Last night at Extreme Rules, we saw the long awaited return of our former WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Seth Rollins. He interrupted Roman Reigns’ celebration after successfully defending his title by knocking down his former brother with a pedigree and making it clear to everyone that he fully intends to get the title back. I was so excited to see him, especially since this return was not ruined for me whatsoever via Twitter or other wrestling blogs. Extreme Rules was a great PPV and I’m excited for Raw tonight. The majority of the matches have already been announced and will be qualifying matches for Money In The Bank.
Rollins kicks off Raw and is greeted by thunderous applause and cheers. There are “Welcome Back,” “Seth! Seth!” and “YES” chants all competing, but the “Welcome Back” chant wins out and is deafening. Man, I’ve missed him. It’s been 200 days since we’ve last seen the man. Rollins addresses his betrayal of The Shield and the fact that the crowd was not behind him while he was champ, saying that us fans discredited all the hard work he put into winning that title. If there was any question about whether Rollins was returning as a face or a heel, he puts the questions to rest by telling us that he burned all the fan mail he received and that he doesn’t need us for anything. The man has still got it. He is interrupted by Roman Reigns, who enters the ring just as Rollins jumps out, stating that things will be done on his time. Shane McMahon is out now, addressing the tension between the two men and the title shot that Rollins is demanding. Shane sets the title match for the MITB PPV. Seems that AJ Styles was just an easy placeholder as Rollins prepared for his return.
We return from commercial to see Sheamus interviewing with Renee Young backstage regarding his MITB qualifying match with Sami Zayn. He’s insulting Zayn because he’s not from the USA, and promises that his match will not be PG. Sheamus takes Zayn down first, but Zayn doesn’t stay down long and gets Sheamus in the corner and hits some vicious chops. He counters and gets hits Zayn with a few leg drops, goes for a backbreaker, but Zayn counters and the match moves outside of the ring where Zayn hits Sheamus with a moonsault from the barrier. After the break, Sheamus is able to get Zayn pinned but he kicks out. Sheamus hits an Irish Curse Backbreaker and goes for another unsuccessful pin. Zayn turns the match around quickly and goes for a pin. Zayn goes to the top rope, but Sheamus kicks him off and tries for a Brogue Kick, but misses. Zayn gets Sheamus pinned in the corner and hits a rough kick and gets the pin, earning himself a spot in the MITB match! Sheamus is livid that he doesn’t qualify and is throwing a fit in the ring.
Renee Young is backstage again to interview Apollo Crews about his MITB qualifying match against Chris Jericho, discussing the damage Jericho suffered in his Asylum match. He is interrupted and attacked by Sheamus, who throws him around while screaming in his face, leaving Crews lying on the floor. We return to the ring with The New Day, who have a Happy Birthday cake in the ring to wish Raw a happy birthday. Big E takes the cake out of the ring and teases throwing it at the fans before targeting the announce team. The Social Outcasts break up the party by attacking New Day and we break for commercial. We come back to the 3-on-3 tag match already in action; Adam Rose is notably absent; he was suspended for 60 days for violating the Wellness Program for the second time, was arrested on May 11th for domestic violence and witness tampering, was suspended by the WWE indefinitely, and then requested and was granted his release today. The New Day earn a quick win against the Outcasts, and Big E decides to celebrate by sticking his hand in the birthday cake. Kofi and Xavier then slam the cake into Slater’s face. Poor Heath Slater.
