Hell in a Cell is a few short weeks away, and the road to Hell starts tonight. Kane and Seth Rollins are playing mind games right now – one moment Kane seems like the affable corporate nice guy, and the next minute he’s the Big Red Monster. Which Kane will show up tonight on Raw? Are they setting up a Kane vs. Rollins match at Hell in a Cell? Also, Charlotte is the new Divas champion and her reign started off a bit rough last week. Nikki Bella is due a rematch – will she get it now, at Hell in a Cell, or at the October 3 live event special? And will we hear from Brock Lesnar or Paul Heyman as he gets ready to face Big Show on Saturday night and Undertaker at Hell in a Cell?
Show Open, live from the HSBC Arena, Buffalo, NY
The show opens with a recap of the events of Night of Champions, and the story surrounding Seth Rollins and “split personality” Kane. They recap John Cena retaining his US Championship on Raw the following night, then Kane dragging Rollins to hell at the end of the show, where he, Rollins and Hornswoggle toked it up. That’s why Hornswoggle got pegged for 30 days today. Not really, but Rollins did get dragged to hell. The Raw intro rolls and we go live inside the arena.
John Cena is our first contestant on The Tacos are Right…thanks to Drew. The HSBC faithful greet him with “John Cena Sucks” singing as he comes out to the ring. Cole hypes that Cena will be opening this show with a United States Championship open challenge. Byron Saxton tells us Roman Reigns will be going one on one with Bray Wyatt. The announcers discuss Cena issuing the US Open Championship Challenge.
Cena gets a mic to a somewhat mixed reaction and smirks. He says that some of the fans are a bit salty tonight. “Have no fear, the Champ is here.” He stole my line from Twitter. He calls the US Championship a symbol of excellence and opportunity and that it will be defended “here tonight, right now.” Cena says that Buffalo is the place to be, Cena is the man to beat, and the US Open Challenge starts now. “You want some, come get some.”
A trombone plays Cena’s entrance music. Big E cuts a promo telling Cena to get beat like it’s his duty and here they come to the stage. Woods says the WWE Tag Team Champions are here. Big E says they’re there to make WWE great again. He goes on to hype that New Day will get rid of the Dudley Boys this Saturday at the MSG live special.
“But tonight, Johnny boy, we’re here to answer your open challenge, and give you a brand new slogan. Hustle, loyalty, and BOOTY!” Kofi hypes the possibility of them being the Tag champs and US champs “at the same damn time.” They do a sing-song “New US Champs.”
Cena interrupts and thanks them for the remix. He tells them to choose one and get in the ring. “There’s a time to entertain and a time to be serious.” He says if they don’t take him seriously, he will beat all their asses. New Day decides, and it’s Xavier. He tells Cena that he’s about to get lost in the woods and climbs into the ring.
There wasn’t a lot of live crowd reaction for this, though New Day was entertaining as always.
Match #1 – John Cena (c) vs. Xavier Woods (w/Big E and Kofi Kingston); WWE United States Championship;
Lilian gives us the introductions. Cena backs Woods into the corner then backs off with a smile. Cena clotheslines Woods to ringside quickly and he yells “I wasn’t ready!” Woods gets back in and gets the side slam. New Day tries to intervene, but Cena cuts them off. He sets up the Five Knuckle, but Kofi grabs his leg. The official tosses New Day out of the match going into commercial.
Back live, Cena is in charge, hitting the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Cole says Cena was in charge throughout the break. Woods lands a strike and ends up getting a two count. Cena goes top rope and tries to load the AA but Woods slips out. A bit later, Woods hits a DDT off the ropes.
Woods dances and tries to set up his finish, but Cena catches him and hits a sit-out powerbomb for two. Cena loads the AA, but Woods counters out. He follows with a couple kicks and a reverse suplex for two. Cena hits a clumsy front slam for two. He loads the AA but Woods lands on his feet and hits a jaw jacker from an arm bar for a near fall.
Woods sells frustration as Cena sells the offense. Woods goes top rope and tries a missile drop kick but Cena’s not there. Cena hits a clothesline then locks on the STF. New Day charges the ring again and saves Woods so the match ends in a DQ.
