The road to Battleground continues tonight. Last week, Seth Rollins (with some help from his Authority friends) got the better of Brock Lesnar. Is he unstoppable now that it seems the family is back together? Also, Bray Wyatt played more mind games with Roman Reigns. Is Wyatt in the big Samoan’s head? And John Cena and Kevin Owens have made their third match official for Battleground. Is Cena running out of time as US Champion?
Editor Note: You know the drill – it’s car show season, it’s Monday Night…we’ll do our best to keep up live but no promises.
Show Open, Live from the Verizon Center in Washington, DC
They open with a recap of last week’s show closing angle involving Seth Rollins, Brock Lesnar, Paul Heyman, Kane and the rest of the Authority. Lesnar was left lying after a 5 on 1 attack.
Interesting thing I just saw cross my Twitter – Linda McMahon in a picture with Stephanie at the arena.
Seth Rollins’ music plays and he heads out with Jamie Noble, Joey Mercury, and Kane in tow. Cole, JBL and Byron Saxton are the announce team tonight. They talk about the angle at the end of last week’s show and how they left Brock Lesnar laying last week. Rollins welcomes us to “Monday Night Rollins.” There’s a table set up in the corner, and a picture under a cover.
Rollins says he showed true power by taking it when he conquered the Beast last week. He says he took a trip to Suplex City and burned it to the ground. Rollins says that everyone waiting for Lesnar to show will be disappointed because Lesnar is headed to Japan. He says he hopes that Lesnar spends the flight thinking about what The Authority did to him last week.
Rollins talks about Noble’s broken ribs. He calls Noble tougher than everyone in the arena. Rollins tells the fans to show Noble the appreciation he deserves. Rollins adds that Noble has the Slammy for “Most Inspirational Moment” locked up. He continues, saying he has something for the three of them. He walks to the table and presents all three men new Apple iWatches.
He turns to Kane and calls him “the glue that has held WWE together” for the last 17 years. Kane actually got cheered here, and Rollins encourages more cheers. Rollins then turns to the covered board and tells Kane that he will get his very first vacation. Hawaiian music plays and a hula band and dancers come to the ring. The covered board is a Hawaii-themed art piece.
Kane calls the moment speechless and says it’s the nicest thing anyone has done for him. He says he has always wanted to toss an animal into a volcano.
Rollins turns back to J&J and talks about them arriving in a crappy rental car. He says that his boys ride in style because they represent him, and he has a drumroll played. He points to a model on the stage, and she reveals a Cadillac CTS that a man drives into the arena. Rollins tells them to “go get it” and hypes the various features of the car. Rollins is sure to point out the price of the car, and says that J&J represents him when they travel and he represents the best in life. Rollins encourages Noble to start the car and blow the horn.
Big Show’s music hits and he walks to the stage clapping. Show smiles at the Authority group then heads to the ring. Noble keeps honking the horn. They cut backstage and Mark Henry is heading toward the ring as Show’s opponent. Show vs. Henry is the first match.
God, they sucked the air out of the show right off the bat with this segment. It went too long, and it’s far too repetitive as the Authority starts every show with a big talking segment. The concept is that Rollins is sucking up to the rest of the “minions” to keep them on his side as he gets ready to face Lesnar and from that standpoint it was effective, but beyond that it made me want to change the channel.
Match #1 – Big Show vs. Mark Henry
The Miz joins the announcers for this match. There’s not much to this one, as Show lands a punch that stumbles Henry into the ropes. Show was waiting with the KO punch to pin Henry.
Afterward, Ryback’s music plays. He charges the ring and takes Show down, but Miz catches Ryback with a kick and runs. Ryback jumps back up, then gets a mic. He says he’s supposed to fight Miz later, but he wants him now and “feed him more.”
Is there a story here with Henry, or has he been reduced to a jobber? Thud, thud opening to this show.
Match #2 – Ryback vs. The Miz
Ryback dominates Miz early, then picks him up and marches around the ring before hitting a suplex. Miz kicks out and rolls to the floor to beg off. Back in the ring, Miz attacks Ryback at the knee and hits a DDT for two.
Ryback begins a comeback, leading “Feed me more” chants while talking at Miz. Miz hits Reality Check for two. Ryback takes back control yet again, and Miz decides to run instead. Ryback wins by count-out. Cole reminds us that in the triple threat match, there will be no count outs or disqualifications.
Cole hypes the tag team main event between Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns vs. Kane and Seth Rollins in a no-DQ tag match.
Match #3 – Paige vs. Alicia Fox (w/The Bella Twins)
JBL talks about how Paige has turned on every partner she’s ever aligned with and how she defeated her mother (Saraya Knight) in her first match. Early on, Paige hits a Thesz Press and lands punches on Alicia, and she rolls out to get a break. Paige follows, but the Bellas distract her at ringside. Fox attacks from behind heading into commercial.
