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WWE RAW Hits & Misses: Dull matches, movie quotes, AJ intrigue

AJ Roman

It's time, once again, to run down the highlights - and lowlights - of what was a dismally dull Payback go-home edition of Monday Night RAW.


The Roman/AJ build

The uncertainty that continues to surround the direction of the AJ Styles character leading into Payback is one of the few examples of good writing on WWE television at the moment. The post-match clashes between he, Roman Reigns and Anderson/Gallows was a fine ending to a dreadfully dull RAW.

Enzo Amore

The little man who’s fast becoming the biggest talker in the business nailed it again on Monday night, expressing his unrequited wish to run toward himself on a beach! After a long absence, it was nice to see Aiden English attempt to reintroduce the singing element to his gimmick too. Simon Gotch, however, continues to need a lot of work on his talking ability. While this segment was a mild thumbs up, the tag tournament in general has been a massive failure. This hardly constitutes that stratospheric push that New Day were rumoured for after Wrestlemania.

Enzo Cass

Zayn/KO backstory video package

This is what they need to do a lot more of on RAW. Providing colour to one's characters with backstory videos has been an incredibly successful technique in NXT and it certainly hit the mark here too with Kevin Owens claiming victim status a particular highlight. The best heels are the ones who believe they have a legitimate gripe.

Ambrose and Jericho finally get serious

After a couple of weeks of further undermining the Ambrose character with silly wackiness, it was refreshing to see these two finally get serious on Monday night. Ambrose explicitly declaring that there would be no more fun and games and no Ambrose Asylum almost had me applauding, as did Jericho’s continued excellence on the mic - I’m particularly a fan of his overuse and pronunciation of the word “idiot”. It’s probably too late to save the feud, but this segment was a big hit. Although I could have done without the Paige-esque submission on the announce table from Jericho! What actual difference is the table supposed to make anyway!?

Jericho vs. Ambrose


Long, heatless matches with predictable outcomes

Go-home shows are almost always predictable affairs, but this was a particularly bad example. Three top babyfaces (AJ Styles, Sami Zayn and Roman Reigns) faced off against former League of Nations members in long, cold matches of no consequence. AJ’s match with Sheamus, clocking in at over 15 minutes, was especially dull, with AJ barely even getting a comeback in before an abrupt finish, not that the finishes to the other two matches were much cop either.

Wrestlemania’s importance undermined further

So, apparently Vince will decide at Payback whether or not Shane will remain at the RAW helm despite the fact that precisely that decision was determined by the finish of his son’s match with The Undertaker at ‘Mania. Nice to see that Steph and Shane remember that the other exists after their beef was unceremoniously dropped in the buildup to last month’s showpiece. The opening segment, which they shared, was a failure, in which Shane had to prompt the desired “Na Na Na Na…” chant from the crowd. Great to see Steph dish out another potential concussion with those full-blooded slaps of hers too. Someone must be emasculated even if it’s just an indie geek masquerading as a security guard.

“Bullet Club” in-ring debut flops

It was a terrible first match for Anderson and Gallows in which the shoulder that Jey Uso injured ONE YEAR AGO was targeted for what seemed like an eternity. Botching their double team finisher, the Magic Killer, was the gone-off icing on a particularly cruddy cake.

Gallows vs. Usos

Cody is STILL Stardust

Despite suggesting that Wrestlemania might be his swansong as the Stardust character, Cody Rhodes once again showed up on RAW in his face paint to serve as Apollo Crews' latest squash victim. It’s well-worn territory at this stage, but Stardust is a completely nothing gimmick that Rhodes needs to drop yesterday. His misplaced determination to persist with it, in honour of his late father, is admirable but ultimately very foolish.

Movie quotes

The decision to centre the feud between Miz and Cesaro around the exchange of movie quotes might be some of the worst creative I’ve ever seen. Which is a crying shame for the Miz TV host, as his straight-up heel promo, prior to Cesaro’s entrance, was actually really strong and well delivered. Also, that Cesaro uppercut was incredible and went a long way toward saving what was a poor segment overall.

Pre-show Kalisto

After succumbing to Ryback on last week’s Smackdown, Kalisto is now condemned to competing on his third consecutive PPV pre-show. This after not wrestling in a solitary other singles match on either of the two flagship TV shows since Wrestlemania. Why are they keeping the belt on this guy again?