The big news from last week’s episode of Raw was when AJ Styles turned heel by attacking John Cena the first time they were in the same ring. This week, the two had a segment where Cena asked Styles why he did what he did, which ended with a bit of physicality thrown in.
World Wrestling Entertainment announced the first time ever Styles vs. Cena match for the June 19 Money in the Bank show over the weekend. In the opinion of most of the WWE Universe, it is the most anticipated match in WWE this year.
During his promo on Raw, Cena commented that there was a sense of something special when he was in the ring with Styles. He said it was only comparable to his rivalry with one other man: The Rock. It actually makes sense because the crowd was chanting “Let’s Go Cena/AJ Styles” very loudly last week on Raw to suggest that they really want to see this rivalry evolve.
"Dude, your jokes are as outdated as my JORTS!" – @JohnCena to @AJStylesOrg #RAW pic.twitter.com/gvvNRxVOyt
— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) June 7, 2016
There was a bit of a noticeable slip-up by Cena as he referred to The Club as “The Bullet Club.” That was the name of the group in Japan and in Ring of Honor, but WWE doesn’t have the legal rights to use the name, which is still active in those companies. Just a small mistake by Cena which wasn’t that noticeable anyway.
"I wanted to shake your hand. Look you right in the eyes. And PUNCH YOU right in the FACE!" – @AJStylesOrg #RAW pic.twitter.com/4aABzyrqG3
— WWE (@WWE) June 7, 2016
Styles explained his actions by saying he wanted to punch Cena in the face and knows that Cena can’t hang with him in the ring. Then Styles said something really interesting by noting that after Cena gets done with somebody, that person is “buried.” It’s a wrestling term that some fans overuse online, but it basically means that a wrestler isn’t as big of a deal after a Cena feud because Cena usually wins.
There’s some truth to what AJ said, although I don’t think it’s Cena’s fault. That’s just WWE booking Cena too strong for the past 11 years.
The promo exchange worked because they didn’t joke much or say something dumb. What they said fit both of their characters, while the crowd was reacting as they should have. Styles wants to make a point that he’s the best wrestler, while Cena wants to prove that he’s better than ever.
The main event of Raw saw AJ Styles, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson beat New Day members Big E & Kofi Kingston. After the match was over, they tried to continue the attack, but Cena ran out for the save and Styles got out of there in typical heel fashion
I get the feeling that they’re going to have two or three PPV matches this summer, culminating in a blowoff match at SummerSlam on Aug. 21. When WWE does their draft for the brand extension, it would make sense for Cena and Styles to be on the same show as well. They could make Styles the champion (assuming there are two World Titles) and Cena can chase him for the title.
I’m excited for Cena vs. Styles, just like I am for Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins. Money in the Bank definitely has the feeling of being a major show on June 19.
This Week’s Raw Matches
Here’s a rundown of this week’s matches on Raw with quick notes on each. It was a weird week for matches because they crammed a lot of them into the broadcast, while not giving enough time for the guys that usually get more time.
Cesaro defeated Chris Jericho
They’re in the Money Bank match, so Stephanie made three singles matches for MITB competitors. It was a competitive match that Cesaro won clean by submission with the Sharpshooter. It was the best match of the night, but not at the level of the best TV matches of the year.
Rusev defeated Jack Swagger by countout
A short match that went about three minutes. They did a big double clothesline spot on the floor. Then Rusev tossed Swagger into Titus O’Neil, who was on commentary for this match. Rusev won by countout. Post-match, both Swagger and O’Neil went after Rusev, so Rusev got out of there.
The Vaudevillains defeated Enzo & Cass by disqualification
Another short match that went about three minutes. Aiden English tossed Enzo Amore hard into the ropes (just like Simon Gotch did to Enzo at Payback, leading to a concussion for Enzo) and Enzo sold it like a big deal. He wasn’t really hurt. Cass was so mad that he got disqualified as he pounded on English in the corner. A lame finish that was done to put over the aggressiveness of Cass, who management is really high on right now.
Alberto Del Rio defeated Sami Zayn
Del Rio won clean in a match that got less than 10 minutes. I’m surprised they didn’t get more time. Zayn loses a fair bit, due to his “underdog” status. Del Rio winning is fine because he could use some momentum going into Money in the Bank.
Dean Ambrose defeated Kevin Owens
I was surprised by this — not because of the result, but the lack of time. Only seven minutes for two of the best in WWE? Weird. Ambrose was barely on offense. Then he came back to get the win clean with Dirty Deeds out of nowhere.
Tyler Breeze vs. R-Truth ended in a mess
I don’t think “ended in a mess” is an official match result, but that’s what it was. They had a match for less than a minute, their partners (Fandango with Breeze and Goldust with Truth) went into the ring and that was it. Why should the fans care about this? It’s bad. No fault of the performers. It’s a creative team problem.
AJ Styles, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson defeated Big E & Kofi Kingston
This was a 3-on-2 handicap match because Styles hit Xavier Woods with a Styles Clash on the floor before the match. They only got about six minutes with The Club getting the win, thanks to Styles hitting the Phenomenal Forearm on Kingston. Post-match is when Cena ran out for the save.