Alicia dominates the action through the break with an assist from the Bella Twins according to Cole. Alicia hits a nice bridge suplex for two, and also a nice backbreaker for a two count. Paige comes back with a running knee, then delivers several more knee shots in the corner. Paige catches Alicia with a superkick for two. Nikki gets on the apron and that draws Paige’s attention. Alicia tries a roll-up, but Paige rolls it through and gets the win.
So the Bellas are heels again, or at least tonight. A good match that got enough time. Cole did his part by selling Paige’s emotions. If WWE would do this kind of stuff more regularly, with good consistent story support, and they could MAYBE, just maybe, resurrect the Divas.
John Cena’s music hits and he heads to the ring after talking to the camera. He says Raw is the place to be, and he’s the man to beat. He tells viewers to not touch the dial, and tell their friends that the US Open Challenge starts now.
I liked the hook of Cole asking who Cena’s opponent would be going into the break, and the brief promo by Cena into the camera was good too.
Back live, they hype that John Cena is up for some humanitarian sports award.
Cena is waiting for his opponent when Kevin Owens’ music hits. The place lights up a bit for that (at least the adult males anyhow). Lilian Garcia gives us the in-ring introductions. Kevin Owens rolls out afterward though.
“On second thought, I think I’ll just wait for Battleground.” He says if anyone will take the US Championship from Cena it will be him. “Or, maybe it’s this man…” Cesaro’s music hits and he comes to the ring. Cole calls Cesaro “very powerful and crafty.” Dumb call, Cole.
Match #4 – John Cena (c) vs. Cesaro; WWE United States Championship
Owens joins the commentary team. He says he felt like teasing Cena with the match, so that’s why he did it. Cole puts over the Owens vs. Finn Balor match for Saturday’s Japan special. Owens says it will feel great to go to Japan and beat Balor in his second home. Dueling chants get underway early on as the match starts.
Cesaro catches a leaping Cena and slams him for an early two. A bit later, he hits a gutwrench suplex to get another two count. Cena comes back and gets a two count of his own, but Cesaro blasts him with a boot to the face. Cena comes back with a drop kick. Cesaro ducks a charging Cena then scores a couple more two counts going into commercial.
Cole tells us Cesaro controlled the action through the break. Cesaro keeps scoring near falls, then sets up the Swing but instead catapults Cena to the ropes. Cena comes off with a springboard Stunner and gets two. Cena botched it this time, and didn’t get his arm around Cesaro’s head.
Cesaro comes back with an uppercut after tossing Cena high. Another near fall out of a cool spot. Cena comes back with an STF that Cesaro counters to the Sharpshooter. Cena breaks it in the ropes as DC tells them it’s awesome.
Cesaro hits his deadlift suplex as Cole calls this a match of the year candidate. Owens says he is going to call Cole a fanboy. Cesaro catches Cena with a running uppercut in the corner. He goes for it again, but Cena catches him and hits a tornado DDT. Cesaro comes back with a cross body off the ropes, but Cena catches him and powers him up and puts him down. Owens yanks his headset off at commentary and swipes at Cole. Owens puts the headset back on and says Cole should consider that a warning for disrespecting him.
Cesaro sets up his Neutralizer finish but Cena backdrops out of it. Cena comes back with a sunset flip bomb for two. Owens says Cena has been watching his matches and picking up new moves. Owens says that Cole says Cena has been bringing the best out in Owens but JBL called it right when he says that Owens has been bringing the best out of Cena.
Another near fall. Cesaro throws some uppercuts and hits the Swing. Cesaro locks on the Sharpshooter again, but this time Owens rips off the headset and charges the ring. He attacks Cesaro first, hitting the pop up powerbomb on him. The match ends in DQ. Owens then hits a pop up powerbomb on Cena.
Owens gets a mic and tells Cesaro that if anyone is going to take the US Championship from Cena, it’s him. He stands over Cena and says that at Battleground, it will be him.
That was a great TV match, with a logical finish. Owens kind of left a tell about his interference in the match with how he talked before the match, but it was fine given the match quality. I would love to see this be something that leads to a Cesaro/Owens program because I think that could be great. It might end up being forgotten though.
The announcers talk about Dolph Ziggler and Lana “going public” about their relationship later and they hype the main event again.
The announcers hype the Jerry Springer show on WWE Network. They then move to a replay of Brock Lesnar getting beaten down by the Authority last week at the close of Raw.
The Wyatt sounder cuts in. He holds up the “Anyone but you” sign again. He says life isn’t always fair, and he thought he should have been his father’s favorite but he threw him aside like trash. Wyatt says it’s different now because he is awake. “Look Daddy, I got my wings back!”
