Payback looms, with only two short weeks until the June 1 pay per view. Last week, Daniel Bryan told us he needed neck surgery, and wasn't sure what the short-term prognosis for his return was. Stephanie teased him being stripped of the title, but Kane beat him up before that could happen. The Authority promises to deal with the title situation tonight. Also, the stories between Cena and Wyatt and The Shield and Evolution heat up.
Show Open, Taped in London, England at the O2 Arena:
Wyatt cut in before they can even do the full Raw intro. Wyatt is in the ring singing his song and says he wants the brothers and sisters to share and they sing again. Loads of flashlights and such in the audience…quite the visual.
He says every night we lay our heads down to dream and that’s when our minds tick. We remember all the things that have happened to us. In our dreams we’re superheroes and we can fix everything. We dream of revenge and payback.
Just like that we wake up and that’s when reality sets in. That’s when we remember we’re not superheroes and can’t fix everything. “Everything is wrong.” He plans on fixing that and talks about a mean old teacher that looked on him and went to great measures to remind him he was trash and wouldn’t amount to anything. Everything in her book was true and his was a lie.
He says he approached the teacher and asked what made her better than he is. She responded that Wyatt was rotten and stood for nothing. The first time she looked in his eyes she knew he was evil. Wyatt laughs. He says he’s proud to say that somewhere that teacher is rotting in a retirement home but Wyatt stands before us as a revolutionary that has the whole damn world in his hands. The crowd sings.
He says that is his payback and his ends justify his means. The teacher was right about one thing – “I am evil.” He calls himself the necessary evil that must exist to balance the world out. He says he offers hope to all those who get behind John Cena. He says Cena hides behind a plastic smile while everything around him burns.
Wyatt promises that at Payback the fairy tale ends, and he will be the last man standing. He says tonight Luke Harper will put John Cena down. Cena’s music hits and the lights come up. Harper and Rowan exit the ring and head up the ramp. Cena attacks Wyatt from the other way and hits the AA. Harper and Rowan get back in the ring but Cena ducks out. Cena motions “you can’t see me” as the announcers hype up that Cena faces Harper later.
Rowan and Harper looked like Keystone Kops for having Cena slide past them when they ran back to the ring. Otherwise, a good opening segment with Wyatt cutting another really solid promo.
They switch to the announce position. Cole says there’s an update on Daniel Bryan. King says his hopes were dashed when he had to announce his neck surgery. Cole says Bryan is resting at home after successful surgery. Cole feeds it to the Stephanie McMahon segment from last Monday.
Back with the announcers, Cole hypes that we’re to receive clarification regarding the WWE World Heavyweight Championship tonight.
They show a shot of the Tower Bridge and hype up the event attendance of 16,991.
Cesaro and Paul Heyman are in the ring. Heyman introduces himself then something catches his attention. He says the camera broadcasts around the world and needs to sort out roles. He says they are stars and the fans are wannabes. He tells them to worship the ground Cesaro walks on and the mic he speaks into.
He goes on to start to hype Brock Lesnar beating the streak but the fans start to chant it. He lays down and says “what am I?” He says he’s not the queen preparing to die and hand the kingdom to Prince Charles, but is Undertaker. He says he can sit up unlike Undertaker who lost to Brock Lesnar.
He hypes Cesaro emasculating Sheamus tonight.
Match #1 - Cesaro (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Sheamus
Sheamus gets booed a little bit during his entrance as Cole talks about these two having their encounter on Main Event. It ended in a double count out and was physical.
Early tie-ups as the fans chant something. Cesaro slaps Sheamus and he snaps, setting him up for the ten forearm shots but Heyman rescues him. Sheamus chases Cesaro around the ring and that gives Cesaro the upperhand.
Sheamus blocks a hip toss then hits his “Ten Beats of the Ballon.” He hoists Cesaro up but he escapes to ringside. Sheamus gives chase again, landing a strike outside the ring but getting hung up back inside. Cole says Heyman is not (Preakness winner) “California Chrome.” Fans chant for JBL as Sheamus hits a running knee.
Fans chant for Lawler as Sheamus tries a cross body. Cesaro ducks and that sends Sheamus tumbling to the floor.
