Seth Rollins opened the show this week with yet more bragging about how he put John Cena out of action for a while. He’s gone straight for the jugular this time with a parody shirt and a goofy sequence where he spoke to “John Cena” via satellite link up (actually a still picture of Cena’s busted face with Seth Rollins’ mouth spouting dumb stuff). It was silly, but then wrestling is silly for the most part. Seth Rollins is such a fantastic heel.
Rollins’ grandstanding was interrupted by the dapper Cesaro who came out challenge Seth for his WHC title in the spirit of Rollins’ open challenge last week. Rollins naturally refused, stated that last week was a one time thing and called Cesaro’s claim into question. He didn’t get far before Kevin Owens‘ music hit and KO came out. He agreed that Cesaro was unworthy but put his name forward to fight for the title. Rollins reiterated his point that he wasn’t holding an open challenge, but was cut off by Randy Orton coming out to stake his claim. Frustrated, Rollins told them all to get out of his ring and how he didn’t care what the Authority thought, but soon Triple H appeared on the ramp to address what Rollins just said. Like a kid trying to convince his father he didn’t say a bad word, Rollins capitulated, but Triple H decided that a triple threat match between the contenders for a title shot later that night must happen.
Our first spot of actual wrestling came in the form of Team BAD taking on Team Bella in a 6 Diva Tag match. Having clearly had time to Google “Submission Sorority” between shows, Paige‘s team, now known as “Team PCB” took commentary duties. The match was decent. The Divas storyline is all about three teams jockeying for position and they’re presented as equals. The Bellas picked up a surprise win, with Brie just managing to pin Tamina Snuka. Can we please see more of Tamina? She’s a powerhouse and the clothesline she hit on Brie in the closing moments of the match was the closest thing we’ve seen to a Clothesline from Hell since JBL retired and became a commentator. Tamina wasn’t happy with the decision and took out Brie’s legs and soon all of Team BAD ganged up on her. The remaining members of Team Bella also got involved as did Team PCB, creating an all Divas brawl. The Bellas escaped and the other two teams backed down, saving their fight for another day. A genuinely entertaining segment.
Kofi Kingston and Big E of New Day went up against Los Matadores next. Nothing much happened storyline wise, but it was a fun fight nonetheless. Commentary seem to be trying to push Los Matadores as legitimate tag contenders, rather than colourful jobbers, which is interesting. New Day picked up the win and they danced to celebrate, with Big E showing off his hip-gyrating skills. He moves well for a big man. Post match, New Day were told that they would be part of a tag team Fatal Four Way at Summerslam, putting a strain on their infamous positivity.
It was then time for the announced triple threat between Cesaro, Randy Orton and Kevin Owens. As one may have guessed from the talent involved, it was a hell of a match. Creatively, they’re spinning their wheels a little. Before he got his nose flattened, my guess is that Cena and Rollins would be doing the dance all the way up to Summerslam, but now hands have been forced by fate and Cesaro, Kevin Owens and Randy Orton are all in play. They’re doing the same thing that’s happening with the Divas division. All are presented as equal and legitimate possible champs and it’s working for me. The match was fairly even too, with each wrestler getting moments to shine. I love Owens’ mocking poses and devastating moves. Cesaro is an incredible athlete and had some truly standout moments. Easily my favourite was an amazing rebound corkscrew uppercut on Owens from the second rope. Randy Orton was good too, but Owens and Cesaro made it hard to care about him doing his tried-and-true routine. The end sequence was great though. Owens went for his finsher and Cesaro leapfrogged him, leaving him at the mercy of Orton, who RKO’d him with surgical precision. Then Cesaro ate an RKO and Orton won by pinfall. I like Orton, but I wish it could have been one of the other two. I want some kind of definitive sign that WWE sees what I see in both Cesaro and Owens.
Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns got some promo time. We know Ambrose is good on the mic, but I thought Roman Reigns was way more natural talking than he has been. They had a fun back-and-forth about their friendship and they pointed out the difference between them and the Wyatt family, which apparently boils down to Ambrose knowing Reigns’ beverage preferences. I liked the promo, but felt it needed a little more bite. Still, the buddy act between Ambrose and Reigns remains charming.
In preparation for Summerslam, Dean Ambrose was in singles action against Luke Harper. It was pretty good, but I really don’t understand the insistence on showing us part or all of the brawl we’re meant to be paying for. I swear it’s been better than this, with the competitors being restricted to verbal sparring before getting into the ring at a Pay Per View. Anyway, Luke Harper picked up a surprise win after hitting Ambrose with a brutal discus clothesline to win via pinfall. I’m pretty amped for the Wyatt family/Shield brothers confrontation. I just wish they’d stop giving away the best parts for free, the hussies.
