SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
It’s the final Raw of the pre-Draft Era, plus the final hype for Battleground, plus Dean Ambrose defends the WWE Title against Seth Rollins before the PPV. …
WWE Raw TV Report
July 18, 2016 – Episode #1,208
Live in Providence, R.I.
Report by James Caldwell (@JCTorch), PWTorch assistant editor
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- Week 12 (and Final) of Shane & Stephanie McMahon running Raw
- Week 5 of Dean Ambrose as WWE World Hvt. champion
- Raw & Smackdown GMs announced at top of the show
- WWE Title match: Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins
- The Club & The Wyatts vs. WWE tag champions New Day & John Cena & Big Cass & Enzo Amore 12-man tag match
- Alberto Del Rio vs. Darren Young (w/Bob Backlund)
- Final Battleground PPV hype
The final Raw before the Draft kicked off with full pyro and fireworks from the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. Michael Cole said they are sold out.
Stephanie McMahon’s music kicked off the show to boos. That’s not going to work well setting the tone for three-hour Raws on a weekly basis. Stephanie, the designated commissioner of Raw, started talking to boos. But, Shane McMahon’s music interrupted. And, that’s not going to be available to change the tone of three-hour Raw openings on a weekly basis. Shane, the designated commissioner of Smackdown, bounced down to the ring as Steph smirked at his interruption.
Stephanie quickly talked over cheers for Shane that this is the last time he interrupts her on Raw pandering to the crowd and doing his whole thing. She told him to soak up his very, very last time on Raw. Steph said she will not miss working with Shane, who replied that the feeling is mutual.
Shane said he knows Steph wakes up every morning wishing she had testicles, but if she were his brother, there would be ramifications for her slap last week on Raw. Steph proclaimed Lady Balls being bigger than testicles. “Gross,” Shane replied.
Steph got down to business about both of them wanting to make Raw and Smackdown better. Steph said she was told by the man who runs the company (Vince McMahon) that she gets the exclusive rights to WWE’s Cruiserweight division, and they will be relaunching the Cruiserweight division on Raw based on the success of the Network show (run by her husband’s alter ego, Papa Trips).
Shane then wanted to reveal his pick for GM of Smackdown, which drew Yes! chants from the crowd. Shane let them play out, but Steph took over that she will reveal her GM of Raw right now. Big hype, pause, and … the sound of cars crashing brought out Mick Foley as the new GM of Raw to balance out heel Stephanie.
Mick bounced down to the ring and thanked Stephanie for naming him GM of Raw … right here in Providence, Rhode Island. Mick said this is huge for him because this reminds him of the Attitude Era. He said the climate reminds him of the Monday Night Wars back when it was WWE competing and surviving.
Stephanie whispered something in Mick’s ear to help his promo. Foley said he got a phone call from Stephanie and a little ember inside him became a five-alarm fire. Foley then got some more notes from Steph that he helped put the final nail in WCW. So, the same ruthlessness that he showed in the Attitude Era is the same approach he will take as Raw GM. Foley told Shane to have a nice day.
Shane congratulated Mick and gave it up to Stephanie for her pick. Shane said they can all get behind this, and now he’ll be intrigued to watch Raw, as opposed to watching Steph bury it into the ground on a weekly basis.
Now, for Shane’s GM. He said he needs someone who will embody what Smackdown Live will be about. The “Yes!” chants started up in the background. Shane said he wonders who could be more popular and better than Mick Foley. Hmm… It has to be … Daniel Bryan.
Shane ran laps around the ring as Daniel Bryan emerged from the stage and bounced down to the ring in a vintage sports jacket. Loud, loud, loud “Yes!” chants from the audience as Bryan posed in the ring, then soaked up his return to main TV. Loud “Daniel Bryan” chant played out for a long time. Bryan smiled and soaked it up.
“Man, did you guys miss me or something?” Bryan asked. Loud “Yes!” chants in response. Bryan said he’s missed the fans so much. Steph told him just to bow to the crowd, like Shane. Bryan said Steph doesn’t understand the meaning of the word pandering because you guys have never cheered her before. Oos. “Once!” she said comically.
