Tuesday, April 26, 2016

WWE Monday Night Raw Review - April 25th, 2016

Shane McMahon starts the show and it's bittersweet. Stephanie interrupts and informs everyone that Vince McMahon will be at Payback to determine who will be in charge of WWE going forward. Shane has Steph removed from the arena since he's technically still in charge. It ends up being pretty funny. Steph kicks one of the security guards outside the ring before finally cooperating.

1) AJ Styles vs. Sheamus
The dream match series continues for Styles. It's not a real thing, but then again it is. This is another match made in heaven for me. Sheamus is stiff as hell and AJ is versatile so he can be, he will be, and he was. Styles was super flashy here with a moonsault off the apron where he landed on his feet plus his signature dropkick and springboard punch being on target. There was an awesome exchange with Styles clobbering Sheamus with repeated forearms, it felt like I was watching NJPW for a moment. Sheamus had his moments to shine of his own in the form of various kicks that more than made their mark. They didn't go into overkill territory with nearfalls and stuff however they delivered a super good match for all the aformentioned reasons. AJ wins with the springboard superman punch.

Match rating - ***1/4

Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows come out after the match in their new attire which looks pretty dope. They kinda just stare at AJ and do the thing they've been doing for the past few weeks.

New Day comes out to talk about the tag team tournament. The Vaudevillains and Enzo & Big Cass end up in the ring. Huge pop for Enzo & Cass. This turns out to be a pretty cool segment despite the fact that I wasn't into it to begin with aside from New Day being present. Nice showcase for the two newest tag teams on the roster from NXT.

2) The Usos vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson

First time ever match that I never thought I'd see. JBL runs down Gallows & Anderson's accomplishments in NJPW including winning the World Tag League. The crowd chants "Bullet Club" and this is seriously becoming surreal. Gallows & Anderson display their hard hitting, old school, smash mouth style early & often. They take control which leads to the hot tag for Jimmy Uso. He comes in and flurries, but The Usos really fought from under this entire match and that didn't really change during the final sequence. Jey hits a breathtaking dive through the turnbuckle corner onto Anderson before he & his brother lose control again and The Usos get put away.

Match rating - ***

Gallows & Anderson beat down The Usos after the bell. Roman Reigns runs down to a huge mixed reaction to make the save. He cleans house on Guns n Gallows and stares them down from the ring. Styles awaits them backstage and says they can't stay out of trouble. More awkward stuff between them before they finally embrace. I'm really curious where they're going with this. It's just gonna be so unnatural if they put them with Reigns.

AT PAYBACK: Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn

They take a look back at Big Kev and Sami's history together. It's really a phenomenally put together video package. It includes an old picture of them in which Kev is wearing a PWG shirt which popped me majorly, as you'd probably expect. Great sit down interview time for both men and just extremely good stuff all around.

3) Rusev (w/ Lana) vs. Sami Zayn
Another oddly great combination here. Zayn tries to use his speed to stay ahead early on by nailing a head scissors on Rusev among other lucha-style offensive manuevers. Rusev is able to outdo Zayn with his strength eventually, though and he works him over. This turns into a pretty solid back & forth affair near the end with Rusev hitting a SICK superkick at one point. Zayn somehow kicks out and ends up rolling up the Bulgarian Brute for a quick three count. Fun match.

Match rating - ***

4) Apollo Crews vs. Stardust
This is set up during a backstage interview. Stardust is gone completely off the rails and I wish he'd just go back to being Cody. Some pretty decent action here, but it's just a prolonged sprint that ultimately ends in a Crews victory following a spin out powerbomb.

Match rating - **

5) Natalya vs. Emma
Charlotte is on commentary for the match. Ric Flair is with her as well and it's crazy to think he's become so regular on TV now that it's almost an after thought. Emma & Natalya have a solid little match although it's nothing special and you knew what the end result would be. Natalya taps out Emma and looks good heading into her title match at Payback.

Match rating - **

Dean Ambrose and Chris Jericho have a confrontation. Awesome work from both, to be honest. As I've said before, I'm enjoying Jericho more now than I have since his heel run in 2012. He's just so good and Ambrose was extremely on point here as he laid low on the comedy and just stuck to serious stuff so it never got corny. Jericho demands that Ambrose apologize, he turns it around into insulting him, and eventually hits him with the mic. The two brawl to the floor and Y2J gains the upperhand and locks Ambrose in the Walls of Jericho on the announce table.

The Miz is in the ring with Maryse. He defends the IC Title against Cesaro at Payback. The Swiss Superman comes out and has one of his best mic exchanges ever. That still doesn't mean it's must see however coming from someone who's a HUGE fan of his, promos have never been his strong point, but he did really good here and Miz was Miz so it was good. Cesaro dares Miz to make a move, he backs away, only to run back and get caught in a pop up uppercut.

6) Roman Reigns vs. Alberto Del Rio
Decent enough main event. The weakest of the three previously announced matches for the night, but still solid. Roman did his thing and Del Rio did his. Anderson & Gallows come out near the end for a distraction. Del Rio gets a close fall on Reigns that made everyone gasp. Reigns immediately recovers, though, and nails ADR with a spear to end it.

Match rating - **3/4

The post match stuff to close the show was A+ and the crowd was super into it. Anderson & Gallows attack Reigns. Styles runs down to back them off only to get nailed with a superman punch from Reigns. Anderson & Gallows come back in and take out Reigns as AJ springboards in for a flying punch of his own OUT OF NOWHERE. Really looking forward to Reigns/AJ on Sunday, it's the definition of unpredictable.

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