Live from Hartford, Connecticut this is the Raw Deal for episode #1196. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Thanks to my banner guy Melo Man for adding the Chyna bit in the corner there. She made a huge impact on the business. A shame that she passed away so young and without mending fences with WWE.
Here are the matches announced before Raw started: AJ Styles vs. Sheamus, Sami Zayn vs. Rusev, Roman Reigns vs. Alberto Del Rio and Karl Anderson/Luke Gallows vs. The Usos. Let's hope for a good one because it's been a pretty good month of Raw shows. Let's do it.
Raw begins with a graphic for In Memory of Joanie "Chyna" Laurer.
A video package aired showing the highlights from last week with Roman Reigns, AJ Styles and Anderson/Gallows getting involved in things.
The announcers went over some of the matches for the show that I mentioned up above. Shane McMahon made his entrance to start the show. The announce team of Michael Cole, John Bradshaw Layfield and Byron Saxton discussed things.
Shane was in the ring saying he’s still there because of us. He received a nice ovation. He said that Payback is this Sunday and it’s the first PPV in a new era. Shane spoke about how we’ll have new faces, new matchups and have some fun. Stephanie McMahon’s music hit.
Stephanie sauntered down to the ring. She’s looking pretty, pretty good (I love Curb Your Enthusiasm) in a dress. She tried to hug brother Shane, but he wasn’t interested in that. Stephanie said she was born in Hartford hospital and said that these are her people. They booed her.
Stephanie said that this is Shane’s last night running Raw. She said that this Sunday at Payback, Vince McMahon will decide who is running Raw...I assume on a permanent basis. Fans chanted “Shane O Mac.” Shane asked the fans if they wanted Stephanie running Raw. The crowd booed. When Shane asked them about himself the crowd cheered. He did it several teams to rile up the crowd in support of himself.
Stephanie said that their father is smart enough to never put the decision making in these people’s hands. She added that in six days she had it in good authority that things won’t go his way. Shane told her to go on her way. Stephanie told him that she’s not going anywhere. Shane invited security to come down to the ring to have her removed from “our ring.” The fans chanted “na na na hey hey goodbye” at her. When one of the security guys tried to touch her, she punched him. The other two security guys hauled her up the ramp by the ramp. Shane added to the “hey hey goodbye” song.
Shane said that was fun, but let’s get to the action and he introduced AJ Styles.
Analysis: That was a solid opening segment with Stephanie confronting Shane for the first time that Shane has been in charge over the last three weeks. Having Stephanie escorted from the arena is a good way to pop the crowd and start the show off in a positive way. It’s a nice change after seeing Authority promos open the show for about three years. I’m not sure what the decision will be on Sunday, but they should keep Shane in charge or at least do something where it suggests a change because if they go back to The Authority running thing it would hurt the product a lot. There’s a freshness to Raw in the last month. Keep that going.
Sheamus made his entrance.
AJ Styles vs. Sheamus
No League of Nations guys with Sheamus. Styles nailed a nice dropkick early on. The announcers argued about Anderson/Gallows possibly working with Styles with JBL saying they are. Sheamus nailed a double kick to the chest to get control. Styles got a boot to the face followed by a forearm smash that sent Sheamus to the floor. Sheamus came back with a hard punch to the ribs, but Styles nailed a dropkick to Sheamus on the apron. Knee on the apron by Styles. Sheamus avoided a moonsault attempt on the floor and tossed Styles into the steps at ringside. Time for a break.
