After the fantastic Raw last week, expectations for this one were high. We opened with Triple H, returning after a month’s absence, coming down to the ring to express his displeasure with how things have been run in his stead. He likened himself to a father having to sort out his unruly children. He called Seth Rollins to the ring to try and let some of the bad blood between Rollins and Kane. I love the fact that whenever Seth Rollins is given the mic, he can’t help but run his mouth and get in trouble. Rollins implored Triple H to put the “old dog” out of his misery and fire him. Kane naturally had something to say about this and made his way to the ring. After lots of sniping at each other, Triple H put his foot down and decreed that one, all the Fatal 4 Way participants would be in action tonight and two, if Rollins loses the title at Payback, The Auhority may have to reconsider Kane’s employment.
The first match was a handicap match between hometown hero Dean Ambrose and J&J Security. The match was fun, fast and scrappy and the enthusiastic crowd ate it up. Ambrose got the win to rapturous applause. They certainly seem like they’re making a big deal about Ambrose, but I can’t see him winning at Payback. I would love it, but I’m not sure Seth Rollins‘ reign will end that way.
Next up we had Dolph Ziggler vs. King Barrett with Sheamus doing a guest spot on commentary. I really enjoy watching both performers and they put on a decent match. Ziggler has kept the aggression he found a few weeks ago and it makes him a more legitimate opponent against the ridiculously cut Barrett. As we all know, if there’s a guest commentator, they’ll usually pick their moment to interfere. Sure enough, Sheamus rose from his seat and distracted Ziggler long enough to take his attention from the match, leaving Barrett to smash him with a Bull Hammer and pick up the win. Jackal that he is, Sheamus then attacked the hurt Ziggler, slapping and manhandling him. Ziggy staged a comeback, which proved to be short-lived as Sheamus put the full stop on the bit by hitting him squarely in the face with a Brogue Kick. I’m enjoying heel Sheamus. He’s got so much more about him now he’s committed to being a dick. It also makes Ziggler look squeaky-clean in comparison.
Erick Rowan had a match against Fandango, which wasn’t particularly notable except for the fact that it seems he and former tag partner Luke Harper are working together again. I’m pretty happy about this. I’d be happy if it was just the two, but I’m pulling for a proper Wyatt family reunion once Bray is done with his arbitrary feud with Ryback.
It was then time for John Cena‘s Blahdiblahdiblah where he puts his U.S.Title on the line each and every week to anyone brave enough to challenge for it. After some time explaining why Cena feels the title is important, the challenger turned out to be Neville. I’ve said it for weeks now, but I feel like I’m the only one impressed with Cena and the attitude taken to bump up the new guys. There hasn’t been a bad match since he started doing it and tonight was no exception. Neville is often a key component in weekly favourite match picks. The man’s phenomenal and this match was easily the best match of the night. The fight was awesome with plenty of momentum switches and very near falls. Rusev ended up interfering and causing a disqualification, but the crucial thing is Neville damn near beat Cena. Of course he wasn’t going win the title as the Payback card has already been announced, but maybe sometime soon we’ll see him with championship gold.
We then had the 7984th match between Roman Reigns and Kane, but this one wasn’t really a match, more of a beatdown. Kane ragdolled Reigns from pillar to post outside the ring for most of the match. Reigns staged a comeback and Superman Punched Kane only to then Spear him over a table which I’m sure was supposed to break. It was an alright segment, but nothing to write home about.
We had some great Divas action with Tamina Snuka taking on Brie Bella just because. Tamina was incredibly impressive and it’s nice to have a powerhouse back in the Divas division. Snuka damn near kicked Brie’s head off and won the match. I’ve noticed that the Bellas aren’t being as jerky as they used to be. They’ve taken a few humbling beatings. Is this a slow change from heel to face for the Bellas? They’re certainly setting up Naomi and Tamina as the big bads at the moment.
After having an identity crisis, Damien Sandow has now started dressing like the late, great Macho Man Randy Savage and is calling himself “Macho Mandow”. He teamed up with the only other guy doing the same schtick, but with Hulk Hogan, Curtis Axel. The Legion of Doom/ Road Warriors inspired Ascension came out, wearing massive irony blinkers and accused the two of being pale copies of Hogan and Savage. I’m really not sure what to make of all this. I love the Macho Man. I like Sandow a lot. However, this seems like a complete waste of his skills. Sandow has always been on the goofier end of the wrestling spectrum, but this makes me cringe a little. Maybe they’ll pull something awesome out of the bag, but as of now, I’m not convinced.
Daniel Bryan had an announcement to make. In a genuine and gentle way, he relinquished the Intercontinental Title due to real-world medical reasons. We’ve been here before with Bryan. I’m a massive fan of the guy and to hear he may not wrestle again was tough to hear. He was the one that got me back into wrestling and if this is it, best of luck to him. I’d love to see him wrestling again soon, but who knows what will happen. Anyway, that bummed me out for the rest of the show.
In happier news, turns out we’re getting an extra PPV this year. Elimination Chamber returns as a Network exclusive and happens at the end of the month. I’ve always liked the spectacle of the EC, so fingers crossed. I imagine they’ll be working out a match for the newly vacated Intercontinental title, which could be good.
Cesaro went up against Big E. As is always the case with any of the members of these teams, the match was great and included some great spots. I will never tire of Cesaro plucking the massive Big E out of the air like it’s nothing. He’s fantastic. Cesaro won with a roll-up pin and the stage is set for Payback’s match.
Ryback had more business with Bray Wyatt, building up their rivalry. Here’s my question for this though. How is Bray the “new face of fear” if nobody’s scared of him?
The main event was Seth Rollins vs. Randy Orton. I always enjoy watching Rollins and Orton in action. They play off each other well and put on an amazing Wrestlemania match. Momentum shifted, but Orton gained the upper hand, whipping the crowd into a frenzy as he lined up for the RKO. Just as he was about to hit it, J&J Security did what they do best and interfered, ending the match in a disqualification and beating down Orton. Kane came out too, but kept out of things. Rollins, Noble and Mercury all starting stomping Orton until Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns ran in, giving us a replay of last week’s chaotic ending. Ambrose hit Rollins with Dirty Deeds. Kane still refused to get involved, leaving Rollins to get Speared by Reigns and then held up by the former Shield brothers for Orton’s RKO. Once Rollins was laid out for good, Reigns turned on Orton, Spearing him to the ground. Whilst Roman was gloating, Ambrose hit him with Dirty Deeds, leaving Ambrose the last man standing for the second week in a row.
Overall, it was a decent episode of Raw. It clipped some of the usual hurdles it runs into, but managed to be an entertaining go-home episode. I’ll see you after Payback.