Monday, June 5, 2017
This was a last minute addition to the show and took the Kickoff spot, bumping the mixed tag to the main show. The Apollo/Titus pairing has been entertaining and a benefit for Apollo. He can go in the ring, but lacks personality, which is the exact opposite of Titus. These two had a fun back and forth match. They did a good job getting the crowd invested, despite neither guy being positioned very well on the card. You could see their chemistry from past work on the indies, which they brought here. The finish was where things fell apart. It was meant to continue issues for Apollo and Titus, but came off wrong. Kalisto hit his finisher to win at 9:31. Good opener with lots of energy but a lame finish.
If Dean Ambrose got DQed, he’d lose the title. Why you book that stipulation on a show called EXTREME RULES is beyond me. They got a LOT of time and it felt like it. The stuff they did wasn’t bad, and it made sense, it just lacked something to engage me. I did appreciate some of the finish. I was wondering why Maryse wouldn’t just hit Miz, because that would be a DQ. They tried it, but the referee was smart enough to see the ruse and eject Maryse. Miz then sent Ambrose into the referee, which led to him teasing the disqualification. Before he could though, Miz nailed the Skull Crushing Finale to win his seventh IC Title at 20:02. This was fine, but dragged at times. I’m glad Miz didn’t win the title via DQ and that they put a twist on the finish.
Interestingly, the ropes weren’t purple for this. Dar and Fox are two of the worst performers on the roster. This was about what I expected, but with a hotter crowd. They loved Swann and Sasha. Anyway, I’d consider this a TV match that got put on the PPV and was mostly used to get Sasha on the PPV. Dar and Alicia could’ve been any other pairing and that would’ve done just as much. Swann won with the Phoenix Splash in 6:20. I assume he won in his hometown because Vince was unaware of it. Like I said, this was a TV match.
Elias Samson sang in the ring. It went on for a while and nothing came of it.
Earlier in the show, Bayley received some boos during her promo. Her entrance didn’t get a much better reaction. Yes, the one girl that could be the equivalent to a female John Cena in terms of popularity, has also fallen to the curse of Raw booking someone like complete shit. The match went 5:12 and was basically a squash. Alexa dominated. Bayley got the kendo stick first and Alexa ran. Yet, Alexa just speared her and used the kendo stick as a weapon. She won in lackluster fashion with a DDT. So, Alexa said Bayley couldn’t get extreme and then was proven right, so Bayley looked like a total goof. I’m not a huge Bayley fan, but it’s sad that I’ve hit a point where I don’t care at all about her or Sasha thanks to Raw.
I’m admittedly not a fan of tag team Steel Cage matches where the concept is for both guys to escape. It sets up a situation where one guy would leave his partner all alone. That happened with Jeff Hardy here, which was something we saw from the Hardys back in 2001. Matt was forced to try to survive his brute opponents all alone. I liked that Jeff eventually decided to return in, with a huge Whisper in the Winds off the cage spot. His return boosted the drama. The teams did tried escaping at the same time, but Sheamus and Cesaro hit the floor first to win at 15:03. I thought this was good, though some of the cage climbing got repetitive. It’s hard to avoid that in this kind of match though. The action was cool and we got the expected Jeff dive, as well as the Hardys dropping the titles without taking a pin.
Neville beat Aries at WrestleMania and retained via DQ at Payback. The crowd seemed less into this than the mixed tag earlier. Their match at Mania was awesome, but this was a slow paced match. It made sense for the stipulation, but the Cruiserweight Title could be used as a way to pick up the pace, instead of slowing it down. These two are great, so they did the best with what they were given and told a solid story. I liked Aries slapping on the Rings of Saturn to get back at Neville. He used the Last Chancery, but Neville pulled the hold to the outside. Aries held on, but had to be reminded by the official that he couldn’t win out there. Once back in, Aries hit a sick sounding Red Arrow onto Aries’ back and made him tap with the Rings of Saturn in 17:28. It’s a tough match to gauge, because it was solid, yet unspectacular and not what I wanted from them. Aries losing is odd. Where does he go now?
These are the things we get when you have Brock Lesnar as your top champion. With a lot of moving parts, this could either be great or a wreck. Thankfully, it was closer to the former. It had some great things and some stuff I didn’t like. To start with the bad, I didn’t care for Joe and Wyatt working together. They did the same thing against Finn on Raw recently, and Bray turned on Joe quickly, so why would Joe do it here? The pace was considerably slow early on and we got the WWE trope of multi-man matches seeing one or two guys taking breathers at a time. The final ten minutes were bonkers though. Reigns’ guardrail spot, though overdone, was great here and I loved Seth’s frog splash through the announce table. Finn nearly pulled it out against Reigns, avoiding the Spear and hitting the Coup de Grace. However, Joe snuck in and put him in the Coquina Clutch to win it at 29:08. A great main event, but it missed some of what was needed to make it something I’d have in my MOTY list. If pressed for time, absolutely find a way to watch the last ten minutes.
Overall: Honestly, this is what I’ve come to expect from Raw PPVs. One match that nearly cracks four stars (I’ve yet to give a match from a Raw PPV ****. Sheamus/Cesaro at COTC and Owens/Rollins at HIAC came close), while the rest of the card is solid at best, but underwhelming. The women’s match did nothing for me and was a massive disappointment (and I didn’t have high expectations). This was Sunday Nigh Raw. Outside of a few spots from the main event, I don’t think this will be remembered at all.