May 30, 2016
From the Resch Center in Green Bay, WI
Your hosts are Byron Saxton, JBL, and Michael Cole
The show starts with all of the wrestlers on the stage as we get a ten-bell salute to honor those who have served our country. This is followed by a video package based off of Ronald Reagan’s 1982 Memorial Day speech which features comments from current WWE talent.
Shane McMahon comes out to the ring after the video package ends. However, Stephanie McMahon comes out right as he was about to speak. She is met with boos. Stephanie then tells Shane he was planning on “doing this” without me as she then welcomes the crowd to the show. Shane then reminds his sister that people want to hear less of her as he welcomes the crowd, drawing a more favorable response. Shane and Stephanie talk about Smackdown going live every Tuesday night starting on July 19th and how its better for everybody until Stephanie said this is RAW and tonight, we will get the return of John Cena, drawing a mixed reaction. The New Day now interrupt and talk about being shocked regarding the announcement of Smackdown going live. They then talk about feeling paranoid as we see all sorts of news headlines about the announcement of Smackdown going live on Tuesdays before talking about brand extension, something Shane confirms by saying each show will have their own unique announcement. The New Day make fun of Kofi for saying he is the New Era before he asks them where are the New Day going? Stephanie then tells Kofi those decisions have not been made and they will find out in due time as the New Day accuse Stephanie of playing dodgeball with the questions, even doing a reenactment of the sport, as they want to know what will happen to them? Big E asks if there is a chance the New Day could be broken up as they get sad as Xavier cries about his trombone. Stephanie lets him know nothing has been decided, including who will be in charge of Smackdown as she describes it as a “work in progress” as Shane assures us that it will all be carefully thought out. Big E then issues a dance challenge as Stephanie thinks it ridiculous while Shane agrees. Stephanie then finally agrees to dance but gets cut off as the Vaudevillains make their entrance. Cole then lets us know that the Vaudevillains vs. New Day will happen next live on Smackdown as he is already screwing things up.
Bad segment. The story here seems to be that Shane & Stephanie are going to purposely dodge any questions regarding what will happen to the roster or what changes will occur for Smackdown and that the reason for the brand split is simply due to a business decision we know nothing about. You are making a storyline decision to split the rosters up based off of news reports from media outlets reporting that Smackdown will be going live. That does not get anyone excited, let alone build any suspense. The New Day asked the same questions that were asked fourteen years ago when the brand split first happened. Plus, the comedy stuff with the New Day went on forever and it seemed to kill the crowd. Not really their fault for that as they were asked to fill a whole lot of time.
Kofi Big E w/ Xavier vs. Vaudevillains
This match started before the break. Kofi beats on English then the New Day start the Unicorn Stampede. Gotch ends up yanking Kofi’s leg, allowing English to hit a knee smash as the Vaudevillains are now in control. They beat on Kofi in the corner as Cole lets us know that Gotch was trained by Harley Race. Kofi gets dumped outside right before the break and when the action returns, Kofi hit Gotch with a floating DDT as both men are down. Kofi is able to make the tag as Big E starts tossing around English. He follows a belly-to-belly suplex with a splash but after that, Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows attack Xavier Woods on the outside then beat on Kodi. The ref rings the bell as The Vaudevillains attack Big E from behind then leave as Gallows & Anderson head inside and hit Big E with the Magic Killer (8:53) **.
Thoughts: The match itself was mediocre but the big takeaway was that the New Day will now be feuding with Anderson & Gallows, which was really the only way they could go at this point given the sad state of the WWE Tag Team division. Anyway, I’m fine with a program between these two teams.
After the break, Renee Young meets up with Gallows & Anderson. They tell her since AJ went his way, they are going their own way and are putting the whole tag team division on notice and tonight, they are just getting started.
We get a clip from last week where Sheamus attacked Apollo Crews during his interview as he sceramed about the New Era. That ends and we cut backstage to Crews doing pushups and stopping when a set of feet are in front of him. Crews gets up and we see its the Big Show, telling him it does not matter what era it is as he jokes about knocking people out since the “Jurassic Era.” Big Show then lets Crews know he likes him a bit and that Sheamus feels threatened by the New Era and to think of Sheamus as a bully and asks Crews if he is afraid of Sheamus before walking off. Show gave Crews a motivational speech here, which could be him just setting up Crews to fail as a New Day vs. Old Guard feud seems to be brewing here.
The Golden Truth come out as R-Truth wraps as they will join on commentary for the next match, which takes place after the break.
