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Before the Brand Split officially begins, WWE presents July’s Battleground PPV from Washington, D.C. featuring The Shield in a three-way match for the WWE World Title…
WWE Battleground PPV Report
July 24, 2016
Live in Washington, D.C.
Report by James Caldwell (@JCTorch), PWTorch assistant editor
Battleground PPV Pre-Show
– The panel this month is Renee Young with Booker T, Jerry Lawler, and Corey Graves, who has been “drafted” to the Raw announce team starting Monday.
– Tom Phillips will be at the Social Media Lounge with special guests Raw GM Mick Foley and Smackdown GM Daniel Bryan later in the pre-show.
– Backstage, NXT call-up Andrea D’Marco interviewed Zack Ryder about facing Rusev tonight for the U.S. Title. Ryder said everyone except his dad is doubting him, even his mom, but he plans to pull a WrestleMania by proving everyone wrong taking the U.S. Title to Smackdown.
– Cesaro, wearing a Red Raw tie, joined the pre-show panel. He said he’s frustrated sitting here at the pre-show panel talking about Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens. He said he’s tired of them interfering in his career, so he hopes the feud is settled tonight. Booker got down to the matter of his Post-Draft promo on Tuesday night “shooting” on his Draft position and going to the “talking show” of Raw. Cesaro continued to say he’s frustrated sitting here on the panel when he wants to be in the ring where he belongs, not being another person just talking and saying what they’re going to do.
– Social Media Lounge: Tom Phillips brought in Raw GM Mick Foley and Smackdown GM Daniel Bryan. Foley thought Bryan was inducted into the Hall of Fame, but Bryan said that hasn’t happened yet. Soon! Bryan said his emphasis on Smackdown is taking away the emphasis from management to the Superstars. He said in two months, he doesn’t want people thinking about Shane McMahon and himself. He wants it to be about Apollo Crews and Baron Corbin and new stars. Mick Foley said that was his answer. He said it wants to be less about management and more about the stars.
The next question was about “drafting” a wrestling legend to their brands. Foley picked Terry Funk. He said Funk would be able to blend the old-school and new-school. Bryan picked Shawn Michaels, who originally trained him. He said HBK can still go and he thinks he would be a good addition.
The next question was about revitalizing Raw and Smackdown. Foley said he wants to see the Superstars interact better, especially carrying three hours on Raw. Bryan said they have some “risky” ideas for Smackdown that might hit or miss. He won’t reveal them here, but he’s excited to try them out to bring out the best in the male and female rosters.
Earlier Today: Bob Backlund, fresh off Tragos/Thesz Hall of Fame Weekend, joined Darren Young in the locker room to warm up for the IC Title match tonight. Meanwhile, in another part of the building, Maryse applied make-up to The Miz.
Announcers: Mauro Ranallo and Byron Saxton were down at ringside for commentary on the pre-show match.
A — THE USOS vs. TYLER BREEZE & FANDANGO — Smackdown Brand Battle
The Usos took early control, but Breeze and Fandango used a two-on-one situation to drop Jey Uso across the top rope. Serious approach from Fandango pounding Uso into the mat for a close nearfall. Jey broke free and hot-tagged Jimmy, who delivered Samoan Drops to each opponent. Jimmy strutted like Tama Tonga to set up a corner butt splash on Fandango.
Then, the action broke down with all four men in the ring. Suddenly, Jimmy Uso flew off the top rope with a splash to both opponents, but Fandango kicked out of a pin. Things fell apart for a bit, then Jimmy Uso nailed a superkick to Breeze. Uso wanted a top-rope Superfly Splash, but Fandango picked at his feet. Uso regrouped, but the time allowed Breeze to get his knees up to block the Splash. Breeze immediately rolled up Uso with a small package for the pin and the win. The crowd popped for Breeze & Fandango winning over the cold face duo.
WINNERS: Breeze & Fandango at 5:26. Solid start, good middle, and a bit chaotic at the end before the finish. The Usos could really use a reset on the Smackdown roster. (**1/2)
Video Package: The Shield Explodes tonight for the WWE Title.
WWE Battleground Live PPV
Video Package: The Shield Explodes tonight for the WWE Title.
In the arena, Charlotte’s music played to bring out the Women’s champion and Dana Brooke for the opening tag match. Meanwhile, Michael Cole, JBL, and Byron Saxton introduced the show from ringside before throwing to the Spanish and German announce teams.
