WWE Smackdown *SPOILERS* for the Show Airing 7/2/2015

WWE taped this week’s Smackdown show at the Giant Center in Hershey, PA last night.  The following are the spoilers for the taped show, which will air on 7/2/2015.  If you want to know what went down, click on that “Continue Reading” link below (and of course you know what to do if you don’t want to know!).  Spoilers this week courtesy

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WWE Smackdown *SPOILERS* for the Show Airing 6/25/2015

Tonight in Toledo, OH, WWE taped their Smackdown edition that will air on Thursday 6/25/2015.  You can watch the show unspoiled, or you can click the “Continue Reading” link below and find out what all went down on the program tonight.  Spoilers tonight are courtesy

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WWE Monday Night Raw “Sort of Live” Coverage for 6/21/2015 – The Road to Battleground, Seth Rollins and Brock Lesnar, and More

Tonight, Raw comes to us as we embark on the road to Battleground.  We know Brock Lesnar will challenge for the WWE Championship he didn’t really lose at Wrestlemania to Seth Rollins.  Will Rollins timidly back away again, or will he step up and face the Beast Incarnate directly?  Will John Cena continue to sell the attack by Kevin Owens at Money in the Bank, or will he return as if nothing is wrong?

Show Open, Live from Banker’s Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN

Raw open, then we get Cole, JBL and Byron Saxton on the call of the show tonight.

Brock Lesnar’s music hits and he and Paul Heyman head to the ring.  They show footage  of Lesnar returning last week, with Cole selling Rollins vs. Lesnar at Battleground in a month.  Heyman introduces himself, and says that it’s his pleasure to give us the Raw return of Brock Lesnar.  He sets up footage from the night after Wrestlemania, where Brock went apeshit on everyone and every thing, F5’d Michael Cole and a camera guy, and ended up suspended.

Heyman says that there is no mystery or cliffhanger surrounding how he got Lesnar back on the show.  He says the didn’t want his money, but an apology.  Heyman pointed toward the announcers and says that he was informed that if Lesnar didn’t apologize, he would not be allowed to return and get his shot at the title.

Lesnar walks to that side of the ring, looking down at the announcers.  He leaves the ring while a small “Suplex City” chant starts.  He walks over to JBL and shakes his hand, then walks to Cole.  Cole is scared shitless.  Lesnar sticks his hand out, then grabs Cole and gives him a noogie before sitting him back down.  He shakes Cole’s hand and says he’s sorry.  “We’re good.” Cole says nervously.

Lesnar heads back to the ring.  Heyman details what Lesnar will do to the “sleazy, slimy” Seth Rollins.  He talks of how Rollins was the first NXT Champion, adding “I wonder how that happened.”  He says Rollins has been protected by the Authority since day one.

Heyman says that Rollins might think he’s flying to Battleground, but actually “has a one way ticket to Suplex City, bitch.”  Heyman talks about J&J Security, noting they beat Rollins.  He talks about Kane as well, then moves on to how fans want to see someone defeat Rollins.  Heyman closes the promo referring to Lesnar as the former, and future, undisputed WWE World Heavyweight Champion.

The announcers hype Roman Reigns vs. Sheamus for later, then show Dean Ambrose walking backstage.  He has Kane, after the break.

The live crowd was attentive, but it wasn’t hot for this as I would have expected.  That said, it was a good segment.  I enjoyed the way in which Lesnar apologized, especially how he treated Cole.  There are some odd dynamics at play with Heyman negotiating with the Authority to bring Lesnar back and such, which may have cooled the reaction a bit.  Fans will get behind Lesnar faster than they will Heyman, for sure.

Match #1 – Dean Ambrose vs. Kane:

Cole points out that Saxton ran when Lesnar approached in the opening segment.  In the ring, Kane and Ambrose make their way to ringside.  Ambrose hits a leg drop on Kane as he’s laid out over the ropes.  Kane takes back control of the match and throws Ambrose into the steps going into commercial.

Out of break, Ambrose hits a missile drop kick and clips Kane, rolling him up for two.  A bit later, Ambrose sets up Dirty Deeds, but Seth Rollins’ music hits.  Ambrose pays attention to the music and watches Rollins come out.  Kane goes for a chokeslam, but Ambrose escapes and hits a suicide dive on Rollins.  Ambrose goes top rope, kicking Rollins away.  Kane hits a chokeslam for the win.

Cole asked in commentary if Rollins is trying to extend an olive branch.  One can only figure that the story will be that Rollins tries to make amends to all of the Authority for protection against Lesnar, but we’ll watch it play out over the next month. 

Indy seems quiet tonight for this show.  Usually it seems Raw crowds start hot and fade – but this one doesn’t seem hot at all.

The announcers talk about John Cena defeating Kevin Owens at Money in the Bank over still shots.  Cole points out that Cena will be on tonight’s show.

Noooooooooo!  I was really hoping he’d sell the attack a little longer.

Backstage, Rollins takes exception to Kane saying he’s afraid of Lesnar.  He almost says he doesn’t need Kane, but instead stops and says it’s about family.  He offers a handshake but Kane blows him off.

The announcers narrate over still shots from Money in the Bank where Bray Wyatt cost Roman Reigns the briefcase.  They air footage of their interactions on Raw and Smackdown in the past week.  They hype Reigns vs. Wyatt at Battleground.

The Prime Time Players come out, and they’ve got the next match.

Back from break, they show Titus O’Neil accepting his fatherhood award.

Match #2 – The Prime Time Players vs. The Ascension:

New Day watches on from a monitor.  Big E is eating and talking at the same time.  Young hits his gutbuster move on Viktor and the match is over.

Match #3 – Roman Reigns vs. Sheamus:

Sheamus comes out prior to commercial, Reigns after.  They work back and forth early, then Sheamus takes the advantage going into the next commercial break.  Raw is Commericals.  Back live, Reigns gets control of the offense, then tries a leaping punch but Sheamus catches him with a good shot instead.

Sheamus hits a series of backbreakers and covers for two.  Sheamus follows with a clothesline by catapulting him into the bottom ropes, then locks on the Cloverleaf.  Reigns breaks it in the ropes, then comes back with an elbow and a series of strikes.  Reigns clotheslines Sheamus to the floor, then hits him with a leaping clothesline a bit later, sending Sheamus across the announce table.

Bray Wyatt appears on the Tron.  Looks like he’s having a tea party or something.  He talks as if he’s talking to a child, saying “we’re back here waiting on you.  Find me.”  Reigns leaves the ring for the backstage area, taking a countout loss.  The camera pulls back, and there’s an empty child’s rocking chair.

WWE needs to get better about announcing finishes of the matches.  Dark Wyatt here is good, so far.  It’s a different edge to his character.  As for the match, the two men worked hard and I hope Sheamus gloats about his win at some point soon.

Back live, the announcers recap what we just saw then send it backstage where Reigns is searching for Wyatt and his daughter.  He enters a room where he hears Wyatt singing, only to find a bunch of pictures of himself with the eyes and mouths cut out.  On the wall is scrawled “anyone but you.”  The song finishes and the camera cuts away.

The announcers talk about the Wyatt/Reigns angle, and shift to recapping the opening of the show with Lesnar and Heyman.

Wow, jumping from one to the other so quickly tonight.  Hard to process stuff like this that has impact.

Backstage, Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury are getting coffee.  Seth Rollins approaches and tries to get them back on his side.  Noble points out all the stuff Rollins said about their height and intelligence.  Rollins tries to smooth things over, calling them more than security and saying they’re his friends.  Rollins makes a pitch and asks if they’re cool, but Mercury and Noble walk off.

They show John Cena’s appearance on the Today show.  They actually showed more of the hosts than they did of Cena.

Match #4 – Neville vs. Kofi Kingston (w/Big E and Xavier Woods, New Day):

About 3 minutes into this one, the official ejects the rest of New Day for getting involved.  Kofi protests, then takes a kick from Neville.  Neville follows up with the Red Arrow to get the win.

The announcers talk about when Kevin Owens powerbombed Machine Gun Kelly last week.  Cole hypes that John Cena will be appearing.  Saxton hypes up Ryback vs. Mark Henry for later.

A commercial airs for the July 4 special that will be held in Japan and air on WWE Network.

Not sure if we will, or won’t, cover that event as it happens.

Cole hypes a USA Network show, then feeds it to a clip of “Mr. Robot.”

Match #5 – King Barrett vs. Zack Ryder:

They show a promo from R-Truth about what he plans to do once he’s king.  Ryder teases the Broski Boot at one point, but Barrett rolls out to avoid it.  Barrett gets back in the ring and hits the Bull Hammer to get the win.

Wow, this show is filled with inconsequential matches tonight and it’s wearing on Indy.  They are really quiet right now.

Cole sets up footage from his interview with Kevin Owens from last week.  After, Saxton hypes that John Cena will appear after the break.

In-Ring Segment:

John Cena comes out and gets a mixed reaction as usual.  He hits the ring and holds up the US Championship.  He calls it a symbol of excellence and he is proud to be the US Champion.  He says that Kevin Owens took the opportunity Cena gave him to show mutual respect and put him out of commission, then he took out a musician.

Cena calls Owens a great wrestler, but thinks he’s a garbage human being.  He says he won’t hand over the symbol of excellence to a dirtbag.  Cena says that Owens beat him, then he beat Owens, but he didn’t win the war.  Cena says he has a choice to make when it comes to the match Owens wants.  Cena says if he walks, Owens is right about him.  Cena says the US Championship will not be protected by politics.

Kevin Owens’ music hits and he comes to the stage, holding the NXT Championship.  Owens says that he guessed he is supposed to be upset by what Cena said about him but he isn’t.  He says he doesn’t care what anyone thinks of him.  He says he’s been called out of shape, a slug, and refers to Cena calling him a dirtbag.  He says that this out of shape, slug, dirtbag beat Cena at Elimination Chamber and left him laying at Money in the Bank.  Owens says Cena cares what the people think of him, whereas he cares about championships.

Owens says he took the NXT Championship when he arrived, and now that he sees how much Cena values the US Championship he wants it.  He says he wants to make it a symbol of his own excellence.  Owens tells Cena he will give him something he craves – the approval of the fans.  Owens says he will make sure the fans cheer Cena and boo the “evil foreigner” (Owens is Canadian).  He says something in French, which draws a few boos.  Cena responds by saying the fans are not indifferent to Owens because of where he’s from and the language he speaks, but because he’s a disrespectful scumbag.

Cena throws out some French, then Mandarin, and finally in English.  He says Owens has his match, and he will kick his ass.  Cole says he is certain the Authority will sign off on the match for Battleground.

Well, that breathed some life into the show – some much needed life.  I was hoping Cena would sell the attack at MITB one more week, but, it’s WWE and he’s the cash cow.  A good segment.

Backstage, Triple H and Stephanie are watching on a monitor.  Seth Rollins enters and says he isn’t afraid of Lesnar.  He mentions Kane and J&J Security.  Hunter says that Rollins never needed them.  Rollins agrees but says he wants the family back together.

Stephanie asks if he considered an apology, given the damage he caused.  “Do you think they’d apologize to me?”  Rollins asks.  He says that would go a long way.  Hunter cuts him off and say Rollins is afraid of Lesnar because he’s smart.  He says that Rollins would be an idiot to not be afraid of Lesnar.  Hunter says a smart man always has a Plan B.  Hunter says the words “I’m Sorry” would make the whole thing go away.  Rollins asks about Lesnar showing  up, and they respond that he knows what he has to do.

Rollins legit cracked me up with the “do you think they’ll apologize” bit.

They recap the angle between Paige and the Bella Twins from last week.

Match #6 – The Bella Twins (w/Alicia Fox) vs. Naomi and Tamina:

I’m not sure who is who.  Naomi and Tamina work Brie over early.  Nikki tries to get the crowd behind her.  She takes a hot tag and the fans cheer.  I don’t get it?  Naomi hits the Rear View on Brie, then tries for it on Nikki only to hit Tamina with it.  Nikki loads the Rack Attack and gets the win.

This all just makes my head hurt.  No clear direction, tits and ass finishers, bad character development…ugh.

Cole hypes Terminator: Genisys, which has clips of Roman Reigns mixed in, because, you know, he was in the movie (no he wasn’t).  Ryback vs. Mark Henry is next.

Big Show is on commentary for this one.  He asks Saxton if he stole Booker T’s job.

Match #7 – Ryback (c) vs. Mark Henry; non-title match

Henry got the jobber entrance, but he tosses Ryback around like a rag doll at ringside going into the break.  After break, Ryback mounts a comeback but gets cut off.  Show stands up and yells at Henry to finish  Ryback.  Ryback fights off the World’s Strongest Slam, then hits a frogslplash (?!) for the win.

Afterward, Show gets in the ring and yells at Henry for not winning.  Henry jaws back and writhes in pain as Show leaves.

The announcers talk about Tough Enough returning tomorrow night.  Cole tells us Saxton will be involved.

Backstage, Jo Jo asks Ryback about his title defense against Miz and Big Show at Battleground.  He tells her not to call him Flyback after that finish.  He says the title means the world to him.  He says his parents haven’t spoken in 15 years, but came together to watch him win and defend the title.  Big Show shows up and mocks Ryback.  They end up brawling, and Ryback leaves Show laying.

Let it be known that divorces can be saved by winning the Intercontinental Championship.

They recap what we just saw two minutes earlier…

Cole tells us that Sheamus will face Dolph Ziggler on Smackdown.

Match #8 – Dolph Ziggler (w/Lana) vs. Adam Rose (w/Rosa Mendes):

Rose cuts a pre-match promo saying they don’t get what art, passion, or true love is.  He says this is what love looks like and kisses Rosa.  Everyone groans, except a few pre-teen boys that are jealous.

Rusev is watching on a monitor.  The Bulgarian Stalker?  Anyhow, Rose locks Ziggler in the Hunter Hearst Helmsley Bow early.  He then locks on a sleeper that Ziggler breaks free from.  Ziggler gets some offense then takes a belly to belly suplex.  Rose leaps off the ropes into a superkick, which gives Ziggler the win.  Afterward, Ziggler takes Lana’s hair down and kisses her.  Stalker-Rusev is pissed and throws his crutches.  Summer Rae hands him one back.

