By Long Shot contributor Tim Simko
Last week, WWE presented the fans with a plethora of unexpected events. Fan-favorite Dean Ambrose was inserted into the main event of the upcoming Pay-Per-View Payback, NXT sensation Sami Zayn made his long-awaited main roster debut, and Rusev’s valet Lana showed more signs of a change of heart. What is next on the road to WWE Payback? Will we see more main roster debuts from WWE developmental stars? And with rumors of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon of The Authority returning, will there be repercussions for the actions of Kane these last few weeks?
Once again, it is time to get RAW.
RAW went on the air as the announcer introduced WWE COO Triple H of The Authority, who is on RAW for the first time in a month.
“Daddy’s home,” said Triple H.
Triple H brought up the events of the past few weeks and called out Kane and WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins to clear everything up. Rollins made his way to the ring with J&J Security and shook hands with Triple H after he entered the ring. The crowd loudly chanted “We Want Ambrose” as Ambrose if from Cincinnatti, where tonight’s RAW is taking place.
Rollins called Kane a “seven foot cancer” and stated that he is destroying The Authority from the inside out. Rollins highlighted the events of the past week, such as the WWE app vote that made the main event of Payback a triple threat match as well as the addition of Dean Ambrose to the main event. Rollins called the match unfair, emphasizing how he can lose the title at Payback without even being pinned.
Rollins said that Kane isn’t fit to be the Director of Operations, and that he isn’t the same person he used to be. He suggested putting Kane out to pasture as Kane made his way to the ring. Kane threatened to grab Rollins by his neck and chokeslam him. Rollins and Kane screamed back and forth until Triple H stopped both men. Triple H told Kane to check his ego and that Rollins can be irritating but Rollins is best for business. Triple H told Kane that if Rollins doesn’t walk out of WWE Payback as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, then Kane will be let go from his position as Director of Operations.
Kane said that it is a shame, but that it might be worth the sacrifice. Triple H told Kane that this might be the time to amicably part ways. Kane remained silent as Triple H announced that members of The Authority will be in action. Kane will go one on one with Roman Reigns, and Rollins will face Randy Orton in the main event. Jamie Noble of J&J Security started talking back to Triple H, and Triple H retaliated by announcing that J&J Security will face Dean Ambrose in a two-on-one handicap match. Triple H escorted Rollins and Kane to the back as J&J Security stayed in the ring for their match against Dean Ambrose.
Ambrose’s music hit and he made his entrance as the crowd cheered their hometown hero. The commentators hyped the match as RAW went to commercial.
The match started with Ambrose in the ring with Joey Mercury of J&J Security. The match was one sided as Ambrose got Mercury into the corner and hit a series of punches. Ambrose threw Mercury toward the ropes as Mercury held on but Ambrose clotheslined him over the ropes. Jamie Noble then tried to attack Ambrose dodged. He chased Noble outside of the ring but Mercury headbutted Ambrose. Ambrose recovered and knocked both men over the announce table.
The action went back into the ring as J&J security exploited their two on one advantage to get offense in on Ambrose. J&J security started to make frequent tags and double-teamed Ambrose. Ambrose managed to knock Mercury down and Mercury made the tag to Noble before Ambrose got back up. Ambrose hit a series of punches before knocking Noble down. Mercury pulled Noble out of the ring but Ambrose dove out of the ring onto both men.
Ambrose hit an elbow off of the turnbuckle for a two count as Mercury made the save. Ambrose hit a double clothesline on both men before throwing Noble into Mercury and hitting his Dirty Deeds finisher on Noble for the three count.
This was a good match to watch. Mostly one sided and the finish was predictable, but with the Payback Pay-Per-View on Sunday and Ambrose in his hometown, Ambrose didn’t have to be in a blockbuster match tonight. It’s a great way to build towards the possibility of him winning the title on Sunday while keeping Ambrose’s hometown Cincinnati crowd happy.
RAW returned from the commercial break with Sheamus sitting with the commentators. Dolph Ziggler made his way to the ring for a match.The commentators announced that this Sunday at Payback, Sheamus will face Dolph Ziggler one on one.
King Barrett made his way to the ring next. Barrett grabbed a microphone and called out Neville, saying that he will beat Neville at Payback. Ziggler immediately hit a super kick for a two count. Ziggler immediately took control of the match, hitting a series of dropkicks and elbows. Ziggler knocked Barrett out of the ring as RAW went to commercial.