[Q2] Bryan said there was a time when he thought he would never return to a ring, but then Shane called him wanting to run some new ideas by him. Bryan said Shane had ideas to make Smackdown Live about the wrestlers, not management. He said battle lines have been drawn between Raw and Smackdown. And how Smackdown is the underdog. Suddenly, he realized he can come back.
Bryan paused, then said he needs to come back. He said Smackdown Live is just like him and the fans who supported him. “Thank you, Daniel!” chant from the crowd. Bryan paused and soaked it up. Bryan went back to WrestleMania 30 when he beat Stephanie’s husband, Triple H, which drew a smirk from Steph. He said they did that, not just him. And if they join together, Smackdown Live will beat Raw every week. The Raw crowd wasn’t sure what to do with that.
Steph wanted to revisit WM30 as a fantasyland, then ran down Shane’s pick as a B-Plus GM for a B-Plus Show. She then asked Shane why he’s sweating so much. Are you nervous? Shane wanted a hug. Shane then took more shots at Shane as always being her younger sister and needing to marry a WWE Superstar to stay relevant. Oohs from the crowd. Steph pretended to be offended, then Shane asked Bryan if they can beat Raw. Why, yes, I think we can. Shane and Bryan jogged around the ring doing “Yes!” chants as Steph and Foley stood in the middle of the ring huddled together.
THE NEWS: Mick Foley is Raw GM, Daniel Bryan is Smackdown GM, the Cruiserweight Division is returning on Raw, and Triple H is eventually resurfacing.
[ JC ANALYSIS: A lot to unpack from this segment. The Cruiserweights returning on Raw feels very WCW Nitro-esque to help three-hour Nitros. It also points to why WWE is signing Cruiserweights coming out of the CW Tournament, as we reported over the weekend. Raw just doesn’t seem like the proper home for the Cruiserweights, though, unless they get their own look & feel within the broadcast. There’s also the idea of trying to create brand loyalty to Raw and Smackdown, which feels forced and misguided at this point. There’s also Shane continuing to reference Triple H two weeks in a row after pretty much ignoring his brother-in-law in storylines since returning to WWE TV. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. ]
Still to come: Ambrose vs. Rollins for the WWE Title. And, a 12-man tag match.
Up Next: Sami Zayn & Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens & Chris Jericho.
[Commercial Break at 8:21]
Back from break, Chris Jericho’s music blasted in the arena. Kevin Owens joined him in the ring, then Sami Zayn was introduced as one-half of the face duo. WWE cut to an inset promo from Zayn vowing to end his feud with Owens at Battleground, then move on with his career. Cesaro was out next as Cole hyped this potentially being the final time all four guys are in the ring on the same show.
1 — CHRIS JERICHO & KEVIN OWENS vs. SAMI ZAYN & CESARO
Zayn got distracted by Owens’s presence on the ring apron early on, allowing Jericho to cut him off. Owens then knocked down Zayn and played to the crowd heading to an early break.
[Q3] [Commercial Break at 8:30]
Hot action back from break leading to a hot tag to Cesaro opposite Jericho. Uppercut Live Delivery to Jericho, then he nailed a European in the opposite corner. Dropkick to Owens. Suddenly, Cesaro had a thought. Uppercut Train in opposite corners rocked the heels, then he covered Jericho for a two count.
Cesaro called for the Big Swing on Jericho, but Jericho countered with a quick roll-up for a two count. Cesaro answered with a corkscrew elbow to Jericho, but then he took an enziguiri from Jericho. Both men sold on the mat.
Tags to Zayn and Owens for a Battleground preview. They came together in the middle of the ring just punching and smacking each other. Zayn hit a flying dropkick, but Owens blind-tagged Jericho, who intercepted a Helluva Kick. Cesaro then tagged in for Zayn and nailed a flying cross-body press. Cesaro finally got Jericho in the Big Swing, taking him around four times until Owens broke it up.
And they returned to Zayn vs. Owens, but Jericho was still legal. Tornado DDT from Zayn. Suddenly, Jericho rolled up Zayn, but Zayn countered with a roll-up of his own for a quick three count on Jericho. Jericho was so dizzy from the Big Swing that he thought he won. But, Zayn and Cesaro celebrated on the way out.
