By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Kevin Owens and Cesaro Interrupted Stephanie McMahon and Shane McMahon
Are we in for three months of Stephanie and Shane kicking off the show together before Triple H returns? Ugh, I hope not. Like I said last week, they have good chemistry, but the sibling rivalry can't be overdone to where fans are sick of seeing them, and they might have already pushed past that point at Payback. Thankfully, Owens and Cesaro came out and spiced up the segment a bit, and Owens can always be counted on to turn anything he's involved in into gold. They set up the subsequent Owens vs. Cesaro match nicely, but did we not see something similar three weeks ago?
Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens in a No. 1 Contender's Match For the Intercontinental Championship Ended in a No Contest
As soon as The Miz checked in on commentary, it was obvious he would interfere, but predictability aside, Cesaro and Owens work extremely well together and this was another enjoyable encounter from them. Again, you could see the non-finish coming from a mile away, but it made sense given they're seemingly building toward a Fatal 4-Way for the Intercontinental Championship at Extreme Rules. I'm getting excited at just the thought of Cesaro and Sami Zayn mixing it up again following their stellar series of matches in NXT from 2013.
Tyler Breeze def. Goldust
It was bad enough we were forced to sit through an insanely stupid backstage segment involving R-Truth and Goldust, but then they held a meaningless match between Goldust and Breeze. This storyline has been dragging on and on for months and I'm not sure there's an end game possible that will make all of this garbage worth it. The crowd's silence spoke volumes. If nothing else, Breeze got television time and a rare win out of this, so it wasn't a complete waste of time.
WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day and Colin Cassady def. The Vaudevillians and The Dudley Boyz
The Vaudevillians' mic work in recent weeks has actually impressed me, but their promo before this bout was easily their best to date. They made subtle jabs at the injured Enzo Amore without going overboard, and they elicited effective heat as a result. I'm glad Big Cass is still being utilized despite Enzo recovering from injury, though this was only one match and he could be off TV by next week. Hopefully Enzo isn't out for long. This was a pretty standard eight-man tag team match and there wasn't anything out of the ordinary about it, but it was well-wrestled and it successfully furthered each of the respective feuds.
Emma def. Becky Lynch
It was about damn time these two were able to progress their program on TV, if you can really call it a program at all. They have had some interaction backstage on SmackDown, on WWE's YouTube channel, and on Twitter, but never on Raw before now. I don't why that is, but hey, better late than never, and I'm glad their acknowledged their past outside of WWE to give the match more meaning so it wasn't random. The match was good for the time it was given, but it's a shame the crowd wasn't too engaged in the action. Emma resorting to dirty tactics to beat Becky gives me hope we'll be seeing more of them against each other in the near future.
Dean Ambrose Hosted 'The Ambrose Asylum' with Stephanie McMahon
I wasn't too thrilled at the idea of Stephanie appearing in the ring for a second time in the show because it quickly became apparent it was all about teasing tension between her and Shane. Like I said, the two of them running Raw together will be bearable as long as they're not overexposed. I was happy the focus of this segment switched from Stephanie to Ambrose and Chris Jericho going at it. Jericho hitting Ambrose over the head with Mitch the plant was a cool visual. I assumed Jericho's tweet from Monday night was a swerve and he would be ultimately sticking around, so I was ecstatic to see that be the case. Their rematch at Extreme Rules should be fun.
Rusev Won a No. 1 Contender's Battle Royal For the United States Championship
This just might have been the world's longest Battle Royal (Royal Rumbles not included). Seriously, for a match featuring nothing but nobodies, there was no need for this to be as long as it was. The worst part was that Apollo Crews and Baron Corbin were tossed out in anticlimactic fashion early on. Yes, Corbin exacted revenge on Dolph Ziggler by laying him out, but he's basically on the same level as everyone else. WWE had a real chance to make him a monster heel, but they dropped the ball. At the very least, I liked the final few minutes with Zack Ryder coming close to scoring the upset victory before Rusev eliminated him. Rusev hasn't had anything going for him in over a year, but this better be WWE's way of trying to make him a serious threat again.
Natalya Interrupted WWE Women's Champion Charlotte and Ric Flair
The excuse that the Flair family goes way back with Charles Robinson was lame because he's likely refereed matches of Charlotte's before and has never showed bias toward her in the past. I love Little Naitch, but he isn't the greatest actor. Thankfully, Natalya kept her part short and sweet, but Ric going down so easily to her Sharpshooter was embarrassing. Has his old age finally caught up with him?
AJ Styles, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson def. WWE World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns and The Usos
Why was this match announced via a backstage segment and not in a more meaningful manner? That was a bit of a letdown, but I was glad the commentators made a big deal about how this marked the first time Styles, Gallows and Anderson have teamed up since last year. All six Superstars had great chemistry together and put together a very entertaining main event match. The post-match chaos and Reigns planting Styles through the commentary table was well done, though there's no denying those boos for "The Guy" were deafening.
This wasn't the hot post-pay-per-view edition of Raw I was hoping for, but that isn't to say it was bad, either. It was a relatively standard show and several matches were made official for the upcoming Extreme Rules event, but nothing felt must-see until the main event. More importantly, the three hours didn't drag as badly as they usually do, so I appreciated that about the episode as well. A middle-of-the-road show on the whole and I look forward to what the weeks leading up to the Extreme Rules bring.
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