May 2, 2016
From the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, MO
Your hosts are Byron Saxton, JBL, and Michael Cole
We are shown a video package from Payback last night. It featured a narrator. We saw that Vince McMahon had both Shane and Stephanie McMahon run RAW together as well as the main event. We also saw how both Shane and Stephanie restarted the match and the interference from Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
The show starts with Stephanie heading down to the ring. She is holding a shopping bag. As she is about to speak, Shane interrupts. The crowd chants “Shane O-Mac” as he plays up to the crowd. Stephanie then talks about being a good business person and offers Shane the bag as a gift. He pulls out the gift and it’s the picture that Vince smashed when he was holding Shane backstage at his first WWE live event. Stephanie then asked the crowd whose ideas they wanted to hear and she got booed so Shane tells us he has a few things in mind. However, Kevin Owens interrupts and tells us how this is a lovely sight, seeing a brother & sister getting along. Owens then tells them he has a great idea and the crowd boos but Owens tells them he was not asking them but rather the McMahons. Owens said after decimating Sami Zayn last night at Payback, he deserves a shot at the Intercontinental Title and wants that tonight. Owens then sucks up to Stephanie by saying she has sense and that he has no faith in Shane running RAW. Owens then said he never had his contractually obliged rematch and they both state it is a valid point but Cesaro interrupts. Cesaro said last night he had Miz beat in the ring but the referee was tied up with a whiner and complainer as Owens tries to blame that on Zayn. Cesaro then gets pissed about not being the champion as Shane tells us in the “new era,” we settle things in the ring and they will have a match next to determine the #1 contender for the Miz’s Intercontinental Title.
This was a fine way to open the show. Owens picked things up once he came out as he continues to be on a roll character-wise. I also liked that they are making the Intercontinental Title seem important again. The act with Stephanie trying to be nice to her brother did not really seem to go anywhere as I do not know that anyone can suspend enough disbelief to believe Stephanie was being sincere. However, they at least established the story of the two attempting to work together at the beginning, which will eventually lead to the more than likely power struggle between the two.
Intercontinental Title #1 Contender Match: Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro
The Miz and Maryse are on commentary. Cesaro starts the match by hitting the uppercut train. He follows that with a dropkick for a nearfall as Owens rolls outside. Cesaro runs out and takes Owens down with a senton off of the barricade. Back inside, Cesaro gets two with a crossbody as Miz is talks about how he beat Cesaro last night and refused to answer Cole’s question on whether or not he tapped out. Owens catches Cesaro with a super kick then gets two with a senton. They exchange chops briefly until Owens hits a DDT for a nearfall. Owens works the arm then taunts the crowd and even yells at Cole. Owens heads up top but Cesaro cuts him off with an uppercut. Owens headbutts Cesaro off but gets dropkicked as Cesaro then hits a super gutwrench suplex for a nearfall. Owens snaps Cesaro’s neck off of the top rope then hits Cesaro with a frog splash off of the apron as we head to break. The action returns with Owens in control. He fights off a barrage if uppercuts to hit a German suplex. Cannonball gets two. Cesaro avoids a Pop-Up Powerbomb then hits a springboard corkscrew uppercut. Owens rolls out as Cesaro takes him out with an uppercut. Cesaro celebrates with the crowd then attacks Owens after he tried to grab the Miz’s Intercontinental Title. Cesaro then uppercuts Miz and heads inside to put Owens in the swing but Miz attacks Cesaro for the DQ (11:30) ***1/4. After the match, Owens yells at the Miz for costing him a title shot then Cesaro fights back. Miz and Owens attack Cesaro but Sami Zayn runs out for the save and at the end, holds up the IC Title Belt as the crowd does the “Yes” chants.
Thoughts: Good match. And more importantly, they continued to play off of the momentum these for had after Payback. It seems that they are building up to a four-way match for the belt and that has potential to be an excellent match.
Dean Ambrose is backstage when Stephanie approaches. Dean tells Stephanie that he is not buying her act of being nice to everyone as she then tells him he can have her on the “Ambrose Asylum” tonight as the guest for an open forum.
After commercial, Tyler Breeze and R-Truth are backstage with selfie-sticks. Truth is using an actual stick here, complete with leaves an everything for his phone. Truth suggests they team up as the “Gorgeous Truth” and that he will even teach him how to rap. He proceeds to rap until Goldust interrupts. Truth and Goldust argue until Fandango comes over as Goldust’s partner for tonight.
I feel bad for Breeze and Fandango. Being pawns in this dead-end angle as R-Truth and Goldust try to make each other jealous is not exactly a sign you are going anywhere.
