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WWE returns to London for this week’s Raw episode with Shane McMahon in charge of Raw for the third consecutive show, plus build-up to the Payback PPV on May 1…
WWE Raw TV Report
April 18, 2016 – Episode #1,195
Taped in London, England
Report by James Caldwell (@JCTorch), PWTorch assistant editor
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- Latest WM32 fall-out & Payback PPV build-up
- Tag Title #1 contender tournament continues
- Shane McMahon running Raw
- Announcers: Michael Cole, JBL, Byron Saxton
Raw opened with full pyro from London as Michael Cole introduced the show in the midst of a two-week tour of the Middle East and Europe.
Ambrose Asylum w/Shane McMahon
In the arena, Dean Ambrose’s music played to kick off the show. Ambrose walked past the standard props assembled on-stage before walking to the ring. Cole flashed back to last week when Ambrose took over Chris Jericho’s “Highlight Reel” and created the Ambrose Asylum.
Ambrose introduced his “talk show” and did a bit of a monologue running down the likes of Braun Strowman, then shouting out to new U.S. late-night talk show host James Corden, whose parents were shown on the front row. After a wave to the crowd, Dean welcomed out the man who gave him his first break in the talk-show business, Shane McMahon. Big pop for Shane bouncing out on-stage as Cole talked about an “incredible outpouring of support” for Shane running Raw, which is why he’s still around despite losing to The Undertaker at WrestleMania.
Loud “Shane O’Mac” chant once his music stopped. Dean welcomed Shane to the Ambrose Asylum, then told him to take a seat. Well, they had no chairs on a small budget. The crowd interrupted with a “You still got it” chant for Shane. Ambrose agreed, then wanted to throw to a clip to prove it. They cut to footage of Shane throwing himself off the top of the Hell in a Cell at WrestleMania 32 trying to beat Undertaker.
Back in the ring, Dean held a wince pose as Shane smiled. Dean said he’s the first guy to make him question what he’s doing. The crowd broke into some football sing-song extolling Shane’s virtues. Dean wanted to get down to business – TV ratings, great matches, world domination? Shane said it’s all about the fans. Shane said they deserve better. He said a new era has emerged in WWE with new Superstars like A.J. Styles, Sami Zayn, and Sasha Banks getting a shot. It’s like Shane bringing forward Triple H’s behind-the-scenes NXT vision. “After what you have been demanding, we have arrived,” Shane said. And, Stephanie McMahon’s character can heelishly take credit for Sasha as part of the “Divas Revolution” when she returns.
Kevin Owens interrupted. Owens walked and talked complaining about Shane being another McMahon drunk with power who has a personal vendetta with him. Shane denied the accusation. Owens said Shane is so blind that he put Sami Zayn in the WWE World Title picture. On cue, Sami Zayn’s music interrupted. Zayn marched down to the ring telling Owens that he’s just jealous of him because he was signed to WWE before him.
Chris Jericho interrupted. Jericho, dressed to wrestle, told Zayn to back down and don’t be so emotional. He said Owens is the only one in this ring with a brain, and Shane is drunk with power. Jericho told Shane that he never liked Shane back then, and he doesn’t like him now. Jericho complained about Shane taking his talk show away from him.
Shane replied that it’s about new opportunities. He told Jericho to go watch the Highlight Reel on WWE Network since it’s the past. Everyone started arguing off-mic, then Dean shouted to be careful around his potted plant. Shane said things are getting a little hot, so he’s going to make some matches.
[Q2] Shane booked Jericho against Ambrose and Owens against Zayn at Payback. He backed out of the ring and accepted Dean’s potted plant before the anticipated physicality broke out. Ambrose went after Owens, while Zayn and Jericho started brawling. Zayn dumped Jericho, then Owens out of the ring, sending the heels reeling down the entrance ramp. Ambrose’s music played as he and Zayn stood tall in the ring.
[ Reax: Awkward at times with the typical stand-there-and-talk-to-each-other show-opening Raw promo that is part of what has made Raw seem so stale the past few years. Fresh characters helps, but what would really help is changing up the formula. ]
[Commercial Break at 8:17]
1 — CHRIS JERICHO vs. SAMI ZAYN
The bell sounded back from break. Cole said Shane McMahon booked this match during the commercial. He also booked Kevin Owens vs. Dean Ambrose in the main event. JBL said he misses The Authority, but he likes the two matches Shane booked. Zayn and Jericho traded control early on, then Zayn dumped Jericho to the floor and landed a springboard moonsault on the outside.