Back from break, Sheamus was in control with the backbreaker. Sheamus missed a shoulder tackle, Styles moved and Sheamus hit the turnbuckle. Sheamus hit him with some uppercuts. He went for a top rope move, but Styles sent him flying with a sunset flip type move off the top – almost like a Powerbomb. Styles nailed some quick kicks and punches followed by a running forearm. Styles with a corner splash. Sheamus countered an attack by sending Styles into the middle turnbuckle and then a Powerslam gets two. Sheamus went for the Cloverleaf submission, but Styles fought out of it and nailed a Pele Kick. Styles nailed some forearm shots. Sheamus caught a kick and hit a clothesline for two. Sheamus applied the Cloverleaf submission and Styles was able to crawl to the ropes to break free. Styles ducked a Brogue Kick by the apron, then he used the rope to attack the knee of Sheamus. That stunned Sheamus, which led to Styles hitting the Phenomenal Forearm springboard attack and covered for the win. The match went 15 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: AJ Styles
Analysis: ***1/2 That was a really good match that is another three star level match for Styles. I mentioned this on Twitter, but it seems like every Styles match on Raw and Smackdown has gotten over 10+ minutes. Believe me that’s not a complaint because he’s arguably the best in-ring performer in the company. I'm giving WWE credit for being smart enough to put him in matches that get a lot of time on TV. This match also reminded us how talented Sheamus can be when he’s presented in a favorable way where he is competitive against an opponent by getting nearfalls throughout. Neither guy hit a finishing move until Styles connected with the forearm, which is one of his finishes. I liked how they set up the ending with Styles avoiding the Brogue Kick, attacking the leg right away and then finishing right after that. Smart booking.
Post match, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson were in their ring gear as they applauded Styles on the win. They just stood on the ramp. He didn’t seem thrilled that they were out there.
Roman Reigns was shown watching on a TV screen backstage. The Usos showed up in his locker room. Reigns said they’re all together with regards to AJ with his buddies. The Usos said that they have Roman’s back. They reminded Reigns that “the one” needs help from “the all.” Reigns said that sometimes “the all” needs help from “the one.”
The New Day trio made their entrance to a nice ovation. Time for a break.
The New Day were in the ring with the Tag Team Titles. The announcers mentioned the Payback match where Enzo/Cass face The Vaudevillains leading to one of those teams facing The New Day for the Tag Team Titles. Xavier Woods made a reference to Prince by saying “party like it’s 1999” as Kofi and Big E pointed to the sky in honor of Prince.
The Vaudevillains appeared on the stage as Aiden English and Simon Gotch walked to the ring. English sang “WWE World Tag Team Championships” better than Woods, which seemed to upset Woods. English said they'd party like it's 1899, which was a pretty bad line. Gotch said that when they defeat Enzo and Cass they will stand atop the WWE…here’s the interruption.
Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady made their entrance with them doing their full intro. Enzo said he wants to run down the beach into his own arms, but that’s impossible. Yes he says weird stuff. Cass said there’s only one word to describe the Vaudevillains: S-A-W-F-T!
Woods talked about how this match at Payback will be so exciting, but no matter who wins The New day will remain the Tag Team Champions because…New Day Rocks. More trash talk by all of them as the segment came to a close.
Analysis: A solid segment to put over the tag team feud. As I had written in previous week, the Enzo/Cass and Vaudevillains teams needed more promo time to get people interested in their match. They got that promo time on Smackdown and also on this show. That’s what was needed, so nice to see WWE give them some time.
Anderson and Gallows were shown walking out Styles dressing room as they got set for their match.
There was a commercial for WWE Network shows.
The announcers mentioned John Cena tweeting earlier on Monday about his return to WWE on Memorial Day, which is May 30. .
Analysis: Pretty incredible that he’s back from shoulder surgery in five months because he noted it was supposed to be nine months, but that’s Cena. Dude always comes back fast. Cue the people that hate him and say he's on steroids or some other drug. I like the guy. Good for him for getting back earlier than expected. Last year was the best year of his career in terms of great matches. He just turned 39 years old on Saturday and I hope he's got a few more good years as a full timer left.
The Usos made their entrance first as they showed Anderson and Gallows attacking them two weeks ago.
Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson made their entrance. They had on white vests with black on them. Their gear was black with white designs on them.
