AJ Styles vs. Ricochet in the main event of Raw. This is what I’m talking about.
This was so good for several reasons for me. For one – and I can’t speak for you all, only myself – but I’ve grown immeasurably weary of Corbin/Rollins and McMahon/Reigns getting the bulk of every Raw...and sometimes even SmackDown. WWE did a lot to change that for this show, and I appreciated that fact.
Secondly, we had several stories going into this match, and then an entirely different one during the match. Ricochet had a promo going in where he was asked what winning the United States Championship means to him. And in his usual bashful way, he said he didn’t even know yet. He was still processing what he’d accomplished and only knew that he cherishes it and doesn’t want it to end. He also tweeted before the show that he was sore, but still clearly willing to fight AJ Styles with no days rest.
As for Styles, he’s been growing agitated for several reasons. He’s been on the shelf, which is its own agitation, but Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows have been pissing him off. The Club’s a shell of its former self, and AJ can’t stand it. He told A&G off again on this show, and then told them off again when they tried to appear in Styles’ corner for the main event.
As for the match itself, these two weren’t just going all out. It didn’t fit the narrative. Commentary said that AJ looked slow – which makes sense, because of rust – but he was doing an excellent job of grounding Ricochet. Makes sense that the billion-year vet who’s considered the best in the world would be able to do that, right? And Ricochet did his best, but was countered every time he picked up some steam. We even got a clean finish, with AJ showing the Club how it’s done.
Hell yeah. Sold. Give me more results like this with performers like this.
I had resigned myself on this one, Cageside. I was actually reading a book through the Shane McMahon/Roman Reigns stuff. I had no interest in truly watching it.
Goddammit. I chuckled and set the book down.
Okay. So Undertaker, then. We got another Saudi Arabia show coming up or something? I don’t want to flame this unnecessarily, so I’ll refrain from being too skeptical, pointing out things like Undertaker’s age. This could be cool. It was certainly surprising, I’ll give them that.
We just have no story to go along with it at the moment. No rhyme or reason for why Undertaker would show up on a Raw to put Shane McMahon down. Is he supposed to be our guardian angel or something, saving the show from tyranny?
No clue. But I put the book down...for now. If WWE focuses more on the Undertaker/Reigns dynamic and less on McMahon, this could be really fun.
24/7 is by far still the best thing
Highlights this week? R-Truth in general. He was a fantastic interview. He explained to Miz what “crib” meant and scoffed at all the “cops” showing up to his door this week trying to get him to answer the door. As he said quite clearly, “I ain’t stupid.”
Drake Maverick appeared to ask for a 1-on-1 match, lamenting the fact that his wife hates him now and won’t consummate their marriage. R-Truth told him that fiber’s good for that sort of thing.
Titus O’Neil practically carried a ref to ringside after the match, despite one already being present in the ring.
Cedric Alexander actually kicked R-Truth’s ass for a second so all the other challengers ganged up on him instead of R-Truth, allowing him to scurry away.
Later in the show, we got a flurry of title changes. Heath Slater was champion for roughly 30 seconds before R-Truth won it back. Cedric Alexander snuck up to hit R-Truth with the Lumbar Check for his first main roster title, but EC3 assaulted him on the outside. And finally, Carmella distracted EC3 to allow R-Truth to win once again.
9-time champ, baby!
Becky Lynch and Seth Rollins vs. Lacey Evans and Baron Corbin at Extreme Rules – I’ve got to give WWE credit for this show. They knew this feud was overstaying its welcome as the biggest storyline of the show, so they got it done quickly and moved on. Makes it much easier to compliment how adorable Becky and Seth can be and Seth’s reaction when Becky shoved him for daring to try to stop her from fighting.
Let’s keep this thing short and sweet until the end, yeah?
Nikki Cross and Alexa Bliss def. Naomi and Natalya – Coming out of Stomping Grounds, it felt like Bliss was evaluating whether she should continue this Cross experiment or not. She seemed to make up her mind though, and was encouraging Cross to get meaner and more violent. It didn’t truly work, but Nikki did all the work in the tag match to earn the win so...baby steps? Baby steps!
I really like this story. I hope we get some serious progression by Extreme Rules.
Kofi Kingston wins two matches, gets attacked by Samoa Joe – Man, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn are so good at their jobs. The paper champion argument was so pathetically vile that it got a rise out of the crowd, as did Owens for trying to start a Sami chant. He turned a small segment of the crowd heel with him and got even more cheers for Kofi.
And Kofi did this all by himself. He withstood two very game challengers, but was attacked at his weakest by Joe. ...Joe’s a Raw guy, right? I wish we could get challengers from the appropriately-assigned brand, but whatever. Joe rocks, so I won’t complain.
The Usos and New Day def. The Revival, Daniel Bryan and Erick Rowan – Really, really happy that this match got booked. I really liked the booking here, too. They let Bryan run as a full babyface in his home state and we can blame the Revival for him being eliminated. It kept the hate from being placed on the good guys.
That ending was dope, too. Scott Dawson superplexed Jimmy Uso, but Jey Uso crotched Dash Wilder on the adjacent turnbuckle and used his Wilder’s back as a springboard to hit Dawson with a splash to win.
Braun Strowman def. Bobby Lashley in Tug of War – Strowman toyed with him before yanking Bobby like a rag doll. I actually liked the absurdity of the previews for this square off. Strowman was tugging an 18-wheeler and Lashley yanked so hard on a power line that his rope broke. They brawled afterwards as well.
Viking Raiders def. The Club – The story here was basically the same as last week. G&A were goofing off with No Way Jose’s conga line when AJ Styles came over to scold them. Karl was just practicing his moves for Maria, AJ!
It didn’t help too much with their match this week, either. Once again the Club had command, but goofed off and lost the match. Maybe AJ should consult the original – and unquestionably the better Club leader, hmm?
(...I’m trolling, Cageside.)
Where’s Bray? - The absence of our favorite Firefly is actually frightening. Neat!
Two good episodes in a row! They minimized the stuff we’ve seen too much of and gave others the chance to shine. There’s still stuff that isn’t...ideal, but when they put their best foot forward, this can be a really fun show.
Sound about right, Cageside?