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CALDWELL'S WWE E. CHAMBER PPV REPORT 5/31: Complete "virtual-time" coverage of WWE Title match, Cena vs. Owens, two Elimination Chamber matches, more

May 31, 2015 - 10:00:03 PM


WWE Elimination Chamber PPV Report
May 31, 2015
Corpus Christi, Tex.
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor

Live PPV on WWE Network

The event opened with a video package hyping the return of the Elimination Chamber match structure.

Live inside the arena, pyro and fireworks shot off to start the show. Michael Cole, JBL, and Jerry Lawler introduced the show, labeled a "WWE special event." Cole hyped two titles decided inside the Chamber tonight.

In-ring: Lilian Garcia gave a long introduction for the Tag Title Elimination Chamber match kicking off the action. Out first were the Prime Time Players. Titus O'Neil and Darren Young entered their pod as Lawler noted it's difficult to come up with "first-time-evers" in WWE, but they tried with the Tag Title Chamber match. Los Matadores were out next with El Torito, who jumped on top of their pod to watch the match.

Tyson Kidd & Cesaro were out third with Natalya, who hung out ringside as Kidd and Cesaro entered their pod. WWE tag champs New Day were out fourth, per a pre-show conversation with Kane. All three men - Kofi Kingston, Big E., and Xavier Woods - were eligible for the match and entered the final pod. So, to start the match, The Ascension came out fifth, followed by Lucha Dragons for an NXT flashback.


Texas Tornado-style start with The Ascension battling Lucha Dragons in the ring. Lucha Dragons used their speed to dominate early on. Kalisto then found himself on top of New Day's pod looking for a high-flying move, but his foot fell through the top of the pod. New Day tried to rough up Kalisto as he tried to free himself, then Lucha Dragons and Ascension tried to set up another spot, but Kalisto couldn't balance himself on top of the pod, so New Day pulled him down again, which worked to draw boos and "New ... Day Sucks" chants.

The strange opening sequence eventually gave way to Kidd & Cesaro entering the Chamber match from their pod. JBL referenced Kidd & Cesaro executing a Dudley Boys-like maneuver, then Kidd tried to get Kalisto off the pod roof, but it didn't work. So, Cesaro decided to superplex Kalisto off the pod roof, freeing Kalisto in the process. Kidd then hit a springbaord elbow on Kalisto, but Sin Cara broke up the pin.

Ascension got involved next. The action picked up, so Lawler had a flashback telling "J.R." to watch this. Cole and JBL wondered what's wrong with him referencing Jim Ross. The countdown clock eventually expired to bring out Los Matadores. El Torito also joined the match by jumping off their pod with a head scissors to Cesaro. Suddenly, Kalisto went Ultimate X by climbing to the top of the structure. He dangled in the air, hung upside down, waited for the entire group of wrestlers to stand there waiting to base for his spot, swing around some more on the monkey bars, and finally drop down onto wrestlers below. Rough start for Kalisto. El Torito then tried a similar spot on The Ascension, but they caught him and spiked him into the corner. Ascension then dropped un Matador with Fall of Man for the first elimination.

*** Los Matadores eliminated by Ascension at 10:22 ***

Ascension quickly targeted Lucha Dragons and scored another elimination with Fall of Man one minute later.

*** Lucha Dragons eliminated by Ascension at 11:20 ***

The announcers hyped Ascension looking the best since they arrived in WWE. After Ascension briefly battled Kidd & Cesaro, the countdown clock expired to bring out Prime Time Players. O'Neil and D-Young came firing out of their pod with clubbing blows to The Ascension. The Players built on their initially flurry and scored a pinfall to eliminate Ascension.

*** Ascension eliminated by PTPers at 13:30 ***

The Players battled Kidd & Cesaro until the final countdown clock expired to bring out the defending WWE tag champs New Day, who were granted the final entry in the match thanks to Kane and The Authority. New Day quickly targeted the four remaining wrestlers as the crowd chanted "New ... Day Sucks." Suddenly, the four remaining wrestlers blocked a big suplex and delivered a triple suplex on New Day. Kidd and Cesaro then locked Xavier inside a pod, trying to remove him from the equation.