Three Other Key Items From Raw
1. There was no sign of WWE Champion Roman Reigns or his Money in the Bank challenger Seth Rollins in the arena on Raw. However, both men were featured in video packages where they talked about their history with each other, as well as what they wanted to prove in their upcoming showdown.
In the Rollins video, he came across as this lovable, hard-working guy who fought back from a devastating knee injury to get to the top of WWE again and now he’s back. The problem with that narrative is that he’s the heel in this feud, so we’re supposed to want to see him fail. After watching the video, it’s hard to see why somebody would want to see a guy fail who busted his ass to get back to doing what he loves. I get that WWE wanted the focus to be about Rollins saying he wants to be the best ever, but it’s hard to boo him after that video.
For the Reigns video, he is much better in this setting than he is in the ring. When he’s in the ring, he doesn’t express himself well. He’s got that low voice that sometimes doesn’t project the way it should. When he’s backstage talking to a camera, it works much better.
It was an interesting strategy to not have them appear in the arena. I guess it’s because they don’t want to put Rollins in a televised match before Money in the Bank. He’s worked live events, so he is fine. It’s just one of those things where they want fans to tune into MITB to see him back in the ring again.
#TeddyLongRunningSmackDownLive = Shortest campaign ever?! #Raw https://t.co/kImy828xAD
— WWE (@WWE) June 7, 2016
2. In this week’s “As The McMahons Turn” storyline saga, Stephanie McMahon came off as more of a heel again as she dealt with a visiting Teddy Long, who is a former manager, referee and most known as a Smackdown GM. Long was scripted to be an out-of-touch old guy while Stephanie was disrespectful to him.
Stephanie ended up kicking Long out of the building. She did it in a way that was different than the babyface character she’s been playing for the last two months.
No sign of Shane McMahon on Raw. He was on vacation, according to Stephanie. Maybe he was in Puerto Rico trying to figure out why they keep airing those awful Shining Stars promo videos.
In case you’re wondering, still no official word on when WWE might do the brand extension draft or when they might announce who is running what show. Maybe next week or the following Monday after Money in the Bank.
3. There wasn’t a women’s match on Raw this week, which is a shame. The division is loaded with talent, yet they continue to disappoint by not really featuring the women on the roster as much as they should.
Their segment was another long-winded promo by WWE Women’s Champion Charlotte. She said that even though she told her dad Ric Flair to get lost two weeks ago, she still wanted to see him – just outside of the wrestling business. Natalya and Becky Lynch came out, talked about how horrible a person Charlotte is and tried to convince Charlotte’s “protégé” Dana Brooke to stop hanging out with Charlotte. Brooke acted like she was walking away from Charlotte, but then she attacked the faces, leading to Charlotte and Dana looking strong to end the segment.
It appears as though all of this is leading to a women’s tag match at Money in the Bank with Natalya & Lynch vs. Charlotte & Brooke.
Looking Ahead To Money in the Bank
The WWE Money in the Bank event takes place on Sunday, June 19 in Las Vegas. Here’s what we know so far.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins.
It looks like this will be the first televised match for Rollins since his injury last November. He has wrestled on live events since coming back.
John Cena vs. AJ Styles: The match was officially added last week. It should be awesome.
Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Kevin Owens vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Sami Zayn vs. Chris Jericho vs. Cesaro vs. Alberto Del Rio.
WWE has dropped the idea of having seven men in the match, even though that’s what they said a few weeks ago. This company loves to change its mind.
Tag Team Title Match: The New Day vs. The Vaudevillains vs. Gallows & Anderson vs. Enzo & Cass.
In terms of logic, there’s really no reason for The Vaudevillains to get another title shot since they had their shot at Extreme Rules and lost. The reason WWE may have gone with the four-way is because they might want to put the titles on Gallows & Anderson here by having them pin somebody other than The New Day. That way, it sets up rematches against The New Day. I’d prefer New Day keeping the titles, though.
Other matches that might happen: Becky Lynch & Nataly vs. Charlotte & Dana Brooke, Rusev defending the US Title against Titus O’Neil (Jack Swagger may be added to make it a three way) and the never-ending Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin feud could lead to another match for them, even though they weren’t on Raw.
They still need to add more matches with one more episode of Raw and two episodes of Smackdown to go until Money in the Bank.
WWE Tribute To Muhammad Ali
We pay tribute to The Greatest, Muhammad Ali.https://t.co/yxqcbKQjC1
— WWE (@WWE) June 7, 2016
In a non-Raw related note, WWE aired this excellent Muhammad Ali tribute video. The late great boxer was a huge wrestling fan that appeared on WWE programming many times, most famously at WrestleMania I. He will be missed by all.
It was a weak edition of Raw with the Styles/Cena promo face-off really being the only thing you should check out. The matches were disappointing this week, compared to what we usually see. There just weren’t that many interesting segments this week.
Looking ahead to Money in the Bank, that could be the pay-per-view of the year, thanks to the strength of the top three matches. It shows that WWE doesn’t really need to have good television shows every week to put on quality PPVs because the roster is so deep. With that said, it would be nice if Raw was better on a more consistent basis.