I guess Rusev really likes Lana with the hair up.  I kinda liked it down, myself.  Anyhow.  Match meant nothing, much like this whole show.

Backstage, J&J Security and Kane talk to Triple H and Stephanie.  Noble’s still upset over the Dumb and Dumber references.  Noble compares J&J to Yoda from Star Wars.  Stephanie says their ears look like Yoda.  Stephanie admits Rollins hasn’t been a gracious champion but she defends him.  Hunter talks about the pressure of being champion.  Stephanie asks them to go to the ring and hear Rollins out.

They air another ad for Tough Enough and hype Swerved on WWE Network.

In-Ring Segment:

Seth Rollins comes out.  He says he decided to be the bigger man and admit he’s wrong.  He invites Kane, J&J Security to the ring so he can apologize.  Kane’s music plays and the three men come out.  Rollins says he has learned that a team is only as good as the foundation, and they are the foundation.

Rollins says this has nothing to do with Lesnar.  “I beat Brock Lesnar before, and I will beat Brock Lesnar again at Battleground.”  Rollins tells the three that this is about family.  “Suplex City” chants start and Rollins tells them to shut up.

Rollins tells Noble and Mercury first that he is sorry.  He says he has looked up to them his entire life and pattered his in-ring style after them.  He says he would love it if they would be a part of the family again.  He tells them to think about it while he talks to Kane.

Rollins says he owes Kane the biggest apology.  He recalled saying Kane is a dinosaur.  He says they are extinct, while Kane is alive and well.  He says Kane is like fine wine that gets better with age.  The fans taunt Rollins with “Justin Bieber” and “You sold out” chants.  Rollins apologizes to Kane and says he wants him to come back so they can all be family again.  Rollins apologizes to all of them one more time and extends his hand, asking if they will take him back.

Brock Lesnar’s music hits.  He comes out with Paul Heyman in tow, and takes his lap around the ring glaring up at Rollins.  Lesnar jumps on the apron.  Kane and J&J look like they’re ready to fight but they back down and leave Rollins to fend for himself.

Lesnar smiles and Rollins looks intimidated.  Kane jumps Lesnar from behind but Brock throws him off.  J&J Security tries their hand, but he destroys them simply.  Lesnar attacks Rollins, spinning him around and hitting a German suplex.  Lesnar hits it again, then smiles when the fans chant “one more time.”  He hits one more.

Brock sets up for the F5 on Rollins but Kane grabs Lesnar and pushes him back.  Lesnar drops Rollins and takes a chokeslam from Kane.  Lesnar bounces back quickly and tries the F5 again, but gets clipped.  Rollins wraps Lesnar’s leg around the ring post and Kane slams a chair on his knee.  Kane and Rollins put the boots to Brock, and he shoves them off.

Mercury gets in the ring and targets the leg, punching him several times as Kane and Rollins kick him.  Rollins hits a flying knee (it actually looked like it missed wide as Brock moved).  Kane hits a chokeslam, and Rollins hits the Pedigree.  Rollins celebrates with the title to end the show.


Typical Authority “gang style” five on one assault to get heat on Rollins. It got heat but I hope we only see this once.  I am not doubting for a moment that Lesnar will annihilate every single person in this segment before Battleground.  I was a little surprised to see physicality here, because I assumed they would go the route of getting people to pay to see Lesnar get Rollins.

This angle was alright for me, but it didn’t prop up what was otherwise a poor show.  This was slow, plodding, and hard to watch.  Nothing felt like it mattered at all, and there was so much filler with mid-card matches lasting only a few minutes that feel like they lead to nowhere.  It’s definitely the summer doldrums for WWE.

I’ll be by on Around the Ring tomorrow evening to talk hits and misses and more about this show, and other things going on in pro wrestling.  Feel free to hit me up with questions and comments of your own on Twitter @Bill_SoonerFan before then.  Thanks for following along tonight.



Around the Ring with Ring Rap for 6/16/2015 – Hits and Misses of WWE Money in the Bank, WWE Raw, and More

iTunes | Stitcher | TuneIn | RSS | MP3

In this week’s edition of Around the Ring, Senior Writer Bill Wentz sits down to give his hits and misses from Money in the Bank and last night’s Raw, give a brief remembrance of Dusty Rhodes, and touch on a returning gimmick match.   Then it’s a trip to the Pro Wrestling Donut Shop!  Topics in this podcast include:

  • WWE  Raw hits and misses
  • WWE Money in the Bank hits and misses
  • The Return of a TNA Gimmick Match
  • …plus more!

We’re still working on bringing back Ring Rap Audio, so look for that sometime in the near future. In the meantime, share this short form audio with everyone you know!

We welcome your feedback!  Let us know what you like and what you’d like to hear!

Be sure to check out our weekly show, Ring Rap Audio! (iTunes | Stitcher | TuneIn | RSS)

Follow all of us on Twitter as well: @RingRapAudio and @RingRap.  Bill is on Twitter @Bill_SoonerFan.  Matt is on Twitter @bigmat75.  Drew is on Twitter too @PsionStorm.

You can also follow us on Facebook and Google+!


Music credit: “Gearhead” Kevin MacLeod (

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0


WWE Smackdown *SPOILERS* for the Show Airing 6/18/2015

Tonight, Smackdown is taping in Buffalo, New York.  The following are spoilers for the show that will air on SyFy on 6/18/2015.  If you want to watch the show as it happens, and not have any of it spoiled, don’t click the “Continue Reading” link!  Spoilers tonight courtesy

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WWE Monday Night Raw Show Report for 6/15/2015 – Fallout of Money in the Bank, Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt, What’s Next for Dean Ambrose and John Cena, Seth Rollins Celebrates, Sheamus in the Bank, More

Money in the Bank has come and gone.  Sheamus now holds the contract for a WWE World Heavyweight Championship shot any time.  Will Seth Rollins be his target after a successful defense last night, or will Sheamus hold off for a different champion down the road somewhere?  John Cena defeated Kevin Owens last night, but Owens got the last laugh with a vicious post-match attack.  What’s next for Cena?  And what’s next for last night’s title challenger, Dean Ambrose?  He and Roman Reigns were going to celebrate together, but they both got cut off.  Reigns already has his sights set on Bray Wyatt.

Editor’s note: We’re “pseudo-live” tonight.  Working on 4 things at once, as always…updates will possibly be slow.

Show Open, Live from Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH:

Cole welcomes us then notes that we lost a legend last week.  He says they celebrated Dusty Rhodes at Money in the Bank last night.  They show the memorial graphic, then footage from last night with the wrestlers on the stage for the ten bell salute.  They also show the video package from last night.  Cleveland greets it with a standing ovation.

Well handled.  Glad everyone got to see this from last night.

Seth Rollins comes out with the WWE Championship.  Byron Saxton and JBL check in with Cole and they talk about how Rollins won the match last night on his own.  Camera focuses on Johnny Manziel (Cleveland Browns QB) and JBL says that since he’s wearing a Miz t-shirt “he’s having a few problems.”

Rollins gloats about winning last night and being WWE World Heavyweight Champion.  He says he wants to acknowledge Dean Ambrose.  He says Ambrose fought him like never before.  He says Ambrose made good on his promise by bringing his A-game.  They show brief still shots of the ladder match from last night.

Rollins says that as good as Ambrose’s A-game is, “it’s not quite as good as mine.”  Rollins says he made good on his promise to beat Ambrose all by himself “in one of the greatest ladder matches in WWE history.”  Rollins says he took back what was rightfully his the entire time.  Still shots of the finish of the title match were shown.

Rollins says he doesn’t want to brag because he’s only one man.  He says it required an entire team to help him get to the top of the mountain.  He says he’s a first class team player.  Rollins pulls out a list of the people who helped him.  He reads and says “I’d really like to thank Seth Rollins, Seth Rollins, Seth Rollins and Seth Rollins…”  He says there are more and doesn’t want to leave anyone out.  He continues to thank himself, then says he is so good that he didn’t need Triple H or Stephanie.  He says he is so good he punched his ticket to the WWE Hall of Fame.

Ambrose’s music hits and he heads to the ring.  He clotheslines Rollins over the rope, chases him to ringside where Rollins takes a shot at his bad knee.  Ambrose ends up getting the better of the brawl as Rollins runs to the back.

Ambrose gets a chair and sits down mid-ring.  He says the title slipped through  his fingers last night.  He says he is having so much fun making Seth’s life hell that he doesn’t want it to end.  He says he won’t leave until Rollins gets his ass back to the ring.  Cole asks if this is a sit-in.

A good heel promo from Rollins to start.  I can only assume we have more Authority drama with his words though, which I’m not looking forward to.  I guess they might go back to Rollins/Ambrose again, but I’m not sure there’s another match there.  It’s a case of not having other guys they can go to, and burning out programs before their time (See:  Cena vs. Orton, Rollins vs. Cena, and Orton vs. Rollins).  It’s not there yet, but they can get there quickly.

Out of commercial, Ambrose is still sitting in a chair in the ring.  Backstage, Seth approaches Triple H and Stephanie, who are talking.  He asks what the deal is and says he won fair and square, so it’s his show now.  They said that Ambrose is being taken care of.  Rollins says they call the shots.

Hunter and Steph take exception to him saying he didn’t need their help.  Rollins backpedals, saying he was sticking it to everyone who said he couldn’t do it alone.  They mention his next opponent, and Rollins asks if he gets a say.  Hunter tells him they can do this on their own.

Out in the arena, Sheamus’ music hits.  He walks out with the MITB briefcase, and says that he and Ambrose are a lot alike.  He says they both like to fight, and they both made bold predictions for last night’s event.  He says the difference is that he is a winner, and Ambrose a loser.  Sheamus says he’s just one Brogue Kick away from being champion.

Sheamus gets on the apron and jaws, and Ambrose stands up.  He slides the chair to ringside and invites Sheamus in to join him.

Match #1 – Sheamus vs. Dean Ambrose:

Sheamus goes for the bad knee right away.  Ambrose goes back after him, but Sheamus continues to go for the leg.  Sheamus sends Ambrose to ringside going to commercial.

After commercial, Ambrose goes on offense.  He hits a bulldog and sells the knee as he goes up top.  Sheamus cuts him off for a rolling senton, then locks on the cloverleaft.  Ambrose escapes, then hits his elbow off the rope on a standing Sheamus for a good near fall.

Sheamus goes for the knee yet again but Ambrose hits his teeter-totter clothesline.  Ambrose teases Dirty Deeds, but Sheamus slips away to ringside.  Randy Orton’s music hits as Sheamus grabs the MITB briefcase and goes to leave.  Sheamus turns to Orton, but Ambrose jumps him from behind, throws him in the ring.  Sheamus tries the Brogue, but Ambrose ducks and rolls Sheamus for the pin.

Afterward Randy Orton attacks.  Orton hits the hanging DDT after some brawling at ringside, then cues the RKO.  Sheamus shoves him off and flees.

Odd watching Sheamus lose here, but I don’t think it hurts.  Not looking forward to an Orton/Sheamus program though.

Backstage, Rollins is approached by J&J Security.  He calls them Harry and Lloyd and says he told them so.  Rollins says he is willing to bring them back on if they have inside information as to who Hunter and Stephanie are thinking about booking against him for his next match.

Noble says he hasn’t heard, but boasts that “my boy” Mercury should face him because of the win last week.  Rollins asks if Noble has been drinking, and says no one wants to see that.  Mercury tells Rollins he is afraid of him.  He says the record books will show Rollins lost to them.  Mercury says the question isn’t if Rollins will lose the title, it’s when.

The announcers talk about how Rollins has alienated everyone he used to rely on.

Cole moves on to talk about celebrating Dusty Rhodes throughout the evening.  They show a clip of Rhodes winning the NWA title from Harley Race in 1979.  Back live, Cole hypes the “Celebrating the Dream” documentary for after Raw.

So far, this show is off to a decent start.  They’ve got good hooks for Rollins’ next opponent going on too.

R-Truth comes to the ring, wearing a cape, street clothes, and a home made crown.  Yes, this happened.  Truth sits with the announcers.  Wade Barrett comes out and Truth says he looks mad and would hate to face him.  JBL tells Truth he is in the match.

Match #2- King Barrett vs. R-Truth:

Barrett throws punches to start.  He cues the Bull Hammer but Truth avoids it and rolls Barrett up for the win.  Barrett hits him with the Bull Hammer afterward, then cuts a promo.  He says his kingship is not a joke and he has earned the right to be called king by winning King of the Ring. He says Truth is mocking it, and now all will hail King Barrett.

If only I could believe this…

Backstage, several undercard players are with Machine Gun Kelly.  Paige joins them, introducing herself to him.  She says something I missed about how this is for the ladies.

Cole talks about Cena vs. Owens and says it didn’t disappoint.  Many were disappointed with Owens’ actions after the match.  He says the NXT Champion will be in the ring after the break.  They show still shots of the Cena vs. Owens match from last night coming out of break.

In-Ring Segment:

Kevin Owens comes to the ring with his title over his shoulder.  Cole says that Cena suffered lower back contusions, spasms, and bruising from Owens’ attack after the match.

So, in other words, we’ll see Cena tonight and he won’t sell any of this.

Owens tells us Cena is not at Raw tonight.  He says if you want to blame someone, blame Cena.  Owens admitted he was somewhat to blame for powerbombing Cena into the ring apron, but Cena forced his hand.

Owens says Cena disrespected him when they shook hands.  Cena told Owens he belongs in WWE, and Owens says he knows he does and he didn’t need Cena to tell him.  “And I sure as hell don’t need you to endorse me in any way, shape or form.  People want to talk about me being a sore loser, how about we talk about Cena being a bad winner?”

He says Cena could have walked to the back like a gracious winner, but he stood in the ring and forced Owens to shake his hand.  He says that wasn’t respect, it was Cena stealing the spotlight “because John Cena always has to be the hero.”  Owens says Cena disrespected him and did what he had to.

