In the final RAW before Extreme Rules, it was the challengers who stood tall, picking up significant victories ahead of the PPV.
Setting the record straight
RAW kicked off with AJ Styles himself, who wasted no time in saying that he got to where he is because of himself, and not anyone else,e specially Anderson and Gallows. He was interrupted by Roman Reigns, who acknowledged all of Styles’ victories but claimed that none of them mattered compared to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Styles mocked Reigns’ new slogan, and Reigns promised to put Styles through hell at Extreme Rules.
Soon enough, the mutual trash talk was interrupted by Anderson and Gallows, who had to hold Styles back from attacking Reigns and the Usos.
The crowd chanted for Rollins throughout, and Reigns brushed it off.
It was great seeing the crowd so amped up for Rollins, whose imminent return is like a light at the end of the tunnel.
Reigns’ arrogance is really fitting him like a glove, and the more he soaks up the boos the better. His character is just begging for a heel turn, and it needs to come soon. Styles, meanwhile, is better than ever on the mic. His nagging injuries are definitely worrisome. I hope he isn’t worked to hard before and at Extreme Rules. He has made himself too valuable to be on the shelf.
Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn
The Miz and Kevin Owens came to ringside to watch their two opponents for Extreme Rules go at it in a rematch from one of the best matches in NXT history.
Early on, Cesaro and Zayn both felt each other out, avoiding getting any real offense in, but Owens and the Miz began to brawl at ringside, taking their conflict into the ring and causing a disqualification when they attacked Zayn and Cesaro both.
Shane McMahon emerged, setting up Miz and Owens against Zayn and Cesaro. But then Stephanie emerged, switching up the teams and setting up Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens against Cesaro and The Miz, threatening to remove Owens from Extreme Rules if he walked out on Zayn.
Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn vs. The Miz & Cesaro
Owens and Cesaro started things off, and Owens just barely avoided going swinging before he forcefully tagged Sami Zayn in, who was taken right down with an arm drag and an uppercut before Miz tagged himself in to suplex Zayn.
Owens tagged himself in, hitting a drop on the Miz and badmouthing Zayn for his struggles before tagging Zayn back in defiantly. Zayn looked to be gaining momentum before a distraction by Maryse allowed Miz to knock him out of the ring.
Cesaro took things from there, inflicting punishment on a suffering Zayn before the Miz tagged back in only to be nearly rolled up by Zayn, who began to mount a comeback, finally allowing Owens to tag himself in and hit a dropkick on the Miz followed by a cannonball. Cesaro tagged in to even the odds, taking Owens for a ride on the uppercut train.
Cesaro then hit the Skull-Crushing Finale on Miz, who took a Helluva Kick from Zayn, who got the victory. Owens took Zayn out in response, standing tall to close out the segment.
Have I ever said how much I love it when rivals are forced to team up? Yes, I have, back when Y2AJ were still frenemies. The constant one-upsmanship on both sides kept what might have been an overexposed rivalry fresh and kept eyes glued on the match. Owens and Zayn in particular shone bright, their harder than necessary tags and bickering throughout providing a wealth of entertainment.
Backstage, Chris Jericho ranted to Renee Young about Dean Ambrose’s destruction of his jacket.
The Shining Stars vs. Local Competitors
The Shining Stars
Epico started off strong, doing a number on the two local competitors before tagging in Primo, who hit a dropkick out of the ring. The two hit their double move, the Shining Star, and walked away with a victory.
Celebrating in the ring, the two invited everyone watching to come to Puerto Rico.
Ooof. That’s all I have to say about that.
The Asylum arrives
An angry Dean Ambrose immediately called Jericho out, and his rival answered the call, mic in hand. Jericho said he wasn’t interested in talking, instead demanding an apology that instant.
Ambrose scoffed at that, instead challenging Chris Jericho to a match at Extreme Rules. Jericho accepted, and Ambrose asked if he was sure at his age. Jericho declared that there was no one in the company crazier than him, touting his championship record to the Lunatic Fringe.
