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

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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 (incompetech.com)

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 ProWrestling.net.

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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 Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes Dead at Age 69

Dusty Rhodes (real name Virgil Runnels), a WWE Hall of Famer and multiple time World Heavyweight Champion, has passed away according to an announcement on WWE.com.

“The American Dream” became a hero to fans with his work ethic and passionate promos.  His “Hard Times” promo from his days in the NWA and Jim Crockett Promotions still is referenced today.  Rhodes was extremely charismatic and built a legend both in the ring and as a booker.

Triple H took to Twitter to address Rhodes’ passing with a simple tweet:

There is no listing of the cause of death at this time.  Rhodes is the father to two current WWE talents – Goldust (a.k.a. Dustin Runnels) and Stardust (a.k.a. Cody Runnels).

Our sincere condolences to the family, friends and fans of Dusty Rhodes in this time of loss.  The “Hard Times” promo is below in tribute.


WWE Monday Night Raw “Delay Live” Report for 6/8/2015 – Money in the Bank Go Home Show, John Cena and Kevin Owens Face Off, MITB Match Opponents Compete, and More

As noted on our Facebook page earlier, tonight’s Raw coverage is “delay live,” as I am running in 10 different directions and Drew is without cable at the moment.  So, we’ll open with Cliff’s Notes version, and move to more details from there.  As always, we are looking for additional writers to help us so that nights like this don’t have to happen – so if you have interest, shoot us an email (dkoscelek@ring-rap.com or bwentz@ring-rap.com) and let us know.

Tonight’s Raw is the go-home show for Sunday’s Money in the Bank event, where the winner of that match will have the opportunity to cash in a contract any time, any place for a WWE World Heavyweight Championship opportunity.  John Cena will face Kevin Owens again that night as well, in a match WWE is hyping as a “much awaited rematch.”  Will Owens have Cena’s number again, or will Cena overcome?

Show Open, Live from Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, LA

Cole welcomes us to the show, and John Cena’s music hits.  He gets the normal mixed reaction, and his schnozz is broken.  Cole points that out and says he’s still on the show tonight.  JBL and Byron Saxton are with him tonight as Booker T is getting ready for Tough Enough.

Cena cuts a promo, saying his rematch with Kevin Owens is the most anticipated in WWE history.  He calls Owens’ debut at Elimination Chamber impressive and thinks he’s full of crap.  Cena says Owens is fighting to prove “my time is up and his time is now” but Cena says he’s just getting started.

Cena says he even fights for the fans who say he sucks, then soaks in the reaction.  He says even the cold hearted fans know that there is no safer bet on Sunday than him, and Cena will remind fans he is the standard bearer and “the face that runs the place.”  Owens’ music hits and he comes out to the stage.  Owens says Cena is proving his point and calls him delusional.  He says Cena is delusional if he thinks he can defeat Owens on Sunday and if he thinks people want to see him issue an open challenge to start the show.

Owens says people have been watching Cena open Raw for ten years “and I think they’re all a little tired of it to be honest.”  Owens says he wants to give the fans something different – an NXT Title Open Challenge.  Cena calls it a hell of an idea and sells it as the first time the NXT title would be contested on Raw.

Cena accepts the challenge but Owens calls him delusional again. He tells Cena they will fight on Sunday, so he can’t fight him tonight.  Cena calls himself the man to beat and says the John Cena US Open Challenge starts… “wait for it…now.”  Cena tells Owens if he wants some, to come get some.  Owens says he will ignore all of that and instead allow the next man down the ramp to choose which title he will go after.

Neville’s music hits and he comes to the ring.  He says he has fought for the US Championship before and would love another crack at Cena some day.  He says that Owens has disrespected and insulted wrestlers since he won the NXT Championship.  “John, you know what I’m here to do.  I’m here to beat Owens for the NXT Championship.”  Cole hypes the match for after the break, and Cena will be on commentary.

I liked this, and it had a nice cliffhanger to it knowing how good Owens vs. Neville can be.  Cena is showing good confidence, which sends the right message to his fans but also to those who don’t like him so much.  It’s the whole “overconfident” thing where it’s a sign he loses on Sunday.

Match #1 – Kevin Owens vs. Neville; NXT Championship:

Lilian gives us the introductions.  Neville hits a big dive over the ropes early on.  Owens hits a cannonball a bit later.  On commentary Cole asks Cena what happens if he loses again.  Cena says that it would be hard to not believe Owens’ words and that Owens shocked him and the world at Elimination Chamber.