Zayn chucked Jericho back into the ring, but walked into a boot to the gut. Jericho called for Zayn to make a comeback, so Zayn punched and chopped him against the ropes, but Jericho cut him off with a dropkick. Jericho took control heading to break.
[Commercial Break at 8:25. USA Network is running a new ad campaign centered on Roman Reigns dissing people critical of him.]
Back from break, Jericho suplexed Zayn on the floor. Jericho tried to get a count-out win, but Zayn made it back into the ring to take more punishment. Zayn came back with a knock-down clothesline as the announcers talked up Zayn’s heart & soul. Zayn walked into a kick to the face, then took a running bulldog. Jericho wanted the Lionsault, but Zayn blocked with knees to the gut. Zayn followed with the Blue Thunder Bomb for a close nearfall. Not the memorable super-close nearfall against A.J. Styles last week, but close.
[Q3] Zayn regrouped and climbed to the top turnbuckle. Zayn waited for Jericho to get up, but Jericho intercepted with a dropkick into the Walls of Jericho. Zayn fought and fought, then finally got the rope for a break. Zayn recovered and wanted the Helluva Kick, but he kind of stopped, as if he were anticipating Jericho to do something. Instead, Jericho just kind of ducked his head in the corner. Jericho then thumbed a flustered Zayn in the eye as the ref tried to get involved. Jericho then hit the Codebreaker for the pin and the win.
WINNER: Jericho at 12:48. The crowd was surprisingly quiet throughout. Perhaps the opening stand-there-and-talk segment took the crowd down. Down the road, Jericho and Zayn could have a special match with proper build-up and time.
Still to come: Ambrose vs. Owens, plus the #1 contender’s tag tournament semi-finals.
Up Next: Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. The Dudleys in the tournament.
Tomorrow night: Total Divas season finale.
[Commercial Break at 8:35]
Backstage: Mauro Ranallo on Raw. Mauro brought in A.J. Styles to talk about his phenomenal rise in WWE. Suddenly, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows walked into the shot. Styles introduced Anderson and Gallows, then hugged it out. Luke thanked Styles for putting in the good word for him. Anderson said he’s been working his whole life to get to this point. When he grows up, he wants to be just like Styles. That was interesting. Luke said he can’t wait to see what Styles does with his opportunity at Payback. They ran off to talk about old times. Cole referenced their history in New Japan.
In-ring: Enzo Amore & Big Cass were introduced to a big reaction. Enzo did his rap on the way to the ring about being the realest guys in the room. “How you doin'” from the crowd. Once in the ring, Cass’s voice cracked as he shouted to London, saying they have arrived. Cass said Enzo has a riddle. Pause for an “Oooh, Enzo Amoreeeee” sing-song. Enzo said the word “hell” is in hell-o. There is “good” in good-bye. There is “end” in friend. There is “lie” in believe. And, there is “dud” in Dudley Boys. Enzo said they’re a couple of haters, which is because they are duds, not studs. Enzo said his team is like A Cups because they are real “whether you like us or not.” More sing-song, then Big Cass closed by saying there is only one way to describe the Dudleys. S-A-W-F-T, sawft!
The Dudleys’s pyro shot off to bring out Bubba Ray and Devon in a bad mood after listening to the pre-match promo. Ring the bell.
2 — THE DUDLEYS (BUBBA RAY & DEVON) vs. ENZO AMORE & BIG CASS — #1 contender Tag Tournament semi-finals match
Bubba teed off on Enzo early on, then trash-talked Cass as Raw cut to break less than one minute in.
[Q4] [Commercial Break at 8:46]
Back from break, Bubba continued to work over Enzo as the crowd did more sing-song to the delight of Big Cass. Bubba then told Devon to finish off this punk, Enzo. Devon punished Enzo, but could not get a pinfall. So, Bubba tagged back in and roughed up Enzo some more. The crowd kept rallying, then Devon mocked Enzo’s trademark intro lines. Bubba wanted a top-rope move, bur Enzo fought back with clubbing forearms. Bubba then airballed a flying Bubba butt bomb.
