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Raw Redux (May 16th, 2016): Contract Signing Delivers Slaps and Sharpshooters

Extreme Rules is just 5 days away and WWE built our Women’s Championship match up in style… a main event contract signing! Both Shane and Stephanie McMahon were present to oversee proceedings between challenger Natalya and champion Charlotte. Ric Flair was also involved and… let’s just say Charlotte was definitely embarrassed by her Dad’s crazy antics. Seriously, we need Dr. Shelby to sort him out!

The first segment of the night had Maryse accompanying her man The Miz. Miz was originally on commentary for a singles match, which then turns into a SmackDown tag team rematch. A SmackDown rematch on Raw? WELL I NEVER! That is until Stephanie one-upped Shane, booking a much more entertaining strange bedfellows tag with Miz and Cesaro against Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. That is more like it!

Secondly tonight is quite the interesting match between Dana Brooke and Becky Lynch. Wait, do I smell a SmackDown rematch?! With Emma now on the shelf, does Dana have what it takes to stand on her own? Before the match, Dana is seen dissing three extras backstage, whoa re dressed like when 8-year-old dress like their Dads. They looked SOOOOOO natural in a backstage WWE environment. I hope everyone can sense my sarcasm.

Stephanie and Shane are seen backstage with DVon Dudley and his horrendous brother next. Shane and Steph go back and forth about not telling one another some of their ideas (including Shane not telling Stephanie about Dean Ambrose‘s Asylum Match idea), but their banter is interrupted by The Dudley Boyz. That Z on their name is tragic by the way.

Bubba and D-Von want a match against some local talent to show them that the Attitude Era guys have still got it. Stephanie says that matches like that simply don’t happen anymore. Did she not see Primo and Epico dispose of those two random jobbers earlier in the night?!

Steph and Shane tell one of the Dudleys that instead of tag team action, one of them can face Big Cass. Let’s hope it’s Bubba doing the jobbing. Spoiler: It was unfortunately D-Von.

If you’re a Lana fan, you’ll be pleased that she made an appearance this week. She accompanied Rusev and he attacked Kalisto. After he may or may not have beaten Alberto Del Rio in a match. I didn’t see it so yeah, I don’t know who won. This feud does absolutely NOTHING for me. Soz Lana.

Finally, it’s time for the entire main event of the show – Charlotte and Natalya’s contract signing. The classic MAHOOSIVE table has been replaced this time with a little thing in a red table cloth. Charlotte and Nattie aren’t going on a date guys – where’s the big epic table that is meant to get flipped? It’s inclusion is textbook contract signing!!

Cue the only ever contract signing that didn’t end in a table flip… or have a table used to sign the contracts. Why did we even have a table?! Before I rupture a vein worrying over insignificant prop use (it’s my pedantic OCD kicking in!), lets dive into the video. Let the slaphappy sharpshooting commence!

Thoughts: What a night! A solid match and solid in-ring segment that was smartly booked due to the location of the event and the states ties to Charlotte.

Before I address the bazillion positives, let’s address the few negatives. Dana utilizing the exact same submission that she did on SmackDown really annoyed me. I don’t like SmackDown rematches as it is, but the girls must make the Raw successors original and different from their latter match the Friday before. While the Raw match was way better than the match from SmackDown, that part irked me. We have enough replays on WWE TV as it is – we don’t need matches retreading the same sequences of moves!

Another negative – Shane McMahon. I’m getting a little tired of his rusty mic work. It really distracts me from the rest of segments. His character is coming off as a pandering, desperate to gain recognition. I don’t know what it is but something isn’t clicking with me.

Ok, now let’s get to the positives. Dana and Becky’s match was brill I thought. Dana getting the clean win was a pleasant surprise and the two had excellent chemistry. My high spots for the match would be Dana throwing Becky into the barricade and Becky’s sass firing back in Dana’s face. Overall, these two had a lightning connection, putting on a really fun match. Both ladies sold everything excellently too.

People may argue that Dana was called up too early, but she is proving everyone wrong. Her selling of dropkicks is a little unorthodox but hey, she brings something new to the table! She can certainly run the ropes and isn’t afraid to take a bump. She’s doing really well under so much pressure, even more so now that Emma is injured. Away from the match which I really enjoyed, her backstage moment dissing the guys in horrendous ties was really fun. Little moments like this can really help a character get over. Dana didn’t look like she was reading from a prompter and I thought her delivery was on-point. I feel like I’m turning into the Dana version of Chris Crocker, but for anyone who has a bad word to say about Dana, she proved you wrong tonight. LEAVE DANA ALONE… unless you don’t like her gear. I’ve got to admit, that attire is not my cup of tea. Yikes.

Stephanie also impressed me tonight. I already think her fake banter with Shane is getting old, and while she is a tweener at the moment, I like that we still got to see that she is ruthless and doesn’t care about consequences. She’s running the place, why should she? Her slapping Ric was a fantastic moment.

The main event was a great chance for Natalya and Charlotte to shine. The split crowd made for an interest environment, as did the injection of Stephanie McMahon. Natalya saving Steph from Charlotte was something I never thought I would see, and more reason to root for Natalya to get the win come Sunday. That was an unexpected occurrence I never saw coming. Well done WWE for that!

Natalya and Charlotte’s mic work was just so-so for me. I thought they did well but it wasn’t their best performance. I liked Natalya calling Ric a creep again, although her rhetoric about him not being there for their NXT TakeOver match was weird. He was there. Ok, he didn’t interfere which Nattie mentioned in her next sentence, but it made Natalya sound silly when she clearly knows her facts! I thought Charlotte handled the crowd quite well. Her backchat to Shane was quite nice too. I would have liked her to play up her embarrassment towards her Dad just that little bit more, but I enjoyed the segment on the whole.

Will Natalya finally win the Women’s Title come Sunday? She looks amazing stood with the belt held high in the air, so I’m keeping everything crossed for Tal to pull out the win. It is long overdue and Charlotte has been the top dog for what feels like forever. Even just a short reign would be a breath of fresh air. Let’s hope the wind changes in Natalya favor!

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