August 31, 2015
From the Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL
Your hosts are Byron Saxton, JBL, and Michael Cole
The announcers run down the matches, which include the Divas “Beat the Clock” Challenge, Dean Ambrose vs. Braun Strowman, and the Dudley Boyz vs. New Day.
Sting comes out to the ring for the opening promo as the announcers hype up his match for the WWE World Title at Night of Champions against Seth Rollins. He tells the crowd that it feels good to be in Tampa then talks about HHH pushing him to his limits at WrestleMania 31, even pushing HHH to his limit. Sting says he respects HHH no matter what but that was then and this is Monday Night RAW. He then tells us he has his sights set on Seth Rollins, putting over how Rollins is a legend in his own mind. Sting says he has one World Titles all over but the one that has eluded him is the WWE World Title. He points out HHH was man enough to shake his hand at WrestleMania but at Night of Champions he will prove that Seth Rollins is a “little boy” and not even half of the man that HHH is before the promo ends and Sting heads to the back. Sting poses on the apron as we see a pissed off Rollins watching on the monitor venting to Stephanie McMahon, who tells Rollins that a win over a legend like Sting will help cement his legacy. Rollins puts over beating Brock Lesnar and breaking Cena’s nose before saying inside of the ring he is better than anyone. However, Stephanie pointed out how Sting said Rollins is not half of the man that HHH is and even agreed, while Rollins said they build statues of legends then walks away. Stings promo was basic and nothing I would consider memorable. As far as the segment with Rollins and Stephanie, they really seemed to be planting the seeds for an eventual Rollins vs. HHH match and that would be more evident as the show continued.
Dolph Ziggler w/ Lana vs. Rusev w/ Summer Rae
Ziggler uses his quickness to elude Rusev then takes him down with a dropkick. Rusev rolls out for a breather then reenters and beats Ziggler down. Rusev gets two with a thrust kick then tosses him down to the mat. Rusev stomps Ziggler and stays in control of the match as the crowd chants for Lana. Ziggler jumps up on Rusev’s back to apply a sleeper and nearly takes him down but Rusev is able to ram Ziggler into the corner. Rusev knocks Ziggler off of the apron to the floor as we head to break. Back from break, Ziggler rolls away from an attack then fires away. However, Rusev clotheslines him down then applies a bearhug. Rusev sends Ziggler into the corner but misses a splash then Ziggler hits him with a DDT on the rebound as both men are on the mat. Ziggler is up first and hits a few forearms and a corner splash but gets caught with a back suplex. Rusev tries a superkick but Ziggler ducks that and gets two off of a rollup. Rusev comes right back with a spinning heel kick for a nearfall as the crowd starts up a “Lets go Ziggler” chant. Ziggler catches Rusev with a superkick for two as Rusev rolls out to the mat. Ziggler follows him out but gets met with a throat thrust. Rusev slams Ziggler off of the steps but misses a charge. Both men are on the ground as the referee counts up and they both just make it in time. In the ring, Rusev hits a super kick then tries the Accolade but Ziggler escapes and hits the Zig Zag. He goes for the cover but Summer breaks it up for the DQ (14:17) *1/2. Lana then runs in and the girls have a catfight for a bit.
Thoughts: This match was really dull and wrestled at a slow pace. Considering the finish, it seemed foolish for this to go on as long as it did.
Renee Young approaches Ziggler and Lana backstage. Lana leaves as Ziggler tells Renee he would like Summer to stop interfering in his matches then leaves for more “important things” as we see Summer Rae sneaking into his dressing room in the background. We would find out more about this later in the show.
Team Bella is in the ring as Nikki introduces us to the
Beat the Clock Challenge: Alicia Fox vs. Becky Lynch
Match starts with Becky trying to get a few quick pinfalls. She then works the arm for a bit then Alicia takes control as Cole points out how Team BAD are not part of this challenge since they were the first team eliminated at SummerSlam. Fox works a chinlock but Lynch escapes and hits a clothesline. Lynch hits a T-Bone suplex for two then puts on the Disarmer after escaping a rollup and makes Fox tap (3:21) 1/2*.
