RAW is live tonight from San Jose, California. We’re just three weeks away from Summerslam, which the WWE is keen to point out is a whopping four hours this year. What will Seth Rollins have to say about his bone crunching knee to Cena’s face from last week? Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar are in the house – what will they have to say about the wild brawl with the Undertaker from a couple weeks ago? Will any more matches be added to the Summerslam card tonight? And do real men wear kilts?
The answer is yes. Yes they do.
RAW starts now!
-The show begins with a 10 bell salute to Hot Rod with all the wrestlers gathered on the stage. This is followed by a lovely video package which made me a little misty-eyed, I’ll be honest.
-The announcers put over a 6 man tag match main event for tonight: Wyatt, Harper, and Sheamus vs. Reigns, Ambrose, and Orton.
-Seth Rollins comes out for a promo. “Thank you, Rollins!” chants from the crowd, which grows in intensity after Rollins throws it to a replay of the nose breaking kneelift on Cena from last week. “Guys, it was disgusting. I felt Cena’s nose crack on my knee.” Face pop! These charlatans in San Jose don’t like our lord and savior John Cena?! How dare they! Rollins said Cena looked like a Picasso painting, which I found pretty amusing. Rollins has a proposition for Cena: he wants a title for title match at Summerslam. Rollins wants to be a double champion, the first man to ever hold the World and US Titles at the same time (heel vanity +1). Seth definitely has this mostly smarky crowd in the palm of his hands here. He goes on to say anything Cena does, he can do better. Thus tonight is the first ever WWE World Heavyweight Championship Open Challenge! We cut to commercial.
Back from break, Jojo is in the ring conducting an impromptu interview with Rollins. She wants to know if this challenge is legitimate. Rollins says it is, but the Authority made two caveats – the challenger has to be under 6’0″ tall and under 200 pounds – “so El Torito, get your ass on out here!” This reminds me of Bret Hart challenging El Dandy to a title match… but wait, here comes Neville! He fits the vanilla midget bill. The match is a-go.
–WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match: Seth Rollins (c) vs. Neville
Neville takes it to Rollins with lots of flippy shit all over the ring, culminating with an impressive corkscrew moonsault to the outside. Rollins regains the advantage and slows the pace down with the patented Tito Santana side headlock. Both lads jockey back and forth until Rollins misses a top rope move and Neville counters with a dangerous looking reverse hurricanrana. Neville takes Rollins to Suplex City with a nice German suplex. Neville goes upstairs but misses a high risk move which allows Rollins to almost take Neville’s head off with the AXE BOMBA! Neville counters the Pedigree with a pinning combination and gets a two and 99/100th count! The crowd is incensed! Neville perseveres and hits a top-rope hurricanrana, sprints across the ring, leaps to the top rope and goes for the Red Arrow… HE HITS IT! One, Two, Thr… holy shit, Rollins has his foot on the ropes! The crowd comes unglued! They really bought into Neville taking the title there. Neville goes for the Red Arrow again but takes too long this time, which allows Rollins to roll out of the way and hit the Pedigree for the win.
Winner and still World Heavyweight Champion: Seth Rollins – WHAT A WAY TO START MONDAY NIGHT RAW, MAGGLE! A thrilling match; Rollins was on the defensive for the majority of it but still found a way to win like a chickenshit heel should. Neville looks good here even in defeat.
-Lesnar & Heyman are advertised for an appearance tonight.
-The PTP are back on commentary! Wooo!
–The New Day & The Ascension vs. Los Matadores & Lucha Dragons
The faces are uber-colorful tonight. I’m sure the young kids watching probably love them. JBL mentions Titus taking a number of homeless groups out to dinner over the weekend. Prime Time Players once again contribute hilarious commentary during a mostly run of the mill match. (Darren: “My Tourettes is kicking in, big man!”) Match is a straightforward spotfest with no psychology. Kofi hits the Trouble in Paradise on Kalisto after shenanigans in and around the ring for the victory.
Winners: The New Day & The Ascension – nothing special.
–The Bella Twins vs. Charlotte & Becky Lynch
Inset promos before the match: the Bellas crow about holding the Divas Championship and being the team to beat while the other three dub themselves the Submission Sorority (eyeroll). Becky is also ‘the Lasskicker’ (double eyeroll). Lucky Charms starts with Brie, gets the early advantage with some legdrops and tags in Charlotte, who does her daddy’s kneedrop on Brie. Meanwhile, B.A.D. are watching the action backstage. The Naomi update for this week is: still hot. The Bellas take control of the match with some heel tactics and they isolate Charlotte. Rest holds until Charlotte breaks out of an Orton chinlock from Brie with a jawbreaker and makes the lukewarm tag to Becky. JBL immediately botches her new nickname by calling her ‘the Lass Beater’. Becky misses a baseball slide outside the ring and Brie clocks her from behind. Team Bella does an awesome ‘GO TEAM VENTURE!’ pose over Becky’s carcass as we go to break.
