5/16/16 – Andrew Berg – @WrestleRosters
The Usos def. The Club
Raw opened with an argument between AJ Styles and Roman Reigns. They continued their dispute over whether Styles will use his friends in The Club to his advantage in their title match at Extreme Rules. As the discussion proceeded, Anderson and Gallows walked down the aisle. The Usos joined Reigns in the ring and a six-man brawl broke out.
Later in the night, the title contenders were in the corners of their respective teams for a very good tag team match. The Usos showed an aggression and snugness that elevated it beyond a run-of-the-mill Raw tag match. They traded near falls off of a Samoan Drop and an Anderson Spinebuster. The Usos hit tandem superkicks and an Uso Splash on Anderson to get the win, but the fight was just beginning. Styles finally went after Reigns with a chair. Reigns initially blocked the attack, only for Styles to hit him repeatedly with the chair and top off the attack with a Styles Clash.
Styles looked great in the final run-up to Extreme Rules and his No DQ match with Reigns should be outstanding. He has proven unequivocally that he is a big time player in the biggest wrestling promotion in the world. While there have been some elements of highly questionable booking in the feud, I appreciate that both sides are tweeners who can be cheered or booed based on the storyline. That distinction fits Reigns well because he gets such a heelish reaction to a nominally babyface character. As for The Club and The Usos, I like that there is now a legitimate tag team feud that does not involve the Tag Team Titles. Anderson, in particular, deserves credit because he has been exceptional in the ring since arriving in WWE.
Dean Ambrose Challenged Chris Jericho to an Asylum Match
Ambrose demanded that Jericho join him in the ring after Jericho put him in the hospital and locked him in a strait jacket. Jericho demanded an apology from Ambrose once again for breaking his $15,000 light-up jacket and vowed to pull the $15,000 “out of Ambrose’s ass.” He went on to cut one of his better promos in recent memory in saying that he has seen every monster and lunatic in WWE and outlived them all.
Ambrose responded with the best promo of his WWE career. Creepy music played in the background while a cage lowered over him with strait jackets hung above the corners. He challenged Jericho to an asylum match and walked through the reasons that Jericho would never be the same again after the match. The promo worked exceptionally well because it showed the lunatic side of Ambrose that we always hear about. It’s one thing for him to be quirky and strange, but this segment made him seem dangerous, as well.
-Natalya brought a lot of anger to her Women’s Title contract signing in the heart of Flair Country. Charlotte worked hard to finally get some heat from the adoring fans by diminishing her father. Before Charlotte signed the contract, she discovered that Shane had inserted a clause in it that Charlotte would forfeit the title if Ric Flair appeared at ringside. Flair became angry and challenged Shane to a fight, but Stephanie slapped him and security took him away. Meanwhile, Natalya took out Charlotte and made her tap out to the Sharpshooter to end the show. This feud has been executed very well and I would be more excited for it if I bought Natalya as a viable challenger. Her poor performance on the mic in this segment did not change my mind about her as a lesser challenger to Charlotte.
-Sami Zayn and Cesaro were supposed to have a singles match, but Kevin Owens and Miz immediately got into a fight at the commentary table and disrupted it. Stephanie McMahon paired Zayn with Owens and Miz with Cesaro, which led to a tempestuous fight. After a flurry of finishers, Zayn’s Helluva Kick on Miz got the win. Owens jumped his own partner after the final bell to stand tall. The four-way machinations between these wrestlers have been overdone, but I’m still excited to see their Intercontinental Title match.
-New Day broke out their New Day-lorean time machine to visit the Bygone Era from whence the Vaudevillains came. First, the refrigerator box brought Kofi Kingston back to his Jamaican gimmick, but then got them all the way back to the black-and-white era, where Booty O’s turned into Derriere Squares and all of New Day gained terrible moustaches. The Vaundevillains didn’t appreciate the mockery and jumped New Day. I’m impressed that New Day has managed to turn a feud with a team as green and uninspired as the Vaudevillains into something fairly entertaining.
-In the midst of a very good match between Kalisto and Alberto Del Rio, Rusev ambushed Sin Cara backstage on the Titantron. Kalisto mounted a rally, but Rusev dragged Sin Cara to ringside to continue the attack. Del Rio hit a back-stabber to get the win. Rusev looked vicious and dominant again. It still doesn’t make sense for Sin Cara to beat Rusev last week, but at least this week moved his reputation back in the right direction.
-Primo and Epico returned as the Shining Stars and demolished two local competitors. They looked good in their first match back and the new gimmick is certainly more sustainable than the poorly-considered Matadores personas. Their upside is probably no more than a mid-tier tag team who can occasionally approach the title scene, but with a deeper tag division, that’s an important cog.
-Dana Brooke got her second win over Becky Lynch. I didn’t mind Dana in the role of Emma’s enforcer, but on her own, I am not interested in her as a challenger to the vastly superior Becky.
-The Golden Truth finally got together to face Tyler Breeze and Fandango. Unfortunately, Truth hit Goldust with a spinning kick by accident and Breeze got the pin. It’s quite funny that the protracted Golden Truth storyline at the bottom of the card has seemingly created a worthwhile tag team in Breeze and Fandango, two previously squandered wrestlers.
-Big Cass got a quick win over D-Von Dudley with the East River Crossing. Cass has looked great without exception on the main roster. It was a good idea to keep him active while Enzo recovers from his concussion.