WWE Raw Report CALDWELL'S WWE RAW RESULTS 6/1: Complete "virtual-time" coverage of live Raw - Chamber fall-out, Ambrose's deadline, Divas Title match, Reigns wrestles three times
Jun 1, 2015 - 10:07:46 PM
PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO BOOKMARK US & VISIT US DAILY
WWE Raw TV Results
June 1, 2015 - Episode #1,148
Live in San Antonio, Tex.
Report by James Caldwell (@JCTorch), PWTorch assistant editor
- The Card: Dean Ambrose has until the start of Raw to return the WWE World Title to Seth Rollins and The Authority, Kevin Owens is in San Antonio to address beating John Cena, Ryback vs. The Miz for the Intercontinental Title, Randy Orton returning to TV to face Sheamus, Elimination Chamber PPV fall-out, Money in the Bank hype, and more.
Live Raw on USA Network
Raw opened with a video package containing a dramatic re-telling of the Dusty Finish story last night at Elimination Chamber. Dean Ambrose celebrated with the WWE Title, but Seth Rollins was declared still WWE World champion. Dean left with the title belt, though, and now he has until the start of Raw to return the belt to its rightful owner(s).
Live from the AT&T Center, Triple H's music played to bring out a very mad bunch of heels. Out came Hunter, Stephanie McMahon, and Rollins without his title belt. In the back-row were Kane and J&J Security. On commentary, Michael Cole, JBL, and Booker T argued a bit, then The Authority took the stage.
In the ring, Stephanie said Dean Ambrose stole the WWE Title last night, and he is not the WWE champion. Seth, with arms folded, no-sold a "You Sold Out" chant since he was so mad. Stephanie ran down Ambrose's list of offenses, then asked what they're going to do about Ambrose. Fine him? Suspend him? Maybe just get rid of him all together?
Hunter said they're not going to do any of that. Ambrose might be crazy, but he's not stupid. So now is the time to crawl out of the hole somewhere in the arena and return the belt. The crowd filled the space with "Justin Bieber" chants, prompting Hunter to tell them to shut up. He then screamed: "Dean Ambrose, get your ass out here now!" Instead of Ambrose's music playing, The Shield's music played to bring out Roman Reigns on the stage. Reigns was total babyface taking his time interacting with the fans on the way down to ringside. Big smiles on kids's faces.
Reigns had a big smile at ringside to counter the frowns in the ring. He then slid into the ring and surveyed the scene. Reigns said it sounds like San Antonio is happy to see him. He then noted to Hunter that Dean Ambrose is not here. And he may never come back. (The crowd seemed deflated by that proclamation by trusted babyface Reigns that Ambrose might not be on the show.) Unless, Reigns said, Ambrose gets his title re-match at Money in the Bank. But, not just any re-match. A ladder match. That way there is no confusion; whoever has the title will be the WWE World Hvt. champion.
Stephanie interrupted, saying they will not negotiate with low-lifes like Ambrose and Reigns. Reigns said she might want to consider the offer because Ambrose beat Rollins last night. Rollins shouted back: "He did not beat me! I am still WWE World Hvt. champion." The crowd answered with a "You got beat" chant. Reigns smirked, then paced the ring. Reigns said he doesn't think Seth is as good as he thinks he is. He noted Dean beat him and he's beaten him. And he's only champ because mommy and daddy are protecting him. Reigns said he used to be cool in The Shield, but he might be the worst WWE champion. Ever.
Rollins, the hot-head, said Ambrose has the match. He can have the re-match. Hunter and Stephanie tried to calm down Seth, who kept digging his own hole by saying he wants to prove that he is the Undisputed WWE champion and he doesn't need The Authority, his crack security staff, or a seven-foot piece of trash (Kane). Reigns just smirked as Rollins kept ranting and raving, ignoring Hunter trying to calm him down. Seth eventually threw down the mic and left the ring in a huff.
Once Seth took off, Stephanie stepped up to Reigns, telling him to wipe that smirk off his face. Hunter stepped in before things got heated, then dressed down Reigns, reminding him that he's in the MITB ladder match in two weeks - the same match that ruined his hopes and dreams at WrestleMania when Seth cashed in on him. He said Reigns is in that match. For now. He said if Reigns loses a match tonight, then he's out of the MITB ladder match. And just so there's no long, drawn-out anticipation, he's going to go backstage and find an opponent for Reigns right now. Hunter led the troops out of the ring as Reigns hung out in the ring unmoved by Hunter's threat.