Wyatt asks who it is that deserves all that Reigns has. “Anyone but you, man.” He says Reigns knows the horrible things he is capable of, “and you’re mine now.” Wyatt says Reigns is caught in the web and the fun is just starting. He says that he will be Reigns’ crown of suffering for as long as he walks the earth.
The Lucha Dragons come to the ring. Cole hypes the eight man tag that will be next when Lucha Dragons team with the Prime Time Players.
Match #5 – Lucha Dragons and Prime Time Players vs. Bo Dallas and New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods)
The early action is pretty forgettable. The legal men end up tumbling out to the floor, and that brings both teams of four together at ringside. They all bicker and push and shove going into the commercial.
The heels isolate Darren Young, but he eventually makes the hot tag out to Titus. He goes on a run that wakes the live crowd up a bit and he does his seal bark thing. The Lucha Dragons clear out the other New Day members, then Young takes down Dallas. The Dragons dive on New Day at ringside, and in the ring Titus hits Kofi with a sit out slam to get the victory.
Formula filler. I would like to have seen them do something to stage Lesnar vs. Kofi – if indeed that match is happening over there. Kinda make it worth getting up at 5:30 in the morning to watch?
They show Dolph Ziggler and Lana heading to the ring, smiling. They run an ad for the Saturday special.
They show footage of Summer Rae helping Rusev last week, and telling him that Lana isn’t worth it.
Dolph and Lana come to the ring, all smiles. She waves to the fans. Ziggler says it’s confession time. He says their relationship didn’t start off as love at first sight, and she was using him to get back at Rusev. He called it a win-win to be making out with a smoking hot woman. He stammers and says he can’t believe the situation has changed.
Lana says she didn’t know what a real man was for years. She says she did whatever Rusev told her to – how to talk, to dress, and how to think about America. She says that she and Ziggler have become good friends. She corrects herself and says that isn’t true and they’ve become more than friends. She says Dolph is very, very passionate.
Rusev hobbles down to the ring on crutch with Summer Rae. In the ring, Rusev says he doesn’t care about Lana and never did. He calls her a cold fish and compares kissing her to kissing the ring post. Ziggler cuts him off and says “Enough.” He asks Rusev what kind of scumbag he is for trash talking Lana. Ziggler and Rusev square off, even though Rusev still has a boot on and stuff. The fans chant “USA” and Rusev eventually backs down.
Summer gets the mic and says there’s nothing she hates more than a gold digger. She talks about how Rusev was on top of the world at Wrestlemania, but Lana dumped him when Rusev lost. Summer puts over Rusev, saying he is kind and gentle and cared about Lana. She tells Lana to tell everyone what she’s always thought – that Lana is a two faced conniving phony.
Summer slaps Lana, and she sells it. Lana dives at Summer and tackles her! Catfight!!! They roll around in a really ugly attempt at brawling, and Summer ducks out of the ring. Rusev barks at Lana and consoles Summer as Lana and Dolph stare at them from the ring.
That was awful There is no chemistry between anyone here, and the only thing that drew a reaction was the ugly catfight. Terrible segment.
Backstage, Dean Ambrose talks about getting knocked down and getting back up and moving forward. He looks at a Terminator replica and says “you know what I’m talking about, man.” Reigns walks into the picture and Ambrose asks him if he’s ready. He asks if Wyatt is getting Reigns angry, and Reigns says yes. Ambrose says that’s good because he wants Reigns angry.
Reigns says he wants to pull out some toys and tear the house down. Reigns gets fired up then leaves. Ambrose looks back to the Terminator replica and says he’s ready.
Match #6 – Neville vs. Sheamus:
Cole calls Neville “the closest thing WWE has to a comic book hero.” He shows a clip of Neville in comic book form. Early on in the match, Neville grabs the early advantage and cues up a dive on Sheamus at ringside. Sheamus moves out of the way before Neville can pull it off. Sheamus grabs his MITB briefcase and holds it going to commercial.
Sheamus takes over out of break. DC gets restless and chants “boring” but it fades. Sheamus hits three straight Irish Curse backbreakers, but Neville bounces back with an elbow and some punches, followed up with some kicks.
Neville pulls the top rope down and Sheamus tumbles to the floor off a charge. Neville comes back with an Asai moonsault on Sheamus. A bit later, Neville takes Sheamus down with a kick and sets up the Red Arrow. Sheamus crotches him with a kick. Neville dodges the Brogue Kick and rolls up Sheamus for two. Sheamus comes back moments later with a Brogue Kick to get the win.
The match was solid, but there’s no storyline support. It was just tossed out there with no promo time, no history, nothing. Even a short promo by one or the other (or both) would have lended to this match so easily.