WINNERS: Zayn & Cesaro at 11:56. A bit overly-ambitious trying to squeeze in a lot of stuff in a 12-minute match. By the time they got to the second big Zayn-Owens exchange, it just wasn’t the same, hurting momentum before their blow-off match at Battleground.
Backstage: R-Truth and Goldust tried to make their sales pitch to Daniel Bryan to be on Smackdown. Bryan walked away from the conversation, then shook hands with Jack Swagger and Titus O’Neil. Swagger looked odd in glasses. Bryan then met up with Stephanie McMahon, who mocked his lifestyle with Brie Bella. Bryan said he is back … with a vengeance. Steph said he just won’t go away and is like a Chucky doll. Bryan said he’s so glad he came back to Raw to find her with the same insults and ruining Raw. So, good to see you! Bryan stomped off to laughs as Raw cut to break.
[Commercial Break at 8:42]
[Q4] Back from break, Alberto Del Rio’s music played. IC champion The Miz and Maryse were down at ringside for commentary on Miz’s title defense against Darren Young at Battleground on Sunday. Miz, the heel, spoke truth about the odd booking that D-Young didn’t really do anything to win the #1 contender battle royal last week. New music then brought out D-Young and Bob Backlund. Miz had Backlund’s book down at ringside to read through some of Bob’s teaching tools to D-Young.
2 — DARREN YOUNG (w/Bob Backlund) vs. ALBERTO DEL RIO
Del Rio started in control as Miz noted he has the best attorneys around to make sure he and Maryse are not separated in the Draft because they are a bundle. D-Young made a comeback, drawing Miz to the ring apron to try to interfere. But, Miz’s plan backfired because Del Rio had Young pinned, but the ref was pre-occupied. Young then reversed and bridge-pinned Del Rio for the win.
Post-match, Del Rio yelled at Miz for screwing up his match. Meanwhile, Young and Backlund celebrated on the stage ahead of challenging Miz for the IC Title.
WINNER: D-Young at 2:23.
Backstage: Big Show, D-Bryan, and Shane talked things over.
Still to come: Charlotte & Dana Brooke vs. Sasha Banks & Becky Lynch. The announcers hyped Sasha needing to find a tag partner against the heels at Battleground.
Up Next: Big 12-man tag match at the top of the hour.
[Commercial Break at 8:51]
12-man Tag Promos
In-ring: John Cena’s music played to bring out the top star for the big 12-man tag match. Cena played up the “John Cena Suuuucks” sing-song, then hit the ring. Cole plugged Cena on ESPNews SportsCenter tomorrow night during the 10:00 p.m. hour after the Live Smackdown Draft.
In the ring, Cena said this is an exciting Raw. He said this is a huge week with GMs, Commissioners, and the Draft tomorrow night on Smackdown. But, wait, there’s more. This Sunday on WWE Network, they have Battleground. Cena said this Sunday, The Club (some boos) are going to try to beat up John Cena. But, they’re going to realize they can’t see him. Because he got the Certified Gs.
Enzo & Big Cass’s music played to a big pop, bringing out Cena’s back-up. Big-time energy from Enzo & Cass, following up on Cena’s promo. Enzo introduced himself and Cass, then ran around Cena in the ring. Cena was like a kid standing in the ring enjoying watching Enzo do his thing.
[Q5 — second hour] Enzo had something to say. He said The Club – don’t take this the wrong way – but you guys are some herbs with insecurities. Because he always judges a book by his cover, because he ain’t stupid enough to read that book. He said without ugly, there wouldn’t be beautiful. So, Luke Gallows, thanks for your sacrifice. And, A.J. Styles, you got a haircut like a soccer mom. Karl Anderson! He’s like Times New Roman font – just generic. Enzo said they’re never going to beat him.
Cena tapped Enzo on the shoulder, like hold on just a second. You’re just spitting out punchlines. (Cena looking in a mirror from 12 years ago.) Cena said he has no idea what’s happening here. Cass said they’re like the Three Musketeers. (How you doin’?) Tenors. Nirvana. Destiny’s Child. Run DMC. Wu Tang Clan.