[ Reax: Strong performances from everyone. Rollins played a great hot-head, Hunter and Steph were solid with their expressions trying to calm down Seth, Reigns was presented very favorably and carried himself well, and they didn't over-stay their welcome drawing this out too long. They also set up Dean making a surprise appearance later in the show. ]
[Q2] [Commercial Break at 8:15]
Back from break, King Barrett was on his way to the ring to face Roman Reigns. Barrett was not selling the Chamber match from last night, de-valuing the structure by making it seem like WWE is just moving right along. Cole said if Barrett wins, then he will replace Reigns in the MITB ladder match.
1 -- ROMAN REIGNS vs. KING BARRETT
Barrett, who has been presented as a loser since winning the KOTR tournament, started the match in control trying to wear down Reigns. Reigns responded with a big boot to the head. He followed with punt kicks to the chest as Barrett hung in the ropes, then pounded Barrett into the ring apron.
Back in the ring, Reigns emphatically clotheslined Barrett over the top rope to the floor. But, Barrett was able to kick the ring steps into Reigns's shin, temporarily injuring Reigns. Barrett pushed Reigns into the ring apron, then returned to the ring to stand tall heading to break.
[Commercial Break at 8:23]
Barrett continued to dominate back from break. Reigns made his comeback and nailed a flying clothesline for a nearfall. Barrett responded with Winds of Change, then wanted the Bullhammer, but Reigns ducked, rolled Barrett into the air, and hit a sit-out powerbomb for a close two count.
[Q3] Reigns pulled himself to his feet and called for the Superman Punch, but Barrett recovered to the ring apron. Barrett raked Reigns's eyes, then tried the Bullhammer as the crowd tried to wake up Reigns, but Reigns ducked and nailed a big spear. Reigns covered Barrett for the win.
WINNER: Reigns at 14:07 to retain his MITB spot. There's no way Barrett should have lasted more than two minutes since he's been losing so quickly and constantly as of late, has zero credibility in the ring right now, and wrestled a Chamber match last night while Reigns did not have a match, so Reigns should have been super-fresh compared to Barrett. But, WWE could have covered for the logic holes of a competitive 14-minute match by having the announcers talk about Barrett stepping up his game in singles matches when something big is on the line, or he was extra-determined and motivated to take advantage of a fresh opportunity after his recent series of losses. The announcing is so far removed from presenting the action in that manner, though, in favor of yelling at each other and tired arguments that everyone ended up looking silly if viewers have been paying attention to Barrett's win/loss record as of late. It just makes it seem like WWE doesn't pay attention to its own product not addressing the obvious questions viewers would have with a match like this.
Chamber Flashback: Kevin Owens beat John Cena in his WWE main roster debut match. Big emphasis on Owens's victory, then Cole hyped "The Champ is Here," referring to Owens, later tonight.
DVD Trailer: Daniel Bryan's new DVD due out tomorrow.
[Commercial Break at 8:35]
Backstage: Roman Reigns was shown walking down the hallway. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon stopped him in the hallway and sarcastically clapped it up for Reigns beating Barrett. Hunter said Reigns will remain in the MITB ladder match ... if he can beat his next opponent, Mark Henry. Hunter smirked, then sang a line from Henry's theme song on the way out. Reigns took a deep breath and re-focused on his next task.
Backstage: Byron Saxton brought in Divas champion Nikki Bella. Byron congratulated Nikki on retaining her Divas Title last night at Elimination Chamber. Nikki said she is open to all upcoming challenges. NXT call-up? Instead, Paige walked in and said she wants a one-on-one Divas Title shot. Nikki said Paige is sounding a lot like Naomi right now, but if she wants a title re-match, she can have one. And it will be tonight.
In-ring: Lilian Garcia introduced the new Intercontinental champion Ryback. Ryback emerged on-stage with the IC Title belt around his waist, which looked a bit out of place. Maybe just an adjustment period for the visual. Cole noted that Ryback has been forced to defend the title tonight. But, first, a look at Ryback winning the vacant title last night in the Elimination Chamber.
In the ring, Ryback waited out "Feed Me More" chants before speaking. Ryback said he doesn't want to get emotional, but he is proud to be new IC champion. He went back to this very arena last year when he returned to TV and San Antonio inspired him to get back to the top. Ryback led the crowd in chanting "Feed Me More" before his music played again. Cole said the title match is next.
