Tonight, Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair form a panel to discuss John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar. That match has been set in stone for Night of Champions and Cena will get his rematch against the Beast Incarnate. Speaking of Cena - he will be on Raw tonight to discuss the SummerSlam match and the results thereof. All this and more as we head to Night of Champions unfolds live here on Ring-Rap.com starting at 8PM EST.
Show Open, Live from the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA
Jerry Lawler welcomes us and tells us that John Cena has invoked his rematch clause to fight Brock Lesnar at Night of Champions in four weeks for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Michael Cole is in the ring with a table and several chairs to welcome us to this first ever "Hall of Fame Forum." He welcomes first Hulk Hogan to a nice ovation, then Ric Flair to a series of woos. Shawn Michaels gets a big ovation as the third man out - Remington shirt and a suitcoat, such class and style. The three compare Hall of Fame rings.
The three will discuss John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar. Cole recaps that Lesnar beat Cena for the title, and last week Cena invoked his rematch clause to face Lesnar in four weeks for the title. Cole asks HBK what he thinks Cena's chances are to regain the title. Michaels says it ain't happening and Flair is incredulous. Michaels continues, saying all wrestlers reach a crossroads and maybe Cena is there.
Hogan says that when you know it's your time, it's time and Cena can still go. Cole asks Flair if he agrees. Flair says he thinks the world of Cena and calls him the Franchise, like it or not. "But, do I want him up against Brock Lesnar at Night of Champions - I don't feel it."
Cole addresses Hogan about it. Hogan says that "Hustle, Loyalty and Respect" is not a slogan but it's who he is. Hogan says he's siding with Cena. Flair and Michaels say that they like Cena too, but he's got no chance. Hogan recalls Extreme Rules 2012 in Chicago and says Cena found a way to win. Michaels says that Cena took a beating. Hogan says that's true, but he got his hand raised. Michaels says that they don't believe it, the people don't believe it, and surely Hogan isn't believing it either because it's unbelievable. Cena's music hits.
Cena gets some healthy boos from Anaheim. Cena says everyone is weighing in on him after SummerSlam. Heyman, Lesnar, the vocal fans, and now a panel of Hall of Famers. He waits out a "Cena sucks" chant and says that he has the utmost respect for all three of them. He says they have influenced his life in various ways. He credits HBK and Flair for their professional and personal friendship and says if there was no Hulk Hogan there would be no John Cena.
He addresses SummerSlam, calling it "a one hundred percent beatdown." He addresses Shawn saying that a fight changes a man and he says that's right. He recounts getting dropped on his head nearly 20 times and when he came to the first thing he wanted to do was fight Brock Lesnar at Night of Champions. Cena puts the three at the table over again, but he's tired of hearing people saying what he should or shouldn't do. He closes by saying "I'm not going to Night of Champions to beat Brock Lesnar. I'm going to Night of Champions to beat Brock Lesnar's ass."
The three Hall of Famers got a nice reaction for their appearance, but it's really just like putting lipstick on a pig. The panel wasn't all that great. Cena did well to not crack jokes and get to the point, but even still his delivery didn't seem to ring quite right for me. The best thing here was that they tried to put a different narrative to the build to the Night of Champions match than the SummerSlam one had.
Cole says Cena sounds defiant, then sells his match Bray Wyatt for later. Also, we get the Usos against the Dust Brothers for the WWE Tag Team Championship. They show split screen shots of Rusev and Jack Swagger, and they'll square off next.
Match #1 - Rusev (w/Lana) vs. Jack Swagger
No televised entrance for Rusev, but Swagger gets one. They recount the flag match at SummerSlam and the kick to Zeb Colter.
The announcers are more interested in bickering over Swagger's loss at SummerSlam, with JBL comparing Swagger to Benedict Arnold for losing the match and allowing the Russian flag to be flown "over a war hero and an unconscious Zeb Colter." Swagger hooked the ankle for the Patriot Lock early, but Rusev escaped. Rusev slams Swagger into the ropes and Swagger tumbles to the floor and sells the ribs.
