Mere days before WWE Extreme Rules, the build for the pending pay-per-view took center stage on this week's Monday Night Raw.
Despite being painfully boring, this go-home show succeeded in progressing towards Sunday's event and hyping every advertised match on the card.
Here, I will analyze each significant segment presented on the show. I will also provide a combination of predictions and wishful thinking about what I hope to see in the coming weeks.
Fandango's Dance-Off with Chris Jericho Went to a No-Contest
Lame segment to kick off the show, featuring Chris Jericho and Fandango. I wasn't looking forward to the dance-off to begin with, so I wasn't distraught that it never actually happened.
However, it felt like it dragged on longer than it should and didn't excite this viewer in the slightest. It's nice to see Summer Rae develop a personality, but she was the only thing worth watching about this opening segment.
Ryback def. Zack Ryder
Basic squash match, with Ryback defeating Zack Ryder. It was a nice momentum-booster for Ryback, but it didn't accomplish much more than that.
The match was over within a blink of an eye, but at least they switched things up by giving us a bout we've never seen before. On a side note, I can't say I'm a fan of Ryder's new attire, but I appreciate the effort he's putting into reinventing himself.
The Prime Time Players def. Tons of Funk
Meaningless match between The Prime Time Players and Tons of Funk. While I'm glad to see Darren Young and Titus O'Neil emerge victorious, the win doesn't do much for them.
They've lost so many matches in recent months that it's difficult to envision them as threats to the tag team titles. Neither tandem is relevant at the moment, so I fail to see the point of this contest.
United States Champion Kofi Kingston def. Damien Sandow (non-title)
Nice match between United States Champion Kofi Kingston and Damien Sandow. It's a shame that Sandow is being utilized as a jobber to the stars at the moment, but at least his pre-match promos are consistently entertaining.
The two made the most out of the time they were given and developed some fun chemistry with one another. Kingston's victory was a forgone conclusion, but it helped establish his title defense against Dean Ambrose at Extreme Rules.
Sheamus Confronted Mark Henry
Effective segment featuring Mark Henry and Sheamus. Both guys played their roles and added intensity to this feud for the first time since it started.
Henry didn't lose much by running away from Sheamus, as he was the one who made the challenge in the first place. The feud up to this point has been terribly built, but thankfully this segment was enough to make me believe that the Strap match on Sunday could very well be decent.
Randy Orton def. Antonio Cesaro
Brief match between Randy Orton and Antonio Cesaro. These two just had a match against one another on WWE Main Event five days prior, so why bother having an unnecessary rematch the following week?
Not only that, but we've seen this match countless times before, so it was much of the same from Orton and Cesaro. It was only a week ago that Cesaro looked to be headed on the right track, but sadly it seems as if he's back to being an enhancement talent for the time being.
The Miz def. Heath Slater w/3MB
Throwaway match between The Miz and Heath Slater. I'm happy to see Miz back after a month-long absence, but I wish the appearance made more of an impact than it did.
Nonetheless, it was a fine match for what it was, before Miz inevitably forced Slater to tap out. Miz taking on Cody Rhodes in the pre-show match on Sunday should be good, but why not have the Awesome One invoke his rematch clause for the Intercontinental Championship instead?
WWE Champion John Cena and WWE Tag Team Champions Team Hell No def. The Shield by Disqualification
Strong six-man elimination match, with WWE Champion John Cena and Team Hell No defeating The Shield by disqualification. The match was very well wrestled and kept a consistent pace the entire time.
I wasn't fond of the disqualification finish, as it technically means The Shield is no longer undefeated as a trio. Nonetheless, Ryback's subsequent attack on Cena was ruthless enough to have me looking forward to their upcoming Last Man Standing match.
Jack Swagger w/Zeb Colter def. Big E Langston w/AJ Lee by Count-out
Good match between Jack Swagger and Big E Langston. The two work well together given their similar styles, but it was hard for the crowd to invest in this match with both Swagger and Langston being heels.
The count-out loss means Langston's undefeated streak is also over, but I guess it was necessary in order to have Swagger look like a threat going into Extreme Rules. It's disappointing that World Heavyweight Champion Dolph Ziggler won't be able to put his title up for grabs at the event, but his health is definitely top priority.
AJ Lee def. Natalya
Fine match, with AJ Lee defeating Natalya. It was probably one of the better Divas matches we've seen lately, but it's unfortunate that the chaotic commentary took focus away from the contest.
Kaitlyn's "secret admirer" angle is still intriguing, but I'm baffled as to why she won't be defending her Divas Championship against AJ at the pay-per-view. Bonus points go to AJ for debuting a new finisher that looks absolutely brutal.
Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman Confronted Triple H
Solid segment featuring Triple H, Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman to close the show. HHH delivers great promos when he's motivated, and this was no exception.
Of course, Heyman did all the talking for Lesnar and was as always excellent on the mic. The brawl between the two rivals was a nice teaser of what's to come in their Steel Cage match on Sunday, which might have sold some pay-per-view buys in the process.
Overall, a decent show that did its best to promote the hell out of every match on the Extreme Rules card. They really shouldn't have waited until the very last minute to confirm matches for the event, especially since they had six weeks to build towards it.
Furthermore, the three hours definitely dragged more than usual this week, which made for a dreadfully boring edition as a whole. The last few Raws haven't been the most exciting, so here's hoping the flagship show regains momentum following Extreme Rules on Sunday.
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