Owens says he still has a victory over the United States Champion.  He says he deserves a rematch, and this time, he wants the US Title when he wins.

Odd.  Could have done that after the first win…

Owens says this is when Cena’s music would hit and he would run down, slide in the ring and issue an open challenge.  Owens says that won’t be happening.  He says he will issue the challenge instead, and if anyone in the back wants a piece of Kevin Owens, “let’s do it.”

Dolph Ziggler’s music hits and he comes out with Lana.  They kiss, then Dolph cuts a promo.  He says Owens has a lot of guts to stand in the ring and talk about sacrifice.  He says he has scratched and clawed for everything he has gotten in the business.  Ziggler talks about how Cleveland has fought and clawed for a chance at a championship and he’d be damned if he wouldn’t give them one.  Ziggler says if Owens wants a challenger for the NXT Championship, “you’re looking at him brother.”

Lilian starts to do the intros but Owens cuts her off.  “Blondie, I said I was issuing a challenge, but I never said the title was on the line.”

Classic Owens here.  And Cleveland is shut out, yet again.

Match #3 – Kevin Owens (NXT Champion) vs. Dolph Ziggler; Non-Title

They trade blows to start, and Owens tosses Ziggler to the floor.  Back from a break, Owens is still in control.  He hits a running senton, then drops Ziggler across the ropes and taunts him.  Owens misses another running senton, and Ziggler comes back with a DDT heading into the next commercial.

Ziggler fights back, but Owens puts him down.  Owens charges, but Ziggler catches him with a superkick for two.  He follows with the Fameasser for two.

Ziggler charges but Owens dodges then hits a big German Suplex.  Owens hits a cannonball on the follow up for two.  Owens teases the pop-up powerbomb, but Ziggler goes over his head and hits the Zig Zag for a good near fall.  Owens kicks Ziggler’s leg then hits a superkick, then follows with the pop-up powerbomb to win.

Good match here.  Nice to see Owens get a follow-up win.

Paige holds court with several other Divas.  She says they need to take a stand because their world has been dominated by the Bellas, who make everything about them.  Summer reminds Paige she lost last night but Paige says this isn’t about her.

Alicia chimes in and asks how she could be trusted because she has turned on everyone she’s partnered with.  Paige apologizes and says they can stand together.  Naomi says she can’t stand the Bellas and may agree with Paige, but she won’t let Paige boss her.

Paige says she challenged the Bellas to a handicap match and invited them to join her.  The Bellas show up and Nikki says she has been Divas champion ever since she helped Stephanie win at Summerslam.  “Sorry, Brie.” Brie says it’s okay.  Nikki says it’s a free country, and the women could side with Paige if they wanted.  They all leave.

Paige says this isn’t over.  Nikki says it looks like it is, and Paige exits.

Everyone here came off looking unlikeable and oblivious, except Paige.

Match #4 – Randy Orton vs. Kane:

Orton comes to the ring and poses.  As he comes out, they recap the earlier angle between Orton, Sheamus, and Dean Ambrose.  Cole says he will face Kane after the break.

That screams “change the channel,” sorry.

Kane gets a fast start then hits a running drop kick on Orton.  Orton gets control back, but Sheamus’ music hits.  He comes out with the briefcase in hand.  Kane gets a mic and says that the match is now no holds barred.  Sheamus hits Orton with a Brogue Kick shortly thereafter and Kane pins him.

Kane could do that every time out – why not?

The announcers talk about the MITB match.  They narrate shots of Bray Wyatt costing Reigns the match, and Cole says Reigns is looking for answers tonight.

Backstage, Kane approaches Seth Rollins.  Rollins congratulates him and says that Kane must be in a better mood than he was last night, when Kane lost but Rollins won.  Rollins says Kane might have been his biggest doubter.

Rollins says his own success causes Kane physical pain because it reminds him of what he used to be.  Kane says Rollins isn’t an architect, he’s an idiot.  No one can do it on their own.  Rollins tells Kane he always had the Corporation, the Authority, or Paul Bearer or his brother.

Kane grabs Rollins and tells him to not mention his family again.  Rollins tells Kane to never put his hands on him again.  He says he hopes that Hunter and Stephanie make Kane his next opponent because he’s a sad human being who needs to be put out of his misery.

They air another Dusty Rhodes tribute segment, and it’s his Hall of Fame induction in 2007.

Match #6 – Big Show vs. The Miz

Ryback is on commentary.  He thanks Dusty Rhodes for everything he did for his career.  He calls winning the IC title the highlight of his career so far.  He talks about Big Show coming to the ring with a boo-boo face while Ryback takes negative energy and turns it into a positive.  He also apologizes for Tough Enough bringing Miz into our lives.

Early going, Miz continues to duck out of the ring and make Show give chase.  Show is favoring his knee as he gets back in the ring.  He suckered Miz in!  He drives Miz to the corner and slaps him across the chest several times.  He throws Miz to a corner and charges, but Miz gets the foot up.  Show tosses him out of the ring, then slaps him across the chest on the announce table.

Show tosses Miz onto Ryback.  Ryback gets up, and he and Show jaw.  Meanwhile, Miz slithers back in the ring and beats the count.  Miz wins by count out.  Show gets in the ring and chases Miz.  Ryback gets in the ring and teases the Meathook but Show ducks out of the ring.  Miz celebrates on the stage, and Ryback holds up the IC title belt.

Ryback seemed like himself, and a lot more natural.  I hope we get more of that.  Miz acted like he won a championship or something – something Cleveland has no idea about.

They show a still shot of Bray Wyatt knocking the ladder over on Roman Reigns last night.  Reigns wants answers, and that’s next.

In-Ring Segment:

Roman Reigns’ music hits and he makes his way to the ring.  They talk about Wyatt cutting Reigns off inches away from claiming the MITB briefcase.  They hype Reigns vs. Wyatt for Battleground in five weeks.

Reigns gets a mic and says last night wasn’t a good night.  He says he didn’t get much sleep and it made for a long day, and he’s pissed off.  He says he doesn’t want to wait five weeks and calls out Bray Wyatt to “throw down in the Q tonight.”

Wyatt cut-in, and he says something about two stars.  Roman cuts him off and tells him to get his ass out there.  Wyatt laughs and says Roman wants answers but doesn’t have the ability to comprehend their meaning.

Wyatt talks about how Reigns stole an opportunity from him two weeks ago.  Wyatt says he could have been the beacon of hope the world needs but Reigns selfishly denied him.  He says Reigns reminds him of someone else who was the chosen one.

Wyatt says the chosen one’s people believed he could lead them to paradise.  Wyatt says he was chosen while others were cast aside and they knew they made the wrong choice.  Wyatt says Reigns needs to realize that all of this is no paradise.  He calls Reigns the yin to his yang, and says they balance everything out.  Wyatt says they need each other.  He talks about anyone other than Roman.

Wyatt says he will haunt and destroy Reigns but not tonight.  He asks what kind of example they would be setting with Father’s Day right around the corner.  Wyatt holds up a photo of Reigns with his daughter having a tea party from his PSA ad.  Wyatt sings the teapot song and tells Roman to have patience as their fun is just getting started.

The picture makes it personal, but I can’t help but feel this is a “more of same” feud for Wyatt.  He’ll talk up a good game, then ultimately lose the feud.  We can only hope that’s not the case.

Match #8 – Paige vs. Nikki and Brie Bella; Handicap match:

Paige gets the better of Nikki early, but Brie trips her.  Brie yells “Brie Mode” for whatever reason and hits her running knee to some cheers?  Awkward as Cole is selling the twins as heels.

Paige gets some short arm clotheslines in and kicks Brie.  Paige runs Brie into Nikki, knocking her from the apron.  Paige hits RamPaige, but Nikki breaks up the cover.  Nikki comes back with her forearm shot and the Rack Attack to win.  The Bellas act like spoiled high school cheerleaders afterward.  No one cared.

Still more crazy catty bitch activity.

They hype “The Future of Seth Rollins” coming up yet tonight, and Machine Gun Kelly performing next.

Musical Performance:

They hype Machine Gun Kelly, saying he has performed at Wrestlemania.  He’s from Cleveland, and only gets a lukewarm reaction from them.  Probably because wrestling fans don’t want musical performances in their wrestling.  Anyhow, it was an awful rap, and I went back to the garage for a bit.

After the song is over, Kelly slaps hands with fans.  Kevin Owens comes out and offers a handshake but shoves Kelly when he doesn’t get one.  He ends up attacking Kelly, hitting him with a powerbomb off the stage.  Twitter rejoices, thanking Owens for his actions.  Cole sells disgust, saying that Kelly was a guest of WWE and Owens’ actions are reprehensible.

Kevin Owens is now the most over babyface in WWE.

Back live, Cole feeds it to a recap.  JBL says he won’t defend Owens’ actions.  Saxton wants to know what’s wrong with Owens’ mind that he would do that.  Cole sends it into a movie clip for Terminator:Genisys.

New Day is in the ring.  They do a pic-in-pic promo.  Kofi says they will show the PTP about the POP – the power of positivity and reclaim their titles.

Match #9 – The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods) vs. Neville and The Prime Time Players

As the Players come to the ring they mock the New Age Outlaws’ gimmick and chant “Prime-time players.”  Woods starts off against Young.  Kofi’s ribs are taped up to sell last night’s MITB match.   Cole points out that Saxton is friends with the PTP, which is not the thing to say to get them over.

Woods controls Young coming out of break.  They team up with Kofi landing a kick that gets a near fall.    Kofi goes top rope and delivers an axe handle for a pin attempt.  New Day continues to isolate Young as Cole reminds us we will find out who Seth Rollins will face next.

Young gets the hot tag to Neville after a cheap shot on Titus.  Neville goes on a run of offense to a nice reaction from the crowd.  He tries a dead lift suplex but Woods counters to a German of his own.  Neville lands on his feet in the corner though.  Neville teases the Red Arrow but no go.

Titus hits Big E with a big spinebuster, and he rolls to ringside.  Young hits his finisher to Kofi and the announcers sell that Kofi has bad ribs.  Young tags in Neville, who hits the Red Arrow to a big reaction.  Neville grabs the win, and he and the PTP celebrate.  New Day sells up the ramp.

Cole says it has been a heck of a 24 hours for Kevin Owens.  They run through still shots of last night’s match between Cena and Owens.   They recap the attack on Machine Gun Kelly as well.  Cole calls it a pathetic display and says Kelly is being evaluated backstage.

Backstage, Dean Ambrose is playing darts on a board with Rollins’ picture on it.  Kane enters and laughs.  Kane says that it’s his job to make sure everything runs smoothly.  Ambrose laughs, and says he can’t picture Kane as champion.  Ambrose tells Kane he talks a big game about Rollins, but in the end he is loyal to the Authority.

Kane reminds Ambrose he has been champion.  Ambrose says it was the hell fire and brimstone guy, not the corporate wannabe.  He says this is what he lives for, and last night the title slipped through his  fingers.  Ambrose says he had the title in his fingers last night and he got a taste.  He vows to never stop until he gets it.  He asks Kane what he lives for and exits.

Triple H and Stephanie are heading toward the ring, and they are set to announce Rollins’ next opponent, next.

Another “Celebrating the Dream” segment.  They show miscellaneous promo clips of his most famous promos.  Cole reminds us of the documentary coming up next on WWE Network.

In-Ring Segment:

“King of Kings” hits and here comes Hunter and Stephanie.  Cole calls this “moment of truth” time for Seth Rollins.  JBL says they will decide what is best for business.  Saxton says that Rollins is surely on the edge of his seat right now.  Cole mentions possible candidates, like Randy Orton, Sheamus, Kane, and Dean Ambrose.

Stephanie starts by apologizing for the actions of Kevin Owens and says disciplinary action will be taken against him for attacking Machine Gun Kelly.  She says that is what’s best for business, and they make all their decisions for “this global corporate entity” for that reason.

Hunter says a lot of superstars feel they deserve a shot against Seth Rollins.  He says it won’t be Kane, J&J Security, or Dean Ambrose.  Stephanie asks who it will be.  Rollins’ music hits and he makes his way to the ring, smiling.  They ponder who it might be.

I have a pretty good feeling…..

Rollins gets a mic and says it doesn’t matter who they pick, because the have been right about him all along.  “There is no one on the roster capable of taking this from me.”  He puts himself over, saying he is as good as advertised, and better.  He says he will beat whoever they pick, and make them proud.

Hunter admits they will make him proud and that since Wrestlemania he has proven himself by beating Roman Reigns, Randy Orton, and Dean Ambrose.  Hunter says Rollins did what he said he would  by beating Ambrose without help.  He says that some might say Rollins never needed help in the first place.  Stephanie adds that some might say Rollins is ripe for picking without the Authority.

Hunter says they have invested everything in the future, and everything in him.  Sometimes you have to step back and see if the investment will pay off, or if it’s sunk cause.  Hunter says that if you want to know what you have in a lump of coal, you put it under immense pressure.  It either turns the coal to dust or into the diamond you hoped it would be.  “Seth, the question is now if you will crumble, or if you will become the diamond, because Seth, the pressure is on.”

Long dramatic pause, and the  music hits.  “Oh my god.”  Here comes Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman.  Welcome to Suplex City, bitch.   Lesnar circles the ring, watching Rollins the whole time.   “Hell just opened up,” says JBL.   Lesnar leaps up on the apron, and he and Heyman enter the ring.

Tenuous handshake from Heyman to Hunter and Stephanie.  Rollins has a despondent look on his face and Lesnar stares a hole through him.  Rollins takes a step back, but Lesnar keeps approaching.  Rollins slowly escapes the ring, looking at Hunter and Stephanie at ringside.  Rollins makes his way toward the ramp, eyeing Lesnar.

Lesnar’s music plays as Rollins slowly backs up the ramp.  Cole says that Lesnar has his eyes set on Rollins in five weeks at Battleground and the deal is made.  Lesnar looks around at Hunter, then the crowd, as Cole hypes the match.  JBL says that Lesnar will reclaim the title in five weeks.  That’s how the show ends.

