After two Pay Per Views inside of three weeks, WWE found themselves needed to wipe the slate and start some new feuds headed into Money in the Bank, which is traditionally one of their most anticipated PPVs. As a result, Raw was almost entirely given over to qualifying matches for spots in the Money in the Bank match, leading to some hotly contested bouts that served to carry the balance of the show. Oh yeah, and that Seth Rollins guy made his return to Raw, and he had more than a few things to say about that.
10. Or We Could Do That
So, Seth Rollins enters Monday Night Raw basking the cheers of everyone who now sees him as the next great hope against the inexorable tide of Roman Reigns, and proceeds to instantly cut a heel promo. Now, it was an awesome heel promo, and Seth Rollins can play one of the best heels in the business as long as the booking doesn’t undercut him to the level it did during his WWE World Heavyweight Title reign. However, this continues to affirm the “Reigns or bust” train that we’re stuck on out of, apparently, pure doggone stubbornness, and thus we have a heel who the audience wants to cheer, against a babyface that the fans want to boo. If this were anyone else not named John Cena (who at least justifies it by moving merchandise and driving WWE’s PR machine), we’d have already seen the double turn by now, but instead, we’re clearly going to continue to pretend that the sheer presence of a reaction is justification for claiming that the Reigns project is proceeding as planned. Buckle up folks, much like that alleged ancient Chinese curse, it’s going to be an interesting time.
9. Does WWE Have A CGI Budget?
More important than Sami Zayn continuing to win matches (this time against his evil alternate universe counterpart Sheamus, which now you can never un-see), and WWE actually trying to get the Heluva Kick over as an instant “Win” button, is that Sheamus seems to have finally snapped. We suppose if we’d been turned into a lame duck champion given the impossible task of getting Roman Reigns over, stuck in the League of Nations, and jobbed out in increasingly ridiculous fashion, we’d start getting a little frustrated too. We can’t help but suspect that Sheamus’ new “I really hate the New Era, fella” character that appears to have a tendency to shake uncontrollably and explode in rage could be a precursor to some sort of cross-promotion with his role in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which begs the question, is there a non-zero chance that WWE could find a way to have Sheamus morph into a rhinoceros on TV? Because we would entirely watch that, even if we’re on the fence about the actual movie.
8. An Argument For Paying Jobbers More
We may have mocked Ryback’s Internet rant about how lower card wrestlers deserved to be paid as much as the main event guys (mostly because it was incredibly self-serving and ignored the fact that Ryback was already being handsomely paid and given multiple chances despite being a bad wrestler), but if we’re talking about Heath Slater, whatever they’re paying him to get ridiculously humiliated simply isn’t enough. We thought the Social Outcasts might at least earn a spite push now that Adam Rose has been quietly dealt with, especially when they got the upper hand on the New Day before the match, but no, it’s all just a set-up for Heath Slater to get absolutely pummeled with a birthday cake. The next time you start complaining about hating your job, think about if you’d be willing to get thrown into a frosted bakery item for the amusement of millions. Heck, we’re considering running a crowdfunding account so we can make sure Heath knows his sacrifices in the name of slapstick wrestling comedy are appreciated.
7. Pinning A Champion Is OK When It’s The Miz
We complain a lot about WWE’s main idea for creating feuds involving having someone pin a champion and thus earn a title match, and we stand by that. However, Cesaro pinning Intercontinental Champion The Miz in a Money in the Bank qualifying match is an entirely different thing, because it actually is for something completely unrelated to the title. We will admit that part of our acceptance of this is probably based in the fact that we love Cesaro and just can’t stand The Miz, which is a position we’re entirely comfortable with taking. In addition, since all of his opponents from Extreme Rules are now in the Money in the Bank match, Miz will need a different opponent to fight for his title (although we kind of expect Cesaro to circle back around if he doesn’t win the briefcase. Although he should totally win the briefcase). Hey, maybe Zack Ryder can get another shot and even a PPV paycheck? Also, is the medical tape just a permanent part of Cesaro now? At this point, he’s working on having the slowest healing arm injury since Bob Orton Jr.
6. The New Era Where Chris Jericho Wins Matches
We’re not saying Apollo Crews should have won his MITB qualifier against Chris Jericho, mostly because it looks like he’s headed into an unrelated feud with Sheamus. However, Crews could have added an interesting element to Money in the Bank, and a win over Jericho, who really hasn’t got anything new to show in that sort of match and isn’t even considered a dark horse to win, could have instantly catapulted Crews into something resembling relevance. Honestly, while a feud with Sheamus isn’t horrible and will allow Crews to show off his power in addition to his superhuman agility, it’s more running in place for a guy who is already begging the question of why WWE bothered to bring him up from NXT with no plan for him on the main roster. We’d like to write that off as a mistake, but WWE has literally and repeatedly used the excuse of “we want everyone we bring up from NXT to have a plan for after their debut” for why they have delayed several Superstars from making the jump to the main roster, and it seems like they ignored that dictum with both Crews and Baron Corbin. And speaking of the Lone Wolf…
5. No Feud With Dolph Ziggler Is Ever Over
It really shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone that Baron Corbin is the type of guy who wears wool caps in the middle of May, because of course he does. With that said, could we please get him far, far away from Dolph Ziggler? There is literally no reason for them to continue fighting, as Corbin has decisively beaten Ziggler twice in a row, and even he had to snort at the accusation that he somehow cheated to win a No DQ match, because apparently wrestling is contested under Marquis of Fantailler rules now, and Ziggler’s honor felt slighted, so much so that despite already having a match later that night, Ziggler needed to set up yet another re-match with Corbin next week. What will that prove? More importantly, Corbin’s moveset isn’t expansive enough that another match between the two will reveal anything new about him. Meanwhile, Corbin’s smug declaration that he doesn’t care about being a great wrestler, just beating people up and winning, is actually a complaint a lot of people have had about Ziggler’s current character, who seems far too concerned with “wrestling a good match” instead of what every wrestler is supposed to be trying to do, which is “winning matches”.
