Last night’s Raw will be remembered mainly for one large, bestial reason, but at its core it was another show that was stolen by the genius of two programs: Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose, and Kevin Owens vs. the world. Let’s get right into the main attraction though, as WWE kicked off its usual big summer angle with a bang at the end of the show:
When The Authority decided earlier in the show that they would reveal during the main event who Rollins’ next opponent for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship would be, was there really any doubt it would be Lesnar? But perhaps a better question would be, does it matter? Any time Lesnar shows up, to paraphrase JR, business picks up. The guy IS wrestling, and there is no one even remotely on his level. He doesn’t even need to do anything—just like last night, all he needs to do is show up, look like a badass, and scare people.
Let’s not discredit Rollins, though, because he played his part amazingly well last night. It’s funny to think back to my initial opinions of The Shield, particularly Rollins, when they first started—that he was incredible in the ring, but not very good on the stick and with a limited range of emotion. Fast forward to June 2015, and Seth Rollins is probably the most multidimensional guy on the roster. Last week we saw him boiling over in anger at Ambrose and the notion that he always needs somebody else’s help, followed by steadfast determination to prove everyone wrong at Money in the Bank. Tonight, we saw his hilarious, cartoon villain gloating over defeating Ambrose, as if he soundly squashed the guy when in fact Ambrose was literally fingertips away from the victory. Then, when Lesnar was announced as Rollins’ next road block, his face of “oh f--k…how the hell am I going to get out of this one?” was priceless.
The two will square off at Battleground for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, and if their triple threat matches at Royal Rumble and WrestleMania are any indication, these two have good chemistry together and should put on one hell of a match. I’m a little sad because the writing seems to be on the wall for the end of Rollins’ reign as champion with SummerSlam coming up and his transformation into main eventer has been one of the more interesting things in all of WWE over the past year, but I’ll reserve judgment until their match.
I’m a little unclear on why The Authority is doing this to Rollins. Is it really just continuing trials to ensure the quality of Triple H’s investment, as he alluded to? Or is there some type of ulterior motive? It is a little strange that they brought Brock Lesnar out of suspension/exile to face their golden boy who Brock was ready to pretty much straight up murder the night after WrestleMania 31. But, that’s the good thing about this storyline, it could go in a few different directions. After all, Brock/Heyman and The Authority have had some semblance of a working relationship in the past.
Also lost here seems to be the direction Ambrose is going to take. He was still heavy on the anti-Rollins sentiment last night, opening the show by interrupting Rollins’ promo to call him out on another rematch, and he was later seen throwing darts at a printout of Rollins, claiming he’d be the one to get the title shot at Battleground, but that is not the case. So is it back to languishing in the midcard for Ambrose?
He was funny when he was talking to Kane backstage right before the main event, though. “You’re a funny guy, Kane. You don’t get enough credit for that. That should change.”
Thanks Owens Thanks
Raw was largely the Seth Rollins Show with the big reveal of Lesnar’s return at the end, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about how insanely awesome Kevin Owens has been. He has pretty much taken over the show since bursting onto the main roster just a month ago, and has quickly become my personal most anticipated segment of the show. I was really happy with the decision to keep Cena off the show last night to sell the injuries sustained after the post-match attack at the hands of Owens. So rarely do they go that far with Cena to sell injuries sustained at anyone’s hands…the last time it happened had to be Lesnar, right? Putting Kevin Owens in the same class as Brock Lesnar, even if it’s only in one aspect, is A-OK with me.
Owens trashed Cena some more, then issued an open challenge, ostensibly for the NXT Championship, but when Dolph Ziggler answered the call, he clarified that he made an open challenge but never said it was for the title. What a heel! The two had the match you’d expect from Kevin Owens and Dolph Ziggler, which is to say it was fantastic—the German suplex Owens hit on Ziggler was insane! Owens was dominant for most of the match but Ziggler had some flurries of offense good enough to the point where there was at least one time I thought he was going to win. In the end though, it was Lights Out for the Show Off.
