The go-home edition of Raw before WWE Extreme Rules was hit-or-miss on Monday night, though the company found a way to inject some much-needed life into its presumed main event. Unfortunately, much of the rest of the show was pure filler, failing to advance storylines or even provide one-night-only entertainment value.
That is not to say Extreme Rules will not be a success from the Raw side as there are a number of matches poised to catch attention at the event, but WWE did continue a string of underwhelming final shows leading into PPVs. Where the company used to be concerned with PPV buys, it is now simply kicking the can down the road in order to get to the next event.
Let's take a look at what went down on Monday night.
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Roman Reigns, Bobby Lashley set the tone for Sunday
Walking ominously backstage, Reigns was stopped on his way to the ring by Lashley, who said he had been waiting all day to be called out; fans chanted "Bos-ton Cel-tics" while the two were on the TitanTron. Once Reigns made his entrance, he followed through and called Lashley to the squared circle in what was supposed to be a tense moment that legitimately had the crowd on its feet (though silent). General manager Kurt Angle demanded the two lay off each other until Sunday. Instead, Reigns and Lashley immediately exchanged blows in bursts while being separated by the Raw locker room. Lashley maintained the upper hand until about 20 superstars separated him from Reigns, who responded by diving over the top rope and taking out the entire group. Reigns' music hit and he appeared headed toward the back, but he reversed course and brawled with Lashley one last time until the two were finally separated.
Midway through the show, Lashley told Renee Young that he hates everything about Reigns but respects that they will at least be fighting at Extreme Rules. He then promised that Reigns would not be able to walk out of the PPV. Reigns cut a similar promo later, saying he did not care about Lashley's physical tools and would beat him before moving on to bigger, better things. The follow-ups were benign compared to the cold open of the show.
This was purely manufactured sudden heat, but you cannot fault the substantial effort and relative success in putting something on a match that does not have a stipulation and is not technically for the No. 1 contendership. WWE got its Raw main event for Extreme Rules over in the first 20 minutes of the show, and this viewer is now at least interested in seeing what will go down on Sunday as opposed to being completely apathetic to yet another match in which the universal championship is not somehow involved. Points deducted for the latter promos and for not following up with a match stipulation at a PPV based around stipulations Grade: B-
Seth Rollins, Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre get into it
While walking backstage, Rollins was stopped by Jinder Mahal, who suggested he no longer "burn it down" and instead follow his mantra. Rollins indulged him for a moment but quickly dipped out once Mahal began meditating. After the break, Rollins hit the ring to cut a promo ahead of his intercontinental title iron man match, leading Ziggler out to combat him and explain exactly how he would rack up win after win in their Extreme Rules meeting. When Ziggler touted his 121-0 amateur record at Kent State and teased Rollins that Crossfit won't cut it, Rollins answered back by making fun of Ziggler's hair and asking if Drew McIntyre had his back in college, too. When Rollins insinuated that McIntyre must have been having relations with sheep back in Scotland instead, McIntyre lost his cool and challenged him to a match later in the show. Angle later added a stipulation that if Rollins beats McIntyre than the latter is barred from ringside for the Rollins-Ziggler match at Extreme Rules.
Drew McIntyre def. Seth Rollins via pinfall: It looked like Rollins had McIntyre in trouble when he avoided a Claymore with a superkick and Falcon Arrow, but he only got a two count. McIntyre attempted to hit Rollins with White Noise from the top rope, but Rollins instead reversed that into a buckle bomb, superkick and cross body. Rollins hit The Stomp on an interfering Ziggler, allowing McIntyre to connect with Claymore out of the distraction to pick up the victory. As such, McIntyre will be allowed to stay at ringside during the iron man match on Sunday.
The best part of the build to this feud on Monday was the promo Ziggler cut exclusively on social media ahead of Raw. Still, the back-and-forth between the trio early in the show was solid, despite the fact that Rollins relied on some eye-rolling face insults to push it forward. The Rollins-McIntyre match was not as electric as one would expect, but it's tough to blame the Boston crowd after it slogged through this three-hour show and was not allowed to pop at the finish. The right man went over in McIntyre, and interest in the match was maintained. Grade: B-
What else happened on Raw?
Nia Jax & Natalya def. Alexa Bliss & Mickie James via pinfall: A leg drop got Jax the win over James, but her victorious feeling would not last long as Bliss immediately grabbed a kendo stick and attacked Jax with it. Once Jax gained her footing, she took the weapon away from Bliss and broke it over her leg as Bliss ran hand-in-hand with James to the backstage area. After the match, Jax cut a solid promo on Bliss promising to deliver the pain and get her back for every way she's been wronged. Later on, Bliss said in a selfie promo that she's happy Ronda Rousey will be at ringside to see how extreme she can get.
Kevin Owens has a doctor's note: Owens entered Angle's "office" to tell the GM that he was frustrated with how he had been treated recently but still showed up to work. Unfortunately, Owens also informed Angle that he was not medically cleared to compete tonight and had a doctor's note to prove it. Instead, he would hang the one place he could be sure he would be safe all night – right next to Angle. Later in the show, Angle invited Braun Strowman into his office as he booked a steel cage match for the PPV.
Mojo Rawley def. No Way Jose via pinfall: Rawley hit the Alabama Slamma to pick up the victory over a four-week feud that is likely now over.
- More counselling for Sasha Banks and Bayley: Though it was billed as the two meeting a new therapist on Monday, Banks and Bayley appeared in the same office with the same decorations wearing the same clothes as last week with a different doctor in the chair. In the first look-in, Bayley strongly claimed that Banks does not care about anyone but herself and has not changed one iota since NXT. In two subsequent look-ins, not a stitch of audio was played from the sessions.
Bo Dallas def. Matt Hardy via pinfall: Before the match, Dallas and Curtis Axel again imitated the Deleters of Worlds, which brought the Raw tag team champions to the TitanTron promising to eat and delete The B-Team. This spooked the challengers took a step back when the champs suddenly appeared in the ring. Though Dallas picked up the win over Hardy with an elevated swinging neckbreaker thanks to a distraction, the Hardy and Bray Wyatt took out the B-Team afterward. The comedy fell short, as did the action.
- Ember Moon def. Liv Morgan via pinfall: In an athletic and entertaining match, Moon got the 1-2-3 thanks to a jackknife pinning combination. It was yet another victory for Moon over Morgan in a feud that looked to be going somewhere but obviously is not.
- Baron Corbin & Elias def. Finn Balor & Bobby Roode via pinfall: In the middle of a backstage interview with Young where Balor was putting over his Extreme Rules match with Corbin, Roode cut him off to promise the duo would be victorious tonight in their tag team match. Elias then held his typical segment in the ring before bringing in Corbin, who sang "Itsy bitsy Balor." The crowd got into the match thanks to some solid action. Roode sold an injury after hitting the blockbuster, and after throwing Corbin into the post, got distracted by Elias allowing Corbin to hit End of Days for the win.
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3 June 2018