Back after the break, Cesaro throws some uppercuts then locks on a sleeper. Sheamus hits a couple clubbing blows then eats the ring post on a charge. Cesaro hits that second rope suplex and gets a near fall. Cesaro takes the Irish Curse on a charge for two.
Running knee and a rolling senton from Sheamus for a near fall. He almost clipped the official. Cesaro throws a hard Irish Whip but Sheamus kicks him away when he approaches. Sheamus pulls himself up to the top rope. Cesaro hits an uppercut, countering the Battering Ram for a near fall.
The two exchange shots mid-ring, then Sheamus hits a power slam for two. Heyman runs a distraction, taking his coat off and throws it in the ring. Cesaro takes advantage, hitting a German suplex with a bridge to get the win.
Sheamus looks disgusted as Cesaro and Heyman celebrate. Sheamus approaches him and tells him “you got me, lad” and offers a handshake. Cesaro feigns one, but ducks him and leaves the ring with his arms raised.
Solid match from these two again. I suspect that we'll see them go at Payback as well, and I figure that to be another good match which could even steal the show. And Heyman was gold on the mic and found another way to sell Lesnar breaking the Undertaker's streak. At least they're keeping it before us in word anyhow until Lesnar returns.
The announcers hype that we’re two weeks away from Payback in Chicago. Cole tells us that Evolution vs. The Shield at Payback is now a no-holds barred elimination match. He feeds it to a recap of Reigns vs. Batista and the two teams’ interaction on Raw last week. Afterward, they show a picture of Reigns' eye and the stitches he needed to close it up. That happened on the tour. Seth Rollins and Batista will go one on one later, with the rest of Evolution and The Shield being banned from ringside.
The stipulation makes it feel like the stakes are raised, but it's really the same match they just had.
They show us a storyboard about the WWE app download success, and the announcers thank us for all the downloads of the app. Cole hypes up the German announce team and lets them have a few words.
Justin Roberts tells us that a Beat the Clock Challenge is upcoming and the winner gets a shot at Bad News Barrett at the Payback pay per view.
Match #2 – Big E vs. Ryback (w/Curtis Axel); Beat the Clock Challenge for a shot at the Intercontinental Championship
Ryback cuts a picture in picture promo. He says he’s bigger than Big Ben and time is ticking down on Big E. “Tick tock, tick tock.”
Ryback goes for a quick cover for one. Big E does likewise after a shoulder block. Big E takes over with a shoulder block in the corner but eats an elbow from Ryback. He takes over on offense for a few but Big E hits a belly to belly throw for one.
England gives Ryback the “Goldberg” treatment as he clips Big E. He takes over with chops and a kick to put Big E down for one. The commentators are commenhatin’ about JBL losing in 21 seconds to Rey Mysterio at Wrestlemania 25.
Big E tries to mount a comeback but takes a spinebuster for two. Ryback beats his chest and sets up the Meathook but only gets two. Big E comes back and hits the Big Ending to grab the win in just over five minutes. 5:02 is the time to beat now as Big E celebrates. The announcers hype that Langston wants the title back from Barrett.
Langston hit some nice suplexes and throws in this one. I'd like to hear more out of him to get his character over, but the way Barrett tears him up on the mic, that might not be happening soon.
Cole recounts what happened between the Wyatts and Cena to open and hypes Harper vs. Cena for the main event.
Back from break, they show video of Xavier Woods, Eva Marie, and The Ascension training with Special Olympians. The Florida games took place this past weekend, and the USA Games take place in New Jersey next month.
R-Truth dances out with the Funkadactyls to little to no reaction. Fandango comes out and dances with Layla as the crowd dances along and the announcers tell us about the story between Fandango, Summer Rae, and Layla.
Match #3 – Layla and Fandango vs. R-Truth (w/Cameron and Naomi)
Fandango and Layla make out in the ring and here comes Summer Rae. She kisses Fandango, then attacks Layla. It’s a total catfight and Fandango drags Layla from the ring. The announcers hype that Summer got a little bit of revenge.
Cole hypes that we’re going to hear about the status of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, next.
Meh. Guess we get some forwarding of the Layla/Summer story.
Going out to break, we get a Bo-Lieve promo vignette. He will debut on Smackdown on Friday.
They hype up Total Divas being renewed for a third season.
