It’s the last stop before Extreme Rules. The night WWE takes it to the extreme, well for two or three matches anyway. Regardless, what can we expect from the final episode going into the big show on Sunday? Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s remind ourselves on what happened last week on Raw.

Previously, a six-man tag team elimination match pitting ‘The Club’ against ‘The Family’ ended in disqualification. The opposing club/family/gang/whatever you want to call them, engaged in a massive brawl that basically ended with AJ and Roman playing a game of “You have it. No you have it” with a chair. Nothing happened as AJ springboards at Roman but it was a defensive maneuver, so AJ rolls under and they stare off. I sense a lot of underlying sexual tension, I have a feeling that AJ Styles STRONGLY disagrees though.

Elsewhere on the show Dana Brooke made her main roster debut, Big Cass was in the main event amazingly, Dean Ambrose was a ‘stupid idiot’ and destroyed Jericho’s $15,000 jacket and Ric Flair acted like a caged gorilla at the thought of being escorted out of the arena. Okay, enough recap. Shall we move on to this weeks edition?

Raw kicks off with AJ Styles making his way to the ring to address the crowd. Styles says that he wants to set the record straight. Everyone thinks that Styles and his friendship with Gallows and Anderson is part of a scheme to make sure Styles becomes WWE champion. As evidence, Styles shows tweets from a bunch of randoms on the titantron for some reason that are all just saying that they like them together. Roman Reigns appears and says that he still thinks AJ is a liar. Gallows and Anderson’s music hits and while AJ is looking at the entrance way, he turns around to see Jimmy and Jey Uso standing beside Roman and gets a punch in the mouth.

One thing I want to comment on about this was the way WWE have changed their approach to Reigns’ negative crowd reaction. They’ve moved on from ignoring it to trying to explain why it’s happening. “Whether you love him or hate him, they have passionate feelings about him. What a presence he has.” WWE for whatever reason are on the mentality that any reaction is a good reaction, which is bonkers. Would you honestly believe that 18 years ago WWE would just settle for their guy not getting over the way they would have hoped? Why are WWE just content to let this continue? Is it impossible for WWE to pick a top guy that can be universally liked in this generation? Or would we boo anyone that looks like its Vince’s hand picked guy? All questions that would have long winded answers, lets move on.

On to something that makes me very happy, Sami Zayn vs Cesaro is up next. Holy cow, this is the gem. Everybody back off, let this go for a full hour and let it steal the show… Oh wait Miz and KO have already ruined it. FINE! I didn’t want to see it anyway. The four school children start fighting until the McMahon’s interrupt to restart this as a tag team match. Miz and Cesaro facing Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens!? This, much like TNA finding a new network every twelve months, can only end well for all involved.

The banter between KO and Sami is absolute top notch. Trading insults, giving each other advice and forcing tags made this match incredibly fun to watch. The highlight being when the crowd were chanting “you can’t wrestle!” at The Miz, KO yelling “Do you hear what they’re chanting at you Sami!?” The match ends as you would expect, everyone turning on their own partners with Sami pinning The Miz for the second week in a row. I can’t wait for this Fatal-4-Way on Sunday, but I have this suspicion that Miz is retaining.

Up next is the reboot literally no-one asked for, Primo and Epico are back and they’re even more Puerto Rican than before.  There must be a lot of pressure on those two as I think this is their third repackage, so if this doesn’t work I would imagine they’re done. It’s weird because no-one can deny the in ring capability of Primo and Epico, they’re both fun to watch and they debuted some really impressive and flashy new moves. But I have no idea why this gimmick is happening to us.

Last week on Raw we saw Ambrose destroy Jericho’s $15,000 jacket, the stupid idiot. On Smackdown Jericho got some revenge by outing Ambrose in a straight jacket and assaulting him. So now Ambrose is in the ring and he challenges Jericho to a match at Extreme Rules, which he accepts. However he didn’t tell him the stipulation, down lowers a steel cage but it’s not any old steel cage. On top of the steel cage are various weapons such as a strap, a fire extinguisher, a barbed wire baseball bat, a mop, a straight jacket and another potted plant (which I can only assume is the son of Mitch). It’s the first ever Asylum match.

A couple of things, first off Dean Ambrose delivered a stellar promo again and really sold the emotion and hatred he has for Jericho and how much he wants to get his hands on him, that was great. Second, I end up laughing way too hard whenever Jericho gives the gift of Jercho and tells people to drink it in. Lastly, I’ve seen a lot of flack that this match idea has gotten online but I really like it. When was the last time we debuted a new kind of stipulation match? I’m drawing a blank, so I’m going to sit back and enjoy this new concept and hopefully this becomes Ambrose’s signature match and he starts it off with a big win.

Women’s division action now as Dana Brooke makes her Raw debut against Becky Lynch. In a case of absolute worst timing imaginable, Emma has been sidelined with a back injury for an indefinite amount of time and she’ll have surgery on Wednesday. This sucks so much, Emma was gaining a tonne of momentum after finally returning to the main roster, it’s just such a shame. Emma, please get better soon, it’s been one week and I miss you too much.