Thus far, no explanation of why The Miz is receiving an IC Title shot. Will the announcers attempt an explanation, or just resume their petty arguments?
[Q4] [Commercial Break at 8:45]
Back live, Ryback's theme music played out, then The Miz's music played to bring out the challenger. Miz was dressed in his heelish garb and aviators. Cole noted that Miz has been off filming a movie and returned at Elimination Chamber last night. So, why is he suddenly to the front of the line for an IC Title shot?
2 -- IC champion RYBACK vs. THE MIZ -- Intercontinental Title match
Lilian Garcia handled formal ring introductions, then Big Show's music suddenly played. Show returned to TV with eyes on Ryback. Show stepped over the top rope, walked past Miz, stepped up to Ryback looking to fight, and cocked his fist. Then, he suddenly turned toward Miz and dropped him with a KO Punch. The crowd didn't know what to do with this. So, Show grabbed a mic to provide an explanation.
Show said if anyone is going to beat Ryback for the title, it's going to be him. Show took exception to Ryback's "big guy" label, telling him he ain't got nothing on the Big Show. Ryback did not back down and the crowd had his back with a "Feed Me More" chant as Show left the ring. Cole said there will be no title match.
WINNER: No match. Miz ended up being a prop to get to Show-Ryback, but the idea of Miz being able to get a title shot was not sufficiently addressed. They could come up with a storyline explanation of The Authority heelishly handing out title shots to whomever, but the overall situation makes it seem like there is no structure, making it difficult for the audience to take this seriously. In this situation, WWE just didn't seem to be interested in taking care of the fundamentals in favor of introducing Show-Ryback.
Still to come: Roman Reigns vs. Mark Henry with Reigns's MITB spot on the line. Also, Nikki Bella vs. Paige for the Divas Title.
Up Next: Kevin Owens in the big top-of-the-hour segment.
[Commercial Break at 8:54]
In-ring: NXT champion Kevin Owens was introduced to the ring two minutes before the top of the hour. The crowd recognized Owens, who marched down to the ring with the NXT Title over his shoulder.
In the ring, Owens talked about backing up what he says, whether it's Sami Zayn or John Cena. He said he delivered last night at Elimination Chamber.
[Q5 -- second hour] Owens said last night should have been the biggest night of his life. He called home and his wife was so proud. But, when he talked to his kid, it was a different story. See, his kid is a huge John Cena fan. He's a kid. Owens said his kid just wanted to know if Cena was okay. Owens said it's not his boy's fault, though, because it's blind worship of a living, breathing, real-life super-hero. The bright colors, the catchphrase - he gets it.
Owens said while he traveled the world working on his craft for ten years, his son was being influenced by John Cena instead of him because he was not on WWE television. Owens said he went toe-to-toe with Super Cena last night, and "I beat Super Cena!" he declared, popping the vocal males. Owens vowed to beat Cena again in two weeks and expose Cena for who he really is.
Owens told the parents in the crowd to make sure they watch Money in the Bank in two weeks to see what he does to Cena, exposing him for the marketing tool that he is. Owens emphatically vowed to deliver again in two weeks, because that's what he does. The vocal males popped and Owens proudly held up the NXT Title belt. They seem to be subtly setting up a deal of NXT being marketed as "authentic" opposite WWE TV as "manufactured" for the masses.
Suddenly, John Cena's music played. The U.S. champion came out on-stage as the vocal males fired up by Owens did the "John Cena Suuuucks" sing-song. Cena hit the ring and said Owens is a jackass. He said Owens needs to act like he's been there before, even if it was his first WWE match. Cena said the whole world is talking about Kevin Owens, then Cena paused for a "You got beat" chant.
Cena said the crowd is speaking the truth because Owens not only took him to the limit, he won. "I got beat," Cena declared. Owens nodded along. Cena said ever since he's held this U.S. Title, he's acknowledged that a man will come down to the ring and beat him. So, five minutes ago, he was prepared to come down to the ring and hand Owens the U.S. Title belt. But he doesn't deserve it. And he doesn't even deserve the NXT Title.