I hope we don’t get five weeks of those “intimidated” moments.  I don’t think we will, but that might hurt Rollins a lot.  I am shocked they’re going with the match now, and it makes you wonder what’s in mind for SummerSlam.  They could easily go to a no-finish and continue it to SummerSlam I guess.

The first hour of the show was good, but then it sort of lost me.  The Kelly/Owens thing was fun, and seeing Brock return was a big deal, but I can’t call this a solid show.  What say you?  Vote in the poll going now on the site and tell me.  I’ll be by tomorrow with an Around the Ring podcast to break down Raw, Money in the Bank, and more.  Thanks for following along.



WWE “Money in the Bank” Show Report for 6/14/2015 – Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in a Ladder Match, John Cena vs. Kevin Owens, Money in the Bank Ladder Match, and More

For the sixth time in about as many weeks (at least it feels that way), WWE presents another pay per view event.  This time, it’s Money in the Bank.  Every year, someone gets a shot at a briefcase that enables them to have a World Heavyweight Championship opportunity any time they call for it.  Tonight, several men will compete in a ladder match for that case.  Will Roman Reigns walk away with it?  Will Kane keep the title in the Authority?  Also, Kevin Owens and John Cena will do battle again in a highly anticipated rematch.  Will Owens continue to have Cena’s number?

The full card is as follows:


  • King Barrett vs. R-Truth

Main Card:

  • Ryback (c) vs. Big Show; WWE Intercontinental Championship
  • Nikki Bella (c, w/Brie Bella) vs. Paige; WWE Divas Championship
  • New Day (c, Big E and Xavier Woods) vs. The Prime Time Players; WWE Tag Team Championship
  • John Cena (WWE U.S. Champion) vs. Kevin Owens (NXT Champion)
  • Dolph Ziggler vs. Neville vs. Roman Reigns vs. Sheamus vs. Kane vs. Randy Orton vs. Kofi Kingston; Money in the Bank Ladder match, with the winner receiving a title shot any time within the next year
  • Seth Rollins (c, w/J&J Security) vs. Dean Ambrose; WWE World Heavyweight Championship under ladder match rules


Editorial note:  this is the “Cliff’s Notes” version, as we’re coming into the pre-show halfway in.

They show a graphic to acknowledge the passing of Dusty Rhodes.

Renee Young, Booker T, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton are the panelists tonight.  They show shots outside the arena, then focus on the briefcase hanging above the ring and ladders on the stage.

The panel discusses the passing of Dusty Rhodes.  Booker recalls “rocking the house” during one of his first matches and says that they wouldn’t put him on first anymore.  Graves talks about staff meetings, saying he loves and misses Dusty.  Young fed it to tweets from various WWE big name players as his entrance music played.

They switch gears to the MITB match.  Tom Phillips interviews Neville.  He asks about what happened on Smackdown and the social media fallout (not sure what that means…).  Neville says this is the biggest opportunity of his career.  Graves holds up a MITB briefcase when they switch back to the panel, saying you can buy a replica with a signed contract.

Gee, this isn’t clickbait for some drunken fan to try and cash in AT ALL….

They run a video package highlighting the Cena/Owens feud. The panel debates if Owens can win two times in a row.  Saxton says Owens is in trouble and Graves says Owens can do it again.  Booker runs off about sports analogies and says Owens arrived in WWE after spending years making $5 to $20 a night.

Social media lounge hype focuses on Kevin Owens joining Tom Phillips to answer fan questions.

Renee Young hypes King Barrett vs. R-Truth for the pre-show, then the panel discusses the Divas Championship  match briefly.  Then they move on to the Intercontinental Championship.

JoJo interviews Ryback backstage.  He says it seems every other year the fans either love or hate Show because he doesn’t know who he is.  Ryback calls Show a bully and he hates bullies.  He says he will beat Show’s negative energy and walks away.

Backstage, Dean Ambrose enters Roman Reigns’ locker room.  Reigns says when they toast, Ambrose will be WWE World Heavyweight Champion and he will be Mr. Money in the Bank.  Ambrose asks if Reigns will warn him or surprise him when he cashes in.  Reigns says Ambrose will be first to know, and they bump fists.

Couple ways this could go – they could be foreshadowing a Reigns turn by cashing in with no warning tonight, or it might just be WWE being more self-aware of what the fans are thinking.  Hoping for the latter, because that’s something that makes the predictable heel turn a lot less obvious.

They run a video piece about the Rollins/Ambrose story.

After, Renee Young interviews Stephanie, who is backstage.  She asks if The Authority will let Rollins be in the match on his own.  Stephanie says that she and Hunter have made it clear that they will respect Rollins’ wishes.  Rollins wants no help, so they will be with him in terms of moral support but there will be no Authority interference.

Yeah, Right.

Booker mentions having an ace in the hole even if they don’t actually interfere.  Stephanie says that Ambrose winning presents “unique challenges from a corporate standpoint,” but Rollins knew the risks going in.  Graves asks about the risks and Stephanie says Rollins knows what that risk is.

Why did they not do this on Raw?  Even though I’m not buying it for a minute…

Cole, Lawler, and JBL check in on commentary.

Match #1 – King Barrett vs. R-Truth:

Truth cuts a promo, saying dressing up is fun, and being King feels good.  He makes a Game of Thrones reference and says King Barrett will be overthrown by King Whassup.  Ugh.  Anyhow, Barrett’s got new king gear, and it looks like Miz’s getup.  Early action sees Truth drop Barrett to ringside before cutting to a break.

Late, Truth avoids the Bull Hammer and pins Barrett shortly thereafter.  The announcers try to play it as an upset but everyone beats Barrett.  Truth tells Lawler he can be his stunt double, then puts on the crown.  Barrett approaches him, so Truth throws the crown and runs.

Winner – R-Truth

Truth’s comedy works for some, but not for me.  And I continue to just be frustrated with how they waste Wade Barrett, who deserves so much more.

The announcers address Dusty Rhodes’ passing.  Cole talks about him working at the Performance Center and says Dusty “loved those kids.”  He tosses to a video package about Dusty.  The footage included Dusty hugging his sons at his WWE Hall of Fame induction.

Speaking of “dusty,” is it dusty in here? Or is it just me?

Renee Young is choked up as she sends it to Tom Phillips who is with Kevin Owens.  Owens answers Twitter questions from the fans.  He says he’s not being disrespectful, and cracks about getting neon t-shirts and getting his own rally towel.  He says that just because he beat Cena doesn’t mean he wants to be him.

Back with the panel, Renee says they’re there for the MITB match “and for Dusty.”  She mentions that she and the panelists have been in tears, and sets up a video package for the MITB match.  Back live, Renee says the MITB match will open the show.  The panel all picks different winners to close out the pre-show.

The Dusty package brought forth some real emotions and that was a highlight.  I hope no one gets any heat over that one.

WWE Money in the Bank, live from Nationwide Arena in Columbus, OH

They open with the memorial graphic for Dusty, then the entire roster gathers on the stage for a ten bell tribute.  Vince, Stephanie, and Hunter front and center.  The fans stayed quiet throughout, then chanted Dusty’s name once the bell ringing was over.  They played Dusty’s entrance music to a nice reaction, and Vince played it up on the stage.

Kudos to Columbus for their respect of the moment.  Clearly, Dusty touched a number of the talents as a number of people, including Vince, were with tears in their eyes.

Cole, Lawler, and JBL on commentary, and Lilian Garcia handing the ring announcing duties.  First match is the MITB!

Match #1 – Roman Reigns vs. Kane vs. Neville vs. Randy Orton vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Sheamus; Money in the Bank Ladder Match:

I’ll insert another editorial note here:  My area is getting heavy weather periodically as it’s June and been hot and muggy all day.  When those heavy storms roll through, it plays with my cable and in turn my WWE Network feed.  We’ll do our best to stay “live” but no guarantees.

Sheamus makes an early play but gets stopped.  Kofi makes a play, but Sheamus tips the ladder over.  About five minutes in, Kofi and Neville fight on the ladder.  Reigns pulls both of them down to some boos.  Reigns shoves the ladder at Neville.

Reigns hits a powerbomb onto a ladder on Kingston.  He catches Neville going for a huracanrana and powerbombs him onto Kingston on the ladder.  Reigns makes a play for the case but Kane stops him with a chokeslam.  Orton drops Kane with an RKO and climbs, but Kofi recovers and stops him.  Orton puts out Kofi with an RKO.

Orton positions the ladder and Neville springboards over him.  Orton pulls Neville down and RKO’s him as well.  RKO City, Bitch!  Sheamus and Orton fight next, with Orton putting Sheamus down with his sidewinder backbreaker.  Orton makes a play, but Sheamus recovers and stops him.

Sheamus and Orton fight on the ladder.  Ziggler gets up and puts a sleeper on Sheamus, then hits a Zig Zag from the ladder.  Neville goes up and hits Sheamus with the Red Arrow.  Cole calls it the start of the Altitude Era.  A big NXT chant goes up.

Neville and Ziggler now on the top of the ladder.  Neville knocks Ziggler off and plays for the case, but Kane stops him.  Ziggler superkicks Kane and breaks the chokeslam up.  Ziggler and Neville team up to run a ladder at Kane but he kicks it into the two of them.  Kane follows with a sliding kick on the ladder that tumbles onto both men at ringside.

Reigns hits the Superman punch on Kane to a big reaction.  Reigns is the only one in the ring, but rather than make a play for the case he hits a dive onto the other men on the floor.  Big E and Xavier Woods run out to help Kofi up.  Kofi sets up a ladder and climbs while Reigns takes out Big E and Woods.

Reigns stops Kingston, pulling him down after three tries and hitting a powerbomb onto other wrestlers.  Orton spins Reigns around for the RKO but Reigns shoves him off.  Orton ducks a Superman punch, but takes a spear from Reigns.  Reigns makes a play with the ladder.

Bray Wyatt video flashes.  Wyatt stands in the ring, then shoves the ladder over to prevent Reigns from making a play for the case.  He hits Sister Abigail on Reigns and exits.  Sheamus gets a ladder, and Neville climbs up with him.  The two men fight at the top, with Sheamus sending Neville to the floor.  Sheamus claims the case to win.

Winner – Sheamus to become Mr. Money in the Bank

That was fun.  The Wyatt interference was surprising, and it gives Reigns a new dance partner to go through before his payoff moment of winning the title (if that’s where they want him to go).  I like heel Sheamus, but him winning doesn’t do a lot for me here.  I wonder how long he will carry the case?

They run a “Don’t Try this at Home” ad.

Renee Young interviews Paige, who says not one Diva has offered to help her take down the Bellas.  She says she will create change on her own. “For you, Dusty.”

Match #2 – Nikki Bella (c, w/Brie Bella) vs. Paige; WWE Divas Championship

They show other Divas watching on a backstage monitor.  Catty bitch city!  Paige locks Nikki in a submission about seven minutes in, but Nikki breaks it in the ropes.  The announcers point out that the women watching backstage aren’t really cheering for either woman.

Paige sets up the PTO, but Nikki rolls and kicks her way out.  She hits a kick from the second rope to get a two count.  Paige comes back with the RamPaige for a good near fall.  They fight to the ropes, then fall to ringside.  Brie is under the ring, and she emerges and trades spots with Nikki.

Back in the ring, Brie catches Paige with an inside cradle that Paige reverses to get the win.  Brie protests by unstuffing her bra (YES, this happened) and showing off a crotch tattoo to show Paige that they tried to pull Twin Magic.  In a restart, Nikki hits Paige from behind, loads the Rack Attack, and wins.

Winner – Nikki Bella to retain the WWE Divas Championship

Dear God, what did I just watch?  And are they really gonna stick with Nikki as champion?  It feels like there’s nothing else for her at this point so it seems the title run needs to end.  Otherwise, the match was a decent effort other than the finish.  I guess all the other women watching will lead to something.

Cole recaps Ryback and Big Show on Miz TV.

Miz comes out, playing to the Ohio crowd.  “My people, the people I left because we all know that if you don’t live in New York or LA, you don’t count.”  Miz says he would be winning the IC title if it weren’t for Big Show.  Miz says he will create an audio/visual masterpiece, and joins the announcers.

Match #3 – Ryback (c) vs. Big Show; WWE Intercontinental Championship

Ryback sends Show to ringside with a clothesline early.  Ryback goes to ringside, grabs Miz, and throws him over the announce table.  Big Show capitalizes on the distraction to take control.  My Network feed crashes, and we get it back in time to see Ryback in control of Show.

More WWE Network issues for me.  Not sure if it’s my cable or the Network itself, though I note others covering the show have been having issues.  Miz jumps the ring late and hits Big Show with a microphone repeatedly to end the match with a DQ.  Miz heads backstage.

Winner – Big Show by disqualification, Ryback retains the championship

I didn’t see much of this because of cable/Network issues.  What I saw was okay, but I can’t really say too much about it.

They air an ad for Tough Enough, then the John Cena vs. Kevin Owens package.

Match #4 – John Cena (WWE United States Champion) vs. Kevin Owens (NXT Champion); No titles on the line

Before the match, the two take turns posing with their belts.  Owens getting the louder cheers.  More sluggish Network issues, not sure if it’s from my cable or the Network itself still.  Heavy weather rolling through, hard to tell.  Cena hits an early reverse suplex which is impressive, and Owens hits a cannonball.

Cena has Owens up in the Electric Chair but drops him forward.  Cena hits the AA for two, then stands up and argues with the referee about the count.  Cena sets Owens up for a second rope AA, but Owens slips out, puts Cena in the Electric Chair then spins him around into a powerbomb for a good near fall.  Nice spot.

Owens sets up his finish, but Cena counters to a huracanrana.  Owens hits a superkick for another good near fall.  Cena fights back with a tornado DDT off the second rope for a two count.  Cena tries the top rope leg drop but Owens avoids and comes back with a package power bomb.