Thoughts: Not much of a match at all. The crowd wasn’t into it and since Becky has not been positioned as the star of Team PCB, it was clear this time was going to be beat.
Rich Brennan is backstage with Ryback, who is apparently defending his Intercontinental Title tonight against the Big Show. Ryback tells us how important the IC title has been to him since he won it at the Elimination Chamber then does childish impressions of Miz and the Big Show. Not a whole lot different than the other promos Ryback has cut since returning from injury.
We then see Summer Rae take off down the hallway as Ziggler is in his towel, freaking out in the dressing room.
WWE Intercontinental Title Match: Big Show vs. Ryback (Champion)
The Miz is on commentary. The match started after the break. Show tosses Ryback down and chops him in the corner. Ryback fights back and hits a few corner clotheslins until he runs into a fist. Miz talks about loving to see these two beat each other up as Show yells at him to mind his business. Show beats on Ryback then gets a mic to yell at the crowd for their “please retire”chant by saying they should find someone who can do the job. Ryback tries a slam but fails as Show falls on top for a nearfall. Ryback powers out of a chinlock and comes back with a shoulder tackle that knocks Show off of his feet. Show gets up and hits Ryback with a thump in the corner. Ryback and Show mistime a Thesz Press then Show blocks a splash by grabbing Ryback around the throat. Ryback blocks that and hits a spinebuster for two and sets up for the Meathook but Show catches him and hits a chokeslam for two. Show heads up top but Ryback cuts him off and tosses him off. Ryback then lowers his straps and goes for the Meathook but Show hits a spear for another nearfall. Show grows increasingly frustrated then the Miz distracts him on the apron and that allows Ryback to hit the Shellshock for the win (7:20) **.
Thoughts: Both guys tried and it was enjoyable for what it was, although this three-way feud has ran out of gas.
Charlotte vs. Brie Bella in the “Beat the Clock” Challenge will be coming up next.
Brie Bella w/ Team Bella vs. Charlotte w/ Team PCB
Before the match, Charlotte cuts a horrendous promo about how she wants the Divas Title. Brie keeps running away and ducking underneath the ropes. She heads outside and gets chased but ends up kicking Charlotte down. The whole sequence looked awful. Back inside, Charlotte takes Brie down and tries the figure eight but Brie grabs the ropes. Charlotte is standing as Brie, who is laying down, kicks her and barely grazes her shin so Charlotte sells it like she got hit in the mouth. Charlotte then comes back with a reverse neckbreaker then hits a necksnap for the win (1:41) -*.
Thoughts: This whole match was a trainwreck. First off, they were in a lose-lose situation as the whole psychology after the first match is to just beat the time but here the time was just over three minutes to do that and only one person benefited (Charlotte) from winning. Secondly, the work here was horrid. Brie stunk and Charlotte was off, which is understandable given her husband was arrested today.
Renee is with the Dudley Boyz. Bubba tells Renee that they are “straight outta Dudleyville” and back into the WWE. He also says they are back for two reasons: to put everyone through a table and to get the WWE Tag Team Titles. Bubba says they want to be the 10x Tag Team Champions. Decent promo from Bubba. D-Von said “Testify” at the end too to show us that he still has the ability to speak.
Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens
A decent “Fight Owens Fight” chant breaks out. Owens gets into Cesaro’s face and taunts him over losing in their match at SummerSlam and gets hit with an European uppercut as a result. Cesaro hits an impressive delayed vertical suplex for two then gets another nearfall with a clothesline. Owens ducks out for a breather then gets killed with an uppercut as the crowd cheers. Back inside, Cesaro hits a flying crossbody for two. Owens ducks out again then knocks Cesaro off of the apron. Owens hits a senton before hammering on Cesaro in the corner. Owens works over the back then draw boos after mocking the “Cesaro Section.” Owens hits the cannonball then goes back to working over the back and neck of Cesaro. Owens sends Cesaro into the post. Back from break, Cesaro cuts off Owens with a dropkick then takes him off of the top with a gutwrench suplex for two. Cesaro hits a slam then sets up for a Neutralizer but Owens blocks that. Cesaro goes for the swing but Owens escapes that and hits a superkick for two. Owens misses a cannonball after yelling at a fan to watch his move as both men are down. Cesaro slaps Owens around then catches Owens’ tornado DDT attempt and turns it into a slam then a crossface. Owens reaches the ropes then Cesaro tries to suplex him to the floor from the apron but that fails as Cesaro gets knocked off and hits his ribs on the table. Cesaro tries a swing but Owens kicks him in the ribs then hits the Pop-Up Powerbomb for the win (16:07) ***1/4.
Thoughts: Good match but the crowd was out of the show at this point. Owens tried hard to engage the crowd and did fine but the lack of response to Cesaro was not a good sign.
Ziggler is telling a worried Lana that nothing happened between him and Summer while she was in his dressing room. Ziggler said the second he saw her he grabbed the towel and she left but Lana is upset that Summer saw him naked and walks away. Yikes, this was awful. Just bad storytelling between two performers who have the chemistry of oil and water.
The Wyatt Family make their way to the ring as we gets clips of Strowman destroying Reigns and Ambrose. Wyatt welcomes Strowman as the “black sheep” and tells him this is his moment. The crowd starts the “What” chant as Wyatt babbles on then tells Strowman to show the “face of destruction.” Strowman tells us this is not the beginning but rather the end…of the apocalypse. Strowman shows good presence at least.
Braun Strowman w/ Wyatt Family vs. Dean Ambrose w/ Roman Reigns
Ambrose bounces off of Strowman then gets tossed all over the ring. He drags Ambrose to the middle of the ring but misses a clothesline and fires away. Strowman then grabs Ambrose by the face and knocks him down before booting him out to the floor. Strowman then presses Ambrose’s head against the barricade and tries to beat him up on the table but Reigns interferes for the DQ (3:02) 1/2*. Strowman tosses Reigns around then stomps Ambrose trying to help out. Reigns tries to fight back but gets caught in a choke. Strowman no-sells a chairshot to the back by Ambrose, whose facial expression was priceless, then Harper comes in to get a closeup of Strowman destroying both men. Wyatt comes in and hits a Sister Abigail on Reigns before yelling “do you see” as the Wyatt Family stands tall.
Thoughts: They are certainly pushing Strowman hard as a monster. He is doing about as good of a job as he can considering he has barely had any singles matches in his career. However, this is all prolonging a feud (Reigns/Wyatt) that has lasted long enough.
Clips of Sting’s opening promo are shown. After that, Renee is interviewing Seth Rollins, who is upset over Sting stealing his statue. Rollins then says that since he is the champ and this is his show he will call out Sting and demand he return the statue. Rollins suggests that Sting’s facepaint has gone into his brain and to get the WWE Network and see just how dangerous he can be, highlighting that he is both the U.S. and WWE Champion. Rollins did a fine job at being pissed off here.
Paige vs. Sasha Banks in the “Beat the Clock” challenge is next.
Beat the Clock Challenge: Paige w/ Team PCB vs. Sasha Banks w/ Team BAD
Before the match, Paige cut a promo saying the Divas Revolution is not about drama. Sure. Sasha beats on Paige, who comes back with a sunset flip. Paige tries another rollup then comes back with a high knee in the corner. Running knee smash gets two. Paige eventually hits the Rampage but Team BAD pulls Sasha out then by the time Sasha re-enters, the clock runs out (1:41) *. After the match, Team PCB try to console Paige, who blows them off then Team Bella come out on the ramp as Charlotte motioned that she wants the title. Paige finally congratulates Charlotte when she hugs her.