Cena told a smirking Owens that his son feels the way he feels because it is the WWE Marketing Machine. Cena said if that were the case, his son would want an Adam Rose t-shirt, want to be a Funkasauras, or want to grow up to be an XFL player. Owens smirked at Cena avoiding the subject. Cena then pointed out Cena Fans in the crowd and pointed out a fan in the crowd holding up a sign reading: "I am beating cancer." Owens smirked at Cena using a cancer patient's situation to fuel his promo and fire up the crowd. Cena said his catchphrases weren't drawn up by someone sitting in a board room. They're real and authentic because that's who he is.
Cena continued his monthly ra-ra speech covering for last night's loss, then paused to acknowledge the cancer patient on the front row again. Cena told her to never give up and keep fighting. He then re-addressed Owens, saying his catchphrase inspires people who wait for something for ten years to kick, scratch, and claw to get the prize and then finally declare "The champ is here." And that person was you, Kevin Owens, last night. Cena said the three words that define Owens's life journey are not Fight, Owens, Fight, but "Never give up."
Cena had some advice "man-to-almost-man" that he will have to explain how a "really good wrestler" got his ass kicked by a real man in two weeks. No rebuttal chance for Owens. Cena slammed down the mic and ripped off his t-shirt prepared to fight as his music played. Owens also prepared to fight, tossed down the NXT Title, and squared off, but he stepped to the ropes and took off with his title belt to boos. Owens kept walking to the back without turning around to face Cena, who fired up the crowd off-camera.
[ Reax: Owens was strong, Cena was strong, and then Cena went for the cancer patient tie-in. That seemed out-of-bounds; it felt exploitative trying to advance the fiction, which indirectly reinforced Owens's point, and gave Owens no room for a rebuttal. How is anyone supposed to rebut an argument when the opponent goes there? Cena would justify the tie-in as using the patient's stry to inspire others in a similar fight, benefiting the "greater good," but it just came across yucky if emotionally removed from the situation. ]
Still to come: Sheamus vs. Randy Orton.
[Q6] [Commercial Break at 9:14]
In-ring: New Day was in the ring to gloat about retaining the WWE Tag Titles last night. But, first, Xavier Woods had something to say about the San Antonio Spurs. He said Tim Duncan needs to retire, which drew big boos. "Go, Spurs, Go" chant from the crowd. Kofi Kingston then spoke about winning the MITB ladder match in two weeks. Because, Big E. said, when Kofi becomes Mr. MITB, all three of them become Mr. Money in the Bank. Because ... New Day Rocks. The crowd answered with "New ... Day Sucks" chants.
Dolph Ziggler's music interrupted to bring out Ziggler, accompanied by Lana. Lana stood on the stage as Ziggler made his way down to the ring to face Kofi in a MITB preview match.
2 -- DOLPH ZIGGLER (w/Lana) vs. WWE tag champion KOFI KINGSTON (w/Xavier Woods and Big E.)
The crowd started with a chant for Lana, ignoring Ziggler. They followed with a "New ... Day Sucks" chant, also ignoring Ziggler. Kofi slowed the pace by working on Ziggler with a headlock. Xavier shouted at Ziggler that he's nothing, then Dolph responded with a back-elbow smash and corner splash. Ziggler tried to fire up the crowd before landing a leaping elbow drop for a two count. Ziggler tried a sidekick, but Kofi blocked, only to take a DDT from Dolph. Dolph followed with a quick pin for the three count.
Post-match: Xavier and Big E. immediately hit the ring to attack Dolph, which drew out the Prime Time Players. The Players quickly drove New Day out of the ring, then checked on Ziggler as Raw cut to break.
WINNER: Ziggler at 3:15. Reinforcement of Ziggler as a secondary figure in everything he's involved in. Also, weird to see the Players in a face role when they were recently doing pre-taped vignettes heelishly mocking the entire tag division. Like Tyson Kidd & Cesaro, there was no official babyface turn, just a pivot to a face role that won't produce as much juice as was available. WWE's mid-card storytelling seems to be based on convenient face and heel alignments that change from month to month.
[Commercial Break at 9:25]
3 -- WWE tag champions NEW DAY (KOFI KINGSTON & BIG E. & XAVIER WOODS) vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER & PRIME TIME PLAYERS (TITUS O'NEIL & DARREN YOUNG) -- non-title six-man tag match
Raw returned from break with this match in progress to follow up on the singles match. New Day was in control of the action.