The Usos vs. Breezango
R-Truth accidentally refers to Saxton as “Coach.” Before the match, Breezango is shown in an insert promo as they brag about being undefeated due to beating the Golden Truth twice. The match starts as the Usos immediately take control. Breeze catches one of the Usos with a kick then Fandango tags and covers for a nearfall. The Golden Truth are completely dominating everything on commentary as one of the Usos surprise Fandango with a crucifix for the win (1:50) 1/2*. After the match, Breezango blames the Golden Truth for their loss but end of getting laid out after starting a fight.
Thoughts: The match was nothing but this is the first time since the 1980’s that I’ve seen someone score a pin with a crucifix. The commentary from the Golden Truth was a bit much and their feud with Breezango, two teams portrayed as absolute losers, is something I can see a lot of viewers at home changing the channel when showcased on TV.
Cole hypes the Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at Money in the Bank as we will hear from Reigns for the first time since Extreme Rules after the break.
Roman Reigns comes out to the ring as he is met with a chorus of boos from the fans. He pauses for a minute to let the fans continue their booing before telling us how two years ago, Seth Rollins sold out by breaking up the Shield. Reigns then calls out Rollins for saying he is “the man” as he is always running from himself, “the guy” before going through his catchphrase. He calls out Rollins, who heads out on the ramp. Rollins then heads out to the ring but stops as he walks back up the ramp to grab a microphone. Rollins stays there as he pauses for a minute then tosses the mic over his shoulder and heads down the ramp. Rollins continues to tease a run-in attack while amusing himself, even running down again after his music played, while Reigns stands in the ring holding up his title.
I’m all for a heel playing mind games but this did go on for too long. Then again, this was pretty much the exact opposite of what we would see later on tonight so in that context, it fits.
We get an ad hyping John Cena’s return to RAW tonight plus a six-man tag match featuring all of the Money in the Bank Briefcase Match contenders.
Lana is standing in the ring after the break. She asks all of America to stand up and place their hands over their hearts in order to welcome the American hero, Rusev.
Rusev w/ Lana vs. Zack Ryder
Before the show, Ryder is shown in an insert promo saying how last year on Memorial Day, he accepted the John Cena U.S. Open Challenge on RAW and after winning the Intercontinental Title at WrestleMania, he feels confident about winning tonight. Match starts with Ryder attacking Rusev until getting caught with a knee smash. Rusev is in control as the crowd gets behind Ryder, who catches Rusev with a double knee smash. Ryder hits a missile dropkick to the back of Rusev’s head then follows that up with the Broski Boot. Ryder misses the Rough Ryder then after that Rusev puts him in the Accolade for the win (2:32) 3/4*. After the match, Rusev grabs the mic and compares Ryder to an entitled American who believes he has a right to anything he loses. Rusev then tells us he is a true American Hero until Titus O’Neill interrupts. Titus tells Rusev that great Americans fight for what they believe in as the crowd starts up a “USA” chant. Titus then calls Rusev a “Bulgarian Blowhard” before knocking him down. Rusev bails then screams at Titus as the crowd wants to see a fight but he just walks away.
Thoughts: Decent segment. The crowd was into Rusev as the evil foreigner heel and the post-match interaction with Titus got over. Going forward though, it will be tough to get these reactions seeing that Titus has not been showcased on TV in months and was not exactly portrayed strongly prior to his suspension.
The Shining Stars are behind a green screen as they invite us to Puerto Rico. This gimmick is on a fast-track to nowhere.
We are shown a video package, set to sappy music, from last week when Charlotte fired her father. We hear from other stars, including Becky Lynch and Natalya who Flair had screwed out of the title on multiple occasions, who sympathize with Flair. We are then shown a clip from earlier today as Stephanie tells Charlotte she is an embarrassment as the Womens Champion. Charlotte then laughs at this coming from Stephanie, who then screams at Charlotte for being a waste of talent.
I thought some of this was completely nonsensical (like Becky feeling sorry for the guy who screwed her out of the title) but they just seem to be killing time until Sasha Banks gets healthy by trying to have everyone portray Charlotte as a terrible person to build her up even stronger as a heel.
Enzo & Big Cass head out to the ring. They go through their routine, even adding Big Cass listing off all sorts of cheeses due to the fact they are in Wisconsin as they hype up their match against the Dudley Boyz. It was fine.
