By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The Raw Exposé. Tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw emanated from the Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, South Carolina. This is the go-home show for Extreme Rules which happens to fall on Memorial Day this year. This is a double whammy for WWE because holiday shows traditionally pull low ratings. The company was smart enough to announce a Triple Threat Match featuring Finn Bálor, Samoa Joe, and Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins a week in advance. Did the double main event save the show from falling into the abyss? The answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s episode of Raw in no particular order.
· The opening segment of Raw was pretty blah, but the latest edition of Miz TV set up an impromptu Six Man Tag Team match featuring The Miz, Cesaro and Sheamus vs. Dean Ambrose and The Hardy Boyz which took place after the commercial break.
· Dean Ambrose and The Hardy Boyz defeated The Miz, Sheamus, and Cesaro when Jeff Hardy pinned Miz with a Swanton Bomb. The match was solid as Miz isolated Ambrose from his team midway through the match. Jeff eventually made the hot tag and cleaned house.
· The ending featured a parade of finishes when Jeff nailed Sheamus with a Twist of Fate only for Cesaro to counter with a European Uppercut. Ambrose dropped The Swiss Superman with Dirty Deeds before taking out The Celtic Warrior with a tope on the outside. This allowed Matt to hit the Twist of Fate on Miz which set up the finish.
· The babyfaces gained momentum heading into Extreme Rules while the heels have to come with a new strategy to conquer their foes come Sunday.
· Someone has dirt on Kurt Angle and Corey Graves is acting as his crisis manager to keep the so-called “truth” at bay. What an interesting turn of events…
· Elias Samson defeated Zac Evans with a Swinging Neckbreaker. The match was short and inoffensive for the most part.
· The Triple Threat Match featuring Finn Bálor, Samoa Joe, and Bray Wyatt was very good as Joe squeaked out the win in nefarious fashion. The match started off slow, but things picked up after the commercial break. Bálor overcame a 2-on-1 beat down and made a gutsy babyface comeback when he ran wild on Joe and Wyatt. He nailed Joe with a running knee and laid out Wyatt with a dropkick into the barricade. Joe suffered a similar fate as the fans chanted “This Is Awesome.”
· During the closing moments of the match, Wyatt laid out Joe with Sister Abigail which allowed Bálor to capitalize by hitting Wyatt with a Slingblade followed by a running dropkick in the corner. He capped things off with the Coup De Grace, but Samoa Joe broke up the pin and tossed Bálor head first into the second turnbuckle which allowed him to pick up the win over Wyatt.
· All three men worked hard and put on a very good match for the Greensboro crowd. Bálor didn’t get pinned, but Wyatt was made to look like a chump once again after talking a big game prior to the Triple Threat bout. Somebody had to lose and I guess the Eater of Worlds was the odd man out. Does this telegraph a win for him come Sunday? We shall find out soon enough.
· Rich Swann defeated Noam Dar with the Phoenix Splash in a quick match. Sasha Banks provided the assist when she took out Alicia Fox at ringside. I figured Banks would win the battle because she was wearing tennis shoes while Fox wore high heel boots which prevented her from getting too physical. Friendly tip: Wear appropriate shoes when it comes to kicking ass. This is also known as the Trish Stratus Rule after the Hall of Famer made a surprise appearance at the Elimination Chamber PPV in 2011 and had a clumsy brawl with Laycool while wearing high heel boots.
***Jump the video ahead to 6:13 in order to see the Shoe Faux Pas***
· This concludes the fashion portion of The Raw Exposé. We now return to regularly scheduled blogging.
· Swann vs. Dar was a nice way to promote the Mixed Tag Team match featuring Swann and Banks vs. Dar and Fox at Extreme Rules on Sunday. My crystal ball was right on the money. Yay me!
· Big Cass was a bit defensive as he proclaimed his innocence to Corey Graves about not attacking Enzo Amore backstage last week. Hmm…
· Titus O’Neil picked up the win over Kalisto when he pinned him with a roll-up while grabbing a handful of tights. The match was pretty nondescript for the most part.
