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.
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.
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.