Raw General Manager Kurt Angle Announced a Universal Championship No. 1 Contender's Fatal 5-Way Match at Extreme Rules
Firstly, it's extremely unfortunate that Braun Strowman is out injured for six months following shoulder surgery. That's a big blow to not only his prominent push but Raw on the whole considering he's been one of the best parts about the flagship show for months now. Here's wishing him a speedy recovery. On the bright side, this was a solid segment that successfully set up the star-studded main event for Extreme Rules and featured serviceable mic work from all five combatants, as well as set up two more matches for the night.
Raw Tag Team Champion Jeff Hardy def. Sheamus
I've thoroughly enjoyed the simplicity of this tag team feud since it started from the slow-burn heel turn for Cesaro and Sheamus and the matches they've had since. Sheamus and Cesaro are fresh off a dominant win in Tag Team Turmoil, so Sheamus could afford to take a loss here. It was a well-wrestled match aside from the mini botch where Sheamus had to deliver a second Brogue Kick to Matt Hardy on the apron. The Hardyz continue their recent roll with yet another victory.
Alicia Fox def. Sasha Banks
The confusing conclusion to last week's match between Banks and Fox logically led to this rematch, and it was wise to keep it short and sweet. I honestly couldn't care less about anything involving Fox at this point, but her winning clean here was interesting. I doubt it means Fox is in for a push of any kind but rather that Banks is on the verge of turning heel sooner rather than later, effectively killing time before she enters her anticipated program with Bayley.
The Miz def. Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose by Disqualification
As tired of a feud as Ambrose vs. Miz has become, you can't deny that they work well together, and I really loved how this match had a big fight feel to it. That isn't the case for most Intercontinental Championship matches these days, so that's a sign WWE showcasing the title more and more in the last few weeks is working. The non-finish was a little lame, admittedly, but it made sense so they could face off in a gimmick rematch at Extreme Rules.
Bayley Confronted Raw Women's Champion Alexa Bliss
Bayley vs. Bliss is the perfect feud for the women's division right now because where Bliss lacks in the ring Bayley thrives, and it's the other way around for their mic skills. This was a strong segment as these two work exceptionally well together, and Bliss does a damn good job of getting under the skin of her opponents and bullying them. Bayley took only one kendo stick shot from Bliss and it looked vicious because Bayley solid it super well.
WWE Cruiserweight Champion Neville and TJP def. Austin Aries and Gentleman Jack Gallagher
We've seen this match a handful of times before, but it was what it needed to be in order to progress the feud between the four men. Although these are the four top talent in the division at the moment, the fans in attendance couldn't bring themselves to invest in the action, which is a massive shame. The Cruiserweight division has been branded in such a way where it might be damaged goods. Anyway, the hype for Aries vs. TJP on 205 Live on Tuesday night was well done.
Roman Reigns def. Finn Balor
Personally, I would have waited to hold this big money match until later down the line, or at least advertise it advance (beyond the opening segment), but this was a great match, nevertheless. It was equally as entertaining as their initial encounter from last summer and the drama down the stretch added to the intrigue. Reigns had every out to lose according to the commentators, but I understand wanting him to score the victory here coming off his defeat to Braun Strowman at Payback.
Goldust Attacked R-Truth
I was honestly shocked by Goldust turning on Truth. Granted, it was no Shield breakup, but I didn't think the previous backstage segment with them foreshadowed this at all, but I say that as a positive. They weren't exactly valuable assets to the tag team division, so splitting them up was for the best. I imagine this won't be much more than an undercard rivalry, but fingers crossed Goldust gets one last well-deserved heel turn out of it.
Big Cass def. Titus O'Neil
Well, it looks like we now know what's next for Enzo Amore and Big Cass: a storyline with Apollo Crews and Titus O'Neil. No, it isn't the most riveting angle, but it's something, I suppose. As I've said before, O'Neil is a lost cause as a wrestler, but him as a manager might work. I could certainly see Crews becoming full-fledged heel eventually after he attacked Enzo here, but he wasn't acting like one afterward. Of course, the match itself was total throwaway.
Seth Rollins def. Bray Wyatt by Disqualification
It was cool for Rollins and Wyatt to go one-on-one for the first time ever and it was obviously a fresh matchup, but the crowd wasn't exactly red hot for it. They produced a pretty good match, but the crowd didn't come alive until Samoa Joe interfered. They also popped for Wyatt laying him out, but that was about it. The build for this Fatal 5-Way match at Extreme Rules should be a ton of fun in the weeks ahead.
Last week's edition of Raw bored me to tears, so this episode was a slight improvement. The three hours weren't all that exciting, but Reigns vs. Balor and Ambrose vs. Miz are definitely worth going out of your way to see. Moreover, the road to Extreme Rules has finally entered the next gear with multiple matches being confirmed for the card, including the marquee main event and the Raw Women's Championship match.