Bayless’ WWE RAW Rundown 5/23/16

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May 23, 2016
From the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore, MD
Your hosts are Byron Saxton, JBL, and Michael Cole

The show opens with Seth Rollins heading out to the ring. He is loudly cheered by the crowd. Rollins smiles as he looks around the arena then he is met with a deafening “welcome back” chant. He talks about waiting seven months to come back and take back the WWE World Heavyweight Title, something he never lost and had to forfeit due to injury. Rollins asks the crowd if they missed him then brings up how they booed him for turning on the Shield after hitting Roman Reigns in the back with a chair. Rollins also talks about the crowd referring to him as the “weakest champion of all-time” and how they discredited all of the hard work that went into is title reign. Rollins then mentions all of the flowers and fan mail he got while hurt and that he did not open a single letter but rather put them all in a garbage can and lit it on fire as he tells the crowd he does not need them. The crowd starts booing Rollins a bit as they tells us their is only room on the Seth Rollins bandwagon for one person, which is himself. Rollins runs down the crowd some more and tells them they can cheer or boo him because he does not care and is only back for one thing, the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Roman Reigns’ music hits as the crowd boos like crazy. Rollins challenges Reigns but instead ducks outside as he said he’ll do that on his time. Shane McMahon now comes out and Rollins now stands on the ring apron. Shane talks about understanding why Rollins wants a shot at the title he never lost and how Reigns can understand that. Shane calls these two facing off a “WrestleMania main event” but that we will not be waiting that long because at the Money in the Bank PPV, these two will be facing off for the title.

Interesting segment. Having Rollins come back and immediately go after the title he never lost makes complete sense. However, its clear that the fans want to cheer for Rollins. They can still work a feud between Rollins and Reigns then after that can turn Rollins face if needed as they have other stars returning from injury. Plus, they still have the Club dynamic as they can possibly add a new member, like Rollins as he can stay heel as the leader of a new faction. There are a lot of ways they can go with this feud.

The announcers list off the five Money in the Bank Match qualifiers for tonight:

Miz vs. Cesaro

Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler

Chris Jericho vs. Apollo Crews

AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens

Sami Zayn vs. Sheamus

Renee Young is interviewing Sheamus backstage, asking him how it feels to have to qualify for the Money in the Bank match after winning it last year. Sheamus tells Renee Sami isn’t even from this country and even cuts off Renee when she was about to tell him about being Canadian as well. Sheamus ends by telling all the parents listening to have their kids leave the room so they do not see what he does to Zayn tonight. Sheamus also brought up the “New Era” and how he does not care about them.

Solid promo by Sheamus as they are dropping hints he will be feuding with the New Era guys.

Money in the Bank Qualifiyng Match: Sami Zayn vs. Sheamus

Sheamus takes control early as Cole puts over last night’s Intercontinental Title Four-Way match. Zayn fights back and chops Sheamus in the corner but ends up getting knocked down. Zayn lands on the apron after Sheamus tossed him outside and comes back in to hit a tilt-a-whirl headscissors. Sheamus rolls out and Zayn follows, where he hits a moonsault block from the barricade. Zayn is met with a knee smash when he tries to re-enter the ring and falls to the floor as we head to break. The match returns with Sheamus in control. He gets a nearfall off of a spinning powerslam then places Zayn on the top rope. They fight up top and Zayn knocks Sheamus down. Zayn rolls through a dive but ends up getting caught with the Irish Curse for a nearfall. Zayn comes back with a clothesline then catches him with a Michinoku Driver for two. Zayn fires away but Sheamus cuts him off during a springboard armdrag attempt. Zayn ducks a Brogue Kick and sends Sheamus over the top rope with a clothesline. Zayn tries a dive but is met with a forearm smash then Sheamus heads inside but Zayn drills him with the Helluva Kick and that gets the win (10:03) **3/4. After the match, Sheamus starts pulling his hair and kicks the bottom rope out of frustration

Thoughts: Good match. I doubt Zayn will win the briefcase but they can get him over by giving him a few hope spots and as he showed at WrestleMania, can excel in a multi-man ladder match. Sheamus showing frustration also further hammers home the point he is not a fan of the new era.

