Warning! Spoiler alerts ahead! I wrote this along with watching the show. The main event being a 5-man extreme rules match for the #1 contender-ship to Brock Lesnar's Raw Championship.
Bunch of hype for the matches and a huge return.... David Otunga is back at the pre-show desk. One match on the pre-show was Kalisto vs. Apollo Crews.
Sidebar: Apollo Crews is garbage and was called up from NXT too soon. He never developed a character and I'm not sure he has any mic skills at all. After mulling about on Smackdown I thought maybe the move to Raw would freshen him up but if this pairing with Titus O'Neil doesn't work (and most pairings with him in anyway have not) then it's time to send him back to NXT or to the indies. He has wrestling talent but no character. On the roster these days finding good in-ring guys isn't tough. Finding guys that get over as a face or heel... that's what you need. Apollo has had a long time up on the main roster and done neither.
That said it's probably why I missed the end of this match and I still don't know who won. I didn't even it deem it worth rewinding back to see. It seemed like a solid match but Kalisto can work well with anyone... there just wasn't a reason to care (see above).
Start of actual show
Opening bout: The Miz w/Maryse vs. Dean Ambrose for the Intercontinental Title
My early thoughts are: oh good... this again... but honestly these guys put on solid matches. The stipulation seems odd. If Dean is disqualified The Miz wins the title? Isn't this Extreme Rules? Whatever... hoping for a Miz win so Dean can move on to feuding with some the top guys from the 5-man match up later. Also I just like the MIz with the title. He's a great heel and has been for years. Constantly reinventing himself... hats off to him he made me a believer in the past couple of years. Also doesn't hurt that his wife Maryse is one of my favorite Divas of all-time. I think it's the sexy French-Canadian accent...
Ambrose thoughts (during match): Dean is over with the people but since his WWE Title run at the beginning of the brand split the "Kingpin of Smackdown Live" has toiled in the mid-card. He's a workhorse and always has good matches. I remember watching the early days of the Shield and thinking how he would be one of the top heels some day and yet he hasn't had a true solo heel run yet. I'd like to see it. Maybe as part of a group but in someway at least... maybe he invites Sanity up from NXT and kicks out Eric Young? Just thinking out loud.
Miz wins in a somewhat predictable finish. He had Maryse slap him and the ref wasn't having the attempt and kicked out Maryse. When she threatened to come back to the ring the ref addressed her and The Miz tossed Dean in to the ref knocking him from the ring as he turned to see Dean hit him. (BTW a bump some refs would have been out of commission for for 5 minutes in the past) Possible DQ moment leads to ref debating over calling it in favor of Miz when he hits the Skull-Crushing FInale from behind while the Dean pleaded with the ref. 1,2,3! Shady but fun. A solid contest between the 2 with a twist ending.
Backstage interview with Bailey
Bailey gets in sweet name drops before the match of Tommy Dreamer, Sandman and yes even Steve Blackman! Still hope she loses later.
Mixed Tag Action: Noam Dar & Alicia Fox vs. Rich Swan and Sasha Banks
Quick setup for Sasha joining this 205 Live feud but it's good to see the charismatic Swan back on PPV and Noam Dar is equally as deserving of the spot. These have been two of the top performers that make 205 Live worth watching. Also two of the best developed characters.
Hometown boy Rich Swan got a solid pop from the crowd as expected. Sasha's green and blue outfit has me both liking her matching of Swan and remembering my High School days, Go Lakers! Meanwhile Alicia Fox looks good in her light blue/teal outfit but I'm not sure about her Weezer-like logo she rocks.
Solid match ends when Sasha hits knees to the face on Dar from the top rope to the outside then Swan rolls him in for the Phoenix Splash. A solid match to get the crowd back after The Miz title win, while featuring some 205 Live guys. Good addition to the card.
Elias Sampson in the ring with his guitar...
This guy is getting booed as if he tossed Daniel Bryan out of a Royal Rumble. Not sure why but he has good heat early in his career. Hopefully he capitalizes.
He begins a song that states "Baltimore is bathed in filth" in the opening line. You can hear a guy yell "I hate you!" He muddles or should I say drifts, through his song and informs us that what it needs, is what he is. We shall see, but not today as apparently that's all he was here to do. Working on his heat very nicely... Have to assume that another in-ring guitar playing legend will eventually doen the road drift in the way of Elias and turn things sideways and place them up his candy ass.
Bailey vs. Alexa Bliss for the Raw Womens Title in a Kendo Stick on a pole match
They are billing this match with the idea that Bailey can't get extreme... so expect her to go extreme at some point. I doubt they are done with Alexa as champ and I can't see her not winning but we shall see...
Alexa wins the outfit battle, as usual. Also the swagger and sex appeal. She is so bomb... I often wish she was a little bigger so she could dominate opponents. Her 5 feet of fury bit works ok in the women's division for now but eventually her and Nia Jax will cross paths and her winning would be unbelievable at her size.
The kendo stick is reached early in the match but it falls to the inside of the ring. Bailey reaches it first and chases Alexa. Bliss escapes and unloads on Bailey. I haven't enjoyed a women's match like this in quite sometime. FINISH HER!
Bailey scores with a Bailey to Belly but can't cover or capitalize due to the several kendo shots she took. Alexa goes back to work with the stick and then hits the DDT for the 1, 2, 3. Match felt a little rushed but it works. Alexa looks dominant and like I said at her size she needs some of that. I loved watching her get extreme. Anyone tired of my Alexa Bliss gushing yet?
