Monday Night Raw – May 23, 2016: Crying All The Way To The Bank

Monday Night Raw
Date: May 23, 2016
Location: Royal Farms Arena, Baltimore, Maryland
Commentators: Michael Cole, Byron Saxton, John Bradshaw Layfield

We’re past Extreme Rules and now on to Money in the Bank season, meaning we might start tonight with some qualifying matches. However, the bigger story coming out of last night is the return of Seth Rollins, who attacked WWE World Champion Roman Reigns after Reigns retained over AJ Styles. Let’s get to it.

We open with a recap of the main event and Rollins making his return.

Opening sequence.

Here’s Seth to get things going, complete with a new graphic that says “Redesign, Rebuild, Reclaim.” He certainly looks like a face to start though I wouldn’t put money on that one. Rollins gets a nice WELCOME BACK chant before smiling at the crowd and saying it’s been 200 days since he’s been in this ring. In case you’ve been living under a rock (or in case you’re really not paying attention), he’s back. He’s here to get back the title that he never lost and last night he fired the first shot with the Pedigree on Reigns.

The fans keep freaking out so Rollins asks if they missed him. Fans: “YES! YES! YES!” Rollins brings up some of the dastardly things he’s done over the years and about how the fans didn’t buy him by calling him a coward who hid behind the Authority. Then his knee went out from all the weight of carrying this company. Over the last few months he’s gotten so many fan letters but he put every one of them in a garbage can and set them on fire.

None of these fans were here with him when he was rehabbing his knee twice a day. Now he’s back on his own to get the title back but here’s Reigns to interrupt. Rollins of course bails and says it’s happening on his time. This brings out Shane to invite Rollins back inside for an adult conversation. This conversation consists of Shane making Roman vs. Seth for the title at Money in the Bank.

Sheamus talks about how much he can’t stand Sami Zayn and this New Era. Tonight he’s going to give Sami a beating for all the people who are sick of this foreigner coming in with his stupid hat. Nothing wrong with a simple, old school pre-match promo.

Money in the Bank Qualifying Match: Sheamus vs. Sami Zayn

Sheamus takes him down into a wristlock to start, followed by a legdrop of all things. Sami sends it outside with a hurricanrana, only to have Sheamus put a knee in his ribs to send us to a break. Back with Sheamus getting two off the Irish Curse but Sami BLASTS him with a clothesline and gets two off the Michinoku Driver. The Brogue Kick misses and Sami clotheslines him to the floor, only to have the flip dive blocked by a forearm. Sheamus gets back in and eats a quick Helluva Kick for the pin at 10:00.

Rating: C. Well that’s a pleasant surprise, even though there was little doubt that Sami was going to win here. Sami winning is a good option as he’s the epitome of someone who you believe could pull off the big surprise, even though he’s likely only there to take big bumps and sell like no one else can.

Post match Sheamus is furious.

After a break, Apollo Crews is talking about how this is the biggest match of his life when Sheamus jumps him from behind and lays him out.

Here’s New Day for a six man tag and they’ve got a birthday cake. Tonight is the 1,200th episode of Monday Night Raw and that means it’s time to celebrate. However, since cakes in wrestling rings always end up in someone’s face, Big E. picks up the cake and takes it outside to get things out of the way. As he threatens Byron Saxton, cue the Social Outcasts to jump New Day from behind and take us to a break.

New Day vs. Social Outcasts

Joined in progress with Kofi hurricanranaing Slater out of the corner and stomping him down in the corner. Slater is sent to the floor for a Bo Train but Heath collapses, leaving the other two to take a flip dive from Woods. The Midnight Hour puts Slater away at 2:00.

Slater takes the cake post match.

Money in the Bank Qualifying Match: Cesaro vs. The Miz

Non-title. Before the match, Miz and Maryse celebrate their win and promise to win the briefcase again, setting up Miz’s biopic. Cesaro starts fast with the uppercuts in the corner for two before diving over the top to take Miz out again. He even tells Maryse to talk to the hand, taking us back to about 1997.