Hot tag to Big Cass, who ran over Devon, then Bubba. Scoopslam to Devon. Big elbow drop to Devon. Flying corner splash. He missed a second one, then Devon tagged in Bubba. They hit a hangman’s neckbreaker on Cass, but Bubba accidentally smashed Devon on the follow-up. Big boot to Bubba, then Cass tagged in Enzo, who came off the top with a “rocket launcher” splash to Bubba for the pin and the win. The announcers sold shock over the result as the newcomers celebrated the win.
WINNERS: Enzo & Big Cass at 8:33 to advance to the tournament finals.
Up Next: WWE World Hvt. champion Roman Reigns. The crowd booed his graphic on the screen.
[Commercial Break at 8:55]
Two minutes before the top of the hour, Roman Reigns was introduced to the ring from the entrance way. Lots of boos and thumbs downs in the crowd. Cole noted The Authority has not been seen since WrestleMania when Reigns won the WWE Title at WrestleMania, foreshadowing their eventual return.
Roman Reigns Promo
In the ring, Reigns started off his promo telling everyone he’s going to do the line. “I’m not a good, I’m not a bad guy, I’m The Guy,” which got boos and cheers from his fanbase. Reigns talked up A.J. Styles as a great technical wrestler who is going to try to out-wrestle him at Payback, but he’s bringing the Big Fight to Payback.
Reigns said this is the Roman Reigns Era, which drew more boos. He smirked. “Boring” chants started, which the announcers framed as energy from the crowd anticipating Reigns against Styles.
A.J. Styles’s music interrupted to bring out Styles to loud cheers. Styles looked around the arena as Reigns stared him down from a few feet away. Styles looked at Reigns, then opened by saying he thinks Reigns is one heck of a champion. (Boos) Despite what people think, Reigns has power, explosiveness, aggressiveness, and to beat him, he will have to have to have the match of his life. “But, having the match of my life is what I do!” he said.
Styles said that has made him a champion everywhere he’s been, and why WWE came calling. At Payback, having the match of his life is going to make him champion. (Cheers) Styles told Reigns to think about it. “Yes!” chants from the crowd. Reigns started talking and the boos started. Reigns said he had the match of his life at WrestleMania, when he became champion. Reigns said he agrees with Styles. And that’s why the people like A.J. And, he even digs what Styles does in the ring.
But, what they’re not going to like is when he beats him at Payback. Reigns said the people will respect him. (Boos) And that’s all that matters. He said he wants to be respected with the title, than liked without it. Styles laughed and said he would rather be liked and respected, making him a phenomenal champion. Styles’s music played in a quick edit. Styles left the ring as Reigns stared him down from the ring.
Suddenly, Karl Anderson attacked Reigns from behind in the ring. Luke Gallows attacked him, too, as Styles turned around to see what was going on. Styles had a 50/50 look selling not being pleased, but not ready to go save Reigns. After the quick strike from Anderson & Gallows, they left the ring to pat Styles on the shoulder. Styles had a look of “oh yeah, I remember what these guys are about, and I’m not sure I’m okay with it.” Raw quickly cut to break.
[ Reax: Interesting deal setting up Payback where Anderson & Gallows presumably try to help Styles win the title, but he’s conflicted over whether to accept their help. And, if Styles does not accept, then it’s turned around on him, like January 5 for his New Japan send-off. The overall idea being trying to sell the idea of Styles having a legit chance of winning the WWE Title, whether on his own or with help. ]
[Commercial Break at 9:07]
Moments Ago: Anderson & Gallows took out Roman Reigns, while A.J. Styles watched from the ringside area.
Backstage: Roman Reigns was shown walking down the hallway recovering from the attack. Well, Reigns looked a bit too fresh with the title belt carefully placed over his shoulder. A.J. Styles walked up to Reigns to tell him that he had nothing to do with that, which is why he’s approaching him like a man. Reigns didn’t believe it, especially after they attacked his cousins The Usos last week. Styles said yeah they’re his boys, but he did not know they were going to do that, and he doesn’t need them to win the title anyways. Styles let that slight dig sink in. Reigns was still not trusting, but decided Styles can bring everyone he wants because it’s one versus all. Styles exited as Reigns tried to re-focus.
