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The John Report: The WWE Raw Deal 05/23/16

Posted By: John Canton on May 24, 2016

The John Report: The WWE Raw Deal 05/23/16

It’s the first Raw after WWE Extreme Rules as we head on the road to Money in the Bank. Before we get to Raw, here’s the link to my detailed review of Extreme Rules, which had a great WWE Title match and the IC Title match that I thought was the highlight of the show. I didn’t see Raw live because I was watching my Toronto Raptors tie up the NBA Eastern Conference Finals with the heel (in my eyes) Cleveland Cavaliers. What a fun game that was. I’m going into Raw in a good mood.

I also want to mention that this week is seven years since I started writing this Raw Deal column. I wrote for about a decade before that on and off as well, but in the past seven years it’s been a full time thing for me. The first Raw Deal was on May 25, 2009 with a main event tag match (Lakers vs. Nuggets) that led to Ken Kennedy getting fired the next day, so it was historic for that reason! I’m happy with how things have gone and am optimistic about the growth in the future. Let’s just say I have some ideas. Thanks to everybody that has read this review column whether it’s been for one week, one month or seven years. I will also add that when Raw was two hours it was more fun for me because writing 4,000 words is easier than 6,000 words that’s for sure! I appreciate the support so much. Celebrate by buying a Raw Deal shirt! I’m a shill, but you already knew that. Yes, I’m stealing promos from five years ago. Let’s get to Raw.

Live from Baltimore, MD this is the Raw Deal for episode #1200. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Thanks Melo Man for the banner above (the graphic makes sense if you heard Seth's promo) and for most of my banners in the last seven years.

The opening showed brief highlights of Roman Reigns winning at Extreme Rules and then getting attacked by Seth Rollins, who made his surprising return with a Pedigree on Reigns.

The Raw intro song played. If this is a “new era” shouldn’t they change the song? It’s been four years with this song.

Seth Rollins entered first to a big ovation. The crowd was really happy to see him walk out there with a black suit. No more blonde streaks in the hair – it’s all black now. A sign in the crowd: “Finally Rollens is back.” Yes, they spelled it wrong.

The crowd clapped for Rollins for several minutes as the announce team of Michael Cole, John Layfield and Byron Saxton welcomed us to the show. Hey look there’s a “John Canton is God” sign. I’ll post a pic of it at the end.

There was a loud “Welcome Back” chant for Rollins. He said he was happy to be back after being gone for 200 days. Rollins spoke about how for seven months he has waited to come back to take back the title that he never lost and then they showed a pic of his Pedigree on Reigns. Crowd chanted “Thank You Rollins” at him.

Rollins asked if the crowd missed him. They cheered and even did a “yes” chant. Rollins talked about how when he hit Reigns with a chair to end The Shield, people booed him. Then when he won the WWE Title, people called him the weakest champion of all time and they were begging for somebody to beat him for the title even though nobody ever could. Rollins ranted about how people hated every second of hard work that went into that title reign. Rollins said that something profound happened when his knee buckled after carrying the weight of the company on his back for so long. Good line! He mentioned getting tweets of supports as well as flowers and so much fan mail. He said he didn’t open a letter – he put it in a garbage can and lit it on fire. Now the crowd is booing him a bit more.

Rollins: “I don’t need any of you. I never did.” He said he didn’t need any help to win the WWE Title and defend it every night. Rollins said that there’s only one person on the Rollins bandwagon and that’s him. More boos from the crowd. Rollins spoke about how he did more hard work in seven months than any of us have done in our collective lives. Rollins didn’t care if people cheered him or booed him because he’s back for the title he never lost. Rollins: “I and I alone will take back my WWE World Heavyweight Championship.”

The WWE Champion Roman Reigns made his entrance. Mixed reaction like usual for Reigns, who was carrying the WWE Title to the ring. He had a bit of a limp on his walk. JBL put over the match on Sunday by saying it was a classic. It was very good, no doubt.

When Reigns went into the ring, Rollins left the ring. They were jawing to eachother perhaps about their similar hairstyles.

Shane McMahon made his entrance to a good ovation. Rollins went back into the ring now that Shane was in there.