Owens goes for a moonsault but Cena moves.  Cena hits the AA for another good near fall.  Cena sets up a superplex, but Owens counters to a fisherman’s superplex for two.  Fans chant that it’s awesome, and it’s a good match.

Cena locks in the STF, but Owens breaks it in the ropes.  Cena hits a sunset flip powerbomb (you also know it as the Canadian Destroyer that Petey Williams used to do).  They have trouble getting there but the crowd pops big for it.  Owens comes back with the pop-up powerbomb for a good near fall.  More chants of how awesome this is.

Late, Cena hits his springboard Stunner then follows with the AA to get the victory.  Afterward, Cena waits for Owens to get up.  He plays to the crowd and to Owens.  He hands Owens his NXT championship belt then offers a handshake, which Owens accepts.  He raises Owens’ hand, and Owens attacks him.

Owens beats up on Cena, then powerbombs him on the apron.  He takes the US Championship and walks toward Cena, but officials ward him off.  He backs up the ramp, drops the US title, then mugs with the NXT belt.  Owens laughs at Cena then does the “You can’t see me” wave before going backstage.

Winner – John Cena

A solid match with a good post-match attack.  I would have preferred to see Owens win, and be that guy that Cena can’t seem to beat, but it ended up working out.  Now, the key is that Cena needs to sell the attack.  He has a tendency to be booked to not sell it and that’s an issue because it takes all the air out of a moment like this.  Officials did help Cena to the back, so there was that.

They run an ad for WWE Shop, then a Total Divas ad.

Backstage, Renee Young says they will post updates on Cena as soon as they know.  She moves on to interview Dean Ambrose, asking him about partying with the belt on Bourbon Street.  He asks what kind of animal she thinks he is.  “But I did do that, didn’t I?”

Ambrose talks about standing up for yourself, and taking what’s yours.  He says he knows he earned the title with his blood sweat and tears.  “This belongs to me.”  He says if they’re into paperwork and official rulings, Rollins is the champion, but Ambrose says he is the champion of people who believe in doing the right thing.  “Taking this was about respect.”

Back at the commentary position, they talk about Cena vs. Owens, then move on to talk about the passing of Dusty Rhodes.  Lawler says there was no better talker in the industry.  Cole also mentions Dusty’s gift of gab and talks of how Dusty was teaching those in NXT about cutting promos.  They run a tribute video package.  Back live, Cole hypes a special on WWE Network called “Celebrating the Dream” that will air after Raw tomorrow night.

Match #5 – New Day (c, Big E and Xavier Woods) vs. The Prime Time Players; WWE Tag Team Championship

New Day cuts a promo saying that Kofi was a victim of a travesty in the earlier MITB match. They also made fun of Ohio State fans winning the National Championship in college football after being on probation.

Early on, New Day gets the first stretch of offense, isolating Darren Young.  Young ducks a charging Big E, and that lets him get the hot tag to Titus.  No reaction – or at least not as much of one as he had been getting.  Titus goes to work on both men of New Day and the crowd gets a little excited.  Titus has the cover but Big E breaks it up. E hits a spear off the apron on Darren Young, but in the ring Titus hits his finish and gets the win.

Winner – The Prime Time Players to win the WWE Tag Team Championship

The crowd seemed a bit surprised, but this title change came off really flat.  One guy was shown being all excited, but really, with how the tag division beyond the Usos and New Day have been built, how can anyone care about this title change?

They go to the panel, where Byron Saxton is swaying in his chair like a moron.  They talk about the Cena/Owens match again, then offer predictions for the main event.  They go back to the commentators, where Cole and Co. recap Money in the Bank, with Sheamus getting the win.  He also notes that Roman Reigns will take on Bray Wyatt at the Battleground pay per view event.

They roll to a video package to set up the main event.

Backstage, Triple H and Stephanie talk to Seth Rollins.  Steph says not to put added pressure on Rollins, but the entire weight of the company rides on his shoulders.  She says they will have no one else to blame but him if he doesn’t come through.  Hunter tells Rollins that he wants him to stand on his own two feet.  “So show them.  Show them.  Show them why I chose you.  Show them that you are not the future, but you are the man.”  Rollins gets fired up and they go separate ways.

Match #6 – Seth Rollins (c) vs. Dean Ambrose; WWE World Heavyweight Championship under Ladder Match rules.

Cole says we might see more wrestling in this match as opposed to the MITB match.  Early action is really pretty flat and meaningless.  Ambrose makes a play for the title.  Rollins grabs a chair and uses it on Ambrose’s leg to knock him off the ladder.  Rollins makes a play, but Ambrose pulls him back down.

Ambrose sells the leg from the chair shots.  Rollins focuses offense on Ambrose’s knee.  The fans chant for Ambrose until Rollins slams a ladder into his bad knee about 11 minutes in.  Random odd lighting/production moment – they have a spotlight on some woman in the front row.

Rollins mocks Ambrose, telling him he will have to climb with one leg.  Ambrose throws punches on Rollins, who pulls him down and wraps his knee around the ring post.  Rollins locks on a Figure Four around the post and taunts Ambrose again for climbing with one leg.  Back in the ring, Rollins again applies the Figure Four to work the leg.  Ambrose rolls it over into an Indian Death Lock to break it.

Rollins ties Ambrose up in a tree of Woe spot and puts the boots to him.  Rollins brings a chair back in the ring and takes shots at Ambrose’s knee again.  Rollins makes a play for the belt but Ambrose hops over on one leg and knocks it over.

A bit later, Ambrose does his lean thru the ropes clothesline but Rollins pulls a ladder into Ambrose before he can hit it.  Rollins goes to the ropes but Ambrose tosses a chair at him.  Ambrose sets up a superplex but Rollins counters.  He goes for a rope spot but Ambrose crotches him then clotheslines him.

Ambrose continues the offense, stopping to sell the knee.  He chases Rollins, who goes after the knee again then throws him to the railing.  Rollins goes back to the ring and tosses a chair at Ambrose but he ducks.  Ambrose goes for the tilting clothesline thing but takes a drop kick from Rollins.  Ambrose goes for it again and connects this time for a pop.

Ambrose dives on Rollins at ringside.  The fans think this is awesome.  There’s a ladder set up between the ring and the broadcast table.  Rollins tries a powerbomb onto it, but Ambrose fights it off.  Rollins charges and Ambrose backdrops him onto the ladder.  Cole had a good call here pointing out the ladder damage.

Another ladder in the ring by Ambrose and he stands it up.  Rollins gets back in the ring and hits a huracanrana over the ropes.  Both men went to ringside, and Ambrose clotheslines Rollins over the Spanish announce table.  Ambrose and Rollins fight on the table, and Rollins tries the Pedigree.  Ambrose fights him off and hits Dirty Deeds instead.

Ambrose makes a play up the ladder but Rollins goes after the knee again, this time with a monitor from the announce table.  Rollins climbs up but gets stopped by Ambrose.  Rollins fish hooks him then punches him down.  He follows with the Pedigree.

Rollins smiles and looks down as he climbs the ladder.  Ambrose catches up and grabs Rolllins’ legs.  Rollins kicks, then drops down and charges.  Ambrose moves and Rollins crashes to the floor.  Ambrose crawls to the ladder but Rollins drags him ringside and runs him into that ladder that bent earlier.  Rollins hits a buckle bomb into the barrier, then hits a second one moments later.

Rollins sets some chairs on top of a ladder.  He picks up Ambrose and hits a sit-out powerbomb onto the chairs and ladder. He then throws the ladders and chair onto Ambrose out on the floor.  He goes back to the ring and climbs.

Ambrose pops up and gets in the ring.  He climbs up the same side as Rollins, and the fight at the top.  The belt is unhooked and they both fall to the mat with a hand on the title, but once they land it stays with Rollins.  Hunter comes out to celebrate with Rollins on the stage.  JoJo interviews Rollins, who says he is the greatest of all time.  Hunter smiles and celebrates with Rollins to close the show.

Winner – Seth Rollins to retain the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

I didn’t care for the “tie spot” here.  They had already protected Ambrose with the knee injury, so he could have taken that last shot and laid out while Rollins reclaimed the belt.  This was too cute of a finish for my tastes.  I did like that they had Rollins win without all the run-ins and interference.  That lends a lot to him in terms of credibility that he needs.  He’s not the guy who needs J&J and Kane and Hunter and all that to win his matches every time he’s out there.

Overall, an “okay” show.  Kevin Owens vs. John Cena, the MITB match, and the main event were all very good matches that I enjoyed.  The rest of the show left me wanting and weighed things down quite a bit for me personally.  For two weeks worth of hype, the show was sound, but I do know myself I am getting a bit overwhelmed with WWE content being shoved at me what seems like every two weeks.

I’ll be by on Tuesday with more analysis of this show in Around the Ring, as well as discussion on Raw and other things in pro wrestling. Be looking for that, and our Raw coverage, in the next couple days.  Thanks for tuning in with me.




WWE Smackdown *SPOILERS* for 6/2/2015

The following are spoilers for the WWE Smackdown show that will air on 6/4/2015.  If you don’t want the show spoiled, do not click the “Continue Reading” tab!  Spoilers tonight courtesy

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WWE Monday Night Raw Live Report for 5/25/2015 – Memorial Day Edition, Go Home Show for Elimination Chamber, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose Hype Their Title Match, John Cena Has Words for Kevin Owens, More

On this Memorial Day (here in the United States), it’s the “go-home” edition of Raw as we get ready for Elimination Chamber this Sunday on WWE Network.  On a very short turnaround, we’ve seen Dean Ambrose rise to challenge Seth Rollins for the WWE Championship.  He forced his way into the picture last week, roughing up Seth Rollins during the “Architect of a Dream” segment that closed the show.  How will these two hype what should be a good in-ring match?  Kevin Owens, the NXT Champion, got the better of John Cena last week.  Word is that John Cena has words for Owens – what will he say?  Nikki Bella prepares to defend her Divas Championship against two competitors, the Intercontinental Championship contenders square off, and much more.

Show Open, Live from the Nassau County Coliseum on Long Island, NY

The show opens with a Memorial Day tribute video (that you may have seen earlier in the day as it was publicized).  Eden Styles is in the ring, and asks for fans to please rise and observe a moment of silence in honor of those lost.  The bell rings ten times.  They move on to the standard Raw open and Cole welcomes us in.

The familiar “King of Kings” refrain hits, and here comes The Authority to open the show with a talking segment.  They run footage of last week’s closing segment.  Rollins asks for a round of applause for Ambrose, but gets “you sold out” chants also.  Rollins says this isn’t about him, but it’s about Ambrose.

Rollins says that The Authority made a decision to give Ambrose his title match under duress.  Rollins says that Ambrose didn’t earn, nor does he deserve, a title shot.  He encourages Hunter and Stephanie to take the title match away.  “In fact, given your position you could even fire him.”

Rollins calls himself a benevolent human being, and says that Ambrose isn’t on his level.  “To be honest, he was riding my coat tails the whole time we were in the Shield.”  He says it was obvious why they picked Rollins over Ambrose to be a part of the Authority.  Hunter says that it was an easy choice.

Hunter goes on and says that they have something verbal, but they need something “a little more concrete.”   Hunter tells Ambrose that if he wants his world title shot, all he has to do is come down to the ring and sign a contract.  Booker says “yeah, Ambrose, come down to the ring and get your brains beaten in.”

Ambrose’s music hits and he makes his way to the stage to a good cheer.  He says that there must be something wrong with him, because he can’t sleep.  He says that instead of counting sheep, he counts how many times he punches Seth Rollins.  Once he gets to about 200 punches, he sleeps like a baby.

Ambrose talks about becoming the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion and face of the company.  He says that J&J Security will be barefoot like respectable hobbits.  He says Kane will wear a collar like any good obedient lap dog.  He adds that Rollins will drunk dial Selena Gomez, since he “will always be our little Justin Bieber.”

That draws a “Justin Bieber” chant.  Rollins yells at them to shut up.  Rollins praises Bieber for being rich, famous, and needing to fight off women.  Rollins calls Ambrose a cockroach, and says they can survive a nuclear holocaust.  He says that cockroaches never win.  They never thrive, they just survive.

Ambrose says that he would rather be a cockroach than the wrong end of the Authority’s centipede.  He ponders his options, and says that he might be crazy, and he might be stupid, but it might be worth a shot.  “I guess there’s only one way to find out.”  Ambrose drops the mic and makes his way down to the ring.  JBL says that Ambrose is walking to the gallows.  Roman Reigns’ music hits, and he makes his way down through the crowd.

Reigns jumps the barrier, and Stephanie says that it’s so cute that the “Shield boys” get together and that everyone loves it.  Stephanie tells Ambrose that he has until the end of the night to sign the contract, but in the meantime she is going to book a match.  She sets up Reigns and Ambrose vs. Kane and Rollins as the main event.  “And you don’t have to wait for the end of the night because that match will happen right now.”

Good move to label it as a main event, but have it happen right after the break.  The live crowd didn’t seem to like it, but when Steph said it would happen right away, they cheered. 

We’ll see how this goes tonight.  They have work to do to get to Elimination Chamber, so they might not mail this show in tonight.

Match #1 – Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins (w/J&J Security) and Kane

Early on, Booker makes a comment that if Ambrose doesn’t get the title shot without signing the contract is a case of the Authority being an “Indian giver.”  The heels get the better of the faces in the early going.

That’s a pretty shocking line from Booker.  Who is producing him?

Reigns and Kane get the hot tags after the break.  Reigns goes to work, beating Kane down.  In the corner, Reigns stomps Kane down but Mercury gets involved.  Reigns takes him out, cues the Superman Punch, but unloads it on Jamie Noble instead who got on the other apron.  Reigns runs into a big boot, then Kane sets the chokeslam. Reigns fights out of it, backing into the ropes where Ambrose tags him  Reigns hits the Superman Punch and Ambrose comes off the ropes to hit the flying elbow.

