6/30 Powell's WWE Raw Live Coverage: John Cena's first night of his 15th reign as a World Champion, MITB contract holder Seth Rollins, the build for WWE Battleground begins
By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Hartford, Connecticut at XL Center
[Q1] Still shots aired from the MITB pay-per-view showing John Cena winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship... Michael Cole, JBL and Jerry Lawler checked in on commentary...
Triple H and Stephanie McMahon headed to the ring for a promo. Lawler expressed surprise when he saw Stephanie smiling considering that things didn't go their way in the MITB main event. Stephanie said it was an amazing homecoming. She said she's sure the crowd is aware that she was born in Hartford and knows they all feel privileged.
There was a loud "C.M. Punk" chant as Stephanie spoke about MITB. She recalled Seth Rollins winning the MITB contract and "virtually guaranteeing that he will become the WWE World Heavyweight Champion." Hunter said Rollins is the future of WWE. Hunter praised John Cena as an A-plus player.
Triple H introduced Cena, who received more boos than cheers. Cole said Cena is "very polarizing and very controversial." Cena walked out with both title belts strapped around his neck.
Powell's POV: Polarizing, yes, but what's so controversial about John Cena?
Cena brought up Daniel Bryan and said that while The Authority won't give him an opportunity to regain the championship, but Cena said he would. The fans chanted "Yes!" Stephanie said "that was very special." Stephanie announced that John Cena will be featured on the cover of WWE2K15. There was a drum roll and the game cover dropped. Cena's music played and Stephanie danced to the music, which was hilarious.
Cena said something wasn't right. He said he's honored to be on the cover of the game, but Hunter and Stephanie were being way too nice. He set up a shot of the two of them looking disappointed when he won. Stephanie said the photo was taken out of context. Hunter mocked Cena's rap antics and the way he drops his R's when he's close to his hometown. Cena told him the would drop the R's and kick his ass.
Hunter said they don't have a problem with Cena being the champion, but he added that Cena knows you can do things the easy way or the hard way. Cena said he won't be Hunter's little stooge and he'll do it the hard way like he always does. Hunter said he would have been disappointed if he had gone the other direction. "So hard way it will be," Hunter said.
Triple H announced that Cena will defend the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in a Fatal Four-Way match. Hunter said Cena would face two of the challengers tonight: Randy Orton and Kane. Hunter said Cena would have a partner when he faced the duo, but the partner would also be the fourth man in the four-way: Roman Reigns. Cena told him that was almost as bad as swimming in a bowl of crap (alluding to Stephanie's segment last week).
[Q2] Cena left the ring, but Hunter stopped him. Hunter announced that if Cena survives the four-way, there is always a Plan B. Seth Rollins' music played and he walked onto the stage with the briefcase in hand and stood next to Cena briefly before heading to the ring. The announcers hyped the show's main event, and Sheamus and The Uso Brothers vs. The Wyatt Family. In the ring, Hunter and Stephanie raised Rollins' hands, and Cole hyped that Rollins would be in action after the break... [C]
Powell's POV: I had no idea what they would do for a Battleground main event and while it still seems like a foregone conclusion that Cena will win to set up his SummerSlam match against Brock Lesnar, the inclusion of Roman Reigns in the match makes things interesting. However, Hunter and Stephanie really do need to explain why they would give Reigns a title shot considering he had to spike Stephanie's drink to get a spot in the battle royal to earn a spot in the MITB match. Why wouldn't their characters just put Cena in a four-way against Kane, Orton, and Seth Rollins or even Triple H himself? Still, the actual main event is a lot more appealing than the realistic singles match options.
1. Seth Rollins vs. Rob Van Dam. Stephanie and Hunter were not at ringside for the match. Rollins had RVD down at ringside heading into the commercial break. [C] RVD came back with a kick, Rolling Thunder, and a split-legged moonsault onto the back of Rollins. RVD set up for his finisher a short time later, but Rollins rolled to ringside.
[Q3] RVD leapt off the top rope and onto Rollins on the floor. Later, Rollins wrenched RVD's arm through the ropes and followed up with the Curb Stomp for the win...
Seth Rollins beat Rob Van Dam in 11:45.
After the match, Renee Young entered the ring for an interview. Rollins told her to introduce him as Mr. Money in the Bank. He told the crowd that it's not arrogance when you can back it up. He said the fans are just bitter because he was right and they were wrong. He said the MITB contract is his ticket to the title.