Back in the arena, Daniel Bryan’s music hits. Stephanie McMahon comes out doing his “yes!” thing to a chorus of boos and “no!” chants. King debates if it’s in good taste or not. Cole reminds us that Stephanie unleashed the Demon Kane several weeks ago. The music stops and she gets booed.
She tells the fans they should be chanting yes because Bryan’s surgery was success. She puts over Bryan’s story, and says he became WWE World Heavyweight Champion then Brie Bella. She sneaks in a plug for the wedding being seen on Total Divas.
She puts over the “yes” chant reach into mainstream culture and says that Bryan is doing all he can to get back to health for the fans. But she says she has bad..."well, he can say it better than I can." They run a short clip of Barrett saying his "I'm afraid I've got some bad news" catchphrase.
She says she has bad news and that she’s contemplating stripping Bryan of the title and awarding it to the Demon Kane. “Or, I could strip Bryan of the title and award it to Bad News Barrett.” That gets a big cheer. She asks if she should award it to Batista, then says if anyone is worthy of carrying the title it would be Triple H.
She says she won’t strip Bryan of the title. She is going to demand that Bryan show up at Raw next week, and do the right thing. “Personally surrender the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, because that’s what’s best for business.”
She does the “yes” motion as she leaves. The announcers debate whether Bryan can do that. JBL says Bryan should do the right thing.
A good promo from Stephanie. She got good early heat for using Bryan's entrance theme and from listing all the less-than-favorite guys to give the title to. I am watching with interest to see what happens next week. I'm almost led to believe he won't drop the title and his recovery time will be very short. I guess we'll all find out together.
They hype up Seth Rollins facing Batista, with both members of Evolution and The Shield banned from ringside. Only official personnel can be at ringside. They also hype Cena vs. Harper.
More London sightseeing before we get the next match.
Match #4 – Rusev (w/Lana) vs. Heath Slater (w/Jinder Mahal and Jinder Mahal, posing as The Union Jacks tonight)
The fans actually react to the Union Jacks as Slater says they’re home. Lana has had enough of this so her theme interrupts. She prances along the stage with mic in hand. Some cat calls, some boos. I can’t help it, she’s hot.
She calls Brits just like Mindless Americans and says no one can stop the destiny of a great leader like Putin. She says he has succeeded in raising Russia as a powerhouse. She says America’s future will be “this”, showing a Russian flag over the White House. She says England is no different and says the Super Athlete will show why.
Slater tries to attack first, but Rusev is up to the task. He slams Slater, then throws Mahal into the stage. He throws Slater in the ring, but holds up for the bell. Slater tries to fight back but takes a big shot from Rusev.
All power from Rusev. He hits the side slam and Lana calls for the crush. Rusev locks on the Accolade to get the submission win.
More squash action for Rusev. Noteworthy is he faced a white guy tonight.
The Shield cuts a promo. Ambrose says that the 20-3 stuff is crap and asks if this is Evolution's brand of justice. Reigns leans in to the camera and says "nine stitches." He asks if that's all Evolution has and says "if it is, you have so many problems." Rollins talks about the match he had on Smackdown with Batista, saying Batista tried to take him out of action after Rollins was down. He asserts the "believe in the Shield" line to close the promo.
Up next, Rob Van Dam takes on Alberto Del Rio in another Beat the Clock Challenge match.
Match #5 – Alberto Del Rio vs. Rob Van Dam; Beat the Clock Challenge for an Intercontinental Championship Shot at Payback
Del Rio is in the ring after the break. During RVD’s entrance, Alberto Del Rio says he needs to be champion for the kids. The future depends on Alberto Del Rio being champion. Sure.
RVD teases Rolling Thunder early on but hits a leg drop instead. Del Rio comes back and teases the Cross Arm Breaker. RVD tries the Five Star, but Del Rio moves. Del Rio controls the action for a little bit, hitting his step up enzugiri in the corner.
In the end, Del Rio sets up his short superkick, but RVD ducks. He rolls up Del Rio to get the win. He’s in the driver’s seat now with a time of 4:15. RVD poses at the stage and does his thumb point.
They hype up the NXT "Takeover" event on the WWE Network. That is on Thursday, May 29. Adrian Neville defends his NXT Championship that night against Tyson Kidd.