Cena cut them off, saying he has no idea what’s going on. Cena said Wu Tang has like 20 members in it. C’mon, guys, we gotta get serious for Battleground. Cass said they like to have fun out here. It’s what they do. And, there’s only one way to describe The Club. S-A-W-F-T!
Suddenly, A.J. Styles’s music interrupted to bring out Styles, Karl Anderson, and Luke Gallows for the rebuttal. From the stage, Styles called out John Boy. You’re going to tag with these two guys setting yourself up for failure? He called him a turd in the punch bowl, making that choice on his own. Styles vowed to give Cena a taste of Battleground tonight.
Now in the ring, Karl asked the trio if they really think they have chemistry. He said chemistry is himself and his hot Asian wife. When did the three of them all meet? A few weeks over a bowl of candy in catering? Luke said they have spilled blood and sold out buildings all over the world. Styles said they are a cohesive unit and they are a team. He said they are a team unlike you three scabs.
Karl continued that they have some goals tonight. They not only get to Beat Up John Cena, but also get to Beat Up Enzo. And they also get to … Beat Up Cass. Oh, they also get to beat up all three members of New Day.
Suddenly, New Day’s music played to bring out three more members of this 12-man tag. Big E. spoke first that they need to find something else to beat. Speaking of jerks, they met up with the Wyatts last week at The Compound. Styles interrupted: “Oh look, Xavier, there’s Bray! Are you scared?”
Xavier replied that they are not normal men and they are not scared of the Wyatts, because they are the WWE Tag Team Champions of the World. That pretty much made the Compound stuff seem like a waste of time. Now in the ring, Kofi Kingston wanted to ask Cena something. Do you not understand what How You Doin’ means? New Day simplified for Cena, then rhymed about Pokemon. Cena cut them off to dance. Suddenly, the Wyatts theme interrupted to bring out the final trio of this match. Raw cut to break as they made their way to the ring.
[Commercial Break at 9:12]
3 — JOHN CENA & WWE tag champions NEW DAY (BIG E. & XAVIER WOODS & KOFI KINGSTON) & ENZO AMORE & BIG CASS vs. THE CLUB (A.J. STYLES & LUKE GALLOWS & KARL ANDERSON) & THE WYATTS (BRAY WYATT & ERICK ROWAN & BRAUN STROWMAN) — 12-man tag match
The match was joined in progress with Cena and Anderson facing off. Suddenly, Rowan slap-tagged himself into the match, and Anderson sold injuring his left shoulder receiving the hard slap. Cena cleared Rowan, then Luke Gallows tagged himself in. Cena tagged out to Big E., who gyrated in front of Gallows. Meanwhile, Cole hyped New Day closing in on the Tag Title record.
Braun Strowman tagged in to battle Big E., who took a hard clothesline. Enzo then wanted a tag to go face-to-nipple with Strowman. Enzo ran around the ring as Xavier played his trombone. Enzo suddenly charged Strowman, who smashed him down to the mat. Big Cass then tagged in for Enzo. Big showdown between Cass and Strowman, with Cass having about an inch size advantage. Strowman then walked across the ring and punched Cena. And a big 12-man fight broke out in the ring.
The ring eventually cleared out, bringing them back to Cass and Strowman. Cass delivered a big boot to Strowman, then Kofi tagged in. Kofi flew off the top rope and kind of collided with Strowman, who fell down, then tried to recover and pick up Kofi for a powerslam. Strowman stood over Kofi heading to break.
[Commercial Break at 9:19]
Back from break, Bray Wyatt was battling Kofi Kingston. Meanwhile, Cole wondered if New Day will ever be the same after The Compound battle with the Wyatts last week. Useless attempt to follow up on last week since they seem pretty much the same as before. Hot tag to Cena, who rocked Bray with right hands, but the Wyatt henchmen attacked Cena from the ring apron. That allowed the heels to cut off Cena and #beatupJohnCena.