Back from break, Renee Young is with Apollo Crews. She asks him about having an advantage tonight after Jericho’s brutal match last night. Crews talks about the New Era but Sheamus runs in for an attack as he destroys Crews while yelling about the New Era. Sheamus vs. the New Era is something I am fine with. I assume Sheamus will be joined by other veterans to go up against the younger talent and that can be a productive way to get over the younger talent.

The New Day head out to the ring. There is a cake in the ring celebrating the 1,200th episode of RAW. The cake, for some reason, reads “Happy Birthday” as Kofi tells us RAW is over 23 years old. Big E then tells us a WWE ring is not safe for a cake as Big E takes it outside while Xavier talks about not wanting the cake to end up in someone’s face, like the little boy in the front row or JBL as Big E keeps teasing throwing the cake at someone. However, the Social Outcasts end up attacking the New Day from behind then do a victory lap around the table as Cole says they are supposed to have a match next as we head to break. Really just standard New Day stuff that was done to set up their match. The part about RAW celebrating a birthday here must have been the “fuzzy math” stuff George W. Bush talked about over a decade ago.

The New Day vs. The Social Outcasts

This match started during the break. We return to see Kofi take Slater off of the top rope with a hurricarana. The New Day then hit Slater with the Unicorn Stampede as Xavier plays the trombone. Dallas and Axel pull Slater outside but try another victory lap as Slater falls down. Xavier hits Dallas & Axel with a somersault plancha then rolls Slater inside where Big E hits the Big Ending for the win (1:58) 3/4*. After the match, the New Day slam the cake into Slater’s face.

Thoughts: A short, basic match really just designed to let the crowd see the New Day engage in their antics. Going forward, the New Day need to find some credible Tag Team Title contenders.

Before his match, the Miz comes out with Maryse and puts over how he is still the Intercontinental Champion and overcame the odds, just like “Rudy.” Miz puts over the buzz the IC Title match last night at Extreme Rules last night and how he went up against three of the greatest stars the WWE has to offer today and at the end, he was the one standing tall. Miz says this is the story Hollywood offers big-money budgets for as he wonders who will play him in the film, even dropping Dwayne Johnson’s name, but Maryse tells her husband none of those men compare to himself. Decent promo designed to get over the Miz & Maryse pairing, which have been doing a fine job.

Money in the Bank Qualifiyng Match: The Miz w/ Maryse vs. Cesaro

Cole references how Cesaro made Miz tap last night but that the referee did not see it take place as he was tied up. The match starts with Cesaro immediately hitting Miz with the Uppercut Train. Cesaro takes him down with a running dropkick for two then takes Miz down with a running somersault senton from the apron. Cesaro then pumps up the crowd and while getting yelled at by Maryse, puts up his hand in her face to yell “talk to the hand” as that got the crowd going. Back inside, Cesaro counters a suplex after getting met with a knee. Cesaro comes back with a springboard corkscrew uppercut as Miz rolls outside as we head to break. The action returns with Miz in control. He hits the backbreaker/neckbreaker combo then sets up for the Skull Crushing Finale but that gets blocked as Cesaro turns it into a small package for two. Miz uses a guillotine on Cesaro then attacks his injured shoulder. Cesaro fights back with uppercuts but Miz stops that by attacking the shoulder. Miz hits a corner clothesline then heads up top but Cesaro dropkicks him to the floor. Cesaro runs out and hits Miz with a charging uppercut then looks at the crowd. Back inside, Cesaro gets two with a flying body press. Miz blocks a giant swing but Cesaro comes back with a double stomp. Miz boots Cesaro but gets caught as Cesaro hits the swing until his shoulder gives him trouble. Miz tries for the Skull Crushing Finale again but that gets blocked. Miz attacks the shoulder but Cesaro decks him in the face before hitting the Neutralizer for the win (11:17) ***1/2.

Thoughts: This was a really good match. The story of Miz attacking Cesaro’s injured shoulder in order to try and stop him from hitting his power moves worked well. Cesaro also gets a win after getting pinned last night and can move on to bigger stakes. The Miz now needs another opponent at Money in the Bank for his Intercontinental Title.

A clip from earlier tonight when Rollins made his return and Shane McMahon announced he would be facing Reigns for the WWE World Heavyweight Title at the Money in the Bank PPV.