Enzo & Big Cass vs. Dudley Boyz
Dudleys briefly take control until Cass fights them both off. Cass uses his partner as a weapon to clear the Dudleys from the ring as we head to break. The action returns with the Dudleys working over Enzo. D-Von puts Enzo in a chinlock for a bit then Bubba tags and mocks Enzo’s dancing but ends up walking into a dropkick as both men are down. The crowd rallies behind Enzo then pops for the tag as Cass runs wild on D-Von. Cass ducks his head and that allows the Dudleys to take control as they hit a double-team neckbreaker for a nearfall. Bubba heads up top but Enzo distracts him as Cass slams him off. Cass then hits D-Von with a big boot before tagging Enzo as they hit the Rocket Launcher for the win (9:18) **.
Thoughts: The match was fine. Cass was featured the most and he is continuing to impress on the main roster.
Backstage, we see Sami Zayn, Cesaro, and Dean Ambrose talking as they are a team tonight. Dean tells Sami you cannot trust Jericho or Owens as they are Canadians. Sami finally lets Dean know he is Canadian as Dean tells him “that explains so much” before walking away.
John Cena makes his return to RAW. He is met by a decent amount of cheers and some boos. Cena gives a patriotic speech as the crowd chants “USA.” He lets us know that Memorial Day is a celebration of the sacrifices made from all who served. He then lets us all know he is back on Monday Night RAW and how that raises a new question: Does he still belong here? Cena talks about how he will not go away quietly and that the future must go through him. He slams down the mic as the crowd is behind him but then AJ Styles comes out to the ring. The crowd goes nuts as they start a dueling chant. Both guys even seem amazed as to how electric the crowd is for this. Both guys smile until Styles tells Cena he has been waiting for this moment for a long time as Cena reminds him how judging by their reaction, the crowd has been as well. Styles then puts over Cena for being the first to arrive to the arena and the last to leave while putting over his charity work before saying how he wanted to be the first to say “welcome back” as he extends his hand. They shake then Gallows & Anderson head out to the ring. Gallows reminds Styles about how they decided to go their separate ways then call out Styles for sucking up to Cena as Anderson lets Styles know they are not here to kiss-ass but rather to kick-ass as Styles & Cena face off against them both until Styles cheap-shots Cena as we get a 3-on-1 attack on Cena as the crowd boos. Styles then raises hands with Gallows & Anderson as they walk away together. However, Styles runs back inside and hammers away again while his friends cheer him on. Styles walks away only to return and beat on Cena some more as he then stops to taunt the crowd, who are booing him. Several officials run down the ramp to check on Cena, who is sporting shorts and belts with the “Ellen” show logo only for Styles to return to the ring again and land some more shots as Styles then tells the world they are welcome.
Great segment. By the end of this, Cena was the clear-cut babyface and Styles the hated heel. That is how you know whether or not a turn worked. If the rumored plan of Cena headlining Smackdown is true, then I can see Cena vs. Styles as the main program for that brand. You could even have the New Day align with Cena to face the Club, who could even get a fourth member added, such as Finn Balor. I urge everyone reading who did not watch to track this segment down.
We return from break to see a replay of Styles attacking Cena.
Natalya vs. Dana Brooke w/ Charlotte
This is a rematch from this past Thursday’s Smackdown where Charlotte interfered. Natalya hammers away to start. She hits a suplex but walks into a clothesline after that. Dana chokes out Natalya on the bottom rope as Charlotte joins in to slap Natalya in the face behind the referee’s back. Natalya comes back with a discus clothesline then attempts the Shaprshooter but instead opts to chase Charlotte off of the apron and ends up getting hit with a Michinoku Driver as Dana picks up the win (1:27) DUD. After the match, Charlotte and Dana beat on Natalya until Becky Lynch runs out for the save as the heels hop the barricade.
Thoughts: Yikes. This was a terrible match even if it was under 90 seconds. Both women were way off in everything they did. It looks like we are going back to Becky vs. Charlotte again as a stopgap feud. I’m fine with that, given the current options available.
Jojo is with Dolph Ziggler and asks him about losing to Baron Corbin at Extreme Rules. Ziggler then talks about his amateur wrestling background as he makes note of Chris Jericho’s list of 1,004 moves before noting that he has 1,005 as he begins to copy Jericho’s routine, even mentioning “armbar” after every other move. Good lord this was terrible. Ziggler did a piss-poor impression of the original segment and while I got the reference, an overwhelming majority of those watching probably did not, which makes it even worse.