Out of break, Rusev hits a spinning kick, but Swagger starts a comeback. He whips Rusev to the corner and tries for the Swagger Bomb, but Rusev puts his foot up. That allows Swagger to pick the ankle again for the Ankle Lock. Rusev teases tapping out then gets to the ropes to break, rolling out of the ring. Swagger goes out after him but gets driven to the apron a couple times.
Rusev yells but only has one leg. Lana calls for crush, but Swagger picks the ankle again. Rusev kicks his way out then delivers another series of rib shots. Rusev yells something, then Swagger yells back. More shots in the corner and on the ropes. The official checks on Swagger and Lana laughs at ringside. Rusev picks him up and kicks him then stomps away. The official eventually calls for the bell, saying Swagger can't continue and awards the match to Rusev. JBL is incredulous and Cole credits the official for doing the right thing. Trainers tend to Swagger as Lana and Rusev celebrate and the announcers give us a recap.
The story they're telling with Swagger is that he won't quit or get submitted by Rusev, but he keeps falling short. I guess it protects Swagger in a way.
King says he will call out Nikki and Brie Bella and attempt to get them to reconcile their differences. Up next, Rob Van Dam faces Cesaro for a shot at the US Championship.
Backstage, the trainer works on Swagger. Bo Dallas arrives to tell Swagger he had another tough fight but left his country down again. He says all Swagger has to do is Bo-Lieve and tells him to think about it before exiting.
Match #2 - Cesaro vs. Rob Van Dam; #1 Contender for the US Championship
Early on, Rob Van Dam hits Rolling Thunder to get a two count. Cesaro comes back and begins to control the action for a short period. RVD comes back with a thrust kick and sets up for the Five Star Frog Splash, but Cesaro rolls out. He trips RVD at the ropes, then hits the Neutralizer to grab the win.
Afterward, Cesaro rolls out and grabs the US Championship. Sheamus stands up and they stare at each other. Cesaro throws the belt at him and that riles Sheamus up. Cesaro laughs and backs away as Sheamus walks after him.
I could have stood a few more moments of this match as the short action wasn't bad. Not surprised by the outcome, and it's nice to see Cesaro getting some shine. I think Sheamus and Cesaro could be a good match.
Cole hypes up the Network, saying that next week kicks off Attitude Week with some of the best Attitude Era Raw shows. King hypes up that also the first 100 hours of Monday Nitro are also going to be shown. JBL adds some extra $9.99 hype, putting over the pay per views being available.
Paige is skipping backstage, and she's up next.
Out of break, we get a recap of Paige facing Natalya, only to have AJ join the match and tell Paige she has to shake her hand.
Match #3 - Paige vs. Natalya
Natalya finishes her entrance as we come back live. Paige skips her way to the ring as we recap Paige beating AJ at SummerSlam for the title with the RamPaige (cradle DDT). Natalya hits a quick roll-up early, but takes a big forearm shot. She follows with a couple headbutts and an abdominal stretch. Natalya turns it around into a submission of her own but Paige counters out.
Natalya comes back with a release German suplex and locks on the Sharpshooter. Paige crawls to the ropes to get the break. Paige tries for her PTO, but Natalya reverses it and tries to set up the Sharpshooter again. Paige hits the Paige Turner to get the win. She skips around the ring to celebrate.
Here comes AJ, who stops at the top of the ramp at first then heads to the ring. Natalya hits Paige with a clothesline in the ring and AJ enters the ring with a mic. She helps Paige to her feet. "Paige, my little English muffin..." she starts. She says she knows Paige said they're frenemies and she loves her and knows she's being sincere, but not as sincere as she is.
AJ hugs Paige, who looks really uncomfortable with this. AJ offers a handshake but instead kisses her hand and skips around her then skips away. Paige looks confused.
Lesbian teases? Really? Can't we just have a regular old title feud? The match wasn't terrible, but this story is horrible.
The announcers hype up Cena vs. Wyatt later, and the eulogy of Dean Ambrose by Seth Rollins, next.
