WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (May 2, 2016) from St. Louis, Missouri, and while much of the show was a drag, they once again nailed the main event storyline as AJ Styles continues to struggle dealing with his friends in pursuit of Roman Reigns' WWE world heavyweight championship.
Click here to get full results with the live blog. Let's get to reacting to all the night's events.
Shades of grey
AJ Styles can't win for losing.
His friends show up, and he's happy. They decide they're going to make it their mission to assist him in his quest to defeat Roman Reigns to become WWE world heavyweight champion. They've failed at each turn, even when Styles kinda sorta went along with what they were doing, but they haven't stopped.
Here, they took it a step further: they forced Styles to make a decision. By holding Reigns up and handing him a chair, it forced AJ to clearly establish his position. His choice was to stay true to his original word, that he doesn't want it this way and he feels he can win without sinking that low, or, well, sink that low and to the victor go the spoils.
Even though, you know, he HAS accepted help a time or two. It's not like he's completely turning it away, though he did push back a bit during the six-man tag match.
And then they gave us an even better payoff: The Usos showed up with chairs and started laying waste, forcing Styles' hand when he retaliated in kind. Seeing this, Reigns went off the deep end -- remember, he's all about family above all. Styles, despite his righteousness, was made to pay for a perceived transgression when, in fact, he was provoked.
But is Reigns wrong, necessarily, for his response? Of course not. You could argue it, but you can just as easily argue the opposite.
It's much deeper than a good guy fighting a bad guy. They're forcing the characters to make decisions while forcing the fans to make decisions of their own on who to support based on the decisions the characters make. It's quite refreshing.
Even better? There's been a clear pattern of failure every time Styles makes the "right" decision. Every time he does what he feels is just, he's made to pay for it through physical pain and defeat. This is what creates heroes but also what creates villains.
How long is he going to keep doing the right thing when it never takes him anywhere?
Extreme Rules can't get here soon enough.
What did the five fingers say to the face
Nothing that happened here changes the fact that recreating the Montreal Screwjob was silly, and didn't really work any better than running any other cheating angle would have. The follow up was good, however, because Charlotte, though she still struggles in promos, is great at shitheading.
And she did some quality shitheading here. So did her father, that old bastard we've spent so much time despising for ALWAYS sticking around, for NEVER going away, and for CONSTANTLY getting involved. We've been begging for him to get his.
He finally did.
Natalya hit the ring, tossed Charlotte out, and then slapped Ric HARD across the face. Then, and this is even better, she took everything he left behind, including his Hall of Fame ring.
It was deeply satisfying.
I could argue they should have held off on it even longer, giving it to the woman who is going to take the title off Charlotte, but it felt too good to complain about.
All the best to all the rest
Booking meeting: They opened Raw with Stephanie and Shane McMahon basically having a meeting over how to book the card. Let's keep that backstage, please. There's literally nothing entertaining about it.
Intercontinental: They've managed to book an Intercontinental title program where the guy holding the championship is a bit player. Ask yourself this, though: What are the chances he's still that guy when all is said and done? What's more, while The Miz is a great heel when playing talk show host he's hardly the guy you can count on to build to a big match. It almost feels unfortunate that he's involved when a Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn triple threat is staring us in the face.
Goldust vs. Tyler Breeze: Bad, and we should all feel bad.
Big Cass: The eight man tag team match WWE so often falls into booking to keep things moving along in any particular story is growing tiresome, but watching Cass get a hot tag from New Day and tear ass through The Vaudevillains the The Dudley Boyz further solidified that it isn't just Enzo Amore who is a star in waiting. Both of these two are incredible talents, and Cass even held up well on the mic in place of the Smacktalker Skywalker. PUSH THIS MAN.
Becky Lynch vs. Emma: They booked Emma to go over with an eye poke. The work was mostly fine but they never had the crowd and never did anything to get them back. That's a big mark against it, even if they actually used the old thumb to the eye (which is great) to get to the finish. You can argue they don't get enough TV time to hook anyone, but a great pro wrestler can hook any crowd in any setting. Like they say, go out there and get over. Neither of these two did that here.
Agent of chaos: I guess the idea behind Dean Ambrose going hard after Stephanie McMahon was that he's an agent of chaos who likes to create mayhem and that's what led to Stephanie McMahon, back in power, taking his show from him and reintroducing Chris Jericho to continue their feud. Then, really, it was about getting to Jericho destroying Mitch, the potted plant. He did this so aggressively, with such earnest, like he was really cutting Dean deep by destroying his potted plant. Silliness. Sadly, this isn't over yet.
Battle royal: They covered all the bases here, with a return in Titus O'Neil, Baron Corbin losing again, Dolph Ziggler getting rag dolled and losing again, the former League of Nations members tearing each other apart, an underdog babyface, Zack Ryder, getting a deep run only to be thrown out by a top heel. Rusev vs. Kalisto is going to be a ton of fun.
Too much of this show was a drag, but they nailed the main event stuff and Big Cass really left a great impression. Plus, Ric Flair getting slapped is worth a thousand replays.
That's it from me. Now you go.