Former WWE Champion Seth Rollins returned at Sunday’s WWE Extreme Rules and received a hero’s welcome as he hit a Pedigree on current WWE champ Roman Reigns. However, those cheers quickly turned to boos on Raw after he opened his mouth and sounded as cocky as ever.
Rollins was cheered heavily at the start of Raw. It’s one of those things where even though he was the top heel in the company for nearly two years, absence makes the heart grow fonder in wrestling. The fans missed seeing him in the ring because he’s one of the best in-ring performers in WWE and, in my opinion, was the best overall performer in 2014 and 2015. Now that he’s back, it would be easy to make him a good guy who is grateful for all the fan support. Instead, he is back in the role he was in before.
He told the fans what he thought of them matter of factly: “I don’t need any of you. I never did.”
It sounded as if Rollins was grateful for the support from the fans until he said he burned the fan letters that he was sent. People still send letters? Apparently they do in his promo. Rollins reminded the fans that they booed when he broke up The Shield and they thought he was the worst WWE Champion while hoping he would lose the title, which he never did. In case you didn’t know, Rollins tore his ACL/MCL/meniscus in his right knee on Nov. 4 and has spent the past seven months doing everything he could to get back into the ring.
The current WWE Champion Roman Reigns entered the ring. Rollins left in order to avoid a confrontation, which is a classic heel move that is good for Rollins’ character. Shane McMahon, who is running Raw with sister Stephanie, entered to do a promo as Rollins went back into the ring.
Shane did a really good job of putting over Reigns vs. Rollins as a WrestleMania main event level match. He’s right about that because it could be a WrestleMania main event. It was supposed to be a Survivor Series 2015 match and Reigns was going to win the title there, but obviously that didn’t happen due to the Rollins injury.
Shane announced Reigns vs. Rollins for the WWE Title at Money in the Bank on June 19. There’s no stipulation on the match yet, but that could change down the road. The crowd cheered the announcement because it definitely has a big fight feel to it. Rollins will likely get cheered even though he’s the heel in the scenario. That’s just how Reigns matches are these days.
Later in the show, Rollins saw his former ally Stephanie McMahon backstage and was excited to see her. She told him that things had changed since he’s left. She’s a babyface character, but I really doubt it’s going to last long. My feeling is that Triple H is going to come back pretty soon, attack Rollins, and that will turn Rollins face leading to a SummerSlam match. Just a guess on my part.
It was telling that they didn’t get physically involved in the opening segment. That was smart. I think it would be in the best for the storylines if they aren’t put in the same match prior to Money in the Bank. They could even go without putting Rollins in a match at Money in the Bank. Make people wait for it and see it at the PPV event that is supposed to mean something.
Now we know the main event for Money in the Bank. It should be an interesting four weeks as we get to this huge match featuring former Tag Team Champions that were part of the awesome Shield group. Who leaves Money in the Bank as champion? Probably Roman. That opinion could change, though.
This Week’s Raw Matches
Here’s a rundown of this week’s matches on Raw with quick notes on each. Five of the matches were qualifiers for the Money in the Bank match. The Money in the Bank match allows one wrestler to win a briefcase that gives them a chance to cash in the coveted briefcase at any time. It’s been 11 years of the briefcase being around.
Money in the Bank Qualifier: Sami Zayn defeated Sheamus
They went about 10 minutes with Zayn getting the clean win. They had good chemistry with Sheamus using his power moves, while Zayn kept on fighting back. Sheamus is usually better against the more athletic guys like Zayn. It was nice to see Zayn win clean too.
After his loss, Sheamus beat up Apollo Crews backstage.
Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods & Big E defeated Heath Slater, Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas
This was just a short match to put over The New Day as the Tag Team Champions. They brought out a cake pre-match for episode #1200 of Raw. The “birthday” of Raw is Jan. 11, 1993, so it was just a silly thing for this show. After the two-minute win for New Day, they smashed the cake in Slater’s face. Remember this is a PG television show, so the kids watching probably loved that. At least it was mildly funny.
Money in the Bank Qualifier: Cesaro defeated The Miz
Miz is the Intercontinental Champion, but that title wasn’t on the line in this match. It was all about getting into Money in the Bank. Cesaro did a good job of selling a left shoulder injury during the match before coming back to win clean. As usual with a Cesaro match, it was very exciting for the most part. Miz has done a very good job of late as well.
WWE followed up the win by saying Miz will defend the IC Title against Cesaro on Smackdown this week.
Money in the Bank Qualifier: Chris Jericho defeated Apollo Crews
It bothered me a little bit that Crews wasn’t even selling the attack he took from Sheamus earlier in the show. There was some mistake in the match where Jericho did a Lionsault, Crews tried to kip up and it didn’t work. Jericho ended up landing on him. Weird move. A lot of people probably thought that Jericho was going to lose here since Crews is the younger guy, but Jericho ended up winning clean with the Codebreaker.
Crews is likely feuding with Sheamus, which is fine because both guys needed a feud anyway.