Kane comes out to the ring in a suit and tie where there's a picture of Ambrose set up and flowers. He takes his place behind a podium and addresses the situation with Dean Ambrose. He says we're not here to mourn but instead to celebrate the future of WWE, Mr. Money in the Bank Seth Rollins. Rollins comes to the ring in a black suit and tie.
Rollins says he was the leader of the most dominant group in WWE history, The Shield. He says there was a reason he hand-picked Ambrose to be in The Shield. Pain and fear were never factors - Ambrose was a courageous fighter. Last week Rollins had to prove that the Authority always wins, at his expense. With a heavy heart he says he wants to take a look back at the match the fans chose as the demise for Dean Ambrose. He sends it to footage of the end of the match, with Kane getting involved and Rollins hitting the Curb Stomp on the cinder blocks.
Rollins laughs afterward, and asks if we can imagine the moment of impact when he planted Ambrose's head into the blocks. He asks if it dawned on Ambrose if he had been physically and mentally outmatched. He says it's no secret the blocks weren't out there on accident, nor is the headache that Ambrose will have the rest of his life. He says it's saddening that the casualty of Ambrose's career could be summed up in two words: "what if?"
He asks what if Ambrose would have walked when he had the chance. He says the real tragedy is that we'll never know the answers to the what if's, because as far as Rollins is concerned we will never see Ambrose again. He says he created the Shield and he has destroyed it. Cue Roman Reigns. Kane and Rollins get ready to fight.
At ringside, Kane and Reigns exchange blows. Reigns throws Kane into the steps then stares at Rollins. In the ring, Rollins and Reigns brawl, with Reigns getting the better of it. He slams Rollins with the podium then sets up for the spear but Kane saves Rollins.
This was fine. Rollins can lose a crowd if he goes on too long, so the Reigns entrance came at about the right point to prop the moment up. Clearly, they haven't forgotten Ambrose in the sense that they can easily come back to Ambrose and Rollins once Ambrose is done filming his movie.
Cole feeds it into a recap of the opening panel segment. He will face Bray Wyatt tonight later.
Backstage Goldust says they have a destiny that is calling out to them. Stardust says the stars will align tonight and this event might never come again. Tonight they become tag team champions. There's going to be a cataclysmic eruption in the galaxy. They will never forget the name of Gold...and Star...dust. That's next.
Match #4 - Goldust and Stardust vs. The Usos (c); WWE Tag Team Championship
The Usos do their war dance and come to the ring, then the Dust Brothers. Justin Roberts gives us the old-school ring introductions for this championship match. Cole puts the Usos over as the fifth longest reigning WWE Tag team Champions of all time. Kiss of death for their reign?
Stardust with a quick roll on Jimmy. Jimmy returns the favor then backs him to his corner for a tag to Jey. Quick tag back out and Jimmy drops onto Stardust's shoulder. JBL calls the Dust Brothers weirdos. Crowd's kinda quiet early on as Stardust tosses Jimmy out, then Goldust and Stardust hit dives on him outside. That nets two back in the ring.
Back live, Stardust is controlling the action but he takes an enzugiri. Stardust covers for two, then tags in Goldust. Off the ropes, the two both hit cross-body blocks and collide mid ring. Hot tags both ways as Jey picks up the pace with a drop kick and a butt splash. Shades of Rikishi. He hits Goldust with a Samoan drop then flies out on Stardust. Outside the ring, Jey gets up lame, favoring a knee. The official's been counting, and the Usos get counted out. Stardust and Goldust win, but the Usos keep the titles.
Goldust grabs a mic and says it won't end like that. He asks if they got intentionally counted out to save the titles. The Usos say no, and show that Jey is favoring his leg. The Dust Brothers attack, beating down both Usos and sending Jimmy out of the ring. They team up on Jey, and slam his knee into the post. They pose afterward.
The turn is logical in that WWE needs some more heel tag teams that can work. The inherent problem is that the Stardust character isn't getting traction as it is, and this isn't going to help.
The announcers hype up the reconciliation segment between the Bellas and up next is a pre-tape with Brock Lesnar, after he won the title from John Cena at SummerSlam.