Cena talks about Owens rejecting his veteran advice because he’s been working for 16 years.  Cena talks about minor league home run king Hector Espino and says that people talk about Babe Ruth because he was in the majors.  Owens throws Neville over the top rope going to a commercial.  After break, Owens catches Neville off a springboard and tries to load his version of the AA, but Neville counters to a DDT.  Owens picks Neville up for a suplex but instead brings him down on his knee head first for two.

Neville hits a suplex into a bridge, then goes up top but gets cut off.  Neville hits a kick and teases the Red Arrow but Owens moves.  Neville lands feet first and hits a kick, then tries to go up top again.  Owens knocks him off then hits the pop-up powerbomb for the win.  Cena applauds and JBL asks Cena if he can beat Owens.  Cena says that’s why people will tune in to find out.  Owens opens the ropes, Cena gets in the ring, but Owens ducks him to boos.

I liked everything about this opening of Raw.  Fresh blood, no 25 minutes of Authority yakking, and a very entertaining match.  Neville lost nothing in the very competitive affair that probably most assumed Owens was going over in.  Cena laid some of his commentary on a bit thick by calling the match “the most highly anticipated rematch in WWE History.”  That said, he did a good job of selling it overall.  Refreshing.

Cole boasts about Twitter followers.

Backstage, Seth Rollins whines to Triple H and Stephanie about Dean Ambrose having his title.  They were still upset with him over last week’s actions, and recall him saying he doesn’t need their help.  They said they would watch Seth Rollins’ match tonight and allow him to pick his opponent for the match.

The announcers talk about the Divas Title match from last week, and also air footage from Smackdown where Paige says if you don’t like the world you live in, you have the power to change it.

Backstage, Renee Young interviews Nikki Bella.  She says Paige is projecting her frustrations onto her and Brie.  She says she has taken on all comers and tonight would face Summer Rae.  She says Paige is getting another shot at the title, and while she might not like the world she lives in, but it’s not for lack of opportunity.  She says that Paige lives in the Bellas’ world.

Make up my mind – heel, or face?  Or just crazy catty bitches.  These dynamics are so confusing it’s easy to tune the division out.

Cole hypes the amount of entrants they got for Tough Enough and says the list is down to 40 finalists.  They show ten, but the other 30 will be shown later.

Match #2 – Nikki Bella vs. Summer Rae; Non-Title Match

Brie not with Nikki for this one.  It didn’t last long anyhow as Nikki hit the Rack Attack to win.  Hooray Tits and Ass finishers.  Paige watched backstage on a monitor and Cole hypes their match for Sunday.

Still no clue as to who is heel and who is face, and still don’t care.  Kevin Eck blogged about the WWE’s creative use of women, and you’d think that would have spurred change but it didn’t.  Sigh.

In-Ring Segment:

Roman Reigns comes to the ring.  “Hit hard, hit often” is on his t-shirt.  Reigns looks at the MITB briefcase above the ring and says there was time when he hated it, the contract, and everything it stood for.  He says it’s not so bad now that it’s connected to Seth Rollins.  He says the day will come when he cashes in against Dean Ambrose, who will win the title Sunday.

Kane’s music hits and he comes out.  He says everyone else in the match has a better chance to win than Reigns.  Why?  Because Authority, dammit!  He talks about chokeslamming Reigns on Smackdown, and says The Authority put him in the match to protect their interests.  Why?  Because Authority, dammit!  He says his job is to win and no one is better for that job.  Reigns tells Kane he has a job for him and asks him to come to the ring and help him show New Orleans how to break jaws.  Why?  Because hit hard, that’s why!

Dolph Ziggler interrupts and says Kane is a puppet on a corporate string.  Ziggler plugs his comedy set at the Comedy Store, brags about a hot lady at his side, realizes Rusev will kick his ass for said hot lady (that really didn’t happen) and says he will win MITB on Sunday.  Hate to say it, but New Orleans didn’t give a DAMN about this.  Nor did Ron Simmons.

Kane goes to say something but “What’s UP!” hits.  R-Truth asks the crowd what’s up, and then says he conquers his fear of ladders on Sunday.  Kane asks Truth why he’s there.  Why?  Because mid-card for life, dammit!  Truth says he’s talking about what he will do in the match Sunday.

