Previously at “Extreme Rules“…Rusev defeated Kalisto to win the Kick-Off Champ- I mean, United States Championship…Roman Reigns, Charlotte, the Miz and the New Day all retained their respective belts. Seth Rollins returned to become the #1 contender for the main title and the PPV itself was uneven, containing some greatness and garbage.
RAW (5/23/2016)– Seth Rollins is back and in full heel mode. I was initially against this, until Rollins burned the house down with an intense, vicious promo, reminding us who he was. Apollo crews was beaten up by Sheamus before his match with Jericho, but recovers so quickly that I wonder why they bothered at all. Charlotte kicked Ric Flair to the curb, which didn’t make a whole lot of sense story-wise, but put A LOT of heat on her. She came across as the ultimate bitch and perhaps now she will emerge from his shadow. Something about the breakup of the Bullet Club bugged me, as AJ Styles tried too hard to put Roman over and I thought came across as somewhat unsympathetic. Good match with Kevin Owens though and in fact, the matches (on hulu) were all pretty good. Ambrose, Zayn, Jericho, Cesaro and Owens successfully qualified for the Money in the Bank contract match. Good show, albeit not without imperfections.
RAW (5/30/2016)– The opener talking segment between Shane, Stephanie and the New Day went on way too long, but the subsequent match between New Day and Vaudevillains gave us the gem of JBL saying “They’re stomping a glory hole into him“. hehe. Titus O’Neil makes his return to face down Rusev, which tells me that WWE has given up on Kalisto for now. The show only picked up for me when Cena returned, as A.J Styles turned heel and rejoined the Bullet Club. But even that got repetitive after awhile and in fact…the show can summed up as repetitive. We’ve seen all of these matches before, so the booking is playing it too safe. I’m not even getting into the ‘Rollins/Reigns’ segment, where Rollins pretended like he was going to talk or do something for seemingly an hour. The matches themselves were fine and the mic oriented stuff was technically fine, but the overall pacing was slow to the point of being tedious.
RAW (6/6/2016)– The show opens with Jericho, del Rio, Owens, Ambrose, Cesaro and Zayn talking…on ladders…for some reason? I did like their interactions, which highlighted their contrasting personalities. Teddy Long returns and fumbles his lines, but Stephanie comes out to shoot him down…Is she a heel or not? Because it seems like Stephanie’s personality changes on a weekly basis. Speaking of inconsistent, the whole Charlotte segment sucked and I don’t get why they had Charlotte apologize to her Father, which can only minimize her heat. Also, while I’m not a huge Dana Brooke fan, she is being wasted as the ‘silent bodyguard type’. Her best attribute is her (intentionally) annoying and condescending personality, so she should be showcasing more of that. The whole segment was awful though. The matches ranged from bland (del Rio/Zayn) to good (Cesaro/Jericho) to boring because we’ve seen it too many times (Owens/Ambrose), but the Main Event (New Day Vs Bullet Club) was enjoyable. Xavier Woods was allowed to do a lot, for once, but then he gets sent to the back. As for the Styles/Cena segments, I liked their interactions, even if they’re a bit too meta for my tastes. The Reigns/Rollins video packages were very well done, but the absence of the performers was very distracting. Very uneven episode of RAW.
RAW (6/13/2016)– The Tag Team banter between Enzo/Cass, New Day, Vaudevillains and the Club was very hit-or-miss for me, as some funny material was drug out for too long. I was surprised by how adult some of this content was though. Corporate Kane is apparently back…*sigh*…I actually thought Kane handled the corporate angle admirably, but I feel like his character development has completely been derailed. The shield reunite as Ambrose hosts an ‘Ambrose Asylum’ segment with Reigns and Rollins as his guests. I liked the emphasis on their history together, both as friends and especially as enemies. I thought this was great, as Rollins is such an excellent bastard and Reigns’ intense delivery was bad-ass. The animosity felt real and Ambrose provided levity with his comedic timing. Paige defeated Charlotte, the champion, even though Paige not part of the upcoming PPV…great booking guys…’Cesaro Vs Zayn‘ was definitely the match of the night, although Cole using Jack Swagger as a Money in the Bank success story made me laugh. The guy is certainly successful, but considering the context, couldn’t they have chosen someone who is not currently a jobber? The finish which earned Zayn the victory was awesome though! Stephanie and Shane are fighting now, even though their relationship seemed almost amicable until this episode…There were some great moments and the match quality was consistently fine, so this weeks RAW was OK. But the writing and booking is so damn baffling!
