At WWE Payback, fans witnessed a spectacular event filled with surprising moments. John Cena managed to retain his United States Championship in the final chapter of the Cena and Rusev feud, Dolph Ziggler’s entire head became crimson red with blood in an era where blood is frowned upon, and a brief Shield reunion saw Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns hit their patented triple powerbomb on Randy Orton. What challenge awaits WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins? Was Ryback legitimately injured by Wyatt at last nights event? And with the recent announcement of the return of the Elimination Chamber Pay-Per-View, what matches will be set into place as the event approaches in two short weeks?
Once again, it is time to get RAW.
RAW started with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon of The Authority in the ring together for the first time since Wrestlemania 31. They discussed how Seth Rollins is a great WWE World Heavyweight Champion before revealing the Intercontinental title on a podium in the ring. They discussed Daniel Bryan vacating the title last night and Triple H announced that a new champion will be crowned in an Elimination Chamber match before highlights were shown of the elimination chamber.
Sheamus came out and tried to convince The Authority to simply hand the Intercontinental Championship to him. He claimed responsibility for ending Daniel Bryan’s Yes movement and claimed to have ended Bryan’s career.
Ryback came out and trash talked Sheamus while supporting Daniel Bryan. Stephanie McMahon announced that they will both be in the Elimination Chamber match in two weeks, and Triple H announced that Sheamus will take on Ryback right now as RAW went to commercial.
The match started immediately after the commercial break. Ryback instantly took control of the match with a flurry of offense, but Sheamus started to shift control of the match in his favor as RAW went to commercial.
RAW returned from the commercial break as Sheamus was still in control, but Ryback quickly made a comeback. He hit a series of offense on Sheamus inside of the ring before taking the action outside of the ring. The assault continued on the floor, as Ryback slammed Sheamus in the announce table and smashed him into the ring post the action spilled back into the ring.
Ryback began to have some issues with his eye and when the action was stopped so the referee could check Ryback’s eye, Sheamus took advantage of the situation and hit him with a Brogue Kick for the win.
This was a good opening segment but the match seemed to have a disappointing ending. I don’t mind having Sheamus take advantage of a situation, but having a powerhouse like Ryback stunned momentarily because of an issue with his eye is anything but believable. With that being said, I look forward to both the chamber match for the Intercontinental Championship and these two being involved in the match.
Renee Young interviewed Neville in the ring until Bo Dallas interrupted. Neville and Dallas talked back and forth King Barrett made his way to the ring.
Neville against Barrett was the scheduled match and Dallas joined the commentary team for the match. Barrett dominated the match as RAW went to commercial. When RAW came back from commercial, Neville was making a comeback until his knee buckled. He continues to show signs of injury as Barrett continued to exploit the injury. Taking advantage of the situation, Barrett hit Neville with the Bullhammer Elbow for the win.
The series of matches that these two have had has continued to impress me. I am hopeful that these two will be included in the Intercontinental Championship match. Neville could be a fresh young face in the Intercontinental Championship scene and he is a NXT star that the fans have really gotten behind since his debut.
After the match, Bo Dallas began to attack Neville, he attacked the injured knee, and wrapped it around the ring post several times.
With this attack and injury angle, I am probably wrong about my prediction for the Intercontinental Championship match. However, Neville vs. Dallas was a great feud in NXT and could translate into a great feud on Monday Night RAW. The fans can’t stand Dallas, and have embraced Neville since his main roster debut. This could be a classic case of good against evil.
After a commercial break, Rusev approached the ring a big giant Russian flag by himself. Fans chanted for Lana and Rusev said there would be no Lana tonight and that she needs to learn her place. Rusev said that he can speak for himself and that he did not quit at Payback and Cena did not beat him. He bragged about making Cena pass out in the ring. He called Cena out so that they could restart the match, but Lana came out instead.
Lana said she said that she’s been with Rusev every step of the way and that she thought Rusev would be the first man to make John Cena quit but she was wrong.
