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WWE Raw Report
CALDWELL'S WWE RAW RESULTS 5/18: Complete "virtual-time" coverage of live Raw - Payback PPV fall-out, two title matches, packed show includes major Lana-Rusev developments and NXT champ debuting, more

May 18, 2015 - 10:13:35 PM


WWE Raw TV Results
May 18, 2015 - Episode #1,146
Live in Richmond, Va.
Report by James Caldwell (@JCTorch), PWTorch assistant editor

- The Card: Fall-out from Sunday night's Payback PPV, a break down of Seth Rollins's WWE Title retention at Payback, and three advertised title matches - John Cena's U.S. Title Open Challenge, Nikki Bella vs. Naomi for the Divas Title, and New Day's Kofi Kingston & Big E. vs. Tyson Kidd & Cesaro for the Tag Titles with Xavier Woods banned from ringside.

Live Raw on USA Network

Raw opened with the standard intro video and Michael Cole welcoming the audience to Raw. Eden Stiles then introduced The Authority's Triple H and Stephanie McMahon to boos.

Hunter and Stephanie, who was returning to TV for the first time since WrestleMania, walked out on-stage together in a very good mood. Cole, JBL, and Booker T recapped Seth Rollins retaining the WWE World Title last night at Payback, with help from Kane.

Already in the ring was a podium with a covered object resting on the podium. Stephanie welcomed everyone to Raw, then asked the crowd if they missed her. "No!" the crowd shouted. She said she knows they missed the sweet sound of her voice. Steph said life is so much sweeter when you're a winner, which she knows the crowd cannot relate to, and the future has never been brighter than Seth Rollins.

Triple H said questions about their choice of The Future have been answered because Seth proved everyone wrong last night. The crowd booed the boasting when Seth needed a lot of help to retain. Hunter said he told you so, then declared Seth as the future of WWE.

Steph said that tonight they will tribute Seth Rollins. Meanwhile, Seth's three opponents last night, Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, and Dean Ambrose, will have to acknowledge their inferiority by going ... to the back of the line! Hunter said titles are reserved for those who can rise to the occasion. Speaking of which, Hunter and Steph pulled back the curtain to reveal the vacant Intercontinental Title.

Steph said the title was relinquished by Daniel Bryan last week on Raw. The crowd showed love for Bryan with "Yes!" chants, then Steph said said she knows Bryan is watching Raw right now at home - well, maybe not since he does not own a TV. But, it took a lot of courage for Bryan to admit that she was right. She said that Bryan had to relinquish two titles in two years, which must have been so heart-wrenching. But, unlike Bryan's career, the show must go on.

Hunter said they will determine a new champion in two weeks and this champion will be the most durable in history because he will have to survive the Elimination Chamber. A video package on the Chamber aired as the announcers talked about the structure.

Back to Hunter, who talked up the Chamber structure. He called it brutal and unforgiving. Hunter said six men will enter the Chamber and only one will leave as new Intercontinental champion. Steph said it will be an historic night live on WWE Network, then she pitched the Network.

Suddenly, Sheamus's music interrupted. Sheamus, who beat Dolph Ziggler and kissed Ziggler's arse last night at Payback, marched down to the ring dressed to wrestle. Sheamus apologized for interrupting, then paused for a "You Look Stupid" chant. Steph smirked as Hunter remained stern-faced. Sheamus said the audience clearly does not appreciate him, but he appreciates The Authority.

Sheamus pitched his idea that there does not need to be an Elimination Chamber match because he should be rewarded for ending the Yes! Movement. They went back to Smackdown last month when Sheamus faced Daniel Bryan in singles action. The video captured Sheamus's high-impact offense on Bryan throughout the match. Back to Sheamus, who soaked up boos from the crowd. He told Steph to go ahead and end the Chamber match by giving him the IC Title.

Suddenly, Ryback's music interrupted. The crowd was more receptive than last night at Payback. Ryback, sporting bandages from his match against Bray Wyatt last night, marched down to the ring to the tune of "Feed Me More" chants. Ryback started to talk, but paused to say he agrees with Richmond that Sheamus looks stupid. Ryback defended D-Bryan, saying he has more heart, passion, and determination than Sheamus ever will have.

"Yes!" chants from the crowd. Steph said the crowd is so predictable, so Ryback shot back to Steph that he has the mic. Oh, his character will pay for that down the road. Ryback told Sheamus that Bryan is more of a man than Sheamus ever will be, and since Sheamus likes to pick on little guys so much, perhaps he should pick on The Big Guy. Ryback told Sheamus that he has a little secret for him - he does not like bullies.

Steph calmed everyone down, saying the two of them will both be in the Elimination Chamber match in two weeks. But, as for tonight, Hunter said, he's kind of digging this weird thing right now. So, how about the Big Guy goes one-on-one with Sheamus right now. Cole said it's next.