They hype up John Cena vs. Luke Harper and recap the show-opening segment.
Renee Young interviews John Cena. She asks him if he has a plan tonight and he brings in his plan, The Usos. Cena says he knows the crowd is pro-Wyatt tonight, just like it will be at Payback. He says they're following Bray's message and gives him a sense of desperation that motivates him. Cena says he doesn't quit or give up, and he doesn't back down from fights or challenges. He says they are the tag team champions, and this is the heart of a champion. They beat their chests and do the Uso entrance gimmick.
Elsewhere, Triple H says if The Shield thinks that’s all they have, they’re wrong. He references Reigns’ stitches. Orton says they take out the Shield one by one and maybe then they’ll learn. Hunter says there’s already blood in the water and tells Batista to finish Rollins tonight so he doesn’t get to Payback. Batista says he will do it, and all by himself.
Hype for Main Event tomorrow night, with Cesaro facing Mark Henry.
Match #6 – Seth Rollins vs. Batista
Rollins comes to the ring alone through the crowd. Cole recounts Triple H’s words backstage from last segment. “King of Kings” blares out.
Triple H comes to the stage and says as the COO he has a responsibility to make big matches. He is going to make this match bigger and add to it. He makes Randy Orton the official timekeeper and says he will be the ring announcer. He then announces Batista to the ring.
Rollins one-ups them. He says that he has special players of his own to make this match big and announces Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose as the special guest commentators. Batista and Rollins go to work in the ring while Ambrose tells JBL that if he doesn't want to be outshined he can go backstage. Going to break, Rollins catches Batista with a kick.
Back live, Batista throws Rollins over the steps. JBL says Maddox is in the trainer's room after making Ambrose and Reigns the commentators. Batista hangs Rollins over the ropes and hits a sliding drop kick. Triple H approaches and Ambrose stands up. Back in the ring, Batista locks on a chinlock. Reigns and Ambrose are standing up and watching. Batista throws some punches from the mount position.
Ambrose admits to taking one on the chin from Evolution a couple weeks ago. They talk about Reigns' stitches, saying Reigns' mother hit him harder than Orton did. Batista hits a big elbow that turns Rollins inside out. Triple H taunts at ringside. Batista perches Rollins on the rope and throws some punches then tries for a superplex. Rollins fights out then flips over in a second rope neckbreaker. Ambrose says they have a lot of moves that the 31-time world champions haven't seen.
Rollins comes back with another spinning neckbreaker of sorts. He starts picking up the pace with splashes then he lands on his feet on a back suplex. He sends Batista to the floor with a kick, then hits a suicide dive. Rollins throws Batista in then tries to go up top but Orton sticks his nose in. That gets Reigns and Ambrose off of commentary. Batista hits a spinebuster and sets up for a spear. He gets a boot instead. Rollins hits his knee off the top for a near fall.
Rollins perches on the corner again. Triple H shoves him off with Orton running a distraction of the official. It breaks down at this point with Evolution and Shield brawling. Orton hits Reigns with a chair but takes a charge from Ambrose. Hunter runs Ambrose to the post then punches Rollins on a dive attempt. That throws the match out in favor of Rollins. The brawl continues, with Batista hitting a spear in the ring. Ambrose backdrops Hunter onto the announce position and heads to the ring. He distracts Batista, who turns into a spear from Reigns. They set up for the triple powerbomb, but Hunter runs a distraction that allows Batista to escape. Evolution licks their wounds up the ramp as The Shield stands tall in the ring.
Again, good story advancement, but The Shield is looking a lot stronger than I think they should. I guess this is the dead giveaway that Evolution will go over at Payback, but none the less this is sound story advancement. I'm still looking forward to that match in two weeks.
They hype Cena vs. Harper as the main event.
They highlight Alicia Fox vs. Paige from last week, complete with Fox's meltdown after her loss.
Match #7 - Paige vs. Alicia Fox
Paige gets a nice hometown reaction from the London fans. Alicia starts off with a boot but Paige comes back aggressively, attacking Fox with a series of striking moves. Fox scrambles out, and Paige gives chase. Fox throws her into the barricade then drops Paige in the aisle. She throws Paige in for a two count.