AJ Styles is backstage with Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows. They tell AJ how he was great last night, even phenomenal, but AJ just talks about how he lost. Gallows said that he will get his chance at Extreme Rules because anything goes. Gallows even said that at Extreme Rules, there is no way Roman Reigns leaves with the title. Reigns then interrupts and says after last night, he respects AJ but not Gallows & Anderson. Reigns then tells AJ that Gallows & Anderson do not believe he can beat him alone then challenges the three of them to a six-man tag as the Usos appear behind Reigns. AJ tells Reigns he will beat him for the title, by himself, at Extreme Rules and tonight, him and his boys will win too. JBL then mentioned that the “Club” might be together again.
I liked this segment. It played off of what happened at Payback and they are setting up intrigue with Gallows & Anderson hinting about interfering on AJ’s behalf while Reigns tells AJ they (Gallows & Anderson) do not think he can beat him alone. Really, AJ comes out of this looking like the ultimate babyface: He is fighting a bigger opponent who refers to himself as “The Guy” and is conflicted between his friends and doing the right thing. Its almost like they are writing this to get AJ over as a face.
Goldust w/ Fandango vs. Tyler Breeze w/ R-Truth
Okay, so this is not a tag team match. Breeze wears Truth’s doo-rag. Goldust knocks Breeze down and yanks off the rag and tosses it at Truth. Goldust tries to get the attention of Truth, who is taking selfies, but Breeze runs him into the corner. Truth then distracts Goldust as Breeze rolls him up from behind for the win (1:48) DUD.
Thoughts: This was awful, even by lower-card comedy standards. I mean, the Truth/Goldust angle seems like it has no end in sight and is long past even the slightly amusing stage. Everyone involved in this came out of it looking like a loser. The best thing I can say is that it was short.
New Day come out to the ring after the break. The announcers mention Enzo Amore’s injury that took place at Payback as the Vaudevillians will face the New Day for the Tag Team Titles at Extreme Rules. We are shown a replay of Enzo Amore’s injury last night as he suffered a concussion. Big E stumbles over his line then ad-libs about that and the crowd ends up giving him an applause. After some messing around, we are shown a tweet of Enzo outside of the hospital then Xavier notes they will have their match later but after that, the Vaudevillians interrupt. Aiden English talks about what happened last night was tragic but this is a tough business and a real man would have gotten back up, real men like themselves. English then sings about being the #1 contenders to the Tag Team titles as Simon Gotch said they made Enzo the “realest guy in the emergency room” and asks how is he doing. The Dudley Boyz then interrupt as Bubba refers to the Vaudevillians as “carnies” and how they just stood there and did nothing to win the match and as far as he and D-Von are concerned, they need to start the tournament again. D-Von runs them down but after that, Big Cass interrupts. Cass comes out as he is sick of the Vaudevillians running their mouths and he will now have to finish what they started last night. Cass then mocks Bubba’s former stuttering gimmick before calling them soft. Cass runs inside and attacks the Vaudevillians then everyone brawls as we head into commercial.
I thought the segment was fine. The New Day got to do their shtick but more importantly, the other guys all got a chance to shine. They finally let the Vaudevillians show some personality and they did fine. Gotch dissing Enzo pissed off the crowd and English’s singing was impressive. Bubba and Cass were enjoyable on the mic as well.
The New Day & Big Cass vs. Vaudevillians & Dudley Boyz
This match was created by Shane McMahon and started during the break. Woods was in control of English then took him down with a headscissors. Gotch tagged in as the New Day work him over with Bubba yelling “I thought you guys were good” from the apron at the Vaudevillians. Cass beats on Gotch in the corner before the New Day hit the Unicorn Stampede. Bubba makes a blind tag then boots Woods in the face then yells at the Vaudevillians how you beat your opponent as he nails Woods with crossfaces. The heels cut off the ring as Woods is in trouble. Woods finally comes back with an enziguiri on Bubba but he was unable to make the tag. D-Von is in but misses a diving headbutt as Xavier is able to tag Kofi, who runs wild. The Vaudevillians then take Kofi outside as English rams him into the post as we head to break. The action returns with the heels neutralizing Kofi in their corner. D-Von gets a nearfal with a suplex then the Vaudevillians hit a few double-team moves. They knock the rest of the New Day off of the apron but run into a double dropkick after that. Cass rallies behind Kofi then tags in as the crowd pops. Cass runs wild then Bubba breaks up a pinfall and after that the match breaks down. D-Von snaps Cass’s neck off of the rope as Bubba hits a back suplex for a nearfall. They set up for the 3D but Kofi takes out Bubba with a springboard crossbody then Cass hits D-Von with the East River Crossing for the win (15:48) *3/4.
Thoughts: Cass running wild was fun but most of this match was dull, if not disjointed. The Vaudevillians did not impress in the ring and they were given a solid amount of time on offense. Cass was made to look like the star here and he gave a solid performance.
