Monday afternoon, WWE announced that Braun Strowman would be out up to six months after undergoing surgery on his elbow. This information led to Kurt Angle setting up the main event for Extreme Rules in Baltimore.
Kurt Angle started Raw by announcing that on June 4, at Extreme Rules, a No. 1 contender to the Universal Title will be determined. There will be a fatal fiveway match pitting Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, Bray Wyatt and Samoa Joe, where the winner will presumably face Brock Lesnar at Great Balls of Fire (yes, that's the actual pay-per-view name).
First, it stinks that Braun Strowman is injured, plain and simple. He was one of the most compelling thing about Raw over the past month, so anything that derails that momentum is awful. Could he be back before the six months? Absolutely. It wouldn't shock me if his injury was being oversold somewhat so he looks like a god when he returns in half the time. However, any time off for the Monster Among Men is a loss for us, and a big blow to Raw.
Second, this was a fairly logical solution. It seemed clear at the time that Roman/Braun would probably serve as a de facto No. 1 contender match. So once you pulled Braun out, you still needed a match at Extreme Rules to serve that purpose. With Finn Balor and Bray Wyatt already intertwined, and Seth Rollins and Samoa Joe also attached at the hip, this was the logical conclusion. Yes, there's a problem that Miz just beat both Finn Balor and Seth Rollins and doesn't get a shot, but if that's the worst that you can say, then I guess you have to give them a pass on that one.
For those of you convinced this is just a way to crown Roman and send him on his way ... I wouldn't be too sure. Roman/Brock does not feel like a Great Balls of Fire match. It feels like a SummerSlam match at the least, and maybe even WrestleMania. If I had to guess, Bray Wyatt might be the favorite going in. If we're assuming Brock keeps the title, that probably rules out Finn, and maybe even Joe, though that would certainly be compelling. It just comes down to who would be the least hurt with a loss if Brock goes over him, and a very good case could be made for that person being Bray Wyatt.
While Baltimore loses out on seeing Braun Strowman in June, at least we get a strong main event to make up for it.
The Rest of Raw:
>>If you're on the “Roman Reigns wins too often” bandwagon, Monday certainly allowed you to bang on that drum. Angle paired off the No. 1 contender competitors into two matches (with Joe left out of matches, though he did show up later in the night). Reigns faced Finn Balor, which allowed Finn to bring up the fact that he's one of the few people to be able to claim a clean win over Roman. Tonight, though, Reigns beat Finn cleanly, even while still selling his injuries from Braun Strowman. This booking made no sense to me. There was no reason that this match should have had a clean finish for either man. There are three other people involved in the No. 1 contender match, and any of them could have run in for a no-contest. This was Finn's first loss on the main roster, and even though it wasn't a Goldberg-esque streak, that should mean something. Instead, it was just randomly inserted here for no reason. Ugly decision on an otherwise solidly booked night.
>>The interference came in the other match involving those No. 1 contender competitors, as Seth Rollins took on Bray Wyatt in a first-time-ever encounter. After a solid match between the two, Samoa Joe jumped the barricade and attacked Rollins, and the ref called for the bell. Perfectly logical booking there. It was Bray Wyatt who would stand tall at the end of the night, as Bray and Joe attacked Seth before Bray turned on Joe after teasing an alliance of sorts.
>>Miz did get his promised Intercontinental title match, though that one didn't end on a clean note. At the end of the match, Maryse climbed up on the apron to distract the ref. Miz went for a low blow, but Dean Ambrose caught him. The ref turned around just in time for Ambrose to return the favor and kick Miz below the belt. The ref had no choice but to call for the DQ. While Miz won, he didn't win the title. Later, Miz went to Kurt Angle and demanded a rematch at Extreme Rules, where the belt would change hands on a DQ, and Kurt did indeed give him that match.
>>Speaking of Extreme Rules matches, another was finalized, this one for the Raw women's title. Alexa Bliss came out and delivered another scathing promo toward the crowd and toward Bayley. Bayley came out and fought off Alexa, even sending her outside the ring. However, Alexa would grab a kendo stick from under the ring and use it on Bayley. Later in the night, the match was made official: Alexa vs. Bayley in a kendo stick on a pole match.
>>In a shocking upset, Alicia Fox beat Sasha Banks cleanly. It's hard to say right now whether that indicates a push for Alicia Fox, or the beginning of an angle where Sasha Banks gets frustrated with losses, but the result definitely raised some eyebrows.
>>The Golden Truth is no more, as Goldust viciously attacked R-Truth as they were supposed to have a match. It was a pretty lengthy beatdown, before Goldust grabbed the mic and said, “That's what's up.” While I doubt this really goes anywhere besides a short-term feud between the two, a heel Goldust has generally led to some interesting things in the past.
>>Neville and TJP beat Jack Gallagher and Austin Aries as TJP got the pin on Gallagher. Later in the night TJP indicated that he wanted a title shot, but Neville instead wants them to finish off Austin Aries first.
>>Big Cass beat Titus O'Neil after a bait-and-switch when it seemed originally that the match would be Enzo vs. Apollo Crews. After the match, Enzo took his celebration a little bit too far, and Apollo Crews felt Enzo needed to be dropped, finally solidifying the relationship between Titus and Apollo.
>>Jeff Hardy beat Sheamus.
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