Backstage, Rollins is upset and says something has to be done about Roman Reigns. He says Reigns is sticking his nose in their business and he needs to know that what happened to Ambrose will happen to him as well. Kane books a match between Reigns and Rollins and Kane. He says that their business with Reigns ends tonight.
Cole sets up the Lesnar interview, saying it was the most dominant title win ever. We get some footage of Lesnar's win first. He says his goal was to come back and conquer the WWE Universe and become the WWE World Heavyweight Champion again. Lesnar says he hit Cena with the F5 early to give him a chance to lay down but the "no give up bullshit" took over. He says that did him no favors. Heyman weighs in with some comments as well, saying that he respects Cena but asks "how dare you" for Cena invoking his rematch clause.
Lesnar asks if Cena's dad filled his head with all kinds of garbage, saying "Little Johnny, some day you're gonna grow up and be a man. And you're gonna run into a guy that's gonna knock your ass down, then you'll stand up. And then he's not going to let you get up." Lesnar says he doesn't feel bad for Cena because he's lived off of that for twelve years, then Brock Lesnar showed up. "John Cena, mark my words, Night of Champions will be your last night in this universe. Game over." Lesnar says it almost brings a tear to his eye.
These pre-taped segments with Lesnar are really good. The production team works hard at these, and of course Lesnar and Heyman cut good segments here. Keep Cena from being corny and Lesnar and Heyman delivering quality mic work like this and it should build just fine.
Cole hypes the match, quoting Heyman saying it's a bad mistake. It'll take place in four weeks in Nashville at Night of Champions.
Match #5 - Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz
Dolph gets his entrance before the break. King points out that Ziggler gets a lot of cheers from the ladies. Miz comes out and cuts a promo, saying that he got whisked to the front of the line at Disneyworld this morning. He introduces his stunt-double, Damien Mizdow. Please.
Miz joins on commentary and it's all about Miz talking rather than calling the match. Dolph gets some early offense in. Sandow hits a low drop kick to Ziggler's leg then locks on the Figure Four. Ziggler rolls it over into the Indian Deathlock, but Sandow is in the ropes. Ziggler hits the ZigZag to get the win. Miz applauds, and says his moneymaker is still intact and Sandow is fired. He smiles and walks away as Ziggler jaws at him.
Clearly, Sandow has no future given he's jobbing out as a third-party in a forgettable midcard feud. Miz is annoying as hell on commentary.
King hypes up his segment with the Bellas, next.
King is in the ring, and he talks about what went down between Brie and Nikki and Stephanie at SummerSlam. He feeds it into a recap of the events, then introduces each of the sisters to the ring individually.
Editorial note: verbal promo coverage courtesy ProWrestling.net:
Nikki called her out on it and Brie said Nikki could have it. Lawler said it wasn't about the music and Brie said it was about the person she loved most stabbing her in the back. Brie said she loved her friends and husband but Nikki and her had been together for years. She said there were ultrasound pictures of them holding hands in the womb. Brie said she was sorry she hurt Nikki and said to forget WWE, Total Divas, and everything. She said they were sisters and that's what she wanted to be again.
Nikki said it was all an act. She said they weren't holding hands in the womb, Brie was holding her back. Nikki said she was tired of the fans having fantasies about twins that they were too fat to make real. Random. Nikki said she was done with Brie's scraggly hair and goat faced husband. She said most of all she was done with Brie's good girl fake image.
Nikki said Brie would get in trouble and blame Nikki because Brie was the "good" twin while Nikki was the "bad" one. Brie cried and said she didn't understand. Nikki said when Brie quit she abandoned Nikki to get beat up while Brie watched from home. Lawler tried to calm Nikki down and she called him "old man" and told him to get out of the ring. She grabbed Nikki's hair and said she had no sister and wished Brie had died in the womb. Nikki dropped the mic and Brie cried.
Nikki grabs Brie by the hair and then turns her over on the chair. She goes after Brie and King pulls her off once but she goes back. This time officials and King pull her off and drag her out of the ring. Brie's left crying in the ring, and Nikki struts away like she's a big deal.