The Usos vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
The Usos were on fire early, but then Anderson was able to get control. Gallows took a bit of a beating as both Usos nailed forearm smashes on him. Then Gallows came back with a huge clothesline on Jey that led to a somersault bump by Jey. Love when guys do that kind of bump. Fans chanting “Bullet Club” briefly. Sorry fans, but WWE doesn’t own that name and they can’t use it in WWE. Anderson worked over the injured left shoulder on Jey. Anderson with a back elbow cut off Jey from tagging out. Gallows pounded on Jey to weaken him. More working on the shoulder of Jey by the Gallows/Anderson team. I think there was a brief “Usos Suck” chant, but it didn’t last long. With Jey on the top rope, he got shoved off of there and went crashing into the barricade at ringside. Time for a break.
Back from break, Jimmy got the hot tag against Anderson and nailed a Samoan Drop on him followed by the running butt splash in the corner. Gallows came back with a clothesline on Jimmy and a dropkick on Jey sent him out of the ring. Gallows sent Jey over the barricade. Jimmy with a suicide dive took out Gallows. Anderson sent Jimmy into the ring post. Gallows boot to the face of Jimmy. Gallows and Anderson hit the Magic Killer double team move (double team neckbreaker) on Jimmy for the pinfall win after 13 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
Analysis: **1/2 That was a really strong debut for Gallows and Anderson. It put them over as a dominant team that was in control for much of the match. Even after the hot tag by Jimmy Uso, they were able to dominate the action leading to the decisive pinfall win. That’s how you really put over a team strong in their first match. My only complaint here would be that I think they should have had a 7-10 minute match instead of 13 minutes because then it would have been even more impressive. It still worked out well. I feel bad for the Usos right now because I like them as performers, but they are so stale that they barely get a reaction.
Post match, Gallows nailed punches on Jey as Anderson punched away on Jimmy. Here comes Roman Reigns for the save. Reigns hit a leaping clothesline on Anderson. Reigns hit a clothesline that sent Gallows over the top to the floor. Reigns checked on his cousins The Usos while Anderson/Gallows left.
Analysis: That makes sense with the story they are telling here. Reigns should have made the save. That works fine.
(As a side note, I listened to Gallows and Anderson on the Chris Jericho podcast last week. Highly recommended. The Festus story from Gallows is hilarious. Lots of funny stories there while also informing us about their history. I liked it a lot.)
A video package about Zayn vs. Owens is up next.
There was a backstage segment with AJ Styles doing an interview with Renee Young, but he was interrupted by Gallows and Anderson. They just said that they wouldn’t ruin his chance at the WWE Title. I had a phone call while this was on, so I didn’t catch all of it.
A video aired about the Zayn vs. Owens feud. It was awesome. They went back to their days pre-WWE with Zayn talking about being there for Owens’ wedding and when Owens son was born, but then things fell apart. It showed their issues in NXT, then Owens getting to Raw first and then Zayn eliminating him from the Royal Rumble.
Analysis: I’ve loved the feud. Great video to summarize everything so far. They need more videos like this even though every feud isn’t going to have this kind of backstory. I wrote a column about Zayn vs. Owens for The Comeback that you can read here. One of my favorite columns that I’ve written in a long time.
Zayn made his entrance.
Rusev entered with Lana.
Rusev (w/Lana) vs. Sami Zayn
Rusev pounded on Zayn to start the match. The fans chanting "We Want Lana" even when she's standing there at ringside. Good to see her with Rusev again. Mainly good to see her. Zayn sent him flying with a headscissors takedown. Rusev nailed a shoulder tackle to take him down as Cole mentioned Samoa Joe winning the NXT Title over the weekend. Zayn sent Rusev over the top, but his attack after that failed as Rusev dumped Zayn onto the apron. Rusev nailed a kick on Zayn and it's time for a break.
Rusev was in control with two gutwrench suplexes. Zayn came back with a clothesline. Zayn with a cross body block gets two. Rusev nailed a fallaway slam for two. When Zayn went for the armdrag off the top, Rusev nailed a huge superkick for a two count. Rusev went for the Accolade, but Zayn was able to counter into a ROLLUP OF DEATH~! for the win after about 12 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Sami Zayn
Analysis: **3/4 It was an okay match. Rusev looked really good on offense, but I thought they could have set up the finish better. It seems like Zayn can’t win a match with his actual finisher. That’s just a minor gripe. I just think rollup finishes out of nowhere are done way too often. It feels like there is one per show.