Sasha Banks was out next as tag team opposition. Saxton said he wants to find out if the rumors are true of who Sasha’s tag partner will be. Sasha posed in the ring, then winked to the hard camera that she has someone in mind for tonight. The crowd was full-throat chanting for Bayley. After a pause with Charlotte standing mid-ring waiting to see who Sasha’s tag partner is…
Bayley’s music played to a huge roar. Sasha smiled as the crowd went nuts. Out came Bayley making her WWE main roster debut. The inflatable dudes popped up on the entrance stage as Bayley fired up the crowd and soaked up the moment. Charlotte sold being annoyed by her presence as the announcers talked up Bayley’s accomplishments. Suddenly, Charlotte attacked Bayley from behind. The fight moved to the floor before the bell sounded.
1 — Women’s champion CHARLOTTE & DANA BROOKE vs. BAYLEY & SASHA BANKS
Charlotte continued to pound Bayley into the ring before ref Mike Chioda asked Bayley if she was able to compete. Bayley said bring it on, then Charlotte pounded her into the corner. Sasha eventually tagged in, but she also took a beating. Hot tag to Bayley, who cleaned house on Dana and Charlotte. Meanwhile, JBL referred to this as a “one-off” for Bayley, who is not part of the roster after the Draft.
The crowd fired up for Bayley, who suddenly found herself at a disadvantage when Charlotte & Dana double blindsided her. Bayley continued to fight against the heels until tagging in Sasha. Suddenly, Bayley exploded out of the corner with a clothesline to Dana. Tag to Sasha, who couldn’t put away Dana. Charlotte came in with a big boot to Sasha, but The Boss surprised Charlotte moments later with the Bank Statement. Charlotte had nowhere to go and was forced to tap out.
Post-match, Sasha and Bayley soaked up the win standing together in the ring. Big Hug tease. C’mon, Sasha, feel the moment. And she eventually hugged Bayley to the crowd’s delight.
WINNERS: Sasha & Bayley at 7:25. The emphasis was more on Sasha than Bayley after the big pre-match debut moment, so it will be interesting to see where Bayley fits in on the main roster, or if she splits time between NXT and Raw/Smackdown until a full call-up. Also feels like Charlotte vs. Sasha for the Women’s Title at Summerslam. (**3/4)
Video Package: New Day vs. Wyatts feud.
In-ring: Big E., fresh off the Tragos/Thesz Hall of Fame, introduced the tag champions to the D.C. crowd. Out came Big E., Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods dancing and having a good time. Xavier was a little more serious, though. Xavier claimed they are the longest-reigning WWE World Tag Team Champions as of this past Wednesday.
Big E. celebrated New Day being drafted together, but Kofi said they need to get serious for a moment. Because … the WWE Draft split up the Wyatts like a Taylor Swift relationship. Xavier got serious, too. Since this is the last time they will see the Wyatts together, they will be even more dangerous. Big E. lifted the mood celebrating New Day rocking.
Suddenly, the Wyatt theme interrupted to bring out The Wyatts for perhaps one more run together.
2 — THE WYATTS (BRAY WYATT & BRAUN STROWMAN & ERICK ROWAN) vs. WWE tag champions NEW DAY (KOFI KINGSTON & BIG E. & XAVIER WOODS) — six-man tag match
The match built to Bray and Xavier meeting face-to-face. Xavier sold being hypnotized by Bray’s power. Bray thought he had Xavier until his control, but Kofi came flying off the top rope to Bray. Bray shook him off, then Xavier snapped out of his funk and went off on Bray. After chaos broke out in the ring, Woods again came face-to-face with Woods. This time, Bray caught Woods with Sister Abigail in the middle of the ring. Bray covered Woods for the win.
WINNER: New Day at 8:47. Xavier conquered his fear, but Bray re-established his dominance, so an even result to presumably wrap up this feud with the Wyatts heading to different brands as singles wrestlers. Solid, exciting tag match packed into nine minutes. (***)
Video Screen: A tweet from Roman Reigns flashed on the screen to boos. The tweet was about Reigns believing he’s going to return to his top spot.
In-ring: Lana was standing by in a multi-functional evening gown dress to introduce U.S. champion Rusev. Cole noted Rusev is heading to Raw, but will he be U.S. champion on Monday? Cole added that Rusev thinks he is the top champion on Raw (since the WWE Title is held by Smackdown’s Dean Ambrose).
In the tradition of Titus O’Neil, Zack Ryder came out to the ring over-dressed in patriotism to challenge Rusev for the U.S. Title. Cole introduced the foreign announce teams down at ringside, then Saxton noted Ryder tried to get his stuff in tributing Sting and Ultimate Warrior with his gear.
3 — U.S. champion RUSEV (w/Lana) vs. ZACK RYDER — U.S. Title match
Ryder got in some early offense to make it seem like he has a shot to win the match. Rusev came back with clubbing blows and forearms pounding Ryder’s face from a mount position. Rusev let off, though, allowing Ryder to make a comeback. He tried the Broski Boot, but Rusev smashed him in the face. Rusev, angered, tried a vertical suplex, but Ryder landed on his feet and nailed neckbreaker.
