WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (May 18, 2015) from Richmond, Virginia with the fallout show from the Payback pay-per-view (PPV) that went down this past Sunday night in Baltimore. It featured one of the very best Raw segments in history. Hyperbole? Who cares!
Click here to get full results with the live blog. Let's get to reacting to all the night's events.
KILL KILL KILL
John Cena is like a long marriage. He pisses you off constantly but at just that right time, he reminds you that he's actually pretty damn great and it's totally been worth all the bickering and petty annoyances.
The US title open challenge has been a delight and it seemed nothing would compare to Sami Zayn answering the call in his neck of the woods in Montreal to have a somewhat sloppy match that was still fantastic, despite a shoulder injury.
Then, last night happened.
Kevin Owens, the current NXT heavyweight champion, walked down to the ring when Cena asked for someone, anyone, to be his next challenger. But that's not what KO was here for. No, he was here to make a statment.
Did he ever.
Just click play on that video above. Watch it again. See him stand toe-to-toe with the biggest WWE star of the past decade and look right at home. Listen to him calmly shut Cena down when John went to his standard "I'm a veteran, don't tread on me" nonsense. Watch him be the dastardly bastard he's so good at being and cheap shot Cena before laying him out with a vicious powerbomb.
And then witness him stand in defiance and commit the ultimate act of disrespect, stomping on Cena's US title and essentially pissing on this whole US open challenge deal.
Kevin Owens wanted some, he came and got some, and you can keep your silly US title, this NXT strap suits him just fine.
My god, this was one of the best Raw segments in a number of years. What's more, it's actually going to lead to a match between the two at Elimination Chamber. This served as perfect hype for NXT Takeover: Unstoppable this Wednesday -- Cena made sure to get the plug in while putting over Owens' opponent, Zayn, in perfect fashion -- while also setting up what should be one of the most highly anticipated match-ups of the year.
Cena was great, Owens was even better, and the booking of all this was phenomenal. I still can't believe it happened.
What did the five fingers say to the face
I don't know how to feel about what happened with Lana and Rusev.
On the one hand, I can really appreciate how it felt so much like two flawed individuals whose relationship was being tested and breaking down because of it. It felt so very human. Rusev is an asshole who cared only about winning and refuses to admit he was quitting, but he looked pained by the whole thing, like he's aware of it but he's still that way. Lana, for her part, cares about him enough that she fights for it. Yes, that meant taking his name calling and continually working towards resolution.
Sometimes, even when it's bad, that's what we do in our relationships. We screw up, we fight, we work through it.
I also appreciated it because it was clear Rusev is the asshole here. Lana was trying, despite the insults hurled her way. This was good character work from the both of them.
What happened later is where I have trouble.
Lana, for seemingly no reason at all, walks out and starts kissing Dolph Ziggler. There had been zero interaction between the two prior to this. She just did it. She immediately moved on to a new guy.
Rusev, naturally, reacted with jealousy and rage, attacked Ziggler, and acted as though he would do the same to Lana. She stood her ground, slapped him hard across the face, and made clear she is her own and that's that.
Except she still left with Ziggler and she's still tied to a man. I don't quite understand why. And it absolutely hurts this story, not necessarily that they're going this direction -- people move on to new relationships, of course -- but that they skipped so many steps and suddenly Lana is just out there planting kisses on Ziggler for seemingly no reason.
As soon as they add some more back story, this could be really, really good. For now, it's just good.
Other assorted hits and bits
Dean Ambrose as number one contender: WWE went from booking Ambrose to lose every PPV match he took part in for almost a year to giving him two consecutive PPV's challening for the WWE world heavyweight title. They did so by having him request it, do a job to Bray Wyatt, threaten to murder Seth Rollins to get it, then laid him out dead by the time the show was over. It feels entirely too much like "we have to fill PPV shows, so here you go" instead of what it should be, which is an honest to goodness feud between two former stablemates turned enemies. But they already ran that, didn't they?
Paige returns: It's unforunate, at the very least, that after Naomi turned heel in a spectacular way and was given a heater in Tamina, she's done nothing but win when it didn't matter and come up short when it does. Now, it looks like she'll take a back seat to Paige vs. Nikki Bella, which isn't actually the worst thing because it's Paige vs. Nikki Bella and, what's more, Brie Bella may be out of the picture thanks to Stephanie McMahon picking on her again. Sounds like a win all around.
Tag team madness: The New Day vs. The Brass Ring Club was a disappointing rematch to the fun series of bouts they've been having over the past month or so but it was all about creating chaos to bring out the teams who will participate in the Elimination Chamber match and to that end it was fun.
Neville: He just cannot beat King Barrett, can he? But he can slide right back down the card for a program with Bo
Davis Dallas. It was fun in NXT but will that translate on the main roster when they'll get less time and have less on the line?
Stephanie: So good to have you back.
Bowlie hater: How did Ryback lose to Bray Wyatt and find himself in the Intercontinental title Elimination Chamber match? Then he lost to Sheamus in a decent enough match -- great heeling on the fake eye poke finish -- and he's just a guy who loses but still gets prime positioning. I don't get it. Maybe I'm not supposed to. Meanwhile, it seems if you want a title shot, you should lose to Wyatt. Worked out for Ryback and Ambrose.
A lot of this show was forgettable but that Kevin Owens segment was one of the best I've ever seen.
That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off in the comments section below with all your thoughts on last night's show. How did you like it, if you liked it at all?