[Q7] The Players continued to work on D-Young as the crowd tried to rally behind Young. Big E. tagged in and tried a big splash to Young, but Young got his knees up to block. Young made the tag to Titus, who teed off on Xavier Woods, then Big E., then Xavier again. Kofi tried to fly at Titus, who caught Kofi in mid-air and chucked Kofi across the ring. Titus, fired up, went nuts on Xavier before hitting a powerslam for a two count.
Chaos in the ring. Where's Lana? Is she still around after Dolph's first match? The action came to a standstill, temporarily losing the crowd. Ziggler then superkicked Kofi, setting up Titus to scoop up Xavier to finish him for the pin and the win. Cole said the Players might have earned a future Tag Title shot. WWE cut to the stage to show Lana still hanging out smiling at Ziggler's work.
WINNERS: Players & Ziggler at 5:33 of what was shown.
Still to come: Nikki vs. Paige for the Divas Title.
Up Next: Roman Reigns vs. Mark Henry for a MITB slot.
[Commercial Break at 9:35]
Back live, Roman Reigns was ringside with The Shield's music playing. Cole said Dean Ambrose is not here, so at the top of the show Reigns spoke on Ambrose's behalf that Ambrose wants to face Seth Rollins for the WWE Title in a ladder match. Rollins agreed after losing his cool. Back to the present, where Mark Henry's music played. Henry, who returned to TV as jovial Mark Henry last night, emerged on-stage with a mean, mad look on his face, pivoting to a heel role for a match-up with Reigns. Henry had a respect storyline with Reigns last time he was on TV, which was not acknowledged since it's ancient history in WWE's book. And, the pattern dictates Henry will be a total babyface tomorrow night at the Smackdown taping?
4 -- ROMAN REIGNS vs. MARK HENRY -- Reigns's MITB ladder match spot on the line
Henry quickly targeted Reigns's face and Reigns sold an eye injury, making it seem like Reigns's MITB ladder match spot was in jeopardy very early in this match. Reigns responded with a Samoan Drop, then both men fell to the outside. The ref started a ten count, Henry remained down on the floor, Reigns kind of started to get back into the ring at eight, but recoiled to the announce table at nine, and jumped back into the ring at ten, but the tie goes to the runner, so Reigns was given the benefit of the doubt. Henry was counted out, giving Reigns the win.
[Q8] Post-match, Henry attacked Reigns from behind as Reigns continued to sell the eye. Henry delivered World's Strongest Slam, then hit a big splash after bouncing off the ropes. Henry promptly marched out of the ring as Reigns coughed and tried to catch his breath back in the ring.
WINNER: Reigns via count-out at 3:46 to retain his MITB ladder match spot. WWE is definitely trying to get sympathy on Reigns tonight to endear him to the audience. Cue up mad Mark Henry tonight.
[Commercial Break at 9:47]
Backstage: Roman Reigns was shown limping down the hallway. Hunter and Stephanie sarcastically applauded his victory, prompting Reigns to ask if he should keep the vest on. Hunter said it's crazy how many people want to be in that MITB ladder match. He said Reigns should follow the buzzards for his next opponent.
Announcers: Cole transitioned from Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt hype to a Sonic spot. Cole fed to a video package on WWE stars "auditioning" for a Sonic commercial.
Vignette: It was Damien Sandow and Curtis Axel dressed as Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan, respectively, pretending to do a Sonic commercial. They were overwhelmed by the Sonic shake that they could not complete a handshake. The next "audition" was New Day hyping their shakes. Kofi led a rhythmic chant of "Saw-nic Shakes." Back to the Mega Powers for Take 10. Still no handshake. Off to Big Show, who "talked to the director" about the product. Show said he's going to need one of each of the 25 shakes. Back to the Mega Powers for Take 57. Axel eventually just ripped his t-shirt, going off-script. The director dejectedly said off-camera they'll be in touch to close the bit.
In-ring: Paige's music played and the announcers remained silent, having nothing to say after the Sonic spot. Cole eventually said Paige challenges for the Divas Title next.
[Commercial Break at 9:56]
Flashback: Sonic (again) sponsored a look-back to last night when Nikki Bella retained the Divas Title in a three-way match against Paige and Naomi.
In-ring: Nikki Bella's music played to bring out the Divas champion without Brie Bella.
