After last week’s misstep, WWE looked to rebound with the May 16, 2016 edition of Raw. The episode carried the extra-weight of being the go-home show (final episode before a pay-per-view) for this coming Sunday’s Extreme Rules. As such, the company’s aim was to provide final hype for the event and it’s marquee matches, including the main event of WWE Champion Roman Reigns vs AJ Styles.
Surprisingly and for the second week in a row the hype for the WWE Championship match wasn’t given the final main event slot on Raw. Instead, the final story developments for the match cured at the end of the show’s second hour, built around a tag match between Reigns and Styles respective allies the Usos and Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson. After a the Usos won, all six men engaged in a brawl that eventually ended with the challenger standing tall over the champion after delivering his signature Styles Clash maneuver onto a steel chair. As with most of the Styles/Reigns story, tonight was particular well told. AJ finally giving into his violent side and beating down Roman with the chair gave payoff to the build while making it look like he has a legitimate chance at winning the championship on Sunday.
The actual main event segment of the show was dedicated to a “contract signing” promo segment for Extreme Rules’ Women’s Championship match featuring Charlotte defending against Natalya. While I’ve been a fan of the angle overall, I didn’t enjoy this segment at all. For starters neither woman was strong on the microphone. Beyond that, the segment was more about in-story authority figures Shane and Stephanie McMahon interacting with Charlotte’s father Ric Flair. It’s a shame that the segment was such a flop, as it was only the third time in Raw history that a women’s program was given the main event slot.
- While the Intercontinental Championship storyline didn’t get as much focus this week, I enjoyed the bit there was. While it was predictable that the four men would compete in a tag team match, I liked Shane McMahon switching up the dynamics by having the one heel and one face on each side. Cesaro and Miz had an amusing chemistry, and it was a treat for longtime independent wrestling fans to see Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn on the same team again briefly.
- Just when I thought the “Golden Truth” storyline had been completed, R-Truth and Goldust are still getting ample amounts of TV time for reasons I still can’t comprehend.
- Big Cass continues to do an adequate job staying over with the crowd while waiting for Enzo Amore to return from injury.
- I’m not crazy about Dean Ambrose and Chris Jericho blowing off their feud in a gimmicky “Asylum” match. While I have no doubt the two will put on a strong performance, I think a more serious match-type would be more appropriate.
- I’m befuddled by WWE’s treatment of Becky Lynch. Two months ago she was probably the most over woman in the company not named Sasha Banks (who was also absent yet again) yet now she’s mired in a losing streak angle that seems to be going nowhere.
On the whole, the Extreme Rules go-home Raw was only adequate. The final build for the heavyweight championship match was solid, but the rest of the show left much to be desired. Hopefully I won’t be able to say the same about this Sunday’s event.