Later, Ambrose takes a flying knee from Rollins.  A bit later, Ambrose sets up Dirty Deeds.  Rollins counters out, hitting an enzugiri.  Ambrose staggers backward into the ropes, then sets up his pendulum clothesline.  Rollins ducks and hooks him at the same time, looking for a move.  Ambrose turns it into a backslide and picks up the win.

Rollins is shocked, and protests to the official that it was only a two count.  JBL  puts over how he can’t believe this happened and hopes it doesn’t on Sunday.

Logical to have Ambrose go over on Rollins here.

The announcers hype a free month of WWE Network and also the Entourage stars appearing tonight.

Backstage, Renee interviews Dean Ambrose.  She congratulates him on his win and says he still has to sign the contract.  He says not to worry, and by the end of the night he will have a signed contract.  J&J Security appears and says they have the contract for him to sign.  Mercury pats himself down.  “Well slap my head and call me Sally, he forgot it.”

Ambrose laughs, calls Noble Sally, then slaps him.  The three men scrum, with Ambrose letting them lying.  Unfortunately, a camera man also got tagged.  Ambrose checks on him.  JBL points to it as a case of Ambrose being completely unstable and shouldn’t be the champion.

Cole switches gears to talk about the John Cena open challenge from last week.  He says there was no challenge but Cena had a run-in with Kevin Owens.  They run a video package highlighting Kevin Owens.  Back live, the announcers hype Cena vs. Owens for Elimination Chamber.

Here comes Rusev for the next match.  He’s no longer Russian, apparently as he brings the Bulgarian flag to the ring.  He will be in action, next.

They show the cast of Entourage getting out of a limo backstage.

Match #2 – Rusev vs. R-Truth

Back live, they show the Intercontinental Championship on a table at ringside.  R-Truth makes his entrance and gets a few early shots in, but Rusev locks Truth in the Accolade for the submission win.

Afterward, Rusev gets a mic.  “Lana!  Lana!  We need to talk.  Lana, can you please come to the ring, we need to talk.”  Rusev says he won’t leave until Lana shows up.  Back from break, Rusev is still pleading with Lana to come to the ring, breaking between Bulgarian and English.  Lana has her own entrance now and she comes to the ring.  Rusev holds the rope, but she uses the opposite corner.

“You asked me to come, I came.  Now I’m waiting.”  Rusev says he knows Lana cares despite her actions at Wrestlemania and mistaking his “I quit” at Payback and because she kissed Ziggler.  He says he knows why she’s doing all these things is to make him pay attention.  She says that all she has done is because she cares.  He says “I know you want to crush America and the American spirit as bad as you do.”  That draws a “USA” chant.

Rusev asks her to take his hand, and all will be forgotten.  “We can make America fall down before Rusev, and his Ravishing Lana.”  Booker says he’s lying.  The fans chant no.  Lana takes his hand and the fans boo, but Rusev and Lana hug.  Rusev and Lana pose in the ring.  Rusev says “all I need you to say is the three little words – the three magical words – ‘I was wrong’.”

Lana shoves him off and walks to the apron.  He says all she has to do is admit it was her fault.  “I was not wrong, you said ‘I quit’.”  Rusev says she’s a liar and she needs to know her place.  “I own you, so get back in here now.”  Lana gets back in the ring.

Lana gets in Rusev’s face.  “You’re a liar and a quitter.”  She says she won’t listen to his “cruel, caveman, brutish, thick headed, moronic mouth again.”   Lana leaves the ring.  Dolph Ziggler’s music hits and he makes his way to the stage.  He motions at Lana, then the two kiss.  Rusev flips out in the ring as Ziggler smiles with Lana.

The only woman who could have taken all of the steam off of Rusev better is Stephanie McMahon.  Was waiting for her to come out  and continue the abuse.

Backstage, Ambrose is sitting in his locker room when Triple H and Seth Rollins walk in.  “Let me guess, you two brought me my contract, or are we trying to do this the fun way.”  Hunter says there’s no fun in what’s about to happen.  In walks two officers and the cameraman from earlier.

Hunter asks him if this is the man who assaulted him earlier.  “Yes, but I could have sworn I felt a shove from my side.”  Rollins tells him to shut up, and says Hunter asked a question.  The man looks at the floor and says “yes.”  The officers arrest Ambrose and read him his rights.  As he’s led away, Ambrose says “I guess we’re going to do this the fun way.”  Hunter and Rollins laugh.

Back from break, Ambrose is led to a waiting police vehicle.  Rollins, J&J, and Kane mock Ambrose and say that he’s not good enough for jail and should be taken to the zoo.  As the vehicle drives off they laugh and celebrate.

Remember the Corporation days with Austin?  Yup, exact replay.  Yawn.  Fuck this booking.

Match #3 – Ryback vs. King Barrett

Barrett is in the ring already, eyeing up the title belt.  Ryback still has taped ribs.  Early on Ryback hits a Thesz Press and controls the offense.  He slams Barrett then teases the Meathook clothesline.  Barrett rolls out and Ryback gives chase.  Barrett takes a shot at Ryback’s ribs, then throws him into the barrier.  On the apron, Barrett runs Ryback into the corner then delivers shots across Ryback’s ribs as he lays on the buckle.

Barrett hits Winds of Change for a near fall.  He cues up the Bull Hammer, but Ryback’s not getting up.  Barrett bad mouths, and Ryback pops up.  He hits Shellshocked for the win.  Ryback plays to the fans, then looks at the Intercontinental Championship and chants “Feed Me More.”

Backstage, Triple H is on the phone.  He thanks whoever he’s speaking with then hangs up.  He tells Stephanie that Dean Ambrose is on his way to central booking and probably won’t make it back to sign the contract.  Stephanie says that Rollins won’t have an opponent.  In walks the cast of Entourage.  They share greetings

They ask if Ambrose will be on the show.  “Turtle” talks about getting his ass handed to him by Ronda Rousey and says Stephanie can relate.  He asks if her arm is okay and thought it might have gotten snapped in a couple places.  Stephanie didn’t care for the humor and sent them to their dressing room down the hall.

They run an ad for Steve Austin’s interview with Paul Heyman on June 1 after Raw.  They then show Tough Enough tryout videos.

Stardust is making his way to the ring back live.  He spies Steven Darnell at ringside (star in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and mocks him.  The two exchange words.  Neville makes his way to the ring for the next match.

Match #4 – Neville vs. Stardust

As Neville comes to the ring, they hype that Neville will face Bo Dallas at Elimination Chamber.  As the match starts, there’s NXT chants.  After some early jockeying, Stardust drapes Neville’s knee over the ropes.   He holds Neville up for a delay vertical suplex, then focuses on the knee.

Bo Dallas makes his way to the ring.  Neville starts to deliver shots, but Stardust attempts a belly to back suplex.  Neville sells the knee as he lands on his feet.  Stardust perches him on the ropes and tries a superplex.  Neville fights out then hits a tornado DDT.

Neville sets up the Red Arrow.  He delivers for the win.  Dallas gets in the ring and says “come on buddy, you can pick yourself back up.  All you have to do is Bo-Lieve!”  Dallas hits a low drop kick to the bad knee and leaves.  Dallas takes a victory lap.

Fine enough and got some hype on Dallas going into the match with Neville on Sunday.

Backstage the Entourage guys are talking about their faux-pas with Stephanie earlier.  They come across Divas, and start playing to them.  One of them is talking to Zack Ryder, which gets a mild pop from the hometown crowd.  He says “you gotta do it, bro, this is the last time WWE is going to be in the Coliseum.”  The others introduce him to the ladies, and Ryder says “really bro?”  The Entourage cast convenes with Ryder and tells the ladies they will see them later.

Dolph and Lana are shown, and he’s up next against Sheamus.

Back live, they show the history surrounding Seth Rollins and Money in the Bank.  They hype the Money in the Bank pay per view on June 14.

Match #5 – Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler

Ziggler is playing to fans and the announcers recap his history with Money in the Bank.  Sheamus comes to the ring next and the announcers hype that he has never held the Intercontinental Championship.

Sheamus controls the early going.  About 3 minutes in, Ziggler clotheslines Sheamus to the floor and both men tumble to ringside.  Ziggler tweaks his knee a bit and Sheamus hits a tilt-a-whirl slam on the floor.  Lana makes her way to the stage for a look at the action.  Sheamus yells “Are you not entertained!” as we go to break.

Later in the match, Ziggler hits a superkick for a near fall.  Rusev comes out.  He smiles as he passes Lana, but Ziggler sees him.  Ziggler hits a superkick, but the distraction lets Sheamus hit the Brogue Kick.  Sheamus wins.  Sheamus leaves the ring and eyes Rusev.  He motions toward the ring and Rusev gets in.  Lana heads to the ring.

Rusev eyes up Lana then knees Ziggler a couple times in the head.  Lana watches on stoically.  Ziggler starts to fight back, but Rusev cuts him off, stomps on him then locks him in the Accolade.  Rusev taunts Lana, yelling “kiss him now!”  He jumps out of the ring and walks away as Ziggler sells.

Fine enough again, but Sheamus and Ziggler have worked so often that I sort of checked out.  It’s not the guys in question – I like what both guys are doing, but the fact is that they’ve worked too often and it takes a lot off the match.

Cole moves right on to hyping the John Cena US Open Challenge, up next.

I wonder – Zack Ryder?

They recap last week’s US Open Challenge segment, where Kevin Owens interrupted John Cena and hit him with the pop up powerbomb.

The John Cena US Open Challenge:

Cena’s music hits and he makes his way out.  He says “apparently the remix is a popular song” as the fans sing “John Cena Sucks” along with his song.  Cena charges the ring as the announcers hype Owens vs. Cena at Elimination Chamber on Sunday.  They’re calling it “Champion vs. Champion.”

“For over ten years now, you, the WWE Universe, can be summed up in five words – Let’s Go Cena, Cena Sucks.”  He says there are fans who fight with him, and fight against him.  He pauses to listen to the various chants that solidify into “Let’s Go Cena, Cena Sucks.”

He addresses his supporters, saying they believe in what he believes in – hustle, loyalty, and respect.  He says that they believe that no matter the odds they never give up.  Over ten years they have shared in the agony of defeat and the triumph of victory.  “Most importantly…”  Cena waits out a “We want Ryder.” chant.  He says over ten years they have formed a bond that allows them to survive an atmosphere no matter how hostile.  He thanks those who support him.

He then addresses “the others” who chant “Cena sucks” among other things.  He asks why, and says that for ten years they have clamored for someone to knock him down and keep him down.  “Here is where the story gets difficult for those who chant Cena sucks.”  He says name after name has tried and failed.

He says he was forcefully introduced to “the newest hopeful” last week on Raw, referencing Kevin Owens.  He recounts Owens debuting, breaking the internet, then going to the NXT special and breaking Sami Zayn in half.  He says that those who chant Cena Sucks believe that Kevin Owens is the man to create change around here.

He says on Sunday they will be able to chant “Fight Owens Fight.”  He says for the first time you  might not hear “Let’s Go Cena – Cena Sucks” but you might hear “Let’s Go Cena – Fight Owens Fight.”  He says it doesn’t promise “Win Owens Win.”  He says Owens proved he knows how to start a fight, but let’s see if he can finish one.

He moves on to talking about Monday Night Raw, hyping the final WWE event in the Nassau County Coliseum.  He says it gives him great pride to put the US Championship on the line on Memorial Day.  He says Long Island is the place to be, and by looking at the hardware John Cena is still the man to beat.  “You want some, come get some.”

The cast of Entourage makes their way out.  Cena eyes them up then introduces them to a chorus of boos.  He tells them the challenge is open to anyone and asks who it will be.  One of them speaks up and says that as much as they would like to fulfill a childhood dream, they’re there to introduce a superstar, “a Long Island Boy, just like me,” Zack Ryder.

Match #6 – John Cena (c) vs. Zack Ryder; WWE United States Championship

Back live, the match gets underway.  The commentators talk about the history of Nassau Coliseum with the Nets and Islanders.  Ryder cues up the Broski Boot but Cena escapes.  Cena hits his shoulder blocks, the side slam, and sets up the Five Knuckle.  Someone on the movie cast gets in the ring and Cena turns to him.

Ryder uses the distraction to roll Cena up for two.  A bit later, Ryder hits the Unprettier for a two count.  He comes back with the Broski Boot for two, then hits the Rough Ryder for another two count.  Ryder goes up to the top and goes for a 450, but Cena rolls out of the way.  Cena hits the AA and picks up the win.

Cena gets the belt back, but hands it back to the official.  He helps Ryder up and raises his arm in the ring.  the two men play to the fans, then the movie cast gets in the ring and also plays to the fans.  Ryder and the movie cast exit and Cena plays to the fans a bit too.

Kevin Owens pops up through the fans.  He hits the ring and kicks Cena, throwing him off the rope and hitting the Pop Up Powerbomb again.  Owens stomps on the US Championship and poses with his belt.  The adult males cheer for Owens, the women and kids are silent.  Booker says Owens is good at taking the cheap shot but he’ll have to face Cena eye to eye on Sunday.  Owens struts up the ramp and poses with the belt again.

Ryder got his moment and it was fun for the hometown fans and I’m sure for him since it’s the last time in Nassau Coliseum for WWE.  They missed a chance to make some money with Ryder when he was hot and that’s a shame.  WWE beat us into submission with the way they handled him for him getting himself over.  The Owens angle was a simple rinse and repeat from last week.

Backstage, Stephanie says that Owens is impressive and it’s scary.  Rollins says that he is great, but no one should get ahead of themselves, because he’s still the present and future of WWE.    Renee Young asks for an update on Ambrose.  Stephanie says that he will have every opportunity to come to the ring and sign the contract by the end of the night.  Renee asks if it’s a formality because they had Ambrose arrested.

Rollins speaks up and says that Ambrose got himself arrested.  “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.”  At the announce table, Cole feeds it to a recap of the story through the night.

The Bella Twins’ music hits and they head to ringside for the next match.  Tamina will take on Paige in a one-on-one match.