Cesaro put Kofi in the Big Swing, and Kidd finished him off with a basement dropkick. But, D-Young took advantage of Cesaro being focused on New Day by grabbing him for a quick roll-up to get a surprise three count. Kidd was stunned by their team being eliminated, leaving New Day and the Players in the match.

*** Kidd & Cesaro eliminated by PTP'ers at 18:28 ***

New Day freed Xavier from his pod, then beat down Prime Time Players with the three-on-two advantage. New Day placed Titus's head inside the Chamber wall, then pounded on his head and neck. D-Young was left alone, but he escaped a three-man disadvantage and shoved Big E. into one of the "glass" pods. New Day recovered in their corner while D-Young freed Titus from the Chamber wall. Titus exploded on Xavier with a big boot, then he repeatedly chucked Big E. into the Chamber wall. Titus did the same to Kofi before chucking him into the ring.

D-Young delivered his fallaway gutbuster finish to Kofi, but he did not make an immediate cover, so Kofi kicked out just before three. Young tried to attack Big E. on the platform outside of the ring, but Big E. bodyslammed D-Young onto the platform. The numbers game then caught up to Titus, who took Trouble in Paradise from Kofi. All three New Day members jumped on top of Titus for a dog-pile cover, which was good for a three count. Afterward, Cole was produced to "evaluate the match" instead of trying to build heat on the heels.

WINNERS: New Day at 23:40 to retain the WWE Tag Titles. So-so Chamber match. They spaced out the eliminations so it wasn't a disorganized, overly-chaotic match, but some of the early spots were off, creating an uphill battle for the rest of the match. (**1/2)

Announcers: Cole and Co. reset the show, then plugged Money in the Bank in two weeks. Cole said they will announce some of the match participants later tonight. Cole then hyped Rusev's injury, which was labeled a "fractured foot." After a review of Rusev's injury on Smackdown, they ran a tweet from Rusev covering for being pulled from the IC Title Chamber match by complaining about weak American doctors not letting him compete. Whereas in his home country, he would put on duct tape and fight.

Backstage: Dolph Ziggler warmed up for the IC Title Elimination Chamber match. Lana then walked in for a chat with Ziggler. She said the IC Title would look nice around Ziggler's waist. She wished him good luck after Ziggler vowed to do what he does better than anyone else out there in the ring.

In-ring: Nikki Bella was introduced first for the Divas Title match. Cole said Nikki has held the title for 188 days. Brie Bella did not accompany Nikki since the non-match participants are banned from this match, per The Authority. Naomi was out next sans Tamina. Finally, Paige was introduced last.

2 -- Divas champion NIKKI BELLA vs. NAOMI vs. PAIGE -- triple threat Divas Title match

Lots of three-person spots early on. Nikki got frustrated by her inability to put away Nikki, then Paige responded with the PTO on Nikki, but Naomi broke it up. Naomi then nailed a nasty-looking reverse rana on Paige, who sold as if she injured her neck. Paige rolled out of the ring, then Nikki pinned Naomi for the win. Afterward, Brie Bella ran down to the ring to celebrate with Nikki. Big hug for the sisters as Naomi tried to pick up the pieces back in the ring.

WINNER: Nikki at 6:04 to retain the Divas Title. If this was not the match for Naomi to win, then it doesn't seem like she has a win coming. Are they setting up one of the NXT women's wrestlers to come in and end Nikki's title reign?

Video Package: John Cena vs. Kevin Owens, a battle of the U.S. champion and NXT champion, respectively. They focused on Owens being a sick man who destroyed his best friend, Sami Zayn, and doesn't respect Cena, so what will he do to Cena?

In-ring: Kevin Owens was introduced first for the biggest match of his career. Owens came out on-stage sporting a red, white, and blue "Fight Owens Fight" t-shirt to go with his black & white basketball shorts and black ring boots. Owens hit the ring and paced like a madman waiting for Cena. After a pause, John Cena's music played to bring out the U.S. champion.

