July 18, 2016
From the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, RI
Your hosts are Byron Saxton, JBL, and Michael Cole
The show starts with Stephanie & Shane McMahon heading out to the ring. As that happens, we see the rules for the draft on the screen. The crowd loves Shane, as Stephanie makes fun of him for pandering to the crowd, then Shane welcomes everyone to the show. Stephanie points out how this is the last RAW Shane will be part of as Shane makes fun of her for wishing she had “testicles” as they continue to put each other down until Stephanie informs us due to the success of the Cruiserweight Classic, the Cruiserweight Division will be exclusive to RAW, as per the decision of the Chairman of the Board. She then introduces her pick as RAW GM and that is Mick Foley. The new GM comes out and thanks the crowd for their support and Stephanie for giving him the position. Foley likens the “New Era” to that of the “Monday Night War” and loves the competition between the two shows. He then claims to be one of the people to put the “final nail in the coffin” of WCW and states he will take RAW into the future. Shane then talks about his choice as GM, someone who busted through the glass ceiling and was never given a shot by Stephanie and others as that turns out to be Vince McMahon. The crowd goes nuts for Bryan as Shane does laps around the ring. Bryan smiles as the crowd continues to go insane, stating he missed them more than they will ever know. Bryan said he was not sure of ever returning as he loved wrestling too much to not be part of it but Shane called him up and explained how SmackDown was the underdog and thought that he could come back. Bryan then said he needed to come back because much like himself and everyone else in the crowd, they are also underdogs. The crowd starts a “thank you, Daniel” chant as Bryan reminds us of beating Triple H at WrestleMania XXX and then winning the Championship, stating the crowd helped him do that and promised together, they will beat RAW each and every week in the ratings as they have beaten RAW together before and will do it again. Stephanie then brings things down by saying after that the crowd and underdogs were put back in their place. Shane then comes back by telling her sister she had to marry a WWE Superstar to stay relevant before asking the crowd if they think SmackDown can beat RAW and stay relevant as the crowd starts yet another massive “yes” chant.
Long segment, clocking in at 19 minutes, but it was really fun once Daniel Bryan came out. The crowd was rabid for him the entire time and it was truly great to see him in the ring. Also, the announcement that the Cruiserweight Division will return for the first time since 2007 was big news as well. I figured that would be more appropriate for SmackDown, seeing Daniel Bryan is the GM, but RAW does have more TV time to fill. Either way, its great to see that division return and hopefully with a much better direction than in the past. Now that we know the GMs,
Tonight, we will see Enzo & Big Cass & The New Day & John Cena vs. The Club & The Wyatt Family. Plus, Sami Zayn & Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens & Chris Jericho and that will take place after the break.
Chris Jericho & Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn & Cesaro
Cesaro grounds Jericho to start then deadlifts him with a gutwrench suplex for two. Zayn tags and gets knocked down while Jericho gloats. Zayn then comes back with a pair of armdrags before sending Jericho to the floor. Zayn tries for a dive but Owens prevents him from bouncing off of the ropes and they yell at each other until Jericho attacks Zayn from behind. Owens tags and hits a neckbreaker as we head to break. The action returns with Jericho beating on Zayn as we see Owens kick Zayn in the face from the apron behind the referee’s back. Jericho distracts the ref after tossing Zayn to the floor as Owens approaches but Zayn tosses him into teh guardrail. Jericho heads out and gets clotheslined then Zayn heads back in and finally makes the tag. Cesaro hits Jericho with a bunch of uppercuts then dropkicks Owens as he ran inside. Cesaro hits them both with the uppercut train then signals for the swing on Jericho, who counters with a cradle for a nearfall. Cesaro then hits the springboard corkscrew uppercut for a nearfall. Jericho escapes from the Neutralizer and hits an enziguiri as both men are down and tag out as Zayn and Owens slug it out in the ring. Owens hits a running kick and a clothesline. Zayn breaks up a Pop-Up Powerbomb with a dropkick as both men tag out as Cesaro gets two off of a crossbody. Jericho tries for the Walls of Jericho but Cesaro breaks and hits the swing until Owens gets hit in the back of the legs. Zayn tags and hits Owens with a tornado DDT but Jericho tries to roll him up and Zayn turns that into a small package and gets the win (11:56) ***.
Thoughts: Good match but the crowd was not really into it that much, which is understandable given how nuts they were for Bryan in the previous segment. To be honest, it did not do much for the Owens vs. Zayn match at Battleground.