The next MITB qualifying match will be The Miz against Cesaro. The Miz says his title match last night was THE match at Extreme Rules, and I agree 100%. Cesaro hits Miz with uppercut after uppercut before going for an early pin. Maryse pulls Miz out of the ring so he can catch his breath, but Cesaro isn’t having it and goes outside of the ring and knocks him down. The men return to the ring where Miz gets in a few kicks and tries for a suplex, but Cesaro gets him up for a vertical suplex instead and goes for another pin. Cesaro hits a corkscrew into an uppercut that is pretty amazing, and we break for commercial. When we return, The Miz has Cesaro on the mat, and then hits a neckbreaker and goes for the Skull Crushing Finale. Cesaro counters and goes for a quick roll up, but Miz breaks free and goes for a cover of his own. Miz gets his opponent tangled in the roles to target the taped shoulder, then goes for a finish but Cesaro hits him with another uppercut. Ever get the feeling that no one pulls punches with Miz? These uppercuts are pretty loud. Cesaro tries for a swing, but gets a kick to the face. He gets in on the second attempt but it doesn’t last due to his shoulder, that Miz quickly targets again. Cesaro hits Miz with a Neutralizer and gets him down for the three count, earning his spot in the MITB match. We will have three more qualifying matches tonight.
Seth Rollins and Stephanie McMahon briefly speak backstage, where Rollins gets a lukewarm welcome back. Back in the ring, the next MITB qualifier is on with Chris Jericho against Apollo Crews. Jericho has bandages all over his back from the tacks he landed on last night. Crews looks just fine as he comes out to the ring, even though Michael Cole is trying to make us believe he is crippled from his attack by Sheamus. Jericho is clearly in bad shape, and Crews is taking advantage. Jericho turns things around and gets Crews down, but he kicks out. I’ll be upset if Crews loses this one. He takes Jericho down with a few clotheslines, then knocks him to the mat. Jericho tries to jump from the top ropes to take Crews down, but he ducks and responds by flipping out of the ring to knock Jericho down before high-fiving the fans. Jericho locks in the Walls, but Crews makes it to the ropes. Lots of near falls in this match. Jericho goes for the walls, and when it is countered, hits a Code Breaker for the win, putting him into the MITB match. Very let down by this one; it would have been great to see the new talent in this match. Maybe next time.
Now it’s time for more awkward Life Lessons with Coach Backlund. I’m confused as to why Darren Young and Bob Backlund are never in the same place together. This pairing is strange. JoJo interviews Baron Corbin next, coming off his victory at Extreme Rules over Dolph Ziggler. She asks if he has comments on his questionable victory, despite the fact that the match was No Disqualifications. Corbin says he doesn’t care what people think and did it simply because he can. Dolph Ziggler interrupts and calls him a tool and says that he couldn’t beat him in a technical match. Corbin says he didn’t grow up dreaming of being a wrestler, he grew up beating up punks, and if you’re good at something, don’t do it for free.
Next up, Ezno Amore is back and more energetic than ever! I’m so excited to see him again. Ezno says that he was diagnosed with a concussion, or what he calls “a hard sneeze.” Enzo must have had about ten Red Bulls before coming out tonight; the man is on it. He calls out the Dudleys, who come out to the ring next for a match between Big Cass and Bubba Ray. Cass isn’t playing around, getting Bubba down to the mat quickly. Outside of the ring, D-Von knocks Enzo to the ground, allowing Bubba to get the upper hand off the distraction and take Cass down. It looks like Enzo isn’t 100% cleared to be in the ring just yet, but it’s good to have him ringside; something was lacking when Cass was alone. Bubba goes to the top rope, but Cass grabs him and throws him to the ground before hitting him with a kick to the face. He hits an Empire Elbow and gets the pin. A quick win and a nice way to welcome Enzo back.
Charlotte, our Women’s Champion, comes out next with Ric Flair and new friend Dana Brooke. Flair starts talking about how wonderful Charlotte is and how everything she touches, she makes happen. Not quite sure what that means, and neither does the crowd, as a quiet “boring” chant can be heard. He says that without Charlotte, there is no Dana Brooke, before handing the microphone over to his daughter. Charlotte thanks herself for the victory, then says she is proud of Dana for making the right decision. Dana thanks her for the privilege of standing in the ring with the dirtiest player in the game. Charlotte then begins attacking Ric for never being there for her. She says Ric was The Man, and now she is The Woman, and she finally has the courage to tell Ric to get out of her ring. It seems that Charlotte is finally ready to get out of her father’s shadow, which is a solid move. Ric looks like he truly might start crying any second, as Charlotte says she doesn’t need him anymore and that she is the new #1 dirtiest player in the game.