3 -- U.S. champion JOHN CENA vs. NXT champion KEVIN OWENS -- non-title champion vs. champion match

Big fight atmosphere in the crowd before the opening bell. So, Owens held up his NXT Title belt to draw a reaction. Cena then held up his title belt to a loud reaction. Cole said this is about Owens proving that he belongs here in WWE. Cue the bell. Lock-up and the "Fight Owens Fight" chant picked up. Cena landed a big shoulder tackle, welcoming Owens to WWE, as Cole described. Owens popped to his feet and Cena waved toward Owens that this is the big-time.

A dueling chant of "Let's Go Cena / Cena Sucks" broke out, then Owens landed a boot to the gut. Owens went on the attack, stomping Cena out of the ring to the ring apron. Owens tried to rip out Cena's jaw, then posed toward the crowd as Lawler described Owens as an old-school fighter. Owens slowed the pace and began wearing down Cena as the crowd picked up another dueling chant.

Owens began showboating to the crowd, which responded with cheers and boos. Owens then punched Cena in the forehead as Lawler relayed a tweet of Owens standing with Triple H before the match. Owens got too cocky and nearly got rolled up from behind, but Owens kicked out and angrily went back on the attack. Owens landed a forearm, which woke up Cena and a duel broke out. Cena with a shoulder tackle, but Owens intercepted the follow-up into a swinging bodyslam into a modified DVD for a close two count.

Owens stalked Cena for a flying butt bomb in the corner. He connected with the cannonball, but Cena kicked out of a pin attempt. Owens stood up and taunted Cena, telling him it's time to give up. Owens almost nailed the pop-up powerbomb off the ropes, but Cena jumped over Owens and went into his Five Knuckle Shuffle routine. Cena delivered the Shuffle, then wanted the AA, but Owens slipped out, shoved Cena to the ropes, and hit the pop-up powerbomb. But, Cena kicked out of Owens's finisher.

Reset at 9:30 with Cole reacting strongly to Cena showing resiliency. Owens then decided to climb the turnbuckle, but Cena cut him off and crotched him. Cena tried to follow up, but Owens knocked him down to the mat. Owens then showed his uncanny athleticism with a two-step turnaround moonsault, but Cena moved out of the way. Cena then scooped up Owens for the AA, but Owens kicked out of Cena's finisher, popping the crowd.

Reset at 11:40 with both men coming to their feet. Bombs were exchanged, then Owens ducked a blow and nailed a superkick. Owens contemplated his next move, then stood over Cena, did the You Can't See Me handwave, bounced the ropes, and walked right into the STF. Owens teased tapping out, but dragged them toward the bottom rope. Cena tried to drag Owens back to mid-ring, but Owens kicked him off. Owens followed right up with the AA after arrogantly doing the You Can't See Me handwave, and covered Cena, who kicked out of his finisher.

Another reset. This time, Cena nailed a Tornado DDT out of the corner for another nearfall. Cena then climbed to the top rope and delivered his guillotine leg drop, but Owens kicked out again. Cena tried to figure out his next move, so he went for another AA, but Owens slipped out and hit a modified Package Piledriver, but Cena kicked out again. JBL said he has a new respect for NXT. Cole and Lawler said this might be the case of a match where two guys just can't beat each other.

Reset at 16:30. Owens told Cena to stay down. He continued to taunt him, so Cena fought back. He went for the Springboard Stunner and kind of executed it, then covered Owens, but the NXT champ kicked out of a pin. The crowd didn't buy it as the finish since Cena didn't get all of the move. Cena then tried to take Owens to the top rope, but Owens blocked and nailed a super-inverted neckbreaker for a two count. Owens immediately climbed to the top rope and nailed a senton, but Cena kicked out again.