Jericho offered the gift of Jericho, and in response Dean offered a gift of his own, lowering a steel cage littered with a barbed-wire wrapped two-by-four, a straitjacket and even a potted plant around the ring, announcing that their match would be the first ever Asylum Match. No escape, just surrender.
This match is sure to be explosive if WWE gives it the time it deserves. Ambrose and Jericho both thrive under these circumstances, but if Ambrose puts on anything but a dominating performance, this entire angle is a waste.
Ambrose should win with no doubts in anyone’s minds. Anything less is just plain wrong.
Dana Brooke vs. Becky Lynch
Becky started off strong, taking Emma for a ride of arm drags and mocking her. Dana retreated out of the ring, but Lynch went after her. That proved to be a mistake, as Brooke drove her into the barricade before returning to the ring, driving her into the mat cruelly.
Brooke attempted a cover, but Lynch kicked out, attempting a suplex but hitting a clothesline instead, gaining momentum and driving Brooke into the turnbuckle, hitting an exploder suplex and attempting a cover.
Lynch went to the ropes, but Brooke caught her, rolling her up for a victory.
Emma’s injury is heartbreaking, and a definite blow to the women’s division. Dana Brooke is now on her own. That being said, she performed very well against Lynch, playing up her strength and finally getting her own entrance.
Another segment with Darren Young and Bob Backlund aired.
Backstage, Stephanie and Shane set up a match of one of the Dudley Boyz against Big Cass.
The Golden Truth vs. Breezango
R-Truth started things off against Tyler Breeze, and he and Goldust wasted no time in going ham on Tyler Breeze before Fandango tagged in.
Goldust caught both Fandango and Breeze with powerslams, but a well-timed duck by Tyler Breeze caused R-Truth to knock out Goldust by mistake, letting Tyler Breeze pick up the win.
Backstage, R-Truth attempted to apologize to Goldust, saying they still had to work out the kinks, and that the WWE Universe, he, and Goldust all wanted the Golden Truth. Tyler Breeze and Fandango gloated at them, calling them the Golden Girls, and the two resolved to get their chakras aligned.
That’s right, folks. We endured half a year of this damn angle to see them lose in their debut match.
On the bright side, Tyler Breeze has a bit of a winning streak going. So there’s that.
The New Day
In the ring, the New Day mocked the bygone era the Vaudevillains supposedly represented before uncovering a makeshift time machine made from an empty refrigerator box. They stepped inside, and Kofi emerged to his old Jamaican theme. They went back into the machine, and finally emerged wearing mustaches in black and white.
The three declared that the bygone era sucked, but no matter the era, they would still be champs. They were then ambushed by English and Gotch themselves, assaulting Woods and sending him right into his time machine.
This was a very creative segment. Kofi’s Jamaican throwback was awesome. It was a good way to further the rivalry without overexposing both teams. Well done.
Anderson & Gallows (with AJ Styles) vs. The Usos (with Roman Reigns)
Anderson and Gallows started off strong, but the Usos began to regain momentum until Luke Gallows came into the fold, weakening Jey Uso before Anderson tagged in to continue the punishment. Jimmy Uso finally tagged in, catching Gallows with a kick to the gut and hitting a huge crossbody for a near-fall.
Jimmy sent Gallows out of the ring, and continued the beatdown out of the ring before a distraction by Styles allowed Gallows to hit a right hand. Reigns didn’t take too kindly to that, to say the least.
Anderson regained momentum before tagging Gallows back in, unloading on Jimmy Uso, who tried desperately to get back to Jey, who tagged in hot, taking Gallows and Anderson out at ringside. He nearly pinned Anderson, but Anderson kicked out, fighting back with a fury. He landed a rocket kick, but ran into a Superkick, with Gallows saving the match.
The Usos hit Gallows and Anderson both with Superkicks, hitting a splash for the win.
