From the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England
Your hosts are Byron Saxton, JBL, and Michael Cole
The show opens with HHH heading out to the ring as the WWE World Title is on display inside of the ring. We are shown still photos of Seth Rollins’ injury as Cole tells us he is out 6-9 months with a knee injury. HHH speaks and tells us that Rollins is “the man” and that his injury creates an interesting opportunity to fill the void as the World Champion then brings out the man who was the #1 contender to Rollins, Roman Reigns. After that, Reings comes out and it takes a minute or two for him to come out through the crowd. They are between the belt as HHH reminds Reigns there is a tournament to determine the new WWE World Title. He also tells Reigns it seems unfair to be the #1 contender, only to get thrown into the bottom of the pile. However, it could be easier as HHH tells Reigns he was “strongly considered” as the man before they selected Rollins in that role. HHH puts over all of Reigns attributes but said he does not have the willingness to do whatever it takes to be the man before asking him how it felt to almost beat Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania only for Rollins to come in and take that dream away. HHH tells Reigns we will never know if he could have beaten Lesnar as Rollins did what it took to walk out of WrestleMania as the champion. HHH puts over Reigns for being resilient on his current quest for the title and asks him if he wants to be the man and if so, all he has to do his be “his” man. Reigns asks HHH if he wants him to sell out as HHH goes off about how the term “sellout” was created by those who do not succeed to explain why people did what they could not do. He then places the belt over Reigns’ shoulder as he tells him all he has to do is be his man and his family will be set for life. After some chants, Reigns tells us that he has earned everything in his life and never taken a handout so he can take his offer and “shove it” while HHH welcomes him to the “back of the line.” HHH then thanks Reigns for reminding him why he was not chosen by the Authority as he welcomes his opponent in the first round, the Big Show. HHH and Big Show fist bump on the ramp. I thought HHH did really good on the mic here, even if it was a bit long. However, Reigns really did not impress at all here. He delivered his lines without conviction and did not come across at all like a star. And the live crowd was reportedly chanting “Yes” for him to accept HHH’s offer and booed when he rejected.
WWE World Title Tournament First Round Match: Roman Reigns vs. Big Show
Show works over Reigns in the corner to start. Reigns tries to fight back then they end up outside where Show tosses him against the barricade then back through the ropes and into the ring. Reigns fights back but gets chopped in midair coming off of the top rope. Show stomps Reigns on the back of the neck then whips him in the corner. The camera shows the belt, which is on a podium near the announcers table, as Show almost puts Reigns away with a splash. Show stops another Reigns comeback then yells how he is a giant as we head to break. We return with Show using a bearhug. Reigns elbows out and hits a Samoan drop as both men are down. Show stops him again but Reigns fights back and works him over in the corner. Reigns hits a dropkick and follows that with the Drive By but Show catches him in midair after a Superman Punch, nearly getting the win. Show motions for the chokeslam but Reigns pops up and hits the Superman Punch then the spear for the win (11:57) *1/2.
Thoughts: Dull match. And in a night where Reigns should have been able to separate himself ahead of the pack in the tournament, he did not. Came across as just another guy.
We are shown clips of the debuts for both the Undertaker and Kane then are told that the Wyatt Family will be “paying respects” to both men tonight. We will get several more as the night progresses.
Before his match, Owens stands on the ramp and thanks the production team for stopping his music, which you can buy on iTunes. He then tells us he has change in his pocket and puts over how the WWE fans need change because they have been fed the same garbage for years. Owens then insults the English fans, stating they might be the dumbest, before stating they worship false idols, such as the Royal Family. Owens then said the change he will benefit himself and no one else before declaring himself a prizefighter and how winning the World Title will make it so no one can deny that its the Kevin Owens show. Great heel work here by Owens. He is probably the best on the mic right now in the WWE as far as active roster members.