Another Miz TV segment next. Hooray! With special guest Daniel Bryan! Double hooray! I miss Bryan a hell of a lot and it was great to see him make his entrance for the first time in what seems like forever. Unfortunately, Bryan wasn’t there to discuss a possible comeback, but more to shill Tough Enough and his new book. Miz seemed intent on talking about his own upcoming Triple Threat Intercontinental match at Summerslam and ranted about how the absent champion Ryback should relinquish the belt. Big Show interrupted and then Ryback made a surprise appearance, coming back after an injury. Miz left the ring to let the two big bald fellas fight, but Daniel Bryan, scamp that he is, threw Miz back into the ring and a brawl started, with Miz being collateral damage in a big man’s fight. Ryback Meathooked Big Show to oblivion and set his sights on Miz, who also got the Meathook treatment. I still can’t bring myself to get excited about the Intercontinental title picture, but as I’ve said before, the Miz makes the match-up interesting.
Rusev had a match against Mark Henry. Of course, the story wasn’t to be found in the fight. Lana took a commentary position, setting up an obvious confrontation between her and Summer Rae. I said a few weeks ago that I was starting to like this odd, meandering storyline and I stick by it. However, this wasn’t a great showing. Creative have no idea what to do with Lana unless she’s arm candy so here she was, talking about Rusev needing to “get over it” when she has no reason to be out there in the first place. It’s a weird bit of character dissonance. She also attacked Summer first this time. Summer threw Lana in the ring and for some reason the match ended, because fuck rules and logic. Summer slammed Lana’s head against the mat a few times before looking to Rusev. In a nice bit of role reversal, Rusev gave the order to crush and Summer locked Lana in a vicious looking Accolade submission hold. The pair celebrated as the now customary flag dropped from the ceiling. However, this one had a picture of Rusev on it looking heroic. I laughed my tits off. It was a great gag and I hope we see more of it. The segment ended and I had to rub my neck to counter the fucking whiplash the segment gave me. I’m never going to be able to nail down what I think of this continuing storyline. It manages to be brilliant and shit-awful at the same time. It defies my powers as a writer and confuses me as a human.
Neville took on King Barrett next. Like the Rusev/Henry fight, the fight wasn’t the point. Neville crushed Barrett in about five minutes and celebrated, only to have Stardust slide into the ring and beat down Neville. Stardust turned his focus to ringside where Arrow’s Stephen Amell sat, he shoved Amell and retreated. Stephen Amell wasn’t fucking around however and leapt the barricade, vaulted the top rope and tackled Stardust to the ground, unleashing a flurry of punches before security separated the two. I normally hate celebrity guest spots, but this was brilliant. I think it’s because he’s not there to directly promote anything and he comes across as a genuine wrestling fan.
We had some backstage action with Triple H giving Stephen Amell a bollocking for involving himself in the match. Amell fired back by saying that if some guy puts his hands on him, he should be able to fight back. Amell pushed Triple H to let him and Neville sort out Stardust and after Amell said he’d sign any papers he needed to, Triple H agreed. At Summerslam, it’s Neville and Stephen Amell versus Stardust and King Barrett. I genuinely can’t wait. Amell was awesome during both bits. Perhaps WWE should start hiring actors and turning them into beefcakes rather than the other way around. The “E” does stand for “entertainment” after all.
Finally, we had the main event. Randy Orton versus Seth Rollins for the World Heavyweight Championship. All in all, it was a great match. Rollins is a resilient champion. He’s a chickenshit heel, but when he’s forced to fight, he can handle himself. Having said that, the match mostly went Orton’s way. Rollins got some decent offence in, but Orton soon put an end to that by countering Rollins’ top rope attack into an RKO. It seemed all done and dusted as Orton went for the pin, but longtime rival Sheamus dragged him out of the ring, ending the match in a disqualification. Sheamus beat Orton down and focused on the incapacitated Rollins in the ring. He grabbed his Money in the Bank briefcase and Brogue Kicked the champ to ensure he stayed down. He argued with the ref and went to cash it in, but Orton slid in and RKO’d him. It was a real bummer of an ending. Firstly, the exchange between Sheamus and the referee went on a weirdly long time as it became clear Orton wasn’t quick enough and they had to stall. Secondly, I’d have welcomed Sheamus properly cashing in the briefcase. I definitely wouldn’t want Sheamus as champ, but it would have been different, at least. Thirdly, character-wise, why didn’t Orton wait until Sheamus cashed in the case and then RKO’d him? That way he would have cost Sheamus the same title opportunity Orton just got screwed out of. It was an unsatisfying end to an otherwise fairly solid episode of Raw. See you next week for the go-home show!