· Alexa Bliss tried her best, but her dynamic personality and mic skills couldn’t save Bayley: This Is Your Life. The segment died a thousand deaths times as the fans booed and chanted “Delete, Delete, Delete” throughout. The script was dreadful and the acting from Mrs. Flapper, Tracy, and Phil made things even worse. It was tough to watch and I felt bad for Bliss who tried to turn chicken shit into chicken salad.
· Bayley came out and got the jump on Bliss, but the Raw Women’s Champion turned the tables by hitting her in the back with a Kendo Stick. Bayley sold the shot beautifully which plays into their Kendo Stick on a Pole match at Extreme Rules. WWE is playing it smart by having Bayley get her revenge at the PPV instead of giving it away on free television. That’s the only saving grace from this horror of a segment.
· Enzo Amore was assaulted in another backstage attack. Big Cass blamed The Revival, but Kurt Angle shot down that theory because he told them to leave the building. Cass’ defensiveness makes him the prime suspect in my estimation.
· Austin Aries and Jack Gallagher defeated TJP and Neville when Aries made Neville tap out to The Last Chancery after the Cruiserweight Champion failed to hit the Red Arrow which led to the submission finish. The match was decent, but it was slotted in the 10:00 P.M. Lull Period of Death. Gallagher’s prolonged sell job didn’t help matters either, but it did lead up to an exciting finish once Aries made the hot tag.
· Roman Reigns defeated Seth Rollins with a Spear in an excellent main event match. Reigns and Rollins know each other very well and their in-ring chemistry was on full display as they worked their asses off to put on a show for the fans.
· The action was hard-hitting and physical throughout. Reigns targeted Rollins’ ribs when he hit the Drive By early on. Rollins did a nice job selling the injury as he tried to counter Reigns’ smash mouth offense. There were several great spots in the match including Reigns nailing Rollins with a Superman Punch in midair and Rollins dropping Reigns with a rare Turnbuckle Powerbomb only for Reigns to counter with another Superman Punch. That sequence popped the crowd as the drama ramped up down the stretch.
· Reigns was about to hit Rollins with another Drive By, but Rollins rammed Reigns into the steel steps instead.
· Rollins pulled off a beauty Frog Splash onto Reigns for a near fall. He went back to the top rope and tried to finish him off with the Phoenix Splash, but Reigns rolled out of the air which allowed Rollins to roll out of the move midflight.
· Reigns went for the Spear, but Rollins cut him off with a knee to the face. Reigns countered with a stiff right hand only for Rollins to respond with an Enzuigiri. Rollins went for his jumping high knee finisher when Reigns nailed him with a Spear for the win.
· Raw went off the air with Reigns posing on the top turnbuckle while Rollins was licking his wounds in the ring.
· Reigns vs. Rollins was one of the better television matches of the year. This matchup still has legs if WWE doesn’t run it into the ground by booking them in a series of matches without any sense of purpose. Tonight bucked that trend in the best possible way and I am looking forward to the Fatal 5-Way Extreme Rules match on Sunday because it promises to be special if it’s booked properly.
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of Raw was decent. It’s very apparent that WWE tried to stretch time by having a super long opening segment that took up much of the first hour. With the roster not at full strength due to several wrestlers being on the shelf, killing time by any means necessary is the way to go these days.
· The first couple of hours zipped by until the disastrous Alexa Bliss-Bayley segment that kicked off the third hour. The Cruiserweight Tag Team match that followed didn’t help matters, but the main event saved the show from falling off a cliff.
· The Triple Threat Match featuring Finn Bálor, Samoa Joe, and Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins carried the show from a wrestling standpoint. Both bouts placed extra shine on the Fatal 5-Way Extreme Rules Match in a strong way. This could be a Match of the Year Contender when it’s all said and done. The talent is good enough to pull it off, but the execution is key. We shall see how it all plays out soon enough.
· The rest of the Extreme Rules card looks solid as each match had a final hard sell heading into the PPV. Positioning and timing will tell the true story, but this event has the makings of being a very good show if everything falls into place. The last two brand exclusive PPVs have been disappointing. Let’s hope WWE can make reverse that trend come Sunday. Fingers crossed!
On that note, this wraps up another edition of The Raw Exposé. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back tomorrow night with a brand new installment of The SmackDown Files. See you later, boys and girls!