After the loss, Lana threw her shoes at Zayn. I think she actually tripped while walking and then turned it into a shoe toss.
Zayn celebrated the win. You could tell what was coming. Owens attacked Zayn with a forearm to the back. Zayn sold it in a big way as Owens stood over him.
Analysis: I was expecting more of an attack, but it got the job done with the cheap shot to the back.
Apollo Crews was backstage getting interviewed by Renee Young. Stardust showed up. Crews said that Dusty Rhodes helped him and his dad even came up with the name Apollo. Stardust laughed and said not even the great Dusty Rhodes could make him a star. He left.
Analysis: Actually Sylvester Stallone came up with “Apollo” in the Rocky films. Dusty probably suggested it to him, which is cool. Crews comes from actor Terry Crews. It's not like picking wrestling names is some really creative decision sometimes lol.
Apollo Crews vs. Stardust
There was a dropkick by Crews early and then Stardust hit a neckbreaker for two. There was a brief “Cody” chant. Stardust applied a submission on the arm of Crews. That didn’t last long. Stardust sat down to counter a sunset flip. Crews comeback with punches, kicks and a Stinger Splash in the corner. Back elbow by Crews. Standing moonsault gets two. JBL joked about how he and Ron used to do that. That’s pretty funny. Crews hit an enziguri. Crews hit a Spinning Sitout Powerbomb for the win after three minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Apollo Crews
Analysis: * A quick match to put over Crews like all of his matches in the last month. He wins in quick fashion, the announcers say he’s impressive and he doesn’t have a feud yet.
Dean Ambrose was shown walking to the ring as we approach the top of hour three.
Dean Ambrose made his entrance to a really nice ovation. He said he was going to host the Ambrose Asylum show, but he said there will be no AA. Ambrose said after being attacked from behind and left laying last week, he’s not in the mood for games. Ambrose talked about this Sunday at Payback he faces a six time World Champion Chris Jericho. Ambrose said he earns respect and he doesn’t ask for help. He said that his work ain’t pretty, but he’s either punching somebody in the face or getting punched in the face. That’s what he does. Doesn’t every wrestler do that? I mean I love ya Dean, but that wasn’t the best line.
Chris Jericho walked down to the ring. He’s rocking a vest with a scarf. He called Ambrose a disrespectful stupid idiot. Jericho said he’s not wasting his time fighting Ambrose in a dump like this. The crowd booed because they haven’t read the Heel 101 book lately. Jericho talked about elevating every opponent that he steps in the ring with. He said that Ambrose will benefit from being in the same ring as Jericho this Sunday. Jericho told Ambrose to kiss his $1500 boots right now. Those boots look like things I would never wear.
Jericho wanted Ambrose to apologize to him and yelled at him to look at him. Ambrose is sorry that Jericho spent so much money for those ugly ass shoes. He’s sorry that Jericho is wearing a scarf and his stupid Bon Jovi haircut. Ambrose said he’s sorry that Jericho pisses him off so much and sorry for beating him at Payback, but not sorry for this.
Ambrose attacked Jericho with punches and he sent Jericho out of the ring. Ambrose removed the cover of the announce table. He went to set up Jericho on the announce table, but Jericho tripped him up. Jericho gave Ambrose the Walls of Jericho on the announce table. This reminds me of when Paige was giving people her PTO submission on the announce table for a few weeks as if it hurts more. (She even tweeted about it.) Refs came out to break it up. Jericho left looking proud of himself. Ambrose did a good job of selling the attack.
Analysis: That was a good segment in terms of adding to the personal nature of the rivalry. Some of the verbal stuff wasn’t great, but I liked Ambrose doing the “sorry” thing to insult him several times. It’s especially good to insult Jericho for the scarf and the Bon Jovi hair. Jericho winning the physical part of the segment made sense because I think Ambrose is winning on Sunday, so Jericho getting the advantage here will set that up. They could do something on Smackdown too. I just think Ambrose winning on Sunday would be the right call.
