RAW on Monday featured a sight many wrestling fans have been waiting a decade to see: John Cena and AJ Styles standing in the same ring together.
When AJ Styles joined WWE in January, people gushed over the possible matches. Styles vs. Jericho, Styles vs. Owens, Styles vs. Rollins. But one people kept coming back to was Styles vs. Cena. This of course is because of their positions in the companies. Cena has been the top guy in WWE, and thus wrestling, for over a decade now. Meanwhile, Styles was a top guy in TNA, New Japan and basically everywhere he's gone. But there was a question on whether Styles could be the top guy elsewhere, or if he was just a big fish in a small pond. TNA themselves even questioned it, asking Styles to take a pay cut, which led to him leaving the company.
So when Styles came out to confront Cena on RAW on Monday night, fans everywhere got it. This was an important moment in wrestling. The fans chanted for several minutes, as Styles and Cena almost seemed taken aback by the crowd. Fans wanted the match, but more importantly wanted this moment, of these two men standing in the ring together. Whatever came after was almost unimportant. The fact that it ended with Styles attacking Cena, while being backed up by Anderson and Gallows? That's just a bonus. A great bonus, don't get me wrong. Seeing Styles in full Bullet Club mode shouting, "I'm doing the world a favor," that's amazing. But if it had ended up with Styles and Cena tagging, the moment prior would've made everything OK.
Let's be honest. We're getting spoiled as wrestling fans. Recently we've been able to see matchups that some of us dreamed about for years. Cena-Owens. Styles-Jericho. Styles-Owens. Joe-Balor (Devitt). The list goes on and on. Is everything perfect? No, it's not. But I hope wrestling fans are fully appreciating these moments that we're getting. Hopefully the ensuing story makes it all worth it.
The Rest of RAW:
* The show was built a little bit oddly. You have to think that WWE knew that Warriors-Thunder Game 7 was going to have insane ratings, and went through the show accordingly. So not a ton happened, and when it did, it was in the first hour (before the game started) and around halftime. If the show felt a little underwhelming, that has to be the reason.
* The show kicked off with Shane and Stephanie talking about the live SmackDown announcement, and the brand split, which brought out The New Day. The segment quickly ran through some FAQs: Who was going to run SmackDown? (I don't know.) Could The New Day be broken up in the draft? (Yes.) Where were the titles going to go for wrestlers? (Not sure yet.) Basically just ran down what we already knew, but did it on screen. The segment did lead to something interesting, as The Vaudevillains came out for a match with The New Day, which ended with Anderson and Gallows attacking The New Day. AJ feuding with Cena and the Good Brothers feuding with The New Day only feels right.
* Reigns and Rollins had a bit of an awkward segment with Reigns calling out Rollins, and Rollins faking going to the ring several times, before walking backstage. Having both of these guys be tweeners in this match has made the build pretty awkward. Yeah, it's letting fans simply choose who to cheer for, but with neither wrestler doing anything overly compelling it makes for a quiet crowd, instead of a crowd rabid to cheer for one side over the other. I assume this feud will go toward the summer, so you can give it a pass for one show at least.
* The six known competitors in Money in the Bank (including Alberto Del Rio, who won his spot on SmackDown) faced each other in a six-man tag in the main event. This was a safe choice to put up against the fourth quarter of the NBA game. The six of course had a great match, though nothing really happened. It is interesting that we didn't even get a hint on who the final competitor would be. It makes you think that one of the wrestlers who haven't returned yet, like Randy Orton or Bray Wyatt, is going to get that last spot.
* Rusev dominated Zack Ryder in a match for the U.S. title. After the match, somewhat surprisingly, Titus O'Neil came out and defended America against Rusev's criticisms. Titus hasn't really been involved in anything since returning from his suspension, so seeing him elevated like this is surprising, and a nice thing to see.
* Enzo and Cass beat the Dudley Boyz. It was great to see Enzo back in the ring again. I wasn't sure if he had been fully cleared or not after last week, so seeing him in the ring was a welcome sign. It will be interesting to see what they do with them while The New Day seems to be entangled with the Good Brothers. Maybe a feud with the Vaudevillains?
* Dolph Ziggler faced Baron Corbin in what Ziggler described as a technical wrestling match. However, as the bell rang, Ziggler immediately hit Corbin with the low blow for the DQ. I'm legitimately not sure if we're supposed to be cheering for Ziggler at this point. He continuously acts like a heel, but is booked like a face. This could be WWE shifting toward a tweener status for more wrestlers, but it comes off oddly right now.
* Dana Brooke beat Natalya after Charlotte distracted Natalya. As the two beat down Natalya postmatch, Becky Lynch came down to make the save. The question now becomes whether Becky goes after Charlotte, or is this just an extension of the Becky-Dana Brooke feud?
* The Usos beat the team of Tyler Breeze and Fandango (using the Breezedango moniker instead of the more obvious FaBreeze). Goldust and R-Truth were at ringside, and the two lay a beating on Breeze and Fandango after the match, a beating that the heels instigated. So it finally seems that they are on the same page.