[ Reax: Efficient opening segment that did not over-stay its welcome. Focus on the IC Title, Steph walked on the right side of being a good heel vs. over-bearing, they got over two mid-card stars looking to move up and be taken seriously, and they effectively set up the opening match. Also, really interesting to see how much D-Bryan is still a focal point on the show. Either WWE is confident he will return to the ring or they want to keep investing in him in advance of Bryan's role on Tough Enough. ]

[Q2] [Commercial Break at 8:15]


The bell sounded as soon as Raw returned from break. Sheamus immediately ran out of the ring, so Ryback gave chase. Back in the ring, Ryback lit up Sheamus with strikes before landing a powerslam for a two count. Sheamus came back with an attack to the mid-section, targeting Ryback's injured ribs from Payback last night. Sheamus knocked down Ryback on the outside and stood tall heading to a mid-match break.

[Commercial Break at 8:22]

Back from break, Sheamus continued to work over Ryback before going for Ten Forearms to the Chest, but Ryback blocked and hoisted Sheamus over the top rope for a slam to get a breather. Both men came to their feet, which resulted in Ryback catching Sheamus with a spinebuster for a two count. Ryback wanted to follow with a meathook clothesline, but Sheamus ducked out of the ring. Ryback followed up by dumping Sheamus hard onto the announce table.

Back in the ring, Sheamus rolled out the other side of the ring. Ryback followed up, but this time Sheamus ran Ryback into the ringpost. Ryback reversed a follow-up attack and posted Sheamus before dragging him back into the ring. Ryback wanted Shell-Shock, but Sheamus avoided and continued to sell an eye injury. Ryback tried to follow up, but the ref pulled him out of the corner. That allowed Sheamus to come out of the corner with a Brogue Kick. Sheamus, still covering his eye selling pain, covered Ryback for the win. Cole was effectively indignant on commentary setting up Sheamus suddenly being healed of his eye injury and smiling to the crowd.

WINNER: Sheamus at 9:59. Solid match. Ryback was valiant in defeat fighting through taped ribs, Sheamus was reinforced as a giant prick heel, and the announcers treated this like a big deal. It's amazing what a pre-match set-up will do for a TV match.

Announcers: Cole said the other four Chamber participants will be revealed later tonight on Raw.

[Q3] Authority's Office: Stephanie and Hunter talked, then Steph glowingly welcomed in Kane after doing the right thing at Payback. Kane said he thinks Seth Rollins has finally grown up. And in came Rollins gloating with J&J Security while holding champagne. Seth poured some glasses for Hunter, Steph, and Kane. Seth said Kane deserves this celebration the most - after all, he has nothing else to celebrate. Seth cackled to himself as Kane started to boil beneath the surface.

In walked Dean Ambrose to a big reaction. Ambrose said the way he sees it is he beat Seth Rollins one-on-one a few weeks ago and Seth did not beat him at Payback. So, he will give Rollins a chance for a re-match, if Seth puts the title on the line. Hunter smirked at how preposterous and pretentious Ambrose sounded telling the champ he can have a re-match against him, then led Steph away.

Rollins replied that Ambrose must not understand what "back of the line" means. Kane then said that as the Director of Operations he has decided that it will be up to the champion to determine his future. Seth and J&J Security took off, leaving Ambrose to stand next to Kane. Ambrose tried to get the pot to boil over by poking Kane for being an embarrassment to himself, Paul Bearer, and his brother (Undertaker). Kane told him never to say that again, then punished Ambrose by booking him against Bray Wyatt tonight. Ambrose took it stride, then took a sip of the champagne being held by Kane. Ambrose said he probably should not drink while on the clock, then took off, leaving Kane to stew.

[Commercial Break at 8:35]

In-ring: Renee Young was standing by for an interview. She welcomed out Neville to address a re-match with King Barrett coming up next after Neville beat Barrett via count-out last night at Payback. First, though, she wanted to know what Neville thinks about being a new WWE Superstar. Neville talked up competing here in WWE, then said he might not be the biggest guy in WWE, but there is nothing he loves more than proving his doubters long. Neville said when he stands on the top rope and looks down on his opponent, he feels like he is ten feet tall and invincible. The crowd politely applauded Neville, whose enthusiasm helped him out on the mic.

Suddenly, Bo Dallas's music interrupted. Dallas, clean-shaven after going through the goatee/scraggly facial hair phase, said there is nothing more inspirational than hearing a good children's story. He said Neville is the Little Engine That Couldn't. Bo entered the ring to insult Neville, who replied that Bo is the guy he beat to begin his NXT Title reign. Bo could not stand the insult, so he tackled him to the mat and targeted Neville's injured knee from Payback. Neville fought back and Bo scampered out of the ring, then King Barrett's music played, saving Bo from further punishment.