Later on in the show, Machine Gun Kelly performed something approximating a song, offering a beer run/bathroom break opportunity. I’m glad I didn’t take that opportunity though, because after the song, Owens came out and laid waste to the rapper. It’s always in the back of our heads whenever an unwanted celebrity appearance happens like this that a monster heel should come out and destroy them, but rarely does it actually happen. Owens kicked MGK in the gut and powerbombed him off the stage, and it was awesome.
Is It Me Or Did Wyatt Do Something Interesting?
I love Bray Wyatt, I really do. But the past few months have been trying times to be a …::heavy sigh::…firefly. He loses feud after feud after talking an existentially huge game, which essentially relegates him to a snake oil salesman. He lost to Undertaker clean as a whistle after spending months selling himself as “The New Face of Fear,” then neither one of them said anything about the feud again. He lost to Cena. He lost to Ambrose. He beat Ryback, but…he beat Ryback.
Enter his latest beef, seemingly with Roman Reigns. When I first heard about the possibility of this feud, I wasn’t terribly interested because it seemed like it would be another empty feud where Bray Wyatt rambles on about the ills of society without ever really revealing why he’s suddenly taken such an interest in a given Superstar. But tonight, after Roman Reigns called him out for costing him the Money in the Bank briefcase Sunday, Wyatt actually gave a clear, concise line of reasoning for why he did what he did. It was simple, but some of the best things in wrestling are: A couple weeks ago, Roman cost Bray the opportunity to be in the Money in the Bank ladder match by beating him on an episode of Raw. This foiled Wyatt’s plans to become World Heavyweight Champion and to be the beacon of hope he believes the world so desperately needs.
I would have been happy enough with that, because at least there is a logical reason as to why Wyatt dislikes Reigns. But then he took it a step further into purely creepy territory: Hauntingly singing “I’m a little teapot” while looking at a picture of Roman and his daughter playing tea party. It’s a nice personal touch that’s usually missing from Wyatt’s feuds, and will hopefully add an extra character wrinkle to both competitors. I am worried about the outcome of the feud, because Wyatt will almost assuredly lose, but let’s just enjoy the ride, shall we?
The Rest of the Card
- I like Sheamus’ heel character just fine. I really do. I just can’t get behind him winning Money in the Bank any more than I could get behind him winning the Royal Rumble a few years back. Literally anybody else in that match would have had more of a storyline reason to have the briefcase. Then, as if having to stomach Sheamus with the briefcase for up to a year wasn’t bad enough, he immediately enters a program with Randy Orton, which is a feud nobody has ever asked for. And it’s a shame too, because Orton has been excellent lately. And then we get an Orton/Kane match anZZZzzzzzzzzzz…
- The Intercontinental title scene is a lot better with The Miz in it, who is doing some of the best work of his career as of late. He’s such a hateable heel and is probably a top 5 promo in WWE today. His antics to get a cheap countout win against Big Show was good stuff, and is almost enough to make me interested in a program involving Ryback and the Big Show.
- Whose Cheerios did Barrett piss in to deserve the treatment he’s been getting lately? It’s becoming more and more clear than him winning King of the Ring was for no reason other than to kill the Bad News gimmick that was actually very over. If their goal was to strip Barrett of any personality, make him look like he’s getting ready to go LARPing and destroy any investment I may have had left in him, mission accomplished. Barrett’s situation is one of the biggest head scratchers in WWE, for sure.
Oh well. Long live King What’s Up.
- I like the idea that Paige realizes she needs help to defeat the Bellas who constantly cheat and have the backing of the Authority, and it makes sense that she no one is on her side. It would be awesome if this led to some kind of a callup from NXT (Charlotte?!) or something and not just some fleeting thought to kill 6 minutes, but being that this is the Divas division, I’m inclined to assume it’s the latter. Hopefully not though; the Bellas are excellent heels despite their bizarre alignment malleability as of late, and Paige is definitely somebody you can rebuild the division around to take on the Total Divas.
- I don’t want to believe they’ve already given up on the New Day, but not getting a rematch right away or even hinting as to when that’s going to happen, getting a jobber entrance AND not getting any promo time seem to imply otherwise, sadly. I like the Prime Time Players, but I don’t know on what planet it would have been considered a good idea to end the New Day’s title reign so quickly.
We actually have a five week build to next month’s Battleground, which is an eternity by current standards. Let’s hope the buildup is a good one!
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!