Ryder finally nailed the Broski Boot, but Rusev kicked out of a pin. Rusev rolled to the floor looking for a breather, suckering in Ryder to eat the guardrail. Rusev then suplexed Ryder across the guardrail. He tried to charge Rusev for a big smash, but Ryder avoided and Rusev crashed into the rail.
Back in the ring, Ryder surprised Rusev with the Rough Ryder. Instead of covering, he went to the top rope for a Macho Man elbow drop, but Rusev got his boot up just in time to smash Ryder’s elbow. Rusev smashed Ryder in the back of the head with a kick, then slapped on The Accolade. Ryder fought and fought, then actually started to power out, drawing Woo! Woo! Woo! chants, but Rusev suddenly threw him backwards into the modified Accolade. Ryder had to tap.
Post-match, Rusev wasn’t done with the American. Rusev pounded Ryder’s back, frustrated that Ryder pushed him like this. Suddenly, Mojo Rawley’s music played. Mojo stormed the ring in Full Hype Mode to defend his NXT tag partner, Ryder. Mojo screamed in Rusev’s face ready to fight. Rusev just stood there and looked at him, then slowly bailed from the ring. Mojo checked on Ryder as Rusev slowly walked around ringside to receive the U.S. Title belt. Rusev and Lana left ringside as Mojo continued to check on Ryder.
WINNER: Rusev via submission at 7:01 to retain the U.S. Title. Effective match making it seem like Ryder had a shot to win despite the pre-match build, or at least get a moral victory breaking The Accolade. Mojo as the next U.S. Title challenger to Rusev is a stretch, but it would at least be fresh. (**1/2)
Backstage: The Authority … er … Raw authority figures Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley talked about business. Seth Rollins walked in to discuss making his name known, not Bayley or these other people. Seth said he doesn’t have to prove anything after being picked #1 overall in the Draft because his track record speaks for itself. He vowed to bring the WWE Title back to Raw after beating those chumps, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns. Foley said his confidence doesn’t seem shaken after losing to Ambrose on Smackdown. Rollins laughed that off, then told them to mark it down that there will be a Baby Boom nine months from now after he wins the title tonight. And they will all be called Rollins. Seth walked off as Steph sold being stunned. Foley told her she drafted him. Steph remained speechless.
Video Package: Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens through the years. It explodes tonight. But, they’re still on Raw after tonight, so they will indeed … Fight Forever.
In-ring: Sami Zayn was out first for the grudge match against Kevin Owens. WWE cut to an on-camera shot of NXT ring announcer Greg “Game Show Host” Hamilton introducing Zayn. Kevin Owens was out next sporting a fresh haircut for the Occassion.
4 — KEVIN OWENS vs. SAMI ZAYN
As soon as the bell sounded, Owens left the ring to force Zayn to fight him on the floor. Zayn said all right, so he whipped Owens into the guardrail, then whipped him to the other side. Back in the ring, Zayn leg-whipped Owens for a one count. The crowd was hot with a dueling chant for Zayn and for Owens. Zayn tried to spring on Owens with a running rope attack, but Owens made a quick, subtle move throwing Zayn off balance to crotch him. Owens then cannonball-splashed Zayn in the corner.
Owens took his time wearing down Zayn as the crowd picked up an Ole! chant. Owens mocked it, then tried to suplex Zayn, but Zayn blocked. So, Owens just slingshot him across the top rope. Owens then grabbed a headlock and made it super-interesting carrying on a conversation with the referee as he checked on Zayn to see if he wanted to give up.
After Zayn broke free, the fight moved back to the floor. Owens wanted a powerbomb onto the ring apron, but Zayn blocked and landed on the ring apron. Zayn then tried a springboard moonsault, but he lost his balance and nearly fell on his head, but Owens broke his fall. The crowd extended grace to Zayn by trying to rally-clap for him as everyone hit the reset button.
Back in the ring, with Zayn selling a shoulder injury from the ringside spot, Zayn hit a Blue Thunder Bomb for a two count. Owens then blocked a top-rope move and superkicked Zayn in the mouth. Close two count. Owens quickly targeted the shoulder with a Crossface submission in the middle of the ring. Zayn tried to find the ropes, then finally got his left foot on the bottom rope to force a break.
The match moved to the ring apron, where Owens wanted a power move, but Zayn blocked and delivered a brainbuster suplex right on the ring apron. The crowd was in awe of the move. Both men sold on the floor for a while before barely beating the 10-count back into the ring. They continued to sell in the ring before Zayn slowly picked himself up. They came to their feet trading blows as the crowd duel-chanted.