Bo Dallas joined commentary to address his attack on Neville. He said he was really just trying to help Neville by making him stronger if he overcomes the injured knee. In the ring, Barrett worked over Neville before dragging him out of the ring to yank the knee down across the ring apron. Neville sold as Raw cut to break.

[Q4] [Commercial Break at 8:45]

Back from break, Barrett continued to work over Neville as Bo accused Cole of taking words and putting them in his mouth about being jealous of Neville. Neville fought back until Barrett went back to the knee. Neville got some breathing room with a desperation kick strike, then tried a springboard move, but his knee buckled and he fell to the mat. Barrett capitalized with the Bullhammer to Neville. They cut to ringside to show Bo smiling, revealing his true heelish intentions after trying to sell the idea of trying to make Neville stronger.

Post-match, Barrett received his royal garb, then Bo Dallas entered the ring to tackle Neville and work over the knee. JBL heelishly defended Bo's actions as tough love, while Cole said Bo is obviously jealous that Neville has achieved so much success early in his career. Bo angrily wrapped Neville's knee around the ringpost, then stood over Neville with a sinister look. Bo then smiled and triumphantly lifted his arms in the air to boos. Bo's music played and he knelt down in the ring to celebrate his success.

WINNER: Barrett at 7:06. More solid booking getting heat on two heels, Barrett and Bo Dallas, while trying to make Neville sympathetic in defeat. Neville vs. Bo might seem like a step down for Neville, but it will allow him to "win a feud" before moving back to a higher-level heel.

Announcers: Cole, Booker, and JBL were shown on-camera to transition to the U.S. Title match between John Cena and Rusev last night at Payback. They focused on Rusev eating the pyro, but not quitting, and the match continuing until Cena trapped Rusev in the ring ropes, where Rusev started blabbering in his native language, which Lana translated as Rusev quitting.

Still to come: Cena has another U.S. Title Open Challenge.

Up Next: Rusev will address Lana's actions.

[Commercial Break at 8:54]

Back from break, Cole read an announcement about an unfamiliar website voting Titus O'Neil as celebrity dad of the year.

Rusev Talks Payback

In-ring: Rusev came to the ring by himself in a foul mood. Rusev immediately got heat by telling the crowd that there will be no Lana tonight. Rusev said Lana needs to learn her place and she does not speak for himself. He said he speaks the stupid English language perfectly, and he did not say I Quit last night.

"We Want Lana" chant from the crowd. "There is no Lana I said! Shut up!" Rusev replied. Rusev said he beat John Cena last night, made him pass out, and then Lana quit. Rusev said Lana quit because she is weak. Rusev then told Cena to get back out here and have this match re-start right now.

[Q5 -- second hour] Rusev continued to wave toward the back, then Lana walked out on-stage to cheers. Rusev's eyes bugged out as Lana walked down to the ring. Rusev talked over her for defying him. She said she just wanted to explain herself to everyone. And explain that Rusev is not who he seems to be.

Lana said Rusev is not just the Bulgarian Brute, but misunderstood. Lana spoke to Rusev in their common language, then said she believes in Rusev and has believed in him since the beginning. Lana said she has been with Rusev since the beginning and she was positive that he would be the first man to finally force Cena to say I Quit. But, it did not happen. She was just trying to protect Rusev. And think of them. Is she pregnant?

"You! You try to protect me, Rusev?" he shouted back. He called her pathetic for having feelings. "Enough!" Lana said. She said she couldn't just stand there while Rusev was in pain and his body bending backwards. Lana said Rusev was saying "I quit, I quit, I quit, I quit" in Bulgarian. Rusev accused Lana of being a liar. He said there is only him, and he does not need Lana anymore. He told Lana that she is weak and she makes him weak.

Rusev shouted at Lana that she should go back to wherever she came from because he does not need her. Lana, dejected, left the ring as Rusev continued to shout at her. He kept on shouting until Lana disappeared to the back. Rusev then turned to the hard camera and triumphantly shouted "Rusev!" toward the crowd. Cole called Rusev an absolutely awful human being. JBL said he agrees with Rusev. Cole said that was a disgusting display from Rusev. Cole then made it official that Rusev said I Quit last night at Payback, trying to clean up the business of whether Rusev actually said he quits or was denying it like a heel. It was still kind of unclear.

In any event, the announcers transitioned to the Four-way WWE Title match at Payback. They showed Seth Rollins retaining the WWE Title via Pedigree and celebrating with Triple H.

[ Reax: Rusev is a master of his character, the moment, and being a heel. Just a masterpiece building to a big next chapter when they reveal what's next for Lana. Thus far, tonight is all about getting heat on heels. ]

Still to come: New Day defends the Tag Titles against Kidd & Cesaro in a re-match from last night. Cole noted that Xavier Woods is banned from ringside. JBL shot back wondering why Natalya is not banned. Cole said because she did not get involved in the outcome last night. JBL said she might tonight.

