10/12/15 – Andrew Berg – @WrestleRosters
Demon Kane def. Seth Rollins
On an episode of Raw that felt disjointed and questionably relevant from the start, the main event exemplified that problem. Corporate Kane found out early in the night that The Authority was delayed in transit and he would be left in charge of the show. He booked himself in a lumberjack match with Rollins. When HHH ordered Corporate Kane not to enter the match, Demon Kane replaced him in the main event.
Rollins repeatedly tried to run away from Demon Kane, only for the lumberjakcs to throw him back into the ring. The problem with the lumberjack stipulation is that it placed Rollins next to several more interesting potential challengers- Cesaro, Big E, Kevin Owens, Bad News Barrett. Kane picked a fight with Big Show on the floor and ate a KO Punch, but he kicked out at two when Rollins finally got him back in the ring.
Rollins repeatedly went to the top rope with limited success. New Day finally pulled Kane to the floor and initiated a group attack. A lumberjack brawl resulted that ended with chokeslams for Stardust and Xavier Woods. Rollins tried to sneak up on Kane, but Kane caught him with a Tombstone to win. I understand that Kane needs some victories to validate him as a title contender before Hell in a Cell. On the other hand, maybe the fact that he has lost so many times should eliminate him as a possible title challenger.
John Cena def. Dolph Ziggler to Remain US Champion
Last week, New Day jumped Dolph Ziggler backstage and prevented him from answering the US Open Challenge. This week, Ziggler successfully made it to the ring to answer’s Cena’s challenge. Moments into the match, Cena paused to acknowledge a wedding proposal a few rows back.
Ziggler stayed focused and snapped to his feet to block the Five Knuckle Shuffle with a sudden dropkick. Cena went for his signature moves early- Ziggler countered an AA into a sunset flip and had to slip out of the STF to turn it into a sleeper. Cena hit an AA to get out of the move, but Ziggler rolled to the outside. When Cena went for a second-rope AA, Ziggler escaped and responded with a DDT from elevation. Ziggler tuned up for a superkick and Cena met him with a big lariat.
Cena recovered to go for yet another AA. Cena threw Ziggler into the air and Ziggler wriggled to hit a Famouser. Ziggler freed himself from Cena’s fireman’s carry with an eye rake and got a near fall off of a flush superkick. They traded punches until Ziggler used a headbutt to set up a Zig-Zag, only for Cena to kick out just before three. The frustrated Ziggler let his guard down and Cena hit another AA to get the win in a very fun match.
New Day def. Randy Orton and Dean Ambrose
At the top of Raw, Dean Ambrose and Randy Orton came to the ring. Orton announced that they would team together at HIAC, but struggled to see eye to eye despite the common enemy. New Day interceded and said that their group has accomplished more than The Shield, Legacy, Evolution, or The Authority. The tension led to a tag match.
Early on, Ambrose and Orton teamed up successfully and cornered Big E. New Day turned the tables on Orton and cut the ring off to keep Orton down. Ambrose eventually got a hot tag and fought his way into control. He set up for Dirty Deeds, but a Xavier Woods distraction let Big E hit a belly-to-belly suplex. Orton tagged in, ducked Kofi Kingston’s Trouble in Paradise, and hit a hangman’s DDT. He set up for the RKO, but Kingston shoved him into Ambrose. He rolled him up with a schoolboy and got a surprise three count for the red-hot New Day.
Each time I see New Day interact with a new wrestler or wrestlers, it reminds me how talented they are. Their ability to entertain regardless of who is across the ring adds a degree of entropy to all of Raw because there’s always a chance for them to pop up. I can’t say the same for the Ambrose-Orton pair. Their interaction feels forced and their HIAC match feels like a way to wedge their names onto the card. At a time where WWE’s top faces are almost all over-exposed, it’s a mistake to book them into a lame, directionless program.
