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WWE RAW Hits & Misses: Infuriating booking, awful Asylum and a rare New Day hit

NewDay

It's that time again, when I run down the highlights and lowlights of what was a pretty underwhelming Extreme Rules go home edition of Monday Night RAW.

-- Hits --

AJ/Roman non-verbals

While the show opening verbal confrontation between the two fell flat, the non-verbal and physical interactions between Roman Reigns and AJ Styles continue to be dynamite. Continuing to use a steel chair as a device to depict the temptation of both men to cross the line was a great idea with both men eventually using it to damaging effect. Giving AJ the upper hand at the end, by way of the lesser-spotted Styles Clash, was really impactful and suggests that Roman will retain on Sunday.

Reigns vs. Styles

The New Day travel back in time

Regular readers of my work will know that I’ve not enjoyed New Day’s promos for some time now. Their time travel segment at the bottom of the second hour was an exception however...even if I did groan at the predictable reveal of the time machine and its related special effects. The return of Jamaican Kofi, in 2009 - his “best year” - was hilarious, as was the transformation of Big E’s Booty-Os into “Derriere Squares”. Although the cold as ice Vaudevillains got zero heat from a raucous Greensboro crowd for their subsequent sneak attack, this segment was a rare New Day hit for me.

The handling of Big Cass

Luckily nobody watches Main Event, because Cass had an absolute stinker on that show last week - delivering a promo that was so poor in both its delivery and content I could barely believe it. Squashing Curtis Axel in under three minutes on that show demonstrated that the company does not believe Cass is ready for singles action yet and his brief outing against D-Von on this show further underlined that. It worked for me however, with his ability to shake off Bubba’s interference making him look as strong as his hard-hitting finisher, the East River Crossing. The pre-match promo was much better too, with amusing cracks comparing D-Von to Urkel and Bubba to Fred Flintstone.

Cass vs. Dudley

-- Misses --

The Intercontinental title program

Aside from Kevin Owens’ quips (upon learning that The Miz would be his tag partner: “But he’s the worst one!”), the pair of segments aimed at building up Sunday’s IC title match fell really flat. Ruining what could have been another excellent Sami Zayn/Cesaro singles match was one thing, but putting all four in a mismatched tag team partners situation was just bizarre. Steph’s threat that Owens would lose his spot in the match if he walked saved it somewhat; but what possible motivation would the other three have for even trying here? Moving up the notional tag division ranks with a guy you were never going to team with again?

Predicatably, after endless blind tags and bickering, the match eventually, with Owens again finishing with the upper hand, as he did on Smackdown. Zayn getting another win was a positive, but….

Champions losing again

….why does the champion, The Miz, need to be the one taking the pinfall after already losing to Zayn last Monday? Add to that the bizarre decision to put Alberto Del Rio over Kalisto with a transition move and you’ve got a second successive RAW where your champions are getting beaten unnecessarily leading into title defences. No wonder nobody cares about the belts anymore. I must say however, Kalisto sure sold the hell out of that Backstabber.

Golden Truth debut

Speaking of losses, Golden Truth giving up their first match to “Breezango” (ugh) after months of terrible vignettes is just eye-wateringly terrible, especially as Goldust was pinned with a kick, for heaven’s sake! The montage and the line “The WWE Universe wants the Golden Truth” had to be ribs from the writers -- all 28 of them.

Becky loses to Dana Brooke again….clean

When Mr. Dunn et al failed to show highlights of Dana Brooke's Emma-assisted debut victory on Smackdown, I knew something was up. And up it was, as Dana secured her second win over Becky in a week here. Except this time, it was clean as a sheet. I understand the need to make new heels look strong, but why put her over a popular babyface? There are plenty of other female talents doing nothing that she could have beaten convincingly here. This kind of stuff just angers me so much.

Jericho/Ambrose feud plumbs new depths

After weeks of pre-Payback wackiness, we were then treated to a dispute centering around the destruction of a potted plant and a jacket. Now, on this week’s RAW, the Jericho/Ambrose took a tonally ridiculous left turn with the supposedly dark and demented Asylum match. Which is basically a cage with some stuff stapled to it. Both men’s promos went on forever too, with little content to back it up. Dreadful segment to carry on a dreadful feud, that represented a terrible way to open up the second hour.

Ambrose Asylum

Shining Stars and the “Carolina jobbers”

First of all, I want to take credit for predicting weeks ago that Epico and Primo’s entrance would entail smelling hibiscus flowers. Secondly, I want to laugh at them using NXT’s Skyler and Hollis under pseudonyms, but failing to ask them to change their name-sporting trunks. The former Matadores squashed “Scott Jackson and Brian Kennedy” to precisely zero reaction.

Steph and Shane’s creepy NEW ERA

Aside from the continuing weird sexual tension between the two in their backstage segments (Shane: “How you doin’), it was tiresome to see the main event Women’s title contract signing segment be all about the McMahons. Also, how is Stephanie slapping Ric Flair in Flair Country supposed to get Nattie over as a babyface? Is there any thought put into these scripts at all?

Steph slaps Flair