Big Cass defeated Bubba Ray Dudley
Cass won with an elbow drop after three minutes. An elbow drop? He needs a better finisher than that. It’s not a finishing move unless you have the charisma of The Rock and he doesn’t have that. It was good to see Cass’ partner Enzo Amore back out there doing a promo three weeks after a bad concussion.
Money in the Bank Qualifier: Dean Ambrose defeated Dolph Ziggler
This was the only Money in the Bank qualifier that was face vs. face. They had a competitive match that picked up the pace by the end. Considering that Ziggler loses more matches than he wins, it was no surprise that Ambrose got the clean win. Ambrose has some momentum back again after beating Jericho twice as well as this victory.
Money in the Bank Qualifier: Kevin Owens defeated AJ Styles
It’s no surprise that this was the best match on the show. They were given almost 20 minutes to have this match and it was fantastic. Styles took a lot of punishment at Extreme Rules on Sunday and he took some big bumps here like a Powerbomb on the steel steps outside the ring. There were a lot of cool moves by both guys like the springboard 450 splash that Styles did for a two-count. When Styles tried to finish Owens off with a flying forearm, KO hit the top rope to knock him down and then Owens nailed the Popup Powerbomb to win clean. It was one of the best WWE TV matches of the year. Outstanding work by both guys.
Three Other Key Items From Raw
1. The focus on Raw was on the Money in the Bank qualifying matches, which is great because it shows that guys have to battle to earn a spot in this big match. According to WWE, there will be seven people in the match. Here are the five guys that qualified with my thoughts on their chances to win:
Sami Zayn – It would be a feel-good story for him to win. He’s currently the guy that puts on great matches, but hasn’t been able to get over the hump on the main roster. If a face is going to win, he might be the best choice.
Cesaro – He’s similar to Zayn in that he hasn’t been able to break through. He’s been a US Champion and Tag Team Champion before, but to really be seen as a massive star, he may need Money in the Bank.
Chris Jericho – Jericho’s not going to win the match. He’s there to add credibility as a six-time World Champion. He’s also the guy that came up with the Money in the Bank concept 11 years ago. It’s one of the few things he hasn’t won in WWE.
Dean Ambrose – Ambrose has received WWE Title shots in the last couple of years, but wasn’t able to get the job done. It would be interesting since his “best friend” Roman Reigns is the current WWE Champion, while former friend Seth Rollins is back too.
Kevin Owens – He’s the best choice to win, especially if a heel is going to win like what usually happens. Owens is a main event level performer that is ready to be WWE Champion soon.
At this point, it’s fair to say that out of the five guys announced, four of them have a good shot at winning. I’m not sure who the other two guys will be, but I’d like to see Bray Wyatt in one of those spots. He could use a win too.
2. The WWE Women’s Champion Charlotte did another long promo, just like last week. This week, she had new best friend Dana Brooke by her side as she ripped on her father Ric Flair.
Charlotte yelled at Flair for not being there during her childhood and how she had to watch him on TV because he was barely home. She called herself the “dirtiest player of the game” while saying that she didn’t need him anymore. Her big line was to say that her dad was “dead” to her, although she didn’t deliver that part well. Flair was crying as he left the ring wondering what she was doing.
There were times in the promo where it was a bit disjointed and the crowd chanting “what” was annoying as well. I think Charlotte did fairly well, though. It made us feel sorry for Ric, which was the intent after he spent the last six months cheating to help his daughter win.
Charlotte has improved a lot as a performer this year as a heel. They needed Ric with her in order to establish her in that role. Now that she’s further along in her development, it’s the right time to set her off on her own… at least with Brooke by her side.
3. AJ Styles broke up with his partners in the “The Club” prior to the main event. He told Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson that he didn’t want their help anymore. They were insulted by it, so they told AJ they aren’t going to be friends now. This was likely done to keep Styles as a face while G&A are heels.
Last week, I mentioned that WWE didn’t sell any merchandise for “The Club” because it was just a temporary thing for the Reigns/Styles angle.
During the main event, I thought that Gallows & Anderson would cost Styles the match. Instead, they didn’t show up at all. That’s probably going to happen within the next week or two in order to set up some kind of match down the road. Maybe Styles gets a partner to do battle against them.
All of this is probably leading to the main roster debut for Finn Balor. He’s the one who was associated with Gallows & Anderson in Japan before Styles was. It would seem like the perfect spot for him to show up in a big way right away.
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
Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Kevin Owens, Dean Ambrose, Sami Zayn, Chris Jericho, Cesaro and two others.
That’s it for the official matches at this point.
Based on Raw, Sheamus vs. Apollo Crews is likely as well. They have four weeks to build up the rest.
It was an above-average show that was wrestling-heavy with the focus being on the Money in the Bank qualifying matches. I liked the promos that were on the show too. All in all, a fun episode of Raw that did a great job of getting us excited for what’s to come at Money in the Bank next month.
Also next week on Raw, John Cena returns after having shoulder surgery in early January. What will the former 15-time WWE World Champion do? Good times ahead in WWE this summer.