4. A Vision Of Things To Come
It is great to see Enzo back on TV so quickly, after the frightening scene that led to his injury. That said, WWE is still clearly being careful, which you can’t blame them for, having Enzo act as more of a manager to Big Cass in his one-sided feud with the Dudley Boyz. That’s okay, because Cass is obviously having no problem dusting off the most decorated tag champs in WWE history singlehandedly, which should be a bigger sign that Cass’ future is probably going to be bright than anything else. At this point, we can imagine that Vince has eyes on Cass as the next “Guy” after Reigns, to the point that he’s basically forgotten about his other post-Mania NXT graduates (by the way, if we told you that WWE somehow managed to call up the three tallest guys in developmental all at once, regardless of actual talent level, would you be particularly shocked?) and Enzo managing him as a singles is probably a career track we can see happening. In fact, we’d venture that Cass is already getting a better singles push than Reigns ever did post-Shield breakup, getting some dominant wins to establish himself instead of suddenly being presented as a main event singles guy (actually, we’re somewhat shocked Cass didn’t end up winning a single title in the weeks while Enzo was out), and we still expect Enzo and Cass to stay a tag team for at least the next year or so.
3. Well, That Was Sudden
So, out of the complete blue, Charlotte has decided that she no longer needs her dad hanging around and, you know, actively helping her win every single title match. Of course, Dana Brooke is still allowed to stick around, but that’s neither here nor there. And in a promo that started out rough (and wasn’t helped by the crowd, but they did settle down once it became apparent what was going on), Charlotte derided her father for being an absentee dad who only wanted to hang around with her now that she was a star, giving Ric another chance to grab the spotlight. Charlotte doesn’t have the best delivery, but parts of what she said felt more than a little real. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of build (or any, actually) to this falling out, so it didn’t entirely come across as strongly as they likely intended. However, in what was originally supposed to be a “State of The Women’s Division Address”, this is actually a positive step for the female Superstars of WWE, whose title matches hopefully will no longer revolve around the wacky antics of Charlotte’s dad, and can focus a little more on the in-ring product again.
2. This Couldn’t Possibly Go Badly, Right?
We’re pretty sure that if we were planning to tell two monstrous guys with anger issues that we didn’t particularly want them around anymore, we wouldn’t do it right before an important match with potentially high stakes like a shot at a Money in the Bank briefcase. AJ Styles should probably have taken a lesson from Charlotte, who made sure to dump her crazy dad on a night when she didn’t have a wrestling match scheduled. But of course, AJ Styles has to prove he can do this on his own, so he literally gives Anderson and Gallows the “I hope we can still be friends” break-up speech that literally everyone should know is never a true statement (no, not even in what I’m sure you consider to be your unique situation, sorry), and then assumes that everything will work itself out. Then he loses to Kevin Owens straight up, which has to be considered a shocking result given that Styles was wrestling for the WWE World Heavyweight Title the night before, but we have to assume that he’s about to have his hands full with other problems very soon.
1. Welcome To The New Era! Also, John Cena Returns Next Week!
Unlike Seth Rollins’ unannounced return, John Cena’s Memorial Day return was heavily advertised throughout the show. That’s not a knock against it, because obviously you’re going to advertise John Cena’s return, since it’s the one thing that might actually bump the ratings for that week (although being that it’s a holiday, that might just get things back to “mediocre” instead of “lowest rated holiday Raw since x”). Of course, it’s also more than a little funny to see WWE clearly still so reliant on Cena, for all they’ve spent weeks pushing the idea of the “New Era”. Frankly, nobody on the roster represents whatever WWE chooses to believe was the previous era (as long as it took place sometime in the last decade) more than John Cena, who has been top dog as long as some current fans have been watching the product. Now, someone might suggest that the best way to officially change over to any new era would be to have the centerpiece of the old one put somebody over and establish a new star. However, we’re pretty sure that we’ll have to pry Cena’s career from Vince’s cold, dead hands one day, so we’d expect that not only will Cena be kept separate from the World title scene until it’s time to break Ric Flair’s record (so as to not easily draw heat away from the new “Chosen One”), he’ll probably go back to going over all those new midcarders who best represent the “New Era”. The popular rumor is that he’ll likely be feuding with and beating US Champion Rusev, leading to the potential return of the US Open Challenge, which you may recall, ended in fairly disappointing fashion last time.