Renee Young is backstage with Rollins, who states it would be fitting for him to win the title at that show seeing how he won in 2014 and used it to cash-in at WrestleMania 31. Rollins sees Stephanie McMahon off to the side and goes over for a hug but gets denied. Stephanie tells Rollins things have changed around here, including their business relationship, then tells him “welcome back” and offers a handshake. They are setting up an interesting dynamic here with Stephanie shunning Rollins and reminding him how things have changed. How will Rollins react now without any backing from the former Authority?

Chris Jericho heads out to the ring. The camera zooms in on his back to show all of the bandages on his back as the result of going through thumbtacks last night at Extreme Rules in his match against Chris Jericho. We go to break as he gets ready for his match against Apollo Crews.

Money in the Bank Qualifiyng Match: Chris Jericho vs. Apollo Crews

The announcers point out how both guys are hurting, with Jericho from last night and Crews after his attack earlier tonight by Sheamus. The match starts with Jericho beating on Crews. The camera shows Sheamus watching the match backstage on a monitor as Crews is in control. Crews starts targeting the bandages on Jericho’s back as you can hear a mild dueling chant. Jericho lands a cheap-shot before hitting a snap suplex. He gets two with a low dropkick but Crews fights back. Jericho catches Crews with a dropkick for two then applies a chinlock as he yells at Crews about how he is the best in the world. Crews boots Jericho after he ducked his head for a backdrop then starts firing away. He hits a jumping back elbow smash as the crowd is not into his comeback. Crews ducks a springboard crossbody then hits a moonsault block from the apron. Back inside, Crews rolls through a dive then catches Jericho with a powerslam for a nearfall. Crews tries for his spinning powerbomb but Jericho counters with a victory roll then locks on the Walls of Jericho. Crews is able to make it to the ropes then drills Jericho with an enziguiri for a nearfall. Next, Jericho hits Crews with the Lionsault and still manages to catch Crews, who went to kip-up. That looked really mistimed. Crews manages a rollup after that but gets caught with a Codebreaker as Jericho picks up the win (7:46) *1/2. After the match, they cut backstage where Renee asks Sheamus for his reaction and Sheamus responds by laughing then walking away.

Thoughts: These two did not have a good match. The first half was bad and while things picked up a bit at the end, that Lionsault spot was really, really ugly. Crews still has been unable to connect with the audience and need more than a mixture of speed and power moves. Plus, he did not even sell the beating from Sheamus, something the announcers made sure to mention on commentary. Crews now seems to be moving on to a feud against Sheamus while Jericho is added to the MiTB match mix.

Now, we get “Life Lessons From Bob Backlund.” Backlund yells at Darren Young for taking notes as he wants him to remember everything. Backlund then wants Young to recite all of the presidents in order as Young says no one can do that as Backlund starts naming them off as Young compliments Backlund but said the word “damn” as Backlund starts screaming about using foul language and orders Young to do 200 jumping jacks as we are back to the “Make Darren Young Great Again” campaign. More of the same from these two.

Jojo is now backstage with Baron Corbin. She asks him about defeating Dolph Ziggler last night at Extreme Rules as we see him hit Ziggler with a low blow for the win. Corbin tells Jojo he doesn’t care about what people think about how he won a no-DQ match. Ziggler comes over and calls Corbin a “hipster, Frankenstein on tranquilizers” as he then talked about having a technical wrestling match as Corbin went into how he did not watch WWE as a kid to become a technical wrestler and learned that he was good at beating up “punks” like Ziggler and to not do that for free then Ziggler tells Corbin next week, he will show Corbin what a real technical wrestling match looks like but tonight, he will do something Corbin will never be able to and that is stealing the show.

Wow, this was a terrible segment. Ziggler did is normal comedy, which misses a lot more than it hits like it did here but Corbin’s delivery here was just atrocious. I could not believe how badly he came across here. This feud seems to be continuing and it still has not done anyone any favors. I believe Corbin has an unique presence about him but it mostly disappears once the bell rings and apparently the same happens in his backstage interview segments.

Big Cass and the returning Enzo Amore appear. The crowd went nuts for Enzo making his return. Enzo makes a joke about his concussion, stating they turned off his electricity in Philly (Referencing Payback) as he talks about if he got a dime for every time he got knocked down and did not get back up……..he’d have zero dimes. They then went into their routine and that brought the crowd back to life then they Dudley Boyz came out as Bubba faces Big Cass next.

The crowd was jacked to see Enzo return but he lost the crowd on the mic with an awkward joke about his concussion and struggled to get them back. They pick up back where they left off with a Dudleys vs. Enzo/Cass feud.