Kane tells him he’s not in the match.  Sad panda.  “I’m not?  You sure?”  Kane says he’s positive, so Truth says it’s on him and he’s sorry.  Yeah, he is sorry…more ways than one.  Truth apologizes and exits, Reigns and Ziggler laugh.

Kane starts talking again but here comes New Day.  Clap to glory, boys!  The three of them talk until Sheamus shows up.  He says the fact that any of the men think they’ll win makes him smile.  Sheamus continues to cut a promo about the match.  Once he’s done, Kane asks if anyone else and notes Neville is in the match.

Kane cues up Randy Orton’s music so we all can hear voices in our heads.  Orton comes to the ring and he’ll face Sheamus, next.

Wow did that die…a LOT.  I lost my interest in MITB over that one.  The individual matches yet to come might change my mind though.

They hype Smackdown with nothing in particular then run footage of Orton vs. Sheamus from last week.

Match #3 – Randy Orton vs. Sheamus:

Not much crowd reaction other than a brief “Randy” chant during this.  Late, Orton hits the hanging DDT that pops the crowd. Orton’s hearing voices and coils for the RKO, but Sheamus shove his way out.  Sheamus tries the Brogue Kick but Orton ducks.  A chair comes into play, and that causes a DQ.  Orton wears Sheamus out with the chair, throws him on the announce table, then into the ring steps.  He continues to assault Sheamus then hits the RKO in the ring.

WWE doesn’t listen to the crowd here at all.  Fans don’t want to see this match any more as it’s overexposed.  The fans perked up for Orton’s spots, but reaction is genuinely negative because we see these two so often.  It’s not that the matches are bad.

They show Dean Ambrose riding a mechanical bull while wearing the WWE Championship.  Why?  Because Lunatic Fringe, DAMMIT!

OK, I’ll try to stop that line…

Backstage, Seth Rollins is checking out nude pics on his Instagram account when J&J Security enter.  Noble says that people say a lot of stuff when they’re mad, and Noble says that Joey forgave him and they will be happy to stand in his corner on Sunday.  Rollins gets indignant and says he made them relevant.  He calls them the biggest morons in WWE history and say he never needed them.

“Screw you,” Noble says. He compares he and Mercury to Ambrose and Reigns and calls the three of them Shield 2.0.  Noble says that it’s because of them Rollins is champion and he wouldn’t last a minute without the Authority.  Rollins picks them as his handicap match opponent, then slaps Noble.  Noble slaps back and Mercury says they had Rollins’ back since day one but would kick his ass later.

While mildly interesting, this is awkward.  It’s happening too soon.  And truthfully – given how this went down with Orton before, I sense a swerve somehow.

More social media gloating from WWE over their number of followers.

Hey, I have only 100 or so on Twitter.  You should follow me.  Better yet, ask me questions about pro wrestling for tomorrow’s Around the Ring podcast! @Bill_SoonerFan.

Match #4 – Dolph Ziggler vs. Kane:

Jobber entrances for these two jobbers.  Lana watches from ringside.  Kane hits a big boot for a near fall about five minutes in.  Late, Rusev comes out on crutches to talk to Lana.  He yells at her, and she falls off the entrance ramp.  The distraction for Dolph leads to Kane hitting a chokeslam for the win.  Rusev smiles and laughs, jawing at Lana.  She’s being checked out by trainers – and not in a naughty way.  Lana tells the official she’s not alright.

No trains out there by the entrance.  That’s a good thing, right Mickie James?

They show more pictures of Ambrose around New Orleans.  Noble and Mercury talk about how overconfident Rollins is.  JBL hypes Miz TV for after the break, featuring Big Show and Ryback.

They show more Tough Enough entrants.  MMA fighters and underwear models seem to be the flavor of the night.  As are some hot women…ok, enough.

Backstage, Ziggler is a complete gentleman and puts his jacket on Lana as she gets her ankle worked on.

Miz TV:

They start with a recap of the segment with him, Ryback and Big Show from last week.  Ryback comes out after the video clop and says he’s there to wake fans up who are bored by Miz.  Tough task, Big Guy.  Ryback says he was robbed of hitting Miz with the meathook and taking his face off.  Miz takes exception, but Ryback tells him Miz tells his credentials too  many times.