Owens had a look of "what else can I do?" as both men recovered on the mat. Owens tried to regroup, but Cena exploded on him with a clothesline. Both men sold on the mat and seemed to contemplate just calling the match a draw. But, Cena exploded on Owens with another clothesline. Suddenly, Owens ducked a clothesline and nailed an emphatic pop-up powerbomb. Owens covered and this time it was good for the win. The announcers freaked out on commentary and WWE went to crowd reaction shots of Owens fans shockingly celebrating and Cena Fans standing in shock and disbelief. Cole stressed Owens beating John Cena in his WWE debut match.

WINNER: Owens at 19:57. That was on the level of The Shield winning their PPV debut match in epic fashion, sending the message that Shield was going to be a for-real act and not just heels built up to be fed to babyfaces. Very good 20-minute PPV match. It was almost too good with the stream of finisher kick-outs taking the crowd out at times. But, they finished strong with a big-time finishing sequence. The other strong point was the crowd was really into Owens during his extended beat down on Cena. So many WWE heels lose the crowd during that period of the match, but Owens is so intriguing that the crowd hung with him during the most crucial part of the match building to the finish. Will that be the same months from now after the novelty wears off? I believe so, as Owens is that good as a heel. Overall, I expected more of a brawl that ended in a non-finish to protect both men, but WWE went The Shield Intro Route, and both men stand to benefit from how their stories play out after this match. (****)

Post-match, Owens stood proudly in the ring after his music stopped. Owens took the mic and recapped what he's done since arriving in WWE. He said that now everyone knows who Kevin Owens is. "I'm the man who started a fight with John Cena. But, I'm also the man who just finished that fight," he said. "And now that I've beaten John Cena, John, I have some veteran advice. It's time for you to go because your time is way up, but my time is now. Because The Champ is here!"

[ Reax: Very good post-match promo getting things back to Owens as a heel and setting up Cena on a journey to prove that he can still hang with the young guns. ]

Pre-show panel: For the "intermission" of the show, Renee Young set up NXT'ers Corey Graves and Byron Saxton to hype Kevin Owens's big-match victory. Booker declared that Owens has arrived.

In-ring: Bo Dallas came to the ring for the "comedown match." Bo told Neville that he can fix him ... if he Bo-Lieves. Neville then came out to face Dallas.


"NXT" chant early on for Neville, who continued the Full Sail parade. Bo tried to "talk sense" into Neville early on, but Neville kicked him in the thigh. Bo continued to say he's just trying to help Neville, so he attacked Neville's injured knee and continued to work on the injury. Meanwhile, the announcers tried to re-visit Steen "calling his shot" on Cena, but they couldn't get their sports analogies lined up.

Neville mounted a comeback with a flurry of strikes. He then landed a standing Shooting Star Press for a two count. Bo tried to respond with a running Bo-Dog, but Neville shoved up and nailed a kick to the head. Bo landed in the right position, Neville climbed to the top rope, and Neville nailed the crowd-pleasing Red Arrow for the pin and the win. The outcome produced multiple replays to get over Neville's finisher.

WINNER: Neville at 8:54.

Backstage: Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns were shown hanging out in the hallway. Suddenly, Triple H walked in to talk about Kevin Owens. And then some real business. Hunter said it's admirable that Reigns wants to have Ambrose's back in the WWE Title match tonight, but he doesn't have the authority to make that happen. Hunter said Kane will be ringside in an official capacity, but if Reigns gets involved in the title match tonight, then Dean will get disqualified. But, hey, good luck, Dean. Ambrose just laughed and chewed his gum.

[ Reax: Classic booking dictates Ambrose finds himself in trouble, which draws out Reigns, which causes a DQ, Ambrose gets mad, and they start to have an issue, which plays out on TV with The Authority playing Reigns and Ambrose off each other and Ambrose is too unstable and unreasonable to see through it. That seemed too obvious to happen tonight following this discussion, but we'll see if that's the direction they go. ]

Arena: The Elimination Chamber was lowered to the ground for the IC Title Chamber match. WWE showed Daniel Bryan sitting ringside ready to present the IC Title that he vacated to the winner of the match.