Dean Ambrose interrupted him with a promo on the big screen. Ambrose called Rollins "puppet boy" and said "from one scumbag to another" that he shouldn't think it's over. He said he's not upset about MITB because "it might be more fun this way." Ambrose said that whenever Rollins tries to cash in he will be there. He said that the contract is like TNT and will blow up in his face whenever he tries to cash in. Rollins threw a fit in the ring... [C]
Powell's POV: A good match and I liked the verbal segment even more. Rollins was good, and Ambrose was strong as always. I love the idea of Ambrose threatening to prevent him from cashing in. Their feud is really good and we've hardly seen them wrestle one another.
An ad for Smackdown asked which wrestler won the championship at MITB. Yes, really... Rusev and Lana came to the ring for a promo. She said Rusev's opponent at MITB was a failure, but America is accustomed to failure. A USA chant broke out. Lana mocked the chant and told the fans to shut up. She questioned who will be American's next failure to face Rusev. Rusev spoke briefly and concluded with "Rusev crush." Another USA chant broke out.
Jack Swagger's music played and he walked out with Zeb Colter. Their music stopped and Colter waited until he got to the ring to speak. Colter said he's tired of them slamming "our country." He told them to shut the hell up. "You know why you're allowed to do that, Lana - if that is your real name - because we have something called freedom of speech."
[Q4] Zeb called them Boris and Natasha and said he wouldn't be allowed to go to their country and say the things she does. He said she has taken advantage of American freedom. Colter said he thinks a Real American can stop Rusev. He told them to stand there and listen to the sound of American come crashing down on their heads. Colter led the crowd in a loud "We The People" line. Another loud USA chant broke out as Swagger and Rusev had a staredown.
A "Let's Go Swagger" chant started. Rusev charged Swagger, who caught him with a pair of arm-drags. Rusev left the ring and yelled at Swagger while Lana tried to calm him down to stop him from going to the ring. Cole said he never thought he would agree with every word that came out of Zeb's mouth... A backstage shot aired of Sheamus and The Uso Brothers... [C]
Powell's POV: I really like the Swagger and Colter babyface turn for a match or a feud with Rusev. I don't know how long it will last, but Colter has been a comedy heel and the patriotic routine makes he and Swagger easy to cheer against Rusev. Granted, I don't know what viewers outside the United States think about all of this, but it certainly worked with this live crowd. Here's hoping they save this match for Battleground.
2. Sheamus and The Uso Brothers vs. Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, and Erick Rowan in a six-man tag match. Wyatt delivered the custom to the city introduction on the video screen prior to his team's entrance. The Uso Brothers teamed up to clothesline Rowan to the floor heading into a commercial break in the first minute of the match. [C]
[Q5] Sheamus tagged in and brought energy to the match. He had to run through an awkward punch to the gut from Rowan while he was getting his shine (here's to you, Horace the Psychopath). He even dove onto Harper and Rowan on the floor. He set up for his finisher in the corner, but Wyatt distracted him long enough for Rowan to knock him out of the ring.
Later, Jey Uso had a good run of offense on Harper and blasted him with crazy superkick. Uso dove onto Rowan on the floor and then Wyatt hit a uranage on Sheamus. Harper clotheslined Jey Uso and pinned him...
The Wyatt Family beat Sheamus and The Uso Brothers in 13:10.
Backstage, Tom Phillips interviewed Nikki Bella. Stephanie McMahon interrupted and told her that she would have to go it alone since her sister doesn't work for the company. Stephanie wished her luck in a handicap match... A limo pulled into the building and Cole played up the "rumors" of a former WWE Champion appearing... [C]
Powell's POV: Wow, was that physical. There were some really stiff shots and the crowd was hot for it. The Wyatt Family needed the win after not winning any gold at the pay-per-view. It wouldn't have been a big deal had they not played up the possibility of the trio winning all the major gold. As for the mystery man, is it really a "rumor" when Triple H and the WWE website advertise it?
[Q6] Bo Dallas came out and held a long moment of silence for injured WWE wrestlers Daniel Bryan and Bad News Barrett. He dropped to one knee and stayed there while the broadcast team spoke about how long it was going. Lawler said it was Bo-ring. He finally stood up and set up a video package on his segment with Bryan from the MITB Kickoff show...