Recap of Shane and sister Stephanie arguing earlier with Stephanie getting kicked out of the arena by Shane. There was a reminder that this Sunday at Payback, Vince McMahon will decide who controls Raw. What about controlling Smackdown? Oh right nobody cares about that show even though I review it and like it. I think my favorite part of Smackdown is that they don't waste time with segments about who is running the show. Learn from it, Raw.
Reigns vs. Del Rio later.
PLUG TIME: Check out the TJRWrestling podcast with new episodes going up every week right here on Podbean and also on iTunes if you search for us with "John Canton" or "TJRWrestling" as the search terms. This week on the show, which should be posted by Friday, we'll have wrestler TJ Perkins on as a guest. He worked as Manik in TNA, but he's no longer there since he's working for Evolve and other companies. He's going to be a part of WWE's Global Cruiserweight Series, so we'll ask him about that and everything else going on in his career. Please listen! Thank you!
There was a recap of Jericho’s successful attack on Dean Ambrose before the break.
Natalya was in the ring. Natalya is getting the Women’s Title match on Sunday, yet it’s Emma that gets the televised entrance. That’s a bit weird although Emma’s gorgeous, so I don’t mind. Then the Women’s Champion Charlotte made her entrance with daddy Ric Flair.
Natalya vs. Emma
Charlotte joined the commentary team. I still tend to write “diva” when talking about the women although I don’t miss the term at all. Just saying I got used to it after all these years. Emma tripped up Natalya on the apron and nailed a double underhook suplex on the floor. Emma: “It’s about me!” At least she didn’t yell about her house. Emma with a dropkick in the ring. Emma with a clothesline on Natalya as the crowd chanted: “We Want Sasha.” Announcers didn’t mention it. Natalya put on the Sharpshooter and Emma tapped out. That's it? Yep. It went about two minutes.
Winner by submission: Natalya
Analysis: * A short match. It was nice to see Emma get some offense in there, but there wasn’t even much of a comeback because Natalya won easily with the Sharpshooter. Remember when women’s matches used to get time? Not on this show.
A video package aired about Chyna. It showed highlights of her career like being in the Royal Rumble, winning the IC Title, fun clips with Eddie Guerrero and winning the Women’s Title. They showed some tweets from various WWE people like Trish Stratus, Lita, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, Steve Austin, Charlotte, Natalya, Shane McMahon and The Rock. More pictures were shown from her career. No shot of the crowd applauding or anything like that. They just went to a break.
Analysis: If they would have shown her that kind of respect when she was alive she could have been on a different path on her life. I truly believe that being blacklisted from WWE for the last 15 years played a part in what happened to her. She was only 45 years old. Some of it is her fault (like her addictions and doing porn), but the company basically ignored her just because her ex-boyfriend was married to the daughter of the boss. She was basically released after she found out Hunter was with Stephanie. Is that her fault? No. Then they ignored her for 15 years. Her death makes me pretty sad not because I was her biggest fan. I just think it was easy to sympathize with her. Why not show her some love while she was alive? It would have helped her. I know part of it is her fault and everybody is responsible for their own life, but I wish this story ended up in a different way. Too many people in wrestling die in their 40s. It breaks my heart every time. Just my thought.
The weekly “come to Puerto Rico” clip aired featuring Primo and Epico. I could use a vacation. Do they have casinos? I'll have to look it up.
The Miz and Maryse did a promo in the ring. It’s not Miz TV. It’s just a promo with them ripping on Cesaro. They kissed for a bit. Then Miz ranted about the people with the “Cesaro Section” signs while talking about how he brings prestige to the Intercontinental Title. He mocked the internet trolls that pine the Swiss Superman. He pointed at Maryse and said that this is what the Miz Section looks like.
Analysis: He has a point. The Miz Section looks nice.