Kevin Owens vs. Titus O’Neill
Cole puts over O’Neill’s appearance at the Navy Seals Museum as he backs Owens into the corner. Owens rolls outside after getting hit with a big boot then gets knocked into the boards with a shoulderblock as we head to break. We return with Owens working a headlock in the ring. O’Neill breaks out but walks into a super kick. Owens pie-faces O’Neill a few times before hitting some chops but O’Neill returns the favor. O’Neill comes back with a shoulderblock and a clothesline. He hits a slam but misses an avalanche attempt as Owens rolls him up for a nearfall. O’Neill comes back with a back suplex then tries a powerbomb but Owens floats over and after that hits the Pop-up Powerbomb for the win (6:50) *1/4. After the match, Owens puts on JBL’s cowboy hat then takes it off and paces around the ring.
Thoughts: Not much of a match but a fairly quick win for Owens, who is one of the favorites to win the whole tournament. He stepped up his game tonight.
Renee Young is backstage with Paige, who will be facing Becky Lynch tonight. Paige compares Becky to a rat, instead of Renee’s dragon analogy, and promises to take her out tonight until it is just her and that “C” at Survivor Series. Paige did a fine job at delivering a lame promo.
Clip of Undertaker defeating Psycho Sid for the WWE Title in 1997 and of Kane cashing in his Money in the Bank Title shot to defeat Rey Mysterio for the World Title are shown.
Becky Lynch vs. Paige
These two brawl inside and outside of the ring to start as we see Charlotte watching on a monitor backstage. Becky works the arm until Paige yanks her down by the hair after an awkward sequence. The crowd cheers for Paige’s “this is my house” chant as she stretches out Becky, who is in the tree-of-woe position, from the floor by her arms. Back inside, Becky comes back with clothesline and a nearfall but ends up eating a few knee strikes after that. Becky hits a T-Bone suplex for two and they go back-and-forth until Paige hits the Rampage for two as Becky was able to grab the ropes. Paige is pissed and tries for the PTO but Becky gets to the ropes. Becky comes back with a necksnap then reverses a reverse rollup with a handfull of tights after Paige tried the same and gets the win (5:01) *3/4. After the match, Paige knocks Becky off of the apron then puts her in the PTO on the announcers table until Charlotte, who comes out to mostly boos, interrupts for the save.
Thoughts: The match was fine but why they are pinning the challenger for the Divas Title is beyond me. Paige was over with some of the crowd as Charlotte continues to struggle in getting any momentum going in her title reign. She needs to rehab her entire character
The announcers put over the ticket sales for WrestleMania 32 then show us a video package of those waiting in line all morning to buy tickets and when that ends Cole lets us know that we can buy more tickets that have just been made available to the public.
The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler
Miz gets the advantage early. Ziggler comes back with a dropkick then Miz ducks outside to avoid a super kick. Back inside, Ziggler misses a jumping elbow smash in the corner as Miz goes to work on the leg. Ziggler comes back with a rollup then a few clotheslines before using a jumped-based offense after hopping around on one leg. The crowd is dead as Miz goes back to the leg but Ziggler rolls Miz up for two. Miz comes back with the figure four leg lock. Ziggler gets out then soon after that hits a super kick out of nowhere (with the leg he was selling all match) for a win (5:01) *. Ziggler will face the winner of Dean Ambrose vs. Tyler Breeze.
Thoughts: I didnt care for this match at all. Ziggler’s poor selling was really noticeable and his act is wearing thin on me and seemingly starting to with the crowds in general.
We get more flashbacks from Kane and the Undertaker’s career to hype up the segment with the Wyatt Family paying respects to them later tonight.
Clips of Alberto Del Rio defeating John Cena for the U.S. Title at Hell in a Cell
MexAmerica comes out as Zeb Colter tells the crowd if the English he’d ask them to join but they are too hated. He then puts down the country some more before saying that he would not be surprised to see Vladimir Putin taking over the country. Del Rio tells the crowd that their country is populated by “ignorant haters” as Colter tells us this Thursday night on Smackdown, Del Rio will compete in the WWE World Title Tournament on his way to becoming the first MexAmerican champion. This gimmick is not working and will probably never work in getting Del Rio back over as a heel. That is two RAW’s in a row, in two separate continents, that saw the live crowds sit in silence during a Del Rio segment.