Big ol’ slugfest between Zayn and Owens 13 minutes into the match. Owens finally just rolled to the floor looking for a breather. Zayn also rolled out and cleared the runway for a running torpedo DDT, but Owens saw it coming and superkicked Zayn in the face. Zayn remained stuck in the corner selling, so Owens smashed him with a cannonball splash. Owens then nailed a top-rope Frogsplash. But, he hesitated just a second before covering, allowing Zayn to kick out.
At 15:00, Owens and Zayn slowly came back to their feet. Owens wanted a pop-up powerbomb, but Zayn stopped in his tracks, then ran Owens up the corner buckle to deliver a tornado DDT. Owens and Zayn went nuts with counters and reversals, then Zayn nailed consecutive exploder suplexes, but only got a super-close two count for his work. The crowd went nuts as both men sold.
The match reset with Owens surprising Zayn with a pop-up powerbomb out of the corner. Owens covered, but Zayn just barely nicked the bottom rope with his foot to stop the count. Owens recovered from the near-win to trash-talk in Zayn’s face. “Just stay down!” he shouted before slapping him. And again. Zayn smiled and told him to bring it.
Owens tried to bring it, but Zayn caught him in a corner exploder suplex. Another one. Zayn suddenly nailed a Helluva Kick. Owens collapsed into Zayn’s arms, then Zayn thought about his next move. Zayn pushed him back into the corner, then nailed another Helluva Kick. Cover, one, two, and three.
Post-match, Zayn sold intense emotion after securing the biggest win of his main roster career. The announcers talked about Zayn finally conquering his former best friend. Cole said Zayn won the feud, but they will share the same locker room on Monday nights. Big celebration for Zayn.
WINNER: Zayn at 18:22. Wow, what a match. Big-time flashback to their PWG run having these types of matches on a regular basis a decade ago. Great back-story, execution, and finish for Zayn finally getting that big career win. At first, it felt like one of those frustrating singles matches where the build-up was too intense for a basic singles match, but they turned up the volume in a big way during the second-half. (****1/4)
[Intermission. WWE cut to the pre-show panel to discuss the first half of the show. Corey Graves admitted to having tears in his eyes when Bailey made her WWE debut. Lawler said they still have former best friends Shield tearing each other up later tonight.]
In-ring: Natalya was introduced to the ring for the next match of the show. Natalya stood angrily in the ring waiting for her former tag partner Becky Lynch to make her ring entrance. Becky had a crazy look in her eyes wanting a piece of Natalya as Cole plugged JBL heading home to Smackdown as part of the new commentary team starting Tuesday night.
5 — NATALYA vs. BECKY LYNCH
Becky wanted to fight right away, but Natalya played it off cool making Becky waste energy early on. Becky wanted an early Dis-arm-her, but Natalya shook it off, continuing to frustrate Becky. Natalya slowed the pace wearing down Becky, who fired back with forearms in the corner and a suplex for a nearfall.
Becky wanted Dis-arm-her again, but Natalya blocked and used Becky’s momentum against her to roll into the Sharpshooter. Becky got to the ropes, though, for a break. Becky fired back with corner blows, but the ref had to reprimand her for not listening to instructions. That gave Natalya an opening to drop Becky and put her back in the Sharpshooter. Becky fought for a while, but had nowhere to go. She had to tap out.
WINNER: Natalya via submission at 9:04. Interesting they put Becky’s match on after Zayn to highlight Becky being in the same spot Zayn was a few months ago as the scrappy, overzealous babyface who just can’t catch a break or a win. The story remains Becky has to learn how to win at this level. (**1/4)
Backstage: WWE champion Dean Ambrose was preparing himself for the WWE Title match tonight. Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan approached him to discuss keeping the title on Smackdown tonight. He said Reigns and Rollins don’t have what you have. The jacket? The tanktop? No, heart. Shane said that’s why he is the champion and why he is walking out the champion. Because he wants it more than they do. Bryan said he fought a lot of wars with The Shield, but they didn’t worry about Rollins or Reigns. They were worried about Dean because he’s the best, and that’s why they drafted him number one to Smackdown. Dean talked excitedly about The Shield going to war, baby. And he will still be WWE champion. That’s how it’s going to be and that’s how it’s going to stay. He’s ready, Bryan & Shane agreed.
In-ring: Darren Young was introduced to the ring along with Bob Backlund, fresh off the Tragos/Thesz Hall of Fame over the weekend. WWE cut to footage of D-Young winning the IC Title #1 contender battle royal two weeks ago by pretty much doing nothing. Back live, Backlund made sure his client was prepared before The Miz’s music played. Out came the IC champion and Maryse for Miz’s latest title defense. They were in full costume and were apparently re-enacting the ring entrances of Taichi and his valet from the Super J Cup on Wednesday.