This has the potential to be a good match on the road to Payback. I could see Sheamus interfering and Neville making the save to help set up both matches. With the alliance between Barrett and Sheamus lately, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them as a team more often. I could even see them facing Ziggler and Neville in a series of tag team matches.
As the match came back from commercial, Barrett had a two count on Ziggler. Barrett put Ziggler in a headlock but Ziggler tried to fight out of hit. Barrett hit Ziggler and knocked him down. Ziggler got up and managed to hit a famouser on Barrett for a two count. Ziggler went for a superkick but Barrett went for his Wasteland maneuver. Ziggler countered and Barrett tried to hit the bullhammer finisher. Ziggler hit a dropkick for a two count. Sheamus distracted Ziggler and King
Barrett hit his bullhammer finisher for the win.
Sheamus entered the ring and slapped and kicked the downed Ziggler around. Ziggler started fighting back, and charged at Sheamus but Sheamus hit Ziggler with a Brogue Kick.
This was a decent match and segment that helped build to two of the matches this Sunday at WWE Payback. This Sunday, Neville will face King Barrett and Sheamus will face Dolph Ziggler.
Erick Rowan made his way to the ring, accompanied by Luke Harper. Footage from Smackdown was shown, hinting that the former Wyatt family members may be reuniting. Fandango made his way to the ring next. Fandango began the match by attacking Rowan. Rowan managed to regain control and hit a full nelson slam on
Fandango for the win.
After the match, Rowan and Harper attacked Fandango and Harper embraced Rowan.
Although the Wyatt Family has been known as a dominant faction in the WWE, not much was accomplished in this segment. It established that the Harper and Rowan are reunited but not much else. I’m also not a fan of matches that take less time than the entrances.
John Cena made his way to the ring for his weekly WWE United States Championship open invitational. As he entered the ring, the commentators hyped his “I Quit” match against Rusev this Sunday for the title, where the only way to win is to make your opponent say “I Quit”.
Cena hyped the importance of the United States Championship. Cena said that the title is a symbol of excellence, sportsmanship, and opportunity. Cena emphasized that through his open challenge, everyone has a chance to win the United States Championship.
Cena hyped his match against Rusev and said he doesn’t have a chance because he never gives up. Cena asked the fans if they want to see a title match, and they cheered as he declared that the challenge has started.
Neville answered the challenge and made his way to the ring. The ring announcer made formal introductions before the match. As the match started, Cena backed Neville into a corner before the referee broke it up. The crowd began their “Lets go Cena, Cena sucks” battling chants as Cena and Neville held each other in a series of grapple holds. The referee broke them up again as they circled the ring. Cena knocked Neville down with a punch before hitting him with an elbow. Cena put Neville into a headlock as Neville struggled to fight out of it. Neville countred with a headlock of his own before Cena escaped. Neville hit a dropkick as Cena rolled out of the ring and RAW went to commercial.
This has been a good match so far. The Open Invitational concept has been fun to watch, and while I don’t like Cena dominating the main event I do like him being in the middle of the match card working with the younger stars. In every United States championship match he has had since winning the title, Cena has emphasized the possibility that any of his challengers could win his title at any time. Each star has gone toe to toe with Cena, and while some matches were better than others, each wrestler came out of the match looking better than they did before.
RAW came back from commercial with the crowd going nuts as the action was still moving fast. Neville got the advantage over Cena after hitting a moonsault like move off of the ropes outside of the ring onto Cena. The action spilled back into the ring as Cena slammed Neville and went for a five-knuckle shuffle. Cena hit the five-knuckle shuffle and went for the Attitude Adjustment but Neville held onto the ropes. He hit a kick on Cena and hit his Red Arrow finisher for a two count.
After some back and forth offense Cena hit a Taka driver on Neville for a close two count. Cena went for another Attitude Adjustment but Neville countered with a pin for the two count. Neville went for a cross body but Cena countered and hit Neville went for another Attitude Adjustment but Neville countered with a kick for a two count. The crowd chanted “This is Awesome” as Neville tried to drag Cena across the ring to set him up for another Red Arrow. Cena countered and put Neville in an STF finisher. Neville countered with a pin for a two count.
Cena hit a clothesline on Neville and knocked him down. Neville charged at Cena but Cena hit the Attitude Adjustment for a two count. Cena went to hit Neville with an Attitude Adjustment off the turnbuckle but Neville countered with a powerbomb for a two count. Neville went for another Red Arrow and it connected but Rusev ran into the ring and beat down Neville.