Back from break, the Bellas are still dominating. Nikki hits a vicious looking facebuster against her knee. Brie tags in and hits a bulldog out of the corner for a two count. BRIE MODE! Running knee against the ropes and gets another two count. More insipid JBL commentary. Brie misses a move and it’s hot tag time – Charlotte comes in against Nikki with WOOO chops and a spear for two. Nikki hits a brutal spinebuster for two. Charlotte manages to get the Figure-8 locked in… and Nikki taps out?!
Winners: Charlotte & Becky Lynch – good match with plenty of time dedicated to it, but the finish just kind of happened and the Bellas need some wins to look at least remotely competitive in this three team rivalry.
-Interview with B.A.D. – Jojo, like a mousy little twerp, asks them what they think of the Submission Sorority taking control of the Divas division after their win just now. Sasha Banks asks Jojo if she even watched Raw last week when she made Paige tap out. Naomi says B.A.D. will make another statement tonight and challenges Paige to a match. She goes on to say that she’s sick of women talking about Rhonda Rousey and says that Team B.A.D. Are the most dangerous women on the planet. I like it. Good promo.
-Miz TV segment with Cesaro & Kevin Owens. Miz starts by putting over Piper’s Pit in a touching out of character moment. He gets his heel heat back by running down the injured Ryback, then brings out Kevin Owens. I’m sure Ralph is sitting at home shaking his head in disgust at Owens appearing in this midcard segment right now. Owens and Miz put each other over like fellow heels should. (“I own all your movies on blu-ray, Miz!”) Owens goes on to say Cesaro is jealous of him, but doesn’t get far into his promo before Cesaro interrupts (wearing an incredibly swish suit this evening). “Ce-sa-ro” chants from the crowd. Owens continues and says he’s accomplished more in 3 months than Cesaro has in 3 years and that Cesaro will never match his natural, God-given ability for the wrestling business. Cesaro responds by saying he’s not jealous of Owens, but rather ashamed because every time Owens walks out on a match he not only disrespects his opponent but also the fans who paid good money to see a match. (A very diplomatic, babyface way of calling Owens a pussy.) Cesaro claims Owens is an embarrassment and gets the crowd going with a “Walk Owens Walk” chant. Owens gets up in Cesaro’s face while Miz plays the Piper role perfectly and eggs things on. Owens says he’ll fight anyone at anytime, but pulls a Piper himself and says… but only for the right price. Ha! A potential brawl starts but Owens is quickly out of there. Great segment that definitely built some heat between the two.
–”The Bulgarian Love Machine” Rusev vs. Mark Henry
They replay Rusev’s Pearl Harbor job on Dolph Ziggler from last month before the match starts. I get up for half a second to grab a cup of coffee and the match is over after Rusev kicks Henry in the face. Thanks for playing, Mizark.
Winner: Rusev – total squash.
-Announcers shill the Network and Michael Cole botches his line at the end. Schmuck.
-Bray Wyatt & Luke Harper promo. Roman Reigns is a wuss and Dean Ambrose chose poorly by siding with Reigns. Camera pans back and, whoa… there’s Sheamus there with them too. Weird seeing another wrestler in the Wyatt’s darkened boiler room. Sheamus says he’ll make the beating on Orton “quick and painful”. Wyatt says he’s always admired Sheamus’ penchant for brutality and that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. They share a laugh.
–Zack Ryder (what?!) vs. King Barrett
Barrett cuts a nothing promo before the match. Why is Zack Ryder on my screen? Holy crap, he’s getting offense. I don’t like this. Broski Boot in the corner, but Barrett jumps up and hits the Bullhammer elbow. One, two, three.
Winner: King Barrett – not a squash like the last match because Ryder did get some offense in, but this match was short and unmemorable.
-The New Day vs. Prime Time Players & Mark Henry announced for Smackdown.
