Extreme Rules is in the history books, so it’s time to pick ourselves up, get those thumb tacks out of our elbow and back and start to climb the ladder because Money in the Bank is less than four weeks away. The post WrestleMania filler pay per views are done and dusted and it’s time to get into the summer programs. The summer season in WWE always kicks off with Money in the Bank. So, who is next in line for the crown?

Last night at Extreme Rules we saw The Club dominate The Usos, Rusev reclaim the US Championship, The Miz escape with his Intercontinental Title in what was the best main roster match of 2016 so far, Dana Brooke help Charlotte retain her title, Chris Jericho land in thumb tacks for no good reason, Roman Reigns defeat AJ Styles in a very physical match and Seth Rollins return from injury attacking Reigns in the process. Quite the newsworthy pay per view. What does Raw have in store for us tonight?

The returning Seth Rollins opens the show to a thunderous ovation and what unfolded next was marvelous. More marvelous than Marc Mero in fact. Seth started by soaking in the praise from the crowd and it was the classic bait and switch. Rollins says that his knee buckled under the pressure of carrying the company on his back and that he doesn’t need anyone other than himself. Going as far to say that he took all those get well cards sent to him while in the hospital (that he didn’t read) and he threw them in the trash and set them on fire. I really hope that he didn’t do that in the actual hospital itself.

Interruptions from Roman Reigns and Shane McMahon follows and Shane makes the main event for Money in the Bank official. Roman Reigns defends the WWE Championship against Seth Rollins. It’ll be the first time they’ve ever faced off one on one with the title on the line. But it’s only Money in the Bank, so ain’t no way this match is ending clean.

WWE are wasting no time in getting ready for the annual ladder match. We’ve got five Money in the Bank qualifying matches tonight. The first of them being everyone’s favourite ray of sunshine Sami Zayn against Rocksteady from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It’s a solid match, nothing to write home about though. Sami connects with a surprise Helluva Kick and pins Sheamus. Sami Zayn is the first person to qualify for the Money in the Bank Ladder Match. Sheamus is furious. Night is off to a good start.

You know how I said that Sheamus was furious? Yeah, he’s still mad even after the commercial break. Renee Young is interviewing Apollo Crews who has the personality of ply wood. As soon as Crews mentions ‘The New Era’, Sheamus blasts Crews from behind. Which is what we as viewers want to do every time WWE mentions ‘The New Era’.

Let me explain something to you. If any of you New Era attempt to rise up, I will be there to knock you down!”

Sheamus there, channeling his inner John Cena circa 2010.

The New Day arrive on the scene and there’s a cake with happy birthday written on it in the ring waiting for them. I’m not going to lie guys, that cake looks amazing. I could really go for some cake right now. New Day have a cake out there because it’s Raw episode 1200 tonight. They clearly don’t understand how birthdays work, but that’s beside the point. Big E. threatens children, JBL and Byron Saxton that he might throw the cake on them. But before he can, The Social Outcasts (who I’m just discovering that they are indeed still a thing) attack them from behind. Social Outcasts are facing New Day next.

Quick match once we return from commercials, New Day pick up the win. Following the victory The New Day clothesline Heath Slater with the cake. That cake still looks amazing, can someone please bring me cake? I’m very hungry. Fun little segment, no clear next challengers for New Day though.

Our second of five Money in the Bank qualifiers is next as The Miz faces a man who could swing me into the sun should he so please, Cesaro. The Miz, despite retaining his title at Extreme Rules, actually tapped out to Cesaro but the referee was distracted so it makes sense that these two will go one on one tonight. Another solid contest between the two as it’s really hard for Cesaro to put on a bad match. Cesaro gets the win off the Neutralizer and the Swiss Superman is the second to qualify for Money in the Bank.

Highlight of the match though?

Cesaro Talk to the Hand.gif

Cesaro, stop being perfect.

Back to Renee Young and she has Seth Rollins as her guest who halfway through the interview spots someone off camera that he’s very happy to see, Stephanie McMahon. Seth tries to hug her but she pushes him away. Steph lets Rollins know that things have changed around here since he’s been gone and that now their business relationship has changed. She shakes his hand and walks away. They shared the same chemistry as if two people who previously had an affair years ago bumped into each other in the same aisle of a supermarket.

