8/24/15 – Andrew Berg – @WrestleRosters
Sting Spoils Rollins Celebration
Perhaps the WWE Title and the rivalry surrounding it took a backseat on the SummerSlam card, but a night later, it was back atop the card in a big way. The Authority made it clear that that the night would revolve around Seth Rollins, his win over John Cena, and his double championships. At the start of the show, HHH said that Rollins is no longer the future, he has become The Man in WWE and teased a statue unveiling at the end of the show.
Before the Rollins celebration could take place, Jon Stewart had to explain why he intervened to break up Cena’s likely win at SummerSlam. He said that he could not allow Cena to tie Ric Flair’s record of 16 World Titles on a show he hosted. Flair came to the ring and personally said that he respects Cena and was pulling for him to break the record. An incensed Cena joined them and berated Stewart from the moment he stepped in the ring. Stewart dealt with the pressure by making jokes, which only made Cena angrier. In the end, Cena’s anger boiled over and he hit Stewart with an AA.
The Authority wanted to make sure Cena was not around to ruin the Rollins celebration, so they had him ejected from the building prior to the closing segment. After an impromptu Happy Birthday chorus for Vince McMahon, they paid respect to Rollins and brought him to the ring. Rollins proclaimed himself an immortal legend and got choked up before the curtain came up on his statue.
When the curtain finally came up on the statue, Sting was standing atop the pedestal instead. HHH and Stephanie McMahon quickly retreated and Sting cornered Rollins. A Stinger Splash and a clothesline to the outside sent Rollins to the ramp, stunned and angry. Sting posed with the WWE Title in the ring to cheers from the fans. It was a great moment to end a very entertaining episode of Raw.
While it might not be a statue, the opportunity to work with Sting has to be a tremendous feeling for Rollins as a person. More importantly, he keeps the run of great main event stories and opponents going. Wrestling fans say they love surprises, but the surprises have to fit the moment and have to lead somewhere. I’m confident that the series of surprises on this episode are headed in that direction.
Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar Call Out Undertaker
Another week, another all-time promo from Heyman. After a brilliant retelling of the main event between Lesnar and Undertaker, Heyman said that Lesnar wanted a rematch on Raw, but Undertaker was not in the building to answer the call. Instead, Bo Dallas came to the ring and offered Lesnar the suggestion to “Bolieve.” Lesnar looked amused as he took Dallas to Suplex City with a series of Germans. He came back for more, and then placated Heyman with an F5 to end the beating. There was not much to say in the immediate aftermath of the main event match, but it needed some kind of bookend until these two cross paths again. Heyman, as usual, found the best possible way to say what needed to be said.
New Day Faces New Challenge from Dudley Boys
New Day started their second Tag Team Title reign with a flourish when Xavier Woods played them to the ring with his trombone. He played Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York while the three wrestlers sang insulting lyrics. They briefly had trouble with the speed of the Lucha Dragons in their match, but an inverted suplex by Kofi Kingston led to a Big Ending while Woods played Taps on his trombone.
New Day continued their vibrant celebration from last night when fireworks hit and the Dudley Boys came to the ring. They fought through each member of New Day. The exclamation point was a Wassup Headbutt and a 3-D through a table on Woods. The Dudleys have a lot left in the tank. They’re excellent wrestlers with loads of credibility, an understanding of the wrestling business, and popularity to spare. Every wrestling promotion needs veterans like them to help upcoming wrestlers build popularity. If New Day have as much potential as it seems, the Dudleys will help them realize it.
Faces def. Heels
All of WWE’s midcard joined in one match that pitted Randy Orton, Ryback, Dolph Ziggler (now with pants!), and Cesaro against Sheamus, Big Show, Rusev, and Kevin Owens. The goofy eight man tag was much more a set piece for signature spots than a real wrestling match, but it was so fun that none of the fans seemed to mind. Summer Rae got involved when Ziggler was isolated in the ring and Lana jumped her for another catfight. When Ziggler reached the corner, he tagged in Cesaro for a swing on Rusev. Orton and Sheamus ended up in the ring together and an inadvertent KO punch from Big Show knocked Sheamus straight into an RKO.
Rusev and Owens blamed Big Show for the loss and attacked him. It felt like yet another face turn until the face team also teamed up on him, namely with an elevated RKO while Cesaro and Ryback held him in the air. It was clever booking to punish Big Show purely for the smarky Brooklyn crowd. The match felt a little like an old Survivor Series match with the mish-mash teams and random managers dotting ringside.
Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns def. Wyatt Family by DQ
A night after a lukewarm SummerSlam match, these teams had a match that might have been better on free TV. The start of the match moved back and forth with the slower pace favoring the Wyatts. Reigns eventually got a hot tag and rallied until Wyatt hit him with a hot tag. Ambrose made the save and followed with a suicide dive. With Reigns and Wyatt isolated in the ring, Reigns hit a jackhammer for an extremely close near fall. Harper broke up the pin and hit two superkicks (and JBL borrowed the Young Bucks’ Superkick Party line). Another Ambrose splash to the floor set Reigns up for a spear on Wyatt. Instead, the lights went out and a new Wyatt in a black sheep mask appeared on the apron. The behemoth fought through both Ambrose and Wyatt and choked them out with a version of the cobra clutch.
The new Wyatt, named Braun Strowman, has one of the most imposing looks to come into WWE in ages. He injects some new dynamics in the Wyatts vs. Neo-Shield feud. On the other hand, an imposing appearance has never been what was missing from the Wyatts. When Wyatt has struggled, it has been because his stories have been too vague and not connected with fans. I doubt Strowman will fix that problem.
Team PCB def. Team Bella after Miz TV Interview
The Divas segment on Miz TV got off to a decent start when PCB explained that they want to show people that women’s wrestling can be about more than looks. The Bellas interrupted Paige and said that they are the faces of female empowerment. Team Bellas delivery was so stilted that the fans didn’t react until Nikki pointed out that she is three weeks away from becoming the longest reigning Divas Champion of all time. Miz got some cheap misogyny heat and Team PCB stood up to him.
The match between the teams that followed was considerably better than the interview segment. Becky Lynch showed her mat skills at the start and Charlotte hit a plancha to the floor on all three Bellas. After a run of control by Nikki, Paige rallied to put Alicia Fox in the PTO. Brie broke up the hold, and while the referee got her to leave the ring, Nikki clocked Paige with a forearm. Paige was stunned and Alicia hit a scissor kick to get the pin. I suspect that fans will get behind anyone challenging Nikki before she breaks AJ Lee’s record. It makes sense to get her team some heat back to make that pursuit more meaningful.
Stardust Turns on King Barrett
Stardust and Barrett were slated to team together, but Stardust attacked him before the match started and hit the Queen’s Crossbow. Neville- presumably one of the opponents- hit the ring and chased Stardust away as he set up for the Red Arrow. The finish to the SummerSlam match made it clear that Stardust and Neville would see another chapter in their story. It’s a shame that Barrett gets the short end of every stick, but Stardust can use the extra heat as he rebuilds his character into the more interesting supervillain.