Only a day removed since Payback, we’re officially in WWE’s “New Era.” Does an extended opening promo of multiple McMahon’s really count as new?
Despite the staleness of many of the faces in charge, there’s still plenty of good to be found on the show. So here are the 5 best moments from the full three hours of WWE’s flagship show…
5. First Win Of 2016
It’s been disappointing to see how great Tyler Breeze can be from time in NXT only to have to watch him be relegated the lowest of the lowliest on Raw. He was in a marquee matchup against special attraction Jushin Thunder Liger in 2015 – he is better than this! Recently, Breeze has joined the likes of Fandango as a minor character in the grand story of The Golden Truth, a team that simply refuses to realize their destiny of tagging together and losing routinely to The Usos on Superstars.
Thanks to the wacky shenanigans of a distraction dance-off between Fandango and Truth that Goldust was watching, he got rolled up by Tyler Breeze to end the match. This marks the first win for Prince Pretty of the calendar year, a milestone that should’ve been reached long before now.
4. R.I.P. Mitch The Plant
Payback felt like the end of the Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho rivalry. Reports are circling the rumor mill that Y2J is already out the WWE door for another one of his hiatuses. That didn’t stop the two from interacting after Stephanie McMahon became the final guest of the Ambrose Asylum, Dean’s talk show segment that is currently cancelled.
Jericho met Ambrose on the entrance ramp and the two began to fight it out. The final blow came in the form of Dean’s favorite plant as Chris smashed it in the back of his head. A mess of
blood and guts potting soil stained the ground below them.
The internet immediately went into mourning for the plant with the perfect name. Pictures in the form of WWE’s traditional R.I.P. graphic for fallen wrestlers quickly emerged and flooded timelines and newsfeeds.
It can only be assumed that Ambrose will accept the foliage’s HOF award in his honor next year.
3. Ryder In The Final 2
Since Ryback has exited the contention for the United States Championship (and potentially WWE altogether), a new Number One Contender needed crowned. Filling this vacuum came in the form of a Battle Royal, featuring a wide array of middle card wrestlers.
The biggest highlight of this contest was the ovation Zack Ryder got when it came down to him and The Bulgarian Brute, Rusev. Ryder’s IC Title win at WrestleMania might’ve turned out to be nothing more than a fluke, but for a brief moment it looked like he was getting the booking love once again.
In the end, it was Rusev that won the over-the-top rope contest. He celebrated in the ring with Lana and good for him. However, the excitement that Ryder gave us in final moments was what made Rusev’s victory matter so much more.
2. Zayn Stood Tall With The IC Title
The first match on Raw was between Kevin Owens and Cesaro. The Intercontinental Champion, The Miz, watched the event with his wife while he hung out with the commentary team. The match was supposed to determine who would face Miz next for his belt, but Miz halted a Number One Contender being named when he struck Cesaro to end the match in DQ.
Arguments and fists followed between Cesaro, Owens, and Miz, who were joined by Sami Zayn during the scuffle. After delivering a Helluva Kick to Owens, Miz was pulled out of the ring by Maryse to safety. Miz haphazardly left his title behind, so Zayn picked it up and held it high in the air.
The ovation Sami got was tremendous. He’s clearly the fan’s choice in the IC Title hunt. The crowd gave him thunderous “Yes” chants of approval. I’m hoping that this shows WWE higher-ups that Zayn is somebody worth putting a top title on.
1. Who’s Side Is Styles On?
As long as WWE doesn’t get too upset that Roman and his cousins are the heels pretty much every town they go to, this is a great feud for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. AJ Styles and Roman Reigns have chemistry and when they’re not shoving too much McMahon nonsense into the story, it plays out pretty great.
After the six-man tag main event, Anderson & Gallows dragged a beat up Roman into the middle of the ring and handed AJ a chair. Styles wasn’t comfortable with this idea. He showed just a few moments later that he didn’t have a problem with using a chair when he battled The Usos, but there’s a difference between striking a man who’s in the middle of combat and striking one who’s completely helpless.
Styles is having a conflict between an allegiance to his friends of many years and whether or not he wants to join in with their dastardly heel tactics. If he keeps resisting the peer pressure, he’ll have to break away from his buddies and stick to the babyface route. If he finally embraces their influence, this could be the full emergence of a bad guy Bullet Club-ish faction.
Either way, I’m interested.
Plugs & Staff
Here are a few recent articles and reviews I’ve written worth checking out.
Also, follow me on Twitter @MitchNickelson.
Thanks for reading.