It’s our third Money in the Bank qualifier now as Chris Jericho faces the upstart Apollo Crews. Chris Jericho is really feeling the effects of going through those thumb tacks last night as his back is bandaged up. But Crews just got viciously attacked by Sheamus backstage, surely he’s not feeling 100%… Oh wait, he’s walking and jumping around the stage like nothing happened. Great work selling that assault, Apollo. Jericho landed a codebreaker and got the win over Crews.

The match had a clunky ending when Jericho went for a Lionsault but landed on Apollo wrong. As you can see below.

Lionsault.gif

I think what they were going for was Apollo to nip-up while Jericho is in mid air as a cool way to dodge the move. But Apollo didn’t get all the way up and that was the result. Would have been a cool looking spot, it’s a shame they couldn’t pull it off.

Next is the feud that just keeps happening to us and we can’t escape it. Despite better judgment, Baron Corbin is being interviewed. Seriously who keeps giving this guy a microphone? It’s consistently bad. Dolph Ziggler appears and basically says that Corbin can’t wrestle and that he can’t beat him in a technical wrestling match. It looks like we’re getting Corbin and Ziggler for (hopefully) the final time next week. May this rivalry die and we can all live a little happier.

Speaking of things that make me happy, ENZO AMORE IS BACK! Enzo returns after that horrific concussion he suffered at Payback and he gets an incredible ovation. He’s going ballistic in the ring like a wind up toy on acid. Big Cass makes quick work against Bubba Ray Dudley tonight, beating him with a boot to the face and an elbow. It’s not fancy, but it’s effective.

After Charlotte defeated Natalya at Extreme Rules thanks to the help of her new found friend Dana Brooke, it’s revealed that Charlotte will talk about the ‘State of the Women’s Championship’. In actuality, it was the platform for Charlotte to berate her father. Charlotte says that Ric was never there for her growing up and it’s time for him to leave her ring. For about 5 straight minutes, Charlotte talks down her father and it’s absolutely incredible.

Props to Ric for turning on the waterworks on cue and Charlotte for being so hate-able. Charlotte said some incredibly cruel lines and finished off with “You know what you can just watch me on TV like I did the last 30 years to you.” People have said recently there are no true heels in WWE anymore. WRONG. Charlotte is the best heel going today.

Once again it’s time for a Money in the Bank qualifying match as Dean Ambrose faces Dolph Ziggler. Dolph is out there to steal the show and Dean is there to “just do stuff” as JBL would so eloquently say. As you would expect from these two, they put on a perfectly fine match. A lot of tonight is simply putting on not terrible performances it seems, so that’s welcome! Ambrose hits Dirty Deeds on Ziggler and gets the pin to move on to Money in the Bank. Dolph sure told Corbin didn’t he? This years match is looking mighty strong, lets hope they don’t do something stupid like have Baron Corbin qualify. Oh crap, they’re going to do that aren’t they?

AJ Styles cuts a promo about losing to Roman Reigns and blaming it on The Usos and The Club’s involvement. Gallows and Anderson take exception to that and say that AJ is the one who’s changed. AJ says that professionally they need to separate but no-one can separate them from being brothers. Anderson says they’re not brothers or friends anymore. Anderson and Gallows leave the ring as AJ gets set for his main event match.

LAME! There’s something annoying about WWE’s story telling at the moment and it’s the way they telegraph changes in a story. As opposed to letting them be friends and then having one turn on the other and explain afterwards, they’ve done this backwards. WWE have taken most of the suspense out of this AJ Styles/The Club story which just sucks.

Main event time and it’s the last Money in the Bank qualifier of the night as AJ Styles takes on Kevin Owens. As expected this match was supremely entertaining and even had a cool spot where Styles gets Powerbombed on to the steel steps. More back and forth and Styles succumbs to a Pop-Up Powerbomb and KO moves on to Money in the Bank to close the show.

This weeks edition of Raw was very direct, it was straight to the point. We’re one week into a four week build and we’ve already got our main event booked, five out of the seven men decided for Money in the Bank, Charlotte has turned on her father and The Club have broken up with AJ. I’d call that a productive week wouldn’t you?

Overall Raw was fine and it did what it needed to do. It’s almost like you could call this Raw “The Raw that Had to Happen”. Now we have this outline of a pay per view in mind, it’s time to colour it in. We’ve John Cena returning next week, plus we’ve got Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton coming back imminently. How will Cena and Orton factor into this ‘New Era’ of WWE? That’s probably the main question people have as we go into the summer.

Solid matches and storyline development throughout the show, I’d call this a win.

Final Rating: 7/10

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