Back in and Cesaro gets two more off a delayed suplex to send Miz outside as we take a break. We come back with Miz hitting the Reality Check but charging into the uppercut. The Swing doesn’t work because of the shoulder but Miz can’t hit the Skull Crushing Finale. Instead it’s another uppercut and the Neutralizer for the pin on Miz (of course) at 11:24.

Rating: C+. Yo Miz! Thanks for stealing the show last night. Here’s a clean loss to the guy that made you tap out last night. I’m getting to the point where I can’t even complain about these losses anymore. They’re just a fact of life in WWE and nothing is going to change that because WWE doesn’t know any better.

We recap the opening segment.

Rollins talks about how Money in the Bank is his thing when Stephanie comes in. Rollins is all nice to her but she says things have changed around here.

Money in the Bank Qualifying Match: Chris Jericho vs. Apollo Crews

Crews seems just fine after the beatdown earlier tonight while Jericho’s back is covered in bandages from the thumbtacks. Jericho throws a t-shirt in Crews’ face to start and hammers away, only to have Crews just hit him in the bandages because Crews has an IQ above butter. Jericho’s dropkick and chinlock don’t do much as Apollo elbows him in the jaw and avoids the dropkick out of the corner to send Jericho outside.

There’s a moonsault from the apron (mostly missed) to drop Jericho again but Jericho counters the toss powerbomb into the Walls. A rope is grabbed and Crews tries to nip up, only to have Jericho Lionsault onto him for two. Another Walls attempt is countered into a small package, only to have the Codebreaker puts Apollo away at 7:46.

Rating: C+. I’m so glad they brought Crews up for this spot. It’s not like they have a small army of people who can take this loss and not lose a thing as a result. The match was fine, even though Crews didn’t sell a thing from the beatdown earlier. He can’t even hold his back or something? Jericho going to the ladder match is fine but Crews is already looking like another failed call up.

Sheamus laughs at the result.

Life Lesson with Bob Backlund from Smackdown.

Baron Corbin beat Dolph Ziggler last night because he can. This brings in Ziggler, to say Corbin can’t beat him in a straight match. Corbin agrees but doesn’t want to see Ziggler again after. Ziggler promises to steal the show tonight.

Here’s Big Cass, who points to the entrance for the returning Enzo Amore. Enzo is VERY fired up to be back and talks about how he’s back because if he had a dime for every time he got knocked down and didn’t get back up, he would have ZERO DIMES. Cass is ready to kick Bubba Ray Dudley in the head and send him into a pool like a basketball.

Big Cass vs. Bubba Ray Dudley

Feeling out process to start until D-Von goes after Enzo, allowing Bubba to get in a belly to back suplex. He spends too much time shouting though, allowing Cass to take over with a clothesline. A Stinger Splash has Bubba in trouble and we keep up the Sting treatment with Cass slamming him off the top. Cass’ big boot and the empire Elbow put Bubba away at 3:11.

Rating: D. Now this is the kind of thing they need to be doing. Enzo is fine as the guy that gets in trouble so Cass can come in and clean house later on. Enzo can be in a match here or there and that’s fine, but the last few weeks have shown that Cass is the real star of the team and the guy who could get one heck of a push.

Here are Charlotte, Ric Flair and Dana Brooke to talk about their win last night. Ric….oh my goodness he is BOMBED. Anyway, Ric talks about how Charlotte has earned her way to the top and been amazing at everything she’s done. As for Dana, she doesn’t exist without Charlotte, which Dana seems to agree with. Charlotte talks about how her dad was never there for her on Christmas and birthdays because Flair was off being the man. Now Charlotte gets it though because now she’s the woman.