[Q9 -- third hour]
5 -- Divas champion NIKKI BELLA vs. PAIGE -- Divas Title match
Cole noted that Paige is looking to make Divas history by becoming a three-time champion, tying A.J. Lee and Eve Torres. Nikki took early control, then did a push-up routine, which seemed like a cocky heel move over-looking the opponent. They went back and forth trading moves and blocking each other's offense until both Divas fell to the mat off the top rope. Nikki fell to the outside, then rolled toward the ring apron and Brie Bella emerged from under the ring. Brie rolled into the ring, hiding her physical appearance to not give away Twin Magic, then she rolled up Paige for a quick three count.
Post-match, the Bellas celebrated with the title belt as Paige tried to figure out what happened. The ref explained to Paige that she lost, but Paige was convinced that she had been bamboozled. The Bellas smirked on the ramp on the way out.
WINNER: Nikki at 5:50. Sarcastically, a long, long con has been revealed. The Bellas tried to act like babyfaces for months, but their true colors were revealed here since they never actually turned face to begin with and the announcers gave up questioning them despite their characters written to have no redeeming qualities. Naw, WWE just shifted them to babyfaces when it was convenient for a while, then had them bring back their heelish tactics in this match to keep Paige on the title chase. The whole division is an inconsistent mess. Like the male mid-card, WWE makes it very difficult on themselves to get heat on anyone to see them get comeuppance or build sympathy and fan support when the characters change from week to week.
In-ring: Randy Orton made his TV return for the next match. Big emphasis on Orton's ring entrance, then Raw cut to break.
[Commercial Break at 10:11]
Back from break, Cole read a congratulatory message to The Rock for his blockbuster movie, "San Andreas."
[Q10] In-ring: Sheamus was introduced to the ring for a match against Randy Orton, which was designed to preview the MITB ladder match. The announcers said Sheamus isn't fresh after being in the Chamber match last night.
6 -- RANDY ORTON vs. SHEAMUS
Cole tried to cover for Sheamus not winning the IC Title Chamber match by saying he had a "great performance" last night. No anger expressed toward Sheamus locking himself in a Chamber pod to avoid the action for several minutes, giving him an unfair advantage. The action spilled to the outside, where Orton back-dropped Sheamus onto the announce table. Sheamus sold on the floor as Orton stood tall in the ring heading to break.
[Commercial Break at 10:20]
Back from break, Sheamus was in control as the MITB briefcase hung ominously over the ring. Sheamus settled on a headlock, which the director decided was the perfect opportunity to cut away from the action to a full-screen graphic for the MITB line-up. Back to the match, where Orton escaped the headlock and snapped off a powerslam. Orton followed with a t-bone suplex, sending Sheamus rolling to the ring apron.
Orton grappled Sheamus for his trademark second-rope DDT, and he connected. Orton wanted the RKO, but Sheamus avoided and kneed Orton in the mouth, sending Orton reeling to the outside. On the floor, Sheamus and Orton battled for control. Orton eventually chucked Sheamus over the guardrail into the timekeeper's area. Orton went to pick up Sheamus, but Sheamus jabbed him in the gut with a chair. The ref called for a DQ.
Post-match, Sheamus dropped Orton with a Brogue Kick. He then ran Orton into the guardrail before chucking him across the floor in front of the fans. Refs eventually spilled out to check on Orton while Sheamus started to leave. Sheamus then turned around and dropped Orton with another Brogue Kick. Orton continued to sell on the floor as Sheamus stood over him with a menacing look on his face.
WINNER: Orton via DQ at 12:55. A cold, cold match. Why was it happening? They missed Step 1 and neither man's MITB spot was on the line, so the crowd was quiet throughout for Orton's soft re-introduction after being off TV since the Payback PPV. WWE then tried to build an issue between Sheamus and Orton with the DQ and post-match attack. The fundamentals were missing, but they accomplished heat on Sheamus and sympathy for Orton by the end of the segment.
[Q11] Backstage: Byron Saxton brought in Rusev for an interview. Rusev, on crutches and dressed in an all-black street clothes, was asked what his current state of mind is. "I have nothing," Rusev dejectedly said. Rusev, staring straight ahead, said he has no title, career, or woman. "I'm just a broken man," Rusev said. He said he has a broken ankle and a broken spirit. "I am the one crushed this time," he solemnly said. But, Rusev said, he knows what he wants and desires. And he will get all of it back, he declared, snapping out of his dejected mood. Rusev glared at Saxton, then walked off.