Natalya vs. Naomi w/ Tamina & Sasha Banks
The story here is that Natalya wants to know who is the real leader of Team BAD. Match starts with Natalya yanking Naomi off of the apron. Sasha rams Natalya into the post as the fans cheer a bit. Back in the ring, Naomi works a chinlock but misses a leg drop. Natalya hits a clothesline then mocks the “we want Sasha” chants and shortly after that gets a win with a rollup (2:01) DUD. After the match, Team BAD attacks Natalya and are left standing tall.
Thoughts: They are still trying to tease some conflict between Team BAD but as of now it looks like they are building towards Sasha and Natalya.
Sheamus w/ Wade Barrett vs. Cesaro
We are shown a clip of Wade Barrett insulting Wayne Rooney in the crowd. Match starts with both guys fighting over a lockup. Sheamus works the arm as Cole tells us the winner will face Roman Reigns next week in the second round. Sheamus ducks outside. Cesaro takes Sheamus down with an uppercut as he attempted to slingshot back into the ring. Cesaro misses a charging uppercut as Sheamus then comes back with an Irish Curse. Sheamus hits clubbing forearms to the chest of Cesaro as we head to break. Back inside, Sheamus gets two with a sideslam then applies a chinlock. Cesaro lands on the apron and boots Sheamus but gets cut off of the top rope. Sheamus then flips him off for a nearfall but Cesaro floats over and hits a rack slam as the crowd was impressed. Sheamus suplexes Cesaro and they both spill out to the floor after trading kicks as both men are down. The announcers make it a point to say that Cesaro’s arm is hurt. They go back inside as Cesaro just beats the count. Sheamus catches him with the White Noise for two as the crowd is chanting for Cesaro. Sheamus taunts the crowd before sseting up for the Brogue Kick but Cesaro counters that and turns it into a Sharpshooter. Sheamus is able to reach the ropes as Cesaro continues to sell the arm. Cesaro comes back with running uppercuts, using his healthy arm, before dropkicking Sheamus to the floor. Cesaro celebrates with the “Cesaro Section” then slaps hands with Wayne Rooney. Barrett distracts Cesaro, allowing Sheamus to attack him from behind. The heels taunt Rooney, who slaps Barrett across the face. Sheamus looks over in shock and that allows Cesaro to hit a running uppercut then a rollup for the win (15:30) ***1/4.
Thoughts: Good match. Cesaro got the crowd behind him and seemed to be having a blast. He has seemed to work really hard the past few weeks in working the crowds and its paying off. He looked like a star tonight. And Ziggler should take note on how to sell by watching Cesaro sell his arm in this match.
Renee is with Summer Rae and Tyler Breeze, asking him about his debut. Breeze tells us that he will send Ambrose back to where he came from as Summer makes fun of Dean’s attire. Both were fine on the mic but it is clear that Summer is becoming a very good heel valet who should be moving into an angle higher up on the card soon.
Dean Ambrose vs. Tyler Breeze w/ Summer Rae
Match starts with Ambrose working a headlock. Breeze ducks underneath the ropes then comes back with a few punches. Breeze asks for time but walks into a clothesline then Ambrose sends him over the top rope with another clothesline. He takes out Breeze with a tope as we head to break. We return with Ambrose rolling through a crossbody but eating a super kick right afterwards. Breeze roughs up Ambrose outside then yells “you are not better than me” in his face. Ambrose fights back and gets two with a sunset flip. Breeze gets two with a rollup after Ambrose misses a charge by using his feet on the ropes. Ambrose comes back with a rebound clothesline. He hits a top rope dropkick then sells his shoulder as Breeze works that over for a while. He yells at the referee for trying to get him to backup and ends up getting backdropped to the floor. Breeze comes back in but Ambrose puts him in a small package for the win (11:08) **1/2.