Styles tagged in and rocked Cena with right hands, while also talking trash to one of his tag partners tonight, Bray Wyatt. Styles went back to Cena, nailing him with a fireman’s carry neckbuster for a two count. Tag to Karl Anderson, who declared that he was going to #beatupJohnCena. Gallows followed with some beating up of Cena, then Raw cut to break.
[Commercial Break at 9:28] [Q7…]
[…Q7] Back from break, Cole relayed breaking news that #beatupJohnCena has left Cena in a precarious position. Cena was down on the mat selling lifelessness, but he managed to escape Wyatt and tag in Big Cass. A.J. Styles tagged in for the heels and took the Empire Elbow from Cass. Stinger Splash in the corner. Suddenly, Strowman wiped out Cass from behind. Wrestlers ran in and out of the ring, with the match breaking down into chaos.
Suddenly, Xavier flew over the top rope with a flip dive onto the Wyatts on the floor. Back in the ring, Cass smashed Styles in the head with a big boot. Cena with an AA to Gallows, but Anderson dropped Cena. Enzo then wiped out Anderson. The only two men left in the ring were Styles and Enzo. Meanwhile, chaos broke out ringside with the Wyatts and New Day brawling to the stage.
Back in the ring, Styles smashed Enzo with forearms, then wanted the Clash. Suddenly, Enzo accidentally clotheslined Cena, who slid into the ring looking to help. Styles then scooped up Enzo and dropped him with the Clash in the middle of the ring. Styles covered Enzo for the win.
Post-match, Styles, Karl, and Doc celebrated in the ring after proving their pre-match point tonight. Meanwhile, Cass tried to help Enzo recover on the floor. On the other side of the ringside area, Cena just shook his head in frustration. Styles then stood on the turnbuckle to yell down at Cena, who sold frustration.
WINNERS: Team Club at 19:00. WWE dedicated about 35 minutes (sound familiar after Cena-Styles at MSG on Saturday?) to the feuds heading into Battleground, making this feel pretty special. It also set up the heroes (Cena, Enzo, and Cass) needing to humble themselves if they want to conquer the well-oiled machine on Sunday. Fine action to get to Battleground.
Announcers: WWE swung the camera over to Cole, JBL, and Byron Saxton to hype the Draft unfolding Tuesday night on Smackdown and WWE Network.
Backstage: Stephanie McMahon, Mick Foley, and Apollo Crews pretended to have a conversation about the Draft.
Still to come: The over-looked WWE Title match of Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins later tonight.
[Commercial Break at 9:38]
Exterior Shot: Raw is live in Providence the night before the Draft.
Still to come tonight: Dean vs. Rollins. At Battleground, it’s one of them as champion in a Shield Explosion match also involving Roman Reigns.
Earlier Today: Inside an empty arena, the camera found Seth Rollins walking into the 122 section of the concourse area. Seth was dressed to wrestle for some reason. Rollins spoke from Section 123 that night after night, he and his so-called brothers walked down these steps, but they were just pawns in his game.
Rollins started walking down Section 123 talking about Dean being kept around to take beatings, while Reigns was there to dish out beatings. Rollins said he eventually became WWE champion, then his knee gave out under the pressure of carrying this company. And, Roman Reigns became the top dog. He said Reigns’s confidence might be shaken when he returns on Sunday, and he doesn’t think Reigns will ever be the same.
Rollins kept walking. He said Ambrose is a thief and coward. He said he worked harder than anyone else in WWE history to recover, he won the title from Reigns, and Ambrose stole the title from him. Rollins calmed down. He said every night they walked down these steps together, a little piece of him wanted to push them in the back and watch them tumble down the steps.
Tonight, he gets to end Dean’s little fairytale WWE Title run. He vowed to take his title and walk into Battleground as WWE champion. Rollins stood on the guardrail and declared: “I was always the man.” Big heel smiled closed the bit.
[Q8] Earlier Tonight: Stephanie picked Mick Foley as the GM of Raw. Then, Shane picked Daniel Bryan as Smackdown GM.
