You ready to get Extreme? Oh, wait, that was the other night. What's our focus now? Ah, yes, the great climb to immortality known as Money in the Bank, which is more or less an upright version of Steal the Bacon.
But instead of metaphorical pork, the winner gets to cash in their symbolic luggage for a shot at the reigning World Heavyweight Champion. And now we know some of the men who will be vying for that privilege (spoiler: the incumbent victor ain't among them) on June 19. But more urgently, it's confirmed that Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns will have it out for the latter's belt that same evening. First, however, there are several weeks of television to fill, so let the requisite, breathless micro-critique commence!
Here are the five key things (in addition to the usual accompaniment of Twitter-friendly sidebar fodder) I took away from the May 23, 2016 edition of Raw.
5. Almost, Sheamus
I feel for the Irishman. Not only did his League of Nations stable dissolve rather unspectacularly, but also, after losing to Sami Zayn, it appears he's no longer even WWE's alpha ginger. But if I were his attorney, I'd argue that winning 2015's Money in the Bank match – let alone cashing in – automatically entitled him to a run at this year's briefcase. Alas, it seems Sheamus' losing streak is the crux of his character's latest attitude adjustment. The Great White isn't always the most colorful performer going, but he's been a true team player the past several months, so hopefully he'll summon some old tricks and stay relevant in the New Era.
Pardon the headline. But more remarkable than Chris Jericho's win over Apollo Crews 24 hours after a theoretically brutal Asylum Match was managing to save face at all after that bush-league gimmick was foisted on him. But that, in its own way, is vintage Jericho. He can be corny, cocky and come and go at random intervals, but they really don't manufacture talent in developmental like this anymore. Not that I'm pushing for his imminent retirement, but his subsequent Hall of Fame induction will be an earned occasion, and he more than deserves (one final?) spot in the upcoming PPV namesake match he helped create.
3. Amore Time Off?
Enzo needs some, maybe? It's no secret to anyone who reads this column (hi, mom) that I'm not the guy's biggest fan, but I think we can all concur with genuine concern that Amore needs to rest that noggin a bit before resuming action. That was one awkward bit of jibber jabber, missed cues and mangled punch lines, plus a lot of dizzying darting around. Even Big Cass seemed to be thinking, "How are you doin' bro?" Not to mention the duo's premature reunion stalled its 7-foot star's momentum, which was had been hard to dismiss. Though admittedly, Cass may need time to incubate a more impressive finisher than his humdrum Empire Elbow before saying so long to his little friend.
2. Styles Turns
On his friends at least. Or at least from their point of view. I'm still not quite sure what the Phenomenal One means (or that I want to know) when he talks about preferring to "do me alone," but it sure was nice to hear him declare emancipation from old running mates Gallows and Anderson. (And, ipso facto, retire that bastardized "The Club" crew name, at least until there's possibly a "Bálor" between its bookends.) It would still be a smart move to see Luke and Karl light it up against the New Day for tag-division supremacy soon. But in the meanwhile, this was a clean, simple and sensible approach to clarifying Styles' babyface status while exploiting the former BFFs' storied history together. And hey, A.J. even snuck in a vouch for the champ, who needs all the endorsements he can inspire. A certain ex-champ might be back (see below), but Styles the global superstar has been WWE's company's X factor in his absence.
1. Seth the Dictator
Actually, it's WWE who's doing the dictating, and I applaud them for it. Seth Rollins delivered his first Raw promo in months, and the message was absolutely on point: I'm a bad guy, screw all of you and you're not going to hijack my heel run. All it took was a few strategic refutations of fans' contrarianism and a prevailing humorlessness, and the Baltimore crowd was beside themselves that was happening in-ring didn't square with how they'd engineered it in their minds since Survivor Series. I wouldn't have minded a more physical initial encounter between he and Roman Reigns, especially to set the tone for a volatile collision at Money in the Bank, but there's time, and odds are they're being cautious with Rollins' recovery. The important thing is, wrestling's most talented main-event heel is back, and thankfully, a mass of his blonde highlights has been left behind.
Below the Belt:
- "Redesign. Rebuild. Reclaim." OK.
- Per Rollins invoking an old cliché, do Dwayne Johnson's ex-neighbors say they used to live under a Rock?
- Stephanie > Shane.
- I can't disagree with Sheamus about Zayn's hat.
- Michael Cole loves a good Michinoku Driver.
- Also, Cole's a Mets fan?
- I think everyone felt for Heath Slater.
- Whose job is it to clean up after Cesaro's tear-away clothes?
- Nice hat, Baron.
- Nice hipster Frankenstein joke, Dolph.
- Re: Cass' Empire Elbow, I still prefer this distant-cousin signature move.
- Charlotte really lets the crowd rattle her.
- But hey, at least we finally nixed papa Ric from the mix.
- The money come MITB should probably be on Dean Ambrose.
- Wake me when the Shining Stars are over.
- OK, Dana Brooke.
- It really is crazy how KO gets that dropkick height.
- Also, very big win for Owens over Styles.
- We want Sasha.
- Move of the Night: LOL re: Owens more or less mocking those tired suicide dives to the outside with his roll-under deke.
- Line of the Night: "I'm glad he's OK, but he's still just as annoying." Truer words, JBL. Truer words.
- Sign of the Night: Rotten tomatoes to whomever erred with, "Finally! Rollens Is Back!" (Or to the cameras for putting it in frame.)
- In Case You Fast-Forwarded Through Commercials: I somehow had never seen this one, but Jeeesus. And naw, Xfinity, I'm good.
- Noticeable In Their Absence: Wyatt Family, Golden Truth (sigh), Kalisto, Rusev, virtually all the female roster, and the future-endeavored Adam Rose.