MONEY IN THE BANK (2016)
IMPORTANT UPDATE– I plan on ending “MartialHorror cuts a PROMO” with this years Summerslam, which would complete the circle as this review series began with 2015’s “Summerslam“. I’ll reveal more details about this in the next few weeks.
(Kick-off Match) The Golden Truth Vs Breezango– Apparently the entirety of this program played out on Smackdown, which I have been unable to watch lately, so…huh…I will admit to having a laugh at the Breezango video package, simply because it was so openly homoerotic. The gimmick is that Fandango and Tyler Breeze were in a (single?) tanning booth and the Golden Truth (R-Truth, Goldust) turned up the temperature, burning them to a crisp. They arrive with their skin peeling and they are visibly in pain, which is amusing for a moment, but starts to become mean spirited after awhile. Truth and Goldust come across like assholes in this match, reinforced by the fact that Breezango are valiantly fighting back despite being in no condition to compete. So it was a stupid concept that lead to me rooting for the heels. I guess I’ll give props to the Creative Team for finding a way to make this bout stand out though, as the match itself was average.
(Kick-off Match) The Dudley Boyz Vs the Lucha Dragons– Was there even a feud here? The commentators say that they had only one match together back in April, so I’m presuming there wasn’t. While a little sloppy towards the ending, I thought the match was solid. The Dudleyz were effective bullies and it was inspiring seeing Kalisto and Sin Cara overcome them using their high flying acrobatics. Seriously- I enjoyed this more than a lot of the matches which would secure spots on the main card.
TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP: New Day Vs Enzo/Cass Vs Vaudevillains Vs the Club- In terms of the story, most of the focus seemed to be on the comedic banter between New Day and Enzo/Cass, which was hit or miss. It feels like it’s been awhile since the belts were defended in one of these Fatal 4-Way bouts, so I’m cool with this booking, even though the Club seemed more interested in attacking Cena than building this match. I’m sure the match was good, ignoring a very awkward miscue during the finish, but I was distracted when I learned about the untimely passing of Anton Yelchin (Chekov in the “Star Trek” reboots). Even after I was done reading about the details surrounding his death, I just couldn’t focus on what was going on inside the ring. Too sad…RIP dude…RIP…
Baron Corbin Vs Dolph Ziggler- They’re doing this shit again? AGAIN!? I wasn’t even aware that they were still feuding! I heard dueling “Let’s go Ziggler“/”Ziggler sucks!” chants and the fans occasionally cried out “boring“, so…yeah… It didn’t feel any different from their previous bouts, so sleepiness had me in a submission hold. Coffee was required to break the maneuver, but it didn’t make this match any less than dull.
Charlotte and Dana Brooke Vs Natalya and Becky Lynch– So the Women’s Championship isn’t being defended? Oi…The story surrounded Charlotte kicking Ric Flair to the curb, except she promptly says she only cut him from her professional life and is willing to spend time with him at home, because that’s a great way to ruin heat. I wasn’t even aware that this was happening, as Flair seemingly got more screen-time than Charlotte’s enemies…whom Charlotte had previously defeated…This match faced an uphill battle and it didn’t get far before collapsing. There were some embarrassing blunders where everyone’s timing was off (the ‘hot tag’ spot was glaring or the camera would just be in the best/worst place to capture a poorly executed move. The ladies seemed to be phoning it in and Dana Brooke did very little, even though I thought the point of this match was to put her over. After its finished, Natalya turns heel and…it was much more interesting than anything that proceeded it.
Sheamus Vs Apollo Crews– Another match I didn’t even know was on the card! With that said, what little of this feud remained on Hulu’s RAW was interesting enough. But seriously, where is the Intercontinental Championship? This card has too much filler for the belt to NOT make an appearance. The first half moved too slowly and I swear both men were phoning it in, but the match heated up during the second half, even if it never became hotter than lukewarm. Yet following two snoozers, we really needed something more exciting, especially if the goal is to put over Crews. The ending was very anti-climactic too.