In-ring: Dean Ambrose was introduced for the next match to a loud ovation. He faces Bray Wyatt next.

On the way to break, WWE ran a hype video for Jerry Lawler's DVD out tomorrow. Jim Ross's voice was heard talking about Lawler.

[Commercial Break at 9:09]

In-ring: Dean Ambrose was standing by when Bray Wyatt's video interruption played. Smart choice putting Bray opposite the hottest babyface on the roster right now to reinforce Bray as a heel if he's going to wrestle on TV. The cell phone lights came out to light the way for Bray as the announcers talked about The Authority flexing their muscles after Payback last night by putting Dean in this match against Bray, who beat Ryback at the PPV.


As the bell sounded, Cole noted that Ambrose has a legitimate argument for a title shot against Seth Rollins, who he beat a few weeks ago on Raw to be entered in the WWE Title match at Payback. Cole also ntoed that it's rare to see Bray wrestle on Raw. Ambrose and Bray locked up, which Bray won before bodyslamming Dean. But, Dean avoided a flying butt splash and went after Bray with Muta-style elbows. Dean then took his time wrenching on Bray's arm, trying to separate the joints. Bray escaped, then raked his eyes. Uppercut to Dean.

[Q6] Dean fought back with standing rights, but ran into a giant cross-body smash from Wyatt. Bray then kicked Dean in the back before delivering a running boot to the chest. Bray stalked Dean to deliver right hands, then lit him up with corner strikes. Bray settled on a chinlock, but Ambrose broke free and suddenly exploded out of the corner to surprise Bray with a clothesline. Dean wanted a flying splash on the outside, but Bray intercepted and suplexed Dean right down to the floor. Dean sold immense back pain heading to break.

[Commercial Break at 9:18]

Back from break, the announcers brought up the series of matches between Dean and Bray late last year and earlier this year, where they beat each other up night after night. Bray and Dean ended up on the outside, where referee John Cone (referenced on the air) administered a ten count. Both men ran back into the ring at eight, then resumed the fight as the crowd chanted for tables, remembering their feud from months ago.

Dean tackled Bray, then delivered a corner smash into a running bulldog. Dean then trapped Bray inside the ropes to deliver a running dropkick. Dean followed with a leg drop from the corner, but he sold injuring his leg executing the move. Dean collected himself and stalked Bray as Booker ruined the moment talking about entertaining the audience. It just ruined the sales pitch of two guys who do not like each other fighting to see who is superior.

The match continued with Ambrose wanting the rebound lariat on Bray, who had his back to Dean, but Bray spun around and smashed Dean with a lariat. Cole said it's like Bray has a sixth sense to see it coming. Perhaps Bray just happened to look up at the Titantron to see it coming, but nevertheless it played up Bray's mystical character having extra super-powers. Bray hung upside down in the corner to set up for his next move, but Dean surprised Bray with a rebound lariat for a close two count.

Reset at 12:30, then Dean wanted a top-rope move, but Bray knocked him down to the mat. Bray then wanted his flying butt splash, like he gave to Ryback last night at Payback, but Dean rolled out of the way just in time. Dean wanted a top-rope move, but J&J Security suddenly showed up ringside. Jamie Noble shoved Dean off the top rope right into Sister Abigail while Joey Mercury had the ref occupied. Bray then covered Dean for the win.

After the bell sounded, they showed Triple H and Stephanie watching backstage with big smiles on their faces. Seth Rollins then showed up on the entrance stage to congratulate J&J Security on a job well-done. Back in the ring, Bray posed over Ambrose, then his video interruption played.

WINNER: Bray at 13:27. Solid call-back to their feud months ago. And, more heat on the heels while reinforcing the idea of Dean as a threat to the establishment and the WWE Title. Now it's all about the follow-through with Dean shaking off the loss and pointing out how he's getting to The Authority that they needed to run interference to prevent him from winning.

Still to come: Nikki Bella vs. Naomi for the Divas Title. Plus, John Cena's U.S. Title Open Challenge and New Day will defend the Tag Titles against Kidd & Cesaro. Cole said the Tag Title match is next.

[Q7] [Commercial Break at 9:30]

Exterior Shot: WWE is in Richmond tonight.

Announcers: Cole hyped Tough Enough returning on Tuesday, June 23, where Booker T will be a coach whipping these people into shape. Cole fed to a video package on more audition tapes. It was the same package that aired last night during the PPV. Back to Cole, who talked about the cast of Tough Enough.

In-ring: Eden Stiles was standing by to introduce the Tag Title match up next. Cesaro's siren brought out Cesaro, Tyson Kidd, and Natalya. Cesaro was in Michael Tarver mode with his face covered by a mask. Big E.'s voice then told Richmond to clap for the tag champs. Out came Big E. and Kofi Kingston sans Xavier Woods, who was banned from ringside.

