7/13/15 – Jake Laber – @jakelaber
With Andrew on vacation, we’re pleased to welcome guest columnist Jake Laber for this week’s Raw review.
Rollins, Kane, Heyman and Lesnar
Raw opened with Paul Heyman hyping this rare and extraordinary opportunity to see Brock Lesnar as a challenger. He touts Lesnar’s accomplishments as a challenger against The Rock, Randy Coture, and John Cena. Rollins interrupts and comes out to the stage with Kane, they survey the destroyed Cadillac to more Justin Bieber chants. Seth says he can’t wait to wipe the smile off Brock’s face on Sunday.
He says Brock chose to be a coward last week and took out his aggression on an inanimate object. Then, he tried to say inanimate again, and it didn’t go so well. He concluded with “I am a real champion, and you are a thug…” and added that once again he will burn Suplex City to the ground. Brock: “Well I can take you to Suplex City tonight, bitch.” (Crowd pop). I’m thinking was ad-libbed because they bleeped Seth saying “bitch” in the replay package to open the show. Kane then announces a contract signing later tonight. Backstage during Raw, Kane assures a nervous Rollins he has a plan for later.
To begin the contract signing, Rollins gives us his word that he is not afraid of Brock Lesnar. Lesnar and Heyman come out. Heyman mentioned Rollins betraying the Shield, and everyone waiting for his demise since he “stole” the title from Lesnar. After Heyman says everything that is going to happen to Rollins on Sunday, Rollins angrily signs the contract, and Brock quickly follows suit.
Brock tips over the table to reveal a hidden axe handle, presumably put there by Kane. The fight was on after Brock gave Seth the axe back and then threw the table at Rollins. Kane and Rollins eventually got the upper hand, but that didn’t last long. Brock hit an F5 on Kane on the floor, but Rollins was able to escape through the crowd yet again. Brock smashed Kane’s foot with the stairs, held Seth’s belt over his head again, and exited confidently. Seth watched it all go down and came back to the ring to throw a fit.
Then, he had more confident words, once again, with Brock already backstage. This was good stuff from Rollins, always being confident when Lesnar is not around. He was not done as he blamed Kane for this “plan,” calling Kane’s career one big disappointment and berating him, iterating that this one is “on you” as he stomped Kane’s foot.
Fallout: With J&J taken out of the picture last week and Rollins disowning Kane, he’s all on his own Sunday as he defends the title against Brrrrrock Lesnar. Both the opening segment and contract signing were more than effective in making fans want to see the outcome of Sunday’s main event. The great wrestling will be a bonus.
Becky Lynch, Charlotte and Sasha Banks arrive
The Bellas and Alicia Fox are in the ring. Nikki touts her 232 days as Divas Champion. As she speaks about her dominance, Stephanie McMahon’s music surprisingly hits. Stephanie notes it’s time to make a change in the Divas division right now, “but I’m not gonna do that alone.” Steph introduces Paige. Steph notes this “revolution” can’t happen with Paige on her own, and then announces Becky Lynch.
Steph wasn’t done there, as she then announced Charlotte. The two NXT women joined Paige and all three hugged in the ring, then stood across from “Team Bella.” Naomi and Tamina came out and basically said, “What about us?” Steph said you’re right and there is someone else who thinks like they do, and she introduced NXT Women’s Champion Sasha Banks, who joined Naomi and Tamina.
All nine of them squared off in the ring with the Bellas and Fox stuck in the middle. A fight ensued and most of the women got a chance to shine. The end saw Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and Sasha Banks applying submissions on the Bellas and Fox, an awesome visual, and then Paige, Charlotte and Becky exchanging words with Naomi, Tamina, and Sasha.
Holy crap, the revolution is on indeed. Three call-ups all at once; I wonder if those three will continue to wrestle on both NXT and the main roster, a la Kevin Owens.
John Cena U.S. Title open challenge vs. ???
Rusev cuts a quick promo on his way to the ring about how he was the greatest United States Champion ever, but before the match can start, Owens interrupts. He trades a few good lines with Rusev before Cesaro enters the fray. The three would-be challengers face off as Cena ducks out of the ring, and they fight briefly before the next commercial break. During the break, the Authority announces a triple threat match among Rusev, Owens, and Cesaro with the winner getting a U.S. Title shot tonight.
Rusev vs. Cesaro vs. Owens
Cena stayed at ringside for commentary. Annoyingly, a “Let’s go Cena! Cena Sucks!” chant broke out during a match that did not involve him. It is nice to see Rusev in the ring again, this time with shoes! A good spot saw Cesaro with a modified sunset flip powerbomb while Owens was attempting a second rope superplex on Rusev. The match had lots of near falls with the third competitor breaking up the three-count. Once again Cesaro showed his power when Owens was attempting a suplex on Rusev. This time he double-German suplexed both of them.