Shane mentioned when Rollins turned on The Shield and also left WrestleMania 31 with the WWE Title after cashing in during the Reigns/Brock Lesnar match. Shane talked about how this is a match that has WrestleMania main event written all over, but they’re not going to wait. Shane announced the Money in the Bank main event: Reigns vs. Rollins for the WWE Title. Shane’s music played to end it. Rollins was happy about it while Reigns stared stoically. Both guys shook Shane’s hand. Rollins left the ring while Reigns held up the WWE Title.

Analysis: Great return promo from Rollins. It would have been easy to book him as a face upon his return since he was missed while he was out, but it looks like he'll be a heel for now. I'm okay with it because the roster is so face heavy anyway. I think Seth will be a face pretty soon anyway because I feel like they're going to bring back Triple H as a heel against Rollins fairly soon, so that's going to turn him face probably by SummerSlam. Of course when you’re against Reigns it’s hard to call somebody else the heel when Reigns gets booed more. I think their MITB match should be outstanding although I’m not expecting a title change. It may not be their only major match too. I’m just glad they announced the MITB main event already so we know what they are building to.

They announced Money in the Bank qualifying matches still to come on Raw: Cesaro vs. Miz, Ambrose vs. Ziggler, Crews vs. Jericho and Styles vs. Owens. Zayn vs. Sheamus up next.

(Commercial)

Sheamus was interviewed by Renee Young. Sheamus laughed about Sami Zayn skipping to the ring with a stupid hat on his head. He complained about Zayn not being from Canada and Renee tried to say she was from there too, but he cut her off saying that what he does to Zayn will not be suitable for all ages.

Analysis: A fine heel promo to get the crowd to hate him more.

Money in the Bank Qualifying Match: Sami Zayn vs. Sheamus

Sheamus with a shoulderblock and then Zayn came back with a jumping heel kick to the face. Sheamus overpowered him with a knee lift. Sheamus sent Zayn on the apron, Zayn with a shoulder to the gut and then a headscissors sends Sheamus out of the ring. Sheamus sent Zayn into the barricade, so Zayn jumped off the barricade with a moonsault. That was sweet. Running knee by Sheamus sent Zayn off the apron and onto the floor. That looked like a hard knee.

(Commercial)

Sheamus with a spinning powerslam gets two. Zayn tried to fight back, but Sheamus with an Irish Curse backbreaker gets two. Zayn came back with a huge clothesline and a Michinoku Driver gets two for Zayn. When Zayn went for a move off the top rope, Sheamus kicked the rope to trip him up and Zayn crashed to the mat. Sheamus missed the Brogue Kick, Zayn gave him a clothesline to the floor and when Zayn tried to hit a dive to the floor, Sheamus punched him in the face. Back in the ring, Zayn recovered with a Helluva Kick for the pinfall win after 10 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Sami Zayn

Analysis: **1/2 That was a good match that felt fresh. I liked the chemistry with them. It reminded me a lot of Sheamus’ matches with Daniel Bryan and they had a lot of good ones. The right guy won because Zayn’s a star on the rise while Sheamus is a guy that doesn’t have a lot of momentum right now. Sheamus won MITB last year and that was very underwhelming. With Zayn, the story is that he’s come so close to breaking through for several months now, so maybe MITB is the match for him to break out.

Post match, Zayn celebrated the win. Sheamus was furious after the loss. He just looked on with anger in the ring.

Analysis: I like that the camera focused on Sheamus because it puts over how big MITB is and how he won last year, yet won’t be in the match this year. They are probably going to try to rebuild Sheamus as a singles heel. I like him as a performer and he showed in these ten minutes how valuable he can be working with a “new” guy. As a former multi-time World Champion he’s got credibility with the audience and that’s something that creative can use to their advantage.

We’ll hear from Charlotte later.

(Commercial)

Apollo Crews was interviewed by Renee Young. He mentioned Chris Jericho dealing with those thumbtacks last night and said this is the biggest match of his life. Sheamus attacked Crews from behind. He tossed Crews into some equipment that was back there. He yelled about this “New Era” and said that he will be there to knock down anybody from this “New Era” that thinks they can rise up.

Analysis: It looks like a future feud, which is fine with me. Crews needs a feud. As I said, Sheamus is a quality veteran that can work well with a guy like that.