Lana explained that she was trying to protect Rusev because she cares about him, but Rusev said she was pathetic and disgusting. Lana said that she did the right thing for him and for them.
She explained that he was screaming “I Quit” in Bulgarian at the Payback Pay-Per-View. Rusev called her a liar and said that he doesn’t need Lana or anybody else. He called Lana weak and told her to go back where she came from as she headed to the back.
This was a good segment for the inevitable breakup of Rusev and Lana. The only question that I have now is: What’s next? Who will Rusev feud against next? And what superstar will Lana align herself with now that she is viewed as a favorite by fans? Only time will tell.
Bray Wyatt faced off against Dean Ambrose next. They locked up and Wyatt took it to the corner but was forced to back off. They locked up again and Wyatt slammed Ambrose. Ambrose began to take control and dropped an elbow. There was back and forth brawling, but Ambrose ran into Wyatt and went down.
Wyatt took Ambrose down with a headlock and hit a clothesline in the corner. Ambrose charged Wyatt in the corner and Wyatt went to the floor. Ambrose went for a dive but Wyatt stopped him. Wyatt suplexed Ambrose to the floor as RAW went to commercial.
As RAW came back from commercial Wyatt hit Ambrose with a headbutt., before throwing him out to the floor. They fought outside of the ring but made it back in just before being counted out. They brawled in the middle of the ring, and Ambrose managed to take control. Ambrose hit a bulldog and Wyatt rolled to the apron but Ambrose tied him up in the top rope and hit a dropkick.
After more back and forth, Ambrose blocked the Sister Abigail finisher. Ambrose dumped Wyatt over the top rope and dove out onto Wyatt and Ambrose both went for their finishing maneuvers but blocked each other.
After more back and forth, J&J Security came out and Joey Mercury distracted the referee while Jamie Noble pushed Ambrose off the top into Wyatt and Wyatt hit his Sister Abigail finisher for the win.
Wyatt and Ambrose have had a number of matches over the past year, and they have all been pretty good. This was a long match, that both casual and hardcore fans could enjoy. The finish of the match kept both Ambrose and Rollins strong while also creating the possibility of a feud between Ambrose and The Authority.
Triple H and Stephanie McMahon stood backstage watching, while Rollins stood onstage with J&J Security and waved back at Wyatt, who was posing over Ambrose.
WWE Tag Team Champions Kofi Kingston and Big E of The New Day came out for a championship match against Cesaro and Tyson Kidd. They explained how Woods is banned from ringside tonight before confirming that they will defend their championships against five other tag teams at Elimination Chamber.
Cesaro and Kidd came out next for the championship match. It started with Cesaro and Big E. Cesaro clotheslinined Kofi on the apron and lifting Big E for a suplex. Kidd tagged in and took out Big E as RAW went to commercial.
As RAW came back from commercial, Big E had Cesaro in an abdominal stretch. Cesaro fought out but Big E hit a belly to belly suplex. Kidd and Kofi went back and forth as Kidd hit the Sharpshooter but Big E broke it up.
New Day ended up teaming on Kidd and wouldn’t stop so the referee ended the match.
Cesaro made the save and took out Big E. He went for the Cesaro Swing on Kingston but Xavier Woods came down as The New Day beat them down until Sin Cara and Kalisto made the save. Los Matadores came down and dove out onto Big E. The Ascension and The Prime Time Players also joined the brawl. Eventually, the ring was cleared out with only the Prime Time Players left standing.
The announcement of the title match made it obvious that The New Day wasn’t losing tonight, however, it was fun to see another match in this feud. In addition, I loved the way that they announced all of the teams in the match at Elimination Chamber. Rather than a formal announcement, each team made a run in during the segment and we got to see a bit of a preview of what will happen in just a few weeks.
As RAW came back from commercial WWE United States Champion John Cena came out for his open challenge. He talked about defeating Rusev at Payback and called the United States Championship “our championship.”