This is absolutely awful garbage. I can hear WWE's viewership falling throughout this segment it was that bad. Get it off my television. Now. Neither lady has the ability to pull this off and it's just not working at all. It needed to end with Brie getting her moment at SummerSlam over Stephanie and that be that. I can't say enough how awful this is.
Another recap of the Hall of Fame panel segment. Cole moves on to hype Cena vs. Wyatt and Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins and Kane, next.
Match #6 - Kane and Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns
Reigns is finishing his entrance coming out of break. Kane and Rollins come to the ring together with Rollins' music. Cole recaps how this match got set up through the "eulogy" segment earlier in the show. Reigns clotheslines Kane to the floor early then goes after Rollins. Kane and Rollins double team him, but Reigns fights the double teams off.
Late, Reigns cues up the Superman Punch. Kane goozles him and tries for a chokeslam, but Reigns counters out. He comes off the ropes and hits the Spear on Kane and covers. Rollins dives in with the Money in the Bank Briefcase and it causes a DQ.
Rollins continues the mugging, taking out Reigns and sending him to ringside. Kane and Rollins gang up on Reigns, throwing him into the barrier. Kane uncovers the cinder blocks again. They set up to try the Curb Stomp on Reigns but he counters out. He hits Rollins with the Superman Punch and disposes of Kane. He grabs a cinder block and Rollins realizes it. He backs up against the ring post, and Reigns tosses it at Rollins' head. He scrambles away before impact though.
Reigns turns around and hits Kane with the Superman punch, then jaws at Rollins from the ring. He says he was "this" close and Rollins yells that he will destroy him like he did Ambrose. At the announce position, King and JBL argue about the tactics being used, with JBL standing up for Rollins.
This sort of felt like a placeholder situation. Doesn't seem like any real specific feud at the moment, though it would make sense to have the two former Shield members feud while Ambrose is out. I sort of felt like they'd go back to Orton and Reigns again though - so we'll see how things go forward from here.
Wyatt sounder hits. Bray says that Cena is an empty shell of a man after his encounter with the Beast, and his shell is cracked. Wyatt says that he can't allow Cena to continue to spread his disease around the world and he is going to put him down. He says it's better on the other side. Run.
Match #7 - Los Matadores (w/El Torito) vs. Heath Slater and Titus O'Neil
Slater Gator cuts a pre-taped promo where Slater says they are superheroes. Titus says he wants to be Thor and Slater says he doesn't have a partner. Exactly, says Titus.
Slater Gator argues most of the match. They control one of the Matadores for most of the match, but Slater gets caught with a backslide for the Matadores to pick up the victory.
So, if two enhancement teams have a match, and no one watches, does someone win? This could not have mattered less.
Cole again feeds it into a recap of the show opening Hall of Fame panel featuring Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan. King sells Wyatt vs. Cena coming up in the main event yet tonight.
Match #8 - Kofi Kingston vs. Bo Dallas
Kofi is in the ring. Bo Dallas just walked through a swimming pool to get to this match. Cole hypes a free downloadable 2K game as Bo does his best Te-Bowing pose. Kofi doesn't look all that amused.
Bo offers a handshake but takes a drop kick and a series of kicks and a cross body from Kofi. He keeps the offense going with a splash but Bo comes back with a shot to the midsection. Kofi comes back with a springboard kick and a series of corner punches. Kofi takes a corner whip, but tries to come back with a springboard move. Bo shoves his feet to counter it. Dallas hits his Bo-Dog to get the win.
Dallas does his victory lap and grabs a mic. He says Kofi is not like Swagger in that he only let himself down, but Swagger left his country down. He says all they both need to do is Bo-Lieve. Out of nowhere, Swagger appears and hits Dallas with a belly to belly suplex and leaves the ring. JBL calls Swagger a sore loser.
Pairing Swagger and Bo would have been the worst thing ever. Putting the two against each other makes a much better pairing.
The announcers hype up Cena vs. Wyatt up next.