We are shown more footage from the main event at Payback, which help set up the six-man tag main event for tonight.
Now, we are shown still photos of the Charlotte vs. Natalya match that saw a recreation of the “Montreal Screwjob” finish. Cole even pointed out how the referee of the match, Charles Robinson, is a friend of Ric Flair as we see clips of him as “Little Naich” in WCW.
Becky Lynch vs. Emma
We are shown the tweets that have led to this match. Emma slaps Beck after a break in the corner. Becky comes back to catch Emma with a Dragon Screw then sends her outside with a dropkick. Becky takes Emma down outside with a clothesline from the apron. Back inside, Emma yanks Becky off of the top rope after a struggle in the corner. Emma takes control with some hair pulling before a double underhook suplex gets her a nearfall. The crowd rallies behind Becky as she breaks out of a full nelson. Emma takes her back down with a boot to the face as that gets two. Emma takes Becky down in the corner then hits a running crossbody after yelling how it is about her. Becky comes back with a clothesline then runs wild as the crowd approves. Exploder gets two. Emma rolls outside to avoid the Disarmer but comes back with an eye poke then hits a Michinoku Driver for the win (5:45) **.
Thoughts: I thought that the match was fine. I like the idea of these two feuding an making Emma the #2 heel of the Women’s division sounds like a good idea to me.
Primo & Epico are in Puerto Rico and talk about the wonderful food they have, not the fast food and frozen dinners we have. This is a really, really weak way to get heel heat in 2016.
Ambrose Asylum with guest Stephanie McMahon. She puts over Ambrose for his show and is smiling. Ambrose asks her about how this nice and happy Stephanie is not the one that he knows and after what happened at Payback, she must be filled with rage. Stephanie talks about last night being the first PPV of the “new era” and tries to kiss up to the crowd, who largely remained silent. Ambrose then shows her a picture of Reigns spearing her at WrestleMania. Stephanie said she was overzealous and was taught a valuable lesson for being in the ring when she did not belong. Ambrose then asks her about Shane returning after several years and how he is loved as the crowd again chants for Shane. Ambrose tells her it must sting to see him run RAW better than the Authority ever had as Stephanie puts over the WWE Universe loyalty for still loving Shane after all that time away. Ambrose keeps trying to goad Stephanie into dropping her facade but she quotes her father about how he said sometimes things need to change and now, she should apply that to him. She then officially cancels the Ambrose Asylum. He then takes his potted plant and leaves as Stephanie welcomes us the returning host of the Highlight Reel, Chris Jericho. Ambrose and Jericho stare each other down in the aisle before they start brawling. They end up brawling in the ring until Jericho hits the Codebreaker. Jericho has a cut on his face that is bleeding then he grabs Ambrose’s plant, Mitch, and smashes it over his head.
I really liked Ambrose interacting with Stephanie here. However, more Jericho/Ambrose is not that exciting, especially seeing how Ambrose beat him clean last night. I don’t think a feud revolving around hosting a talk show has that long of a shelf life.
United States Championship #1 Contender Battle Royal: Sin Cara, Rusev, Darren Young, Dolph Ziggler, Zack Ryder, Viktor, Damien Sandow, Stardust, Curtis Axel, Bo Dallas, Alberto Del Rio, Apollo Crews, Darren Young, Sheamus, and Baron Corbin
Kalisto is on commentary. Viktor is immediately eliminated by Titus, who then eliminates Sandow. Crews eventually eliminates Stardust with a dropkick as he tried to skin-the-cat. Young is tossed out after that then Sheamus Brogue Kicks Crews off of the apron for the elimination. Ziggler then eliminates Corbin with a dropkick but Corbin drags him out and beats him down before rolling him back inside so Rusev can toss him out then we head to break. The action returns with Kalisto putting over the legacy of the U.S. Title as Sheamus eliminates Titus. Del Rio tosses Axel then Sin Cara eliminates Dallas. Sin Cara hits a few high-flying moves on the former League of Nations guys but Del Rio ends up eliminating him. The former League of Nations and Ryder are the final four. They all point and yell at each other as Ryder is on the mat then they stomp him. Ryder hangs on the ropes as the others all attack each other. Sheamus hangs on after getting attacked by Del Rio and Rusev but Del Rio takes him off the apron with a super kick. Del Rio celebrates but walks into a roundhouse kick by Rusev. Del Rio hangs on the apron but Ryder takes him off with a dropkick as it is down to him and Rusev. The crowd chants for Ryder as he takes Rusev down. He hits the Broski Boot then tries to toss him out but Rusev reverses and eliminates Ryder as Rusev is the new #1 contender. Lana comes into the ring as Rusev is yelling at Kalisto (13:38) **1/2.