Rusev kicked Cena in the face as he got back up. Rusev then put Cena in his Accolade submission finisher as the referee tried to break it up. Cena passed out in the maneuver and Rusev released it. He held up the United States Championship as the Russian flag came down and Rusev’s music hit.
A great match, and the finish protects Neville as Cena never officially pinned Neville. Cena retains because of Rusev’s interference and the finish helps promote the title match this Sunday. In addition, Rusev putting Cena in the Accolade also showed that Rusev could possibly regain the title at Payback in the final match of the John Cena and Rusev feud.
Kane made his way to the ring for his match against Roman Reigns. Reigns made his entrance from the crowd and Kane began attacking Reigns as soon as he climbed over the barricade. Kane kept viciously attacking Reigns as the commentators announced that the match had not started yet.
Kane started throwing Reigns around and slammed him into the ringpost and steps.
Kane threw Reigns into the ring but Reigns began to make a comeback as he slammed Kane into the barricade.
The two continued to brawl at ringside as the commentators continued to stress that the match didn’t start yet. Kane threw Reigns into the barricade and steps before hitting him with a big boot. Kane then began to clear off the announce table, but Reigns began making a comeback. Reigns went for a superman punch but Kane countered with a choke slam. Reigns fought out of hit and countered with another superman punch and a spear onto the announce table.
This was a good brawl, as it showed the power of Reigns but also showed the potential return of a ruthless Kane. A regular match between the two would’ve been lackluster at best, but the brawl at ringside showcased their individual abilities better than an average match ever could.
Brie Bella made her way to the ring accompanied by her sister Nikki for a match against Tamina Snuka. As Tamina made her entrance accompanied by Naomi, a pre-recorded video showed Naomi explain that if it wasn’t for Brie she’d be the Diva’s champion and now she has evened the odds. Tamina dominated the match, as she hit a series of offense on Brie. Brie tried to fight back, but Tamina knocked her back down. Tamina managed to get a two count on Brie. Tamina choked Brie on the ropes and Brie rolled Tamina into a pin for a one count.
Brie hit a series of offense on Tamina but it barely fazed her. Brie managed to knock her down with a dropkick off of the top rope for a two count. Brie hit a knee to the face of Tamina and went for another but Tamina blocked it and hit a kick to the face of Brie for the win.
The match helped build up the Diva’s Championship match at Payback, but there’s not a lot of excitement for it. Less than a month ago, we were booing The Bellas and cheering Naomi—and now we are expected to do the opposite. The creative in the Diva’s division is very questionable. There have been glimmers of hope in the past with divas such as AJ Lee and Paige, but I don’t see the Diva’s division getting its much needed spark until the NXT divas are called up to the main roster.
Roughly a decade ago, the divas were so good that they were given the chance to main event an episode of RAW. In the present day, the main roster divas can’t seem to keep fan interest for more than a few minutes at a time.
As RAW came back from commercial, Curtis Axel was in the ring for a match. Footage from the RAW pre-show showed an argument between Damien Sandow and Curtis Axel.
Sandow came to the ring dressed as Macho Man Randy Savage with his theme song playing as he was billed as Macho Mandow. Sandow began the match by emulating Savage, as Axel began emulating Hulk Hogan.
Sandow hit a series of Savage’s signature moves, and went to hit the elbow off of the top rope before being interrupted by the tag team The Ascension. The Ascension mocked Sandow and Axel for emulating past WWE legends. The Ascension ran into the ring to attack the two as Sandow sent Konnor out of the ring. Sandow encouraged Axel to hit the leg drop and Axel hit the leg drop. Sandow went for the elbow but Konnor managed to save Viktor from the elbow as Axel and Sandow taunted them. Sandow and Axel put aside their differences and shook hands as the crowd cheered on.
Axel has gained newfound popularity since the Axelmania gimmick, and Sandow is well known for his stint as a stunt double. With these two forming an alliance emulating Hogan and Savage’s tag team “The Mega Powers”, they could form a dysfunctional yet effective tag team that could sweep the tag team division. With the alliances made in recent weeks, and Triple H reportedly trying to rebuild the tag team division, I look forward to the possibilities as far as tag teams go.
As RAW came back from the commercial break, WWE showed various video submissions from fans for the next season of Tough Enough.
After the commentators hyped Tough Enough, Intercontinental Champion Daniel Bryan made his way to the ring to make an announcement regarding his health.