Sheamus & Cesaro vs. The Hardy Boyz for the Raw Tag Titles in a Steel Cage
Excited for this match but as it starts I'm texting theories for Money in the Bank, the next WWE PPV in 2 weeks, and I realize that it's not good that we are so excited for that while this is going on. Smackdown is still winning is basically what I'm telling you.
Can't help but notice this seems to be a different design on the cage. Still seems solid. Early on they mention a lot that if you win by escape both men must escape to win... can't help but feel that's gonna come in to play.
Cage Rant: Never liked the going out the door option... ever. Always feels like a gyp. I'm down for pins or submissions in there or escape over the side but that door seems too easy... especially with a ref opening it for you on command... Also why ever climb over when you can go out the door? I mean who designed that idea other than if the lock on the door is somehow unlocked or damaged?
Jeff escapes first and Matt hits a couple side effects but still can't escape. Liking the way this is shaking out... Brogue kick using the door on Jeff who tried to stop them from leaving (decent door spot after just tearing down the idea of it) Matt tried to escape but Cesaro tracks him down. It leads to a top rope white noise which was cool. Then Jeff decides he's going back in. Whisper in the wind from the top of the cage on both men. Balls out! (Not literally)
Then Matt drags Jeff to the door while Cesaro and Sheamus climb over the side and the race is on. I guess because Jeff went back in he has to escape again? Sheamus and Cesaro win by just a second or two as Matt couldn't drag Jeff out in time. New Tag Team Champions. Happy for Cesaro and Sheamus. They've had such a good run as a tag team and taking the belts off The New Day to end their record-breaking run, and now off The Hardys I think begins to qualify them as one of the top tag teams of all-time.
Austin Aries vs. Neville for the Cruiserweight Title in a Submission Match
Sure it's our 3rd straight PPV with these two fighting, but honestly they've all been good. Looking forward to perhaps a show-stealer...
Not sure why they cut Austin Aries music short in the beginning now. I liked it so much before I used it in the background of my JasonPiche.com re-launch video.
Pretty sweet match ends with Neville hitting the Red Arrow to the back of Aries then right in to the Rings of Saturn for the submission win. Great match again between the two. Aries even made Neville tap outside the ring which apparently doesn't count. Either way hats off to these two again. It's hard to have an entertaining match without near falls but these guys did it. As much as I'd like to see Austin Aries always win stuff I like Neville continuing the reign. As I've stated the Cruiserweight Title got around a bit too much too early with TJP, Brian Kendrick, and Rich Swan all having runs before Neville.
Next the first ad for Great Balls of Fire (yes, they are still calling it that) July 9th on PPV
And now it's time for the main event...
Fatal 5-way Extreme Rules match winner to face Brock Lesnar for the Raw Title at Great Balls of Fire
Samoa Joe vs. Finn Balor Vs. Seth Rollins Vs. Roman Reigns Vs. Bray Wyatt
When you take your top 5 stars and put them in one match it better deliver. The rest of the show was ok considering the expectations, which weren't high. For this match those expectations are high.
Early thoughts: If Roman wins we riot. If Samoa Joe wins we are confused but its ok I guess. If Finn Balor wins we get demon vs. beast. If Seth wins it would be good and same could be said if it was Bray. No matter who wins I see that person not winning the title from Brock. I say he holds til Summerslam. Here we go...
The crowd seems really behind Samoa Joe which is kind of cool. He's the only one in the match to have never held a Championship belt in WWE. Early alliance between Joe and Bray seems to be paying off. Other than use of the steps the match hasn't gotten too extreme yet. Still they were used effectively. But then Bray brings in a chair much to the delight of the blood-thirsty crowd. A couple sentons using a chair to Balor from the alliance. And we're feeling extremer...
Then Roman comes in and does his Super-Reigns thing. But Bray and Joe subdue him outside using the announce table. Next Rollins gets some in scoring a double blockbuster on the alliance but can't get a 3-count. Then finally Bray uses Joe to take a suicide dive (TOEPAY SUE-ah-Seedah!!!) from Rollins and the alliance seems over. Joe and Bray square off.
Balor eventually turns back up with a chair and it's his turn to clear house with that and running dropkicks outside. Then he clears and announce table with intent to hit Bray but Joe grabs him in the sleeper (Not calling it the ridiculous name it has it's a sleeper) and Reigns spears them both through the barrier wall (you know the one that always breaks away by the timekeeper) then Seth heads to the top for a splash on the aforementioned Bray Wyatt taking out the table. All 5 men down and out... cue the This Is Awesome chants.
Reigns and Rollins up first. Reigns shows some blood around his mouth. In the ring Seth and Roman square off in a heated staredown then exchange blows. Superman punch gets Roman a near fall. Near falls then come for Rollins. It feels like we are like 10 minutes from a finish though still. I can't see this ending without a round of finishers... The match is delivering so far...
And as if I knew here come the signature moves and attempts and counters. Bray up first gets brushed aside by Reigns. Finn reenters and Finn scores with the coup de gra but gets hit with the sleeper from behind by Joe. AND PASSES OUT! Samoa Joe wins!!!
Samoa Joe needed this win. His entry to the main roster has been boring and uninteresting. He played second fiddle to Kevin Owens then Triple H. He needed this to get on the level he should be. I say no way he beats Brock Lesnar but I look forward to their first ever collision. It should be good!
Overall a solid event with some surprises but good stuff for a card that looked subpar. Still not as good as the last SD PPV or even the last NXT Takeover but a step in the right direction. Tip of the cap Raw.
Not going to include a Raw Talk wrap-up but if you're a super nerdy fan you've got to see those after shows. Lots of fun stuff and character development. Damn I love the addition of the aftershows.