The New Day made their entrance. There was a cake in the ring that said: “Happy Birthday!” Nice “All I want is her booty” sign in the crowd with an arrow pointing. Xavier Woods said that they are still the WWE Tag Team Champions. Kofi Kingston said the cake isn’t to celebrate their victory. Kingston said that Raw has been going strong for 1,200 episodes. Woods added that Raw is over 23 years old. Kingston: “Happy birthday Raw.” Big E said that a WWE ring isn’t safe for a kick. Big E carried the cake around ringside while Woods said you don’t want anybody to get the cake in the face. Big E teased putting the cake in the face of fans, JBL and Saxton. The Social Outcasts ran out to attack New Day from behind. The Social Outcasts trio of Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel & Heath Slater celebrated that by running around the ring.

Analysis: The cake bit is pretty silly, but that’s what The New Day does. I’m sure there are probably fans going nuts saying Raw’s birthday is January 11, 1993, which it is. I just think this was a way for WWE to brag about 1200 episodes. Nothing wrong with that.

(Commercial)

Kofi Kingston, Big E & Xavier Woods vs. Heath Slater, Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel

The six man tag started during the break. Kingston hit a hurricanrana on Slater. That led to the Unicorn Stampede spot in New Day’s corner leading to Woods playing that trombone. Big E sent Slater face first into turnbuckle. Dallas and Axel tried to run around the ring with Slater, but Slater fell down. That was fun. Woods hit a dive to take out Dallas and Axel on the floor. Big E with the Big Ending assist from Kingston on Slater for the win after two minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Kofi Kingston, Big E & Xavier Woods

Analysis: * An easy win for the tag team champions. Slater’s partners didn’t even get a chance to be in the ring. Nothing wrong with that. More important for New Day to look strong like they did.

After the match, Big E went for the cake, but Woods & Kingston told him to get Slater. Woods & Kingston held the cake while Big E tossed Slater into it The crowd cheered that of course. JBL did an over the top replay call of what happened while calling Slater the “Red Dragon” as well.

Analysis: Cakes get wrecked in wrestling shows. That’s what they do. How’s that for analysis? Great.

Cesaro vs. The Miz up next.

(Commercial)

There was a plug for the WWE Network podcast after Raw with Shane McMahon hosted by Mick Foley.

The Miz made his entrance with Maryse. She introduced him as still the Intercontinental Champion. Miz bragged about how he’s the future Money in the Bank holder. He mentioned doing it before and he’ll do it again. Miz bragged about being on role since his wife has been by his side. Miz talked about how he went up against three of the greatest stars in WWE today and only one man stood as IC Champion “and his name is The Miz.” It led to him and Maryse almost kissing in the ring, but Cesaro’s music interrupted that.

Analysis: I think The Miz has been great in the two months since Maryse has been back on WWE TV. It’s been his best IC Title run mainly because I forget the other ones.

Money in the Bank Qualifying Match: Cesaro vs. The Miz (w/Maryse)

This is not for the IC Title. It’s all about Money in the Bank. Cesaro nailed Miz with several uppercuts early on followed by a running dropkick for two. Maryse tended to Miz outside the ring. Cesaro hit a dive off the apron to take out Miz on the floor. Maryse yelled at Cesaro, so he said “talk to the hand” and put his hand up. Clever. Cesaro hit an incredible delayed vertical suplex on Miz for two. Cesaro with a flying uppercut off the ropes. Miz was on the floor, so time for a break.

(Commercial)

Back from break, Miz was in control. That’s normal for the return from the break spot because the heel is usually in control. Miz did his backbreaker/neckbreaker combo. Small package by Cesaro gets two. Miz hit a snap DDT for two. Miz worked over the left shoulder of Cesaro. Miz charged in and Cesaro nailed him with two uppercuts, but Miz went back to the shoulder and hit a corner clothesline. Dropkick by Cesaro sent Miz to the floor. Cesaro nailed a running uppercut on Miz against the barricade. Love that spot. Back in the ring, Cesaro with a cross body block gets two. Cesaro put on the Cesaro Swing, but it didn’t last long as he grabbed his shoulder that was in pain. Miz yanked the shoulder against the top rope. When Miz went for a double axe off the top, Cesaro hit an uppercut and then a Neutralizer by Cesaro for the win after 12 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Cesaro

Analysis: ***1/4 That was a competitive match that was really well done. They’ve wrestled several times in the last month, so the chemistry is there. I liked the psychology in the match with Miz working on Cesaro’s arm throughout, Cesaro sold it really well (some guys don’t sell as well as that) and he was able to do enough to get the clean win. It’s another MITB match where the right guy won since Cesaro is a guy that is ascending while Miz is good right where he is as the Intercontinental Champion. Plus, it sets up a future IC Title match as well.