Bryan said that the last few weeks he had a lot of downtime, and he doesn’t like having downtime. Bryan said he needed to be somewhere with a lot of energy as the fans begun to chant “yes”. Bryan said that the fans have treated him better than anyone else has ever treated him. Bryan brought up last year, when he was stripped of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship due to injury. He said that if it weren’t for the fans, we would’ve never even had the opportunity to be the champion.
Bryan said that even though he hated being stripped of the belt last year, The Authority was right to strip him of it. Bryan said that the fans deserve a fighting champion. He said he had an MRI last week, and he will be out of action indefinitely.
Bryan said that the fans deserve to have wrestlers fighting for the championship, and that the Intercontinental Championship should be in the ring not a physical therapist’s chair. Bryan relinquished his intercontinental championship as the fans chanted “Thank you Daniel”. Bryan thanked the fans as he laid the title in the center of the ring and walked toward the back. Bryan stood at the top of the stage and led fans in a “yes” chant as the show went to commercial.
It was disappointing to see Daniel Bryan have to leave because of injury again. He had a Cinderella story at Wrestlemania 30, and made an amazing comeback at Wrestlemania 31. Bryan is arguably the most popular wrestler in WWE today, and can get the crowd to react in a way that most others can’t.
With that being said, Bryan’s health comes first. Going through proper physical therapy and mending his wounds is more important than wrestling at the moment.
Knowing Bryan, he will be back the moment he has the opportunity. However, right now the number one priority the road to recovery. In the meantime, the Intercontinental Championship can still find prestige through rising stars such as Dolph Ziggler, King Barrett, or Neville.
The New Day team began to make their way to the ring, They tried to lead the crowd in a “New Day Rocks” chant however the crowd chanted “New Day Sucks”. They said that everyone deserves a second chance, except Pete Rose. This drew the ire of the Cincinnati crowd.
The New Day announced that they would give Cesaro and Tyson Kidd a second chance at regaining the WWE tag team titles in a two out of three falls WWE tag team championship match at Payback. They tried to lead the crowd in a “New Day rocks” chant as Cesaro and Kidd made their way to the ring. The bell rang as Cesaro and Big E went one on one in a match.
Big E and Cesaro had back and forth offense as Cesaro caught Big E and hit him with a slam. Cesaro hit a boot on Big E before hitting a cross body for a two count. Cesaro kicked Big E in the corner to the rhythm of the “New Day Sucks” chants. Cesaro knocked Big E out of the ring as RAW went to commercial.
As RAW came back from commercial, Big E cinched in an abdominal stretch on Cesaro. Cesaro began to fight out of it and countered it into a throw. Big E picked up Cesaro and slammed him. He went for a splash on Cesaro but Cesaro dodged it. Big E managed to hit another slam on Cesaro for a two count. Big E hit a clothesline on
Cesaro for a two count.
Cesaro began to make a comeback with a series of uppercuts and jumped off of the ropes to hit another uppercut to knock Big E down. Cesaro hit a series of German suplexes followed by a slam. He then hit another series of uppercuts on Big E before going for his Cesaro swing.
Woods and Kofi caused a distraction and Big E tried to take advantage but Cesaro managed to roll up Big E for the pin and the win.
This was a good match and I am enjoying this feud for the Tag Team Championship.
With the announcement that the match will be a two out of three falls match it will be exciting to see the creative ways in which the teams pin each other.
The commentators announced that Curtis Axel and Damien Sandow will face off against The Ascension on the Payback pre-show. This will be a fun match to watch, and I am curious to see how Sandow and Axel will work as a tag team.
They also announced that exclusively on the WWE network, the Elimination Chamber Pay-Per-View will return later in May.
Bray Wyatt made his way to the ring. Wyatt said that people are afraid. There is fear of a crumbling economy and a dying Earth. There are people who refuse to accept the true power of fear. They are ignorant enough to believe that if you work hard enough you can overcome the odds. Wyatt said that Ryback must be such an inspiration to the fans.
Wyatt brought up how Ryback has overcome past injuries and now he is doing what he loves. Wyatt said that Ryback has overcome all the odds but has never faced anything like him before. He said that Ryback is probably asking “Why me?” and Wyatt said that it is because Ryback was in his way.
Wyatt said that nightmares won’t stop and that sometimes the bad guy wins.