New Day commences the beatdown but here come the Dudleys. They help clear the ring of the New Day. New Day drags Devon out but Bubba and Cena roll out to break it up. New Day gets in the ring and the six men jaw at each other as we go back to break.
I am assuming that we’ll get a six man either right out of break or later in the show. I am guessing too that the Dudleys go over to either make it seem more likely that they will win the MSG event or some other form of storytelling toward that night.
Match #2 – The Dudley Boyz and John Cena vs. The New Day;
Back live the match is in progress and Bubba and Devon are controlling Kofi with a double team. Double elbow drop gets two for Devon. Cena tags in and hits the Five Knuckle. Kofi tags in Big E and he and Cena stare each other down. Big E does some dancing that JBL calls jiggy.
Big E hits a big shoulder block on Cena that drives him to the wrong corner. The New Day takes turns stomping him in the corner, with Woods yelling “I should be US Champion.” Woods plays some trombone for us as New Day continues to control Cena. Cena lands a couple strikes but Kofi slides past him and trips him, then tags out to Big E. Big E hits a splash for two.
Big E tries another splash but no one home. Hot tags both ways, with Devon and Kofi legal. Devon fires up with a clothesline and shoulder block. Woods distracts him for a moment, but Devon ends up hitting Kofi with a reverse neckbreaker. Big E mows down Cena at ringside.
Bubba hits the Bubba Bomb for two. Woods breaks the cover but gets disposed of. The Dudleys team up for Whassup, then Bubba calls for the 3D. Woods grabs Bubba and distracts him, which lets Kofi hit Trouble in Paradise. New Day wins. New Day escapes up the ramp.
OK, so maybe they’re telegraphing a tag title change. Why WWE goes with the formula all the time that the winning wrestler(s) get beaten down or lose on the Raw prior is beyond me, but it’s usually a tell. It’s possible that they go that way and move the titles as a means to make the live event feel special and more meaningful than a normal live event. The match was fine and the crowd seemed responsive to the Dudley’s offense.
Cole talks about Charlotte’s celebration from last week, and how Paige broke it up. Charlotte and Becky Lynch will be on Miz TV later to discuss.
Backstage, Stephanie and Triple H are talking and Kane enters. They introduce “Ashley” from human resources to Kane. Stephanie says that they’ve gotten complaints that Kane has created an unsafe work environment. Seth Rollins enters, calling the situation an outrage. Rollins calls the whistle blower a coward and didn’t handle the situation like a man. OK, we know you told Seth.
Stephanie tells Kane that Ashley is there for a performance evaluation, and it could determine his future as director of operations. Rollins calls it a pressure situation. Kane gets serious and tells Rollins he can handle the heat. He cheers up and says “who doesn’t like a good personnel evaluation.” He and Ashley exit, and Kane asks if she has met the Bellas.
Back with the announcers, Cole hypes that Kane put together Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt. He talks about how Randy Orton got involved with the Wyatts.
Backstage, Dean Ambrose tells Reigns that going out there alone isn’t a smart idea. He recounts the history of Wyatt costing Reigns Money in the Bank. He says they have some plan up their sleeve. Reigns tells Ambrose that he doesn’t care but he will finish it tonight. Ambrose says that if the swamp monsters try to attack, he will come flying to the ring and swing for the fences.
Reigns says that Randy Orton would be happy to help them. Ambrose brings up Jericho and how he doesn’t want to bring in outsiders. Orton enters the picture and tells Ambrose to continue. Ambrose reiterates that he doesn’t want outsiders coming in to save the day. Reigns plays peacemaker and says that they can’t finish this with the Wyatts on their own. Orton asks “and you can?” Reigns says “believe that” and Orton says he will when he sees it. Orton tells him to handle his business with the Wyatts tonight, and then it’s open season.
Match #3 – Big Show vs. Mark Henry
Show is all business. He hits a spear early, then a slam. He continues to taunt Henry and the fans, dominating Henry with kicks and plodding offense. He pulls down his straps and calls for the WMD Punch. He hits his mark and knocks out Henry.
The loss to Brock Lesnar is inevitable. Show could destroy the roster and everyone would still think Lesnar will win. Show and Lesnar will be a good enough match, but Lesnar needs a fresh opponent.