A replay aired of the Rollins/Reigns segment from the opening of the show. It’s the main event of Money in the Bank for the WWE Title.

Seth Rollins was interviewed by Renee Young. Rollins said it would be a fitting environment to have him win the WWE Title there. He bragged about being so good. Then he noticed somebody off screen…Stephanie McMahon. Rollins wondered if it was great to see him. Stephanie said that things have changed there including their business relationship. She shook his hand and said welcome back.

Analysis: They continue to push the idea that Stephanie is now a face instead of acting like a heel.

Chris Jericho made his entrance. His back and arms were taped up due to the bumps he took on the thumbtacks at Extreme Rules. Good job of selling.

(Commercial)

They showed the Money in the Bank briefcase above the ring. I forgot to mention that it’s been there for all the MITB matches.

Apollo Crews entered. Then they showed the clip of Sheamus attacking him earlier. He wasn't limping or selling anything, which is bad. Selling an attack from earlier in the show should be mandatory. I don't get why he wasn't selling more here.

Money in the Bank Qualifying Match: Chris Jericho vs. Apollo Crews

Jericho attacked early, but Crews came back with a dropkick and suplex. Slingshot into a senton by Crews gets two. Sheamus was shown watching on the monitor backstage. Crews kicked Jericho in the arm, then punched him in the back and slammed him down with Jericho selling the pain. Jericho nailed Crews in the face when the ref was trying to keep Crews back. Jericho nailed a couple of dropkicks. Jericho with a chinlock: “Ask him!” That always makes me smile. Crews with a running boot to the face, Stinger Splash in the corner and a back elbow. The crowd was into it a bit, but not that much. Jericho crashed on the mat after missing a springboard attack. Crews with a moonsault off the apron to the floor. Back in the ring, Crews with a powerslam gets two. Crews with an enziguri kick. Jericho was able to come back with the Walls of Jericho submission. Crews got to the ropes. Crews with a jumping kick to the head gets two. Jericho went for a Lionsault, Crews tried to kip up and Jericho still hit it. Maybe Crews was trying to catch him? I’m not sure. It didn’t work. Jericho went for the Walls of Jericho again, but Crews got a small package for two. Jericho came back with a Codebreaker for the pinfall win after eight minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Chris Jericho

Analysis: ** It was just okay. Crews is still at a point where he’s really new and he hasn’t built up a great connection with the audience at this point. They didn’t even put him on TV in the last month, which was stupid. The result was a bit of a surprise because Crews is a rising star that would be believable as a threat in the MITB match. However, there are so many other guys in the match that have that same potential that if you put everybody in there it might hurt some of them. Plus, they set up the Crews vs. Sheamus rivalry that could be pretty good, so I don’t mind it. Jericho’s a big name that can really put over the MITB since he was the one that came up with the concept 11 years ago and he’s never won it. I don’t think he’s going to win it either, but his presence will help.

Sheamus was backstage. Renee asked him his reaction to the result of the match. He just laughed and walked off.

Owens vs. Styles is later. That should be great.

(Commercial)

TJRWrestling Podcast: Check out the TJRWrestling podcast hosted by my buddy Rey and me with new episodes going up every week (this week on Wednesday) right here on Podbean and also on iTunes if you search for us with "John Canton" or "TJRWrestling" as the search terms. Thanks for the support!

There was a Darren Young/Bob Backlund teaching video again with them on a split screen. Backlund wanted him to recite the US Presidents in order. Young said he can’t do that, so Backlund did it. When Young said “Damn Bobby B” and Backlund freaked out because he said “damn.” Backlund made him do jumping jacks.