First out was Mark Henry replacing the injured Rusev. Henry, who is from Texas, came out to a babyface reaction and entered his pod. Next out were Sheamus, R-Truth, and Ryback to enter pods. Out last were King Barrett and Dolph Ziggler to start the match.


Barrett roughed up Ziggler early on. Ziggler responded with a dropkick, then a neckbreaker. He followed with a leaping elbow drop to Barrett's chest for a two count. But, Barrett clotheslined Ziggler over the top rope onto the Chamber platform before smashing him into a pod. Barrett followed up by chucking Ziggler into the chain-link Chamber wall.

With Barrett in control, the 4:00 clock expired to bring out R-Truth from his pod. Barrett saw it coming and attacked Truth before he could even get out of his pod. Barrett continued to work over Truth before dragging him out of his pod and running Truth into the fence. Truth made a brief comeback, but Barrett hit Winds of Change for a close two count. Ziggler tried to grab Barrett for a roll-up, but Barrett escaped.

Moments later, Barrett smashed Ziggler into Henry's pod, breaking the pod. Henry's door was opened, so he chatted with the ref on whether he could enter the match. Henry decided the heck with it and entered the match lighting up Barrett. The countdown clock then expired, Henry's name was still on the graphic, and Ryback's name lit up for Ryback to enter. So, five men were in the match at this point.

Pins were broken up, then Barrett found himself caught in the Lie Detector. Truth pinned Barrett for the first elimination of the match.

*** Barrett eliminated by Truth at 11:05 ***

After the first elimination, Ryback, Henry, Ziggler, and Truth jockeyed for position. The final countdown clock expired to bring in Sheamus, but his pod door was conveniently stuck. So, he could not enter the match, which meant he was protected from taking a loss. Sheamus pretended to complain to the refs about not being able to enter, then the other wrestlers decided to trade nearfalls. Ryback eventually hit Truth with Shell-Shock for a pin.

*** Truth eliminated by Ryback at 14:00 ***

Ryback targeted Ziggler while Henry rested in the corner and Sheamus continued to yell at the refs about being locked inside his pod. Ryback delivered a delayed vertical suplex to Ziggler, but the crowd was more focused on Sheamus's supposed predicament. Ryback then wanted a Meathook Clothesline, but Ziggler superkicked him. Back to Sheamus, who decided that it was time to reveal that he was playing all along by blocking the cage door from being opened.

Sheamus cockily strolled into the Chamber and started tossing bodies left and right. He taunted Mark Henry, who answered with a big splash to Sheamus for a two count. But, Sheamus came right back with a Brogue Kick for the three count.

*** Henry eliminated by Sheamus at 17:20 ***

Sheamus, Ziggler, and Ryback were the last three men in the match. Cole noted that Sheamus has never won the IC Title as he continued to wear down Ziggler. Ziggler then snapped off a DDT, but Sheamus kicked out of a pin attempt. Ryback walked into a superkick from Ziggler, who then grabbed Sheamus for a Fameasser. But, Sheamus popped up and smashed him for another elimination. Both Ziggler and Sheamus sold being shaken up by the finish.

*** Ziggler eliminated by Sheamus at 20:25 ***

Sheamus and Ryback remained. As Ziggler slowly slid out of the ring in the background, Sheamus stood up and stalked Ryback to attack him. The crowd, which had been quiet for a while, sold being sad by what seemed like the inevitable outcome of this match. Sheamus, in full control of the match, pointed down at Bryan and the IC Title belt outside of the Chamber. JBL said it looks like Sheamus will be the new IC champion, which gave away that he would not win.

Ryback responded with a corner clothesline trying to give the audience some hope. He followed with a running powerslam, then called for the end. Ryback wanted Shell-Shock on the Chamber platform, but Sheamus blocked and nailed White Noise on the platform. Ryback coughed and coughed before rolling back into the ring, where Sheamus covered for what looked like a three count, but the ref stopped his count.