On the way to the ring, Kofi spoke about them having a bit of a situation. See, Xavier Woods has been banned from ringside as a result of this situation from last night. Big E. said the only controversy is the injustice committed against the tag champs. You see, after they are victorious tonight, they will have to defend the Tag Titles against five - five - five - tag teams in the Elimination Chamber. Big E. said even illiterate people in this back-water state can see that as injustice. The crowd booed, then picked up a "New ... Day Sucks" chant. Big E. and Kofi hit the ring and told the crowd to chant with them: "New ... Day Rocks," which of course turned into "New ... Day Sucks." Cole said New Day should not to get ahead of themselves since they have to retain the titles tonight.

4 -- WWE tag champions NEW DAY (BIG E. & KOFI KINGSTON) vs. TYSON KIDD & CESARO (w/Natalya) -- WWE Tag Title match -- Xavier Woods banned from ringside

As the bell sounded, Cole relayed the Tag Title Chamber set-up: Two teams (four men) will start, the other four teams will be locked in the pods, and each team will be released at intervals. Cesaro quickly over-powered Kofi, then Kidd snapped off a head scissors on Big E. to the floor. Kidd and Cesaro posed heading to break.

[Commercial Break at 9:41]

[Q8] Back from break, Kidd took a tag from Cesaro and snapped off a springboard elbow drop to Big E. for a two count. Cole then relayed news that R-Truth, King Barrett, and Rusev have been added to the Chamber IC Title match. The last participant joining Ryback and Sheamus will be named later in the show. As for the current title match, Kidd had Kofi in the Sharpshooter, but Big E. broke up the submission. The action then broke down with referee Mike Chioda trying to restore order, but he threw out the match because New Day would not adhere to his instructions.

WINNERS: No Decision made official when the match was tossed at 5:51; New Day retained the Tag Titles.

Post-match, Cesaro and Kidd tried to set up Kofi for the Big Swing combo, but Xavier Woods ran down to the ring to attack the challengers. The action broke down, then Lucha Dragons hit the ring to attack New Day. They took them out, then Los Matadores stormed the ring and took out New Day, too. Suddenly, The Ascension jogged down to the ring to "go away" boos. Konnor and Viktor took out Kidd, then the crowd roared as Prime Time Players stormed the ring to clear Ascension.

Kidd tried to get at Titus, but Titus intercepted with a backbreaker. Players then took out Viktor and stood tall in the ring. Suddenly, Lucha Dragons ran past the Players and took out all of the teams on the floor. Titus then reached through the ropes to grab Xavier Woods and feed him to Darren Young for his fall-away gutbuster. PTP'ers stood tall in the ring as Cole noted these six teams (New Day, Kidd & Cesaro, Ascension, Prime Time Players, Lucha Dragons, and Los Matadores) will be in the Chamber in two weeks.

Still to come: Seth Rollins Celebration.

Up Next: John Cena's U.S. Title Open Challenge.

[Commercial Break at 9:50]

This Thursday: Roman Reigns returns to Smackdown. Um, he was the centerpiece of the show last Thursday with Dean Ambrose. And in the main event. If the implication was he will not be on Raw tonight and will be on Smackdown instead, it was poorly worded.

John Cena's Open Challenge

In-ring: John Cena's music played to loud noise, mainly cheers from the crowd. Cena, not showing the effects of going to war with Rusev last night, stormed the ring and held up the U.S. Title belt for the crowd as the announcers recapped Cena vs. Rusev at Payback last night. Once his music stopped, Cena held up the U.S. Title belt for the hard camera. Cena said this is the title of opportunity.

Cena then entered promo mode that if you missed Payback last night, he can sum it up in three letters: "U-S-A," which the crowd chanted following the leader. Cena said they all have their differences and opinions, but at the end of the day, they are all proud Americans. Cena said everyone can understand the pride and passion he has to carry the title into battle every night. WWE cut to a shot of military personnel standing in the crowd, who Cena pointed out. Cena said they make this title different than any other title. He said it is a true symbol of excellence and sportsmanship.

Cena listed the wrestlers who have taken him up on the title shot, then said everyone knows the WWE Title is The Title, but this is their title. "And the champ is here!" he declared. Cena said it's time to give the competition an opportunity. And Richmond is the place to be. So, the U.S. Title Open Challenge starts right now.

[Q9 -- third hour] After a pause, NXT music played. And out came the NXT champion Kevin Owens, who did Cena's material on NXT house shows over the weekend. Owens, with the NXT Title belt in-hand, sauntered down to the ring as the announcers talked up Owens as a vile, despicable man. Owens confidently walked up to Cena, sarcastically saying hello. He said he would introduce him, but Cena knows exactly who he is. And if anyone doesn't know who he is, those people are not worth his time.