Cesaro made his entrance in the suit. After Cesaro walked down to the ring, Miz did a Robert DeNiro impression and then a Joe Pesci impression. Cesaro told Miz the only movie he belongs in Jackass. Cesaro said that the IC Title is legendary and some of the greatest competitors in their industry did hold that title, so that’s why on Sunday he’s going to make sure the credits roll on Miz as IC Champion. Bad line. I feel bad for him having been told to say it. Miz then said “do you feel lucky, punk” and Cesaro with a “go ahead make my day” line in retort. Miz left the ring with Maryse. Then he went back for an attack, but Cesaro was waiting with a huge uppercut. Cesaro went for the Cesaro Swing, but Maryse jumped on top of Miz. That’s not the first time. Anyway, Cesaro held the IC Title briefly and left.
Analysis: I think the movie line promos are pretty cheesy, to be honest. I know that Miz does it to piss the crowd off, but this is the second week in a row where Cesaro fired back a line of his own. It just comes off as too fake. That bit about the credits rolling on Miz’s title reign was silly. Let them talk like normal men instead of actors reciting lines from actors in movies! It's not that hard to understand what works and what doesn't. Anyway, I expect Miz to retain at Payback, which is why Cesaro getting the advantage makes sense here. They might feud for a couple of PPVs.
There was a brief showdown backstage with Styles telling Reigns that he’s going to win the WWE Title from him at Payback. Reigns remarked about how Gallows and Anderson will probably be ringside and walked off confidently.
There was another mention of John Cena returning to Raw on May 30.
The match on the Payback Kickoff Show will be Kalisto defending the US Title against Ryback. It was earned by Ryback since he won non-title over Kalisto on Smackdown. Neither guy was on this show. What a way to bury a title.
Analysis: Every once in a while I get people asking me about adding more titles whether it's Women's Tag Team Titles or some other male title. No thanks. They can't book all of the titles they currently have the right way, so why add more? No thank you.
Roman Reigns entered with the WWE Title. They showed Reigns meeting a kid via the Make A Wish foundation. He greeted the kid and his family at ringside. The crowd was booing Reigns for the most part. When he went up the steps they booed him even more.
Analysis: There’s a strategic way to make the babyface champion that gets booed to get cheers. "Hey fans, don't boo this kid - he likes kids that make wishes!" It's a nice thought. It didn’t really work.
Alberto Del Rio entered for the main event.
Roman Reigns vs. Alberto Del Rio
The WWE Title is not on the line. The crowd was chanting “Roman Sucks” as the announcers ignored it. Del Rio was in control early by sending Reigns out of the ring thanks to an enziguri and then did a double foot stomp to the back.
Del Rio was still in control. During the break he sent Reigns shoulder first into the post at ringside. When Reigns tried a comeback, Del Rio gave him a knee to the ribs and then a DDT. Del Rio was selling some of the headbutts that Reigns hit him with. Del Rio set up for the kick, but Reigns avoided it and it’s Clothesline City with Reigns hitting three clotheslines in a row. More clotheslines by Reigns as he hit nine in the corner and then an uppercut punch. More boos from the crowd. Del Rio escaped to the floor. Reigns gave him a Drive By dropkick into the ring post. Del Rio was able to come back with a standing side kick to the jaw for a two count. Del Rio was able to set up Reigns upside down on the turnbuckle. He went for his finish, but Reigns avoided it. It looked like Del Rio just jumped further than normal. Reigns stepped out of the Cross Armbreaker and hit the Superman Punch.
There’s Anderson and Gallows. Their music hit as they walked down to the ring. Del Rio did the ROLLUP OF DEATH~!, but Reigns was able to kick out at two. Del Rio missed another attack and Reigns hit a Spear to win via pinfall after 13 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Roman Reigns
Analysis: ** A pretty basic match with an obvious outcome. It’s not like Reigns is going to do put over a guy at Del Rio’s level. The crowd didn't care about this match. As much as WWE tries to tell us Del Rio is a main eventer, he really isn’t thought of as that by the fans. Reigns was immune to the dreaded ROLLUP OF DEATH~! as well as the appearance of Anderson and Gallows. Clean win was no surprise. Perhaps they could have had a better match, but I assume both guys - especially Reigns - were exhausted after working long matches on the European tour every night for nearly two weeks.