Jobber entrance for Tamina, who is waiting in the ring.  Paige gets an entrance.  They recount Naomi and Tamina beating Nikki down before Paige made the save.  Paige then turned on Nikki and hit the RamPaige.  Cole hypes the three ladies facing off in a triple threat.  Nikki says she’s ready for it.

Match #7 – Paige vs. Tamina (w/Naomi)

Tamina throws some shots at Paige.  Cole talks about the counseling that Brie got sent to last week. Brie says Bryan is in good spirits and the counseling was good for her.  Tamina controls the offense on Paige in the early going while the announcers talk about Tamina and Naomi “taking over” the Divas division.

Paige fires up with strikes, and hits a kick off the ropes.  Naomi gets on the apron but because of the distraction Tamina ends up getting rolled up.   Paige hits a drop kick, then a senton off the apron to a nice reaction.  Coming back in, Tamina throws some shots.  Naomi backs Tamina off, and Naomi  hits a cheap shot.  Tamina hits a Samoan drop to get the win.  Booker says it reminds him of Twin Magic, and Nikki says it’s not as good.

Naomi and Tamina pose in the ring and the Bellas stand up, with Nikki holding the belt up.

The announcers hype Elimination Chamber and say the WWE Network is the only place you can see the event in the US.  Big E’s voice rings out and he says to not be sour and tells us to clap for the tag team champions.  Nassau greets them with “New Day Sucks” chants.  They’re up next.

Back live, the announcers hype The Rock’s new movie, San Andreas, and his moment at TCH Chinese Theater.  San Andreas opens May 29.

New Day complains about having to face five other teams in the Elimination Chamber.  Kofi says the fans don’t want to see it and the fans chant yes.  Big E says that even the fans in this decrepit old building that is about to be torn down can recognize champions.  They make fun of Long Island for losing their hockey team and calls them losers.

Kane comes out.  He says that all the teams have a 1 in 6 chance of winning, and that’s very fair.  What’s not fair is the match he books for him next.  He sets up New Day against the other competitors of the Elimination Chamber on Sunday.  Each team gets an entrance, then we go back to break again.

Match #8 – New Day vs. The Ascension, The Prime Time Players, Tyson Kidd and Cesaro (w/Natalya), Los Matadores (w/El Torito) and The Lucha Dragons; 10-on-3 Handicap Match

Woods is controlling Kalisto in the early going.  He talks trash at the other teams, and they jump the ring and mug him.  That’s the end of the match right there.  It breaks down into a full on brawl, with The Ascension hitting a double team move.  The teams end up out on the floor, and Lucha Dragons hit a big dive on the remaining men on the floor.  New Day climbs back in the ring to celebrate winning by DQ.

Tyson Kidd and Cesaro attack them, hitting their swing into kick move on Woods.  Kidd, Cesaro, and Natalya pose in the ring.

Cole again hypes Elimination Chamber, then sells a Daniel Bryan special airing on WWE Network tonight after Raw.  He feeds it to preview.

Miz TV will return on Sunday at Elimination Chamber, and his guest will be Daniel Bryan.  Cole feeds it to a recap of the segment where Ambrose accidentally roughed up the cameraman (by Rollins pushing the cameraman in the way) and shows the footage of another worker showing Rollins shoving the cameraman into the mix.

In-Ring Segment:

“King of Kings” hits again and here comes Triple H, Stephanie, Rollins, Kane, and J&J.  JBL tries to defend what Rollins did.  Rollins says what some idiot did with a cellphone doesn’t matter and Ambrose was justifiably arrested earlier tonight.  Rollins calls him a common thug and says he takes pride in the Lunatic Fringe nickname.

He says that it sometimes pays off, and it almost got him a shot at his championship.  Instead, he finds himself behind bars.  Stephanie gets on the mic (AAAHHH!) and

Roman Reigns’ music hits, and he makes his way to the ring.  He attacks Rollins, but it quickly turns into a five on one beatdown by J&J, Rollins and Kane on Reigns.  Reigns hits one Superman punch, but Kane chokeslams him.  Sirens ring out.

Dean Ambrose is driving the paddywagon from earlier, a la Stone Cold driving a Zamboni.  I know there’s nothing new in wrestling these days, but geez.  He drives the paddywagon out into the arena then gets out, wearing a cop jacket and hat.  He heads to the ring with billy clubs in hand and the fight is on.

He and Reigns work together to clear Kane and J&J out.  They each have clubs, so they take turns jabbing Rollins in the gut with them.  J&J and Kane hit the ring again, and Rollins escapes.  They scrum some more, with Reigns hitting a double spear on J&J.  Kane throws Reigns out, and Reigns hits him with a Superman punch at the ropes.  Ambrose hits a wobbly Kane with Dirty Deeds.

Reigns gets back in the ring with the contract, smiling.  Rollins, Vin…errr, Triple H, and Stephanie stand on the stage with disgust.  Reigns laughs and hands it to him.  JBL says “quick, end the show” but Ambrose signs.  He plays to the three of them as Rollins grabs his head in disgust.  Cole gives a final sell for Elimination Chamber as the show ends.

Well, all we needed there was Jim Ross yelling “STONE COLD! STONE COLD!  STONE COLD!” and a legitimately hot crowd.  Ambrose has a unique character that is fun and interesting and something I really like.  But they’re booking him in a way that is a total rehash of the Corporation angle from 1998.  This was just not inspiring at all.

This show killed my interest in Elimination Chamber.  Nothing felt important – it was “just okay” at best.  I thought the Owens/Cena angle was decent enough, but it was a repeat more than it was something fresh.  I think Elimination Chamber will be good, but this show didn’t do it any favors at all.

Drew and I will be getting together tomorrow night to talk Elimination Chamber, Raw, and everything else wrestling on Ring Rap Audio.  Be sure to comment, and ask your questions for discussion either in the comments, on Twitter @RingRap, or on our Facebook page.  Thanks for watching along tonight.


WWE Monday Night Raw Live Coverage for 5/18/2015 – Payback Fallout, Nikki Bella Defends the Divas Championship, John Cena’s Open Challenge, Stephanie McMahon Returns, and More

It’s the night after Payback, and all of the buzz on social media today seems to be about….Stephanie McMahon returning.  Steph has been away for about a month and now she will make her first appearance on Raw since Mania.  What does she have to say about the recent goings on?  Also, WWE is advertising that Nikki Bella will defend her Divas Championship against Naomi.  Naomi pinned her last night – will she be able to get the job done in a singles match?  Also, John Cena has promised that he will issue another open challenge on the fallout show last night.  Who will answer?

Show Open, Live from Richmond, VA at the Richmond Coliseum:

Editorial Note:  First hour is very much “Cliff’s Notes” version as I wipe the grease and dirt from my hands.  Truck show season is rapidly approaching.

Raw open hits, and Cole, JBL and Booker T check in on commentary.  Eden introduces Triple H and Stephanie to the ring, where there’s a table with what looks like a belt covered up on it.  Stephanie asks if the fans missed her.

Steph talks about being a winner, and says the fans can’t relate.  Seth Rollins, though, can as he beat three other men at Payback.  Hunter says that Rollins has proven to be everything they say he is.  They begin to address the belt on the table, and Stephanie asks for a drum roll.  She uncovers the Intercontinental Championship.

Stephanie mentions Daniel Bryan, which makes her pause for a “Yes!” chant.  Stephanie tells the fans that Bryan doesn’t own a television and “is picking berries or chopping wood or whatever it is that you do.”  She says Bryan has proven her right, having to give up two different championships because his body couldn’t hold up.  “How heartbreaking,” she mocks.

Hunter says they will crown a new IC champion who will be the most resilient and durable champion in history because the champion will be determined in Elimination Chamber.  The announcers mention the match briefly, with JBL saying he hates it because there is no part of the structure that doesn’t hurt.  Booker mentions that if he walked out, he felt like he won.  Hunter again sells how brutal and unforgiving the chamber is.  He say that six men will enter and one will leave as the new IC Champion.

Sheamus’ music hits and he makes his way to the ring.  He apologizes for interrupting, then responds to a “you look stupid” chant, saying that the fans have no taste.  Sheamus says there’s no need for the match, because he ended Bryan’s career.  They roll footage of his match with Bryan on Smackdown.  Sheamus basically asks the Authority to hand over the title to him.  Ryback’s music interrupts, and he comes to the ring.

Ryback’s ribs are taped to sell from last night.  He tells Sheamus he looks stupid, then says Bryan has more heart, determination and passion than Sheamus could ever have.  He waits out a “Yes” chant.  Stephanie makes a comment about predictability, but Ryback tells her “big guy has the microphone, big guy is talking, Steph.”  Ryback talks about how Bryan nearly ruined his body to become IC champion.

Ryback says that Sheamus likes picking on little guys, and challenges Sheamus to a match.  Before they come to blows, Stephanie says both men will be in the Chamber match.  Hunter says he likes the vibe and they will let the two men to fight.

When I heard Stephanie would be back on this show, I immediately thought “long talk segment to start the show.”  This wasn’t as long as I expected, but of course they had to trot her out there right from go.  She had some good lines, and Ryback did a nice job of standing up to her.  They did a decent job of making the IC Championship match feel important and got to the opening match logically.

Match #1 – Sheamus vs. Ryback:

Cole discusses the rules of Elimination Chamber.  Sheamus hits Ryback with a backbreaker.  Ryback shoves him off and yells “dammit!” as he rolls to ringside.  Sheamus follows and kicks him in the ribs.  After commercial, Ryback hits a powerbomb and sells his ribs.  He hits a spinebuster then sets up for his Meathook but Sheamus runs to ringside.  Ryback goes out after him, catches him and gorilla press slams him on the announce table.

In the ring, Ryback loads Shellshocked, but Sheamus throws a punch in the ribs and Ryback drops him.  Sheamus grabs his eye, and Ryback attacks.  The official pulls Ryback back, but Sheamus blasts him with the Brogue kick to get the win.  Sheamus sells the eye for a moment, then acts as if he recovered miraculously.

Right call to have Sheamus win.  He and Bray Wyatt could be those upper-tier heels with winning streaks that WWE needs right now.  Ryback has the out of Sheamus’ shenanigans and his ribs being hurt.

They show a graphic of the IC title match for the Elimination Chamber, with Sheamus and Ryback filled in and four open slots.  The announcers hype Seth Rollins’ “Architect of Dream” segment.

Backstage, Hunter and Stephanie praise Kane for what he did at Payback.  Kane says that he thinks Seth Rollins has grown up.  Seth enters with J&J Security to boast about his win and hand out champagne.

Dean Ambrose enters and tells Rollins they are tied at 1 win a piece against each other.  He say he will grant Rollins a rematch if he puts the title on the line.  Hunter and Stephanie exit, and Rollins asks if Ambrose has heard of the back of the line.  Kane backs up Rollins, and then Rollins leaves.

Ambrose tells Kane it’s sad to see him neutered and asks what Paul Bearer or his brother (The Undertaker) would think.  Ambrose calls Kane a glorified butler, which Kane doesn’t like.  He books Ambrose against Bray Wyatt.  “Okay.” And Ambrose takes a drink of Kane’s champagne.  He tells Kane he shouldn’t drink on the clock.

Looks like we’re going Ambrose vs. Rollins at Elimination Chamber.  I wonder if they somehow get Reigns in the picture, since he didn’t really lose either last night.  If they go Shield triple threat, they should save it for something like SummerSlam.

In-Ring Segment:

Renee Young interviews Neville.  Cole says that King Barrett wanted nothing of him at Payback in order to sell the count-out.  Booker says he would have done the same thing if he were Barrett.

Young asks Neville about his debut after Wrestlemania.  Neville says he’s been fortunate enough to compete all over the world, but nothing compares to being in WWE.  He says he’s not the biggest guy and has his share of doubters, but he enjoys proving the doubters wrong.  He says when he flies through the air, he is ten feet tall and invincible.

Young asks him about going from NXT Champion to main roster but Bo Dallas interrupts.  He talks as he comes to the ring, and Neville points out that he beat Bo to start his record breaking NXT Championship run.  Bo attacks Neville at the knee, and Neville catches Bo with a kick to send him to the floor.

King Barrett’s music hits and he comes to the ring for a match.

Match #2 – Neville vs. King Barrett:

Bo sits in on commentary and complains about how he was trying to help Neville.  Barret controls the offense, working Neville’s knee.  After break, Barrett stays on offense and works over the knee.  Neville tries to hit a suplex but sells his knee buckling.  He tries a springboard and does the same.  Barrett hits the Bull Hammer for the win.  Afterward, Dallas gets in the ring, smiles at Barrett, then attacks Neville by going after the knee.  He wraps it around the ring post a couple times.

Dallas in the IC match?  Possible.  At least he got rid of the scraggly goatee.

They acknowledge that Titus O’Neil won the Mega Dad of the Year award.

In-Ring Segment:

Rusev comes to the ring to cut a promo, without Lana.  He tells the fans that there is no Lana, and she needs to learn her place.  The fans chant for her and he yells “There is no Lana, shut up.”  Rusev says he crushed John Cena to the point that he passed out.

“And then Lana quit.  Lana quit because she’s weak.”  Rusev demands that Cena come out and the Authority come out to restart the match from last night.

Lana comes to the ring, and Rusev chastises her for disobeying.  She says that Rusev is misunderstood and she believes in him.  She talks about their history, saying she has been with him every step of the way and believed that Rusev could be the man to make John Cena say “I quit.”  She says it didn’t happen.  She says that she quit because she cares for Rusev.  Lana says that she did the right thing “for you, and the right thing for us.”

Lana says that Rusev was screaming “I quit” in Bulgarian, which draws “you quit.” chants from the live crowd.  Rusev calls Lana weak, and says she makes him weak.  He tells her to go back to where she came from and get out of the ring.  Rusev yells at her in Bulgarian or Russian as she leaves, and Cole calls Rusev a horrible human being.  JBL says Rusev needed to cut the deadwood.

This angle was good, but the announcers and show format did nothing to help it.  This is a perfect time for heel JBL to say that heel Rusev went too far and act outraged by what he saw.  Also, they really should have gone to break and let the impact of this moment sink in but instead they rushed on to the next thing.