That power makes her be able to say it to him: get out of her ring. Charlotte goes on a rant about how she doesn’t need her dad anymore and how she’s going to be better than the sixteen time World Champion has ever been. She’s tired of having everyone look at her and ask how Ric is doing so now he is dead to her. Charlotte doesn’t want to talk and tells Ric to get out because he can watch her on TV like she did with him for thirty years. Ric leaves in tears while Charlotte and Dana pose. Charlotte still needs practice talking but this worked exactly as it was supposed to.

Money in the Bank Qualifying Match: Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler

Ziggler headlocks him to the mat to start but Dean slams him with ease and throws Dolph out to the floor. The dive doesn’t get to launch as Ziggler steps to the side as we take a break. Back with Ziggler getting butterfly superplexed for two but missing a dive. Dean’s top rope elbow is countered into a rollup for two, followed by the Fameasser for the same.

Both guys try cross bodies at the same time and we get a quick breather. Dean gets superkicked to little effect as he bounces off the ropes with the rebound lariat for two. Ambrose goes for the elbow again but gets dropkicked out of the air this time. The Zig Zag is countered though and Dirty Deeds sends Dean to the ladder match at 12:09.

Rating: B-. Dean winning a bunch of matches in a row is the way to help him get over the Lesnar loss, as well as keep him from looking like such a big loser in general. Ziggler losing is fine and I’m glad it was clean, though I would have been fine with Corbin interfering to cost him the match.

Ric is leaving and even Arn Anderson can’t make him feel better. Renee Young asks if he has anything to say but Ric gives a very sad forced smile and leaves. That was one of the best scenes I’ve seen in wrestling in a long time. Ric genuinely looked devastated and had nothing to say. It was quiet, it was emotional and it felt real.

The Shining Stars want us to visit Puerto Rico.

Here’s AJ Styles with something to say before his match. AJ talks about how he would have been WWE Champion if not for Anderson and Gallows. This brings the big balds to the ring, where they question what he just said. AJ didn’t bring these guys to the WWE to take out everyone in his way but the way they see it, if this was in Japan, Styles would have been buying them a round of drinks after what happened last night.

AJ thinks it’s time for them to go their separate ways but Anderson and Gallows suggest that AJ never would have made it out of Japan (or a bunch of bar fights for that matter) without them. Styles says they’re still brothers and friends but not on the same team. Gallows says no way because they’re not even friends anymore. That seems to be fine with AJ as the two of them leave.

Money in the Bank Qualifying Match: AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens

They slug it out to start until Owens grabs a headlock (“HEADLOCK MASTER!”), only to eat a good dropkick for two. Owens gets in a dropkick of his own but AJ bails to the apron. AJ is pulled face first into the apron with Owens heading back inside but rolling under the ropes instead of diving over the top like he was teasing. As usual he’s the best troll in wrestling.

Back from a break with AJ fighting out of a sleeper and hammering away on the floor. They slug it out inside with AJ getting the better of it, only to be pulled off the ropes and sent into the corner with a German suplex. The Cannonball is followed by Owens telling Cole to shut up but AJ gets in a jumping enziguri. That’s fine with Owens who comes back with his brainbuster onto the knee for two but misses the moonsault.

AJ sends him outside and knees him in the jaw, only to eat the Pop Up Powerbomb onto the steps. Somehow AJ beats the count back in (that’s a bit much) and gets in a quick Pele. He really shouldn’t be up that fast after a finisher onto the steps but finishers haven’t meant anything in WWE in forever. The Phenomenal Forearm is broken up though and the Pop Up Powerbomb gives Owens the pin at 16:20.

Rating: B. That was quite the surprise as I was thinking they might go to a double countout to send both guys in instead. Owens certainly deserves the spot and I would LOVE to see what he could do as a Mr. Money in the Bank. Good match here, but would you have expected anything else from these two?

Overall Rating: B-. This was a wrestling focused episode that actually moved some stuff forward. It’s always a nice sign and a good idea to have a fresh set of stories that give fans things they’ve been wanting, save for ANYONE else as the top face of course. I was really liking Charlotte turning on Ric as it’s long overdue and also a well done segment. The show being all about wrestling helped a lot though, as did the extreme lack of McMahons. It was about moving things forward and the show went by quickly as a result. Good stuff here and I’m glad they went this way for a change.

