In the home straight before Extreme Rules I didn’t expect any fireworks or major plot twists in RAW this week. In fact, in my cynical nature, I thought it would be as poor as the pre-Mania and pre-Payback shows. Thankfully, it wasn’t terrible. But there wasn’t anything to write home about either…
The theme of the night seemed to be short matches. We saw plenty of action, including the debut of The Shining Stars against two completely unknowns, Colin Cassidy beating D-Von Dudley, and Golden Truth losing to Tyler Breeze and Fandango. But the combined length of these matches was barely 15 minutes! Primo and Epico hit a couple of moves each to win their bout; and Big Cass performed perhaps four moves to see off D-Von. These meaningless matches added practically nothing to the show, making it feel as though the producers were trying to fill time. Considering the likes of Baron Corbin, Dolph Ziggler, Sheamus and Apollo Crews were nowhere to be found, the structure of this show was very poor.
Becky Lynch and Dana Brooke shouldn’t even be sharing a ring, even with Emma‘s reported injury. The former bodybuilder is no way near the standard of the rest of the locker room and certainly shouldn’t be picking up victories against women who could legitimately be challenging for the title. If WWE wanted to promote Brooke, I’m not going to stop them, but she should be spending most of her time on SmackDown facing the likes of Tamina or Alicia Fox or Summer Rae.
That doesn’t mean we didn’t have the odd good match however. Although we’ve seen it three or four times now, The Usos versus The Club was probably the match of the night. The four men were given time to tell a good story in the ring, with plenty of turns and a couple of big spots. The issue I have with the match was the ending. I admit, the twin brothers are a very good team and probably deserved the win, good for them. However, in the context of the storyline, the Bloodline against the Club, it makes little to no sense. I feel like the writers are booking the whole feud terribly. Following Wrestlemania, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson come in as two wrecking balls and tear apart Roman Reigns and his cousins. Fast forward a month or so and they can’t pick up a win for love nor money. Somehow this team has gone from complete badasses to a couple of lads even J and J Security could beat up! Now if they’re going to turn round after Extreme Rules and dominate people, they have absolutely no validity. At least the segment ended with AJ Styles hitting Roman with the Styles Clash on to a chair. This story has become very stagnant and has been given too long to run without any major upsets – it’s a good job the title match is just round the corner.
Something else which is becoming all to common is Kevin Owens, The Miz, Cesaro and Sami Zayn facing off in tag matches. All four of these guys are great workers and fantastic athletes, but there’s only so many times you can repeat a formula until the fans stop cheering. The one saving grace from this bout was the mix up in teams: Kevin Owens teaming with Sami Zayn while Cesaro tags with The Miz. The most entertaining points were the interactions between Owens and Zayn whilst still having to work together. We’ve had these four squaring off for about a month now, and despite the fact the IC Title match was only confirmed last week, it was blatantly obvious. Zayn and Owens may have picked up the win on this show, but that didn’t stop the former champion letting his former best friend who is boss.
We finally saw an official announcement for a Chris Jericho-Dean Ambrose match for Sunday’s PPV: an Asylum match. From what I can gather, this is just a cage match without the option of escape, and added weapons. Its a new – if not odd – type of match which seems to perfectly suit Ambrose, and I’m quite intrigued to see how it works. What was good to see, during the promo, was a darker, more intense Dean who was fixated on destroying Jericho and his legacy. A nice little bit of character development there, I approve.
Turning our attention to the United States Champion now, and Kalisto got over double the amount of exposure he recieved on last week’s show. The Lucha Dragon took on Alberto Del Rio, formerly of the League of Nations, in a match which wasn’t half bad. It was, however, overshadowed by Rusev‘s appearance with a battered and bruised Sin Cara. ADR would go on to win the match before the Bulgarian Brute put in a horribly deep Accolade on Kalisto. This is an example of booking is done right: the heel does bad things to the babyface; the babyface tries to win against the odds.
Lacking a match of actual main event caliber, the show closed out with the contract signing between Natalya and Charlotte. Not much to say about this other than the contract was signed and Charlotte tapped to the Sharpshooter (again). One added stipulation is that if her father, Ric Flair, even runs down to the ring, Charlotte will lose her championship. I nice way to even the odds, but a poor way to close out the show. At least women were the ones to close the show, maybe the revolution isn’t so dead after all.