Live from Omaha, Nebraska, which makes me think of Peyton Manning. The “new era” in WWE is well underway. Get used to that term, as it will be spouted ad nauseum throughout the show. It’s the new “Diva’s revolution.” Michael Cole, JBL, and Byron Saxton host.
The Highlight Reel
Chris Jericho pretends as if Dean Ambrose was supposed to be the guest, but, as Jericho reminds us, he’s not here because Y2J smashed him in the back of the head with Mitch the Potted Plant. Mitch, or what’s left of him, is the guest instead, with Jericho comparing and contrasting between Mitch and Dean. Yes, a rivalry is escalating over a potted plant. It makes Edge and Booker T’s shampoo commercial blood feud (or should that be sud feud) look like a stroke of booking genius. To be fair to Chris, I’ve kind of enjoyed some of his silly heel work as of late. “Slovenly barbarians,” is his wonderful insult to the audience. Big Cass interrupts. He tries his hand at the Enzo Amore shtick, and he’s not half bad. Jericho calls his missing partner “Enzo Annoying,” which I find amusing, even though it’s not that clever or funny. The crowd are big on Big Cass, too, chanting along to the catchphrases. Cass firmly declares himself part of the “new era” and challenges Jericho to a fight. Jericho walks, so Cass goads him back by calling him SAWFT. It doesn’t work out too well for Chris, as he receives a boot to the mush. Jericho was fairly entertaining here and Cass looked the part even without the mouthpiece of the tandem. Having a new guy like Big Cass challenge an established star on their territory felt fresh and exciting. Long may it continue.
After the commercial break, we see Jericho complaining to Stephanie McMahon about Big Cass’s lack of respect. He tries to get her onside by railing against Shane McMahon, too, but Steph does what she does best: emasculate the talent. To be fair, Jericho did once call her a “dirty, filthy, disgusting, skanky bottom-feeding trash bag ho.” It’s Jericho vs. Cass in the main event.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin
Yawn! It feels as though their feud has been rumbling on for ages. Let’s face facts, WWE has now definitely missed the boat with Dolph. The final ship sailed after he slunk back to the midcard following the 2014 Survivor Series. He’s now been surpassed by the plethora of talent coming up from NXT. Corbin doesn’t have the charisma or the ability to get beyond his current place on the card. He peaked on his official debut at WrestleMania. There are no real winners at the end of all this. However, Baron does get to be the winner of this match courtesy of End of Days.
Final Rating: *1/2
Backstage, Charlotte and Ric Flair appeal to Shane after Steph banned the old codger from ringside for Charlotte’s title defence against Natalya at Extreme Rules. Shane reinforces Steph’s decision and sibling solidarity is the order of the day. He even bans Flair from Charlotte’s match against Paige later tonight.
Elsewhere, JoJo interviews AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson, or The Club as they are now known as. Can they have their Bullet back, please? Styles addresses the fact that Roman Reigns powerbombed him through a table last week and intimates that anything goes in their six-man tag later on.
Fandango vs. R Truth
“Bigger than Captain America vs. Iron Man,” Cole states without a hint of irony. I seriously thought that the whole Golden Truth thing would have just happened by now and they’d be relegated to Main Event and Superstars. I cannot understand why this is being dragged on so long, or why Tyler Breeze is getting dragged down by it. Truth picks up the win at the expense of Tyler being knocked off the apron, which I’m sure will factor in a future plot development. What am I saying? Who cares?
Final Rating: ½*
In Shane and Steph’s “office” a host of superstars gather to bicker over the Intercontinental Championship. Kevin Owens and Cesaro each argue that they should be number one contender. I’m not sure what Miz is doing. A triple threat match is booker. But wait, Sami Zayn adds his two-penneth to the debate. He wants in. If he beats Miz in a non-title match tonight, it becomes a fatal four way.
Tangent: With Damian Sandow getting his release this week, it begs the question of how Miz has not only remained on the main roster for so long, but also has received numerous pushes and championships. Sandow is a better talent and was far more over that Miz. It beggars belief. Remember that Sandow once held the Money in the Bank briefcase for the World Heavyweight Championship before John Cena shafted him over it (possibly as a result of a hasty decision to unify the two Heavyweight Championships). He had been shafted ever since. I wish him the best wherever he goes next.
Paige vs. Charlotte
Natalya is on commentary. She comes across as a simply awful person. I actively hate her now. She’s cocky, arrogant, whiny, bitchy, and a host of other things, too. JBL is under constant threat of her “getting her uncle” to put him in the Sharpshooter. She also suggests following her cat on Instagram. I want her to fuck off. The match is actually decent and Paige looks motivated to show that she’s still relevant in the division. Unfortunately, the horrible commentary detracts from it in a major way. Ric Flair finds his way ringside, so Shane and a posse of referees show up to escort him away. In the confusion, Paige wins with a roll up.
Final Rating: **
Sami Zayn vs. The Miz
JBL compares Miz and Maryse to Gary Cooper and Rita Hayworth. Yes, Gary Cooper was also a shit actor. If you’ve had the misfortune of seeing Morocco¸ then you’ll know what I mean. I wonder if WWE are forcing the logic that if they keep throwing Miz in with the top superstars, then he’ll get over as one himself by proxy. I’m on to you, WWE. At times, the buck-toothed one struggles to keep up with Zayn’s zany counters, particularly the standing moonsault from the guardrail. Later on, Zayn smacks his ginger beard hard on the steel steps. I assume that it was planned, but the level of impact put some doubts in my mind (anyone remember Lucky Cannon doing similar in the old NXT? – anyone remember Lucky Cannon???). They work in a few near falls and reversal of finished before the Helluva kick puts Zayn in the title mix at Extreme Rules.
Final Rating: **3/4
Renee Young is backstage to interview Becky Lynch. The Irish Lass Kicker says that Emma is in for a kicking, presumably right in the lass. Emma confronts her, which is actually a distraction so Emma’s NXT buddy, Dana Brooke, can jump her. Becky looks like she’s crying on the floor, which is how I feel about Dana being on the main roster, too.
Next we get a vignette of Darren Young recruiting Bob Backlund as a life coach. It also aired on SmackDown! and at first I was wondering why WWE were persisting with Darren Young. Then I saw Bob Backlund was back! The first rule of life coaching is that wrestling is life, Mr. Backlund informs us. It’s actually the third rule after not talking about life coaching and not talking about life coaching. I do, however, take issue with the slogan, “Make Darren Young Great Again.” The Again suggests that he was once great. That is an untruth.
Elsewhere, The New Day, Sasha Banks, and Dolph Ziggler shill the ridiculously unhealthy looking bacon stuffed crust pizza from Pizza Hut.
Back in Shane’s office, Zack Ryder pleads for more opportunities. Owens is on hand to put him down, so Shane books Ryder vs. Owens for later. If Ryder wins, he’s in and Owens is out of the four way. Owens was gold again here, asking Ryder, “why do you exist?”
Rusev vs. Sin Cara
I think most of us will agree that it was definitely the time to push the reset button on Rusev. Kalisto is on hand to witness his tag team partner get crushed by his next challenger for the United States Championship. Or he should be, but for whatever reason it is decided that Sin Cara will get a distraction roll up win. The distraction routine was clunky and everyone involved struggled to execute it, including all three wrestlers, Lana, and the referee. Shoddy work; bizarre booking.
Final Rating: ½*
Six Man Elimination Tag Team Match
Roman Reigns & The Usos vs. AJ Styles, Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows
Cole and co. has been referring to Styles’s group as “the club” all night, so naturally that phrase isn’t mentioned in their introduction. My assumption of how this will go is that both Usos are eliminated to make it three on one. It seems logical, to me at least, because The Club are being teased as the (ostensibly) heel team, Roman has the “one versus all” thing going, and the Usos should be the expendable talent in this match. It looks to be going that way when Anderson puts Jey out with the seventy-fifth roll up of the night. However, things go to pot soon after when Anderson falls to Jimmy’s small package, then Gallows jobs to the Superman Punch. That’s not even Reigns’s proper finisher. Styles becomes obsessed with returning last week’s favour to Roman and sets up the announce table for Reigns to be put through. He takes too long, though, and gets rag-dolled and tossed around by the champ. Gallows and Anderson return and the match gets thrown out once Roman gets smacked with a chair. Wait a minute… what was the point of elimination rules, then? Is Jimmy the sole survivor? After the post-match melee, Reigns and Styles have a stare down, with each taunting the other into using the chair. Neither do.