The broadcast team hypes Reigns vs. Wyatt for later, and they show Miz getting ready for Miz TV next.
Miz is in the ring and welcomes us to “the most must see show ever.” He says the Divas have had enough of each other, and feeds it to a recap of Paige’s pipe bomb promo from last week. Back live, Miz calls it “drama, my old friend” and welcomes Charlotte and Becky Lynch to the ring. Mixed reaction.
He recounts that they got beat up by Team Bella last time they were on the show. Becky tells Miz that she recalls it was Miz that Becky nearly slapped the veil off his head. Miz makes a meowing sound. Crazy catty bitches, indeed.
Charlotte cuts him off and says that Paige can come to the ring and talk to her like a woman, or she can come down and they can throw down. Miz reminds her that it’s his show and she can’t invite guests. Becky grabs his mic and throws it up the aisle. “Nice throw, Bex.” Becky says “as you were saying, Charlotte.” Charlotte makes another call-out for Paige, but here comes Team Bella.
Nikki points out the drama and says that while Charlotte deals with that, Nikki will again become Divas Champion. Charlotte tells her to get in the ring and she will make her tap out like she did at Night of Champions. Team Bella gets in the ring and Nikki puts herself over for starting the Divas Revolution. Charlotte says it’s not about who started it, but it’s about the fans believing in them and Divas believing in each other.
Can’t forget the factions. All about the factions. This is awful.
The five women are in the ring squaring off, but Paige cuts them off. Paige says that she put NXT on the map, and she was the first NXT Women’s champion (with emphasis). She says that Charlotte and Becky wouldn’t be on TV if it wasn’t for her.
Nikki asks with friends like Paige, who needs enemies. Paige retorts by saying that with boyfriends like theirs, who needs ambition. A brawl breaks out with PCB clearing the ring.
Looks like we’re going to a six-person tag. Teddy Long is alive and well! Paige walks out, I guarantee it. Why would you reunite her with the other two after what went down last week?
Match #4 – The Bella Twins and Alicia Fox vs. Paige, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch;
Joined in progress, Cole tells us that Corporate Kane made the match during the break. He stresses to us for the 20th time that Kane is undergoing a performance evaluation tonight.
Late in this one (gotta be honest, it wasn’t holding my interest…) Charlotte tries for the Figure Eight. Nikki kicks her into Paige, who tumbles to the floor. That makes Paige mad and she exits. Natalya comes out and pleads with her, then heads to the ring to take Paige’s spot. Paige pulls her off the apron and walks out. Charlotte gets distracted by all this, so Nikki hits the Rack Attack and gets the pin. The Bellas do their high-school grade “L” symbol as Charlotte and Becky regroup at ringside.
Here’s a brilliant opportunity to establish a new act with a personality and character as the champion, injecting new life into the division. Instead, Charlotte is taking a back seat to the tired Bella act and Paige. This Divas Revolution is failing in every direction possible.
Cole hypes up that we will get a preview of Brock Lesnar vs. Big Show next and hypes ordering WWE 2K16.
Back live, the announcers talk about the October 3 live event. They feed it into a video package recounting the history between Lesnar and Show.
Backstage, Seth Rollins is talking to Ashley and saying that Kane has to go. Kane enters and has a gift. He’s happy Kane, talking about their history together and how Rollins and he were together for every step. Kane tells Rollins to open the box. Inside is the head of the Rollins statue. Rollins is stunned, and Ashley thinks it’s considerate.
Kane says that he went to Baltimore and dug it up in the landfill. “It’s amazing what one man can do with a shovel and a flashlight.” Rollins is speechless, and says he can’t accept it. He exits. Kane jokes with Ashley, saying two heads are better than one. He hands it to her and exits, and she has an awkward look on her face.
What does everyone want? More head!
Match #5 – The Prime Time Players vs. Braun Stroman and Luke Harper (Wyatt Family);
They say the Millions of Dollars dance is taking over the arena. Four fans are doing it. Fail. Harper starts with Young, who gets some early strikes in. Harper hits a big drop kick off the ropes and tags in Stroman. Young rolls to ringside and Stroman goes out after him.