3. Nikki Bella vs. Cameron and Naomi in a handicap match. Cole said Cameron calls herself Bomb.com. JBL and Lawler showed they never watched Total Divas by acting dumbfounded by this. Naomi pinned Nikki. After the match, Cameron got in Naomi's face and they shoved each other...
Cameron and Naomi beat Nikki Bella in 1:35.
Cole hyped a medical update on the Bad News Barrett and the Intercontinental Championship for after the break... [C] A graphic touted the Special Olympics and then a shot aired of Special Olympians showing off their medals in the crowd...
Cole announced that Barrett suffered a separated shoulder and would be out for "several months." Cole hyped that there would be a battle royal held at Battleground to determine the new champion...
Powell's POV: A battle royal? What a horrible way to determine the new champion.
Paul Heyman walked out onto the stage for a promo. He called the news regarding Barrett's injury magnificent. "Isn't that great?" Heyman said. He recalled Cesaro winning the Andre the Giant Battle Royal at WrestleMania, and named Cesaro the number one seed in the battle royal.
[Q7] 4. Cesaro (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Kofi Kingston. Footage aired from a pre-taped promo of Kingston talking about the battle royal and winning his fifth IC Title. Kofi got a rollup for a two count, but then Cesaro cut him off again heading into the break. [C]
After the break, Kingston was celebrating his upset win over Cesaro. Cole pimped the WWE app and said the finish occurred exclusively on the app. Cesaro flipped out and threw Kingston over the broadcast table, then threw him back over again. Cesaro pressed Kingston over his his head and threw him over the barricade and onto the concrete.
Cesaro followed Kingston and dragged him by the hair, then tossed him back over the barricade. Heyman sat back in one of the broadcast team member's chairs and watched as Cesaro wrapped Kingston's arms around the post and pulled him into it repeatedly. Cesaro clotheslined Kingston and then referees ran out to break it up. Highlights aired of Cesaro going for the Neutralizer, only to have Kingston roll him up for the upset win...
Kofi Kingston beat Cesaro.
Powell's POV: WWE just did more to effectively promote their app coverage than they've done for the WWE Network tonight. I always assumed USA Network would be down on the idea of WWE taking that approach. The negative is that if they do it too often they could end up losing viewers who just want to watch their television and have no desire to go back and forth between their television and phone/tablet.
Backstage, Santino was sitting at a BBQ set. He said no one showed up at his party, including Emma. Adam Rose showed up and pimped Twisted Tea. The Rosebuds joined and the rabbit carried a cooler of Twisted Tea. Santino did a face-first trust fall. They cut to everyone sitting at a table and delivering a pitch for the product...
Powell's POV: Wow, just wow.
[Q8] Cole sat down gingerly as Lawler and JBL asked if he was okay. Cole recalled the Hulk Hogan tweet congratulating Cena, then they hyped the Cena and Reigns vs. Orton and Kane match for later in the show... [C]
Vince McMahon's music played. The broadcast team acted like it was Vince. Instead, Damien Sandow came out swearing a wig and a suit and doing the BMF walk. Sandow impersonated Vince by saying, "Welcome to Monday Night Raw." Sandow called himself a creative genius and a genetic jackhammer. He referred to himself as Vincent McMahondow.
McMahondow compared himself to the likes of Hulk Hogan, Triple H, and Steve Austin. He announced that Sandow is in the battle royal at Battleground. He said if anyone has a problem with it, "you're fired." Stephanie McMahon appeared on the big screen and asked who in the hell he thought he was impersonating her father. Stephanie said her father built the business by toppling giants. She booked him in a match against The Great Khali and noted that he would also be in the battle royal...
5. The Great Khali vs. McMahondow. Khali chopped Sandow and pinned him...
The Great Khali beat McMahondow in 0:06.
Powell's POV: The impersonation was pretty tame and pointless. Stephanie's over the top reaction seemed silly. At least Dot Net's own Zack Zimmerman got to see The Great Khali in person!!! Dreams do come true. All he had to do was Khalieve!
[Q9] The broadcast team pimped Jungle as the official theme song of Battleground and hyped the main event...
Justin Roberts introduced former WWE Champion and "cross-platform multimedia superstar..." The Miz made his entrance wearing a white outfit with a gray scarf and sunglasses. Cole hyped that Miz just finished filming The Marine 4. JBL said he was expecting someone else.
"I'm back," Miz said once he arrived in the ring. He said he's been gong for four months filming the movie. He said he was tempted to stay in Hollywood and shoot more films. He said producers and directors begged him to stay to perfect the art of acting. He said they told him he is better than WWE and he could be Hollywood's biggest movie star.
