9/7/15 – Andrew Berg – @WrestleRosters
Sting Terrorizes Busy Seth Rollins
Despite Raw ending badly for him two weeks in a row, Rollins started the night on a positive note in Baltimore. He bragged about how he is the kind of special, once in a generation star who can overcome even the long odds he will face at Night of Champions. Sting appeared on the screen with the statute of Rollins he stole two weeks ago to antagonize Rollins. When he successfully riled up his opponent, Sheamus came to the ring and warned him about the chance that he’ll cash in his Money in the Bank contract.
Rollins looked for help backstage from HHH, even dismissing Stephanie McMahon to look for his mentor. When HHH arrived, he had more challenges for Rollins rather than solutions. He booked him for a singles match with Ryback and a tag match with New Day against John Cena and the Prime Time Players. With Ryback, Cena, the Prime Time Players, Sheamus, and Sting all on his radar, Rollins remained fixated on his statue.
After a clumsy Ryback promo, the Intercontinental Champion went on to have a very good match with the WWE Champion. He overpowered Rollins early with a variety of moves that included a very long delayed vertical suplex. When Rollins tried to fly, he caught his plancha, but Rollins freed himself and shoved Ryback into the ring apron. He continued his offense with a neck breaker and a flying knee. They exchanged a great series of counters that ended with a Ryback powerbomb, only for him to miss a frog splash. Back in control, Rollins tried to get a count-out win with a pair of suicide dives. Ryback made it back in the ring and hit a spinebuster and a Meat Hook Clothesline. Before he could finish the match with Shell-Shocked, Rollins answered with an enzuigiri.
With the match relatively even at that point, Sting appeared on the screen again and put a Sting mask on the statue of Rollins. The interruption again pulled Rollins’s attention away from the match for Ryback use a small package to get the surprise victory. Normally, I would not be a fan of a heel champion taking a clean(ish) loss on TV. Here, the story has been about all of the pressures pulling Rollins in different directions, and this loss was only a manifestation of those pressures.
Despite that trouble, the second match for Rollins started much better for him. With Xavier Woods on trombone at ringside, Kofi Kingston and Big E isolated Cena and worked him over mercilessly. After almost 10 minutes without a tag, Cena reached hot tag machine Titus O’Neil for the physical catharsis. O’Neil helped turn the tide for his team and shortly after, Cena recovered enough to put Rollins in the STF. He made the tag to Kingston, but Cena immediately caught him and hit an AA to get the victory.
With two losses on the night, Rollins lamented his fate in the ring while Sting appeared on the screen once again. He turned on the lights backstage to reveal a garbage truck, into which he dumped the precious Rollins statue. As far as trophy destructions go, this one was one of the most creative in wrestling history. In the big picture, WWE faced a challenge in keeping Rollins unsympathetic while he faces such long odds. So far, the combination of a focus on his ego and his perfect execution has kept Rollins as heelish as ever.
New Day Gets a Blast from the Past
After Rollins lost to Ryback, New Day tried to console him backstage with some chants and trombone playing. Instead, Edge and Christian walked up behind him. Edge challenged Rollins to finish the job that he started when he threatened to break Edge’s neck last winter to get The Authority reinstated. The flustered champion fled, leaving New Day and Edge an Christian to a musical duel between the trombone and Christian’s kazoo.
The segment pivoted away from comedy once again when the Dudleys entered (greeting their old adversaries in the process) and told New Day that they are scheduled to defend their titles against the Prime Time Players next week. They chanted “get the tables” to the New Day beat. WWE has relegated many upcoming tag teams to second-class status, but not New Day. Simply standing next to two of the most legendary teams of the last 20 years improves their standing in the eyes of fans. The fact that they created a clever interaction is even better for them.
Randy Orton def. Sheamus
Orton and Sheamus have split two PPV matches over the last two months, so this match functioned as a rubber match in their recent series. Orton got the upper-hand early when fan chants distracted Sheamus from the task at hand. When the match spilled outside, Sheamus hit an Irish Curse on the floor and a rolling senton back in the ring. Orton responded with a powerslam and a t-bone suplex for a near fall. A very brief cloverleaf did not get Sheamus far, as Orton answered with a superplex. He sequenced it with a hangman’s DDT and Sheamus was able to counter the RKO into White Noise. Finally, Orton kicked out of a schoolboy and hit an RKO to get the clean win. Orton looked great in finally giving Sheamus his comeuppance and keeping himself near the top of the card. It was a highly enjoyable, conclusive match.