WWE NXT Champion Kevin Owens came out to the shock of the fans. Owens congratulated Cena and said everyone knows who Owens is and anyone that doesn’t isn’t worth his time. Owens took credit for the injuries that Sami Zayn has acquired over the past few weeks and hyped their match at NXT Takeover: Unstoppable on Wednesday. They went back and forth and eventually Owens said that while Cena is a veteran in WWE, Owens has been wrestling longer than Cena has. Owens turned down Cena’s challenge but then hit him with a cheap shot and a powerbomb to end the segment.
Owens has been a force to be reckoned with ever since he first competed on the independent circuit, and his main roster debut is definitely one that will make an impact. He took the biggest star of WWE down in his first ever RAW appearance, and not many people can say that. I remember on a few occasions I had the opportunity to see him when he competed in AIW in Cleveland for a mere $10-15 and didn’t go to the events he wrestled at, and as I watched him as an established cable star all I could think was “I could’ve watched him wrestle from less than 10 feet away.”
I guess that is a lesson learned, you never know when the big indy names will be called up to the WWE so you should take every opportunity to see your favorite stars.
Dolph Ziggler and Stardust fought in the next matchup. They went at it and Stardust took control as he stomped away at Ziggler. Stardust hit a clothesline on Ziggler for a two count. Stardust continued to take control until Ziggler hit the Zig Zag out of nowhere to win the match.
A quick throwaway match between the two stars, but if they were given more time they could have done so much more. Both wrestlers are very talented, but they simply were not given much time to showcase their skills in this specific match.
Cole interviewed Ziggler in the ring about his match against Sheamus at Payback. Cole also revealed that Ziggler gets a spot in the Intercontinental Title Elimination Chamber match. The match will now feature King Barrett, Ryback, Sheamus, R-Truth, Rusev, and Ziggler.
Lana suddenly made her way to the ring, she grabbed Ziggler and kissed him. Fans chant for another kiss and she kissed him again. Rusev came out and was furious. He yelled at Lana and she slapped him. Ziggler came from behind hit Rusev with a Zig Zag before leaving with Lana.
Luke Harper and Erick Rowan faced off against Fandango and Zack Ryder as Harper started the match off with Fandango. Fandango hit Harper with a series of chops. Harper wrapped a headlock on Fandango. Fandango made a comeback and sent Harper to the floor. Fandango jumped out and Harper shoved him into the barrier. Harper tagged in Rowan and Rowan hit Fandango with a splash and a series of right hands.
Harper tagged back in and did the gator roll. Ryder was tagged in and hit some offense but Harper catched him and hit a sideslam before he tagged in Rowan. Harper knocked Fandango off the apron and Rowan hit a chokeslam for the win.
I am happy that Harper and Rowan have reunited however I hope that this reunion lives up to their old days as a tag team. Rowan needs Harper a lot more than Harper needs Rowan. Harper can succeed on his own, Rowan’s singles career was lackluster to say the least. If they are more successful as a team, that is good for them. If they are not more successful, Harper needs to either revert to a singles star or find a new partner to team with.
Backstage Stephanie McMahon stopped the Bella Twins. She told them that what she said about Brie’s real life husband Daniel Bryan didn’t come off the right way but offered her sincere sympathies. MaMahon told Brie that she scheduled some counseling sessions for Brie and that she doesn’t think Brie is fit to accompany Nikki to the ring tonight.
Nikki Bella came out to the ring alone for a Divas Championship match against Naomi—who is accompanied by Tamina Snuka. Ring announcer Eden gave formal introductions before the match. Naomi hit a kick to the shoulder of Nikki, but she fought back and clotheslines Naomi over the top rope. Nikki jumped outside onto both Naomi and Tamina as RAW went to commercial.
As RAW came back from commercial, Nikki hit a series of clotheslines and a dropkick. Nikki hit a back drop as fans and tackled Naomi for a two count. Nikki went for her Rack Attack finisher but Tamina interfered in the match and the referee called for a disqualification.