In-ring: Fandango was dancing and gyrating, then Dolph Ziggler was shown on commentary. Baron Corbin was introduced as Fandango’s opponent. Ziggler talked up Corbin knocking him out two weeks ago on Raw.
3 — BARON CORBIN vs. FANDANGO
Corbin roughed up Fandango early on as Ziggler offered the expected lines about proving yourself, wrestlers coming and going, height, etc. Corbin then chucked Fandango to the floor and threw him right into Ziggler’s lap, knocking around the announce table. Corbin smirked and rolled Fandango back into the ring to give him End of Days. It was good for the win.
Post-match, Ziggler stormed the ring to attack Corbin to keep the fight going, but Corbin cut him off with a big smack to the face. Ziggler rolled to the floor and Corbin followed out. Corbin gave Ziggler the End of Days on the floor, leaving Ziggler KO’ed like two weeks ago on Raw.
WINNER: Corbin at 1:21.
Still to come: Eight-Woman tag match with Team Charlotte vs. Team Natalya.
Backstage: The Miz and Maryse were shown walking down the hallway. They stopped at a drink that was spilled on the floor. Maryse called over a stagehand to put his jacket down on the spilled drink so they could walk over it.
Random Commercial: Natalya and Titus O’Neil. What to finish something like each others sentences? End smoking. Titus’s “big return” from suspension is pitching Universal Studios tourist packages and quitting smoking.
[Commercial Break at 9:18]
Vignette: Speaking of tourism, the Colons were shown walking on a beach promoting Puerto Rico’s beaches.
IC champion The Miz and Maryse were in the ring. Maryse told the crowd to “get in your feet” and welcome Miz. Miz said when it comes to royalty, William and Kate have nothing on them. Miz said the difference between the United Kingdom and Hollywood has never been more clear than right now. First, a picture of Prince George. Maryse called him plain and generic. But, their baby, the IC Title belt, is pristine and perfect. “And she’s all mine!” Miz declared. Maryse kissed him on the cheek, but Miz wanted one on the lips. Full make-out, but Cesaro’s siren interrupted.
Cesaro walked through his James Bond spotlight on the stage and decided to keep the suit on walking down to the ring to confront M&M. Cesaro, still with his dark sunglasses on, thanked them for the seat. Cesaro told Miz that the only royal he will ever be is a royal pain in the ass. Miz said that’s really cute, but he is a leading man and Cesaro is just a supporting actor. Miz paused for a derogatory chant aimed at him.
Miz said he has prepared a monologue, and it is a monologue that he knows he can nail. He said it’s taken from the movie “Taken,” which he miz-iffied. He vowed to immortalize it. Miz got into character, then Maryse yelled “action.” Miz held up a phone and kind of flubbed the lines about a ransom and having a particular set of skills. Miz told Cesaro that if he gives up his title shot right now, he will give up pursuing him. But, if he doesn’t, he will hunt him down and beat him at Payback.
Miz exited the monologue and said he thinks he rushed that just a bit. Take Two. Miz didn’t like how he delivered the money line. Take Three. Cesaro covered Miz’s mic and told him that when his hand goes up, Miz’s mouth goes shut. Cesaro said the only thing that will happen at Payback is he will become new Intercontinental champion. But, hey, Miz, since you like movie quotes so much, he would like to quote Roddy Piper. “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass,” Cesaro said before spitting out his gum and raising his shades. “And I’m all out of bubblegum.”
[Q7] Cesaro wanted to fight, but Miz cut him off. Miz said Cesaro should know that he’s already scheduled for action right now. Out came Rusev, then his League of Nations brothers Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio. From the ring, Cesaro told them to stop right there. Cesaro said before he came out here, he talked to Shane McMahon, who changed things up.
Cesaro said it won’t be them one-on-one, but Miz and League of Nations against him and … Cesaro removed his suit jacket to reveal a Booty O’s t-shirt. Cue the music. Cesaro dramatically pointed to the stage for the tag champions to make their way out for an eight-man tag match. New Day did Cesaro’s machine gun-like pose on the stage, then sang and danced down to the ring ahead of break.
