6/29/15 – Andrew Berg – @WrestleRosters
Seth Rollins and Kane def. Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns in a No DQ Match
As wrestling fans, we seldom get to see what was left on the cutting room floor. The text of WWE is what makes it onto TV every week, and the runners-up to the storylines never see the light of day. It’s natural to think of what might have been on nights like Monday, where The Authority regrouped and dominated its adversaries. Was this show part of the plan all along, or was it only necessary because the writers diverted from a plan to break up The Authority at the last minute?
As it worked out, Rollins was able to get Kane and J&J Security back on his side. As thanks for helping him assault Brock Lesnar last week, he gave Kane a Hawaiian vacation and gave J&J a new Cadillac (which was somehow not destroyed by the end of the show). The gifts established that they had left their animosity behind and would present a unified front in a no-DQ match against Ambrose and Reigns in the main event.
On top of the numbers advantage, they also had a distracted Reigns. Bray Wyatt continued to play mind games with Reigns and make veiled threats toward his daughter. He continued to trumpet the tag line “anyone but you.” Overall, the promo was not as strong as his recent speeches because it was not as focused. Nonetheless, it got under Reigns’s skin such that Ambrose had to help him channel the rage into their match.
Despite working at essentially a 4-on-2 disadvantage, Ambrose and Reigns stayed active in their match through good teamwork. They isolated Kane and Ambrose hit a diving elbow from the apron onto the crowd. He tried to bring a table into the ring, but J&J pulled it away from him. Reigns hit a powerbomb on Rollins and took a Kendo Stick shot from Mercury before stealing the weapon and wreaking havoc with it. He hit Superman Punches to everyone in the match and was rolling until the lights went out. Wyatt appeared and ambushed Reigns. Ambrose could not fight through all of The Authority on his own and suffered a chokeslam and a Pedigree.
Reigns recovered enough to save him from a powerbomb through a table, but The Authority turned their attention to Reigns. He was the one who suffered the powerbomb through the table, and Rollins added a Pedigree for good measure. At long last, Wyatt reappeared and hit Sister Abigail on Reigns one more time.
With Lesnar off of TV this week, it made sense to build the show around The Authority. It also made sense to reestablish how dangerous The Authority can be when they work together because it presents them as a more viable threat to Lesnar. I even liked the idea of weaving the rivalry between Reigns and Wyatt into the main event to make the match feel less procedural. None of the stories on the show were groundbreaking, but they were a solid step toward what is looking like a narrative-rich Battleground PPV.
John Cena def. Cesaro by DQ to Remain US Champion
With Kevin Owens on commentary, Cesaro answered Cena’s open challenge and had one of the very best matches yet in a series of great Cena matches. Cesaro went for the Big Swing very early and Cena countered to come off of the ropes into his springboard stunner. Cesaro went to the top rope for a flying cross body and Cena caught him to turn it into a side slam. Owens distracted Cena has he went to the top rope and Cesaro attacked him outside to regain the advantage.
From the point, the match turned into a series of counters and near falls that was extremely fun to watch. Cena blocked a Neutralizer and hit a Destroyer. Cesaro responded by fighting out of an AA to hit a Neutralizer. A series of uppercuts put him in a position to try another Big Swing, and he transitioned straight from that move to the Sharpshooter. It looked like he had Cena in a very tough position, but Owens attacked Cesaro, saying that if anyone was going to beat Cena, it was going to be him.
As we have seen lately with Dean Ambrose, Cesaro has the ability to elevate his game for big matches. The ending protected him in a way that WWE has seldom deemed necessary and also got even more true heel heat on Owens. It’s no surprise that Owens and Cena continue to work together on a high level. That their rivalry could elevate Cesaro as a singles wrestler is beyond what I expected from them.
Lana Gets Physical with Summer Rae
Dolph Ziggler and Lana came to the ring together to go public with their relationship. They acknowledged that they originally got together out of convenience- Lana wanted to make Rusev jealous and Ziggler was along for the ride. Rusev and Summer Rae interrupted their innuendo-filled banter and verbally attacked Lana. Ziggler threatened to take out Rusev’s other leg and he retreated, but Summer took his place. She said that Lana is a gold digger and slapped her, which triggered a brawl between the two. After more than a year without major physicality, it was surprising to see Lana in that role. While Summer’s involvement remains pretty confusing, WWE also deserves some credit for building a storyline around Lana, taking time to develop it, and getting fans invested in one of its main roster women.
Big Show def. Mark Henry; Ryback def. The Miz
The build for the Intercontinental Title Triple Threat continued to lack inspiration despite Ryback’s best efforts. Big Show faced Henry and beat him almost immediately with a KO punch. Ryback came to the ring to step up to Big Show and instead got a cheap shot from the Miz. Their match was only slightly more competitive. Ryback hit a long vertical suplex during which he marched around the ring. He threw Miz to the outside, and Miz thought better of going back in the ring. He left, Ryback won by countout, and I’m still not sure why he’s involved in this rivalry.
Sheamus def. Neville
Two wrestlers who have had foggy directions in the last few weeks reignited an old rivalry put on a solid match. Neville was too fast for Sheamus early and took him to the floor with a hurricanrana. Sheamus wisely slowed down the match and grounded Neville. He used a variety of moves targeted at Neville’s speed, such as a back-breaker that left him on the mat.
Neville continually tried to push the pace and finally found some success with a springboard moonsault to the floor. Soon after, Sheamus missed a shoulder block and connected with the post and Neville climbed to the top rope. As he set up for the Red Arrow, Sheamus kicked the ropes and knocked him to the mat. Neville ducked the first attempt at a Brogue Kick, but ate the second and took the loss in a hard-fought match.
Prime Time Players and Lucha Dragons def. New Day and Bo Dallas
The Dragons and PTPers teamed well early in the match and isolated Dallas in their corner. New Day clapped to try to help him recover and he finally reached Big E for a tag. Big E tried to throw Kalisto with an overhead belly-to-belly, but Kalisto landed on his feet, which prompted Byron Saxton to exclaim, “Miss and you might blink something!”
Darren Young tagged into the match and dominated at first. Eventually, New Day got the better of him and wore him down until he reached Titus O’Neil for the hot tag. O’Neil got the crowd into his Gator Bark and tore through New Day. Kofi Kingston tried to roll him up, but O’Neil fought out, threw Kingston into the ropes, and turned a splash attempt into a sit-down powerbomb to get the win.
Whether it lasts or not, this title run for the PTPers has been a fun high point in their careers and precisely the right way to reward long-term employees who happen to be great role models. Meanwhile, New Day has not lost their heat despite a string of losses. Their association with Dallas works so well, even if it feels a bit like Owen Hart in the Nation of Domination.
Paige def. Alicia Fox
While I had good things to say about the storyline work in developing Lana’s character, I can’t say the same about this Divas rivalry. Alicia, as a member of the Bellas, lost quickly at the end of a series of different pinning combinations. The flimsy storyline explanation going into this match was that Paige was becoming frustrated that the Bellas always found a way to beat her. If that’s not the case, then I don’t see any reason for them to even feud.
King Barrett def. Jack Swagger
Barrett announced that he now wants all of his opponents to bow before him after their matches. He escaped Swagger’s attempt at an Ankle Lock and beat him relatively quickly with a Bullhammer. I appreciate the attempt to rebuild Barrett with wins over the likes of Zack Ryder and Swagger, but it’s pretty shocking that it ever got so bad that Barrett had to be rebuilt to justify a match with R-Truth.