Baron Corbin vs. Dolph Ziggler
Cole puts over Ziggler’s collegiate wrestling background as we even get some photos of that. Ziggler puts on his headgear and inserts a mouthpiece to start then kicks Corbin in the junk for the DQ (0:34). After the match, Ziggler announces that he has been disqualified but that the loser is still Baron Corbin.
Thoughts: It makes sense for Ziggler to give Corbin his comeuppance. However, this feud has not done either guy any favors and after this, it seems like it will be continuing.
Maryse introduces us to the Miz, who is live on-location from his luxurious penthouse suit while filming the “Marine 5.” Miz talks about tomorrow is the first day of shooting but not to worry as we will be hearing from him each and every week he is away. Expect more Miz on-location promos in the coming weeks.
Backstage, Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho, and Alberto Del Rio are talking. They are all arguing with each other until settling down and agreeing to stay on the same page tonight for their match. Owens and Del Rio then walk away as Jericho mutters how they are idiots.
This Thursday on Smackdown, Becky Lynch will face off against Charlotte in a non-title and that The Club will explain why they attacked John Cena.
Dean Ambrose & Cesaro & Sami Zayn vs. Alberto Del Rio & Kevin Owens & Chris Jericho
Del Rio and Cesaro start things off. Cesaro fights back and hits an Uppercut Train before knocking Owens and Jericho off of the apron. Cesaro then takes out Owens on the floor then tries a giant swing on Del Rio but that gets broken up. Del Rio tosses Cesaro outside so his partners can rough him up. Back inside, Del Rio works a side headlock. He catches Cesaro with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker before tagging Jericho. The heels cut off the ring as the crowd starts a “stupid idiot” chant to rile up Jericho. Cesaro fights back to dead-lift Del Rio for a suplex before tagging Zayn, who runs wild. Zayn gets two with a flying body press but Owens is able to yank Del Rio out of the way of a Helluva Kick as they start yelling at each other. The heel team is all bickering outside as Zayn takes them all out with a plancha right before the break. The action returns with Owens putting Zayn in a chinlock. Owens then dumps Zayn across the top rope and roughs him up before taunting his opponents. Del Rio tags and stomps on Zayn before applying a chinlock. Jericho is in again as the crowd taunts him and he misses a running attack as Zayn crawls towards his corner. Jericho grabs a hold of Zayn and beats him from the mat while yelling at him to stay down. Zayn tries to fight back then catches Jericho with a Blue Thunder Bomb before making the tag. Ambrose runs wild on Jericho but the Dirty Deeds gets blocked as Jericho follows with an enziguiri. Ambrose gets his knees up on a Lionsault attempt then takes Jericho out on the floor with a tope. Ambrose then sends Owens into the barricade before hitting Jericho with a top rope elbow smash. Del Rio breaks up the pin attempt then gets tossed outside. Jericho tries a Codebreaker as that gets blocked but is able to catch Ambrose with it off of a rebound. However, Owens tags himself in as Jericho takes offense. The match breaks down after that and Ambrose hits Owens with the Dirty Deeds for the win (17:53) ***. After the match, the winners all stare at the briefcase hanging from the ceiling.
Thoughts: Good match but nothing I would consider great or anything. It was rather formulaic. They build up tension among the heel side of the Money in the Bank match competitors and I expect that next week, they same will happen on the face side.
Final Thoughts: The streak of good shows after WrestleMania 32 ends here. The Styles turn was fantastic and the main event was good but other than that, it was garbage for the most part.
Maybe they went light here due to the holiday of Game 7 of the NBA Western Conference Finals (well, is very likely that was the case) but they spent a lot of time focusing on lower card acts and more than anything else it showed that there is a lack of depth to fill out five hours between RAW and Smackdown on a weekly basis, even with potential NXT callups in the mix. At this point, you’d need to run a Zack Ryder vs. Viktor feud or something of that caliber that to fill up TV time.
And speaking of the Brand Extension, they did an awful job in building any sort of intrigue to want to see this take place. Right now, the story is that the decision was announced and stuff is getting worked out. That is what they are selling us fans at the moment. It doesnt get me excited in the slightest and while I do expect they will give us a story going forward, they failed on the first night.
I’m digging the Styles turn and direction he can go with while part of the Club and its great to have Cena back but until they start giving us reasons to care about the Brand Split. And I think Money in the Bank is shaping up to be a good show but as far as tonight’s RAW show was concerned, it was a two-segment show mixed in with copious amounts of uninspired booking and dialogue and that is not good enough for 185 minute-long program.