RAW continued its hot streak as it came crashing into St. Louis the day after Payback, and wasted no time in establishing new storylines while furthering older ones. I hope the ratings reflect it, because RAW is as good as it’s been in recent times.
New era indeed.
Stephanie McMahon opened RAW, much to St. Louis’ displeasure. But soon enough, Shane McMahon came out as well, thankfully saving us from yet another Authority promo. As a peace offering, Stephanie offered her brother a gift: a repaired photograph of young Shane and Vince McMahon.
The two asked to hear each other’s ideas, and as Shane was about to present his own, he was interrupted by Kevin Owens, who demanded a rematch for the Intercontinental Title. Cesaro too emerged with a request of his own, reminding everyone that it was HIS victory Owens and Zayn spoiled.
So Shane set up the first match of the night: Cesaro and Kevin Owens for a shot at the Intercontinental Championship.
I’m intrigued by the family angle. If all goes perfectly, I can see to it leading to a SummerSlam showdown. In a dream world, I would have Seth Rollins return to back up Shane and face off against Triple H at SummerSlam.
But hey, that’s just me.
Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens
The Miz came out to commentate during the match to compete for his title. Cesaro started off strong against Kevin Owens, taking him down with a flip off the barricade when Owens retreated out of the ring before hitting a crossbody back in the ring.
But Owens caught him with a Superkick to the chest, turing the tide in his favor and then landing a DDT. Cesaro landed an uppercut, but Owens reversed it, ascending to the top rope to hit a splash, but Cesaro rose, landing an uppercut, dropkick, and then a suplex, throwing Owens off the ropes and into the center of the ring.
Owens responded by hitting Cesaro’s shoulder on the ropes and then a frog splash out of the ring. But once they returned to the ring, Cesaro got a series of uppercuts in. However, Owens responded with a brutal cannonball into the turnbuckle. Cesaro seemed to be out of it, but Cesaro hit a flying uppercut out of nowhere, sending Owens out of the ring and then hitting an uppercut at ringside.
Owens looked to use The Miz’s belt against Cesaro, but Cesaro hit them both with an uppercut. He took Owens back to the ring and looked to go swinging, but Miz attacked him, causing a disqualification. Owens and Miz began to attack Cesaro in the ring, but Zayn arrived to make the save, unloading on Kevin Owens.
The Miz looked to stop him, but Zayn fought him off, hitting the Helluva Kick on Owens before Maryse pulled the Miz out of the ring. He held up the IC Title himself to end the segment.
The IC Title scene is as engaging as I can remember it ever being. All four men are at the top of their game right now. Kevin Owens is a raging timebomb, Sami Zayn is dynamite, Cesaro is cool as ever, and even the Miz is delivering. These four men could carry an exciting program all the way through the summer.
A lot happens backstage, okay?
Backstage, a friendly Stephanie McMahon approached Dean Ambrose, all smiles, but Dean didn’t buy it, agreeing to have her on the Ambrose Asylum but giving her a face when she walked off.
Elsewhere, R-Truth attempted socializing with his new partner Tyler Breeze, but Breeze wasn’t really having it. Goldust arrived, challenging the Gorgeous Truth to a match with him and Fandango.
Even elsewhere, AJ Styles was shown talking to Anderson and Gallows about his match with Roman Reigns at Extreme Rules before an angry Roman Reigns arrived to stare Styles down. He said he had a lot of respect for Styles, but not Anderson and Gallows, saying they didn’t think Styles could win on his own. Styles declared he would win at Extreme Rules alone, but agreed to a match against Reigns and the Usos that night.
Goldust vs. Tyler Breeze
What a lovers’ spat we have here. Goldust, accompanied by Fandango, took out Breeze quickly with a strike, but was quickly distracted by his spat with R-Truth, who took selfies at ringside with his tree branch selfie stick.
Breeze sent Goldust into the turnbuckle, but the odd one responded with a shoulder to the chest before being once more distracted by Fandango and R-Truth dancing at ringside, allowing Breeze to roll him up for the win.
The New Day & Big Cass vs. The Dudley Boyz & The Vaudvillains
The New Day cheerfully emerged to an appreciative St. Louis crowd, informing the crowd of Enzo Amore’s concussion which brought the Tag Team Tournament to an abrupt end. They showed a picture of Enzo Amore being released from the hospital, saying he was okay and saying they would happily take him on when he’s ready to return.
The New Day were then interrupted by the Vaudvillains themselves, who said that a real man would have gotten back up, unlike Enzo. They said that they had made Enzo the realest guy in the emergency room, and left no doubt as to who deserved a shot at the Tag Team Titles.
THEY were cut off by the Dudley Boyz, pointing out that they hadn’t beaten anybody at Payback and saying they deserved a shot at the Tag Team titles. Big Cass himself cut them off, furious at the Vaudvillains for messing with HIS family and declaring he would finish what they started.