-PAUL HEYMAN IS IN THE RING! Heyman says it was the Undertaker who picked this fight, not Brock. Yet it was not the same dominating Undertaker of old – it was a desperate Undertaker. Heyman goes on to say that the once mighty alpha dog of the WWE has become a submissive little bitch, which gets the crowd to let out a big ooooohhh. “Oooh, nuthin!” Heyman is so damned sharp. Paul E. introduces Lesnar who gets a MASSIVE face pop. Can’t believe they want him to go against the Undertaker after he’s become the biggest face in the company. “Suplex City” chants. As Brock takes his place in the ring, Heyman says the last time the WWE sanctioned a match between the Undertaker and Lesnar, the Undertaker left in an ambulance and took a year to recover. This time… he will need last rites over his career. A text description alone can’t do this justice. Go check it out. Heyman was on fire. Money promo.
-Recap of the Cena nose break from last week.
–Paige vs. Naomi
Naomi with heelish stalling tactics to start, but this only seems to piss off Paige who lays into Naomi with kicks and elbows. Naomi gets a headscissors in the corner and shakes that million dollar booty for
me the crowd. Paige counters with a running knee. Distraction by Sasha and Tamina puts Naomi back in control as I’m now distracted by Naomi’s color changing light-up wrestling boots. Running bulldog against the top turnbuckle by Naomi. Double knee to the face by Naomi for two. Paige fights back and hits a fallaway slam on Naomi. Naomi misses a cross body from the top and gets the PTO for the win.
Winner: Paige – Paige was heavily advertised as a guest on Austin’s podcast after the show, so she was never losing this. Naomi pulls a Road Warrior Hawk by pretty much no-selling after the match though. Ha!
-Announcers recap the World Title match from earlier and put over Neville strong. This segues into a Stardust interview, who mocks Neville for failing and wonders who will be his hero now? Cut to a tweet from @amellywood who says he’ll be on Raw next week. I still have no idea who this Stephen Amell guy is (for which I was made fun of on Twitter) or why I should care about this feud in the first place. I stopped paying attention to TV shows after Magnum P.I. went off the air. I’m clearly not the intended audience for this feud.
-Replay of the Piper video from earlier.
-Ambrose & Reigns promo. Ambrose: “We’re here to kick ass and chew bubblegum. And we’re all out of bubblegum.” His character is somewhat similar to Piper’s now that I think about it. Reigns mumbles a few threats at Wyatt before Orton pops in to say they both need to leave Sheamus to him.
–MAIN EVENT: Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, & Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, & Sheamus
It’s mayhem to start. Ambrose flings himself onto the heels with a diving elbow to the outside before we go to commercial. Reigns and Sheamus are in the ring when we come back. The two brawl in the ring and then outside. Luke Harper tags in and so does Ambrose as it looks like Reigns has a bloody nose on the apron. Two weeks in a row! Bray Wyatt tags in and wears down Ambrose. Harper comes back in with stomps and slams but goes for one slam too many which Ambrose counters and it’s hot tag time. Wyatt and Orton enter the ring as Orton hits his snap powerslam, then cheap shots Sheamus off the ring apron for good measure. Orton with a backbreaker on Wyatt, which sets up the DDT on the ropes – VINTAGE ORTON! Orton sets up the RKO, but Harper breaks it up. Ambrose jumps in the ring and tosses Harper outside. Ambrose goes for a suicide dive, but Harper catches him, shoves him away, and kicks his face off with a nasty big boot. Harper revels for a moment, only to look up and see Reigns coming at him with a diving Superman punch!
Reigns and Sheamus become the legal men again and Reigns lights up on Sheamus. Reigns with a diving boot on Sheamus on the outside, then a diving boot on Wyatt on the announce table! Back in the ring, Reigns sets up for the Superman punch on Sheamus, but Wyatt is able to distract him. Sheamus with a rollup for two! Reigns hits the Superman on Sheamus after he kicks out, but Harper slides in and catches Reigns with a superkick! Ambrose returns from the dead and clotheslines Harper’s head off as Michael Cole reminds us there are bodies everywhere. Wyatt goes for Sister Abigail on Ambrose but Dean slips out and dives on Harper on the outside of the ring – both men topple over the announce table! As Wyatt looks down on his man on the outside, Orton sneaks up and hits the RKO! Sheamus goes for the Brogue on Orton, but Orton ducks out of the way… and Sheamus walks into a spear from legal man Reigns! One, two, three!
Winners: Orton, Reigns, & Ambrose – a solid and enjoyable main event level 6-man match, although the ‘hit R1 for finisher’ endings are getting a little crazy these days.
Overall, a solid RAW building towards Summerslam. Definitely a better show than last week’s. (And it was 100% Cena-free, so the IWC should love this episode.) The World Title match, the Divas tag team match, Heyman’s promo, and the main event are all worthwhile viewing. Thumbs up from me.