After a fallaway slam, Rusev briefly locked in the Accolade on Cesaro before eating a superkick by Owens. Rusev recovered to hit an Alabama Slam on Owens and locked in the Accolade on him, but Cesaro broke that up and hit an impressive vertical suplex on Rusev. Owens arrogantly slapped both of his opponents and was quickly dispatched. Then, instead of re-entering the ring, he said “Screw this!” and backed up the ramp saying “I’ll see you Sunday” to Cena before the commercial break.
Rusev countered an apron-to-ring suplex by Cesaro by suplexing Cesaro onto the apron to gain the advantage. Rusev climbed to the top rope, had to fight off Cesaro, went for a headbutt, but got caught in the crossface for a good false finish. Cesaro and Rusev continued to go back and forth and Cesaro locked in the sharp shooter to another near fall. Rusev eventually knocked Cesaro off the top rope and caught him with a superkick for the win. It was refreshing to see a non-finisher (and non-rollup) win a match.
United States Championship: Rusev vs. John Cena (c)
Rusev gets about three minutes during another commercial break to recover. Cena promptly puts him in a headlock for more rest. Cena gets in most of the offense early on. Cena slowly hit four of the five moves of doom while Rusev was slow to recover in between each, but Rusev countered the Attitude Adjustment attempt with an Accolade.
Unsurprisingly, Kevin Owens returned to boot Rusev in the head and ensure that he would be the one to take Cena’s title, just like he promised earlier. Given Owens’ clean win over Cena in his debut, one would think WWE’s willingness to push Owens from the get-go points to him getting the victory on Sunday. I’m guessing this time it won’t be so clean.
Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt
The match was set to be Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt. Ambrose entered first, and right after the lights came on after Wyatt’s entrance, Reigns ran up behind Bray and beat up Wyatt at ringside. Ambrose watched by the commentary desk. After a superman punch by Reigns, Wyatt was able to strike Roman with his lantern and walk up the ramp, looking back at a stumbling Reigns as Raw somewhat abruptly went to commercial. It seems likely that Reigns will get his retribution on Wyatt for costing him Money in the Bank.
Ryback and Randy Orton vs. Sheamus and Big Show
Before the match, Michael Cole called this “WWE’s version of the all-star game.” Nice try. Miz was on commentary. Orton vs. Sheamus was announced earlier in the day for Battleground. Ryback took the early advantage against Sheamus with a cross-body onto Sheamus outside the ring, as they go to commercial within the first minute of the match. We return with Orton trading blows with Sheamus. The teams trade offense and tags, and the Miz says “I’m the toughest guy in WWE. Have you seen Marine 4?” They go to a second mid-match commercial after Sheamus hits a running knee lift and double axe smash on Orton.
We return with Sheamus and Big Show dominating Orton. Big Show goes for a chokeslam, Orton counters with a DDT, and gets to Ryback for the hot tag. Miz took to the microphone to distract Ryback first, nearly resulting in a rollup loss for the babyfaces. Then, Miz distracted Big Show, eventually being chased to the back by Show, leaving a two-on-one situation and an RKO and top-rope splash on Sheamus for the win.
“The Big Guy vs. the Big Show vs. The Big Mouth,” notes JBL, referencing the Intercontinental Championship match at Battleground. It would be surprising to me if Big Show takes the title. I give the Miz a decent chance, but I think Ryback is the favorite, despite not having the champion’s advantage.
Stardust vs. Neville
Stardust cut an entertaining backstage promo on Neville. Then, WWE flashed a graphic for the upcoming match of the two with comic book style cartoon drawings of the two. The announcers noted this is Stardust’s first match since his father, Dusty Rhodes, passed. We got multiple “Cody! Cody! Cody!” chants that were not in the least sarcastic. The finish saw Stardust reverse a rollup attempt by Neville into one of his own while grabbing a handful of tights for the pinfall. It would be awesome to see these two go at it again given more time.
New Day vs. Prime Time Players and Mark Henry
Titus O’Neil looked strong early as the good guys dominated before the commercial break. New Day had the advantage after the break (why not?), without WWE showing a replay of how they gained it, unless I missed it. Big E mocking Titus’ dog barking was mildly amusing. Titus reached Henry for the hot tag. New Day briefly withstood the onslaught until Henry hit the World’s Strongest Slam on Xavier Woods for the win. PTP defend the tag titles against New Day Sunday at Battleground.
R-Truth vs. King Barrett again
The announcers note that Barrett will be on tomorrow night’s episode of Tough Enough. After Barrett had a majority of the offense in the match, Truth is able to hit the Lie Detector for the win in a short match. He coincidentally finds his towel cape and royal plunger under the ring after the match. King What’s Up is alive and well. This sets up a “battle for the crown” match at the Battleground kickoff show. Hopefully Barrett’s King of the Ring push is still on the way…sometime.
Lita came out and introduced the final ten competitors in Tough Enough.
Sasha did not have the NXT Women’s Title with her.
Did Ryback have a bunch of singlets made that were all too small, and now he has to wear compression shorts under every one?