestling promoters of all time, all they can come up with is “The Club”; how original. Roman gets the upper hand early, but once he tags in Jey Uso, Gallows takes the advantage for his team. After the break, Jey is able to get a semi-hot tag to Roman, who takes down AJ and knocks his partners off the apron. Styles makes a quick comeback, but Reigns gets the tag to Jimmy, who gets the upper hand with a crossbody and a near fall. Anderson and Gallows attack Roman on the out and hit one of their finishers on him taking him out. Back in the ring, AJ hits the Phenomenal Forearm for the win. Quick match with no real exciting action to speak of, but with moving along the storyline, I can understand that. Post-match, Gallows, and Anderson threatened to hit Reigns with a chair, but Styles stops them asking what they were doing. They told AJ to hit him with the chair, but AJ just drops it much to the dismay of the live crowd. The Usos come back and hit Styles with a chair from behind. They clear the ring, but Styles grabs the chair and goes to town on the Usos. Reigns is just now recovering and sees this, so he hits AJ with a superman punch. Reigns then takes Styles to the outside and powerbombs the hell out of him through the announce table as the show goes off the air. I’m not sure where this is going, but it is one of the best angles WWE has come up with in a while.
Final Rating: **3/4
THE RAW RECAP:
Most Entertaining: Kevin Owens - With his in ring work and running off at the mouth, he is the star of this show every week.
Least Entertaining: R-Truth, Goldust & Fandango -I’ll give Tyler Breeze a pass on this for actually winning.
Match of the Night: Roman Reigns & The Usos vs. AJ Styles, Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows
Summary: Since WrestleMania, RAW has been on a hot streak of sorts ringing in this so-called “new era.” While this show was not terrible, it did not live up to the potential that RAW has shown as of late. I guess we can’t always expect a good show when they are trying to fill three hours of weekly television, but being spoiled by the excitement of the recent shows makes this one rather disappointing. On the plus side, things are still looking up as far as the use of new talent goes. None of the storylines are absolutely awful (aside from anything containing R-Truth and Goldust), so there is the great thing we always can say to comfort ourselves after a less than par show; there is always next week.