6 — IC champion THE MIZ (w/Maryse) vs. DARREN YOUNG (w/Bob Backlund) — Intercontinental Title match
Miz controlled early on, drawing over Backlund to give Young some instructions. Young suddenly sprung on Miz with an amateur wrestling take down to implement Bob’s offense. Young slapped around Miz, then Maryse suddenly yelled at D-Young from the outside. Young took his eyes off Miz for a second, allowing Miz to shove him down to the floor. Backlund shot Maryse a look and she was like, “What are you going to do about it?”
Miz punished Young back in the ring. He then yelled at Backlund that he didn’t teach Young nothing. He vowed to make D-Young great himself as he punished Young with a headlock. They had a reverse Test of Strength fighting for control in backslide position, then Miz kicked Young in the back to keep him grounded.
Miz and Young fought to their feet, then Young delivered an overhead toss and fired himself up. Young delivered a back drop across the ring apron, then quickly covered for a two count. Miz tried to leave the ring, but “old man” Backlund stopped him in his tracks. Suddenly, Maryse slapped Backlund across the face. Maryse then fell down selling an injury. Suddenly, Backlund went nuts ripping off his trademark white dress shirt. Backlund was left in his suspenders and slacks.
Suddenly, Young left the ring and snapped on Miz with the Crossface Chickenwing, letting out his inner barbarism. Young refused to let go as the bell sounded and refs spilled out to try to get Young off Miz. Young eventually released the hold and sold being stunned by what he just did. Backlund got big eyes liking what he saw out of Young. Saxton called back to the mid-1990s when Backlund did the “snapping routine” on Bret Hart and Co. There was no official decision announced.
WINNER: ???; Miz retained the IC Title at 8:41. This would continue on TV, but Miz is heading to Smackdown and Young is heading to Raw. (**)
Video Teaser: Brock Lesnar on the “WWE 2K17” video game cover.
Still to come: Team Cena vs. The Club, The Shield explodes, and Randy Orton on the Highlight Reel. That’s a lot for the final hour, plus apparently an over-run.
Video Package: Team Cena vs. The Club.
In-ring: John Cena’s music played first for the big six-man tag war. The crowd broke into “John Cena Suuuucks” sing-song mixed with loud cheers from his fans. Cole hyped Cena going back to Smackdown via the Draft, and he’ll be on NBC’s “Today” Show Monday morning.
Enzo Amore’s music then played to bring out Enzo & Big Cass to join Cena. Big pop for the arrival of Enzo & Cass, who Cole noted are going to Raw, so this will be the final pairing of Cena, Enzo, and Cass. Enzo & Cass hit the ring and Cena gave them the floor. He sat in the corner to watch Enzo do his thing. Enzo talked up Cena, then noted they are 4G, so they are well-connected. Subtle reference to the Verizon Center.
Enzo then had some advice to A.J. Styles and The Club. Don’t pee in the wind. (How you doin’?) Don’t wear Crocs. Don’t make eye contact while eating a banana. And his last piece of advice – do not step in the ring with them unless you have a great dental plan. Because they will knock their teeth out. Enzo said you’re going to find out that you can’t Washington, D-C-me (he did the You Can’t See Me handwave in Cena’s face). Cena bowed to Enzo, then raised his arm in victory. Enzo vowed to physically defeat them and mentally deplete them.
Big Cass dryly told the crowd to give it up for Enzo. The crowd did the “Oooooh, Enzoooo Amoreeee” sing-song as he ran around the ring before dabbing. Enzo told Cass he has something to say. Indeed he does. Cass told A.J. Styles to keep on doing soccer mom things, like get his mini-van, pick up the boys, load them into the van, pack a lunch, then drive them to Raw, drop them off, and that’s where they will be given a beating, and then you head to Smackdown Live, and on the very long drive, think about that one time, that one night in Washington, D.C., where Big Cass, Enzo, and Cena proved that there is only one way to describe The Club. S-A-W-F-T!
Suddenly, A.J. Styles’s music played to bring out Styles and The Club with a physical retort. Styles, Karl Anderson, and Luke Gallows slowly walked around the ring sizing up the tough-talkin’ opposition before entering the ring for a stare down.
7 — THE CLUB (A.J. STYLES & KARL ANDERSON & LUKE GALLOWS) vs. JOHN CENA & ENZO AMORE & BIG CASS — six-man tag match
The bell sounded for Enzo to start the match looking to back up his tough talk with some action. Meanwhile, the crowd picked up a loud “A-J Styles” chant. So, Karl tagged out to Styles, who danced around the ring before locking up with Styles. The crowd went from a Styles chant to a “soccer mom” chant, drawing a big laugh from Styles. Styles then locked up with Enzo again. Drop down, leap frog, and textbook dropkick from Styles. So smooth. Styles let everybody know about it. Enzo, humbled, decided to tag out to Big Cass. Anderson wanted a piece of Cass, so he tagged in.