John Cena Vs A.J Styles– Even though I’m not crazy about meta angles and didn’t care for its use here, this has been a very compelling feud. Every interaction between them has been great, with both Cena and Styles excelling in the mic department. The use of the Club added another layer of suspense, even if it arguably detracted from their roles in the Tag Team Championship scene. The match was good, but strangely…underwhelming…I’m not sure why, but I thought the psychology was wrong. Styles was too dominant, considering he spent the entirety of his WWE run so far as an underdog. I felt like it should have been more competitive and maybe more…explosive? This PPV has been very low key so far and I thought they were building up to this bout, but it ended up playing it safe. The finish was very predictable. I did like how Styles built his entire strategy around stopping Cena’s primary moves though.
MONEY IN THE BANK CONTRACT: Sami Zayn vs Alberto del Rio Vs Kevin Owens Vs Ambrose Vs Chris Jericho Vs Cesaro– I’ve enjoyed this collection of characters, even though del Rio seems to find himself in these matches quite a bit considering how often he seems to lose (right now). I liked how most of these men have feuded with each-other within recent memory, adding a bit more drama and intensity to the mix. The ladder match was about as crazy, exciting and awesome as it should’ve been. The spots were wild, the uses of the ladder were clever and everyone had their moment to stand out. I liked the length and the pacing, even if I began drifting off because of how slow the show has been as a whole. It’s sad when a very fun match suffers from its placement on the card, especially when so much of the card seems lackluster. My main criticism though is that the timing was once again off, as everyone took their sweet ass time crawling up that ladder and sometimes they could’ve just reached out and grabbed the briefcase. The commentators drawing attention to this did not help. But otherwise, it was exactly what I expected it to be.I do hope del Rio is OK after taking such a nasty fall.
UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP: Rusev Vs Titus O’Neil– Very little of this story made it to Hulu-RAW, so I can’t critique the feud or get emotionally invested in it. At least they found someone new to challenge for the belt. The match itself did nothing for me, neither being horrible or compelling, but I’m glad they’re rebuilding Rusev and his post-match taunting of Titus’s kids was a great dick move.
WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP: Roman Reigns Vs Seth Rollins– This feud should’ve been the marketing departments wet dream, as both times these men were set to clash after establishing so much history together, an injury derailed the original plans. Now they are finally going to have their much anticipated match, but they downplayed this angle in favor of focusing on Seth’s cash-in. I guess this makes sense, but the story seemed a little lightweight, as if the writers were relying on the match selling itself. The ‘Cena Vs Styles‘ feud caught my attention more, but this was interesting enough. Unfortunately, once again I had to wrestle with drowsiness. On a technical level, this was some pretty well done stuff, even if I thought the psychology was strange. Rollins spent most of the match playing the underdog, even though he’s supposed to be the dastardly heel, which made me unsure what I was supposed to be feeling. But there were still plenty of cool maneuvers and the intensity gradually escalated, even though the pacing never really became electric. It seemed very…steady, I guess? This would be fine, except the show had already bored me and this match never quite woke me up. On its own, I suspect this was a really good bout, but it was the wrong kind of match to end this slow paced show. I was shocked by the ending (cool reversal, Seth) and Ambrose cashing in the contract was a very satisfying experience. It was a nice way to end the PPV, even if the PPV itself was not nice.
OVERALL: This was one of those PPV’s where the card was just…wrong…The majority of the matches were either easy to predict, difficult to care about in the first place, had minimal stakes and/or sluggish action. There were some intriguing matchups, but they were mostly paced in such a way that only drew more attention to how boring the remainder of the show was. I’m sure Roman Reigns, John Cena, A.J Styles and Seth Rollins put on exceptional matches, but the slow burn-to-steady pacing couldn’t keep my eyes open after the other bouts nearly put to me sleep. The only time I really enjoyed myself was when the Money in the Bank Contract was being battled over, although once again, I was in the wrong frame of mind when witnessing the Tag Team Championship bout.