Sheamus put Ryback in the ring ropes to deliver Ten Forearms to the Chest, but Ryback blocked. No matter, as Sheamus smashed Ryback into one of the pods before slamming him on the platform. Sheamus stalked Ryback for the Brogue Kick to end it, but Ryback hoisted Sheamus into the air and powerbombed him over the top rope. Ryback then scooped up Sheamus for Shell-Shock, he covered, and Ryback scored the three count, shocking the crowd. Cole excitedly declared that Ryback has won his first singles title in WWE.

WINNER: Ryback at 25:12 to capture the IC Title. Surprising result to end another so-so Chamber match. It felt like a situation where WWE looked at the potential outcomes of Cena losing, Sheamus winning the IC Title, New Day retaining the Tag Titles, and Ambrose not winning the WWE Title and decided they needed a significant babyface victory somewhere on the card. So, Ryback got the win here. Overall, the Chamber was really compromised tonight. For all the talk of how big and bad the structure is, the thing looked flimsy at times in both matches. (**3/4)

Post-match, Daniel Bryan entered the ring with the IC Title belt and handed it to Ryback, saying he deserves the title. Ryback took the mic and thanked Bryan for being an inspiration. Ryback then celebrated with the belt as Bryan led the crowd in "Feed Me More" chants.

Tomorrow night: Steve Austin's podcast returns for Austin to interview Paul Heyman on WWE Network following Raw.

MITB plug: Money in the Bank is two weeks from now.

Announcers: Cole, Lawler, and JBL reset the show from ringside. They went back to Cena vs. Owens, showing Cena landing a huge clothesline during the match, but ultimately falling to Owens's pop-up powerbomb.

Cole relayed "breaking news" that Cena vs. Owens II will be in two weeks at Money in the Bank. Also, the MITB ladder match. Cole announced that Ziggler, Neville, Reigns, Randy Orton, Kofi Kingston, and Sheamus will be in the match. Cole said those are the first six revealed, and more will be announced.

Video Package: Dean Ambrose is looking to be WWE World Hvt. champion against Seth Rollins, who he put his trust in. He treated him like family and blood. Together, they built a juggernaut and became invincible, but Seth plunged a knife into his back.

In-ring: Seth Rollins's music played to bring out the WWE World Hvt. champion with J&J Security and Kane, who was out there on "official business," per Triple H. Rollins cockily stood in the ring soaking up boos, then Dean Ambrose's music played to bring out the challenger. Mega-pop for Ambrose. He suddenly feels main-event. Ambrose paced the ring opposite Rollins, then Lilian Garcia handled formal ring introductions.

6 -- WWE World Hvt. champion SETH ROLLINS (w/Jamie Noble, Joey Mercury, and Kane) vs. DEAN AMBROSE -- WWE World Hvt. Title match -- if Roman Reigns gets involved, Ambrose is DQ'ed

Ambrose controlled the action early on, establishing himself as the aggressor of the match. Ambrose wanted a top-rope move, but Noble hopped on the ring apron, distracting Ambrose, allowing Rollins to blindside Ambrose. Rollins then stomped Ambrose in the chest for a two count. With Rollins in control, the crowd tried to throw him off with a taunting "Justin Bieber" chant. But, Rollins was unmoved and continued to wear down Ambrose.

Rollins, angered by "You Sold Out" chants, charged Ambrose, but Dean met him in mid-air and they collided gut-to-gut. Both men sold on the mat, then Dean came up firing with chops and slaps. Ambrose tried a sunset flip pin, but Seth kicked out. Pins were exchanged, drawing concerns from J&J and Kane at ringside. Ambrose wanted a running bulldog out of the corner, but J&J pulled Seth out of the ring. So, Dean landed a suicide dive that took out Rollins and the announcers. Cole, Lawler, and JBL sold the effects before Seth and Dean returned to the ring.

Seth tried a quick roll-up with his feet on the ropes, but the ref saw it and stopped his count. Seth and Mercury argued with the ref, Ambrose rolled up Seth from behind for a two count, and Seth popped to his feet to deliver a standing kick to Ambrose for a nearfall of his own. Busy sequence. Ambrose then caught Seth on the top turnbuckle and both men spilled to the outside.