Miz assumed the fans were asking why he's back (no, not really). "The answer is all of you," he said. Miz said the fans don't see him as an A-List talent. He said they see him as a fluke. He said he was there to remind them all that they are wrong. "Do you have any idea how many assistants I have?" he asked. Miz said he would not leave WWE until he main events WrestleMania again.
Powell's POV: Miz apparently plans to become the first man in history to die of old age inside a wrestling ring.
Chris Jericho's music interrupted The Miz and the crowd roared. "Now there's a multimedia superstar," JBL said. Ugh. Cole ran through Jericho's list of WWE credentials. Jericho wore the light bright jacket and the fans gave a loud Y2J chant once he was in the ring.
Miz asked if this was 2012 Jericho where he wears his light bright jacket and comes back for weeks and doesn't talk. Jericho removed the jacket. Miz gloated about his accomplishments when Jericho grabbed him and hit the Codebreaker on him for a big pop. Jericho played to the crowd after hitting the move and they responded with another Y2J chant.
"Damn, that felt good," Jericho said. "Did that feel good? I have been waiting a long time to say these words and I'm going to say them right here and right now tonight. Welcome to Raw is Jeri..." The Wyatt Family sounder interrupted Jericho. When the graphic disappeared, Jericho was surrounded by the Wyatt Family in the ring. "Things have changed since you left," JBL said. The fans chanted "this is awesome."
Jericho punched Wyatt, but he was immediately mobbed by Harper and Rowan. They put him in the corner and punched him. Harper backed Rowan up and slapped him before whipping him into Jericho in the corner. "Not the homecoming Jericho expected," Cole said. Wyatt kissed Jericho and then hit him with Sister Abigail... [C]
Powell's POV: A hot return. The former WWE Champion that no one wanted to be the big surprise brought the crowd down and then Jericho worked them into a frenzy. I love it. I just hope there weren't too many people who turned the channel when they thought Miz was the real surprise. The Wyatt Family attacking Jericho was great. I assume Jericho is back to put over Wyatt since none of the other main eventers do.
[Q10] The broadcast team recapped the segment as footage was shown. They questioned what the Wyatt Family attack was all about... Fandango and Layla danced in the ring together as Cole spoke about their mood lighting. Footage aired from MITB of Summer Rae crying when Fandango left with Layla... Dolph Ziggler vs. Cesaro was advertised for WWE Main Event...
6. Dolph Ziggler vs. Fandango (w/Layla). Cole said Summer interrupted Layla in an app interview and said she wanted to put everything behind her. He said Layla reluctantly agreed. At 1:45, Summer entered the ring and kissed Ziggler, which got a rise out of the crowd. Fandango wasn't pleased. Ziggler and Summer made out again. Summer left the ring. Ziggler hit the Zig Zag on Fandango for the win...
Dolph Ziggler pinned Fandango in 2:35.
Lawler hyped the main event... [C]
Powell's POV: I guess this means more mixed tag matches for these four.
Footage of Vickie Guerrero throwing Stephanie in the pool of pudding last week was shown. The broadcast team raved about Vickie's career and pimped the Cougar Countdown for WWE Network on Tuesday night...
7. Goldust and Stardust vs. Ryback and Curtis Axel. Axel was back to the trunks rather than the indy-riffic singlet he wore at MITB. Ryback got the better of Goldust and shook his shoulder, which drew "Feed Me More" chants. However, he ran into a spinebuster.
[Q11] Stardust tagged in and dropped to his back like Goldust, but instead of throwing a punch he kicked Axel. He also performed a wicked DDT. He finished off Axel a short time later. "What went wrong in that household to breed those two?" JBL asked. "One word: Dusty" Lawler replied...
Goldust and Stardust beat Ryback and Curtis Axel in 3:25.
Cole hyped the main event, then a backstage shot aired of Paige. Lawler said viewers would find out what she has to say after the break... [C]
Powell's POV: I could have lived without that MITB rematch, but Goldust and Stardust are trying hard to make this work. Ryback stated at WrestleMania time that he'll go back to "Feed Me More" someday. I'm not sure if this was just a heelish tease or a sign that "someday" could be now.
A graphic plugged the WWE 50 book...