Stroman roughs Young up at ringside, throwing him into the barrier. He tosses Young in the ring, then tags in Harper who stands on Young. Young stuns Harper and Titus calls for the tag. He fires up, setting up Harper with a splash in the corner.
Stroman distracts Titus. Titus hits him, but it has no effect. He turns around into a superkick from Harper. Darren Young tries to take on Stroman but to no avail. Titus rescues Young, but turns around into a big clothesline from Harper. Stroman tags in and locks on his submission to get the win.
This was pretty predictable. Drew called it on Twitter – “Time to squash the former tag champs.” Young sold, Titus gave the comeback, and Stroman got the submission. It’s not always bad to have something predictable – it can actually be good. But, the live crowd didn’t give a damn about this it seemed. They need something to wake them up.
Match #6 – Neville vs. Stardust;
Stardust is finishing his entrance as we come back live. There’s some commenhatin’ going on at ringside while Neville comes to the ring. Early, Stardust works a hammerlock, but Neville rolls it through and reverses it. Stardust yanks him down by the hair. Stardust comes back with a delay vertical suplex but Neville lands on his feet and takes Stardust down with a head scissor.
Off a corner whip, Neville tries to set up a top rope move but Stardust sweeps the legs and hangs Neville up in a tree of woe. He kicks away on Neville. Neville sets up Stardust for the Red Arrow, but familiar music interrupts. It’s King Barrett.
He makes his way to ringside and delivers a Bull Hammer to Neville. The match ends at that point. Stardust backs away, saying that he and Barrett are a team. Barrett isn’t buying it, and hits Stardust with a Bull Hammer too. He gets a mic and says “All hail King Barrett.”
Barrett was away making a movie, so this was a chance to bring him back with a fresh character and get rid of the dead end king gimmick. The impact wasn’t there for me, though the bull hammers were a good touch given the history with both men and Barrett. But the minute he said “All hail…,” it killed it for me. I want to see something fresh for a good performer and WWE creative isn’t going there.
Backstage, Ashley is walking with Seth Rollins. The announcers say that she has prepared her report and we’ll hear from her next.
Kane and Ashley are in the ring. He asks if she is ready to present the report and get to the bottom of the complaint. Seth Rollins enters the picture. He says Kane is not the man he presents himself to be, and there’s something he needs to show us. He feeds it into a video package that highlights Kane as the Big Red Monster.
After the video package, Rollins tells Ashley that WWE can’t keep Kane around as the Director of Operations. Rollins warns Ashley that the carnage that will follow will be on her head. Rollins talks about Kane pulling him through the ring and says that people like him do not go to hell. He tells the fans to ask the Pope. He says he had an audience with him, and the Pope says he will go to heaven.
So, D’angelo Dinero was in town?
Rollins says that he told the Pope that he feels like he’s there because he’s WWE Champion. Kane tells Ashley that Rollins is a passionate man and his enthusiasm gets the better of him. It’s all in good fun. Kane has a video package of his own, and he feeds it to the video. Rollins is shown badmouthing Kane, and breaking his leg. Back live, Kane tells Ashley to read the report.
Ashley reads, saying that after a thorough investigation she has come to the conclusion that Kane is of sound mind and fully able to fulfill his duties. She calls Kane professional, kind and thoughtful. She calls Kane the perfect WWE employee. She adds that if anyone should be investigated, it’s Seth Rollins. She calls him the most unprofessional man she has met in WWE.
Rollins takes exception and heads to the ring. Ashley leaves because she knows something’s up. Rollins gets in Kane’s face and says he’s out of his mind. Rollins drops the belt, and slowly backs up. Kane picks up the belt, and Rollins tries to get a Pedigree. Clumsily, he delivers it. Rollins yells that he is the champion and Kane can’t get one over on him.
Rollins goes to ringside and grabs a chair. He beats on Kane with it, then locks it around his leg. Rollins stomps on the chair, and trainers rush to the ring to tend to Kane. EMTs stretcher Kane to the back. Rollins mocks Kane, asking if he has a booboo. Rollins says that Kane is no demon, and he looks very human at the moment. Backstage, Kane is loaded into an ambulance.
Rollins continues to boast in the ring, saying that if anyone steps up to him he will destroy them too. They show a shot of the ambulance leaving and it stops suddenly. The ambulance turns red, and the door opens.