Analysis: I enjoy the cheesiness of this just because Backlund is funny as a crazy old guy. The video originally aired on Smackdown.

Baron Corbin was interviewed by Jojo. Big height difference here. Corbin said he didn’t care about how he won against Dolph Ziggler. He beat him with a low blow because he can. Ziggler showed up to trash talk Corbin. He even mentioned Corbin being a jerk on that Breaking Ground show. Corbin said he was told if you’re good at something, don’t do it for free. Corbin said he’ll beat Ziggler again and they can discuss “technical wrestling” after Ziggler wakes up. Ziggler says they’ll have another match next week and he told Corbin to watch him “steal the show” tonight.

Analysis: It’s a feud that never ends, I guess. Corbin’s dialogue wasn’t very good there. It just felt very robotic and unnatural. Ziggler came off better in that exchange.

Big Cass entered on the stage in his gear. He pointed at the entrance. His tag team partner Enzo Amore emerged from the stage. He’s been out for three weeks with a concussion, so good to see him back. That drew a big ovation because these guys are really well liked and there was a lot of concern about Enzo after the injury.

Enzo did their usual during their ring entrance. It’s good to hear that again. The crowd did the “Ooohhh Enzo Amore” song so he danced a little. Enzo said they cut his lights out leading to him saying the doctors diagnosed him with a concussion. Enzo talked about having the gift of gab and the gift of jab. If he had a dime for every time he got knocked down and didn’t get back up he’d have zero dimes. He talked about “Bub and Devon Dud” aka the Dudleys. Enzo said the Dudleys were full of baloney. Big Cass said that he’s not going to miss kicking Bubba in the head. Enzo was doing his over the top dancing in the ring. Cass did the SAWFT bit to end it.

Analysis: It’s good to see Enzo back. The Dudleys have had issues with Cass in the last few weeks although it was The Vaudevillains that were in the match with Enzo & Cass when Enzo got hurt. I get why they are going with the Dudleys, though. As for Enzo, it’s good to see him back out there with all that energy. The guy does have a “gift of gab” as he puts it and hearing him do a promo again was great to see.

The Dudleys made their entrance.

(Commercial)

Seth Rollins is on ESPN Sportscenter on Tuesday night.

Bubba Ray Dudley (w/D-Von Dudley) vs. Big Cass (w/Enzo Amore)

Bubba nailed Cass with a huge chop to the chest early on. Cass came back with Bubba backing off. D-Von nailed Enzo in the back in a cheap way. That distracted Cass, so Bubba dropped him with a back suplex. Cass with a clothesline on Bubba. Cass with a shoulder tackle followed by a splash in the corner. Enzo ran, so Cass launched him into D-Von. Back elbow by Bubba, Cass grabbed him and slammed him down as if he was Ric Flair. Cass nailed his Empire Elbow for the pinfall win after three minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Big Cass

Analysis: * The rise of Big Cass continues. He hasn’t been made to look “sawft” since he’s been on the main roster. It’s all about putting him over. If you watch his offense he really just does the most basic things, which is fine because he’s a big guy.  Bubba going to the top was silly because he never does that. The elbow drop finisher has to change because it looks so weak. His big boot looks better, but I guess there’s already guys like Sheamus and Zayn with kick finishers. They just need to get him a better finisher. When he tags with Enzo it’s usually Enzo that wins with a Rocket Launcher splash.

Charlotte was shown walking backstage with her dad Ric Flair and buddy Dana Brooke.

(Commercial)

They showed photos of Dana Brooke distracting Natalya at Extreme Rules leading to Charlotte’s win.

The WWE Women’s Champion Charlotte walked to the ring with Flair and Brooke. It’s time for a promo.

Charlotte wanted to speak, but Flair grabbed the microphone from her. Lots of “WOO” chants from the crowd. Flair told her how proud he is of her since she’s won the WWE Women’s Championship since WrestleMania. Flair talked about how fabulous she was. He spoke how she got somebody like Dana Brooke to help her just like he had Arn Anderson.

Charlotte said she wanted to thank one person…herself. She talked about how proud she was of Dana and Dana thanked her for letting her stand in the ring with the dirtiest player in the game.