Backstage: Tyler Breeze and Fandango tried to talk to Mick Foley. Shane interrupted and sent them packing. Shane wanted to chat with Foley. Why would he want to work with his sister? Shane gave him six months. Shane also said there are rumblings on why she hired Foley as GM. (1) Foley connects with the audience. (2) She thinks she can manipulate and control Foley.
Is that right? Foley said he didn’t walk into this blind. He said Stephanie might seem ruthless on the surface, but he sees passion and drive to succeed. So, don’t give me advice and act like you’re looking out for me. Shane was cool with that. Foley gruffly told Shane that he has some talent to scout. Shane told him to have a Nice Day and gave him the Cactus Jack wink & the gun.
[Commercial Break at 9:48]
Back from break, Baron Corbin and Sin Cara were randomly in the ring. Cole noted Cara and Kalisto ended their tag team run as Lucha Dragons earlier in the day.
4 — BARON CORBIN vs. SIN CARA
Corbin pounded Cara in the corner and turned his mask around to punish him. Cara fixed his mask, then kicked him out of the ring to the floor. Cara delivered a flying splash to rock Corbin into the guardrail. But, back in the ring, Corbin smashed Cara with End of Days.
Post-match, Corbin beat up Sin Cara some more. Lucha Dragons’s music played to bring out Kalisto. Kalisto cleared Corbin from the ring, then checked on Cara, but Corbin yanked Kalisto out of the ring. Corbin smashed Kalisto in the back of the head, then stood over him. The announcers continued to hype Corbin’s Draft status rising.
WINNER: Corbin at 1:18.
Backstage: Women’s champion Charlotte and Dana Brooke were shown walking down the hallway. They’re in tag action next.
Announcers: Cole pitched a sneak-peek for Batman vs. Superman available on DVD tomorrow.
[Commercial Break at 9:55]
In-ring: Sasha Banks’s music played back from break. Lilian Garcia was shown on-camera making the ring introduction for this women’s division tag match. Becky Lynch was out next as the announcers hyped Becky vs. Natalya at Battleground on Sunday. Charlotte’s music then produced the Women’s champion and Dana Brooke. As for Sasha’s tag partner at Battleground, Cole said Sasha’s message to him was: “she has it covered.”
[Q9 — third hour]
5 — Women’s champion CHARLOTTE & BECKY LYNCH vs. SASHA BANKS & BECKY LYNCH
Charlotte ducked a fight against Sasha to begin the match, so Becky and Dana fought. Becky controlled, but Dana knocked Becky to the floor. Suddenly, Natalya showed up ringside and blasted Becky into the guardrail. The bell sounded as the ref called for a DQ.
Post-match, Charlotte and Becky teed off on Sasha Banks after Becky Lynch was isolated. Charlotte grabbed her title belt and posed over Sasha with Dana. No mystery partner reveal. Instead, Charlotte’s music played.
WINNERS: Sasha & Becky via DQ at 2:20.
Backstage: D-Bryan revisited his time with Kane while Shane McMahon stood a close distance behind Bryan.
Suddenly, there was a shoe being filmed in a grainy video. A man leaned down to pick up a handheld camera. It was WWE champion Dean Ambrose for an old-school Shield video message. Ambrose, holding the WWE Title belt, said he fulfilled his message about changing things in WWE for good. Ambrose said now his mission is retaining the title tonight and at Battleground. Dean said his brotha Roman Reigns returns to WWE on Sunday and he expects him to be a raging bull, while Rollins to be a filthy degenerate like he always has been. Dean had a message that he will still be WWE champion after this week.
[Commercial Break at 10:06]
In-ring: Lana was standing by in a random camo outfit to introduce the true American hero, U.S. champion Rusev. Rusev stormed the stage and posed as Cole hyped Zack Ryder challenging Rusev for the U.S. Title at Battleground. Rusev hit the ring and held up the U.S. Title belt, then Sheamus’s music played. Is he facing Rusev? Teaming with him? It wasn’t really clear.
Dolph Ziggler’s music then played to bring out WWE’s political correspondent. WWE showed events from Smackdown when Ziggler and Zack Ryder one-upped Rusev. Out came Ryder as Ziggler’s tag partner.