Thoughts: I thought this was pretty good for a battle royal. They continued the Corbin vs. Ziggler feud and had the former League of Nations members attack each other. Rusev winning will hopefully lead to some sort of singles push as he is just criminally underutilized. Kalisto barely had any presence at all on commentary. Ryback was not here and its been reported that he is currently in the middle of a contract dispute with the company. He was originally scheduled to be part of the match.
On Smackdown, Sami Zayn will be the guest on the Highlight Reel.
Ric Flair and Charlotte head out to the ring. Charlotte has her dad yell “wooooo” before telling us how Natalya and her uncle Bret Hart pushed her to the limit last night but regardless, she is still the champion. Charlotte talks about people on Twitter going on about a conspiracy as her dad tells her all the Harts quit. Charlotte then said she does not want her title reign to be marred with controversy then brings out referee Charles Robinson. Charlotte then yells “the queen is talking” at the crowd when they boo her as she asks Charles if Natalya gave up. He said that while she did not physically tap out, she did so mentally by yelling “stop it” as he says the decision is official as Charlotte confirms this decision was not the result of him being friend to the family. He leaves, then Natalya comes out and has words with Ric, saying that he paid off a referee to make sure his daughter remained the champ. Natalya then takes Charlotte down and kicks her outside. Ric stares her down then takes off his jacket, watch, and Hall of Fame ring but Natalya slaps him then takes Ric down and applies the Sharpshooter. Charlotte pulls her dad to safety as Natalya puts on Ric’s watch and ring.
Backstage, Charlotte and Flair are walking as Stephanie comes up to them. Stephanie said the fact Flair does not have his watch and ring are “embarrassing” before putting over Charlotte’s figure eight submission. Stephanie then makes Charlotte vs. Natalya in a Submission Match at Extreme Rules for the Women’s Title. Stephanie then said that Flair was becoming a distraction and he will not be allowed ringside. Stephanie then asked Flair she could still get a “wooooo” but he does not oblige.
The stipulation makes sense. I was not a fan of the end to last night’s match but its clear that was just used to set up this stipulation for Extreme Rules. Plus, it actually puts Charlotte on a level playing field with her dad being unable to bail her out. Speaking of Flair, his facial expressions here were excellent. Also, it appeared that the WWE wanted to punish Flair for the incident that occurred in Boston’s Logan Airport this past week as Stephanie kept bringing up how he was embarrassing and a distraction.
AJ Styles & Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson vs. Roman Reigns & The Usos
AJ and Reigns start off the match as they go back-and-forth. Gallows tags himself in and works over Reigns in the corner. Reigns fights back as the crowd boos his every move. Jimmy tags and he hits an enziguiri before tagging Jey, who gets caught coming off of the top with a big boot. Well, that moved missed by quite a bit. Jey gets dumped outside then Reigns and Jimmy come out to face off AJ and the others as we head to break. The match returns with Anderson working over Jey. Spinebuster gets two. AJ tags and works a front facelock. Gallows comes in to knock Jey down when he tried to fight back but AJ goes over to him and said he has this under control but Jey catches him with a super kick then tags Reigns, who runs wild. He tries the Superman Punch on AJ but gets caught with an enziguiri. Jimmy tags and lands a few nearfalls then the match breaks down. On the outside, Reigns gets hit by the Boot of Doom then AJ catches Jimmy with the Phenomenal Forearm for the win (11:30) **1/2. After the match, Gallows & Anderson bring a chair into the ring and hold up Reigns but AJ decides against hitting him. However, the Usos run in as Jimmy hits AJ in the back with a chair. The Usos run wild on Gallows & Anderson but AJ comes back to take out the Usos with a chair. Reigns see this and that sets him off as he hits AJ with a Superman Punch then roughs him up outside before powerbombing him through the announcers table.
Thoughts: The match itself was just slightly above average but what took place afterwards was excellent. If the goal is to make AJ look like a sympathetic babyface, then they are really succeeding. Besides that, the whole storyline regarding AJ and Reigns is just fantastic with all the parts clicking.
Final Thoughts: Good show tonight. The Reigns/AJ feud has been fantastic, they are elevating the Intercontinental Title, and attempting to restore the Tag Team Division. Rusev as the #1 contender for the U.S. Title is another positive as well. And another womens feud, like Becky and Emma, is promising.
As we saw tonight, you can see that they are trying to align certain performers with either Shane or Stephanie. For instance, Stephanie enjoyed Owens praise then screwed Ambrose out of his talk show segment, which can create conflict between her and Shane, the one who gave Ambrose his show. Owens has also told Shane, the one who kicked him out of the arena, that he has done a terrible job running the show.
The control of RAW storyline has generally sucked and is filled with plotholes but there are a lot of other positives going on in the company at the moment.