With Raw ratings swirling the drain and Extreme Rules only days away, WWE had to bring the first last night to drum up interest for Sunday's pay per view. What they gave us was a show with several great matches and only a few compelling stories to get us emotionally invested. This seems to be par for the course these days.
The talent is overflowing. The stories are not.
It's rare for something to happen on Mondays that catch us off guard; that don't simply feel like WWE following the formula. It's why Goldust's heel turn felt so fresh a few weeks ago. Not a one of us have sat around wondering what Goldust was going to do next, yet the unexpected turn and change in character perked our interest. It's why a simple mystery phone call to Corey Graves during the open of last night's show accomplished the same thing.
Last night we were given a triple threat between Finn Balor, Samoa Joe and Bray Wyatt, another chapter in the lifelong feud between former brothers, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins, as well as Alexa Bliss making the most out of what was undoubtedly the worst "this is your life" segment in WWE history.
Several very important things did go down on Raw.
Here are 5 that have huge implications heading into the weekend.
5. The Drifter will cost Ambrose the IC Title
Coming off his DQ win last week against Dean Ambrose, Elias Samson was granted a match with none other than jobber Jack Evans. I think that was his name. Or maybe it was Jimmy Dean. Either way, his name is not important.
What's important is that before the match, Elias sang another grunge hobo song in the middle of the ring. In the song Samson sang something about paying back Miz for his gesture and something about a Lunatic in a cage.
With Sunday's Intercontinental Championship match having the stipulation that if Dean is DQd, he loses the title, I totally expect the Drifter to crown Miz with his guitar to cost Dean the Championship and set up a program with either star going forward.
4. Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins want to kill our Shield dreams
With all three members of The Shield back on the same brand and on the same side of the roster, fans couldn't help but be excited about the potential of an eventual reunion. Last year, Rollins and Reigns were working together during their brief co-feud with Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho. We even saw the return of the double power bomb on through a table.
Now, WWE is going out of their way to crush our Shield dreams. During the pre-match promos and the in-ring competition, it was clear that despite both being "good guys", they are not on the same side.
The match between the two was great, but what was at stake? Momentum heading into Extreme Rules, you say? Bleh. Boring. Rollins and Reigns should have a special feel to it. This match did not. I would have even preferred the typical, every Fatal Five Way competitor running in to the ring and brawling until the show went off the air angle.
3. Bayley has daddy issues
Thankfully, this isn't the Attitude Era. If it were, who knows how awful that Alexa Bliss "This Is Your Life, Bayley" segment would have been. I mean, it was still awful. But, with the direction they were taking the Daddy stuff, it would have gone real south, real quick if they weren't bound by PG sensibilities. Also, Mrs. Flap would have likely been power bombed through a flaming table.
As it was, Bayley's teacher and ex both made a point of letting us know how involved Bayley's father was with her school and dating life. Is this leading to a storyline or just another one-off, lazy bit of open ended wrestling writing? My guess is the latter.
The strangest thing that came out of the segment was Bayley's "ex-best friend" and "ex-boyfriend" awkwardly making out in the ring, so whatever. Let's pretend this all never happened.
2. Big Cass' heel turn may be starting
Don't play with our emotions, WWE. Big Cass and Enzo have had one of the most cuddly, enduring friendships in wrestling history, but after another backstage attack on Enzo, Cass is starting to look like a likely suspect. Last week, a grainy video showed The Revival walking out of the backstage area after the attack, but this week, Kurt Angle and Corey Graves both told Big Cass they had proof that it wasn't Dash and Dawson who took out Zo. Oddly enough, Cass was quick to emphatically insist to Kurt Angle that it was The Revival who were behind the attack, despite evidence that pointed elsewhere.
Breaking up Cass and Zo is a scary proposition. Cass has great "cool heel" potential, but if he's not ready for the solo journey, many fear he could end up more like Test than Kevin Nash.
1. Samoa Joe and Roman Reigns aren't winning on Sunday
Joe needed that win last night. Out of all 5 Extreme Rules competitors, he seems least likely to be in a position to face Brock Lesnar. The win was WWE's way of telling you not to count him out. With that said, he's still not winning on Sunday. Joe winning last night all but confirmed that. Roman also needed his win over Seth Rollins, but for a different reason.
WWE wants you to know Roman Reigns is still the best in the business. They want you to know he's the favorite to win the fatal five way.
He's not winning the fatal five way.
If the rumors are correct, WWE will likely save Roman and Brock for next year's WrestleMania. The two may cross paths a little before then, but, unless ratings completely bottom out, the Big Dog will have to wait to topple the Beast.