Ryback’s music hit as Ryback made his way to the ring. Wyatt started attacking
Ryback as Ryback hit a spinebuster on Wyatt. Ryback hit a meathook clothesline on Wyatt and chanted, “feed me more” as Wyatt laid and watched from outside the ring.
It was a good vocal segment by Wyatt. His promos are going to be legendary one day, and when he called out the children and said that sometimes the bad guy wins I went crazy. The older I get, the more I start to like the villains.
Randy Orton made his way to the ring for his main event match against WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins as the commentators hyped the fatal four way main event this Sunday at Payback. At Payback, Rollins will defend his championship against Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, and Dean Ambrose.
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins made his way to the ring without J&J security. The match started with plenty of offense on both sides. Orton began to get the advantage, but Rollins made a comeback with a series of punches and kicks to Orton. Orton managed to slam Rollins to the mat before throwing him into the turnbuckle and hitting an uppercut.
Orton began to hit Rollins with a series of stomps for a one count. He went for a diving knee on Rollins but Rollins dodged it. Rollins tried to get offense, but Orton countered with a backbreaker. Rollins managed to knock Orton out of the ring as
RAW went to commercial.
As RAW came back on the air, Rollins had Orton in a headlock. Orton began to fight his way out as he grabbed Rollins hair and hit him with a headbutt. Rollins managed to knock Orton down for a two count. Rollins charged into Orton in the corner as Orton went down. Rollins pulled Orton up and threw him into the corner. He charged toward Orton and Orton tried to throw Rollins over the ropes but Rollins held on.
Orton managed to grab Rollins for a suplex off of the top rope and hit it. Orton and Rollins went back and forth with punches and kicks and Rollins got the advantage.
However, Orton began to fight back with a series of clotheslines. Rollins made a comeback with a kick to the head and tried to hit a crossbody off of the top rope, but Orton countered with a powerslam for a two count.
Orton picked Rollins up by his hair and went for a DDT off of the ropes but Rollins avoided it and hit Orton with a kick to the face. Rollins jumped off of the ropes and hit Orton with a knee to the face. Rollins picked Orton up but after some back and forth Orton managed to hit Rollins with a T bone suplex. Orton tried to grab Rollins but Rollins countered with another kick to send Orton to the outside.
Rollins then dove out of the ring onto Orton. Rollins rolled Orton back into the ring and charged at him but Orton dodged and attempted an RKO. Rollins dodged and rolled Orton up for a two count. Rollins hit a kick and got another two count on Orton.
Rollins began to mock Orton’s taunts before attempting a powerbomb on Orton.
Orton countered and hit a DDT off of the ropes on Rollins. Orton started to do his own taunts signaling for an RKO. Orton went for an RKO but J&J Security ran into the ring and started assaulting Orton.
Orton began to fight back and knocked J&J security out of the ring but Rollins took advantage and blindsided Orton. Kane’s music hit as he walked toward the ring.
Kane grabbed a steel chair and watched on as Rollins and J&J security beat up Orton.
Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose came into the ring to help even the odds. Orton, Reigns, and Ambrose surrounded Rollins as Ambrose hit his Dirty Deeds finisher on Rollins. Ambrose picked Rollins up and Reigns hit a spear on Rollins as Kane watched on. Reigns and Ambrose picked up Rollins and Orton hit an RKO as Kane continued to stand and watch. Reigns blindsided Orton with a spear, followed by Ambrose hitting Reigns with Dirty Deeds. Ambrose and Kane stared each other down as RAW went off the air.
Overall, this match/segment was a fair buildup that helped hype the main event for this Sunday’s Payback Pay-Per-View. Keeping Ambrose as the last man standing for the second week in a row not only helped build Ambrose as being just as worthy of being in the match as the other competitors, but sent Ambrose’s hometown crowd home happy.
- I missed seeing Sandow last week, so I was happy that they featured him on RAW this week. I am curious to see where WWE goes with the Axel/Sandow alliance.
- The Neville/Cena match was great to watch but all of the other matches didn’t seem as good as the matches that RAW featured last week. IT just felt like match wise the WWE was on cruise control. Perhaps they are just trying to save the excitement for the Pay-Per-View?
- Daniel Bryan relinquishing his title was a shame to see, but his health matters most and I am curious to see how a new champion will be crowned.
- I hope they develop the Rowan/Harper reunion more, as the idea of them simply reuniting with no explanation bothers me. I’m still frustrated that the Bellas reunited last year immediately after a long feud with each other without any explanation.