Cena picked up the mic and introduced NXT champion Kevin Owens. Why, thank you. Owens said Cena must be feeling a little guilty right now about what happened with Sami Zayn two weeks ago. But, he's here to put his mind at ease. Because he injured Zayn before he ever faced Cena. And in two nights, he's going to finish what he started with Zayn.

Cena spoke next. He said some people might not know Owens, but regardless of how he feels about the audience, no one is to ever be called a waste of time. He gave Owens the fan speech about there not being WWE if there are no fans. "This!" he shouted. "Is why we're here." Cena told Owens he has some veteran advice to give him. Owens slowed him down. He said he's been wrestling longer than Cena, so he does not get to give him advice ever. Understand me? Fine, Cena said, he'll give him some advice. Cena said Zayn fired up and fought him because he has heart. And when he looks at Owens, he sees a scared kid who bit off more than he can chew. He told Owens not to under-estimate Zayn on Wednesday or he'll take the title from him.

Cena told Owens that the Open Challenge is still open, so if you want some, come get some. Owens sneered, then said he already has a prize (the NXT Title), so he's turning down the offer. But, John, one day we will fight. And it will be on my terms. Until then - Owens kicked Cena in the gut, doubling over Cena. Owens then tossed Cena into the ropes and caught him with a pop-up powerbomb, KO'ing Cena. A loud "Fight, Owens, Fight" chant picked up from the ringside fans. Owens then disrespectfully stomped down on the U.S. Title belt, stood over Cena, and held up the NXT Title. Owens did Cena's You Can't See Me Wave and left the ring as Cole talked about Owens being a disrespectful human being. Owens headed to the entrance stage as Cena recovered in the ring and Cole called out Owens for disrespecting Cena and the U.S. Title.

[ Reax: Owens sounded a bit nervous on the mic in this big spotlight moment, but he seemed to finish stronger than he started. They eventually got to Owens reinforcing his heel persona and they made Cena look like a huge star juxtaposed to an NXT star making his first Raw TV appearance. ]

Announcers: Cole and Co. hyped the NXT Takeover special this Wednesday on WWE Network. Cole then fed to a video package on Daniel Bryan discussing his health last week on Raw. Cole said they do not know if/when Bryan will return to the ring, but his vacated IC Title will be determined in two weeks.

In-ring: Dolph Ziggler was introduced to the ring for the next match.

[Commercial Break at 10:11]

[Q10] Back from break, Stardust's music was playing. Cole apparently missed his cue that they were back on the air, as he said, "Okay guys, one, two, three," doing a sound check. JBL and Booker were obviously instructed to rib him to try to "own the unprofessionalism." Cole took it in stride as he discussed Ziggler being cut open during his match against Sheamus last night at Payback.


Ziggler, sporting a cut eye, tried to fight through Stardust's early attack as the crowd taunted Stardust with "Cody, Cody" chants. Ziggler then decided to end things with Zig-Zag out of nowhere. It was good for a pin 90 seconds into the match. Booker said Ziggler is back on track.

WINNER: Ziggler at 1:26.

Post-match, Cole entered the ring to talk to Ziggler, who tried to do a movie line about being hideous, so look away. The crowd didn't take it, then Ziggler got serious talking about chicks digging scars like hockey players, so he's ready to go. Cole told Ziggler that one spot remains in the IC Title Chamber match, and that spot will be filled by ... Dolph ZIggler. Ziggler said it's about time. He said he'll gladly go through Sheamus to get the IC Title.

Suddenly, Lana walked down to ringside. Ziggler was a bit confused and the crowd wasn't sure what to make of this. Lana walked up to Ziggler batting her eyes toward him. Lana then approached Ziggler and went for a kiss as Ziggler tried not to break up laughing. Lana planted a kiss, then they kind of stood in the ring awkwardly. The crowd did "Yes!" chants, then transitioned to "one more time." Lana approached Ziggler once again, then kissed him again. Lana smiled, then Ziggler started looking over his shoulder for Rusev to come out.

Rusev stormed down to the ring as Booker said someone is going to die. Rusev charged Ziggler, who met him in the ring. Rusev tackled Ziggler, then superkicked him across the ring. Rusev turned his attention toward Lana, who slapped him across the face. Rusev turned very angry, then stalked Lana, allowing Ziggler to grab Rusev from behind for the Zig-Zag. Ziggler then escorted Lana out of the ring and they headed to the back. Back in the ring, Rusev got up ranting and raving.

[ Reax: Eeeehhhh. Not sure about this yet. Credit to Greg Parks for calling this storyline shift on the Payback post-show that WWE would have Lana associate with a babyface opposite Rusev. But, WWE's selection of Ziggler might not be the right pick. His history with female associates is not exactly strong and this feels like a step down for Rusev. Not necessarily because it's Ziggler, but it feels pretty mid-card and you can picture the house show material with Rusev being the butt of jokes going forward. Time will tell, though. ]

Backstage: "Baileywick" Kane talked to the production crew about getting that carpet sparkling clean for Seth Rollins's celebration. He clapped it up, then paused when he walked next to Adam Rose and Rosa Mendes randomly making out in the hallway. Kane decided to keep on walking heading to break.