With one door closing, another might have opened for Orton. Presumably because he was shown talking to Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns backstage, the Wyatt Family encircled him after his win. Luke Harper struck first, but Bray Wyatt also helped soften him up as they fed him to Braun Stowman. The attack ended with a new slam from Strowman that started as a shoulder-hung backbreaker and turned into a side slam. While the attack may have been intended to deter Orton from joining the Shield team, it makes him a distinct possibility as the mystery partner.
Charlotte Steps Up to Team Bella
With just over seven days left on the “Bella Tron” countdown until Nikki Bella becomes the longest-reigning Divas Champion on record, Team Bella came to the ring to gloat. Nikki promised to throw the wildest “Bella-bration” in WWE history after setting the record. Charlotte and Team PCB interrupted her and announced that Charlotte’s request to move up her title shot to Raw was granted so she would have a chance to end the title reign before it breaks the record. Charlotte’s solid promo led to a six-woman brawl and a Figure Eight on the champion. I’m very curious to see what happens next week. It long appeared that Nikki would break the record of the retired AJ Lee, but preventing that achievement would be a nice feather in Charlotte’s cap.
Sasha Banks def. Paige
Last week’s Raw featured a very poor matchup between these two wrestlers in the Beat the Clock Challenge, so it was good to see them get a chance to redeem themselves with a bit more time. They bought back and forth until Sasha squirmed out of the Rampage. Paige proceeded to block a wheel-barrow slam and counter it into a German Suplex. When Paige went for the PTO, Naomi provided enough of a distraction for Sasha to counter into a small package and get the pin. The finish was a bit odd because it didn’t seem like Sasha needed the distraction to get the pin. Nonetheless, it was a solid match and it gives Sasha yet another claim to a Divas Title shot in the near future.
Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns def. The Ascension
To give fans a break from week after week of Ambrose and Reigns against Bray Wyatt’s Family, they got a lesser supernatural tag team instead. They plowed through The Ascension until they hit a Doomsday Device and Dirty Deeds to get the easy win. After the bell, the Wyatts appeared on screen and gave Ambrose and Reigns another warning of the forthcoming apocalypse for their team. I often advocate for matches with opponents lower on the card who are not part of the ongoing storyline because they legitimize the teams in the feud and keep the matchup relatively fresh. Of all of the stories in WWE now, the Wyatts and former Shield needed some freshening.
Cesaro and Miz Fought to a Double Count-Out
On last week’s Going Over Podcast, I suggested that Cesaro and Ryback would be well served by swapping their concluding angles. Kevin Owens could parlay his decisive win over Cesaro into an Intercontinental Title shot against Ryback. Meanwhile, Cesaro could get back on the right track against established veterans like The Miz and Big Show. It appears that WWE felt the same way since both angles started to develop between Smackdown and Raw. Cesaro and Miz had a short match that ended when Big Show came to ringside and chased Miz away while Cesaro laid out on the floor. After the ref called for the bell, the angry Big Show hit Cesaro with a KO punch on his way out. While Cesaro did not look great in the outcome, I believe that this feud was designed to give him a chance to shine as a babyface.
Dolph Ziggler Gets a Measure of Revenge
Summer Rae apologized profusely to Rusev for- in her telling of the story- kissing Ziggler in his locker room last week. Rusev accepted the apology and went on to blame Ziggler for the situation. Ziggler interrupted and said that Lana’s wrist injury only makes him angrier at Rusev and Lana and superkicked Rusev in the face. Lana’s injury throws a monkey wrench in the planning for what seemed like an inevitable mixed tag match. In the end, Ziggler and Rusev should have a better singles match between themselves. The bigger challenge might be getting fans back on board with what has been a stop-and-start story between them.
Dudley Boys def. Los Matadores
Los Matadores had some early success until they allowed themselves to get distracted by El Torito. That led to a 3D and a quick pin. They continued to take their frustrations out on El Torito with an attack after the bell. The Dudleys intervened and came back to put Diego (or maybe Fernando) through a table. It almost looked like the disintegration of the disappointing Matadores team, but it was more likely simply a reason for Devon to get the tables.