GREENSBORO, N.C. - It’s been all about the family and The Club the last few weeks, but come Sunday at Extreme Rules, it’s going to be a much simpler case of one-on-one: Roman Reigns vs. AJ Styles for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. The showdown before the showdown between champion and challenger, however, came in Flair Country. Surprisingly, the face-to-face didn’t turn into a head-to-head fight, mainly because once Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson arrived on the scene to back up Styles, The Usos made their own appearance at Reigns’ side to even the odds. And their presence gave Reigns enough of an advantage to uppercut Styles out of the ring.
A couple of years ago, Sami Zayn and Cesaro had a five-star series of four down at Full Sail University that culminated in the very first match on NXT ArRIVAL. Well, the New Era is the gift that keeps on giving, because the WWE Universe got a taste of Zayn-Cesaro V on Raw. Unfortunately, the bout didn’t get to a definitive conclusion, as The Miz and Kevin Owens — Zayn and Cesaro’s fellow participants in Sunday’s Fatal 4-Way for the Intercontinental Championship — came to blows at commentary and spilled into the ring. This lead to a No Contest ruling and the emergence of Shane McMahon, who attempted to reorganize the brawl into Sami & Cesaro vs. Miz & Owens. Stephanie McMahon, however, did him one better, tweaking the teams into Owens & Zayn vs. Cesaro & Miz.
No, you have not jumped back in time to 2005: Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn really did team up, and it really did happen on Raw. They won, too, besting The Miz & Cesaro in an impromptu tag team match by utilizing a strategy that could best be described as contentious, yet effective. They pretty much just bickered the entire time (Owens begrudgingly had to tough the match out, or Stephanie McMahon would boot him from Sunday’s contest). But the constant passive-aggressive tagging between the two meant that Miz & Cesaro couldn’t get a significant advantage until Zayn took a tumble to the outside that put him on his heels.
Miz & Cesaro, meanwhile, suffered the meltdown many had pegged for their opponents, beginning when Miz tossed Cesaro from the ring and attempted a Cesaro Swing, only for The King of Swing to counter with a Skull-Crushing Finale. Zayn blasted Miz with a Helluva Kick to win, and then, with their alliance terminated, Owens kicked him in the face. With friends like these …
As you may have heard over the last few weeks, Puerto Rico is the shining star of the Caribbean and much better than any town you in the WWE Universe happen to live in. And the tropical paradise’s two chief exports, The Shining Stars — that’s Primo & Epico — made their official arrival on Raw to back up their Caribbean cool with some in-ring skills to go with it. Dubbing the ring their “island,” The Shining Stars handedly dismantled their opponents on the back of Epico’s “Tripleta” suplex combo and, finally the duo’s Shining Star tandem finishing maneuver.
Chris Jericho has spent the last several months calling his opponents some variation of “stupid idiot.” If that’s the case, The Ayatollah of Rock ’n’ Rolla has become the very thing he despises the most. After demanding Dean Ambrose apologize for destroying his — yep, still — $15,000 jacket, Jericho found himself goaded into accepting Ambrose’s challenge of a match at Extreme Rules without first asking for the stipulation.
As it turns out, the bout will be contested as an Asylum Match, a contest of Ambrose’s own twisted devising: a Steel Cage with weapons (among them a barbed-wire-wrapped two-by-four, a strait-jacket and a potted plant), where escape is not an option. Just for emphasis, The Lunatic Fringe had the asylum itself lowered down from the ceiling, giving his foe a good, long time to — what's the phrase again — drink it in, man.
“EnD” hit a hitch before it got going when Emma injured her back at a WWE Live Event. Luckily, the cunning Aussie’s partner-in-crime, Dana Brooke, is more than capable of picking up the slack against Emma’s enemy of late: Becky Lynch. The new Superstar doubled down on wins over Maiden Ireland on Raw, repeating the strategy that notched Dana her debut win last Friday on SmackDown.
The Irish Lass Kicker put up a tougher fight this time around, mocking Dana’s entrance routine and landing some solid #straightfire offense, but Dana claimed the win by a split-second margin all the same. When she had Becky on her shoulders for the finishing blow, Lynch attempted to transition to a rollup and Dana countered, planting herself on Becky’s chest for the three.