Charlotte tried to talk to her dad, but the crowd was booing. “Excuse me I’m talking.” She spoke about how she remembered Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays and the crowd was chanting “what” at her. She remembered her mom saying that daddy was always with you, but she had to watch him on television. She yelled at the crowd for chanting “what” at her. Charlotte said that now she gets it because she’s the Women’s Champion, she’s never been more powerful and more confident and now she’s The Woman like he was The Man. Charlotte to Flair: “Get out of my ring!” The crowd booed.

Charlotte yelled at Ric to get out of her ring. He stood there. Charlotte talked about how everybody from his generation is the same because they never want to leave the spotlight. Charlotte said that he is “Charlotte’s dad” now. She claimed her spotlight shines brighter than his ever did. She yelled at him to shut up. Flair was crying. Fans were booing her. Charlotte told him he was the second dirtiest player in the game. Charlotte: “I don’t need you anymore.” More booing from the fans. She said that she felt this way her whole life and he abandoned her. She said that Flair is immortal to them, but he’s just…to her…“dead.” She told him to get out of the ring and watch her on TV like she did the last 30 years to him. Flair walked out of the ring as Charlotte sang “na na na na hey hey goodbye” at him. She said people can chant all they want, but she’s the champ. The show went to break.

Analysis: That was pretty good. I like the way she’s on an ego trip. It felt like a believable segment in terms Flair is a legend that the crowd wants to cheer for, so using him to do a massive heel promo is a smart move. The crowds are going to be sympathetic towards him because of his status in the business. I think he needed to be with her when she turned heel as the champion, but now she’s improved a lot as a talker and as a heel. Plus, they have Brooke there to be her buddy so they can have tag matches and Brooke can help her cheat. As for Flair, this will write him off TV, which might be good for him since traveling every week may not be great for him at this stage in his life. I like that Charlotte’s a pure heel that isn’t interested in getting cheered ever. There aren’t enough pure heels in WWE anymore. She’s done a good job at it.

(Commercial)

The announce team talked about the “disturbing situation” before the break with Charlotte basically disowning Ric Flair. JBL said it was “absolutely disgusting” as they used SERIOUS VOICES~! for this.

Money in the Bank Qualifying Match: Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler

It’s a face vs. face match. Ziggler nailed a dropkick early on for a two count. Ambrose came back with aggression using clotheslines and chops. JBL said all night that the MITB winner is “virtually guaranteed” to be WWE Champion based on history. With Ziggler on the floor, Ambrose wanted to hit him with a dive, but Ziggler avoided it. Time for a break.

(Commercial)

Back from break, Ambrose hit a suicide dive to take out Ziggler on the floor. Ambrose nailed an elbow drop off the top for a two count. Ziggler with the Fameasser for two. It usually gets him two. They ran the ropes leading to a double crossbody block. Ambrose bounced off the ropes, Ziggler nailed a superkick, Ambrose bounced off the ropes again and hit a clothesline for two. I’m not a huge fan of that spot when it’s no selling a superkick like that. Ambrose went to the top, he jumped off and Ziggler hit a dropkick for two. Ziggler rolled up Ambrose for a two count. Ziggler went for the Zig Zag, Ambrose held the ropes and then Ambrose hit the Dirty Deeds for the win after 12 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Dean Ambrose

The four (of seven) men in Money in the Bank at this point: Zayn, Cesaro, Jericho and Ambrose.

Analysis: **3/4 A good match as expected from them. It started slow, but they really built up the finish well. As I mentioned I didn’t like the spot where Ziggler hit the superkick and Ambrose did his bounce off the ropes clothesline. Do the bounce off the ropes clothesline off a less important move. Ziggler wins with that move sometimes, so for Ambrose to just bounce back as if it was nothing definitely hurts the move. They already hurt Ziggler enough with how he’s booked. Ambrose winning makes sense in terms of the status of the character. He’s a definite favorite to win Money in the Bank.

Ric Flair was shown walking backstage. There were Titus O’Neil and Zack Ryder there. His best friend Arn Anderson was there. Arn asked if he was okay. Ric just nodded his head. Renee Young walked up to him asking if he had any comment. He just shook his head no and left.

Analysis: I like that they tried to follow up that segment with Charlotte and Flair like that. You shouldn’t just let it end how it did. The visual of Flair leaving all sad makes Charlotte more of a heel. That was the goal. They accomplished what they set out to do.