[Commercial Break at 9:33]
4 — IC champion THE MIZ (w/Maryse) & LEAGUE OF NATIONS (SHEAMUS & ALBERTO DEL RIO & RUSEV) vs. CESARO & WWE tag champions NEW DAY (BIG E. & XAVIER WOODS & KOFI KINGSTON) — eight-man tag match
Miz and Xavier were battling in the ring with the match joined in progress. Miz controlled the action and taunted New Day before Xavier cut him off. Kofi tagged in and kicked Miz in the chest before tagging in Big E. for a big splash to Miz for a two count. Back to Kofi, who lost control for his four-man team.
Tag to Del Rio, who ran over Kofi, only to take a two-foot stomp to the chest for a two count. Cesaro then tagged in to join New Day’s trademark mudhole-stomping in the corner. Xavier worked the trombone as Cesaro and New Day continued to punish Del Rio. But, Xavier ran into a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker from Del Rio.
Tag to Sheamus, who angrily pounded Xavier’s chest as the crowd buzzed with derogatory comments toward Sheamus. Rusev then tagged in and convincingly pounded Xavier. Back to Sheamus, who lit up Xavier with repeated forearms to the chest. Del Rio then kicked Xavier out of the ring heading to break.
[Commercial Break at 9:43]
[Q8] Back from break, Del Rio wrapped up Xavier’s arm in the ropes with an armbreaker, breaking just before a disqualifying five count. Miz then tagged in and worked over Xavier before cheap-shotting Cesaro. Xavier finally broke free and tagged in Cesaro, who did the Uppercut Train on Sheamus, then Miz, and back-and-forth. Dropkick to Sheamus to finish it.
Cesaro wasn’t done. He left the ring and smashed Rusev with an uppercut, then one for Del Rio. Back in the ring, Cesaro hit a cross-body on Sheamus for a two count. Cesaro wanted to put Sheamus in the Big Swing, but Miz lightly brushed his face with a kick.
Chaos broke out with wrestlers running in and out of the ring hitting finishers, including the Big Ending to Miz. Cesaro finished it off with a Neutralizer to Sheamus, scoring the pin and the win. Post-match, New Day and Cesaro celebrated on the outside.
WINNERS: Cesaro & New Day at 13:28. Super random tag match, but it got across the point of Cesaro-Miz and New Day’s ongoing feud with League of Nations. Meanwhile, whatever happened to the Wyatts attacking The League after WrestleMania? Seems like WWE is moving off that one after Bray Wyatt’s injury.
Backstage: Mauro Ranallo brought in Women’s champion Charlotte and Ric Flair. Mauro wanted them to watch how Flair got Charlotte DQ’ed to keep the title with Charlotte. Back to Mauro asking Charlotte for thoughts. Charlotte said he’s worse than Dr. Phil. She said as women’s champion, she doesn’t have to beat anyone. Natalya walked in, telling Charlotte that her father might have saved her last week, but the ending will be different at Payback. She said Shane McMahon booked the re-match for Payback, and she will have someone in her corner. “Bret ‘the Hitman’ Hart,” she said. Flair quietly leaned back trying to process the announcement and figure out a strategy as Charlotte looked at daddy like “that’s not supposed to happen, do something!”
[Commercial Break at 9:54]
Back from break, Cole tried to excitedly sell the “Total Bellas” spin-off premiering in October. Cole and JBL subtly referred to John Laurinaitis being part of the show.
In-ring: Natalya was introduced to the ring for an eight-woman tag match. Cole plugged Natalya on ESPNews SportsCenter tomorrow. Becky Lynch was out next as Nattie’s first tag partner, followed by Paige in her home country and Sasha Banks to a big reaction.
[Q9 — third hour] Full ring introductions continued for this match. Naomi’s music brought out Naomi and Tamina for the heel squad, then Summer Rae. Women’s champion Charlotte (with Ric Flair) was out last in the Ric Flair robe.
5 — Women’s champion CHARLOTTE (w/Ric Flair) & NAOMI & TAMINA & SUMMER RAE vs. NATALYA & SASHA BANKS & PAIGE & BECKY LYNCH — eight-woman tag match
Natalya wanted to start the match for her team, while the heels milled about trying to decide who should start. Charlotte eventually took the lead, but backed away from Natalya, selling reluctance to mix it up with her next title challenger. Tags throughout the first few minutes before the faces knocked the heels out of the ring. Becky stood tall as Raw cut to break.
