Although Extreme Rules is right around the corner, this week's WWE Monday Night Raw failed to leave a lasting impression going into the event. Nonetheless, the night featured a few highlights, including Brock Lesnar paying a surprise visit to WWE headquarters, a exciting match between Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio and more.
Here, I will analyze each significant segment presented on the show. I will also provide a combination of predictions and wishful thinking about what I hope to see in the coming weeks.
Ryback Named the Stipulation for the WWE Title Match at Extreme Rules
Lackluster opening segment featuring WWE champion John Cena, Ryback and Vickie Guerrero. Cena can be humorous at times, but his comedy here was nowhere near funny and only belittled his upcoming opponent.
Ryback's mic work was solid, but his constant pacing back and forth served as a distraction. If nothing else, it was nice to see the Last Man Standing stipulation made official for the WWE Championship match at Extreme Rules.
Randy Orton def. Damien Sandow
Typical match with Randy Orton defeating Damien Sandow. Sandow's pre-match promo was hysterical and easily one of the highlights of the night.
The in-ring action was fine for what it was, but we've seen it countless times before, not to mention a mere three days prior on SmackDown. Orton gained nothing from this victory, so I'm not exactly sure what purpose it served.
Couldn't Big Show have interfered during the match and allowed Sandow to pick up the win?
R-Truth def. Fandango by Count-out
Meaningless match with R-Truth defeating Fandango by count-out. The pre-match stuff with Fandango and Chris Jericho was harmless, but it paled in comparison to the rest of the rivalry between the two.
The match was over before it even started, so what was the point in even having it at all? Furthermore, why was Truth the one to hand Fandango his first singles loss in such fluky fashion?
Alberto Del Rio w/Ricardo Rodriguez def. World Heavyweight Champion Dolph Ziggler w/AJ Lee and Big E Langston by Disqualification (non-Title)
Great match between World Heavyweight champion Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio. The chemistry these two have in the squared circle is simply amazing, so I never expected anything less than excellence in this bout.
It was given a substantial amount of time and the disqualification loss protected Ziggler. Jack Swagger came off as an absolute beast following the contest when he demolished almost everyone at ringside, which did a great deal in making him look like a threat to the World title going into Extreme Rules.
The Shield def. United States Champion Kofi Kingston and The Usos
Good six-man tag team match with The Shield defeating United States champion Kofi Kingston and The Usos. While it seemed like a glorified squash match from the start, the fact the faces got a significant amount of offense in against The Shield was a pleasant surprise.
It was a competitive contest featuring some fun in-ring action. Dean Ambrose pinning Kingston to score the victory leads me to believe we might be seeing him challenge for the U.S. title in the very near future, which would be an excellent idea.
Antonio Cesaro def. Zack Ryder
Nice match with Antonio Cesaro defeating Zack Ryder. Of course, it was nothing more than a squash match for Cesaro, but it was certainly effective in helping get his character back on the right track.
His post-match promo didn't garner much heat from the crowd, but at least he wasn't obnoxiously yodeling this time around. This was a step in the right direction for Cesaro, who has been floundering for months on end.
Paul Heyman Explained Brock Lesnar's 'Workplace Invasion' of WWE HQ
Entertaining segment with Brock Lesnar paying a visit the WWE headquarters. Lesnar making quick work of Triple H's office was incredibly awesome and Heyman's commentary of it all was brilliant.
Triple H's response to the attack could have waited until next week, but it was still a pretty standard promo. This didn't do much in getting me excited for the Steel Cage match at Extreme Rules, but at least it was an enjoyable way of killing time.
Divas Champion Kaitlyn and The Funkadactlys def. AJ Lee and The Bella Twins
Fine six-Divas tag team match with Divas champion Kaitlyn and The Funkadactlys defeating AJ Lee and The Bella Twins. They weren't given much time to work, but they made the most out of the time they were given.
I'm fine with Kaitlyn pinning AJ here, as long as it means AJ ultimately wins the Divas title. I'm interested to see who will eventually be revealed as Kaitlyn's secret admirer, but I won't get my hopes up knowing WWE's tendency to drop the ball on their storylines.
Sheamus def. Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett (non-Title)
Brief match between Sheamus and Intercontinental champion Wade Barrett. The pre-match segment between Henry and Sheamus wasn't anything special, but it definitely was better than another tug-of-war or arm wrestling contest.
The subsequent match left a lot to be desired, as we've seen Sheamus and Barrett work much better matches with one another in the past. Henry decimating Sheamus with the belt helps him regain his lost momentum and foreshadow a potential Strap match between the two at Extreme Rules.
Ryback def. WWE Tag Team Champion Kane
Decent match between Ryback and WWE Tag Team champion Kane. With this being the first ever in-ring meeting between Kane and Ryback, I wasn't sure what to expect going into it, but they made it work for the most part.
It started out strong with the physical brawl, but everything else that followed fell flat. Nonetheless, it was still nice to see Ryback score a clean victory as well as get the better of WWE champion John Cena moments later.
Overall, a middle-of-the-road show that hardly featured anything noteworthy, but nothing was tremendously terrible, either. A number of matches were hinted at for the Extreme Rules card, but I'm still surprised that so few matches have been confirmed for the event thus far.
The build to the pending pay-per-view up to this point has been disappointing, which is a shame since they've had over a month to make it feel special. The month of May always seems to drag each year in WWE, so here's hoping WWE proves me wrong by presenting an extraordinary Extreme Rules next Sunday.