Fox hits a backbreaker and covers for two. The live crowd settles down a bit then starts to fire up with chants. Just that quick they die out as Fox continues to hold the offense. Paige hits a variation of the Paige Turner for only two. Another backbreaker then Fox tosses Paige into the corner. Another big boot leaves Paige laying, and she drags Paige in and covers for the win in an awkward moment.
Fox celebrates at ringside, taking King's crown and posing on the barrier then dumping a soda on herself. King calls for his crown back.
Ugh. This is simply a setup for the "contender of the month" situation I guess. Just...why?
Cole sets up another recap of what happened at the beginning of the show, just in case you missed it. He puts over Harper to destroy Cena, but Cena attacked Wyatt from behind. Wyatt cut-in.
Harper tells Cena that he's playing a very dangerous game "little mouse" and the snake is growing tired of it. Come out, come out wherever you are. Wyatt says Cena has brought reinforcements in the Usos. He calls them dominoes, and one by one they all fall down. "Run."
Match #8 - Mark Henry vs. Dolph Ziggler; Beat the Clock Challenge to get a shot at the Intercontinental Championshp
Henry mugs with the fans at ringside during his entrance. Ziggler showboats and Cole says he likes this format better than anyone else. He cuts a picture in picture promo saying he doesn't care who his opponent is, and Henry walks in to shut him up. 4:15 is the time to beat.
All Henry in the early going. He hits a powerslam for two. The fans are chanting "sexual chocolate" I think. Ziggler ends up outside and the official counts it down as RVD watches on the monitor. Ziggler climbs back in and goes on a flurry, hitting an awkward looking Fameasser. He covers but gets tossed outside the ring as the clock dips under 2 minutes.
Both men are down and struggling to their feet. Dolph hits a drop kick to take Henry down and struggles into the cover for a near fall. We're at a minute to go now. Ziggler gets caught and Henry hits him with a running powerslam for two. Henry is in disbelief. Henry takes a moment and tries for the World's Strongest Slam. Ziggler counters out and hits the Zig Zag but can't capitalize on the cover. Time expires.
RVD's music plays and he comes out to the stage. Justin Roberts says he is the #1 Contender. Bad News for RVD though - as Barrett hits the stage and attacks from behind. Barrett gets a big pop from his hometown fans. He says he's afraid he has some bad news. Because RVD beat the clock, he has to fight Barrett for the Intercontinental Championship - but not right now.
He says they're in London, his capital city and the home of Grenwich Mean Time. He says RVD may have beat the clock but England has set the time for all. "Mark my words, there's no way this Englishman will lose to a bloody Yank." Barrett poses and smiles while officials tend to RVD.
This was fine enough to get to the desired result. Not sure what the difference is between Henry's powerslam and World's Strongest Slam are, but I guess something is. I am just glad that Barrett feels relevant again.
The announcers hype Cena vs. Harper for the main event again as we go to break.
They recap Stephanie McMahon's demand for Daniel Bryan to show up on Raw next Monday and surrender the title. The announcers discuss it, and King hopes Bryan won't do this.
Renee Young is in the ring to interview Adam Rose. He comes to the ring with his party crew. He talks about his "cheeseburger" and says he has sesame seeds on his buns and he will go get it looked at next week. Renee tries to ask what it means to be a rosebud, and he says it means to not be a lemon. He goes on and says that Swagger and Colter need to loosen up and not be such sour lemons. He asks the bunny to dance. Swagger's music interrupts and he and Colter come out.
Colter asks Renee what she's doing hanging out with a bunch of Woodstock rejects. The fans chant Rose's theme and Swagger gets in the ring to confront Rose. Zeb tells him to stand down because it's between him and Rose. Colter asks how Rose got in America or England, but he fits better in England than in America. The crowd picks up the chant again and Colter tells them "Enough, you hedonistic people." He insults the party crew and asks when they've had medical tests lately.
Colter says he got embarrassed two weeks in a row and he doesn't take that kindly. He tells Rose to back his people out and he'll back Jack down and they'll settle it tonight. Colter takes his vest off and Swagger gets a cheap shot in from behind. Swagger taunts the party crew and that lets Rose attack. He lands several shots, then knocks Swagger from the apron to the floor. Colter and Swagger retreat, and Rose and his party crew dance in the ring to celebrate.