6 — U.S. champion RUSEV (w/Lana) & SHEAMUS vs. ZACK RYDER & DOLPH ZIGGLER
Two-fourths of the defunct League of Nations double-teamed Ryder early in the match. Rusev then smashed Ryder into the barricade. Ryder beat a 10-count back into the ring, then the disbanded League struggled to work together on Ryder.
Ziggler got a tag and nearly pinned Rusev twice, but Rusev smashed him in the back of the head. Rusev then slapped on The Accolade in the middle of the ring. Ryder was neutralized by Sheamus, so Dolph had to tap out. Rusev kept the hold locked on for a few extra moments until Ryder made the save.
WINNERS: Rusev & Sheamus at 3:48. WWE did not do these guys any favor putting a cold issue and cold wrestlers in the Dead Sea Q10 match segment.
Summerslam plug: Randy Orton returns against Brock Lesnar.
Video Package: Randy Orton returns at Battleground when he’s on Chris Jericho’s Highlight Reel. A big hype video on Orton’s career followed.
Up Next: Ring introductions for the rare WWE Title main event on Raw.
[Commercial Break at 10:23]
Announcers: Cole, Saxton, and JBL were shown on-camera to talk about John Cena’s ESPYs hosting job. Cue up the Rollins Report editing of athletes’s out-of-context reactions to Cena’s jokes. WWE included red carpet footage of athletes (and a heel champion, The Miz) putting over Cena as ESPYs host.
Back to Cole and Co. to hype the Draft tomorrow night on Smackdown Live. Cole liked the idea of six NXT picks tomorrow night.
Backstage: The Ascension got talking time trying to pitch themselves to Mick Foley for the Draft. Daniel Bryan interrupted to send Ascension back to Superstars. He wanted to talk to Foley about having a good working relationship, unlike the McMahon siblings. Foley said he’s fine with Bryan’s pop dwarfing his tonight. Bryan said he’s fine with Smackdown beating Raw in the ratings. Bryan and Foley talked about feeling like the same person – unlikely World champions with wives way out of their leagues, flannel, underdogs, and an ability to out-fight, out-work, and outlast anyone who stood their way. Foley said right now Bryan is standing in his way. “And you’re standing in mine,” Bryan said. He said they never fought in the ring before, but now they’re fighting each other. Foley said may the best man win. They shook on it.
[Q11] In-ring: WWE champion Dean Ambrose was introduced first for the WWE Title main event. Cole said it’s rare, and it’s next.
[Commercial Break at 10:33]
Next Monday: Raw will be drastically different in Pittsburgh. Cole wanted to know if Dean Ambrose will still be WWE champion. To make this main event even bigger, WWE showed Stephanie & Foley and Shane & Bryan down at ringside in front of the announce position. Seth Rollins’s music then brought out the former WWE champion. Steph stood up and applauded Seth’s presence as Cole claimed that Dean has never beaten Seth one-on-one. (If you take out the MITB cash-in.)
Before the bell sounded, Lilian Garcia handled formal ring introductions. Stephanie proudly stood up and applauded Seth, then Foley reluctantly stood up and applauded. Over to Shane & Bryan who applauded Ambrose. JBL said his sources are telling him Roman Reigns is like a caged animal waiting to get his title shot at Battleground.
7 — WWE World Hvt. champion DEAN AMBROSE vs. SETH ROLLINS — WWE Title match
Strong feeling-out process for the former Shield mates as the crowd broke into a loud dueling chant. Seth should not be getting a positive chant if WWE did their job with Rollins’s heel persona. The sympathetic 24/7 special and Seth calling out Reigns over the past month has made him too likable.
Ambrose suddenly clotheslined Rollins over the top rope to the floor. Ambrose followed out with a slam into the barricade, then a clothesline. Ambrose followed with a running clothesline off the ring apron. Dean stood tall as the dominant champion heading to break.
[Q12] [Commercial Break at 10:44]
Back from break, Seth was in control back in the ring. The announcers used a slow point in the match to hype the Cruiserweight division returning on Raw under the watch of Stephanie and Mick. JBL hyped Cedric Alexander vs. Kota Ibushi from the Cruiserweight tournament, which hasn’t aired yet and occurred at last week’s taping. Saxton also wondered if the announcers will be split up via the Draft.