Up next is Styles vs. Owens or so they say.

(Commercial)

The Shining Stars did some promo about their great debut that they want people to visit them in Puerto Rico.

Analysis: It was so “good” that they aren’t even in a match this week. Impressive!

AJ Styles made his entrance as they showed images of his loss to Roman Reigns at Extreme Rules. Styles was watching the screen as the images aired.

Styles did a promo about how you never know how good somebody is until you get in the ring with them. Styles said that Roman Reigns is every bit the man he says he is. The crowd booed. Styles spoke about how if it wasn’t for The Usos and Gallows/Anderson he had him beat. Styles claims that if it wasn’t for them you’d be looking at the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Styles talked about the opportunity he had tonight.

Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson walked to the ring in their wrestling gear. They had microphones as they got into the ring. Anderson wondered why Styles said if it weren’t for them he would have won. Styles said things are different now and they’re not in Japan anymore. Anderson told Styles that he’s changed. Gallows told Styles that they had his back in bar fights and how they took care of guys in WWE too. Styles told them not to let their professional lives break up this friendship. Styles said that they need to separate. Styles told them to be on their own and he’ll be on his own. Styles said they’re done while adding that nothing and nobody can separate them as brothers.

Gallows was mad that Styles would talk to them like that. Anderson said they’re not brothers anymore and they aren’t friends anymore. Styles said if that’s the way it is then they don’t have to be in the ring together. Styles said that as of right now this is his ring. Gallows and Anderson left.

Analysis: It was expected that this trio wouldn’t be together for that long. Gallows and Anderson are better off as heels while Styles is a pure babyface, so it’s good to split them up. It’s probably going to lead to something where Styles has to fight against them pretty soon. Whether he has a partner or not, I’m not sure at this point. All of it could lead to Finn Balor debuting very soon to be the leader of a stable with Gallows and Anderson. “The Club” group is over. Remember I said in the weeks leading up to this that there was no merchandise for “The Club.” It’s because it was a temporary thing. There is plenty of “Balor Club” and “Balor Bulletproof Club” merchandise, though. Just saying.

(Commercial)

John Cena returns to Raw next Monday in Green Bay on Memorial Day.

This week on Smackdown it’s The Miz defending the IC Title against Cesaro and Rusev defends the US Title against Kalisto.

Analysis: Two title matches on Smackdown? Sounds good to me. I think both champions will retain although Cesaro might win.

Kevin Owens made his entrance for the main event.

Money in the Bank Qualifying Match: AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens

They brawled early on. Styles missed a dropkick, Owens clapped and then Styles came back with a dropkick that connected. Owens was able to come back with a dropkick of his own shortly after. Styles took him down with a headscissors and sent him out of the ring. Owens tripped up Styles on the apron. Owens teased a dive outside the ring, then rolled under the bottom rope and hit a clothesline. That was pretty clever. It was funny. Owens yelled at Cole to tell them that the briefcase is his. Styles with a forearm attack over the top to the floor. Styles whipped Owens shoulder first into the steps at ringside. Time for a break.

(Commercial)

Owens took Styles to Chinlock City as they returned to break. Owens with a back body drop over the top sent Styles to the floor. Styles sent Owens back first into the apron. They exchanged punches in the ring with Styles winning that battle with a clothesline and then a running forearm smash for two. Styles hit a face first slam that was good for a two count. Owens with a back body drop. Owens came back with a release German Suplex and then a cannonball splash in the corner for two. Styles missed a kick and then he connected with a German Suplex. Styles with an enziguri kick, then a fireman’s carry into a backbreaker for two. That’s an awesome looking move. Owens came back with a cradle where he drove Styles’ neck into his knee for a two count. They had an exchange by the turnbuckle, Owens went for a moonsault and missed as Styles moved. Styles launched himself off the top with a 450 splash for a two count. That’s a move that should be a finisher because it looks so damn good, but it was just used as a nearfall. Owens went to the floor. Styles kneed him in the face. Styles charged at Owens on the floor, so KO caught him and gave him a Powerbomb onto the bottom of the steel steps. Ouch. Styles got back in the ring before the count of ten.

