Triple H, Stephanie and Seth Rollins opened up the show in a standard Authority style. Trips and Steph announced that Summerslam would be a four hour spectacular and that tonight’s Raw would be one of firsts. They announced the night’s line-up and to be fair, it was rather exciting. I was especially looking forward to Kevin Owens vs. Randy Orton. Hell, even the obligatory Big Show match was made interesting with the addition of Dean Ambrose.
Seth Rollins took over mic duties to boast about how he was still champ after his match with Brock Lesnar. At one point, he implored the audience to stand up and admit that he’ll go down as “one of, if not the, greatest WWE World Heavyweight champions of all time.” His injustice sense tingling, John Cena‘s music hit and he came out to confront Rollins. Cena called Rollins a joke and blah blah blah, but the surprising bit of what Cena had to say came next. He suggested, in the night’s spirit of firsts, that he take on Rollins for the World Heavyweight Championship. Rollins brushed off the challenge by saying Cena had to earn his shot, only to be interrupted by Stephanie. Steph asked the crowd whether they wanted the WHC match, paused for the huge cheers and then ignored them. I love her. Triple H said much the same, but called the idea valid. He then set up a Cena/Rollins clash not for the WHC, but for Cena’s United States title instead.
I was down for a big championship fight, but not necessarily in the way that was intended. I want to be thrown a curveball or two in the run-up to Cena/Rollins at Summerslam. Cena winning is practically guaranteed and it all seems completely set in stone and predictable. A title change on Raw wouldn’t have be perfect be it would be preferable to Cena having to overcome the odds like he always sodding does. I’ve come around to the idea of Cena becoming champ for the 16th time, but if it’s going to happen, does it have to be the same way we’ve seen for years?
First actual fight of the night was Big Show against Dean Ambrose. An unconventional pairing, for sure, but it worked. Big Show dominated for long stretches of the match. Every time Ambrose got a bit of offence in, Big Show shut him down with a chokeslam or similar. Ambrose was repeatedly driven outside the ring, but refused to stay down. The pace changed slightly and Ambrose gained the upper hand. He performed a suicide dive, but Big Show knocked him out in mid-air. Big Show got into the ring and won via count out. Catching sight of Ambrose getting to his feet with the aid of the barricade, Big Show charged at Ambrose. Dean dodged him and sent the giant crashing through the wall, giving Ambrose the last laugh. A surprisingly enjoyable match.
Neville took on Fandango next. It was mostly a filler match, but Neville came away looking suitably impressive after hitting the Red Arrow for the pinfall victory. Stardust showed up on the big screen to “congratulate” Neville on his win. He ranted on about he was going to save people from the “do-gooders” of the WWE and ended up imploring Neville to be his hero. I do wish these sections were better written. Stardust did some great work, especially with a sweet Dusty Rhodes reference when he mentioned “dining with kings and queens”. The trouble is, there’s no logical thread to what he’s saying. An argument could be made for that being the point, considering the insane source, but we need something coherent at the very least. It’s a bunch of vague and tired observations and I wish there was more to it. I’m digging the comic book style feud that’s being built, right down to the whizzy animated graphics. Stardust also dropped another Arrow/Stephen Amell reference this week. I really hope they actually do something with it.
Divas action next, with Paige going up against Sasha Banks. It was a decent, technical match with lots of holds and reversals. It waned in the middle, but the pace picked up at the end, with Sasha locking in the Banks Statement submission on Paige and getting her to tap out. A big win for Sasha Banks. I’m impressed by this whole “Divas revolution” going on. All the teams are getting a chance to shine and the matches aren’t just five minute runarounds. It’s all good at the moment.