Back to the match, where Dean nailed a neckbreaker on Seth for a two count. Dean wanted a running corner attack, but Seth kicked him in the face. Seth teased a Pedigree, but Dean blocked. Dean then rocked Seth with a forearm and clotheslined him over the top rope to the floor. Dean followed with a flying forearm on the outside. All four authority figures stood up on the opposite side of the ring to get a good look.
Still on the floor, Seth intercepted a Rebound Lariat with a hard whip into the guardrail. Seth then Buckle-bombed Dean into the guardrail. Big reaction from the crowd waking up to the action. Seth quickly threw Dean back into the ring and nailed a top-rope Frogsplash. Seth covered, but Dean kicked out just before three. The crowd popped for the nearfall as Raw cut to break.
[Commercial Break at 10:54]
Back from break, the crowd was buzzing as Seth had Ambrose high in the air. But, Ambrose countered a Bucklebomb with a head scissors. Suddenly, Stephanie got up asking the ref to check on Seth. Seth was deemed fit to continue, and he nailed Dean with a leaping knee strike to the side of the head. Seth went back to the top for a Frogsplash, but Dean moved and Seth crashed into the mat.
[Q13 — over-run] The crowd buzzed for both men as they recovered to their feet at the top of the hour. Rollins delivered consecutive forearms, then kicked Dean repeatedly in the head. But, Dean came back with headbutts and jabs. Dean wanted the Rebound Lariat, but Rollins ducked. Big counter/reversal sequence, then Dean hit Dirty Deeds coming out of the corner after taking a Bucklebomb. Dean covered, but Rollins put his foot on the bottom rope in-time to stop the count.
Suddenly, Dean left ringside to clear the announce tables. Dean talked a little trash in Foley’s face, then he put Rollins on the Spanish announce table. Dean wanted a splash through the table, but Seth rolled off the table back into the ring. The fight moved to the ring apron, where Seth teased a Pedigree, but Dean blocked and clotheslined him back into the ring.
At 22:22, Dean climbed to the top turnbuckle for a flying axehandle, but Seth kicked him in the gut, nailed the Pedigree, and covered Dean for a one, two, kickout just in-time. Down at ringside, Stephanie was like, ‘C’mon, that’s my man’s finish!” And, Shane pumped his fist for Dean kicking out.
Rollins came to his feet first looking for another Pedigree, but Dean escaped. Rebound Lariat from Ambrose. Ambrose then climbed to the top turnbuckle, but Rollins met him. They battled up top and Dean pushed down Seth into the ref. Suddenly, Seth sprung on Dean for a superplex. He covered, both men’s shoulders were down, and the ref came-to to count a three count.
The bell sounded as the crowd sat quietly not sure how to handle this. Seth thought he won and proclaimed himself the winner. The ref shook his head no. Everyone wanted an explanation as the crowd continued to sit quietly. Steph said Seth won, but Shane said Dean won. Dean almost poked Steph in the face in the heat of the moment, then Seth and Dean started jawing.
Steph left ringside and grabbed the title belt to declare Rollins the new WWE champion. Steph hugged Seth and his music played while Shane checked with the ref. JBL said he thought Ambrose won. No one knew what was going on. They never went to a replay of the finish. Cole ended with a question of whether they saw a new champion tonight. The final images were Dean ranting & raving in the ring and Seth holding up the title on the stage as Raw signed off six minutes past the top of the hour.
WINNER: Who knows at 24:16. It was only a matter of time until they played this card finding a way to split up the top titles to each brand. Of course, the title is on the line again at Battleground when Roman Reigns is in the mix, so how will that factor into the title equation? It was a bit of a mess overall with the crowd waiting for an adult to make a decision. Good title match until the finish that sounded better on paper. It was too much of a distraction the night before the Draft, perhaps annoying viewers with how the finish was handled instead of building excitement for tomorrow night’s big show. The goal, on paper, was creating a strong hook for tomorrow night’s Smackdown/Draft special to find out who the champion is, but they only got about half-way there.
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