WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (June 6, 2016) from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 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) later this 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.
How to book an uncomfortable pro wrestling segment
WWE has a Money in the Bank ladder match coming up at one of its more popular B-level PPV shows, so the writers came up with an idea: Have the six stars involved each climb up a ladder and talk to each other about things for a while.
There was never a point where anyone stopped and wondered why they were hanging out at the top of their particular ladder instead of simply standing in the ring like a normal human being. That's WWE, really -- everyone is doing something super unnatural and everyone watching feels secondhand embarrassment.
Then, because this is wrestling, they get down and brawl and that leads to even more discomfort when Teddy Long makes a surprise return. He danced, flubbed his lines, and generally made clear why he's no longer in this position. Then, because you knew they weren't getting out of this without making it worse, Stephanie McMahon showed up to smack him down in the worst way possible, telling him to "get to steppin" and mocking his dance.
It was ... uncomfortable.
Maybe it was supposed to be, because Stephanie is Stephanie but this comes a week after her big promo on Charlotte, a heel champion, where she was further establishing herself as a babyface leader who wasn't going to stand for it anymore.
So, again, none of this made any sense and all of it was uncomfortable.
Later, they did a backstage bit where Teddy suggested a match, Steph ran him down again, and then she booked said match while taking credit for it.
Later still, Long tried to book a tag match and was thrown out by security. I really and truly do not understand how any of this made any sense at all. By the end, the idea, boiled down, seemed to be that an unemployed man broke into the arena and attempted to earn a job by booking the show, and Stephanie threw him out.
Bad friends, good enemies
John Cena sucks.
He doesn't really, of course, but that's the general theme they've got AJ Styles attacking in his first verbal assault against The Face That Runs The Place. It's a tired line of thinking, and maybe that's the point? After all, Styles is the bad guy and we aren't supposed to be behind him.
Unless, of course, you're on the inside enough to recognize what Styles means when he says things like "guys like you bury guys like me" while saying he's got The Club with him to avoid that. There's an argument to be made that a line like that makes no sense for those who aren't inside enough to recognize the term, but that's small potatoes.
Styles has great fire, and Cena has a remarkable ability to turn it on when he wants to. As soon as he puts some bass in his voice and drops the kid friendly act, he's enthralling. It's what has gone a long way in keeping him on top all these years.
And he's had too many great matches to count along the way.
That's part of why this works. Styles is wrong when he acts like Cena isn't good enough to share a ring with him. He absolutely is, in every way, and we get to watch it play out.
True to character, however, Cena was late helping fellow babyfaces in The New Day in the main event segment when Xavier Woods was taken out and Kofi Kingston and Big E had to go it 2-on-3 against The Club. Cena made sure to come out only after they had lost.
The more things change and all that.
All the best to all the rest
Cesaro def. Chris Jericho: Not a bad match, but they were off on their timing. If nothing else, it felt like the right guy won.
Rusev def. Jack Swagger: These two are forever fighting, even though Swagger finally got his win back at Tribute to the Troops last year. This was really just a way to get to Rusev throwing Swagger into Titus O'Neil, who was on commentary, and that leading to Titus getting a shot in alongside Swagger before Rusev bailed off. Standard stuff that didn't show much of anything enjoyable about anyone involved.
Al Del Rio def. Sami Zayn: It certainly appears as though the idea with Sami is to make him the underdog Daniel Bryan used to be. Or he just loses a lot because there isn't much belief in him. Either way, this match was fine.
Dean Ambrose def. Kevin Owens: The match was what it was, but it's what came after that baffles me so. I will never understand why it is that so many wrestlers have a need to continuously prove, year after year, that they're able to successfully climb a ladder. It always ends the same way. They go up, they're vulnerable, they're knocked down. Owens gets credit for knocking Ambrose over, looking up, and realizing he will gain literally nothing from climbing up the ladder and grabbing the briefcase. He's the favorite if only for his high ring IQ in this situation.
Protege: Charlotte gets great material and consistently fails to connect with it. Her chemistry with Dana Brooke is non-existant, and the tag team of Natalya and Becky Lynch doesn't click on television the way it seems to on social media. The crowd didn't care, and it really killed the segment. There's just nothing interesting happening here.
Back shaving: They did a bit where Tyler Breeze shaved Fandango's back. Clearly these two should have tag team titles to accessorize.
Promotion: They ran two separate video packages for Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns featuring the two telling their story and building to the match at Money in the Bank. Quite frankly, they made the right decision promoting it this way instead of having them appear on the show for the same tired creative of MIND GAMES.
Final thought: This wasn't a bad show, necessarily, it was just there.
Random Twitter grade from @MattRoth512: A+