WWE Divas Champion Paige made her entrance for a promo. She said she usually let her actions speak for her. She said she knows there are a few people who felt she didn't deserve to be a champion and that she should probably go down to NXT. She said that she feels that after the last three months, she deserves to be there and has proven that she is there to stay.
A.J. Lee's music played and she skipped to the ring. A C.M. Punk chant started. She told Paige that she was right. She said it's not easy for her to say, but Paige proved her wrong. Lee said she let success go to her head, then noted that she was the longest reigning Divas Champion of all time. She said she shouldn't have rubbed it in everyone's face like she did.
Lee said Paige gave her the blast of reality that she needed. She said she wanted to return the favor by saying thank you and congratulations. Pagie asked how stupid she thinks she is. Paige said Lee was trying to goad her into a rematch and was out for some kind of poetic justice. "But it's not going to happen," Paige said. "I will not make the same mistake that you did."
Paige paused when she was interrupted by a Punk chant. "Besides, I don't think anyone in this arena wants to see me defend my title tonight," Paige said. A.J. said they should let the fans decide. She asked the fans if they want to see a championship rematch. Paige complied...
8. Paige vs. A.J. Lee for the WWE Divas Championship. Paige was the aggressor early. Lee knocked her down by lifting her feet in the corner, but Paige came right back with a clothesline. "This is my house now," she said before slamming Lee's head into the mat. A.J. responded with a slap to the face and an inside cradle for the win...
A.J. Lee pinned Paige in 1:05 to win the WWE Divas Championship.
Powell's POV: It was a pleasant surprise to see A.J. Lee, but this was awkward. Suddenly, Pagie is a heel and Lee is a babyface, and then they rushed right back to having the new babyface beat the new heel champion on night one. Whatever happened to the chase? Still, this is a hot show.
[Q12] [C] Cole hyped Sheamus's Fourth of July Challenge involving the U.S. Championship...
9. John Cena and Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton and Kane. Triple H sat in on commentary for the main event. Actually, he sat next to the broadcast team, but did not put on a headset. The broadcast team played up the 12 staples that Orton needed after the MITB match. When Reigns tagged in, Orton pointed at his staples like he was out for revenge, but then he quickly tagged in Kane. [C]
[Overrun] After the break, the heels isolated Reigns and took turns working him over as Triple H was shown watching intently at ringside. Reigns came back and performed a Samoan Drop on Kane before making the tag hot tag to Cena just as Kane tagged Orton. Cena performed his signature spots on Orton to a mix of cheers and boos. Cena went for the Attitude Adjustment, but Orton elbowed out and tagged in Kane.
Cena got the better of Kane, but Orton snuck in and hit the RKO on Cena. Reigns sent Orton to ringside and hit the Superman punch on Kane. Reigns went after Orton and they fought up the ramp and to the backstage area, leaving Cena and Kane in the ring. Kane took the steel steps apart and ran a piece into Cena's head for the DQ.
John Cena and Roman Reigns beat Kane and Randy Orton by DQ in 12:10.
After the match, Triple H told Kane to finish Cena. Kane rolled Cena inside the ring and put him down with the Tombstone piledriver. A loud "one more time" chant broke out. Hunter climbed onto the ring apron as a trainer ran in and checked on Cena. Hunter entered the ring and joined them in examining Cena. Hunter grabbed Cena's arm and shook it, then motioned for someone from the back.
Seth Rollins' music hit and he came out carrying the Money in the Bank briefcase. Rollins told the referee that he was cashing in. The referee argued, but Triple H grabbed him by the collar and brought him to ringside. Dean Ambrose hit the ring and attacked Rollins. Ambrose took Rollins to ringside and clotheslined him over the barricade and chased him through the crowd and into a concourse area. Cole noted that the contract was not cashed in.
Kane grabbed a chair and turned his attention back to Cena. Reigns hit the ring and speared Kane. Reigns stared at Hunter, who was standing on the ring apron and holding the MITB briefcase. Triple H pointed at Reigns, and they exchanged words. The fans chanted "this is awesome." Triple H dropped off the apron and the fans booed. Reigns' music played as Hunter walked away and Reigns watched him every step of the way...
Powell's POV: A really hot show tonight with some fun twists that no one expected coming out of the Money in the Bank pay-per-view last night. I wasn't crazy about all of the creative decisions, but the returns of Chris Jericho and A.J. Lee made this a very memorable show. Jake Barnett and I will have plenty to discuss in tonight's Prowrestling.net Live at Blogtalkradio.com/prowrestlingdotnet.
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