Rusev and Summer Rae came down to the ring. Rusev declared his love for the “always hot and obedient Summer”. He decided to instruct the males in the audience how to treat their women. He gave two gifts to Summer. One, a terrified looking dog Rusev named “Dog Ziggler” due to the fact that the dog had skinny legs and was neutered. The second was a headless fish. Because of course it was. Rusev was genuinely funny at this point. He seemed so casual about giving a fish as a gift. The best bit was when he told Summer to proudly hold it up high. Rusev then named the cold fish “Lana” and suddenly a familiar “Shut tup!” was heard as the non-scaly Lana made her way down to the ring.
There were a few spiky exchanges between the women and Lana attacked Summer, kicking her and pulling her hair. She then rubbed Summer’s face in the discarded fish and Summer acted like it was mustard gas, choking and gagging her way to the corner. Lana slapped Rusev and stormed out, leaving a massively overacting Summer and an angry, fish-throwing Rusev in the ring. Lord help me, I’m starting to like this a bit. Rusev is legitimately amusing and the writers have figured out that rubbing your relationship in peoples’ faces is a douchey thing to do and now I’m actually booing the correct side.
Lucha Dragons were in a tag match with Los Matadores after all the fish shenanigans. The Prime Time Players took commentary duties. I will always be a mark for “flippy shit” and this was some great stuff. These people have Slinkys for spines. Both Titus and Darren were also incredibly entertaining. New Day interrupted to provoke PTP, clapping and dancing their way down. Lucha Dragons got the win over Los Matadores.
Next, Luke Harper re-pledged his commitment to Bray Wyatt‘s cause. Bray’s rambling monologue was actually decent this week. I also love the way Bray screams Roman Reigns’ name. Not much to it, but Bray talking is always a good thing. What do you mean waste of a paragraph? *fast flickering creepy images* DEH
Charlotte and Becky Lynch fought against Nikki Bella and Alicia Fox. Again, really cool match. I’ve seen better from all involved, but you can’t blow them away every night. All the women, but especially the NXT recruits, are disgustingly talented. I loved the return of Nikki’s heelish press-ups. She hasn’t done those for a while. Becky Lynch managed to get Alicia Fox in the Disarmer and forced Fox to tap. Cool.
Then it was time for Orton/Owens. The match was really great. It was a slugfest, with both men trading powerful offences. My favourite part of the match was Owens choking Orton on the ropes and bullying commentator Michael Cole at the same time. It really makes me laugh he has a weird fixation with Cole. Anyway, before the match got too interesting, Sheamus interfered and Brogue Kicked Orton in the face, ending the match by disqualification. Sheamus went to punish Orton more and Cesaro came storming out to get payback on Owens. He pummelled KO and threw him back in the ring for more punishment. Sheamus, being an equal-opportunity douchebag, grabbed Cesaro’s leg, distracting him enough for Kevin Owens to Pop-Up Powerbomb him to the mat again. There’s a feuds a’ brewin’ and I’m down with all of them.
Main event time. John Cena vs. Seth Rollins for the United States championship. Of course Cena won, but the route was unconventional. Firstly, Rollins legitimately broke Cena’s nose with an errant knee and the match understandably slowed down as blood started pissing from Cena’s nose and officials had to check on him. Kudos for Cena not only continuing as that shit must be excruciating, but proceeding to take more hits and slams to the head. I agree with JBL. He is a tough son of a bitch. Anyway, people have complained that Cena made the WHC champ tap and is going to ruin everything blah blah blah. Were they not watching the match? Rollins got tons of offence in and flipped out of nearly everything Cena threw at him. There was an incredible spot where Seth hoisted Cena for a top rope superplex, slammed him down and kept hold of him to hit him with a fucking sweet Falcon Arrow moments later. Seth only lost because of his hubris, going for an amazing-looking top rope flip and eating shit, leaving himself open for an STF by Cena. Rollins tapped and Cena retained, smiling despite his nose looking like a blob of Play-Doh on his face. Rollins proved he isn’t just a chicken and looked like a proper equal to Cena, despite tapping. I’m looking forward to their fight at Summerslam.
So, decent episode this week, I thought. Heavy focus on actual wrestling, another two Divas matches and an awesome main event. Can’t ask for too much more.