Our long national nightmare is over: The Golden Truth is finally a tag team! Unfortunately, their first bout as an official tandem didn’t quite get off to the rousing start they would have liked, since their opponents — Tyler Breeze & Fandango — were R-Truth and Goldust’s original, respective tag team partners as recently as last week. Their teamwork isn’t where it needs to be just yet. In the midst of an impressive performance, Truth accidentally nailed Goldust in the head with a heel kick and Breeze picked up the win as a result. Hey, partnerships are a process.
This Sunday, The New Day will battle The Vaudevillains, who proclaim to be products of a bygone era. So to better understand their opponents, New Day appeared on Raw with a “New Day-lorean” time machine that, catapulted them back to old-timey days (after a brief detour where Kofi Kingston was Jamaican again). But right as they got to the point of their trip — no matter the era, they’re still the champions — The Vaudevillains arrived to beat them back to the future, tossing Xavier Woods through the time machine to punctuate their attack.
Sure, it’s Roman Reigns vs. AJ Styles at Extreme Rules, but the respective crews of champion and challenger gotta get a few hits in on each other, too. So The Usos got another crack at Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson on Raw, and with Reigns and Styles in their respective teams’ corners, it was the most crackling matchup between the two teams yet.
In fact, it came dangerously close to turning into a brawl, though The Usos held it together when Gallows attempted to save an overwhelmed Anderson by delivering stereo superkicks to both bruisers, allowing Jey to pin Anderson with a splash. Then it turned into a brawl between both The Club and “The Bloodline,” the upshot of which was that Styles went to town on Reigns with a chair and finally delivered a Styles Clash to him atop it. Culmination of weeks of frustration? Or merely a taste of things to come? Find out Sunday.
With Enzo Amore still on the shelf, Big Cass’ hot streak continues. And the 7-foot-tall Superstar even picked up where he and his partner initially left off by defeateding D-Von Dudley, who along with Bubba Ray were the first Superstars that “The Jordan of Jargon” set his sights on in WWE. Perhaps it’s the Dudleys’ own fault since they asked the McMahons for some local athletes to destroy and ended up with Big Cass instead. The Dudleys attempted to use their veteran wiles by deploying a table as a distraction, but Cass plowed right through it, booting Bubba in the face and pinning D-Von with the East River Crossing moments later.
Ever since Kalisto found out he’d be defending the U.S. Title against Rusev at Extreme Rules, he’s used his tag team partner Sin Cara to his advantage. Well, The Bulgarian Brute took a cue from his opponent and did the same thing, in a manner of speaking, during Kalisto’s bout against Alberto Del Rio. While The King of Flight was tangled up with Mexico’s Greatest Export, Rusev ambushed Sin Cara in the locker room area and dragged his semi-conscious body to ringside, where he slammed him into the steel ring post.
With Kalisto distracted, Del Rio capitalized with a Backstabber for the win, and Rusev feasted on the remains with an Accolade that required a whole officiating crew to break. As the final insult, he roughly deposited the U.S. Title on Kalisto’s torso to leave him with a very painful message going into Extreme Rules
It’s not often Ric Flair gets wheeled and dealed — let alone in Flair Country. But that’s exactly what went down in Raw’s de facto main event, the first-ever WWE Women’s Championship Match contract signing. With Flair barred from ringside during his daughter Charlotte’s Submission Match title defense against Natalya at Extreme Rules, The Nature Boy used the signing to introduce Charlotte with all his customary panache.
Charlotte was all for preening before her hometown crowd, too — until a pair of new stipulations ruined her moment. The first? If Flair interferes Sunday, Charlotte forfeits the title. The second? If Charlotte refuses to sign, she forfeits the title. So she signed, and Flair decided to throw down against Shane McMahon. Shane-O-Mac demurred, but Stephanie did not, slapping “Naitch” across the face and leaving him to be hauled off (again) by security while Natalya forced Charlotte to tap (again).
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn ended in a no contest (1:39)
- Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens defeated Cesaro & The Miz (w/ Maryse) (10:48)
- The Shining Stars (Primo & Epico) defeated Scott Jackson & Bryan Kennedy (1:35)
- Dana Brooke defeated Becky Lynch (3:45)
- Fandango & Tyler Breeze defeated Golden Truth (Goldust & R-Truth) (1:55)
- The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) (w/ Roman Reigns) defeated Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson (w/ AJ Styles) (12:47)
- Colin Cassady defeated D-Von Dudley (w/ Bubba Ray Dudley) (1:00)
- Alberto Del Rio defeated Kalisto (11:06)
Other on-screen talent