Anderson quickly found himself in the face trio’s corner to take a beating. Cass then tagged in and knocked Anderson, then Gallows to the floor. Cass then launched Enzo over the top rope onto Anderson & Gallows. Styles tried to charge Cass, but Cass threw A.J. over the top rope onto the pile of bodies below.
Back in the ring, the face trio continued to work on Karl Anderson. Meanwhile, JBL hyped Cass’s future singles run. Karl finally got a tag to Gallows, who blasted Enzo with a strike to the face. Styles also got in some work on Enzo as the crowd buzzed with various chants. Enzo got free of The Club and tagged in Cena, who came in hot on Styles. You Can’t See Me and Five Knuckle Shuffle to Styles. Cena tried the Attitude Adjustment, but Styles landed on his feet and swiftly nailed a Pele Kick to Cena.
Styles wanted the Clash on Cena, but Enzo came flying at him with a swinging DDT. Anderson then dropped Enzo with a spinebuster. Cass then bodyslammed Anderson. Enter Luke with a sit-out powerbomb to Cass. The assembly line continued with Cena accidentally catching Enzo coming off the top rope. Suddenly, Styles accidentally nailed Gallows with a flying forearm. Cena nailed Styles with the AA, but Anderson broke up the pin out of nowhere.
On the floor, Anderson chucked Cena into the announce position, then Enzo came flying onto Anderson with a top-rope splash. Chaos everywhere. Cena was still down at eight, then he dove back into the ring at nine, where Styles was waiting for him. Styles wanted the Clash on Cena, and he connected in the middle of the ring. Cover, but Cass yanked Styles out of the ring to save Cena. Cass then smashed Styles with a big boot to the face, knocking him out.
Back in the ring, Anderson and Gallows combined for the Magic Killer on Cass. But, Cass rolled out of the ring to avoid a pin. Suddenly, Enzo slid into the ring to go one-on-two with the former IWGP tag champs. Enzo fired himself up wanting to fight as the crowd fired up, too. Karl charged, but Enzo side-stepped and sent Karl flying to the floor. So, it was Luke against Enzo, who ducked a punch, but took a sidekick. Exit Enzo.
Cena slowly returned to the ring, where Gallows was waiting. Gallows charged the corner, but Cena side-stepped. Styles was then back in the ring, but Cena caught him in the corner looking for a super-AA. Styles elbowed Cena in the head to block, though. Cena absorbed the elbows, then picked up Styles as Styles continued to elbow him in the head and he nailed a super-AA. Cena covered Styles for the pin and the win, getting his “win” back on Styles in a tag setting.
Post-match, Enzo wanted to hug everyone as they celebrated the win. Curtain call, then Cena did a victory lap around ringside.
WINNERS: Cena & Enzo & Cass at 14:30. Exciting tag match paying off the recent TV feud, but hurt quality-wise by some over-done sequences mid-way through. The result sets up Cena-Styles continuing on Smackdown, likely leading to a singles re-match at Summerslam. (***1/2)
Chris Jericho’s Highlight Reel
Fireworks shot off to bring out Chris Jericho in heel mode dressed in his expensive scarf, fancy tanktop, and rocker boots & jeans looking down on the audience. Once in the ring, Jericho asked the crowd for quiet. Quiet! QUIET! Jericho said he wants to tell everyone right now that this is the biggest Highlight Reel in history. Because his guest is returning to WWE after being gone for nine months with a shoulder injury.
Jericho said his guest on the Highlight Reel is… Randy Orton! Orton’s familiar music played to bring out Orton dressed in an “RKO” t-shirt and black pants. Orton was mic’ed up talking on his way to the ring about being fired up to return. Cole plugged Brock Lesnar vs. Orton at Summerslam in August.
Orton hit the ring and walked around soaking up the atmosphere. Orton posed in the corner selling being overwhelmed by the moment, which didn’t get a huge response. Once his music stopped, the crowd picked up a “Welcome Back” chant. Orton sold being humbled by the response.
Orton spoke that he’s been at home watching WWE for the past nine months with his wife and children. But, when he walked down the ramp, he realized he’s been missing something for nine months. This. “It was you,” he told the crowd. Orton said he’s in such a good mood that he doesn’t even mind sharing the ring with his guy. Jericho shot a distant look of “What, me?”
Jericho said Orton should be thanking him that he gets to make his big return on the Highlight Reel. “Just the fact that you’re in the ring with me puts you on a different level. You’re welcome,” Jericho told Orton. Orton said he’s in a good mood, but that could change real quick. And he might just drop his ass. Oh, oh, you mean an RKO out of nowhere? “Ain’t gonna happen, Orton,” Jericho told him. He said he might hit him with a Codebreaker out of nowhere. Orton had a good belly laugh.