On the floor, Ambrose stalked J&J Security, then tried a rebound lariat on Seth, but Seth ducked and sent Ambrose into the barricade with a running Bucklebomb. Seth rolled Dean back into the ring, but Dean kicked out of a pin attempt. Seth then taunted Ambrose, telling him he's not championship material. Seth followed up with a running forearm before taunting him with palm strikes. Ambrose answered with a Tornado DDT, but Seth kicked out just before three.

Reset at 17:30 with Dean getting a crazy look in his eyes. Dean exploded on Seth with a rebound lariat, but Seth kicked out of another pin. Ambrose then climbed to the top turnbuckle to deliver his flying elbow smash for another nearfall. Another distraction allowed Seth to take control, clothesline Dean to the outside, nail a suicide dive into the announce table, and drag Dean back into the ring. Rollins wanted a Buckle Bomb, but Dean exploded out of the corner with a rebound lariat. J&J tried to get involved, but Dean shook them off. He then climbed to the top turnbuckle and decided to elbow-smash all three heels on the outside.

Ringside, Seth grabbed Dean, who answered with another rebound lariat off the ring apron. Back in the ring, Dean wanted a top-rope move, but Seth pulled the ref into the way and Dean smashed the ref. After being bumped, the ref rolled out of the ring to the floor. Back in the ring, Ambrose hit Dirty Deeds on Seth, but there was no ref, so Ambrose scored a visual fall. Suddenly, a new referee hit the ring and counted one, two, three, shocking the crowd.

Ambrose was announced as new WWE World Hvt. champion, he was awarded the title belt, and a graphic flashed on the screen for Ambrose as new champion. JBL called this the darkest day in the history of WWE. Ringside, Rollins collected himself with The Authority. Suddenly, the original ref came to life and noted that Rollins pulled him in the way of Ambrose, which was grounds for a DQ. They argued about the outcome, then original ref John Cone submitted the final decision to Lilian Garcia. She announced Dean as the winner, but threw in a "However." She said Rollins was DQ'ed, therefore he is still World champion. Seth freaked out with his eyes popping out of his head and celebrated ringside with J&J and Kane. "Bulls---" chant from the crowd.

Back in the ring, Ambrose refused to give up the belt. He argued with both referees, then Rollins, Kane, and J&J circled the ring. Rollins attacked Ambrose and the beat down was on while Ambrose clutched the title belt. Rollins finally wrestled the title belt away from Ambrose, but The Shield's music played. Roman Reigns emerged through the entrance stage area with a Superman Punch to Rollins. Spear to Kane in the ring, then Ambrose picked up the title belt and watched as Reigns smashed J&J Security with Superman Punches.

Ambrose then grabbed the mic at ringside and declared himself the winner. He said The Champ buys the beers tonight, then he and Reigns took off through the crowd with Ambrose possessing the title belt. They gave the audience a feel-good conclusion to the show with Ambrose possessing the title belt, Reigns standing with him, and Rollins freaking out ringside without his title belt. The PPV ended right at the top of the hour.

WINNER: Ambrose via DQ at 21:49 following an initial pinfall title victory; Rollins retained the WWE World Title. Strong main event. The crowd needed some time to warm up since there didn't seem to be a chance of Ambrose winning this match - either from a knowledgeable perspective of the booking dictating Rollins leaving as champion or from a non-knowledgeable fan's perspective of the deck stacked too high against Ambrose. There was that sense of inevitability that Rollins would leave as champion, but Dean getting an actual three count provided a moment of excitement before the rug was pulled out from under the audience. At least, that's the justification for pulling that tool out of the booker's toolbox once every five years. It also keeps Ambrose on the Daniel Bryan-like chase. But, right now, Ambrose's role is to help get more heat on Rollins as the undeserving heel champion to set up someone eventually getting the title from Rollins. Whether or not that person is actually Ambrose remains to be seen. (***1/2)

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-Decades of Torch Talk insider interviews in transcript and audio formats with big name stars.


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