Out of the ambulance emerges demon Kane, hobbling toward the entrance. He stops to stomp his foot, and suddenly he’s walking normally. Rollins grabs the chair, and Kane makes his entrance. Kane gets on the apron and Rollins tries to hit him with the chair. Kane no-sells it and unloads. Kane hits a big boot then a chokeslam. Kane calls for the Tombstone, but Rollins escapes to the ramp.
Kane laughs then spies the title belt. He picks it up and poses with it before making the pyro go off. Kane continues to pose, and the announcers talk in serious voice. They say that Rollins brought this on himself, pushing Kane to his limits.
So, there’s your Hell in a Cell title match. I guess that’s fine, seeing as we have Lesnar vs. Undertaker to carry the card. I just get worried that they will let this Kane feud overstay its welcome like they have with so many in the past. Either that, or they’re going to devalue Rollins with continued “challenger of the month” matchups.
Wyatt cut in. He asks Roman if he saw what Harper and Stroman did earlier. “But tonight, I decided to grant your request.” Wyatt says he will enter the battlefield alone tonight. He calls them the Alpha and Omega. He says he alone will put down Reigns and that it’s always been about them.
They show members of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills in the front row. Bo Dallas is in the ring, and he cuts a promo. He says that they are almost an inspiration. He says they are missing one thing, a Super Bowl trophy. That draws boos. He tells them they need to Bo-Lieve.
Weak. Cole actually got the better jab in, saying that the Bills looked great by beating the Dolphins, but can’t beat the Patriots.
Match #7 – Randy Orton vs. Bo Dallas:
Orton pretty much owns this one start to finish. He roughs up Dallas in front of the Bills, then hits the hanging DDT in the ring. He plays to the fans, who light up when Orton calls for the RKO. Bam. RKO hits and it’s over.
They show footage of Kevin Owens walking out of the tag match with Rusev, who ended up getting beaten by Ryback and Dolph Ziggler. Owens vs. Rusev is next.
Rusev a babyface? What booking issue will this create?
Match #8 – Rusev (w/Summer Rae) vs. Kevin Owens;
Ryback is on commentary. Cole sets up still shots of the Night of Champions match where Owens won the title. They talk about Ryback having his eyes raked, meant to give him an out. What about kicking out, big guy? Cole points out that Ryback hasn’t executed his rematch clause yet. “Absolute,” Ryback retorts. Okay.
This doesn’t last long. After some back and forth in the ring, the fight spills to ringside. Rusev gets thrown into Ryback, and they start brawling. Kevin Owens jumps Ryback from behind and they team up to throw him into the steps. They feed Ryback in the ring but Dolph Ziggler runs out for the save. The heels exit as Dolph helps Ryback up.
Quick and disappointing. Looks like we’re heading for another tag match. I thought we’d get that with Corporate Teddy Long….err…Kane…running things. Will Rusev walk out this time? And are we headed for a triple threat match or something? So much convolusion.
They show footage of various WWE stars taking part in the “Just Keep Dancing” campaign for pediatric cancer awareness.
Paul Heyman is on his way to the ring and he will cut a promo next.
“Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Paul Heyman.” Heyman begins, saying that he is truly the devil’s advocate because anyone who steps in teh ring with Lesnar in October will go to hell. Heyman says that hell will descend on Madison Square Garden. He says that Lesnar will dig his sharpened claws into Big Show, saying that he knows Show better than anyone. He calls Show a math genius who gets a C-plus because he’s bored.
Heyman says he isn’t knocking Show’s talent, but Show is bored because no one can push him to the limit. Heyman says that’s why he’s excited about Saturday. Heyman says that when Show is pushed to his limit, then he is inspired and has one-punch knockout power. Heyman says that worries him, but he knows that’s what can push Lesnar to his limits. Heyman says Lesnar had him come to Buffalo to proclaim that he will take Show to Suplex City.
Big Show’s music hits and he heads to the ring. “Blivit? Complacent? All the sudden now I’m motivated, right?” Show says he’s motivated because he’s stepping in the ring with “your client, Brock Lesnar.” He says he’s not there to hurt Heyman. He says he is motivated, and he is the one guy who pushes Lesnar to his limit every single time they step in the ring together.