Owens wanted the Popup Powerbomb, Styles avoided it and Styles nailed the Pele Kick for a two count. Styles went to the top rope for the forearm, but Owens kicked the top rope as a way to crotch Styles.  That led to Owens hitting the Popup Powerbomb on Styles, he covered and Owens covered for the three count. It went 17 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Kevin Owens

Analysis: **** That’s four stars out of five. One of the better TV matches this year. That was an awesome match as expected by two of the best in-ring performers in WWE. Owens winning clean was a bit of a surprise, but it’s one of those welcome surprises because usually there’s some cheating involved. Styles took a beating again mainly with that Powerbomb on the steps. It really helped to tell the story of Styles being battered from the night yet still trying to continue to fight. Owens did an excellent job as he usually does. I loved that moonsault miss just because if he hits something like that it would be a big deal, so it means more if he misses it. Before the match I thought that Gallows and Anderson would interfere to cost Styles. That’s probably going to happen at some point in the near future. I think Owens was booked in such a strong way because he might be the winner of Money in the Bank. As for Styles, he’s probably going to have issues with G&A, so it’s easy to see why he’s not in the Money in the Bank match. This was an outstanding match that you should check out if you missed Raw.

After the match, Owens celebrated the win while pointing at the Money in the Bank briefcase. A graphic showed us the five guys in Money in the Bank: Zayn, Cesaro, Jericho, Ambrose & Owens. Two more guys left.

Analysis: Why do they have an uneven number like seven instead of six or eight? No idea. That’s what WWE does. Owens is my pick among the guys announced although I’d be happy with any of the four guys that haven’t been a WWE Champion before. Money in the Bank is for elevating guys, so that’s what they should do.

There was a shot of Mick Foley greeting Shane McMahon for a WWE Network podcast discussion after Raw.

Raw ended with Owens celebrating the win while Styles was shown looking distraught on the ramp.

 

Three Stars of the Show

1. Seth Rollins – Welcome back.

2. Kevin Owens

3. AJ Styles

 

The Scoreboard

7.5 out of 10

Last week: 6

2016 Average: 5.8

Last 5 Weeks: 5, 6, 5, 5, 6.5

2016 High: 9 (April 11)

2016 Low: 4 (Feb. 29/Mar. 21)

 

Final Thoughts

I’m giving it a 7.5 out of 10.

That’s a very good score from me because it was a wresting heavy show. There were only three significant promo segments with the opening exchange, Charlotte kicking out her dad and AJ talking with G&A about the end of their alliance. I liked all of the promos. Most of the rest of Raw was about having competitive matches to get into the Money in the Bank match.

The main event was outstanding. That doesn’t happen often enough in the main event because sometimes they have rushed matches in that spot or they do promos. Getting nearly 20 minutes of Owens vs. Styles in the main event is awesome.

Nearly every match on this week’s Raw meant something because it was about guys competing to be in the Money in the Bank match. Give us a reason to care about the matches. When you do, those matches mean more. That’s what happened this week.

There are going to be seven guys in the Money in the Bank match. We know who five of them are: Zayn, Cesaro, Jericho, Ambrose & Owens. That’s going to be an outstanding match.

Another good thing about the show was that it wasn’t McMahon heavy. They only had Shane appear at the start and Stephanie was on briefly with Rollins. Too often the show is about the McMahons, so I’m glad they were more in the background this week.

On a final note, here’s an image of the “John Canton is God” sign from the opening segment - it's in the upper left. It was on again later in the show, but I thought that was the best visual of it. After the show, I got an email from a reader named Nik Riddick that said he’s been a loyal reader for many years and wanted to say thanks. I really appreciate it. I don’t know about being “a God” because it’s not something I say or think, but it’s the thought that counts I guess lol.

john canton sign raw 05 23 16

Thank you Nik! Thanks to TJR reader Leon in Australia for sending me the screencap first. A lot of people saw it and let me know, so thanks for that too.

Once again thanks for reading the Raw Deal for the past seven years. I’m grateful for all of the support.

Thanks for reading. Go Toronto Raptors. Go Toronto Blue Jays.

John Canton – mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter @johnreport

Personal Facebook and TJRWrestling on Facebook

 

 
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