Dean Ambrose will fight Dolph Ziggler now for the next spot in the MITB match, which is a shame because both men would be great additions to the match. Things start off pretty even; no one man keeps control of the match for long and they trade pins, with the kickout at one. Ambrose throws Ziggler outside of the ring and tries to dive onto him, but Ziggler moves, and then we break for commercial. We return to see Ambrose manhandling Ziggler, again throwing him outside of the ring and then diving out to knock him into the barricade. Ziggler hits a Famouser but Ambrose kicks out. The near falls are starting now; Ziggler hits an ineffective Super Kick and Ambrose is able to withstand it and go for a pin. Ambrose goes to the top but Ziggler counters with another kick, but Ambrose kicks out. Ambrose finally hits Dirty Deeds for the win. It’s hard being a Ziggler fan, but Ambrose will be a good addition to the MITB match.
Renee Young catches up with a still weepy Ric Flair backstage, but he doesn’t have anything to say to her or anyone else. The Shining Stars make a statement next, inviting us to Puerto Rico after talking about how successful their debut was. AJ Styles comes out to the ring to address his loss last night, saying Roman Reigns is one of the better men he’s been in the ring with, but he still isn’t on his level. He states that if not for the interference last night, he would be our champ right now. He’s interrupted by The Club, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. They take offense to Styles not wanting them out there to assist, and Styles says he wanted to earn the title on his own. Styles says he brought them in to build a legacy, not drop people for him. Gallows and Anderson counter to say that without their help, he wouldn’t have made it out of some bars, nevermind make it to Extreme Rules. Styles simply wants a separation in their professional relationship, but they are still brothers. Gallows and Anderson aren’t having it and end the friendship.
Styles will now battle Kevin Owens for the next spot in the MITB match. The two start trading blows in the center of the ring, with Owens locking onto Styles and screaming “Headlock Master!” Styles gets a quick cover, but Owens is out at one. He hits Owens in the face with his knee and tries for a second unsuccessful cover. Owens hits Styles with a dropkick and tries for a cover. I wish Mauro Ranallo was on commentary, because some of these moves are foreign to me and it would be nice to know the names. The two men go outside the ring, with Owens screaming “I’m Phenomenal!” Owens is thrown into the steps and we abruptly break for commercial. Owens has regained control during the commercial break, but Styles is able to throw Owens against the apron and again get the upper hand. The two begin trading blows, with Styles aggressively knocking Owens down to the mat. Michael Cole starts talking about “blockbuster news,” and Owens screams “Shut up, Michael Cole, I can hear you from here!” Owens is golden. Styles hits a knee to the back of the head and nearly wins the match, but Owens kicks out at the last second. Owens gets a near pinfall of his own; this match is starting to get very tense. Owens hits Styles with a headbutt and goes for a moonsault but misses. Styles does an impressive flip off the top rope to pin Owens, but he kicks out at 2 and rolls out of the ring. A “This Is Awesome” chant starts. Styles is down and out outside of the ring, and barely beats the 10 count to make it back in. Owens hits a mean looking Pop Up Power Bomb and gets the pin, advancing to the MITB match. Very excited to see him advance, especially since Sami Zayn qualified earlier.
Overall, this was a great Raw. I’m excited to see Seth Rollins and Enzo Amore back in action, especially since Rollins is right back into the title picture and Enzo is picking up right where he’s left off where the Dudleys are concerned. Charlotte finally separating from her father is another positive; the Women’s division needs a strong leader, and that means someone who doesn’t have to rely on her daddy in order to succeed. With one exception, I am very pleased with the 5 MITB match entrants, and very curious to see who the other two participants are. What did you think of tonight’s Raw? Leave your opinions and thoughts in the comments section, and we’ll see you next week for the Memorial Day episode.
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker