Tonight’s edition of Raw took place at the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore, Maryland. Last nights Extreme Rules has seemingly received nothing by high praise, so WWE certainly had a lot to live up to if they wanted to keep that momentum going. Were they able to do it? Lets take a look.
Seth Rollins Promo with Roman Reigns and Shane McMahon
We kicked off Raw with the television return of former World Champion Seth Rollins, who returned last night after the AJ Styles/Roman Reigns main event. Rollins was forced to vacate the World Title after suffering an injury in a match with Kane at a house-show in Dublin back in November, and the fans in Baltimore were very happy to see him back again, as was I.
After last night, fans wondered if he would return as a heel or face, and while he leaned toward face at the beginning of the promo, he would quickly return to his heel tactics by essentially saying “I’m back for the title and I don’t need any of you to get it.” He chastised the fans who booed him throughout his title run, but immediately sympathized with him when he had to forfeit the title. Roman Reigns’s music would interrupt, and the two stared each other down before Rollins would try and leave the ring. Shane McMahon would come down to the ring and announce a title match between the two at the Money In The Bank pay-per-view next month. Hopefully the two will have better luck this time around, as the last two times they were scheduled (or were soon to be scheduled) for a match on PPV, one of them would suffer an injury.
Sheamus vs Sami Zayn- MITB qualifier
This is a program I’d like to see more of down the line, but we got a nice preview of it tonight. These two work well together, with Sheamus being the aggressor and Zayn of course as the “comeback kid”. WWE seems to be trying to get that moniker across as well, seeing as the commentators acted like they were surprised Zayn was doing so well against Sheamus, which I wasn’t particularly fond of. Besides the botched Irish Curse Backbreaker, they delivered a solid match, with both guys hitting their signature spots. Sami took a lot of punishment, but was able to sneak in a Helluva Kick for the win. Sheamus took his frustrations out on Apollo Crews backstage after the match, so perhaps they’ll start a program of their own soon.
Winner: Sami Zayn
New Day Promo
After retaining their tag titles at Extreme Rules, New Day decided to celebrate Raw’s 1200th episode with a birthday cake. They teased throwing it in peoples faces for a minute or two, before being attacked from behind by the Social Outcasts. Are they finally being pushed!?
New Day vs The Social Outcasts
Nope. The match had to have been less then five minutes. Xavier Woods hit a nice dive over the top rope, and before you knew it, the match was over. New Day would end up smashing the cake in Heath Slater’s face, because who else would they do it to?
Winners: New Day
The Miz Promo with Maryse
Miz and Maryse came out and cut a promo to surprisingly lukewarm, if that, heat. He put over Owens, Zayn and Cesaro as the best WWE has to offer, but quickly bragged about beating them. The two have such great chemistry and usually the fans eat right into it, but tonight they just didn’t bite. Unfortunate.
The Miz vs Cesaro- MITB qualifier
Most of my notes for this include the word “uppercut” which doesn’t make me very happy. He started off with at least six of them, and hit even more as the match went on. The fans obviously love it which is why he does so many, but I’m just a fan of that part of his offense. So he did a lot of that, and Miz worked on the shoulder. We’ve seen them wrestle a lot recently so nothing really stood out to me, although I did like the Maryse/Cesaro banter on the outside. He finished Miz off with another uppercut and a Neutralizer, scoring an Intercontinental title match on Smackdown. I don’t see him winning it there, but anything could happen.
Chris Jericho vs Apollo Crews- MITB qualifier
The commentators questioned whether Crews would be 100% going into the match after the attack by Sheamus earlier in the show, and yet he proceeded to not sell whatsoever. I wasn’t too high on that, especially what with Jericho fighting through what I’m sure was legit extreme pain after the Asylum match last night. Jericho fought through the pain as well as Crews (gingerly) working on the back, the arm, anywhere he saw bandages really. At one point, Crews kipped up and fell right back down for whatever reason as Jericho was attempting a Lionsault, and at that point I had written Crews off. Jericho would hit a Codebreaker for the win a few minutes later, much to my delight.
Winner: Chris Jericho
Enzo and Cass Promo
Enzo Amore returned from injury to a HUGE pop from the crowd and talked about his resiliency; “If I had a dime for every time I got knocked down and didn’t get back up, I would have…..ZERO DIMES!” He called out the Dudley Boyz, and a match between Cass and Bubba Ray was announced.
Big Cass vs Bubba Ray Dudley
Cass showed some great signs of strength here, throwing Bubba Ray around with ease. Devon would attack Enzo outside the ring, but would then take a nice bump outside when Cass would launch Enzo into him. Bubba Ray goes to the top rope, Cass slams him down and hits a big boot and an elbow drop for the win. Really? An elbow drop? And honestly, way too short for me to care.
Charlotte promo with Ric Flair and Dana Brook
So they didn’t really explain why Dana decided to join forces with Charlotte and Ric, or what her problems are with Nattie, if any. Instead, they have Charlotte tell Ric to get out of the ring because she doesn’t need him anymore and dedicate 10 minutes or so to them crying about Ric not being there for her as a kid and other things. The fans weren’t buying it, as the continually taunted her by chanting “WHAT!?” The segment ended kind of abruptly, screwing out a great opportunity for someone like Bayley to debut and make an impact.
Dean Ambrose vs Dolph Ziggler- MITB qualifier
These two always work really well together, whether they’re flying around the ring or grappling on the mat. That’s how this match started off, before breaking down into lots of suicide dives and counters and reversals and all that good stuff. The fans however, were quiet for this one too, which always baffles me since these two are easily the fan favorites in every city. Ziggler hit the mat so hard after missing the Zig-Zag you’d think he hit it on himself, and Ambrose would take advantage and hit Dirty Deeds for the win. Ziggler and Baron Corbin had had words prior to the match, but there was no sign of him during or after the bell. Weird.
Winner: Dean Ambrose
AJ Styles Promo
AJ got on the mic and put Roman Reigns over as being one of the best he’s ever worked with, before blaming the involvement of the Usos and Anderson and Gallows as the reason why he didn’t win the title. The ladder would come out and basically tell AJ they’ve had his back and that he’s changed, but AJ says he doesn’t need them anymore and that they should continue on as friends, but part ways professionally. To me, this was screaming “ANGLE ALERT. ANGLE ALERT” but we’d have to see if they’d do anything with the opportunity.
Kevin Owens vs AJ Styles- MITB qualifier
AJ really is amazing. After the hell he went through last night, he came out and delivered another fantastic match with Owens tonight. Owens, was of course equally spectacular in the ring, and with his banter. At one point, he went over to the ropes, looked at Cole and yelled “Shut up Cole I can hear you from here!” before continuing his assault. Earlier on, he teased a suicide dive, but slipped under the bottom rope and hit AJ with a clothesline. Just so effortless, but SO good. AJ had his moments as well, with a beautiful 450 splash, pele kicks out of nowhere, that running knee on the apron that I just love, and taking that powerbomb on the steps like a champ. Owens would counter a Phenomenal Forearm attempt into a Pop-Up Powerbomb and score a clean win over AJ. Great match. Not so great that NOTHING happened (aka no Finn Balor dammit) after the fact, but damn, that ladder match is going to be CRAZY.
So it might not have been the greatest episode, but some seeds were definitely planted for Money In The Bank, which is always one of my favorite events of the year. It’ll be interesting to see if Seth gets in the ring before MITB, but if he doesn’t someone else will. John Cena returns next week, and if you love him or hate him, that’s always a plus for WWE.