On to the match itself, here’s where Emma’s injury is most noticeable. Dana Brooke is not the greatest in the ring, she’s got an incredibly strong personality and is easily dislikeable but her ring work is where it lets her down. Dana pins Becky clean, which is half right. Dana was the right choice to win seeing as it’s her Raw debut and all, but seeing as she’s now alone and against someone like Becky, it should have been a cheap win holding the ropes, using the tights, feet on the ropes or something. It’s nitpicking, but still.

This is where Raw goes balls out insane. After 5 months of teasing, Golden Truth (Goldust and R-Truth) are teaming for the first time against each of their former teammates Tyler Breeze and Fandango (known as Breezango, brutal). Before the match they air the most in depth video package I’ve seen in forever. It chronicles every emotion felt by Truth and Goldie and the heartbreak when their respective tag partners turned on them. I was laughing way too much at it and I have no idea why.

As for the match, it was very quick. Golden Truth started out working fine together but after one miscalculation, Truth kicked Goldust in the face and Tyler Breeze scored the win for his team. The team of ‘Breezango’, wow that is an awful name and I demand they change it immediately. I do have to say that Fandango and Tyler Breeze teaming together is amazing, I love it and it may be my new favourite thing. Leave me alone.

Next is probably the highlight of Raw for me, New Day are in the ring for another promo but WOW this one was fantastic. Xavier reveals a time machine (the New Day-Lorean) so they can go back and see what was so great about the bygone era. Sadly, the video link above has cut the two best parts out of the video. They initially went to 2009 where Jamaican Kofi returned for a brief moment and they alluded to Xavier’s use of internet porn. Outstanding.

The Vaudevillians end up attacking New Day from behind and laying them out with two new tag team maneuvers, one of them being a dangerous looking powerbomb/neckbreaker combo. Like I said last week, I don’t see Gotch and English leaving Extreme Rules with the tag belts just yet. But if that’s the case, that means we get more segments from these two groups and I’m so on board with that.

The latest installment of ‘Team Clubhouse’ vs ‘Team Nepotism’ is next with Gallows and Anderson facing The Uso’s once again with Styles and Reigns in their respective corners. Another solid match between the two teams with Jimmy and Jey getting the win after a splash. I really don’t think Uso’s needed the win here, I won’t go as far to say “OMG BULLET CLUB BURIED” but I don’t think it was the right decision.

After the match, Styles and Reigns finally get around to whacking each other with the chair that they kept giving to the other last week. AJ delivers the Styles Clash to Roman onto the chair and it looked sick. AJ Styles stands tall as the show goes off the air. Wait, there’s still another 45 minutes to go? Damn it!

Big Cass is facing D-Von Dudley and just as it gets started, it’s over. D-Von avoids a big boot from Cass but collected Bubba, D-Von runs into an East River Crossing from Cass and that’s all she wrote. There’s not a lot to say here, Big Cass is looking dominant in Enzo’s absence but he’s still missed. Big Cass keeps chugging along.

Another week goes by and another episode of Raw where I genuinely forget that Kalisto is United States Champion. Kalisto is facing another guy I consistently forget is still on the roster, Alberto Del Rio. The match was fine but we’ve seen these two face each other so many times before. The story here is Rusev attacking Sin Cara from behind backstage and dragging him out to ringside to distract Kalisto which works a treat. Del Rio delivers a vicious backstabber to Kalisto and gets the win. Post match, Rusev kicks Kalisto in the back of the head and bends him to a ninety degree angle in The Accolade.

A segment that effectively served it’s purpose, making Rusev look like a beast and make you feel sympathy for Kalisto. I’m thinking that the title changes hands at Extreme Rules. Nothing is gained by Kalisto winning and to be honest, his title reign has been stagnant since it began. Also, commentary noted that Sin Cara has said “no matter how much success Kalisto gets on his own, he’ll always be there as his partner.” Wow. Way to set yourself career goals Sin Cara.

In a baffling choice, the women’s championship contract signing is chosen to close out the show. Thankfully they’ve learned from last time and did not call out a dead relative. During the contract signing Charlotte and Flair discover a last minute stipulation has been added. If Ric Flair even walks down to ringside, Charlotte will forfeit the women’s championship and Natalya will be the new champion. This news does not make Ric happy and he’s losing it. He’s really losing it. He’s acting the same way I do when I’m told that the breakfast menu closed twenty minutes ago.

Ric starts berating the McMahons and calls Stephanie the worst business woman of all time and only got along with her because of who her husband was. Charlotte is yelling at her Dad “DAAAAAD! GET IT TOGETHER” which I feel like she’s said on multiple occasions in her lifetime. Stephanie slaps Ric so hard and Ric sells it like he’s been shot in the chest. Natalya then puts Charlotte in the Sharpshooter and she taps out to close the show.

 

There was a lot to like in this final episode before Extreme Rules. AJ and Roman started off with a quick but solid opening segment, The crazy Intercontinental title story continued with a tonne of fun interactions, the introduction of the first ever Asylum match, New Day delivered their best promo in months, AJ Styles finally got to give Reigns a small measure of payback and the women’s title contract signing was fun even though closing the show with it was an odd move.

I’m quite happy with this as a go home show. I would have rearranged some segments to make it flow a little better but outside of nitpicking it was a quality episode of Raw, much better than last weeks poor episode.

Final Rating: 7/10

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