The announcers move on to talking about the Payback main event, and Dean Ambrose makes his entrance for the next match.

Match #3 – Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt:

Wyatt controls early on.  I’m eating dinner, and it’s really good.  Anyhow.

Ambrose starts a comeback after break, and sets up a suicide dive.  Wyatt punches him and hits a suplex from ring to floor going to break again.  A bit later, Wyatt and Ambrose exchange punches, then Ambrose hits Wyatt with a running cross body block.  He follows with punches and a  bulldog.

Wyatt charges, but tumbles to ringside when Ambrose holds the top rope down.  Ambrose hits a suicide dive, and the announcers make some comment about Wyatt trying to counter.  In the ring, Wyatt and Ambrose jockey for position and tease finish sequences.  Ambrose tries his running clothesline but Wyatt connects with one of his own for two.

Ambrose slaps Wyatt, and Wyatt fires back.  Ambrose leans into the ropes and hits his clothesline.  Ambrose slams the mat after getting two, then gets Wyatt on the ropes for a superplex.  Wyatt fights him off and knocks him down.  Wyatt tries a second rope senton, but Ambrose rolls away.

Ambrose goes top rope, but J&J Security runs out.  Mercury distracts the official, Noble shoves Ambrose off the ropes.  Ambrose lands on his feet but goes right into Sister Abigail and Wyatt gets the win.  J&J celebrates with Seth Rollins on the stage.

Good match, logical finish to protect Ambrose and give Wyatt the win.  Looks like Ambrose is heading to a match with Rollins, so you want to protect him.

The announcers hype up the Divas Championship, the Tag Team Championship match, and the US Open Challenge with John Cena.

Nice hook to keep viewers locked on the show by holding the title matches for the later part of the show.  And they’ve given some consistent hype to the matches, so that should keep people interested.

The announcers set up the Tough Enough hype, showing entry videos.  A graphic shows Hulk Hogan, Chris Jericho, Booker T, Paige, Daniel Bryan, Lita, Billy Gunn, and Daniel Bryan being part of the show.

Match #4 – Big E and Kofi Kingston of New Day (c) vs. Tyson Kidd and Cesaro (w/Natalya); WWE Tag Team Championship

Xavier Woods got barred from ringside for his action last night.  Kingston calls it a “trumped up controversy” that got him banned.  Big E says the fans are “simple, illiterate people in this backwater state.”  Kingston says they will persevere through the power of positivity.  Early on, Big E gets held up in a vertical suplex.  Kidd hits a clunky hurancanrana on Big E as we go to break.

Kidd fires up and hits a cool clothesline spot, and locks in the Sharpshooter.  Big E breaks it up, so Cesaro and E trade punches.  All hell breaks loose with E tossing Cesaro to the floor.  Kofi and E beat up Kidd in the corner, so the official calls for the bell.

Kidd and Cesaro hold their own in the post match scrum until Xavier Woods comes out to help.  The Lucha Dragons run out and start beating on whatever moves.  Los Matadores, The Ascension, and The Prime Time Players also run out.  The Players clear the ring, then the Dragons dive on the remaining teams.  The Players drag Woods in the ring and rough him up.  Cole says the teams will be participating in the Elimination Chamber tag match.

The match seems to have been a no contest – c’mon, gimme a result.  The run-ins were a big hit with the live crowd it seemed.  I would liked to have seen Harper and Rowan involved here, but I guess if there’s no plan to put the title on them, no sense running them out there.

Cole hypes up Cena’s Open Challenge for next.  He also hypes the return of Roman Reigns for Smackdown.

John Cena’s US Open Challenge:

John Cena comes to the ring, and the fans chant USA.  He leads them in another round of chants.  Cena talks about how proud he is as an American, and points out some military members and says that they make the US Championship different.  “This is our championship, and the champ is here.”  Cena says it’s time to give the competition an opportunity.  “Richmond is the place to be, John Cena is still the man to beat, and the John Cena US Championship Open starts…now.  You want some, come get some.”

Kevin Owens’ music hits, and Richmond pops for him.  He has the NXT Championship on his shoulder.  Cole talks about Owens being self-centered, vulgar, cold, and vile as he makes his way to the ring.

“Hello John,” Owens says.  He congratulates Cena on his win at Payback, calling it impressive.  He says he would introduce himself, but Cena knows who he is.  He says if people otu there don’t know, then they aren’t worth his time in the first place.

Cena stops him  and says they have to do it right.  “NXT Champion, Kevin Owens.”  Owens thanks him and says it was nice.  Owens brings up Sami Zayn, saying that Zayn was injured going into the match against Cena, and he knows that because he was the one that injured Zayn.  Owens talks about the live NXT Takeover event on Wednesday and says he will finish what he started.

Cena calls it a fine speech but Owens has a lot to learn.  He tells Owens to listen closely, and says some of the people don’t know him but not a single person there should be called a waste of time.  Cena goes preacher man node and says without all of them, there is no Owens, no Raw, and no WWE.  “This is why we are here.”

Cena offers Owens “veteran advice” but Owens cuts him off.  He says “I may not have been in WWE, but I  have been doing this longer than you, so you don’t get to give me advice.”  Cena talks about Zayn again, saying he blew his shoulder up but fired up and gave his best shot.  He says he doesn’t see the same fire in Owens’ eyes.  He calls Owens a scared boy about to crap his pants after realizing he bit off more than he can chew.

Cena tells Owens that the US Championship Open is still open, and if he wants some to come get some.  Owens says he’s a prize fighter and he already has a prize in the NXT Championship.  “When it comes to your little US Open Challenge, my answer is no.  But trust me, you and I, we are going to fight some day, but it’s going to be on my terms, not yours.”

Owens starts to tell Cena that if he thinks he has him all figured out…then turns and boots Cena in the gut.  He throws Cena off the ropes and hits the pop up powerbomb on Cena.  He holds up both title belts, them drops the US Title and steps on it while posing over Cena and holding up the US Championship.

I thought for a moment that they would have Owens put on a game performance and lose here, but that doesn’t make much sense.  A good talking segment that got heat on Owens for what he did, and made a lot of casual viewers familiar with Owens in a hurry.  Great first impression for the NXT Champion.

They run footage of Daniel Bryan surrendering the IC Title again.  They update the match participants now, which are Sheamus, R-Truth, Rusev, Ryback, and King Barrett.  The last entrant will be named later.

Putting the IC Championship on Rusev is a good bounce back move.  I think they put it on Sheamus though, personally.  Why is R-Truth in this match?

Match #5 – Dolph Ziggler vs. Stardust:

The announcers point out the stitches that Ziggler got as a result of his match with Sheamus last night.  Stardust points at his eye as a threat to Ziggler.  Dolph fights out of Stardust setting up his finish and hits the Zig Zag to win.

Afterward, Cole asks Ziggler how he’s feeling.  Ziggler talks about the stitches, saying it’s the NHL Playoffs and chicks dig scars.  Not much hockey love in Richmond, I don’t think.  Anyhow, Cole tells him he is the last man in the IC Championship match at Elimination Chamber.  Ziggler says it’s about time.

Ziggler says he will take on all comers if he wins the championship.  Speaking of all comers, here comes Lana.  The fans chant for her, and she smiles.  She pulls Ziggler in and kisses him.  The fans cheer, Ziggler and Lana smile, and the fans chant “one more time.”  Lana obliges.

Rusev storms out.  Booker says that someone will die.  Rusev gets in the ring and yells at Lana.  Lana slaps Rusev, and he’s not happy about this.  Rusev gets all bug-eyed like he plans to attack her, but Ziggler hits him with the Zig Zag.  Ziggler escorts Lana backstage.

I suppose they could turn this into an angle where Lana sucks in Ziggler like this to have her turn and help Rusev win the title at Elimination Chamber.  Then again, we said these same kinds of things about the match last night with Cena, and none of it happened.

Backstage, Kane barks orders about wanting something sparkling.  He sees Adam Rose and Rosa Mendes making out, because love is in the air on this show tonight.  He shakes his head and walks off.

Match #6 – Erick Rowan and Luke Harper vs. Fandango and Zack Ryder:

Harper and Rowan control this early.  There’s a brief chant for Ryder that Cole points out.  Ryder checks in but immediately eats a superkick and lands in Rowan’s slam.  Ryder takes the loss.

Backstage, the Bellas are walking down a hall when Stephanie shows up and applauds.  She wishes Nikki luck in her match, then tells Brie she is sincere in wishing Daniel Bryan the best.  She says that the health and well being of the superstars is of utmost importance to the Authority, so she sets Brie up with some counseling.  She says she doesn’t think that Brie should accompany Nikki to ringside.  The Bellas sell frustration, and the rest of us change the channel.

They show still shots of the Divas tag match from Payback before the next match.

Match #7 – Nikki Bella (c) vs. Naomi (w/Tamina); WWE Divas Championship:

Cole immediately points out that if Brie is banned from ringside, why isn’t Tamina.  Picture in picture promo from Naomi asks why the people are so behind the Bellas.  Tamina says the division belongs to the two of them now.  Eden handles the in-ring introductions.  The fans actually do respond to Nikki’s early offense, clearing Naomi from the ring.  Nikki hits a dive on Tamina and Naomi going to break.

Out of the break, the trainer is tending to Tamina.  Nikki finally mounts a comeback and takes control of the match.  She gets Naomi up for the Rack Attack but Tamina hits the ring and lands a superkick to cause a DQ.  The duo beat up on Nikki until Paige runs out for the save.  She hits clotheslines on the heels, then superkicks Naomi.  Paige grabs the belt and poses, then smiles at Nikki.  She grabs Nikki and hits her with the RamPaige and poses with the belt some more.

They recount Kevin Owens interrupting John Cena’s Open Challenge earlier in the night, and hitting him with the pop-up powerbomb.  They show Owens talking to Triple H, who pats him on the shoulder to congratulate him and walks away.

Renee Young gets a word with Kevin Owens.  She talks to him about attacking Cena, then saw him talking to the Authority.   He says that he would face Cena on his terms, and the Authority agrees.  He says that in two weeks at Elimination Chamber, he will go one on one with John Cena.  “And Renee, the champ isn’t there…the champ, is, here.”

Wow.  Owens on a roll right now.  I have no idea how they’ll book it, or if it’s a US Championship match, but I just hope it comes off with Owens looking good.  Always a concern going up against Cena.  The Elimination Chamber card looks fun, suddenly.

“The Architect of a Dream” Segment:

Stephanie McMahon, Triple H and Kane all are in the ring.  Stephanie gives the big over the top introduction for Seth Rollins, who comes out in a suit and is flanked by J&J Security.  Hunter tells Rollins he got the goosebumps when Rollins delivered the Pedigree on Randy Orton to retain the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.  Hunter tells Rollins the Authority was there for him.

Hunter says that the members of the Authority want to say a few words about Rollins.  Kane asks where he could possibly begin.  He says they haven’t seen eye to eye, “but what do you expect, I’m a foot taller than you.”  Kane says he’s kidding and says they wouldn’t be out there without each other.  Kane says he is happy that Rollins is still the champion, and he is best for business.

“That’s all you have to say?  There’s nothing else you’d like to say to me, Kane?”  Kane thanks Rollins for saving his job and sets up a video package that shows how sincere the Big Corporate Monster really feels.  After the video package, Jamie Noble talks about the cream rising to the top and says it’s an honor to protect Rollins and the most important title anyone can hold in WWE.  Mercury is too choked up to say anything.

Dean Ambrose’s music hits and he heads out.  Stephanie says he has a lot of nerve coming to the ring.  Ambrose apologizes for being late but was trying to find the perfect Justin Bieber outfit for Rollins.  That draws a Justin Bieber chant.  He says he is giving Rollins another shot at facing him in a title match.

Rollins tells Ambrose he’s dreaming if he thinks he is getting another shot.  He, Roman Reigns and Randy Orton are at the back of the line now.  Ambrose says  he’s a line jumper and he wants his shot, or else.  Stephanie asks who Ambrose thinks he is to enter the ring and make demands.

Stephanie says Rollins is a fighting champion who won’t be intimidated by threats.  “Seth, get him.”  Rollins looks shocked but Triple H assures him.  Rollins takes his jacket off, and Ambrose jumps.  He gets the better of Rollins but J&J jump him from behind.  Rollins and Ambrose fight to ringside.  Ambrose suplexes Rollins then takes out Security.

Ambrose backdrops Rollins on the table, then Rollins flips over and slams his head off the barrier.  Ambrose reveals a stack of cinder blocks.  He puts Rollins on them, then puts his foot on him while holding a chair.  Stephanie pleads with Ambrose to let him go, then gives him the title match.  Ambrose winds up for a chair shot, but Mercury grabs the chair.  Ambrose roughs up security while Rollins crawls off.  Ambrose chases Rollins into the ring, but J&J gets back involved again.  Ambrose clears them out.

Kane tries to choke slam Ambrose, but he slips out and hits his big clothesline.  Ambrose tries for Dirty Deeds, but Rollins jumps him and hits the Pedigree to put Ambrose down.  Rollins poses with the belt and talks smack to end the show.

Quick thoughts on the whole show – this was good, even admitting my sole focus was not as laser sharp on the show as normal.  There wasn’t a lot of filler – WWE came out with purpose because of the Elimination Chamber special in two weeks and they got to some newsworthy announcements for that show.  Kevin Owens showing up was the moment of the night.

This closing segment did nothing for me in terms of Ambrose vs. Rollins, but the two have a history of strong matches so I’m not concerned about it.  WWE did what they needed to do to put eyes on Elimination Chamber in two weeks in one night – so kudos to them.

Drew and I will talk Raw, Elimination Chamber, Payback, Kevin Owens, and NXT Takeover:Unstoppable tomorrow night on Ring Rap Audio.  Got questions or thoughts of your own?  Be sure to hit us up with them either here, on our Facebook page, or on Twitter @RingRap.  Thanks for watching along tonight.