Post match, Anderson and Gallows attacked Reigns. AJ Styles ran down to the ring. He told both guys to get off of Reigns. They didn’t seem happy about it, but they left. When Styles turned around, Reigns nailed a Superman Punch on Styles. Anderson and Gallows went back into the ring. Reigns nailed Anderson with punches and a Superman Punch by Reigns on Gallows. Styles nailed the Phenomenal Forearm on Reigns. The announcers immediately wondered if that was all a plan or if Styles just capitalized on the situation.
Both Styles and Reigns were selling the attack as the show ended at 11:09pmET.
Analysis: That was a good closing segment. It’s another week where it will put seeds of doubt in the minds of the audience. Do you think that Styles just capitalized on the situation of Reigns having to deal with Anderson/Gallows or is it all an elaborate plan with Styles working with them? I don’t think they’re going to have Styles working with Anderson and Gallows. It may be something where they turn out to be working for Reigns with him as a heel. They could also use it to debut Finn Balor on Sunday or next Monday.
I don’t know exactly how things will play out at Payback, but right now I’m leaning towards Reigns retaining the WWE Title and Styles stays as a babyface for the long term. I think that Balor debut is very possible for Payback on Sunday night. It would be perfect timing for it. After Reigns retains, have Balor attack with Gallows/Anderson and make him a main event player right away. That would work. As far as heel and face go, it’s hard to really tell anymore. Let the fans decide.
Three Stars of the Show
1. AJ Styles – Another great performance. I could have said phenomenal, I know.
3. (tie) Luke Gallows
3. (tie) Karl Anderson
5 out of 10
Last week: 6.5
2016 Average: 5.78
Last 5 Weeks: 6.5, 9, 6, 7, 6
2016 High: 9 (April 11)
2016 Low: 4 (Feb. 29/Mar. 21)
I’m giving it a 5 out of 10, which is below the yearly average.
The match quality was a bit down this week. The only match that really stood out to me was Styles over Sheamus. Even the Zayn match was a bit flat and that’s not usually the case for him.
There were a lot of promo segments. While I liked the Ambrose/Jericho bit, that Cesaro/Miz interaction felt so cheesy. The one involving Vaudevillains and Enzo/Cass was just okay. It just shows how hit or miss these segments can be. A lot of the time the problem is the writing, not the performers. As good as some of the performers are, if the writing is poor then the segments are going to die. I just don’t think they need to be as scripted as they are.
Another thing that was noticeable was the three League of Nations guys were all pinned. None of them entered the ring together either. There were rumors that they were going to kill off the stable and it looked like that has happened. They lasted about five months. Longer than The Union at least! (For those that don’t know what that was, google it!)
The lineup for Payback is pretty good. I don’t think this show really helped any of the matches on that show except for Reigns/Styles just because of the Anderson/Gallows stuff. It makes the main event a bit of an unknown and I like that.
Here's the Payback lineup:
WWE World Heavyweight Title: Roman Reigns vs. AJ Styles
Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn
Chris Jericho vs. Dean Ambrose
Intercontinental Title: The Miz vs. Cesaro
WWE Women’s Title: Charlotte vs. Natalya
Tag Team Tournament Finals: Enzo & Cass vs. The Vaudevillains
Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin
WWE United States Title: Kalisto vs. Ryback (Kickoff Show)
There's also Vince McMahon announcing who gets to control Raw: Shane McMahon or Stephanie McMahon & Triple H.
I’ll have a Payback preview up later in the week and the plan is to write about it live on TJRWrestling on Sunday night although I’m not sure if I’ll be home at the start of the show. I’ll do my best. Either way, full review up on Sunday night.
Thanks for reading. Go Toronto Raptors. Go Toronto Blue Jays.
John Canton – firstname.lastname@example.org