[ Reax: Strong promo from Rusev capturing his mood and setting up a journey the audience can follow along with. Of course, it came across like a babyface journey, which matches the inconsistent storytelling tonight, but the heelish line at the very end swung the pendulum toward the right direction. Overall, Rusev is really good and really owns his material. ]
Still to come: Reigns vs. Wyatt for a MITB spot. Cole called it the main event.
[Commercial Break at 10:33]
Smackdown plug: Kevin Owens will be on Smackdown with an NXT Open Challenge, something he said at the last NXT TV that he would not do because his character is not insecure like Cena and he feels his opponents should prove themselves. The justification is the old "heels lie" line, with Owens trying to duck the opposition on NXT, but the announcement comes across like WWE wanted something to add to the Cena-Owens fire and is ignoring what Owens said on NXT.
In-ring: Bo Dallas was introduced to the ring. The crowd wasn't sure how to react to Bo, who said on the way to the ring that he tried to help Neville, but now he just wants to hurt him. Bo angrily dropped the mic and paced the ring, dropping the nice-guy act. Neville was introduced as Bo's opponent for a PPV re-match.
7 -- NEVILLE vs. BO DALLAS
Dallas controlled the action early on, angrily yelling at Neville that he tried to help him. The crowd sat quietly, drained from the length of the show and not engaging in the match. Neville eventually made a comeback and knocked down a frustrated Dallas. Neville then climbed to the top rope, which the crowd recognized, and Neville hit his spectacular Red Arrow finisher for the pin and the win.
WINNER: Neville at 3:10. The issue here is the crowd is being conditioned to just wait for the Red Arrow, so they're not investing in Neville or the first nine-tenths of his matches. Plus, WWE stuck him in a feud with a lower-card heel who generates amusement more than anger. Neville needs something stronger to seek his teeth into, or he'll just slide right down the ladder with Bo.
[Q12] [Commercial Break at 10:45]
Back from break, Roman Reigns was in the ring clutching the ropes still recovering from Mark Henry squashing him an hour ago. Bray Wyatt's music then played to bring out Reigns's final opponent of the evening. Bray was greeted by cell phones lighting up the arena. It seemed more ritualistic or "what you're supposed to do" since Bray has disappeared in recent weeks and doesn't have much going on.
8 -- ROMAN REIGNS vs. BRAY WYATT -- Reigns's MITB ladder match spot on the line
Wyatt took control of an injured Reigns early on. Reigns started to fight back, which drew out Seth Rollins and The Authority henchmen on-stage. Reigns was momentarily distracted, allowing Wyatt to re-take control. Rollins, Kane, and J&J Security applauded from the stage, prompting Cole to point out that Seth said at the top of the show that he doesn't need anyone's help, but he's enlisting their services here. Meanwhile, Wyatt rocked Reigns on the outside and roughed him up heading to break.
[Commercial Break at 10:54]
Back from break, Wyatt was still in control, now in the ring. A light "We Want Ambrose" chant started up, then grew a little louder. Wyatt cut off Reigns's attempted comeback, quieting the crowd. Reigns suddenly exploded out of the corner with a clothesline, putting both men on the mat.
[Q13 -- over-run] Reigns and Wyatt exchanged close nearfalls as The Authority lived and died on each pin attempt from the stage. Wyatt then hung upside down in the corner and crawled toward Reigns, who slowly stood up, then pulled Bray down to the mat for a roll-up that drew a two count. Reigns followed with a Superman Punch, which drew Rollins down to ringside.
Rollins, Kane, Jamie Noble, and Joey Mercury surrounded the ring, then Bray snatched Reigns for Sister Abigail, but Reigns shoved Bray into Kane on the ring apron. Bray recoiled off Kane and fell into a big spear from Reigns, who scored a three count for the win.
WINNER: Reigns at 12:12 to retain his MITB spot. Another cold match, but they continued to get sympathy on Reigns having to wrestle three matches to retain his MITB spot. Reigns's character is starting to thrive in a low-pressure environment with WWE not having to get Reigns ready for a WrestleMania main event that he wasn't ready for two months ago. Now he can slowly build to the spot WWE penciled him in for. As for Wyatt, he really feels like an after-thought right now.