Chaos erupted, with the eight men going at it in the ring. The New Day started things off strong before tagging in an emotional Big Cass, who positively dominated Simon Gotch before joining in the Unicorn Stampede fun and games. Kingston tagged Xavier Woods in, who was blindsided by a surprise tag from Bubba Ray Dudley.
The Dudleys double-teamed on Woods, but the gamer kicked out. The Dudleys tagged in Aiden English, who continued the beatdown with the help of Bubba Ray. Woods escaped a splash from D-Von, tagging in Kingston, who hit D-Von with a fantastic boot drop before Aiden English distracted Kingston, sending him into the corner of the ring.
Gotch took the reigns from there, nearly pinning Kingston in the ring before letting D-Von get in on the action with an uppercut. The Vaudvillains took over from there, double-teaming on Kingston and not letting him get a tag in, viciously striking Kingston and blasting the New Day off the apron.
Kingston finally got to Big Cass, who bodyslammed English twice, took out the Dudleys, and then hit English with a Fall Away Slam and big boot. Hitting an elbow, Cass almost got the pin, but the others interfered. Woods helped even the odds, and Big E took Gotch out at ringside. Bubba Ray nearly pinned Cass, and the two nearly hit the 3-D, but Kingston took Bubba Ray out, allowing Cass to hit the East River Crossing for the win.
There was love for Enzo Amore present in every move Big Cass made, and Cass did not shine any dimmer without his beloved mouthpiece at his side. He was completely at ease on the microphone and fluid as ever in the ring, proving himself capable of keeping his name relevant until Enzo is ready to return to action.
The Vaudvillains were fantastic as well, having settled right into the main roster with more ease than I ever would have thought. Aiden English’s singing and grammar obsession is hilarious, and the two are delivering consistently int he ring as they did in NXT.
Becky Lynch vs. Emma
The two women wasted no time in locking up, with Becky Lynch taking Emma down with a series of armbars. Emma retreated from the ring, and Becky went right after her, hitting an elbow from the apron and throwing Emma back into the ring.
Becky went up to the ropes, but Emma pulled her off, slamming her down hard and working her back with cruel ease. Emma locked Lynch into a full Nelson, but the Lass Kicker powered out, only to be hit by a dropkick and then sent into the ropes. Emma threw Becky into the turnbuckle next, hitting a flying crossbody before going for a cover.
Becky responded with a fury, hitting a series of magnificent clotheslines and then an exploder suplex. She sent Emma face first into the mat and went for the Dis-arm Her, but Emma rolled away, hitting Lynch right in the injured eye to pick up a dirty win with a piledriver of sorts.
Hey, guys, we’re back to two women’s segments again! Thank God!
In what must be but a teaser for things to come, Emma and Lynch put on an enthralling match never once cut off by chants for the still-beloved Sasha Banks. Their feud is really coming into its own, and becky Lynch is proving herself a solid star whether she is in title contention or not.
Emma too is shining against a worthy opponent like Emma, playing her part to perfection and wrestling with practiced ease.
This was, in simple terms, just a damn good wrestling match. Cheers, folks. We’re making progress.
The Ambrose Asylum with Stephanie McMahon
Okay… So, Gabby’s dorm caught fire during the Ambrose Asylum (I know, ironic isn’t it?), so I (Bret Bilbrey aka The Bilbs) am going to try and summarize for you. I’m definitely no Gabby when it comes to these things, but here goes nothing. BTW… someone setting fire to Gabby’s dorm a week before finals? If they used that strategic planning to study instead of starting fires, they might actually pass Freshmen year.
Dean comes out for the Ambrose Asylum and then invites Stephanie McMahon to come down and join him as his guest. Dean asks Stephanie how she can be so happy after Shane, who was absent for seven years and came back to a hero’s welcome, is co-running RAW with her. Stephanie proceeded to say that Vince felt he did what was best for business. Dean then proceeds to show a picture of Roman Reigns spearing her at Wrestlemania to try and get under skin, saying he “knocked her out of her Tina Turner boots.” Stephanie, getting more agitated, but holding her cool replied that she was in the ring where she didn’t belong and shouldn’t have been arguing with he ref.
Dean then grills Stephanie about how she missed birthday parties, dance recitals and other important events in her daughters’ lives to remain loyal to the company and Vince just gave the keys to Shane. Stephanie stops the interview and proceeds to cancel the Ambrose Asylum. Dean says he could have been the next Fallon or Kimmel, but respects her decision, grabs Mitch the Plant and leaves the ring.
Stephanie then announces the return of the Highlight Reel and Chris Jericho makes his way to the ring. Dean and Jericho exchange words, followed by fists. Jericho gets the better of Ambrose and hits him in the back of the head with Mitch. RIP Mitch… you were a good plant and a fan favorite. However, I’m glad I didn’t buy the t-shirt like I did the Y2AJ one. Okay, Gabby’s dorm is no longer on fire, so I turn it back over to her!