Thoughts: The match was solid and saw Breeze get in a lot of offense. He did lose in his debut match but to be honest, I dont think he has a very high ceiling on the main roster anyway and as a result seemed to be positioned fine here.
More clips of Kane and the Undertaker to hype the Wyatt Family eulogy.
The New Day come out. They are upset that they were completely left out of the 16 Man WWE World Title Tournament. After listing off the people they took out, they then salute Seth Rollins with unicorn horns as Woods makes fun of European Magic, stating it is “garbage.” Big E was really funny tonight.
New Day vs. Neville The Usos
Match starts with the New Day working over Jey. Big E almost puts him away with a splash. Big E ducks an enziguiri and taunts the faces but walks into a Samoan Drop. Neville tags as he kicks Woods a bunch of times. He gets a solid reaction. Neville hits a springboard missile dropkick then after that the match breaks down as the Usos take Big E. and Kofi out with stereo topes. Woods gets tossed as Neville takes everyone out with a beautiful corkscrew moonsault from the top rope. Neville leaps off of the top then drills Woods with a kick after landing on his feet. Kofi slides a trombone into the ring and as the ref slides that out, Big E shoves Neville off of the top rope as Woods gets a rollup and uses his feet on the ropes for leverage as he gets the win (8:42) **1/4
Thoughts: Decent action with Neville doing really cool stuff. I am not a fan of hyping a guy as being part of a title tournament then going on and losing but he did get pinned after the heels cheated so I dont have that much of a problem with him. I have more of a problem with the fact every match tonight seemingly ended with a rollup as a finisher.
And now we get the eulogy from Bray. He tells us that while change is not easy, it is inevitable and a part of life. Bray tells the crowd they will celebrate change and the spirits of Kane and the Undertaker. Bray calls them the “benchmark of power” over then wants everyone watching to bow their head and pay respect for Kane and the Undertaker. Bray then laughs at us for being fools because the respect for Kane and Undertaker is now his as he possesses their powers. Bray tells us that the apocalypse is here then drops to one knee in the ring. We are shown a highlight package of both Kane and the Undertaker and after that, we hear the thunder and see the flames then hear the gong for the Undertaker’s entrance. After the mist clears a bit, we see Kane and the Undertaker both on the ramp as they head down to the ring as Bray is in disbelief. They corner Bray until the lights go off as the rest of the Wyatt Family surround the ring. The crowd chants “this is awesome” then they brawl. Strowman knocks down the Brothers of Destruction with a double clothesline but they pop back up and toss him over the top rope. Strowman lands on his feet but gets tossed over the announcers table. They head inside and trap Bray before hitting him with a double chokeslam. It was cool seeing Kane & Undertaker on RAW together but the way this went down you’d figure the feud was over.They destroyed the Wyatt Family even at a 4-2 disadvantage. And the Undertaker already beat Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania 31. After all of the video packages highlighting this segment, I felt that it did not deliver at all.
Final Thoughts: This show had its ups and downs, making it okay overall. The pluses were that a few guys (Owens and Cesaro) really tried to stand out from the pack. Also, they have created some really interesting second round tournament matchups as well. They are making the tournament feel like a huge deal and it comes of well. I am really looking forward to that. However, some of the booking was questionable and Reigns had a very poor showing, both in the ring and on the mic. He seemed to be going through the motions to be quite honest. Reigns should be going all out and putting himself above everyone else in the company right now. That did not happen here. And the Undertaker & Kane vs. Wyatt Family feud seems like a waste as the Wyatt Family got taken out already by both guys. The premise of the feud is getting ridiculous as well. With just one more RAW left before Survivor Series, the WWE has some work to do in order to fill out the rest of the card.