Backstage, the Golden Truth try to promote themselves to Daniel Bryan. Stephanie runs into Bryan and likens him to Chucky from “Child’s Play” because he will not go away. Bryan then jokes about being glad to return to RAW and see how Stephanie is still ruining the show and using the same lame insults as he walks away laughing.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Darren Young w/ Bob Backlund
Miz & Maryse are on commentary. Del Rio rams Young shoulder-first into the post then works the arm. Miz puts over his wife and himself as Young ducks an enziguiri then fires away. He hits a back suplex as Miz jumps up on the apron for the distraction. Del Rio uses a rollup but the referee is yelling at Miz, who is still on the apron. Del Rio then yells at Miz while Young uses a reverse rollup for the win (2:23) 1/2*.
Thoughts: The Miz failed at causing Young the match as the challenger now has two straight fluke wins heading into his title match at Battleground. They seemed to be setting up for a Del Rio vs. Miz feud in the future based off the finish and turning Del Rio face would probably be for the best at this point.
Before the 12-man tag match, John Cena comes out and plugs Battleground and says The Club cannot see him because he has the “certified Gs” as Enzo & Big Cass come out to the ring. Enzo then makes fun of The Club, even saying AJ Styles has a haircut like a “soccer mom” and that Karl Anderson is as generic as Times New Roman font. Cena then stops Enzo, saying he is all over the place and just spitting out punchlines. Big Cass then tells Cena that is what makes them work as a team and compares the three of them to other great trios before doing the SAWFT routine until The Club interrupts. AJ then laughs at Cena for teaming with Enzo & Big Cass, calling him the “turd in the punchbowl” as Anderson makes fun of them for not having chemistry. AJ likens them to “scabs” as The Club talks about beating up John Cena, as well as Enzo & Big Cass and the New Day. Then, the New Day interrupt as The Club make fun of Xavier for being scared of the Wyatt Family. Xavier tells us the Wyatt Family will do enough to scare anyone but they are normal men, as they showcase the Tag Team Titles as they promise to show the Wyatt Family why that is the case this Sunday at Battleground. The New Day then explain to Cena how “How You Doin'” works as Xavier puts himself over as a level 21 Pokemon trainer and runs down all sorts of Pokemon until Cena tells him to stop. The Wyatt Family come out shortly after that as we head to break.
I thought this was a fun segment to build up their match. Everyone did a great job here and Cena being the straight man to all the wackiness while everyone else did the heavy lifting was a nice change of pace. It was long but I was entertained throughout and the crowd was into everything they did.
John Cena & Enzo & Big Cass & The New Day vs. The Club & The Wyatt Family
The match is joined in-progress as Cena takes down Anderson. Rowan tags in as this leads to everyone taking turns knocking each other down until Strowman and Big Cass are left as they stare each other down. Strowman slaps Cena off of the apron then the match completely breaks down with guys fighting inside and outside of the ring until we are left with Cass and Strowman. Cass fires away then huts a big boot. Kofi tags and tries a crossbody but Strowman was unable to catch him properly so he gets up and slams him down as we head to break. The match returns with Bray beating on Kofi, who comes back with a kick in the corner as both men are down. Cena tags and hits Bray with a pair of shoulder tackles but gets thrown off by Bray’s spider walk and ends up getting clotheslined. Cena gets worked over in the corner then Rowan takes him down with a dropkick. AJ tags and beats on Cena. He gets two with a fireman’s carry neckbreaker then tags Anderson, who yells about beating up Cena. The Club are beating on Cena as they mix in a lot of taunting. Cena rolls away from a splash by Gallows as we head to break. We return with Bray stomping on Cena, who rolls away from another attack as both men are down. Cena finally makes the tag as Cass knocks down AJ twice. He then slams AJ and follows with the Empire Elbow. Strowman breaks up the attack but gets hit with the Trouble in Paradise. Big E clotheslines Rowan to the floor then things get fast and furious until Xavier takes out the Wyatt Family with a dive. Back inside, we get all sorts of big moves as everyone is down. The New Day and Wyatt Family start fighting up the ramp and head backstage. In the ring, AJ sets up Enzo for the Styles Clash but Enzo breaks out but accidentally takes Cena out with a clothesline then AJ puts Enzo away with the Styles Clash for the win (19:00) ***1/2.
Thoughts: Much like the segment beforehand, this was also really fun. The last few minutes of action were great and the finish told a great story of how Cena & Enzo & Cass need to all be on the same page if they want to defeat a team like The Club, who have been together for years, and that they are at a disadvantage in their match at Battleground due to a lack of chemistry. This match had heat from start to finish and while not the most technically proficient match (and Strowman really struggling at times) it had that big-match feel that holds your attention.
Backstage, Stephanie and Mick Foley are talking with Apollo Crews as the GMs are doing some scouting and recruiting tonight.