Results

Sami Zayn b. Sheamus – Helluva Kick

New Day b. Social Outcasts – Midnight Hour to Slater

Cesaro b. The Miz – Neutralizer

Chris Jericho b. Apollo Crews – Codebreaker

Big Cass b. Bubba Ray Dudley – Empire Elbow

Dean Ambrose b. Dolph Ziggler – Dirty Deeds

Kevin Owens b. AJ Styles – Pop Up Powerbomb

Remember to follow me on Twitter @kbreviews and pick up my new book on NXT: The Full Sail Years Volume II at Amazon for just $3.99 at:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01FWZZ2UA

And check out my Amazon author page with cheap wrestling books at:


http://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Hall/e/B00E6282W6

19 comments

  1. Dragon says:

    I agree it was a good show but a few observations I made:

    1) No way Sami Zayne should beat Sheamus clean.

    2) Before the masses start crying about Crews being buried, he lost to a multi-time world champion and future hall of famer. He should have lost.

    3) Enzo is so damn annoying. Although he is over. He definitely should be the manager/mouthpiece. It worked tonite.

    4) The Flair breakup was overdue. But this was a tad uncomfortable.

    5) With all the pointing tonite, the briefcase is the new Wrestlemania sign….

    Greg Reply:

    It’s not bad to lose to a guy like Jericho. It’s bad to lose when you’re a nee guy with an easy out (Sheamus attacks him right before the match, during the match, injures his leg or whatever). Instead they had a new guy just lose and go well maybe that attack from 5 years ago may have cost him when he sold nothing from it.

    He wasn’t buried. It was just confusing booking.

    Why shouldn’t Zayn beat Sheamus clean?

    Greg Reply:

    New guy not nee guy.

    ted Reply:

    Dragon says:

    I agree it was a good show but a few observations I made:

    1) No way Sami Zayne should beat Sheamus clean.

    Because?

    2) Before the masses start crying about Crews being buried, he lost to a multi-time world champion and future hall of famer. He should have lost.

    But why do it at all? Your telling me there isn’t someone else he could have beaten to be in the ladder match? If the goal was to not have him in the ladder match. Don’t book him in a qualifier! Crews should not be losing so much already he’s going to turn into another guy.

    3) Enzo is so damn annoying. Although he is over. He definitely should be the manager/mouthpiece. It worked tonite.

    Eh I like Enzo. I can see how he can grate on some people but i dig him.

    4) The Flair breakup was overdue. But this was a tad uncomfortable.

    Meh i had no fucks to give about that at all. Charlotte will be fine so long as she gets to be someone other than female ric flair.

    5) With all the pointing tonite, the briefcase is the new Wrestlemania sign….

    This one i’ll give you. It’s annoying at wrestlemania and it’s annoying here.

    Dragon Reply:

    1) Just wasn’t believable…..I didn’t pay much attention at first but I had a few non-wrestling fans over watching and they pointed out the mismatch too me and laughed at the outcome and how quick it happened.

    2) Has he really lost that much?

    3) Enzo was good in his role last night. Just has to tame himself a bit and get some stronger material.

    4) Agreed

    Greg Reply:

    It is not that Crews lost, it is that he is a new guy that lost when there are other options available.

    ted Reply:

    At this point Sheamus isn’t plugged into anyone important and has a name. Why not put over a guy who’s relativity new and popular?

    As for crews losing doesn’t help. The bigger problem is, it’s becoming evident that they brought him up without a plan for him. he’s becoming just a guy more and more with every passing week.

  2. Dorian says:

    Lol anyone else catch Crews apologizing to Jericho at the end of the match, something like “I’m so sorry man” – the nip up and then lionsault was obviously a botch from Crews’ end. But was so audible when Crews apologized.