J&J Security are shown waxing the car Seth Rollins gave them earlier.
Let’s face facts, that car is FUCKED tonight.
They hype a “Where are they now” segment in Sports Illustrated where Hulk Hogan will recreate his cover from the 1980’s.
King Barrett comes to the ring cutting a promo. He says that he is issuing a royal decree that all of his opponents will bow down to him and pay respect.
Match #7 – King Barrett vs. Jack Swagger:
No televised entrance for Swagger, nor did he bow for Barrett. Swagger teases the Patriot Lock early on, but Barrett gets in the ropes to break it then retreats to ringside. Swagger gives chase, only to be run into the barrier a couple times. Back in the ring, Barrett cues up and hits the Bull Hammer to win.
The king thing is awful. Barrett is being completely wasted in it.
Cole says that the main event is presented by Terminator: Genisys, and it’s up next.
Match #8 – Seth Rollins (w/J&J Security) and Kane vs. Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns; No Disqualification Tag match
Reigns and Ambrose get their entrances first, then Rollins and Kane with Noble and Mercury driving their car to ramp side. The announcers talk about Rollins “buying loyalty” with the minions with JBL objecting and saying Rollins is rewarding loyalty. This starts quick, with Reigns and Ambrose going right after Rollins and Kane as the bell rings. As the early action continues, Rollins and Kane take control of the match before they cut to a commercial.
The heels work over Reigns coming back live. He gets a hot tag to Ambrose who goes off on Kane, Rollins, and Mercury. Reigns checks back in and works on Kane but Mercury hits him with a kendo stick. Reigns grabs the stick and beats everyone with it – Kane gets some, Mercury gets some, then he smashes it over his leg.
Reigns goes off, hitting everyone with Superman punches. He lands one on Rollins as he comes off the top rope. Wyatt sounder flashes and out of nowhere Bray Wyatt appears at ringside. He attacks Reigns, roughing him up and hitting a uranage on the announce table. Referees come out and they send Wyatt away.
Back in the ring, Kane cues up a chokeslam on Ambrose. He escapes, hits his pendulum clothesline thing, then tries for Dirty Deeds but Rollins breaks it up. Ambrose escapes his Pedigree attempt and tries for Dirty Deeds on Rollins, but Kane chokeslams him. Rollins cues up the easy-peasy Pedigree and gets the win.
The announcers give Bray Wyatt credit for costing Reigns and Ambrose the match. Meanwhile, J&J Security put a table in the ring, and Mercury and Rollins set it up in the corner. J&J holds Ambrose up against it, Rollins mocks Reigns’ war cry, and cues up a spear. Reigns gets in the ring and fights all of them until Kane hits Reigns with a chokeslam.
Rollins slaps Reigns around, then Reigns trips Rollins and throws some punches. He fights off Kane and Mercury and stands in the ring. The heels surround the ring, then put the boots to Reigns. He gets in some shots but Rollins clips the knee and the beatdown ensues.
Rollins has J&J pick Reigns up and they powerbomb him through the table in the corner. Reigns starts to get up though. Rollins asks if he has more life and what he doesn’t understand about this. Rollins hits the Pedigree on Reigns then poses with the title belt over him. The Authority leaves, but here comes Wyatt again. He hits the ring and hits Reigns with Sister Abigail, then poses over him crucifix style as the show ends.
I know, I know…heat on the heels, Bill…heat on the heels. Yes, that’s true and it’s necessary I agree. However, this all just feels so re-run to the days of the Corporation (oddly enough with Vince and Triple H and Stephanie at the helm just like they are today) conducting numbers game beatdowns. Can you tell I’m tired of the Authority? I know there’s nothing new in wrestling really, but surely there’s got to be some fresh way that this same thing could have been accomplished.
Also, I’m just waiting for Reigns to mow through Wyatt. That story needed what Wyatt did tonight, but I can’t help but have that sinking feeling that come Battleground, Reigns destroys Wyatt. That character had promise, but I just don’t see that changing now after what he’s been through.
Overall, this show started out flat, sluggish, and just not interesting. The Cena/Cesaro match was fantastic, and Kevin Owens interjected himself into that situation in a way that leaves possibilities should he win at Battleground. But the rest of this show was pretty missable. I was shocked they didn’t do more to hype the weekend live special from Japan to get some more subscribers. It’s a really half-assed approach they’re taking right now and it’s a shame. I realize there’s major time differences to overcome, but it should be available on-demand and it’s a nice selling point and perk for current subscribers.
I’ll be by tomorrow on Around the Ring to talk Raw, Slammiversary, and other news and notes. Thanks for bearing with us with our less-than-live coverage notes!