Jericho wanted to give Orton an update from the past nine months. Brand extension, you’re on Smackdown, Daniel Bryan is the GM, Jericho is on Raw with Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon (he put her over strong to boos, then drew laughs saying he’s loved her forever), and Dean Ambrose is a barbarian who stuck 69 tacks into his flesh. Grrrrrrrr from Jericho.
Jericho had a present for Orton ahead of facing Brock at Summerslam. It’s a gift that everyone here wants, and needs. “Randy, I’m going to give you the Gift of Jericho. Drink it in, maaaaaaaaan.” Jericho closed his eyes and leaned back, then Orton leaned in close in RKO position. Jericho snapped back. Orton said he just wanted to investigate his haircut. He told him not to worry about his hair.
Jericho said he’s worried about his sunny disposition before facing Brock Lesnar at Summerslam. He then threw to a video package on the Jeritron 6500 about Brock wanting to cause “utter fricken’ chaos.” Back to Jericho, who asked Orton if he’s at all concerned. Jericho went back to their history starting in WWE Developmental 15 years ago. Yet, through all their years together, Orton has managed to avoid Brock. Are you scared? Jericho said he thinks Orton is scared.
How about a different question – why did you take the match with Lesnar? Orton said he wanted to have an epic return facing the biggest, baddest dude in the locker room. He said it wouldn’t have meant much if he came back after nine months and faced Fandango. Oooh. The crowd booed the dig at Fandango, then realized it was a dig at Jericho since Fandango beat Jericho at WrestleMania a few years ago. Jericho said that’s real cute, then told Orton that Brock is going to rough him up and take him to Suplex City.
Orton said he knows what to expect. He said he could take 10, 15, 20 suplexes to get to Suplex City. But, all it takes is one RKO to get to Viperville. Orton added, “No enhancement needed.” The crowd oohed at the UFC drug testing reference. Orton then dropped the mic and soaked up the crowd’s reaction. Jericho said he thinks Orton is going to pay for that comment. Orton smirked and paced the ring, then Jericho circled the ring as they regrouped following the comment.
Jericho said he has a message from someone who knows Brock Lesnar. He thinks Orton is a coward and a stupid idiot. Orton twitched. Jericho asked if he’s going to RKO him. How about now? He turned his back. What about now?! Jericho turned around again, so Orton spun him around and laughed. Orton sold scaring Jericho, then Jericho relaxed for a second, so Orton dropped him with an RKO. Orton took a bow, then his music played. Orton posed as Cole hyped Orton vs. Lesnar at Summerslam.
Video Package: The Shield explodes for the WWE World Title.
Locker Rooms: WWE cut to the Raw locker room showing the roster preparing to watch the WWE Title match. Over to the Smackdown locker room, John Cena was front-and-center trying to pick up the PPV losers like The Usos, Becky Lynch, and Zack Ryder before watching the WWE Title match.
In-ring: Mick Foley, then Stephanie McMahon were introduced first to watch the WWE Title match at ringside. Cole said Foley wants Raw to be about the Superstars, not management. The irony. Shane McMahon was out first for Smackdown, then Daniel Bryan got a huge ovation coming to ringside as Smackdown GM. Shane, Foley, and Bryan shook hands while Stephanie remained stand-offish.
Seth Rollins’s music then brought out Rollins representing Raw. Steph proudly clapped it up for her #1 pick in the Draft. Rollins’s music stopped, then the crowd started booing. Out came Roman Reigns to near-universal boos. Reigns slowly walked out on-stage returning to WWE following his 30-day Wellness Policy suspension. Steph and Foley applauded Reigns since he also represents Raw, but Steph clearly wanted Seth to win. Reigns hit the ring and posed to loud boos. Reigns slowly walked toward Rollins and bounced up and down.
Dean Ambrose’s music then played to loud cheers to bring out the WWE champion. Shane danced in front of Stephanie, then applauded with D-Bryan. Cole stacked the deck against Ambrose trying to win against two Raw roster members tonight. With everyone in the ring, JoJo handled formal ring introductions. Mix for Rollins, 99.9 percent boos for Reigns as Steph reluctantly clapped for him, and strong for Ambrose.
8 — WWE World Hvt. champion DEAN AMBROSE (225 lbs.) vs. SETH ROLLINS (217 lbs.) vs. ROMAN REIGNS (265 lbs.) — three-way WWE World Hvt. Title match
The bell sounded five minutes before the top of the hour. All three men stood their ground staring at each other. Loud “Roman Sucks” chant from the crowd. Cole acknowledged it. Rollins then walked toward the center and threw in his fist for a Shield throwback. “C’mon, put ‘er there!” Rollins cackled. Instead, Reigns pushed him out of the ring. Suddenly, Ambrose rolled up Reigns from behind for a close two count. Reigns got up and smiled at his buddy.