This match was disappointing, as I hoped the villain Naomi would win the championship and bring some prestige to the championship. While the Bella Twins have improved over the years, they aren’t great wrestlers. Now-retired WWE Diva AJ Lee once cut a promo where she emphasized that being with talented superstars (Nikki’s real life boyfriend is John Cena, Brie Bella is married to Daniel Bryan) doesn’t make them talented, and I believe every word of that.
Naomi and Tamina attacked Nikki until came down to make the save. She cleared out the ring and raised the Divas Title.
Nikki got up and went to grab her title but Paige grabbed her and hit her Ram-Paige manuever. Paige skipped around the ring with the title as her music plays.
I hope that the return of Paige and Naomi’s recent push can lead to a glimmer of hope for the faltering Diva’s division. Perhaps with the men of NXT making their debuts on RAW in recent weeks, some of the women of NXT can also begin to make appearances.
Renee Young interviewed Kevin Owens backstage and Owens announced that he will face John Cena at WWE Elimination Chamber. This will be exciting, and with Owens being one of Triple H’s favorite NXT wrestlers, I wouldn’t be surprised if Owens earned a controversial victory over “The Champ.”
As RAW came back from the break, Stephanie McMahon, Triple H and Kane were in the ring. They introduced WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins for a celebration.
Triple H said Rollins has lived up to every claim he’s ever made and that he sees himself himself in Rollins. He said he felt goosebumps when Rollins used Triple H’s own Pedigree manuever to win at Payback.
Individual members of The Authority began to voice their praise for Rollins and a video package was played that showed highlights of Rollins’ career.
As The Authority continued to praise Rollins, Dean Ambrose came out and demanded another title shot, but Rollins reminded him that he is at the back of the line with Roman Reigns and Randy Orton. Ambrose said that he is a notorious line jumper and will get a title shot or else. Stephanie McMahon said that Ambrose doesn’t deserve a shot.
MaMahon said that Rollins won’t be intimidated by Ambrose’s threats. Rollins swung at Ambrose but Ambrose took the action to the corner, and Rollins and Ambrose tumbled to the floor. Ambrose sent Joey Mercury of J&J Security into the barricade. Rollins came back but was dropped over the announce table. Ambrose revealed a stack of cinderblocks, similar to the ones that Rollins used on him months ago.
Ambrose went to hit Rollins with a steel chair but McMahon told him to stop. She promised Ambrose a title shot if he released Rollins. He did and The Authority attacked, but he fought them off and ended up in the ring with Kane. The Authority began to beat Ambrose down in the ring and Rollins hit the Pedigree on Ambrose as RAW went off the air with Rollins standing over Ambrose.
This was a good segment, and it was a nice change from the usual main event match. Ambrose proved that he can main event at Payback, and he is being put into a situation that a wrestler his size would’ve never been put into years ago. The business has evolved over the years, fans used to like seeing powerhouses like Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior. However, in the modern era the fans like a more well-rounded wrestler than is a hybrid of many different styles. I look forward to the main event of the Elimination Chamber between Ambrose and Rollins.
- There has yet to be a single explanation of why Luke Harper and Erick Rowan have reunited, and its been bothering me.
- I am happy to see the return of the Lucha Dragons tag team, and I hope with all of these teams feuding that the tag team division will experience a rebirth.
- For the first time in years, I am genuinely interested in John Cena segments. This Championship Open has me excited because you never know who will show up, and Cena puts over the younger talent. Just under a year ago, you would’ve never seen someone drop Cena onto the mat in their RAW debut.
- With the return of Paige, I hope that the Diva’s division also gets a much-needed spark.
- Rollins against Ambrose is a WWE World Heavyweight Championship match that is worth every penny, but what is ironic is that as little as 5-10 years ago WWE would’ve never promoted a main event like this. WWE is beginning to evolve and the smaller guys are beginning to prove themselves as main event guys, and that’s a good thing.
You can tweet me at my Twitter handle @TimmySimko for further discussion of this episode’s RAW.
I will not be reviewing next week’s episode of RAW due to prior commitments, however, I do recommend watching next week’s RAW as it will be the last RAW before the Elimination Chamber event. I will be back to review the Pay-Per-View event on May 31.