Final Rating: **1/4
Kevin Owens vs. Zack Ryder
Owens trash talks Ryder as he beats him down, which is an aspect of his character that I just love. Ryder is kind of like the go-to perennial nearly man. Even when he actually won a championship at ‘Mania, he lost it within a day. He’s such a loser. He gets a couple of near falls, but thankfully nothing daft happens and Owens evades the Ruff Ryder and finishes with the pop-up powerbomb. I’d like to have seen him counter the Ruff Ryder directly into his powerbomb, but it is what it is.
Final Rating: *3/4
Renee gets a word with Big Cass in the back. He blatantly hits on her with his Joey Tribiani tribute. The phrase “new era” also gets thrown in just in case anyone forgot.
Promo Time: The New Day
Before they get going, a split screen gives us The Vaudevillains’ thoughts. The black and white footage is pretty cool, and they actually reel off a decent promo. Unfortunately, Xavier Woods is simultaneously tooting on Francesca II, so the menace turns instantly to unintentional comedy. New Day aren’t entirely sure how to pronounce their challengers name – The Vaudeville Villains, Big E runs with. Then they all hail the big Booty-oooooooooh! It’s classic. If only the Booty-O was a little bigger, then Kofi could wear it on his head like Cloister the Stupid. They close by pointing out that the bygone era much vaunted by The Vaudevillains wasn’t very kind to people like them. Did you think they meant black people? No, smartphone users, of course. Naturally Xavier’s championing of modern technology is a little disappointing and contrary to his old NXT retro gimmick.
The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston) vs. The Dudley Boyz
From the promo straight into the match. Bubba’s in-match smack chat is on a level with Kevin Owens. “You forgot to eat your Booty-O’s. Booty-O’s, they get you cross faced,” he yells at Kofi while smashing him across the face. Xavier is also quite adept at chipping in vocally from ringside and, of course, parping away on Francesca II. The Vaudevillains stick their hooters in, which allows for D’Von to score the victory with a brutal lariat.
Final Rating: **
Big Cass vs. Chris Jericho
Jericho gets attacked on the ramp by Dean Ambrose during his introduction. Dean steals the Lite-Brite jacket and makes his way to the ring. Big Cass, who was introduced first seems to have completely disappeared. That’s surely a bit premature; how would he know that the match won’t still go ahead? Maybe he’s just realized that he was hitting on Ambrose’s girlfriend earlier on so scarpered sharpish. So your main event is actually a brief scuffle between Ambrose and Jericho. Cass does return to throw Y2J back in the ring to compound his already miserable evening, then Ambrose, conveniently pulling a pair of scissors from his jeans, rips Jericho’s jacket at the seams. Cole continues to try and sell the Mitch angle.
Final Rating: N/R
Just before the show goes off the air, video control stops off at the McMahon siblings’ office. Steph’s facials reveal that all is not as well as they are making it out to be. She’s up to something, that’s for sure.
THE RAW RECAP:
Most Entertaining: The New Day.
Least Entertaining: Fandango, Goldust, Tyler Breeze, and R Truth. Sorry, Tyler.
Quote of the Night: A few contenders tonight. “You forgot to eat your Booty-O’s. Booty-O’s, they get you cross faced” takes it.
Match of the Night: Sami Zayn vs. The Miz.
Summary: This week’s RAW was largely inoffensive (Natalya aside) and pretty much flew by, which is always a good sign. The wrestling wasn’t great by any stretch, but for the most part was passable or better, though the way in which the main event panned out was highly disappointing. Maybe the whole “new era” thing is working on the whole, although mark my words it won’t be long before another McMahon feud starts to take over and spoil anything decent that’s been built.