Post-match, The Authority surrounded the ring again to go after Reigns, but Dean Ambrose's music suddenly played to a loud reaction. Rollins ran toward the stage looking for Ambrose, but Ambrose was on the opposite side of the ring ont he announce table. Ambrose, possessing the WWE World Title belt, ran into the ring to stand with Reigns. Ambrose and Reigns cleared the ring, then Ambrose tossed the belt to Rollins, only to pop him with Dirty Deeds. Ambrose picked up the title belt and shook hands with Reigns, who continued to sell his three-match night. Cole said Ambrose gave the title back to Rollins, but Rollins couldn't hang onto it.
Triple H and Stephanie McMahon then walked out on-stage and angrily looked toward Ambrose at ringside. Steph pointed her finger toward Ambrose, who hopped over the guardrail. Reigns slowly joined him over the barricade, then Ambrose checked on Reigns and helped him leave through the crowd. Hunter started to walk down to ringside, then Cole plugged Rollins vs. Ambrose for the WWE World Title in a ladder match in two weeks at the MITB PPV. Cole noted Reigns will be in the MITB ladder match, too.
Backstage, Paul Heyman returned to WWE TV angrily pacing the hallway sneering at people. Heyman then walked into a back-room to sit down opposite "Stone Cold" Steve Austin for their Network podcast coming up next on WWE Network.
Back in the arena, Reigns and Ambrose continued to pose among the fans and celebrate their victory on this night. Meanwhile, Hunter and Rollins seethed from ringside. Stephanie continued to sell anger standing on the floor, then Raw signed off with a final shot of Ambrose holding the WWE Title in the crowd at eight minutes past the top of the hour.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Raw was strong in the areas WWE put emphasis on, like Cena-Owens and Reigns-Authority, but WWE is clearly over-extending themselves with three-hour Raws and now a rapid-fire pace of PPVs/Network specials. The overall product is suffering with over-exposed stars, under-developed mid-card issues, and inconsistent characters, resulting in a disengaged audience putting Raw in the 2.6 rating doldrums. The issue of inconsistent characters was really on-display tonight.
THE TORCH REACHES MORE COMBAT ENTERTAINMENT FANS THAN ANY OTHER SOURCE
PWTorch editor Wade Keller has covered pro wrestling full time since 1987 starting with the Pro Wrestling Torch print newsletter. PWTorch.com launched in 1999 and the PWTorch Apps launched in 2008.
He has conducted "Torch Talk" insider interviews with Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Eric Bischoff, Jesse Ventura, Lou Thesz, Jerry Lawler, Mick Foley, Jim Ross, Paul Heyman, Bruno Sammartino, Goldberg, more.
He has interviewed big-name players in person incluiding Vince McMahon (at WWE Headquarters), Dana White (in Las Vegas), Eric Bischoff (at the first Nitro at Mall of America), Brock Lesnar (after his first UFC win).
He hosted the weekly Pro Wrestling Focus radio show on KFAN in the early 1990s and hosted the Ultimate Insiders DVD series distributed in retail stories internationally in the mid-2000s including interviews filmed in Los Angeles with Vince Russo & Ed Ferrara and Matt & Jeff Hardy. He currently hosts the most listened to pro wrestling audio show in the world, (the PWTorch Livecast, top ranked in iTunes)
REACHING 1 MILLION+ UNIQUE USERS PER MONTH
500 MILLION CLICKS & LISTENS PER YEAR
MILLIONS OF PWTORCH NEWSLETTERS SOLD
PWTorch offers a VIP membership for $10 a month (or less with an annual sub). It includes nearly 25 years worth of archives from our coverage of pro wrestling dating back to PWTorch Newsletters from the late-'80s filled with insider secrets from every era that are available to VIPers in digital PDF format and Keller's radio show from the early 1990s.
Also, new exclusive top-shelf content every day including a new VIP-exclusive weekly 16 page digital magazine-style (PC and iPad compatible) PDF newsletter packed with exclusive articles and news.
The following features come with a VIP membership which tens of thousands of fans worldwide have enjoyed for many years...
-New Digital PWTorch Newsletter every week
-3 New Digital PDF Back Issues from 5, 10, 20 years ago
-Over 60 new VIP Audio Shows each week
-Ad-free access to all PWTorch.com free articles
-VIP Forum access with daily interaction with PWTorch staff and well-informed fellow wrestling fans
-Tons of archived audio and text articles
-Decades of Torch Talk insider interviews in transcript and audio formats with big name stars. **SIGN UP FOR VIP ACCESS HERE**