We are shown footage from earlier today with Seth Rollins standing in the crowd of the empty arena. He talks about standing where the Shield walked down to the ring ready to conquer the world but it was just for himself, as he said Ambrose was kept around to take beatings while Reigns was kept to dish them out. Rollins then talks about how he cut them loose after he did not need them and how the weight of the company caused him to blow out his knee as that was when Reigns rose and became the champion. Rollins says that Reigns will never be the same again when he return before calling Ambrose a coward for stealing the WWE Title from him. I thought this was a tremendous promo from Seth. I also loved the touch of having it filmed in the empty arena.
Backstage, Breezango are attempting to show Foley how to dance. Shane approaches and asks Foley why anyone would want to work for her sister. He then tells the rumors of how he was only hired because he can relate to the crowd and that she feels she can manipulate him. Foley then tells Shane she knows Stephanie is ruthless but that she is also passionate and can more or less look out for himself. I liked how they teased some tension here as it should spill into the draft as both brands continue to compete with each other.
Baron Corbin vs. Sin Cara
Corbin beats on Sin Cara in the corner as Cole notes the Lucha Dragons have agreed to go their separate ways heading into the draft. Sin Cara fights back with a few kicks then flies outside with a tope. He rolls Corbin in and hits a springboard headbutt but shortly after that gets caught with the End of Days as Corbin gets the win (1:18) 1/4*. After the match, Kalisto runs out as Corbin leaves. However, Corbin drags Kalisto out and knocks him down before leaving.
Thoughts: The announcers really tried to hype up Corbin here heading into the draft but since being called up to the main roster, the crowd has barely reacted to him. The lesser story was that the Lucha Dragons have officially split up and I believe they will eventually feud, with Kalisto as the babyface, likely in the Cruiserweight Division on RAW.
We are shown articles from various media outlets as they talk about the WWE Draft.
Sasha Banks & Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte & Dana Brooke
Sasha works over Dana to start. Becky tags and they hit a double hip toss then Becky starts working the arm. Becky floats over in the corner and hits a dropkick then follows with a leg drop as the announcers talk about Becky Lynch and how her partners always turn on her. Sasha tags and knocks Charlotte off of the apron then Natalya runs out to attack Becky Lynch as the ref rings the bell for the DQ (2:20) 1/2*. After the match, Charlotte attacks Sasha from behind as she smiles at Natalya, who smiles back, then Charlotte rolls Sasha into the ring where Dana lands some punches until Charlotte hits the Natural Selection.
Thoughts: This was to further set up the Charlotte/Sasha and Natalya/Becky feuds. Plus, we are now left speculating as to who will be Sasha’s partner at Battleground as she once again faces Charlotte & Dana. I also suspect Becky vs. Natalya will be added to the Battleground card as well. The crowd was dead for this match too.
We get a promo from Dean Ambrose as he tells us how years ago he changed the course of history by looking into the camera as part of the Shield and did the same now as the WWE Champion. Ambrose then talks about the triple threat match at Battleground and says he will come out on top. This was really nothing more than a generic promo here.
Rusev w/ Lana & Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler & Ryder
Sheamus takes Ryder down with a pair of uppercuts. Ryder slips out of a slam attempt and fires away. He goes after Rusev but Sheamus attacks him from behind as Ryder is getting roughed up on the outside. Back in the ring, Sheamus works over Ryder, who comes back with a neckbreaker as both men are down. Both men make the tag as the crowd remains silent. Ziggler get two with the Fameasser then with a rollup but Rusev shoves Ziggler against the ropes and hits a super kick before making him submit to the Accolade (3:48) *.
Thoughts: Man, the crowd was practically silent for this entire segment. The crowd is still not buying Ryder as any sort of threat and Ziggler is just coasting by with his weak HBK tribute act. A heel turn might be the only way to rejuvenate him at this point.
We get a video package on Randy Orton to hype up his match against Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam. It starts with a video of him as a young child being held by Andre the Giant as we see all his career highlights with Cole telling us he will return at Battleground as a guest of Chris Jericho’s Highlight Reel. It was decent but fairly short compared with most other video packages.
Clips of John Cena hosting the “ESPY Awards” are shown.
Backstage, the Ascension are selling themselves to Mick Foley. Daniel Bryan enters and talks with Foley as Bryan thinks they need to be cordial with each other as they talk about how much they have in common. However, Foley tells Bryan he is standing in his way as Bryan says they never fought before but will now as they agree to compete as dueling GMs. I liked this segment as it shows both guys, while friendly and fan favorites, are not going to let that stop them from doing their job as they both want to make their brand the top in the WWE.