    In other news, anyone else get how hard they are trying with Ziggler. He wears the pink of Hitman and has a move set of HBK. And yet he is so damn uninteresting. It really is unfortunate but Dolph needs a complete makeover. Or a random tag run or something with someone like Cody. Get them both something to do, and move them into something else. So irrelevant.

    Finally, damn you WWE – having never watched TNA or Pro Japan, I was quickly drawn into how much I like Styles as a wrestler. And for the past 6 weeks his feud with Roman has been awesome. That said, the string of losses stretching from Y2J to Roman to tonight. He’s barely won anything. I think the only PPV match he has won is Fastlane.

    RR – got dumped out by Kevin
    FL – beat Jericho
    WM – lost to JEricho
    PB – lost to Roman
    XR – lost to Roman.

    Yeah he is loosing to main eventers ,but damn, he really has to start winning soon. And it should really not come at the expense of Gallows and Anderson who are new themselves.

    Dorian Reply:

    Ah f#ck, just read that Cody and Rose, both were released today. Did Ziggler get left behind, again?

  3. Bloodbuzz Bunk says:

    Good show and a good headstart on the rebuilding of the landscape that will take us through to Summerslam. MiTB is like a mini Royal Rumble and always manages to do it’s job in getting the balls rolling in the right direction.

    So it seems that there is gonna be seven MiTB spots this year. I’m picking Styles and Corbin as the two guys who claim spots. It seems like Miz would be left out though and that honestly doesn’t feel right. It honestly feels like a field that could go anyone’s way right now which is so very rare with these matches.

    Shockingly(note the sarcasm) no Rusev tonight as God forbid WWE let’s us think this title reign is about anything other than Cena next week.

    I’m looking forward to how they build up the main event and to see Rollins get back in the ring.

    Bloodbuzz Bunk Reply:

    Also quick Crews note, I like that he is getting a solid feud with a vet like Sheamus. It’s a nice step up from squashing the undercard in meaningless matches and there are worse guys to take your first tv loss to than Chris Jericho(i.e. aimless Dolph Ziggler).

    Dorian Reply:

    Whisper this – but I AM SO EXCITED FOR CENA’s RETURN!

    He’s the one true bonfide superstar of this Era (New or PG) – and having him back on TV makes the world whole again.

    Bloodbuzz Bunk Reply:

    I’m glad he is back but don’t be so transparent that you are feeding him Rusev.

    Dorian Reply:

    I hear ya – but really, is Rusev relevant any more. Beating Kalisto is barely registering a win. There was a time, last year, when Rusev was a monster heel. Alas.

  4. Jay H (the real one) says:

    Agreed a good Show following a strong PPV. MITB is shaping up nicely,right now I have either KO,Dean Ambrose,or Cesaro winning the Case this year. I think AJ will be fine even though im sure some people are just freaking out. I am also glad Roman & Seth will finally headline a PPV together.

  5. Pugtar says:

    Maybe AJ will move on to a tag feud, I’m guessing they might bring up Balor to team with him against Gallows and Anderson.

  6. Greg says:

    I love how WWE didn’t have Crews attacked right before his match or even get taped up. I also love how the Gallows/Anderson thing didn’t play into Styles’s match at all.

    I mean it is not like losing a bunch of times ever hurt anyone.

    IC Reply:

    Yeah, this made zero sense.
    They had perfect outs to protect the guys taking losses, but didn’t use them for some bizarre reason, as if they ever shied away from predictability before.

  7. Bloodbuzz Bunk says:

    AJ will be fine because he has a story. Same with Crews to be honest. Sheamus seems really engaged about this feud so I have high hopes. It will obviously shake out were AJ will get to show up Gallows and Anderson and win a MiTB qualifying match leading to the screw job at MiTB. Also obviously Sheanus will more explicitly screw Crews again. I think that probably means that we will get a battle royal next week for the last spot after Corbin or Miz lock up the other one.

    Overreacting over a few losses is silly. I worry for AJ post his feud with the Club/Balor( most likely)