WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (May 16, 2016) from Greensboro, North Carolina, and they once again hit a home run with the main event program featuring AJ Styles and his continued pursuit of Roman Reigns' WWE world heavyweight championship. The rest of the show was there.
Click here to get full results with the live blog. Let's get to reacting to all the night's events.
He did it.
After weeks of AJ Styles having his moral compass tested time and time again, of seeing opportunity to give himself an upper hand in a battle against an opponent who has proven to be superior, we found the line he's willing to cross.
Circumstance played a big part in his decision, which is actually a mark in the favor of Stephanie and Shane McMahon (puke). Had Styles and Roman Reigns not been booked in an Extreme Rules match, where anything goes and the victor will be determined by extreme violence, would he have made the same decision?
Now, just days away from the match, we're left to grapple with what his making the decision represents. No longer are we looking at an AJ Styles at war with himself. The timing couldn't be better.
He's shown what he's willing to do. What's more, he's shown a willingness to do it absent the relative influence of his friends, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows. Reigns is superior physically, sure, but the Extreme Rules stipulation is the great equalizer.
Sunday can't come soon enough.
Look, this Chris Jericho vs. Dean Ambrose feud is ridiculous and dumb, and WWE pushed that to the max last night by booking the two in the first ever ASYLUM MATCH, which is just as silly and stupid as it sounds.
I couldn't support it any more.
The reality is these two are having a joke feud that you can find some deeper meaning to that isn't there or you can just have fun with it. Really, look back on what has happened here: Jericho broke Ambrose's potted plant and Ambrose destroyed Jericho's expensive jacket.
If you want to find some deeper meaning, you could argue this is about consumerism, a play on the fact that the things we own end up owning us. Ambrose's life was such that all he had was that potted plant and Jericho destroying it is like taking his entire world away from him. On the other side, Ambrose exposed vanity through destruction of material possession.
Now they're going to fight to the death over it.
So you can reach and find that or just laugh at the fact that this is what it's come to.
STEPHANIE MCMAHON SLAPPED THE TASTE OUT OF RIC FLAIR'S MOUTH, OH WHAT A GLORIOUS DAY.
But really, are we now building to a Stephanie vs. Charlotte match? I think I'm okay with that in a way I never would have imagined I'm okay with that.
All the best to all the rest
Intercontinental stuff: There are only so many stories they can tell when they have to squeeze four different guys into one or two segments while also making sure Shane and Stephanie McMahon get their chunk of screen time. "Singles match that becomes tag team match after brawling from guys sitting in on commentary" is standard fare. Where it's worth the time is Kevin Owens screaming everything at everyone while tagging with mortal enemy Sami Zayn. They even won the match, and Owens still kicked him in the head.
The Shining Stars debut: I'm going to imagine, for my own entertainment, that Puerto Rico was a metaphorical place and the ring represents that to these guys and that's why they have to beat everyone who intrudes in their beautiful space. You know what, I can't. This is monumentally dumb.
Dana Brooke def. Becky Lynch: Dana's character work is fantastic, even if the match itself was a bit sloppy and poorly put together. Expect the roll up at this point, but at least they're trying with a wrestler we've seen can grow into a great TV role. Emma's injury gives her a chance to shine. You could call this a lukewarm start, but there's obvious potential.
Golden Truth: Don't be surprised when WWE devotes an entire segment of its programming on Monday night to paying off a storyline where Goldust and R-Truth, those crazy kids, finally got together to form Golden Truth. Allow yourself to get caught up in the romance of it all. They love each other. They really love each other. They just, you know, aren't a very good team and can't win matches together and maybe don't actually want to be together at all. It's like a real relationship!
Bygone Era: New Day showed up with a time machine, Big E made a masturbation joke, and Kofi Kingston really wanted to stay in 2009 because it was his "best year." None of this got over, not with the live crowd, and it may have been one of the worst New Day segments in history. Your mileage may vary. It was all a joke on The Vaudevillains, who showed up and beat them down. I'll leave room for those who enjoyed it, but this wasn't my bag.
Big Cass def. D-Von Dudley: There is no better way to get heat on a heel than have him interrupt Cass' catchphrase. I wanted both of their heads. That's what made it so rewarding when not only did Cass take both of their heads, he did the catchphrase while they were selling the beating. This was perfect.
Crush: I think Rusev broke Kalisto in half, which was the only acceptable way to end a segment that ran too long with Alberto Del Rio scoring a win no one cared about while Sin Cara got beat up backstage while watching TV. This is essentially what we just watched with Kalisto and Ryback but Rusev can do so much more.
The good stuff on this show was very good, but the rest was just there.