WWE World Title Match: Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose (c)
Both RAW & SmackDown GMs and commissioners are at ringside. According to JBL’s sources, Roman Reigns is at home like a caged animal and predicts he will win at Battleground. Rollins takes a breather after Ambrose backed him up against the ropes. The crowd starts a dueling chant as Ambrose now works a side headlock on the mat. Rollins bails after getting hit with a pair of armdrags then returns as he backs Ambrose into the corner and hammers away. Ambrose comes back and clotheslines Rollins to the floor then rolls out and sends him into the barricade with a Russian leg sweep. Ambrose hits a clothesline from the apron as we head to break and we return with Rollins in control in the ring. Rollins kicks Ambrose in the back then drops a knee as the announcers talk about Reigns returning at Battleground. Rollins sends Ambrose face-first off of the turnbuckle then chokes him out against the ropes as he goes out and points at Stephanie, who has the #1 overall pick in the draft. Back inside, Ambrose uses a small package for two but Rollins goes back on the attack then works a chinlock. The crowd starts to rally behind Ambrose as he breaks free but they both end up colliding after that. Ambrose starts firing away as he knocks Rollins down. He gets two with a fisherman’s suplex then a sunset flip as that triggers a reversal sequence ending with Ambrose hitting a neckbreaker for another nearfall. Rollins cuts off Ambrose with a dropkick but Ambrose breaks out a pedigree and dumps Rollins outside. Ambrose flies out with a tope but misses a rebound clothesline and runs into the barricade. Rollins then powerbombs Ambrose into the barricade and rolls him in with a frog splash for a nearfall as the crowd wakes up right when we head to another commercial. The action returns with Ambrose countering a buckle bomb with a hurricarana that sends Rollins into the corner. Ambrose tries a slingshot but Rollins lands on his feet on the apron and comes back with a springboard knee smash. Rollins attempts another frog splash but Ambrose rolls out of the way as both men are down. Rollins lands a few running forearm smashes but Ambrose follows with one of his own. Rollins hits a super kick then repeatedly kicks Ambrose in the face. Ambrose fights back but Rollins hits a buckle bomb but Ambrose rebounds and lands on Rollins as he counters with the Dirty Deeds as both men are down. Ambrose covers finally but Rollins gets his foot on the ropes then rolls outside. Ambrose follows and yells at Foley about how he will find out why he is the champ. Ambrose sets up Rollins on the announcers table but he was able to roll out of the way. They fight on the apron until Ambrose clotheslines Rollins back into the ring. Ambrose tries a clothesline from the top but Rollins kicks him in midair then hits the Pedigree but Ambrose was able to kick out. Rollins then tries another Pedigree but Ambrose counters with a bridging rollup for two. Ambrose turns Rollins inside out with a rebound clothesline then heads up top. Rollins heads up but Ambrose shoves him and flies into the referee. Rollins then heads up top and hits a superplex and covers but Ambrose also held Rollins’ legs as the ref counted to three. The referee appears to have the wind knocked out of him as we still do not have a winner. Stephanie hugs Rollins, thinking that he is the winner, then heads outside where she names Rollins the new champion (24:16) ***3/4. However, RAW continued on the WWE Network after it signed off of USA and the match was ruled a draw, with Ambrose retaining since the champ cannot lose the title this way.
Thoughts: I thought this was a really good match. It started off slow to really came along strong in the second half and they started to bring back the crowd, which had been silent since the 12-man tag ended. The ending as it was left on USA was dumb, with it being a lame way to create a second belt somehow, but they wrapped it up on the WWE Network, which was not mentioned on TV as continuing on there but was tweeted out by the WWE Network account immediately after RAW ended. Now, Rollins can continue with the story of getting screwed out of the title with even more fuel added to the fire.
Final Thoughts: Overall, I thought this was a good show. They hyped up both the WWE Draft and Battleground quite well here. I really enjoyed the 12-man tag match and segment and we had three good matches overall on the show. There was a dead point that went after the 12-man tag ended until the WWE World Title Match started but from start to finish, this was a good effort.
I didn’t know what to make of the Mick Foley as GM pick when it happened but became more intrigued as the show went on as I like how he started to challenge back at both Shane and Bryan, showing he is not some happy-go-lucky pushover and can be just as ruthless as his commissioner. The Bryan pick should be a success as fans love to see the guy and as a babyface commissioner, it should work out well.
The news of the Cruiserweight Division coming back should help RAW fill up three hours with a shortened talent roster. Plus, that style adds a needed variety to the show.
Not everything was great tonight but they had direction and heading into tomorrow night and the PPV this Sunday and it made me want to watch both shows.