This week’s episode of RAW (number 1198, apparently) was a mixed bag of good and terrible. Inconsistent and strange booking left the Omaha audience unsure of how to feel in the build up to Extreme Rules in just two weeks.
The WWE needs to learn the difference between a joke and a petition. This was prevalent for the opening segment involving Chris Jericho and Mitch the plant. Thankfully Colin Cassidy was on hand to stop the whole fiasco – and he couldn’t have come soon enough. Big Cass’ recent push seems deserved considering he is in possibly THE most over team on the roster. However, it is apparent whenever he steps in the ring that fans want Enzo Amore along with him. Cass fits in Vince McMahon‘s “big guy” favouritism band, which could be a clue as to why he is getting so much screen time – especially being in the main event of the program! It’ll be very interesting to see what happens when Enzo returns.
A story which (despite the match) I think we’ll be seeing for a few more weeks is the rivalry between Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler. So far, it has been booked really well with Corbin being by and large dominant, and Ziggler stealing the victory at Payback. Last week’s Battle Royale saw The Lone Wolf take it a step further, and this week he demolished the veteran. If all keeps going this way, Corbin will be a real force to be reckoned with. I believe all this momentum should lead to a dominant title reign before the year is up.
As far as comedy backstage segments go, Goldust and R-Truth have hit the mark on a couple of shows this month (with the help of Fandango and Tyler Breeze). As far as captivating in-ring matches go, these four have missed the mark by several lightyears. Did we expect anything else? Truth picked up the win, and the end is finally in sight! Even the commentators seemed bored to tears by this bout, let’s hope the tag match on SmackDown isn’t so dull.
For the first time in months (I can’t beleive I’m saying that) we got to see Paige in a singles match on RAW! Despite making only a handful of appearances, the Brit is still more popular than Natalya and Charlotte together. With Ric Flair banned from ringside, Paige picked up a huge victory which poses a few questions: firstly, does that put her in line for the Women’s Title? Also, how legitimate is Charlotte if she can’t win without her father? Once again, the creative team seem to have destroyed the momentum of a heel leading up to a PPV.
The worst kept secret about Extreme Rules has finally been confirmed: a Fatal 4-Way for the Intercontinental Championship. This is due to Sami Zayn defeating The Miz (with a “shock” victory) to earn his place in the match. Does WWE seriously think we didn’t see this coming? I predicted it at Payback! The only redeeming feature of this confirmation is that the odds of a babyface champion have increased. Also, a Zayn victory could see the revival of the Kevin Owens feud. One last point on the match: thank God that Michael Cole has learned what a Michinoku Driver is after last week’s embarrassment.
What was that I was saying earlier about heels losing momentum? Rusev knows what I’m on about! Why he had to lose against Sin Cara I’ll never know, but the Bulgarian Brute has some ground to make up. This is a guy who could be one of the biggest heels in the company but is left floundering in stupid matches with the worst of the two Lucha Dragons. To paraphrase the Chicago crowd of Money in the Bank 2011: “If Rusev loses, I riot!”
For me, the elimination tag match of Roman Reigns and The Usos against AJ Styles, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows could have gone one of two ways: either The Club completely dominate and win 3-0; or Roman would defeat everyone as a last man standing to win 3-2. The first of those options makes the new boys look like a threat. The second make Roman look strong (and we all know Vince loves doing that). What actually happened was a decent back-and-forth match which saw Reigns vs Styles at the end, only to end in disqualification when the eliminated men came back and started a brawl (we’ve not seen enough of them recently). The current course has become boring and stale. There is no progression and Gallows and Anderson are looking a lot weaker than they did in NJPW which really defeats the point of bringing them in…
It seems as though WWE is finally listening to its fans (despite releasing Damien Sandow less than a week ago), and gave Zach Ryder a decent match with Kevin Owens. Long Island Iced-Z put on a good showing against the former IC champ before ultimately losing. Of course he did, Owens wouldn’t sacrifice his place at Extreme Rules and that was far too evident. However, Ryder is getting more TV time which might give him the push he so richly deserves! There’s no point keeping someone that hot on the shelf after all.
The reign of The New Day may be coming to an end. The trio took to the ring and sprouted their usual trash talk and antics before a match with The Dudley Boyz. However, after dominating for most of the encounter, a distraction from The Vaudevillans led to D-Von picking up the win. In championship terms, this doesn’t mean a lot, but (like so many on this show) momentum has been killed. In all honesty, despite their infectious nature, the Tag Team Champions looked tired and ready for a break. After the PPV on the 22nd, I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see Woods, Kingston and “E” on our screens for a couple of months.
The publicised main event of the night was supposed to be Chris Jericho vs Colin Cassidy. This could have been a huge break for Cass, and a possible glimpse into a singles career. What we got instead was a tussle in the dark followed by the destruction of a $15,000 jacket at the hands of Dean Ambrose. Fair enough, Dean has been at the forefront of Jericho’s abuse for the last couple of weeks, but this isn’t the way a show should end. This is just lazy booking to avoid having to put Roman in the main event and potentially end the night with a chorus of boos. I think the writers are getting nervy and that is not a good sign for things to come.