All three men traded control for a while as they entered the “over-run” of the PPV. Suddenly, Seth scored a close two count on Ambrose with a top-rope Frogsplash. Reigns then shoved Rollins into the corner and delivered clubbing forearms to boos. He followed with a Superman Punch to Ambrose, then one for Rollins. Reigns wanted a big spear on either opponent, but they kicked him in the face. Suddenly, Ambrose nailed a rebound lariat on Reigns and all three men were down.
The authority figures leaned forward in their chairs selling anxiousness as the three men came back to their feet. Suddenly, Dean and Rollins ganged up on Reigns with a double-team beat down to cheers and “Yes!” chants. They wanted to double powerbomb Reigns, but Reigns kicked Rollins in the face. Ambrose knocked Reigns to the floor, then nailed a suicide dive. Then, Rollins launched himself over the top rope with a big splash to Reigns.
WWE cut backstage to the Raw and Smackdown locker rooms watching intently. Suddenly, Ambrose and Rollins had a meeting of the minds. They cleared the announce tables, letting the announcers stretch their legs. Ambrose and Rollins tried a combo powerbomb on Reigns again, and they sent him through the Spanish announce table to cheers.
Ambrose and Rollins were left standing at 13:00. But, Rollins suddenly had a chair. He bashed it across Dean’s back, which was legal in the match, flashing back to when Rollins broke up The Shield. Seth then cracked the chair across Reigns’s back.
Seth quickly tossed Ambrose back into the ring looking to deliver a Pedigree, but Ambrose blocked and countered with a huracanrana into the corner. The battle moved to the top turnbuckle, where Seth nailed a superplex into a Falcon Arrow, but Dean kicked out. Steph told Seth to keep going and not lose momentum. Meanwhile, the authority figures were out of their chairs now just about on the ring apron.
Suddenly, Reigns returned to the ring and wreaked havoc on Dean, then Rollins. Reigns powerbombed Seth for a close two count. He couldn’t believe that he didn’t win. Reigns then cocked his fist for the Superman Punch on Deam, but Dean avoided. Reigns then tried the Outsider’s Edge, but Dean slipped out the back door and backslid Reigns for a two count. Dean tried to follow with the rebound lariat, but Reigns punched him in the face. Seth suddenly sprung on Reigns with The Pedigree in the middle of the ring. But, Reigns kicked out just before three.
Rollins got up freaking out that he didn’t win. He then stalked Reigns for another attempt at the Big Finish, but Reigns blocked a Pedigree. Reigns then hit a Superman Punch into the big spear, but Dean snuck back into the ring and dropped Reigns with Dirty Deeds. Ambrose covered Reigns for the pin and the win.
WINNER: Ambrose at 18:03 to retain the WWE Title. Very good main event. It didn’t quite have the juice of the other history-based match, Zayn-Owens, since it was overshadowed by the spectacle of Reigns coming back from suspension. Reigns paid his penalty taking the loss, then he pretty much disappeared in the post-match. So, it will be interesting to see where he goes from here. But, at least for now, WWE is behind Ambrose after picking up some quality wins the last month as champion. How that translates to a title opponent on Smackdown and what happens to the top title spot on Raw will also be interesting. (***3/4)
Post-match, Ambrose sold shock as he received the WWE Title belt after the big title retention. Meanwhile, Shane and Bryan did a big victory lap around ringside. Stephanie sold shock down at ringside, then couldn’t even look into the ring as Dean, Shane, and Bryan celebrated. JBL said the WWE Title is heading to Smackdown.
Suddenly, the Smackdown locker room spilled out, led by John Cena. Cena hugged Ambrose. Becky Lynch and heel champ The Miz were also leaders coming out to hype Ambrose. Apollo Crews and Co. joined the party. Maryse and Erick Rowan brought up the rear in the oddest pairing ever. Simon Gotch was in there after missing the house show tour doing a reluctant golf clap. There were some big names absent from the celebration to keep Ambrose separate from certain individuals for future feuds and other reasons.
The Usos then reluctantly hoisted Dean in the air, turning their back on cousin Roman Reigns in favor of brand loyalty. That was an odd choice by WWE (if they were thinking about it). WWE cut to Rollins complaining to Foley & Steph, then went back to Smackdown’s celebration with Ambrose to close the PPV 17 minutes past the top of the hour.
Postscript: The Full Smackdown roster that came out to celebrate with Ambrose was Cena, Becky Lynch, Miz (w/Maryse), Apollo Crews, Kalisto, Zack Ryder, The Vaudevillains, Natalya, Baron Corbin, Dolph Ziggler, Mojo Rawley, Tyler Breeze & Fandango, and the Usos. Randy Orton came in late to hang out in the background. No A.J. Styles, nor Bray Wyatt from the top of the roster.
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