Chaos broke out in the ring, and Styles looked to finally use the steel chair aganst Reigns, who caught him with a right hook, taking the chair and hitting Styles with it. He took out both Gallows and Anderson, but Styles responded with a chair shot himself, FINALLY landing the Styles Clash on the chair.
Speaking of overexposure…
We’ve seen this match far too much in the past few weeks. Why not pit the Usos or the Club against other tag teams, give us something fresh so that the WWE’s most intriguing feud does not become tired?
Additionally, it’s an absolute travesty to book Anderson and Gallows as anything less than a dominant force. having Reigns and the Usos take them out with so much ease takes away any shred of credibility they have. WWE likes to play up their dominance in Japan, but they feed them to Reigns weekly. That’s ridiculous.
I was surprised to see Styles in action, especially considering his physical state, but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t extremely satisfying seeing him hit the Styles Clash on Reigns. He won’t win on Sunday, but we’ll always have this, I suppose.
Big Cass vs. D-Von Dudley
Big Cass cut a fantastic trashing promo on the Dudleys, likening D-Von to Urkle and Bubba Ray to Fred Flintstone. The Dudleys didn’t give Big Cass time to call them SAWFT, revealing D-Von to be Cass’s opponent for the night.
D-Von rolled out of the ring, with Bubba Ray distracting Cass by pulling out a table. D-Von took advantage, but Big Cass soon caught them both with a boot and then East River Crossing, picking up a massive and impressive victory.
Big Cass, smug, finished his sentence, calling them SAWFT to close out the segment.
It’s great seeing Cass get such a strong push. Once Enzo returns, they will both undoubtably be in title contention in no time at all.
Kalisto vs. Alberto Del Rio
Del Rio went on the offensive immediately, targeting Kalisto’s mask as Sin Cara watched on from backstage. Kalisto struggled to regain momentum as Del Rio hit him with a series of strikes, but Kalisto finally turned the tide with a hurricarana.
He attempted another outside the ring, but Del Rio caught him, sending him head-first into the barricade. This gave Del Rio the advantage.
Backstage, Rusev attacked Sin Cara as he observed the match, with Kalisto forced to watch by Del Rio. A distracted Kalisto crashed shoulder-first into the turnbuckle. Del Rio showboated a bit, and Kalisto took advantage, hitting a hurricarana from the top rope.
Rusev emerged with Sin Cara’s prone body, sending him right into the post, and allowing Del Rio to hit the backstabber on a distracted and distressed Kalisto. After the match, Rusev locked in a brutal accolade in the middle of the ring, having to be forced away by referees. He grabbed the title, and held it over Kalisto before leaving.
This was a good showing for Rusev, who is finally starting to look like the unbeatable force he used to be.
Women’s Championship Contract Signing
Shane and Stephanie took to the ring to preside over the contract signing. Ric Flair emerged first, interrupting Stephanie to introduce his daughter himself, telling the crowd to stand for his daughter,who milked her entrance for all that it was worth.
Shane introduced Natalya, who asked Charlotte what she had become, criticizing Charlotte’s new attitude. Charlotte called herself a goddess, saying that she could do anything and still be cheered.
Ric began to WOO, but Charlotte cut him off, continuing to trash Natalya and calling the signing a waste of her time. Shane cut her off, handing her the contract, but before she signed, she took offense to an added stipulation declaring that if Ric Flair even tried to approach the ring, Charlotte would forfeit her title.
Shane brought security down to the ring to escort him out if need be, and Charlotte signed the contract. Ric Flair went crazy, calling Stephanie the worst businesswoman of all time and threatening to beat up Shane. So, naturally, Stephanie slapped him.
Charlotte charged at Stephanie, but Natalya, heels and all, caught Charlotte in the Sharpshooter, forcing her to tap and sending a clear message, holding the title high to close the segment.
Having a women’s segment closing out RAW is truly incredible, but there was a bit too much happening here. I won’t let that take away from the excellent mic work done by both Natalya and Charlotte, however.
Also, Natalya applied the Sharpshooter in high heels. Mad respect.