General Manager Kurt Angle made two big matches last Monday, so Greenville, South Carolina’s had plenty of time to get ready for these titanic clashes.
Extreme Rules’ Fatal 5Way is coming up this Sunday, and the competitors who will battle for the right to face idle Universal champion Brock Lesnar at July’s Great Balls of Fire pay-per-view (PPV) have been jockeying for position ever since the match was announced. On tonight’s ‘go home’ show, a few angles come to a head in a pair of main event caliber matches.
Finn Bálor’s first bout against a 5Way rival resulted in a loss, but it hasn’t broken the Irishman’s spirit. On the contrary, following a pep talk from Paul Heyman and a victory over former tag titleholder (and good friend from their New Japan Bullet Club days) Karl Anderson last week, the first ever Universal champ is ready to take on all comers.
And he better be, because he finds himself in a Triple Threat opposite Bray Wyatt & Samoa Joe. That duo has made it clear they both want Lesnar’s belt, but they’ve also shown a willingness to work together - as they did last Monday when they defeated Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins in tag action.
Speaking of the former Shield-mates, they’re on the best terms they’ve been on in years... but that’s when they don’t have their eyes on the same prize. Of course, “best terms” is relative considering Rollins once gleefully stabbed Reigns and Dean Ambrose in the back. And even facing common foes seven days ago, the Kingslayer & the Big Dog couldn’t stay on the same page long enough to win the match.
There will be no holding back on Raw, is what I’m saying.
WWE wants you to believe whoever emerges from these matches will have the upperhand in Baltimore on June 4. In reality, while there might be something to the “guy who looks strong on the ‘go home’ doesn’t win at the PPV” trope, these are probably just filler on a holiday show.
But they should be fun filler!
The title scene
The third former Hound of Justice, Intercontinental titleholder Ambrose, has an interesting stipulation for his Extreme Rules defense - he can lose the title on a disqualification. And his challenger, The Miz, proved last week when he attacked the debuting Elias Samson during Dean’s match with the newcome, he knows how to use it against the Lunatic Fringe.
One person who isn’t afraid of their match on Sunday is Women’s champ Alexa Bliss. The self-proclaimed “Goddess of WWE” is not only lighting up Bayley, her opponent in this weekend’s Kendo Stick on a Pole contest, with the martial arts weapon... she also left her mark on former ally Mickie James.
With a win over Sheamus on May 22, Matt Hardy earned the right to pick the stip for he & brother Jeff’s defense of their tag team titles. And the Brothers Extreme chose to be locked in a steel cage with the Celtic Warrior and his partner Cesaro. The Hardyz have had Shea-Saro’s number since their return to WWE, so it’ll be interesting to see how the former champs try to turn the table on the current ones.
Following a tense interview on the last 205 Live, and Cruiserweight champion Neville slapping the Rings of Saturn on his subjects - regardless of whether or not they’re loyal - it’s hard to imagine where we’re headed in the feud with Austin Aries on the way to their submission match in Baltimore. But we’re about to find out!
Other stuff to keep an eye on:
- She got her win back from Alicia Fox, but Sasha Banks is facing DAT NUMBERS GAME now that she’s put hands on Foxy’s boy toy, Noam Dar.
- After trying and failing to talk sense into his friend Apollo Crews, Kalisto beat him in a match instead. Something that didn’t please Titus O’Neil, since losses damage his brand, and his ability to earn Pesos, Euros, Pesos, Euros, food stamps, coupons...
- The Golden Age is back, and with it one more run for old school heel Goldust. Look out R-Truth!
It’s the Extreme Rules ‘go home’ show!
What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?