Roman Reigns def. Braun Strowman by Count-Out
Roman Reigns has been better lately, in part because he hasn’t been left out to dry for long in-ring promos. He suffered that fate before his match with Braun Strowman and flailed around for a few minutes before Bray Wyatt mercifully saved him and introduced the match. Reigns slugged away at Srowman, but made little progress and eventually suffered through a nerve hold. Reigns finally took Strowman off of his feet with a drive-by dropkick.
The action stayed outside, where Reigns hit a Superman Punch that knocked Strowman over the announce table. Reigns made it back in the ring bfore ten and won by count-out. The result was obviously a way to make Reigns look good without giving away Strowman’s first real loss. Splitting the baby, in this case, felt pretty unsatisfying. Perhaps it would have been better if the promo or match were more entertaining.
Ryback def. Rusev
WWE engaged in one of the most confusing, mind-bending blends of kayfabe and real life in Rusev’s angle. The announcers discussed the real life engagement of Rusev and Lana that broke on TMZ over the weekend while Summer Rae stood in Rusev’s corner. The commentary team struggled to make sense of the contradiction and only made it harder to continue to suspend disbelief.
Rusev didn’t fare much better in the ring. Ryback hit a Meat Hook Clothesline, Rusev dove into the ring post, and Ryback finished him with Shell-Shocked. After the bell, Summer Rae chewed him out for his duplicity, called him an “egotistical bastard,” and slapped him on her way out. The storyline gymnastics to get Rusev back on track will be very complicated. Meanwhile, a clean loss like this one shows that he has fallen considerably since Wrestlemania, even if he had the excuse of a distraction in this match.
Kevin Owens def. Kalisto
Owens pinned Sin Cara a week ago and took on his tag team partner this week. Owens was one of the few wrestlers all night to receive consistent cheers from the caustic Chicago crowd. After Owens dominated early, Kalisto tried a springboard topez to the floor and Owens simply stepped out of the way. Kalisto finally got on track with a cross-body, head scissors, and spinning DDT. Finally, Owens caught a hurricanrana attempt off the top rope and hit Kalisto with a powerbomb to win.
Charlotte and Becky Lynch def. Brie Bella and Alicia Fox
With Paige on commentary and Natalya at ringside, the remnants of Team PCB took on the most functional remaining women’s team. As soon as Charlotte tagged in, she ran through Brie and nearly ended the match with a spear. Paige left commentary to accost Natalya when Natalya tried to keep Nikki from getting involved in the match. Even so, Nikki hit a forearm behind the referee’s back and Brie hit a missile dropkick to win. I did not like the finish to the match. Even after the forearm, it was a weak pin on the Divas Champion. It seemed as if the story was that Paige wanted to make herself look essential, but it was too convoluted and poorly explained.
Sheamus and King Barrett def. Neville and Cesaro
There’s no such thing as a European Tag Team Title, but if those belts existed, they would have certainly been on the line in this match. Cesaro and Sheamus traded huge strikes early in the match that evoked some of their European predecessors. Neville found himself poached between the ropes and Barrett hit him with a Bullhammer from the outside and Sheamus cleaned up with the pin. While this match was inconsequential, I like the Sheamus-Barrett pairing while they wait for more impactful things to do.
Nikki Bella def. Naomi
Nikki dominated at the start of the match and worked on Naomi’s arm. Naomi turned the tide with an impressive plancha to Nikki and Alicia Fox on the floor. She wasn’t able to capitalize because Brie successfully distracted her by climbing on the announce table and mockingly chanting, “we want Sasha.” Nikki took advantage with a running forearm and the Rack Attack to win. It was a decent match and it’s clever to roll the fan support for Sasha Banks into the story.
Dudley Boys def. The Ascension
The Ascension rebuilt a little bit of intrigue in their brief run with Stardust, but it was clear from the moment this match started that it was an opportunity for the Dudleys to get an easy win. Sure enough, they quickly paid homage to Chicago’s Road Warriors with a Doomsday Device. They followed it with a 3D to build momentum to their Tag Team Title Match at HIAC.