Show asks Heyman if Lesnar was upset about the match on Saturday. “I knew it!” Show says that Heyman didn’t promote the rest of the Go to Hell Tour. Show prompts Heyman to go on, but Heyman doesn’t say anything.
Heyman exits. Show tells him that he needs to think about his future. “A future without Brock Lesnar.” Heyman looks disgusted and walks off as Show’s music plays. JBL compares this re-run bout to Ali vs. Frazier, saying that even the greats had to lose.
Nothing here was bad, but I just can’t shake the feeling that Show hasn’t been built up enough to really truly be a threat to Brock Lesnar here. He will win here, especially with this being his Go To Hell Tour. Heyman was good in his promo, as was Show, but the live crowd didn’t react. It’s a case of “been there, done that, know what’s going to happen.”
Cole hypes the main event between Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt, up next.
Back with the commentary team, they hype that SummerSlam for 2016 and 2017 will be in Brooklyn again.
Sorry Los Angeles.
Match #9 – Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt;
Reigns makes his way down through the crowd. Cole recounts that Reigns said he will end it by himself tonight. Wyatt comes out with Harper and Stroman, and the announcers get upset about it. Roman gets a mic and says that this is what he’s talking about. “I challenge you one on one, man to man, and you come out with your training wheels.” He addresses Stroman and Harper, asking if they respect Wyatt as a leader. Roman calls Wyatt a bitch. Ouch. Wyatt sends the other two away.
Reigns controls the early going as they go to commercial. Back from break, Wyatt is in control. They run highlights of how Wyatt took over. He hit a uranage on the apron. Wyatt locks in a chinlock that Reigns breaks, but Wyatt hits another uranage. Wyatt comes back with a DDT for two. Wyatt continues to control the offense. The fans get distracted and a “let them stay” chant gets started. Someone was a bad boy, I guess.
Reigns calls for the Superman punch. Wyatt catches him coming in and looks to tease Sister Abigail but Reigns counters out. They exchange whip attempts, but Wyatt hits a big boot then turns Reigns inside out with a clothesline. JBL says it looks familiar.
Wyatt sets Reigns up on the buckle. He goes up for a superplex but Reigns blocks it. They battle on the buckle, then Reigns hits a sit-out powerbomb for two. Both men sell. Reigns to his feet first, and calls for the spear. Wyatt catches him with a boot but Reigns no-sells it. Reigns comes back with the Superman punch and Wyatt rolls to ringside.
Wyatt perches against the steps. Reigns launches for a spear but Wyatt rolls away. Reigns takes the stairs. Wyatt grabs the stairs and attempts to hit Reigns with them. Reigns swats them aside then clotheslines Wyatt over the barrier. The match ends with a double count-out as Reigns dismantles the announce position.
Wyatt goes for the escape, but Reigns dives over the barrier to hit him. They fight back to the tech area through the crowd. Strikes and kicks as they work back through the crowd. Wyatt grabs a tech worker and throws him at Wyatt. Wyatt and Reigns end up crashing straight through a barrier by ringside. Buffalo likes it.
Wyatt laughs and struggles to his feet. He climbs up on the announce position and poses. Reigns jumps out of nowhere and spears him through the announce table. Both men sell, and that’s how the show ends.
An okay main event, propped up by a good post match brawl, that put some life in the ongoing Reigns/Wyatt feud. The double count out finish was uninspired but logical. The brawl though was good, the fans were into it, and the spear through the announce table popped the fans with “yes” chants, so the show went off the air well.
All in all though, this was really pedestrian though. I didn’t care for the Divas segment (big shock, right?) very much at all. The US Championship open challenge wasn’t even all that hot, and it’s something I really found that I enjoyed from John Cena. They really went with a soft push for the Saturday night live special from Madison Square Garden, and it sort of put a blanket over the whole show. I suspect next week we will get a stronger push toward Hell in a Cell and things should pick up a bit.
It wasn’t a terrible show, but it wasn’t eventful. Drew will have more to say on Around the Ring tomorrow, and I’ll probably have something more to say when I record Around the Ring on Thursday. I’ll be back Wednesday evening with Ring of Honor show notes and other news in the meantime. Thanks for following along tonight.