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WWE RAW Hits & Misses: Strong top-of-the-hour segments highlight a dull go-home show

Dean Ambrose

Three entertaining top-of-the-hour promo exchanges just about managed to save Monday night's Money in the Bank go-home edition of RAW from being a total dud. Here, as always, are the show's highlights and lowlights:

-- The Hits --

Cena and Styles sign on the dotted line

Although I could have done without John Cena’s laboured Bullet Club references, the promo exchange between he and AJ Styles at the top of the third hour was very impressive. Cena delivered the goods as usual, namedropping PWG and ROH in an effective monologue, designed to get Styles over.

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Styles’ bitter rejoindre, delivered forcefully with convincing fire, was even more impactful as it further banished the notion that the former IWGP champion can’t hang with the best on the stick. Cena goading AJ into banning The Club from ringside was another big positive as it tied into the insecurity of AJ’s character, and ensured that we should get a wonderful, shenanigan-free, match between the two this Sunday.

The Ambrose Asylum

I certainly never anticipated that this segment would ever appear in the Hits column, and yet here we are. Ambrose’s jarring wackiness aside, this was another example of two talents delivering on the microphone when it mattered.

Admittedly, the primary goal of the segment, and the first-hour 'Shield Revisited' clips, failed. Despite the constant reminders of Rollins’ responsibility for the breakup of that popular faction, the crowd still cheered Seth and booed Roman Reigns throughout the Ambrose Asylum.

Having said that, we must still credit both performers’ delivery. Rollins’ superiority complex-driven promo was excellent, as was Roman’s confident reply. And, although the Dirty Deeds from Ambrose to Reigns to close the segment was a bit off-kilter, I thought the Money in the Bank tease worked well too, building some much-needed anticipation for that match.

The New Day meets The New Era

This segment really belongs in both halves of the column, as the solo contributions from the New Day, The Club and the Vaudevillains all fell flat.

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It was only when Enzo and Cass arrived in the ring to confront the New Day that this tag team championship build clicked in a big way. The Jersey boys taunting Xavier Woods about a promiscuous “Frannie”, culminating in the Woods line “I’m the only one who blows my girl!”, was fantastic. As was Cass comparing Kofi Kingston’s shoes to those of Jerry Seinfeld, the only one of many footwear-based insults that even raised a smile from this columnist.

Life Lessons

Look, the Darren Young and Bob Backlund vignettes have been awful from day one, but who among us did not laugh at Bob’s “This is my only pair of clothes!” line? Great delivery.

-- The Misses --

The 50/50 booking-laced MITB ladder match build

Thank God that the Money in the Bank ladder match is this Sunday, lest we have to sit through another weekly five-hour serving of pointless matches involving the six participants.

Backstage bickering segments with Sami Zayn/Cesaro and Kevin Owens/Alberto del Rio at least showed that the company is aware of the problem. But it was still impossible to care about either of the two matches involving the four -- Zayn’s spectacular Code Red victory aside.

The stipulation that Owens and Del Rio were putting their spots in Sunday’s match on the line against the Lucha Dragons certainly didn’t help as it was completely unbelievable. Plus, Kalisto and Sin Cara looked like even bigger geeks for losing to two guys who couldn’t get along at all.

Speaking of geeks, the 50/50 booking that has permeated throughout all in-ring interactions between the six is pretty much the professional wrestling equivalent of socialism. (Some level of inequality is necessary to get people over, you know!) Nowhere was that more obvious than in the main event, where Ambrose avenged his pointless loss to Jericho on last week’s Smackdown. Meanwhile, Owens saved the segment with his sarky commentary, while Zayn, Del Rio and Cesaro all looked like jabronis. Terrible.

Paint-by-numbers lower card booking

The build-up to Rusev’s US Championship defence against Titus O’Neil has been incredibly basic and incredibly dull. After weeks of Titus run-ins, the Bulgarian Brute attacked O’Neil from behind on Monday before he could compete in what I was assume was supposed to be a match.

This ambush got little reaction from the live audience, and I’m sure the audience at home didn’t appreciate the immediate post-commercials replay either. All I could do was sympathise with Titus, as Jack Swagger clearly wasn’t interested in returning last week's favour and saving his ass. Harsh.

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Elsewhere, in a reprise of that Swagger segment from last week, Apollo Crews ran in to save Zack Ryder from a post-match beatdown at the hands of Sheamus. Yawn. Sure can’t wait to watch that pre-show.

Bickering McMahons

I just don’t care! Every time Stephanie and Shane are onscreen with their weird incestuous sexual tension, I just want to shut off my television. It is literally impossible to care about who runs what show; the outcome will be the same regardless. Even Corporate Kane with his arson and testicle electrocution callbacks couldn’t save the segments involving these two from getting my dander up.

The Divas Devolution

Far from the lofty heights of top-of-the-hour segments and long matches upon its glorious inception, the so-called Divas Revolution is now reduced to a tag team program that no-one cares about on one of the biggest PPVs of the year.

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Attempts to build tension between Charlotte and Dana Brooke are also doomed to fail, as the latter is far from ready for a program of that magnitude. Although, given that the Women’s champion got just three minutes to lose to Paige on Monday night, that magnitude may not be so great.