Big Cass w/ Enzo Amore vs. Bubba Ray Dudley w/ D-Von Dudley

This match took place after the break. Cole plugs Seth Rollins ESPN SportsCenter appearances during the 9pm EST hour. They lockup to start then Bubba chops Cass after a break. Cass responds by shoving Bubba then they lock up again as Cass gets the advantage. However, D-Von attacks Enzo from behind and that distracts Cass, allowing Bubba to attack. Cass comes back with a clothesline and a shoulder tackle. He follows with a corner splash then tosses a charging Enzo at D-Von on the outside as the fans approve. Back inside, Bubba climbs up top but Cass shoves him off. Cass then hits a big boot then finishes him off with the Empire Elbow (3:16) *.

Thoughts: This was fine and Big Cass continues to improve on the main roster, unlike Corbin and Crews. Cass has been better in the ring than I expected as well. He seems to have a bright future.

Charlotte, Dana Brooke, and Ric Flair head out to the ring. We are shown the clip from Extreme Rules last night where Dana distracted Natalya by dressing up as Ric Flair, which allowed Charlotte to get the win. Flair tells Charlotte how proud he is of her as the WWE Women’s Champion and how she is fabulous and once again prevailed last night when her back was against the wall. Flair then talks about Dana and says without Charlotte, there is no Dana Brooke. Charlotte grabs the mic and thanks herself before thanking Dana, who in turn thanks Charlotte for getting the privilege to stand in the ring with the “dirtiest player in the game.” Charlotte then talks to her dad but not before yelling at the crowd for disrespecting her, as he tells him about remembering holidays and birthdays as Charlotte is now getting the “what” treatment from the crowd. Charlotte then goes back to how Flair was never there for her during these holidays and birthdays but now gets it as she is the Women’s Champion and now knows what it feels like to be the “woman” and now has the courage to tell her father to get out of her ring. Flair seems confused as Charlotte yells at him to leave then says that everyone from his generation does not want to leave the spotlight as she talked about being referred to as “Ric Flair’s daughter” but now he is going to be referred to as “Charlotte’s dad” as she mocks her father for crying as she gets emotional herself but stops to mock the crowd. We get a zoom up of Flair crying as his daughter tells him she does not need him anymore and that he can just watch her on TV, like she did to him for the last 30 years. Flair then leaves and is shown crying while walking up the aisle as Charlotte taunts him while raising Dana’s hand.

I didn’t really care for this segment. The real-life aspect I do not mind but the whole story of Charlotte getting rid of her father came out of nowhere and seemed far too contrived, like the company just wanted to tell us some real-life stories regarding the Flair’s. There was a lot of crying here and overall it felt disjointed and an awkward way to write Flair off of TV.

Money in the Bank Qualifying Match: Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler

These two start off by going back-and-forth on the mat. Ambrose catches him with a forearm smash then a slam as he takes control. Ambrose lights up Ziggler with chops then then tosses him to the floor after they trade pinfalls. Ambrose sets up for a dive but Ziggler moves out of the way as we head to commercial. The action returns with both guys fighting up top as Ambrose hits a superplex for a nearfall. He then clotheslines Ziggler to the floor then flies out with a tope. Back inside, Ziggler climbs up top but gets shoved down as Ambrose flies off with an elbow smash that Ziggler rolls through for a nearfall. Ziggler then follows with a Fameasser for two. Ambrose blocks a super kick then they collide in midair attempting crossbody blocks as both men are down. They get up and trade punches until Ziggler lands a super kick but Ambrose comes right back with a rebound clothesline for two. Ambrose heads up top but is caught with a dropkick in midair as Ziggler covers for two. Ziggler counters a powerbomb with a sunset flip for two but Ambrose then blocks a Zig Zag and hits the Dirty Deeds for the win (12:10) **1/2.

Thoughts: The match was middling until it picked up at the end. Dolph did not in fact steal the show here. Having a match between two babyfaces after a long interview segment is not going to jack up the crowd more than two hours into the show.

Backstage, Flair is seen with his suitcase as he walks past Zack Ryder and Titus O’Neill. Arn Anderson sees Flair and tells him he is sorry while Flair cries. Renee catches up to Ric Flair but he is too distraught to say anything and walked out of the building.