Match #9 - John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt (w/Luke Harper and Erick Rowan)
JBL says this will tell us a lot about John Cena as he comes out to the ring to his standard mixed reaction. Wyatt teleports to the ring rather than getting an entrance. Cena starts off fast clubbing him in the corner then hits a wicked clothesline.
Wyatt is slow to get up, then Cena hits him with a German suplex. The announcers call it a message to Brock Lesnar. Cena hits another throw on Wyatt, then addresses Harper and Rowan at ringside. Cena keeps up the aggression, hitting a fisherman's suplex and covering for a one count. Cena keeps unloading, thumping away on him in the corner and hitting another suplex.
Harper and Rowan stare on in disbelief as Cena hits another big clothesline. Bray finally gets a little offense in, hitting a corner splash. Cena hits Wyatt with a double leg takedown and that cues Harper and Rowan to hit the ring. That throws the match out. Harper and Rowan beat Cena down a bit but here comes Mark Henry and Big Show to even up the numbers. Show goes to break with chaos ensuing in the ring between the six men.
Watch for a really loaded Raw Afterthoughts tomorrow. Why in the ever loving blue hell would you have Cena squash Wyatt? Granted this will become a six-man match, but it should have started here. No reason to have Cena destroy Wyatt like that and take all of his momentum.
Back live, Cole tells us this became a six-man tag at the direction of the Authority during the break. Show slaps Rowan across the chest a couple times then tags in Henry. He takes a boot to the face from Rowan then tags in Wyatt. Wyatt goes to work on Henry and the announcers marvel how Cena dominated Wyatt. Quick tag out to Harper as Henry sells. Henry gets the tag to Big Show, who goes off for a few moves on Harper before Harper lands a drop kick.
Rowan tags in with a big boot, then Wyatt comes in to hit a back splash for two. Quick tags by the Wyatts to control Big Show as the fans get in throat for Cena. Rowan and Harper team up with a splash into a superkick for two. Wyatt tags back in and Show hits him with a chokeslam. Show gets the hot tag to Cena.
Cena hits a clothesline on Harper, knocks Rowan off the apron, then hits a German suplex on Harper. Cena locks Harper in the STF and Harper submits. Afterward, Rowan ends up taking an AA. Henry and Show drag Wyatt back to the ring for him to take his, then Harper gets one too. Cena poses and yells at the camera "Brock, I'm coming for you." then poses for the fans. He talks some more to the camera then exits the ring to talk to some fans ringside. He rolls back in and poses as the show ends.
I would rather have had Cena come out and make poop jokes rather than that ending. Seriously. Does the 15-time Champion need rebuilt after one loss? And do you need to feed to him probably one of the hottest acts in the company at the moment that isn't named Roman Reigns? This logic was awful! I get that Cena took a pounding at SummerSlam (to use a phrase "showed ass") but he does it so infrequently that it doesn't matter. There is just so much wrong with this ending that I don't even know where to start talking about it. Wyatt came off looking like a total jobber, Cena is completely no-selling the Lesnar beatdown, and it renders everything that happened at SummerSlam useless.
Cena had no business being on television for at least another week. Have him "via satellite" to cut his promo. Don't have him wrestle. He no-sold the shit out of Brock Lesnar's "dominant victory" so now that took the edge off of that as well. WWE logic was just bad here.
This show was so weak. The Bella stuff made me want to throw my remote, Cena closing the show as he did was terrible, and there was a lot of filler that was just so-so. Monday Night Football starts next week, and WWE needed to capitalize on it now going into football season so they could keep some attention on Night of Champions and the failed miserably. The legends panel moment to open the show was a good idea and decently executed but it didn't deliver a big moment like I think WWE was hoping.
I'll have more on this show tomorrow in Raw Afterthoughts. With this being RingRap Audio's 125th Episode, we'll be shelfing Raw talk this week, but be sure to send us your thoughts and topics for the show as well as any other questions you'd like us to talk about. Depending on the topics, maybe we can cover them in print if we can't get them on the audio show. Thanks for watching along tonight.