Miz calls Ryback ugly and says he doesn’t understand what it’s like to have a good looking face.  So, Miz, you do?  Miz says Ryback should be furious with Big Show for depriving him of a match against Miz.  Big Show’s music hits and everyone sits on their hands more than they already are.

Miz is intimidated by Show and gives up his chair.  Show says Miz is the one tag partner he had that he immediately hated.  The “What” chant comes back for Show, and he responds like Austin would but adds that some things never change.  Austin’s worst gift to wrestling is that damn “What” chant.

Ryback stands up and says if Show wants the title, it’s right here – holding up the belt.  Show says Ryback is trying to put a positive spin on things, but Ryback can’t stop Show from having fun (inside joke from “The Mark Remark” on YouTube…look it up, worthwhile).  Show says he will beat Ryback, and Miz stirs the pot.  Show tells Miz he will shut his mouth permanently if he opens it again.

Miz hits Show with a mic, then Show clears both men.  Ryback comes back in the ring and hits Show with Shellshocked.

They needed to save that spot.  Make people pay to see Show get hit with a move like that. 

God, even on fast forward this show is long…ugh!

The announcers set up a recap of the goings on with J&J Security and Seth Rollins melting down.  More Ambrose pics around New Orleans too.

Match #5 – Luke Harper and Erick Rowan vs. Los Matadores (w/El Torito):

This doesn’t last long, as Harper and Rowan hit the 3D to get the win.  JBL calls it “The Way” though.  Harper gets the mic and says “Tick tock” a few times.  He says the time to pay for your sins is coming.  The judgment is waiting at your door.  Rowan says it’s okay to be afraid.  “You should be.”

Please tell me this points to a reunion of the Wyatt family?

Backstage, Rollins tells Kane he doesn’t need luck because he’s the champion.  Kane says he sees this one of two ways.  He says Rollins could pull off a miracle and beat Ambrose, then come face to face with Kane when he wins MITB.  Kane says the title will stay in the Authority.  Why?  Because…well, you know.

Kane says the alternative is that Ambrose beats Rollins and Kane cashes in.  Rollins says he needs no help to beat Ambrose.  He says he expects Ambrose to show up later and will make an example out of him and J&J Security.  Rollins dares Kane to cash in on him.  Kane tells Rollins he will be in J&J Security’s corner for the handicap match.

Cole again boasts about half a billion Twitter followers.  Ambrose is shown holding a ticket for Raw.

They show more Tough Enough contestants, then set up a clip for the movie “Ted 2” that has zero to do with pro wrestling.

Match #6 – Titus O’Neil (w/Darren Young) vs. Big E (New Day, with Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods):

Big E controls the early going but Titus comes back by tossing Big E across the ring.  There’s this really clumsy spot where Titus tries to catch Big E and then improvises by driving him to the corner.  Worked out better than expected.  New Day causes a distraction that lets Big E hit the Big Ending to get the win.

Afterward, New Day celebrates until Roman Reigns’ music hits for the next match.  Reigns makes his way through the crowd for the next match, against Kofi Kingston.

Odd place to have a loss for the Players.  Bet they get it back on Smackdown.

R-Truth vs. King Barrett will take place on the Money in the Bank Kickoff Show.

We should – barring a major issue – have on-time live coverage of Money in the Bank on Sunday.

Match #7 – Roman Reigns vs. Kofi Kingston (w/Big E and Xavier Woods of New Day):

Kingston gets the early offense run while Woods preaches positivity.  Reigns starts to dominate Kofi at ringside.  Reigns hits Woods out on the floor, but the distraction lets Kofi hit Reigns with a kick through the ropes going to commercial.

Back live, Reigns hits a pumphandle slam then another slam.  Kofi kicks out twice.  It wasn’t a finisher so it’s all good.  Reigns sells not being able to put Kofi away.  Reigns sets up the Superman Punch but Big E sticks his nose in things.  Xavier Woods runs in but Reigns sees him.  Woods runs and Kofi rolls Reigns up for two.  Kingston goes top rope but eats a Superman punch from Reigns, and Reigns wins.

The slow-mo was great here – Kofi kept the expression the entire time right into the punch.  I thought this would be a simple squash but Kofi got lots of offense in.  Might be too little too late to get people thinking Kofi could win MITB.

