WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (May 23, 2016) from Baltimore, Maryland, and this was all about stating the build to what looks like it could be one hell of a Money in the Bank pay-per-view (PPV) next month in Las Vegas.
Click here to get full results with the live blog. Let's get to reacting to all the night's events.
There were rumors that Seth Rollins would return to WWE as a heel because the promotion needs more rulebreakers on top to work with Roman Reigns, wild cheers for anyone opposing THE BIG DOG aside. Sure enough, Seth was tasked with taking a crowd who would give him a hero's welcome and turning them all against him within the span of a few minutes.
He did exactly that.
He did it by turning the fan's words against them, by rightfully pointing out that it's amazing how much everyone says they miss him now when they absolutely hated his stinking, rotting guts while he was WWE world heavyweight champion. He was hurt because he was carrying the company and he burned the fan mail sent by all the hypocrites who have never put in work like he put in to make his way back to WWE.
Seven long months it took just to come back to a company with Reigns, of all people, as champion. His words are laced with truth, and his promo was effective because of that.
Reigns, for his part, is treating all this like a dog protecting a yard he knows belongs to him, even if that's not technically true because, as we know, Rollins never lost that title. This is all great stuff to transition to from the outstanding story they just told with Styles, and the matches might be just as good.
Qualify, qualify, qualify
Sami Zayn def. Sheamus: A weird match where the chemistry wasn't right, but the outcome felt right and that's what matters.
Cesaro def. The Miz: Fine for what it was, and the obvious right call. This also gives Cesaro a win back without taking the Intercontinental title off Miz.
Chris Jericho def. Apollo Crews: I guess the idea was Sheamus beat up Crews before the match, making him vulnerable here and Jericho took advantage. Apollo did not look good, and considering what he's capable of it's almost a shame he won't get to work the actual ladder match. Jericho should be fine there, his inclusion is just uninteresting at this time.
Dean Ambrose def. Dolph Ziggler: A match we've seen many times featuring guys who have the same match damn near every time. Ambrose was the right call to win.
Kevin Owens def. AJ Styles: Great to see these two in the main event, and while much of the focus will undoubtedly be on the fact that Styles did two jobs in two nights, he put both guys over big and everyone looked amazing in the process. That's an absolute win. Owens seems like the right guy to win the Money in the Bank briefcase too.
I can't stop watching this segment, because I can't decide how I feel about it. I quite literally question my own understanding of human emotion trying to get through the ups and downs of this one segment.
The story is good: Charlotte, the WWE women's champion, now has Dana Brooke to do the dirty work her father, Ric Flair, had been in charge of handling. Dear old dad is now a liability and, having made sure she got everything out of him she could, the Queen Shithead decided to be the biggest shithead of all both in sending him packing and how she chose to do it.
It was SAVAGE.
It was also really awkward.
First, she struggled to deal with "what" chants, tripping up on her lines while trying to diffuse a hostile crowd so she could properly convey the emotion needed for the segment they were hoping to deliver. Once she got there, it took a turn when she was supposed to be taking real hard shots at her dad, who was crying through it all, but was choking up herself.
It even looked like she was working in fake tears to cover up the fact that she was actually struggling to hold it together herself.
Ric, because he's Ric Flair, looked genuinely heartbroken, and maybe he really was. At times in this, it felt like a shoot, like an actual disowning and it was deeply uncomfortable for that. Then Charlotte would screw up a line or deliver it so awkwardly you were brought back out and shaking your head at how wacky it all was.
As mentioned, though, the story was good. Charlotte got what she wanted out of her dad, and now that she's champion she understands why he was never around when she was a kid and she had to watch him on TV. Now he can do the same if he wants to see her.
That's powerful stuff. It just got lost time and again because the crowd had Charlotte flustered and she couldn't seem to keep it together long enough to really drive the message home. It was savage and bad but also dumb but also maybe the greatest segment ever.
All the best to all the rest
ENZO: Big Cass is incredible, and he absolutely has a bright future as a singles star, but it sure is great to see Enzo Amore back. He is cocaine in human form, and I can't get enough of him. These are two stars who deserve every chance to shine, and it looks like WWE is going to give us that.
Technical: They actually booked a technical match between Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin on this show. Corbin is a guy with some great potential but I'm not sure he fits in with how WWE likes to bring guys across in interview settings. Plus, aren't we done with this program?
Club no more: Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows turning their backs on AJ Styles was necessary for a number of reasons, and they got there how they needed to. Where Finn Balor fits in is irrelevant at this point. Anderson and Gallows will be just fine as a tag team for now and Styles is too damn good to be wasting away in six-mans.
New Day def. Social Outcasts: There was a cake. Heath Slater got it all over him. Whatever.
Final thought: Raw is a damn fine show when you mix stars with stakes.
We're starting a new tradition this week, as a random follower of the Cageside Seats Twitter account has provided their grade for the show.
From @TravisBrinkley: B