[Commercial Break at 10:24]

Back from break, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan were in the ring. Also in the ring were Zack Ryder and Fandango for the most random pairing of the night. Well, arguably after the previous segment with Ziggler & Lana.


Fandango started things off for the random babyface pairing. Rowan and Harper worked over Fandango while the crowd lightly chanted for Ryder. Fandango eventually made it to Ryder, who delivered a flying dropkick to Harper. But, he ran right into a swinging sidewalk slam. Harper then tagged in Rowan, who combined with Harper for a double-team superkick and Full Nelson Slam. Rowan covered Ryder for the win.

WINNERS: Rowan & Harper at 3:27. Comedown match trying to reinforce Harper & Rowan as a tag team threat. But, not enough of a threat to qualify for the Chamber? They couldn't squeeze out Los Matadores? Overall, this felt like the point in the show where three hours of Raw is just way too much hurting an otherwise good show.

[Q11] Backstage: Stephanie McMahon kind of sarcastically greeted the Bella Twins in the hallway. Steph, who associated with The Bellas before they well, never actually turned face, said she would like to schedule some counseling sessions for Brie Bella with the Daniel Bryan situation. She also recommended that Brie hang backstage and not accompany Nikki to ringside. Brie protested, but Nikki tried to act confident that she would handle Naomi.

[Commercial Break at 10:33]

In-ring: Nikki Bella was introduced to the ring for her Divas Title defense. Cole said something doesn't seem right about Stephanie having Brie hang backstage and not support Nikki. JBL tried to defend Steph, but Cole said he's not buying it, considering Stephanie's history with Brie Bella's husband, Daniel Bryan. Naomi's music then brought out Naomi and Tamina Snuka, who Cole pointed out should have been asked to hang back, too. In an inset promo, Naomi said she does not understand why people are so behind the Bellas Twins. Who are these people? Naomi vowed to finally win the Divas Title and Tamina said the Divas division belongs to them.

7 -- Divas champion NIKKI BELLA vs. NAOMI (w/Tamina Snuka) -- Divas Title match

Before the bell sounded, Eden Stiles handled formal ring introductions. Naomi was kind of booed and cheered. Nikki was also kind of booed and cheered. They battled back-and-forth early on, feeling each other out until Nikki clotheslined Naomi over the top rope. Nikki then splashed Naomi on the outside heading to break.

[Commercial Break at 10:42]

[Q12] Back from break, Naomi was in control of the match back in the ring. Nikki took control, prompting Tamina to hit the ring and attack Nikki, causing a DQ. This set up a significant post-match...

Post-match, Naomi and Tamina beat down Nikki until Paige ran down, returning to television after returning to WWE on house shows over the weekend. Paige took out Naomi, sending her from the ring. Paige then held up the Divas Title belt and told Naomi that this is her house. Paige, who feuded with the Bellas for a while, then turned toward Nikki seemingly in a friendly manner. But, when Nikki went for the belt, Paige smashed her with the Ram-Paige, popping the crowd. Paige then picked up the title belt and paraded around the ring as Cole noted Paige is the true #1 contender since Naomi attacked her last month to steal the #1 contender slot.

WINNER: Nikki via DQ at 6:20; Nikki retained the Divas Title. Well, Paige is the babyface in this scenario, right, despite cheap-shotting Nikki, who never actually turned face?

Earlier Tonight: NXT champion Kevin Owens attacked U.S. champion John Cena, then gave him the pop-up powerbomb. They focused on Owens's "lack of respect" stomping on the U.S. Title belt.

Backstage: Owens was shown shaking hands with Triple H, who said Owens made him proud. Renee Young then approached Owens and asked him about having a conversation with The Authority. Owens said he did have that conversation and now he faces Cena in two weeks in Elimination Chamber. Owens warned Cena to pay attention to what he does to Sami Zayn on NXT: Takeover in two nights because it will represent what he does to him at the Chamber PPV.

[ Reax: Major, major step forward for Owens getting a match with John Cena on a WWE PPV two weeks after debuting on main TV. That's big. ]

[Commercial Break at 10:53]

Raw next week: The cast of "Entourage" guest-stars on Raw. A clip from the movie to promote their appearance included Ronda Rousey in a cameo. From Rousey to...

Seth Rollins Celebration

In-ring: Stephanie McMahon, Triple H, and Kane were in the ring standing on the red carpet for the main event segment celebrating Seth Rollins. Steph talked up Seth, then brought out the WWE champion, who was joined by J&J Security.