Right now, it feels like there's nothing more to this than Rose's entrance song and the party crowd entrance.
Final sell for the main event, and it's next. Cena with the Usos faces Harper with Wyatt and Rowan.
We get a Bo-Lieve promo segment. They hype his debut on Smackdown, and also an appearance by Hulk Hogan.
Match #9 - John Cena (w/The Uso Brothers) vs. Luke Harper (w/Bray Wyatt and Erick Rowan)
Fans are chanting "John Cena suuuuucccckkkkss" but it's not getting much traction on my TV anyhow. Cena and The Usos charge the ring and does his pose routine. Wyatt cut in cuts his music off, and "We're here." Wyatt comes out to a nice ovation from London, and a cool visual with all the flashlights on the phone waving in the crowd.
Harper starts off hot, taking charge of Cena and throwing him around the ring and into the buckle. Harper controls the offense in the early going as we go to commercial.
We're told Haper dominated through the break. Cena tries to start a comeback, but gets cut off by a big boot. Harper snaps off a suplex as the announcers debate if Wyatt can be kept down. "John Cena Suuuuuucccckkksssss" chants ring out in theme with his music. Cena cues up the Five Knuckle Shuffle but he takes a German suplex from Harper for two. Harper tries a charge for a big boot, but Cena ducks. The fans are singing Adam Rose's entrance.
Cena comes back with a side slam and hits the Five Knuckle. He teases the AA, but Harper counters with a face plant for two. Harper sets up something but Cena backdrops out of it. Cena mounts a rally, but Harper cuts him off with a huracanrana and hits a drop kick, then does a suicide dive. They zoom in on Harper with a dazed look on his face. More Rosebud singing.
Cena hits a tornado DDT for two. A bit later he hits a huracanrana that's pretty sloppy, but eats a superkick from Harper. Harper perches him up on the ropes and keeps up the clubbing offense. Harper uses a torture rack and drops into a neckbreaker for two. JBL talks about Harper's look and says there's no one home.
Cena hits a big clothesline and both men are down. The Brits are starting to sing "He's got the whole world in his hands." Cena locks on the STF to a chorus of boos and Harper drags himself to the ropes. Rowan interferes, and The Usos save Cena. They dive on Rowan and Harper, but Wyatt delivers two Sister Abigail's on The Usos. Wyatt charges Cena, but Cena pulls the ropes down. Wyatt tumbles to ringside.
Harper is looking for his next move, but Cena hits him with the AA. Rowan charges in and blocks Cena down, so that ends the match in a disqualification. Cena's outnumbered. Wyatt does his crab pose in the corner, and he hits Cena with Sister Abigail. The fans are singing along again. Wyatt yells "you want more?"
Harper and Rowan attack Cena and beat on him up the ramp. Harper throws him to Rowan and Rowan delivers a fallaway slam on the ramp. London is liking this. Wyatt laughs and hits Sister Abigail on the stage to a rousing ovation from London. Wyatt poses over Cena and sings "he's got the whole world in his hands" as Harper counts to ten over him. Wyatt cut- out ends the show.
Harper is an impressive big man. He moves well, he's agile, and his mannerisms in this gimmick work very well. This was a good main event segment with a strong angle having the Wyatts get the better of Cena tonight. They moved the "last man standing" match for Payback forward too with the close of the show.
All in all this was a show that dragged tonight. I don't know if it was that I was just tired from a long weekend and short night of sleep, or that I knew the spoilers (I was killing Drew with some of our Twitter exchanges as a result) or what it was, but this was a chore tonight. The show itself wasn't terrible, and there weren't a lot of dead spots in it though. The live crowd was into it and had fun with the show also.
Next week is the go-home show for Payback. We'll see what Daniel Bryan has to say about surrendering the WWE Championship, and we'll see final advancement of The Shield and Evolution as well as Cena and Wyatt. Also, the undercard will presumably fill in, as this is really just a four match show right now when you include RVD vs. Bad News Barrett.
I'll have more to say tomorrow in Raw Afterthoughts, and possibly an audio cast as well. Stay tuned for those things, and be sure to hit us with your thoughts and questions for RingRap Audio which will record on Wednesday night. Follow us on @RingRap and hit the #AskRingRap hash tag to let us know what's on your mind. Thanks for following along tonight!