Reigns stays at ringside, and here comes that whacky Dean Ambrose, with popcorn, soda, and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship belt.  What a kidder he is.  Ambrose joins Reigns at ringside, showing off his ticket.  Backstage, Triple H and Stephanie are with Seth Rollins, who seems like he wants to say something.  Instead, he leaves and Stephanie smiles at Hunter.

They show the final ten Tough Enough entrants.

Match #8 – Seth Rollins vs. Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury (w/Kane):

Roman Reigns has vanished.  Early, Kane distracts the official which lets J&J team up on Rollins and clear him out.  Rollins lands by Ambrose, who promptly dumps popcorn on him.

Rollins gets control in the ring, and Noble play to the fans.  Surprisingly, they care enough to respond.  Noble gets a hope spot, but Rollins cuts him off when he goes to the ropes.  Rollins tries a suplex, but Mercury trips him and Noble lands on Rollins for two.

Rollins hits a superkick, then hits a buckle bomb on Mercury into Noble rather than the buckle.  Rollins clears Mercury then sets up for the Pedigree on Noble.  Ambrose hops the railing, throws the title belt in the ring.  Rollins grabs the belt, and that lets Mercury roll Rollins up for the win.  Yes, in 2015, Joey Mercury main evented Raw and won.

Kane raises their hands afterward, and Rollins holds up the title belt.  Ambrose jumps Rollins from behind and hits him with Dirty Deeds.  He grabs the belt back, taunts Rollins then leaves.  Ambrose climbs a ladder and celebrates while the announcers give us the final sell for Sunday.  That’s it for the show.

This was alright.  I guess they really wanted to drive it home that Rollins would have no help on Sunday.  They got there to some degree with this match, but the problem is they’ve used this kind of stuff before (see Randy Orton Feud) and swerved us into having a unified Authority put the screws to whoever it was.  So my guard is up that any of this really means anything and we’ll go right back to a unified Authority somehow on Sunday.

This show felt long and cumbersome after the opening segment.  I loved what they did by putting out some new faces in Owens and Neville and offered us an entertaining wrestling match to start, as well as the promo segment with Owens and Cena.  From there, it was alright at times, and a lot of filler and stuff to bog the show down at others.  It was a marathon, even on fast forward.

I’ll be by on Around the Ring tomorrow to discuss this show, offer Money in the Bank predictions, and who knows what else I might have up my sleeve.  Be looking for that – and ask your questions on Twitter @Bill_SoonerFan for tomorrow’s show as well.  Thanks for reading along with this “delay live” edition of the show.


Samoa Joe Signs Full-Time Deal with WWE

PWTorch.com is reporting that according to sources, WWE and Samoa Joe have come to terms on a full time deal.

Details are unknown at this time, but Joe will be finishing up all promised Indy dates as he transitions into a full-time member of the roster.  No details whether that will be through NXT, or the main roster.

It’s said that Vince McMahon and the rest of the staff were so impressed with the sales of his merchandise they pushed for a full time deal as soon as possible.

More as it develops.




WWE Raw LIVE Coverage 06/01/15 – Elimination Chamber Fallout, Ambrose Has the WWE Title, The Authority Reacts, Cena/Owens, New IC Champ, and more!

WWE Raw comes at us LIVE starting at 8pm Eastern, and they are in San Antonio, TX.  Elimination Chamber ended with a bang last night, with Dean Ambrose beating Seth Rollins via DQ.  The title didn’t change hands, but that didn’t stop Ambrose from taking the belt anyhow!

Also, we have a new Intercontinental Champion, after Ryback survived the Elimination Chamber.  It’s his first title run.  Who will be his first challenger.

Plus, Kevin Owens defeated John Cena in a very hard-fought bout last night.  The rematch is already set for Money in the Bank.  How will John Cena react?  I’m sure Owens will have a few choice words…

Join me starting at 8pm as I make a triumphant return to covering WWE Raw live after a six-month work-induced break.  Join in the fun on Twitter too!  @RingRap!

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WWE Elimination Chamber 05/31/15 “Virtual Time” Coverage – Rollins vs. Ambrose for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, Cena vs. Owens, Two Elimination Chamber Matches, plus more!

WWE Elimination Chamber comes at us LIVE on the WWE Network starting at 8pm EST.  Unfortunately due to outside commitments, neither Bill nor myself will be able to cover the show live, but we WILL have coverage sometime in the hour after the show has finished.  Follow-up on my thoughts on the show as it happens (for me) but as it already happened (for everyone else).

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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.