Rollins took great joy walking to the ring as champion, then shook hands with Kane, hugged Stephanie, and shook hands with and hugged Hunter.

Hunter said they believed in Seth the moment they saw him in NXT. Steph got excited thinking about Seth winning the WWE Title at WrestleMania, then Hunter said Seth has lived up to every claim. He said when he looks at Seth, he sees his reflection. "Wow," Steph heelishly said. Hunter said that when he watched Seth give the Pedigree to Randy Orton in the middle of the ring last night, it gave him goosebumps. He said they and the whole world are here to celebrate Seth Rollins. The crowd booed.

[Q13 -- over-run] Seth said this is too much, then Hunter said members of The Authority would like to share some words about Seth. How about you, Kane? Why don't you start? Kane waited out a "Justin Bieber" chant as Hunter embraced Steph in the background. Kane tried to find the words to address Seth. Where could he possibly begin? He said they have not seen eye-to-eye lately, but he is over a foot taller than him. Just kidding around.

Kane said that in front of millions of people, he can truly say that he is glad Seth is still champion and he is best for business. Seth said that's it? Nothing else to say? "Thank you," Kane muttered, "for saving my job." He said he put together this video to show how grateful he is. They cued up a hype video on Seth Rollins, focusing on his journey to the top, including ending The Shield to join The Authority. "Whoo hooo!" Stephanie proclaimed back in the ring.

Jamie Noble spoke up that it's been great standing next to Seth. He said there is a saying in his more cultured "WEST" Virginia that the cream always rises to the top. Noble said it's his honor to protect the WWE champ on a nightly basis. He said Joey Mercury has something to say and it will shock the world. Mercury loosened his toe, milked his first words in forever, and was interrupted by Dean Ambrose's music. Poor Joey.

Ambrose slowly walked down to the ring contemplating his move with The Authority filling the ring. Ambrose decided to enter the ring anyways, prompting Cole to call him crazy. Steph stepped up to Dean, saying he has a lot of nerve coming out here. Dean apologized for being late to the party, as he was looking for a Justin Bieber outfit for Seth. A chant followed.

Dean said he's here to give Seth another opportunity at a match with him. So long as the WWE World Hvt. Title is on the line. Seth asked crazyman Dean what part of this he does not understand. "This is my moment!" he said. He told Dean that he's at the back of the line with Reigns and Orton for another title shot. Dean said he's a notorious line-jumper and he wants his title match. Or else. Steph asked who he thinks he is making demands. As a matter of fact, Dean lost just last night.

But, Seth is a fighting champion and he will not be intimidated by Dean's threats. Steph told Seth to get him. Seth was like what? Hunter then led Stephanie, Kane, and J&J Security away to the corner as Seth tried to gain some confidence. Seth removed his jacket, charged Dean, Dean ducked, and the fight was on. J&J tried to get involved, but Dean and Seth spilled to the outside. Dean suplexed Rollins, then chucked Noble and Mercury into the barricade.

Dean then back-dropped Seth over the announce table into the lap of the announcers. Suddenly, the cinder blocks were back at the ringside position. Dean put Seth face-down on the cinder blocks, then picked up a chair. Dean vowed to end Seth as the crowd cheered with "Yes!" chants. Steph told Dean to let Seth go and they will give him the WWE Title shot. Dean smiled as Stephanie begged Dean to let him go. Dean calmed down, then went for the chair shot anyways, but Mercury made the save. Dean fought with Noble and Mercury, then splashed them and Kane on the outside.

Dean stalked Seth to finish him, but Seth ran back into the ring, then ran away toward Hunter, who pulled Seth out of the ring. Dean went back to attacking Noble and Mercury before Kane knocked him down with a big boot. Kane tried a chokeslam, but Dean escaped and smashed him with a rebound lariat. Dean wanted Dirty Deeds on Kane, but Seth jumped back into the ring to attack Dean. Seth beat down Dean, then set up for, took his time, and delivered a clean Pedigree in the middle of the ring.

Seth gloated, then picked up the WWE Title belt and angrily declared that he is the WWE champion and The Man. Seth told Dean to get that through his head, then his music played. Seth held up the title belt and Hunter and Steph applauded ringside while Kane checked his mouth for blood. Raw signed off 13 minutes past the top of the hour with Seth standing tall over Dean to close the show.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Heat on the heels. From start to finish. Good, disciplined booking getting to the Chamber PPV in two weeks with a few hiccups such as some throw-it-at-the-wall set-up for the Chamber matches. Overall, a strong show following up on the PPV, with the major concern being how the Lana-Ziggler-Rusev deal plays out. Finally, credit to Michael Cole for having a strong broadcast tonight. Cole navigated the show well, expressed the right amount of anger on a heel-heavy show, and was set up to succeed with WWE setting things up effectively and giving matches/promos ample time to breathe and allow for Cole to stress key points.


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