Sometimes go-home shows can feel overbooked, as the WWE scrambles to put the final pieces of the card together. However, RAW on Monday night hit all the right notes as we approach Money in the Bank this weekend.
Some would argue that not a lot happened, and they'd be correct. The matches had previously been set up, and not much happened this week to change the card. However, the stakes were raised in just about every match, and not much was given away for Sunday night. The show, while unimportant in a bubble, did a good job of setting the table.
Look at the simple contract signing between John Cena and AJ Styles. While, like most contract signings, it was generally irrelevant, it did truly set the table, particularly for those who might not have been fully aware of what AJ Styles had been before he came to WWE. The match feels more important now, as if there's something truly on the line for AJ in the match. While I don't believe that AJ Styles will be completely alone during the match, it was a good way to show exactly how important this is. While it was a pretty basic way to do it, seeing all four teams involved in the tag title match interact was an important step when we don't have a chance to really get into everything between the teams.
And then there was the Ambrose Asylum segment. It truly felt like a segment that set the table for everything this summer, even beyond Money in the Bank. We know that this isn't the end of Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. For those who might have started watching in the past year, this segment was a perfect recap of the past, and including Dean Ambrose served to show where this was eventually ending up, whether it's at SummerSlam or WrestleMania. Ambrose being in the ladder match also served to give the ladder match a true story heading in. Again, setting the table, without giving everything away.
It used to be that RAW simply served as an advertisement for the pay-per-views. While nobody wants to see every RAW turn into it, sometimes going to the past serves a purpose, like it did Monday night.
The Rest of RAW:
- The slow burn between Stephanie and Shane continues. It's interesting that both of them made it clear that they want to run both shows. It's a little bit nonsensical, but it does make sure that neither show seems worse than the other at the outset. If both of them wanted the same show, then whichever one they didn't want would feel lesser. However, it's a bit illogical at this moment. Hopefully they'll clear it up in the weeks after Money in the Bank, as we get closer to the first live SmackDown.
- The ladder match truly seems like it's going to be the best one ever. As shown by the past few weeks, all of the guys have chemistry together, and they continued to show that by having the various matches. Sami Zayn/Cesaro was predictably great, and for some reason, using a transitional move in the pin worked for this match. I wasn't a huge fan of feeding the Lucha Dragons to Kevin Owens and Alberto Del Rio, mainly because it just hammers home how quickly Kalisto fell. And the six brawling at the end showed what we could expect at Money in the Bank. Though I do wonder ... if it ISN'T the best ladder match ever, will people complain?
- It's baffling the way that WWE is using Paige. For the second time in five weeks, Paige beat Charlotte in a match. Yet, she's nowhere near the title picture, let alone being in an actual storyline. While I don't agree with Paige being away from the title picture, if that's their decision, so be it. But you can't keep having her beat the champion and just ignore it. That's just terrible writing.
- Sheamus quickly dispatched Zack Ryder, which brought out Apollo Crews. It's not a bad direction for Apollo, as it will allow him to show off his athleticism with someone who can dish it back. Hopefully it'll be a short one though, because they've had to rely on everyone else talking for it.