[Commercial Break at 10:06]
Back from break, the teams traded control until Tamina blindsided Becky Lynch to give the heels control of the match. Naomi eventually lost control of the match for her team, allowing Becky to tag in Natalya. But, Summer blindsided Natalya to knock her down. Charlotte gleefully wanted in now, thinking Natalya was down, but Natalya smashed her with a spear. The faces cleared the other heels, then Natalya slammed down Charlotte and put her in the Sharpshooter. Charlotte frantically tapped out, giving Natalya the win.
WINNERS: Team Natalya at 10:26. Just like Cesaro winning the eight-man tag, a chance to have an upcoming title challenger win a multi-person tag match to tease singles title success. Nice “out” for Charlotte that she tapped out to save herself for the title match since an eight-person tag doesn’t matter to her.
Earlier Tonight: A.J. Styles’s buddies from New Japan, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows, attacked Roman Reigns one week after attacking Reigns’s cousins The Usos. Then, Styles tried to tell Reigns that he had nothing to do with the attack because he can beat Reigns by himself for the title.
Backstage: Styles was shown talking to Anderson and Gallows. All pantomiming with no audio as the announcers did voice-overs. Anderson tried to explain what they did while Styles kept talking.
Backstage: Shane McMahon was shown talking to The Usos ahead of the next semi-final tournament match.
[Q10] [Commercial Break at 10:16]
More tourism for Puerto Rico from the Colons. It’s the shining star of the Caribbean.
In-ring: The Vaudevillians’s black & white theme played to bring out Aiden English and Simon Gotch to their standard silent movie reaction. WWE transitioned to bright colors for The Usos’s entrance.
6 — THE USOS (JIMMY & JEY USO) vs. THE VAUDEVILLIANS (AIDEN ENGLISH & SIMON GOTCH) — #1 contender Tag Tournament semi-finals match
Jimmy Uso chopped around Gotch early on, but Gotch came back with an uppercut as Cole relayed Gotch’s background being trained by Harley Race and Daniel Bryan. English then tagged in and wore down Uso as Cole relayed Aiden’s background as an actor. Tag to Jey Uso, who dropped English with a Samoan Drop. Cole predicted The Usos winning, warning Enzo & Big Cass to get ready.
Uso superkicked English out of the ring, but Gotch chucked Jimmy into the guardrail on the floor. But, Jey followed with a big dive wiping out Gotch. He sold a shoulder injury after the landing. Gotch took advantage by posting Uso into the ringpost. English and Gotch took advantage by hitting the Whirling Dirvish for the pin and the win.
WINNERS: Vaudes at 3:26 to advance to the tournament finals. A lukewarm babyface team against an oddly-presented NXT tag team call-up that doesn’t seem heel or face in the middle of the third hour = silence.
Payback announcement: Big Cass & Enzo vs. Vaudevillians tournament finals will take place at Payback. New Day gets to skip the next PPV defending the Tag Titles. Unless … it’s a Ring of Honor-style Instant Reward Title Shot.
Video Package: Who is Apollo Crews?
[Q11] [Commercial Break at 10:30]
In-ring: The Social Outcasts were in the ring, minus the suspended Adam Rose. Cole said Raw returns to the U.S. next Monday, and they expect Shane McMahon to still be in-charge of Raw. Apollo Crews was out next as the opposition.
Earlier Tonight: Apollo Crews told the Outcasts that he will join their group if one of them beats him. But, if he wins, they have to leave him alone. Forever.
7 — APOLLO CREWS vs. HEATH SLATER (w/Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas)
Crews toyed with Slater early on, sending Slater to the floor twice to regroup and re-think a new strategy. Meanwhile, the announcers argued about whether Crews is a five-star or five-tool athlete. Slater finally got in some offense, grounding Crews with a chinlock. But, Crews came back with his delayed sit-out powerbomb for the pin and the win.
WINNER: Crews at 4:30. Introduction still feels very basic for Crews. Now that he’s “conquered” the Outcasts, which heel or heels does he advance up to face? ……….