Battle Royale for the No. 1 Contendership for the United States Championship
I returned late for this one, but when I arrived Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler were going right at it, with Ziggler eliminating Corbin before being eliminated by Rusev in turn. Sheamus eliminated a returning Titus O’Neil as Sin Cara eliminated Bo Dallas.
With only the former League of Nations members, Zack Ryder and Sin Cara left in the match, Alberto Del Rio eliminated Sin Cara, leaving only the ex League-mates and Zack Ryder.
The three former friends all beat down on Ryder, nearly eliminating him, but Ryder survived. Del Rio eliminated Sheamus before being hit by a kick from Rusev. A kick from Ryder eliminated Del Rio, leaving only Rusev and Zack Ryder.
With the crowd desperately behind him, Ryder hit a missile dropkick on the Bulgarian Brute , but Rusev eliminated him in a last-ditch effort, much to everyone’s displeasure except for Lana, who joined him in the ring to celebrate as United States Champion Kalisto stared him down.
Welcome back Titus….and Zack Ryder, it was fun while it lasted. I honestly kind of hate WWE for teasing us like that. I mean just imagine being Zack Ryder. All the talent and charisma in the world, put over at WrestleMania, and then relegated right back to jobber status the next night.
I hope this feud gives Kalisto something to really sink his teeth into. Given the right foe, Kalisto can truly shine. He just needs to be given a chance.
The queen is speaking
With her father at her side, Women’s Champion Champion Charlotte and Ric said Natalya hadn’t been screwed over at Payback, and called Charles Robinson out to clear up any lingering concerns.
The crowd began to heckle her, calling her a cheater, but she told them to let the queen talk. Charles Robinson said Natalya was screaming, “STOP!” and he had to call the match. Charlotte asked if Robinson’s long friendship had anything to do with his decision, and Robinson had a Freudian slip, accidentally saying yes, and confirmed the finality of his decision.
Charlotte dismissed him, and a furious Natalya emerged, coming to the ring and taking the mic right from Charlotte’s hands. She provoked the champion, sending her right out of the ring and staring down Ric, who seemed poised for a fight before Natalya went after him herself, locking int he Sharpshooter on Ric before Charlotte dragged him out of the ring.
Backstage, Stephanie McMahon announced Charlotte vs. Natalya in a submission match and added that Ric Flair would be banned from ringside. Suffice it to say that Ric was not pleased in the slightest.
First off, I freaking love submission matches, and the Women’s Division has been owning the game in submissions for months now, so it’s only fitting that these two ladies face off this way.
Secondly, Charlotte and Natalya are brilliant. Natalya locking Ric into the Sharpshooter was a cool moment, and Charlotte is as bad as ever in the best way.
The Bullet Club vs. Roman Reigns & The Usos
Yeah, I said the Bullet Club, because that is EXACTLY what this is!
Styles and Roman started things off quickly, with Styles’ agility meshing wonderfully with Reigns’ strength before Luke Gallows tagged himself in, powering Reigns into the corner before Reigns hit him with a Samoan Drop. Jimmy and Jey Uso tagged in soon enough, taking on Gallows before being hit by a boot.
Gallows threw Jey out of the ring, and the teams both faced off as Jimmy looked to come to the aid of his brother. Anderson brought the action back into the ring, locking Jey Uso into a headlock and then a spinebuster.
Styles tagged in, throwing Jey into the corner and hitting him with a fierce forearm before locking in a headlock of his own. Gallows took out Jimmy in the corner, and Styles went to scold him for that, but was hit by a Superkick upon turning back to Jey, who tagged in Reigns as Styles tagged in Anderson.
Reigns unloaded on Anderson, but was almost rolled up as Reigns went after Styles, who tagged in only to be hilt by a tilt-a-whirl slam. Reigns hit Gallows with the Superman Punch, but was hit by a pelee kick from Styles, who almost took a pinfall with a splash from Jimmy Uso.
At ringside, Gallows and Anderson hit the boot of Doom on Reigns as Styles hit the Phenomenal Forearm for the victory over Jimmy Uso.
In the ring, Gallows and Anderson looked to attack Reigns with a steel chair, telling Styles to attack him, but Styles couldn’t bring himself to do it, refusing as Anderson and Gallows beat him down. From behind, the Usos attacked Styles with a chair and Styles returned the favor, only to be seen by Roman Reigns.
Enraged, Reigns hit Styles with the Superman Punch and powerbombed him through the announce table to close the show.
So, uh, someone might want to tell Roman that Styles spared him and the Usos attacked first, because attacking Styles like that is definitely no way to be a babyface. That being said, Reigns going into angry badass mode is always fun, so it was a cool way to close the show while still giving the Bullet Club boys a clean victory.
Once again, Styles and Reigns put their shocking in-ring chemistry on full display while also adding further depth to their already intriguing story. I love the shades of gray in this rivalry, especially since it could very well be leading into one of the most organic heel turns in recent history.
Heck, even Vince Russo loved the final sequence of this segment. It was brilliantly written and perfectly executed, and I am very much looking forward to seeing where this all goes.