Howdy wrestling fans, and a big thanks to Aaron Oster and James Montgomery for tending to the homestead while I was off for last week's Raw and Payback spectacles. And I have no idea why I'm aping cowboy parlance, or if that's even appropriate while recapping a show that went down in Omaha. But in the interest of corralling my thoughts, let's look toward Extreme Rules.
Last night pointed toward the May 22 affair by continuing to tease the many scenarios surrounding Roman Reigns, A.J. Styles and "The Club," eking intrigue out of IC-title dysfunction and finding new and creative ways to make the most out of Enzo Amore's surprisingly consequential concussion. So without any further delay for PSAs about Puerto Rico's fine women and food or Darren Young's poor choices in campaign management, here are the five key things (in addition to the usual accompaniment of Twitter-friendly sidebar fodder) I took away from the May 9, 2016 edition of Raw.
5. Golden Truth To Be Revealed
Goldust and R-Truth aren't exactly the Mega Powers, but it appears they're finally primed to reconcile their tension and team up for the greater good. Or bad. It's hard to tell exactly whether the duo will compete as faces or heels, let alone why on earth this C-story drama's played itself out longer than virtually any prominent storyline going. But odds are, after Goldango and Gorgeous Truth collide on SmackDown, that Goldie and Truth will finally realize they were meant to be. Thank God. I was on board with these weirdos at the beginning, but their will they/won't they courtship has long since reached wit's end. Although admittedly, this never gets old.
4. Nobody Beat the Miz
Between last night's loss to Sami Zayn and proverbial probability weighted against him at Extreme Rules' Fatal 4-Way, it'd be awfully rote for Miz to lose the Intercontinental gold no one ever expected him to reclaim. Not to mention, there's been a tad too much hot potato going on with the belt over these past several months, and it's not as if Zayn and Kevin Owens need gold to stand between them for their rivalry to stay hot. Cesaro could always conquer his wannabe A-lister adversary once and for all come Money in the Bank, but here's to hoping Miz surmounts the odds in two weeks and earns at least one more month of mouthing off.
3. Ladies' Parts
Firstly, Dana Brooke's given name – Ashley Mae Sebera – is so much cooler than her appointed one. Nevertheless, the latest NXT call-up has something going for her, bringing to mind aspects of Beth Phoenix, Natalya and Kaitlyn (memba her?) Though on an evening in which Sasha Banks was relegated to background duty in some odd promotional segment for Pizza Hut, Paige served as window dressing for Charlotte and Natalya's feud and Naomi and other women were nowhere in sight, it's fair to ask: Is the female field getting overcrowded? Seems some of the talent would be better served down in Florida getting work in than languishing on the sidelines every other Raw and SmackDown. At least it's safe to assume Banks might buddy up with Becky Lynch to even the score against Brooke and Emma…unless WWE's eyeing yet another "main roster" rookie to come and save the day.
2. Cass Appeal
I'm not one for petty boasts, but boy am I glad I snagged Big Cass in our mock WWE draft under the pretense that he – not Enzo Amore – would be the breakout star. Granted, I neither anticipated nor relished Amore's unfortunate injury, but the result nonetheless suggests my instincts were on point. For once. Cass' comedy chops leave plenty to be desired, and his DX-derived catchphrase is getting old quick, but the guy's got a presence. He's a down-to-earth Diesel (Nash, not Vin) who still physically looms over nearly all competition. Per he and his partner's signature insistence, the seven-footer really does possess some rare, un-teachable attributes. And while last night's closing minutes left plenty to be desired (more on that in a minute), Cass' involvement – looking on as Dean Ambrose disrupted his bout against Chris Jericho, before ultimately assisting the former with a bit of ass-kicking – was just about right. You can see the forest for the trees with Cass, and due to his colleague's poorly timed malady, it appears his path to bigger things has been put on rush. Sound familiar?
1. Club Sandwiched
The move to situate Roman Reigns and the Usos' six-man elimination tag against "The Club" – aka A.J. Styles and Gallows and Anderson – midcard was a curious one. But it seems WWE knows something some of us don't about Dean Ambrose's main-event appeal. (Though given how ladies and little kids love him and fans of all ages buy his merchandise, I suppose it's empirically apparent, if not viscerally evident.) Still, Ambrose vs. Jericho feels like one of those feuds we're supposed to care about because we're told to, which is never great motivation to pony up for a PPV. And the aforementioned elimination match squandered an opportunity to stir some real drama and get people pumped for how the all-important finishing moments of Extreme Rules' Heavyweight Championship finale might play out. Unless the thinking was that this spoke for itself.
Below the Belt:
- Per Jericho's pronouncement that talents like him come along every 76 years, here was arguably the top male performer circa 1940.
- Is it weird that Baron Corbin's End of Days looks kind of fun?
- Paige got the win, but was she really so concerned when that elderly guy went rogue and came to ringside?
- Fair to assume Backlund was more or less a tradeoff for Colter?
- Applewood-smoked bacon definitely jumped the shark last night.
- There's stretching plausibility, and then there's Sin Cara rolling up Rusev for roughly an eight-count.
- Just let the dude deliver a Styles Clash already.
- Extreme Rules' IC match should be great. The build has been random.
- I'd like to know more about the Vaudevillains' childhoods.
- Ambrose's backwards stumble in Jericho's jacket (RIP) was genuinely unsettling.
- But hey, Cole and Co. had "no idea!" it was Dean under there.
- I actually kind of like this uneasy McMahon-siblings alliance, wherever it's heading.
- Move of the Night: Where's R-Truth been hiding that hellacious hip toss? (For serious.)
- Line of the Night: LOL, re: KO's "Why do you exist?" to Zack Ryder.
- Sign of the Night: Re: "Chris Jericho is the Nickelback of the WWE," what does that make Fozzy?
- In Case You Fast-Forwarded Through Commercials: Didn't see that Spoon placement for Dr. Pepper coming. Speaking of peppers, ew. And boy, Animal Kingdom could really go either way.
- Noticeable In Their Absence: Ryback, Apollo Crews, Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, Wyatt Family and – tear – Damien Sandow, Wade Barrett et al.