Suddenly, Kevin Owens’s music played as Crews completed his celebration. Owens walked out on-stage and walked past Crews, similar to Chris Jericho “starting a feud” with Dean Ambrose on Smackdown two weeks ago. Cole hyped Ambrose vs. Owens in the main event next.
[Commercial Break at 10:41]
Smackdown plug: A.J. Styles is on Miz TV with Maryse.
[Q12] In-ring: Kevin Owens was pacing the ring waiting for Dean Ambrose’s arrival. Out came Ambrose for the main event ready to fight Owens. Cole plugged their respective singles matches at Payback before the bell sounded.
8 — DEAN AMBROSE vs. KEVIN OWENS
Owens controlled the match early on, settling on a headlock. “Headlock master, babay!” he shouted. Ambrose came back with clubbing forearms, which knocked Owens out of the ring. Ambrose then built a head of steam to deliver a suicide dive to Owens on the floor.
Ambrose rolled Owens back into the ring, but Owens rolled right back out the other side. So, Owens grabbed Ambrose and chucked him into the announce table. The fight picked up right in front of Cole and JBL. Ambrose eventually chucked Owens over the announce table to the floor as Raw cut to break.
[Commercial Break at 10:51]
Back from break, Ambrose was upside down in the corner to take a big cannonball splash from Owens. Owens then knocked Ambrose to the floor and nailed a big frogsplash from the ring apron. Owens yelled at the ref to count out Ambrose, then returned to the ring to yell at Michael Cole. Ambrose started moving at five, got up at seven, reached his feet at eight, and made it back into the ring. So, Owens kicked him right in the face.
Owens slowed the pace again trying to wear down Ambrose. Meanwhile, JBL opined that he doesn’t think Ambrose’s career will last long fighting this style brawling and not staying down when beaten. Ambrose then brushed aside Owens, who rolled to the floor to avoid a top-rope move. So, Ambrose adjusted and smashed Owens with a flying elbow on the floor.
[Q13 — over-run] At the top of the hour, Cole did the Big Reset talking about the product in broad terms versus focusing on individual issues. Back in the ring, Ambrose nailed a rebound lariat for a close two count. Ambrose followed with a top-rope superplex for another nearfall. Owens responded with a surprise superkick for a close nearfall of his own.
At 16:00, Owens and Ambrose battled to the top rope. Owens won the exchange and delivered his inside-cradle super-Death Valley Driver for a close two count. Owens wanted a top-rope frogsplash, but Ambrose got his knees up to block. Owens was still the first man up, though. He missed a desperation cannonball splash and Ambrose scooped him up for Dirty Deeds. It was good for the pin and the win.
WINNER: Ambrose at 17:17. Fine TV main event. The crowd was quiet for the most part, reflecting the effect of three-hour Raws and how familiar the product has become. The mix of wrestlers, similar styles, and haphazard build to matches trying to fill three hours of Raw has made the wrestlers feel not that special at times.
Post-match, Chris Jericho snuck into the ring wearing one of his heelish scarves. Jericho immediately dropped Ambrose with a Codebreaker, then stared down at Ambrose. Jericho knelt down next to Ambrose as Raw signed off six minutes past the top of the hour.
FINAL REAX: A lot to like, some to question, and an overall sense of no consistency from week to week. Last week closed with a big spotlight for the random Roman Reigns-Bray Wyatt thing. This week, no Bray (injured on the European Tour), no Wyatts (expendable without their leader), and zero follow-up to last week’s show-closer that WWE treated like a big deal. There’s also the Shane McMahon issue that has not been resolved. He’s still wearing the interim tag and WWE isn’t committed to advertising him in advance for the following week’s show. Last week’s top matches felt purposeful and impactful determining key items for Payback, but this week’s top matches felt thrown-together or just trying to fill a pre-taped international show that will be forgotten by next week, especially when they had two hours to follow up on something like Sami Zayn losing to Chris Jericho, but choose not, unlike last week when they followed up on Zayn losing to Styles. WWE is stuck in the same booking pattern that plagued the Road to WrestleMania, and they will remain in that position until they sort out their authority figure situation and decide which direction to go with Roman Reigns as the champion rejected by half (or more) of each week’s Raw crowd.
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