SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
TENSION BUILDS FOR MONEY IN THE BANK…
Recap: After a Memorial Day video package, the show opened with Braun Strowman approaching the ring. The crowd chanted “get these hands!” He vowed to destroy seven other men at Money in the Bank to become, in his words, “Mr Monster in the Bank.” After winning the contract, he promised that Brock Lesnar would “get these hands.” He was then interrupted by Finn Balor.
Balor accused Strowman of getting ahead of himself. He reminded Braun and the crowd that he was the first Universal Champion, and that he never lost the title. He promised to win the contract and then take back what was his.
Braun gave Finn a backhanded compliment by saying that in their match last week, Finn put up “a really good fight for a little guy.” This led to Finn slapping Braun, and Braun tossing Finn across the ring in response.
Kurt Angle then appeared, complimenting the intensity of the two. He set a rematch between the two to begin immediately.
After the commercial break, Kevin Owens joined the commentary team for the match. Strowman dominated the early portion of the match. Right before the next commercial break, Owens stood up and began to goad Braun, telling him to stay on Balor and not let up, and reminding him of Balor’s earlier slap.
After the break, Braun knocked Finn over the barricade with a running shoulder tackle. Finn then began a comeback. During Finn’s comeback, Kevin Owens again stood up, goading Balor this time. He reminded Balor of being beaten “like a child” last week. This appeared to motivate Balor, who continued his comeback with a flip dive followed by two consecutive coups de grâce. Balor then went up to the top rope for a third coup de grâce, at which point Kevin Owens interfered and threw Balor off of the ring post.
After the disqualification was called, Owens grabbed a ladder. Braun took it from him, however, and knocked him out of the ring. Strowman then tossed the ladder down the ramp at Owens, who fled.
Backstage, Owens screamed at the valet to get his keys so he could leave. Before he could leave, Kurt Angle found Owens and informed him he had a match later that night with Bobby Roode.
After Owens defeated Roode, Strowman again appeared and attacked Owens. He finished him off with two running powerslams as Roode cheered him on enthusiastically. Predictably, Strowman then turned on Roode and hit him with a running powerslam.
Evaluation: From the crowd’s reaction, it certainly appears that Braun hasn’t cooled off at all.
After Finn took the loss last week, it was a good idea to allow him to get the slap in on Braun. We don’t typically see smaller opponents stand up to Braun that fearlessly, so it helps Finn. It didn’t hurt Braun since he had just come off a victory over Finn last week and dominated the early portion of tonight’s match.
Overall these segments did a good job of building some tension among the Money in the Bank competitors for the next pay per view.
Forecast: Braun Strowman certainly will be the fan favorite going into Money in the Bank. Whether or not he wins probably has more to do with whether or not the plan is for Reigns to win the Universal Title from Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam.
ROLLINS LOSES HIS COOL…
Recap: Elias came to the ring for a performance, but told the crowd he wouldn’t begin until the crowd was silent. They refused to cooperate. After a commercial break, Elias was still in the ring awaiting silence. Seth Rollins then approached the ring and tossed Elias’ stool out of the ring. He motioned for Elias to leave, and Elias complied.
The two had a solid match. At one point, Jinder took advantage of a Sunil Singh distraction to hit Rollins with a chair. It wasn’t enough for the pin, as Rollins kicked out and eventually buckle bombed Singh into Jinder. Seth lost his temper, however, and attacked Jinder with the chair, resulting in a disqualification.
After the match, as Seth chased Jinder from the ring, Elias reappeared and hit Rollins with his guitar.
After the attack. Rollins refused to be carried away on a stretcher, but rather walked out with assistance from Jamie Noble.
Evaluation: Elias’ compliance with Rollins’ request to leave seemed to be a way to get over Rollins ascension in status. By having Elias decline to challenge him face to face, Rollins looked like a top guy not only in the ring, but also in the locker room.
The finish of the match kept Rollins strong while not handing Jinder a defeat going into his match with “top guy” Roman Reigns.
Forecast: Jinder is moving on to face Roman Reigns at Money in the Bank, so it appears Seth Rollins will move to a feud with Elias, at least for now. There are still several weeks until the pay per view, so creative can determine along the way whether to blow off that feud at the pay per view or beforehand. Since Raw’s Universal Title already isn’t being defended at the pay per view, as Intercontinental Champion I imagine that Rollins will be defending his title at the pay per view in any scenario.
SASHA QUALIFIES FOR MITB…
Recap: Following a bland Bayley promo calling out Sasha Banks, the main event gauntlet match went as follows:
Bayley defeated Liv Morgan in one move, a Bayley-to-Belly Suplex.
Bayley defeated Sarah Logan quickly with a rollup-type maneuver. She was beaten down by Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan after the elimination.
After the beatdown, Bayley told the referee to start the match during the commercial break, but was defeated by Ruby Riott.
Ruby Riott quickly defeated Dana Brooke.
Ruby Riott defeated Mickie James with a rollup.
Sasha Banks overcame Riott Squad interference to make Ruby Riott submit.
Evaluation: This gauntlet was nothing special, and the fans didn’t seem very into it. They did pick up a little for the ultimate finish.
Forecast: With Sasha Banks in the Money in the Bank match, we’ve got at least another month without blowing off the Sasha-Bayley feud. Bayley’s promo before tonight’s match would seem to indicate they are not dumping the feud altogether. I honestly have no idea where the Sasha-Bayley angle goes from here.
Between the Braun Strowman segments, Seth Rollins’ title defense, and the Rousey-Jax faceoff, I was surprised that the coveted top of the third hour spot went to the follow up for the Lashley’s sisters segment….
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: TOP 3 DEVELOPMENTS – RAW 5/21: More Attempts to get Roman Over, Lashley’s Sisters Appear, Setting Up the Women’s Title