The Shining Stars talk about their match last week then invite us all to Puerto Rico. Doesn’t seem very heelish to me.

AJ Styles heads out to the ring. We are shown still photos of his match against Roman Reigns last night at Extreme Rules as Cole points out the interference from both Gallows & Anderson and the Usos. Back in the ring, the crowd is chanting for Styles, who blames Gallows & Anderson for costing him the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Styles also called Reigns “every bit the man he said he was” before saying that is the past and how tonight, he has the chance to beat Kevin Owens, on his own, and head into the Money in the Bank match for a shot at the briefcase. Gallows & Anderson interrupt as Anderson does not believe Styles has the gall to blame them for his title loss. Styles then says “this isn’t Japan” and that things are different as he wants to do things on his own. Anderson said he is right and if it was Japan, Styles would have bought them a “round of drinks in Roppongi” for having his back. Anderson says things have changed, like Styles, as they do not appear happy. Styles said he did not bring them here to drop every guy he has a problem with as Gallows said he never would have made it to Extreme Rules if not for them helping him out. Styles says that professionally, they need to separate, as Anderson makes it clear to AJ that they are not friends anymore, nevermind brothers. Styles then says as of right now, this is his ring and they do not need to be together. Gallows & Anderson then leave.

I don’t mind Styles going away from the club but this was done in a way that made Styles come off as whiny and blaming others for his loss last night. Even the crowd seemed to feel the same way as they did not react positively to Styles’ decision. Now, lets see how they follow this up and who else becomes involved with Anderson & Gallows.

This Thursday on Smackdown, Miz will defend the Intercontinental Title against Cesaro while Rusev defends the U.S. Title against Kalisto.

Money in the Bank Qualifiyng Match: AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens

Owens points at the briefcase hanging from the ceiling and yells that it is his as that triggers a brawl. Owens yells out that he is the headlock master while maintaining the hold then avoids a dropkick. Styles fights right back but ends up running into a dropkick himself. Owens targets the back then teases a dive only to roll out and hit Styles with a clothesline as the crowd applauds. Owens then yells at Cole to tell us all at home that the briefcase belongs to him but that allowed Styles to attack from behind. Owens ends up regaining control as he sends Styles into the steel steps as we head to break. The action returns with Owens working a chinlock in the ring as we see a clip from the break with Owens catching Styles in midair and dropping him on the apron. They end up outside as Styles blocks a powerbomb attempt then they head back in and trade strikes. Styles clotheslines Owens down for a two count. Styles follows with a wheelbarrow slam for two. Owens blocks a Styles Clash with a backdrop then follows with a release German suplex. Owens hits a cannonball but Stylescomes back with a German suplex of his own then hits a fireman’s carry neckbreaker for a nearfall. Owens blocks another Styles Clash then drops Styles with a cradle neckbreaker on his knee for two. A frustrated Owens heads up top as the fans are getting into the match. Styles cuts him off and they fight for a bit until Styles rolls away from a moonsault. Styles comes back with a beautiful springboard 450 splash for a nearfall as the crowd starts chanting for Styles. Owens rolls outside as Styles hits him with a sliding knee smash on the apron after teasing a springboard move. However, Owens catches Styles and hits him with a powerbomb on the stairs as Styles just beats the ten count while the announcers put over his injuries from last night. Styles comes back with the Pele Kick for a nearfall then sets up for the Phenomenal Forearm but Owens cuts him off then hits the Pop-Up Powerbomb for the win (16:31) ***3/4. After the match, Cole mentions there are still two more slots to be filled in the Money in the Bank match and talks about all of the rivalries between the five announced competitors. The camera shows Owens in the ring celebrating a bit as Styles is laying in the aisle looking upset as he clutches his back.

Thoughts: This was a really good match and picked up a lot at the end. Styles started to win back the crowd towards the end after they began the match as pro-Owens. They also told the story of Styles being injured from last night and how he might have been too hurt to compete. Now, with Styles failing to win on his own, how will he react going forward?

Final Thoughts: Overall, I thought this was a good show. The Money in the Bank qualifying matches were good for the most part and they are setting up a lot of interesting dynamics for that match. I also thought they created some interesting dynamics regarding Rollins and Styles while they are going to push a narrative with the “New Era,” which could also involve some of the stars returning from injury. Not everything here was good but the key storylines were for the most part, including some of the MitB qualifiying matches.

Author: Brian Bayless