Thoughts: Again, Sasha had no incentive here whatsoever to win the match. Paige losing seemed to overshadow the fact that Charlotte had won the challenge and would be facing Nikki for the title. The end result of the challenge was not pretty: it came off as a giant waste of time, even a joke if you want to go that far because the challenger did not look strong when it ended.
Renee is with Lana. But first, we are shown a clip of Summer Rae that took place during the commercial break. Summer tells us how Ziggler approached her and seemingly wanted to patch things up between her and Rusev. She said that Ziggler invited her back into his locker room where he proceeded to disrobe. Summer said she was mesmerized and speechless even as she then said Ziggler invited her into the shower. Summer talks about his body and how she remembered all of that before saying Ziggler gave her “the look” and then realized he was trying to seduce her so she took off running, because she could not do that to Rusev. We cut back to Lana, who was on the verge of tears before running away. Summer did a fine job at acting her but this whole storyline is poorly crafted and the end with Lana came off as comical and not sympathetic, which should have been the main goal.
The New Day come out and start a “save the table” campaign, talking about all of the memories that occured as the result of tables but if the Dudleys broke their table they would never occur. They proceed to pull out a “special” table (Wrapped in bubble tape) from underneath the ring and how they will do everything they can to protect it as they start clapping to “Save the tables” and most of the crowd claps along. This was hilarious and all three guys were great.
Kofi Kingston & Big E w/ Xavier Woods vs. Dudley Boyz
The Prime Time Players are on commentary. D-Von and Big E start things off as neither guy can get the upper hand. Bubba and Kofi are in and Bubba mocks Kofi with the New Day sucks chant and they work a sequence ending with them botching a clothesline spot. The Dudleys then clean house, with Bubba keeping up the New Day sucks chant during a charge in the corner, as we go to commercial. We return with Xavier distracting D-Von then pulling the ropes down on him as the New Day are finally in control of the match. The camera shows Xavier combing his hair while Big E gets a nearfall. Xavier mocks the crowd by doing a “tables” chant and as that happens, D-Von catches Kofi with a clothesline. Hot tag to Bubba as he runs wild. The Dudleys try for the Wassup but Kofi broke that up. However, they end up catching Kofi with the 3-D for the win (12:37) **. After the match, the Dudleys get the special table and set up to hit Big E for the 3-D but Xavier pulls him out to safety as the announcers put over how the Dudleys now have an opportunity at the Tag Team Titles.
Thoughts: The Dudleys did a fine job in their RAW return match. Bubba got the crowd into things, as did Xavier on the outside, and they ended up having an enjoyable match. The Dudleys have injected some life into the tag team division.
Seth Rollins comes out to the ring. He wants Sting to take back what he said about him not being as good as HHH and most importantly, where he put his statue. Stephanie comes out and looks disappointed then tells him to stop talking about her husband, HHH. Stephanie then tells Rollins she thought he was smart enough to not fall for his tricks as she talks him up for a bit, even saying he is the man. John Cena’s music hits and says that Stephanie is his enemy and that he is a moron for thinking the Authority are actually his friends. Cena then said that the Authority picked him because he was willing to stab his friends in the back then says that he will invoke his rematch clause and face Rollins for the U.S. Title at Night of Champions. Cena asks Stephanie for permission, calling Rollins “Captain Morgan,” and she says yes. Rollins is pissed as Cena leaves then Sting comes out and stands on the apron with Cena as they stare down Rollins, who is looking at both of his titles.
Final Thoughts: A lot of this show fell flat tonight. However, they had some really bad stuff such as the Ziggler/Lana stuff and the Divas Revolution, which has been a revolution in name only at this point. Charlotte is the challenger to Nikki and came out of the show looking like nothing more than an afterthought. The show long story of everyone praising HHH while dismissing Rollins as an afterthought is certainly going to lead to something down the road but tonight it was not clear why this was the case. A lot of the feuds and storylines right now have either been dragged out for too long or are mired by terrible writing. We had two SummerSlam rematches alone and those feuds are still going to continue. One of the least inspired offerings of RAW in months.