June 27, 2016
From the Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL
Your hosts are Byron Saxton, JBL, and Michael Cole
The show starts with Seth Rollins coming out to the ring as the announcers plug the Triple Threat Title match at Battleground. Rollins tells the fans they will be getting their dream match as all three former members of the Shield will be facing off against each other for the WWE World Heavyweight Title. Rollins then talks about Roman Reigns, despite not being allowed to, and how the biggest mistake Reigns ever made was to embarrass him by getting suspended because he was the one who brought Reigns along in the Shield. We then see the graphic of Reigns’ apology on Twitter as Rollins reads that in a sarcastic tone before breaking it down. Rollins talks about Reigns never apologizing for a thing in his life and how he says “one vs. all” then makes fun of his “the guy” catchphrase. Rollins then tells Reigns that he owns him and will again when he pins him at Battleground. Rollins also said Reigns does not deserve forgiveness or to be in the main event at Battleground and the right thing to do is take him out of the match so he can face Dean Ambrose. The fans are in agreement with Rollins, with the crowd briefly muted, then Ambrose comes out. Ambrose asks Rollins if he is alright then says is this anger about Reigns or the fact he is the champion. Ambrose said people make mistakes regarding Reigns’ suspension, much like he did being friends with Rollins. Ambrose then tells Rollins wearing skinny jeans is a mistake and that Reigns’ suspension will pass over as AJ Styles heads out. AJ makes his case for being put in the triple threat match in place of Reigns and all will be right in the world. Dean says he is not the one who makes decisions as AJ suggest they add him and make it a Fatal Four Way match. Dean is fine with that but Rollins said it should be a 1 vs. 1 match then John Cena comes out. Cena says Dean is showing to be a fighting man and that 14 years ago today he made his WWE debut, making this his WWE birthday then panders to the hometown a bit before telling Dean Ambrose the last time they faced off in a title match, he won. Cena suggests a Fatal Five Way match then Stephanie McMahon heads out to the ring. Stephanie says what happened to Reigns was an absolute embarrassment but the fact that Dean Ambrose is the champion makes her mortified. She talks about asking her brother Shane what to do but that he is on vacation. Stephanie talks about liking the idea of AJ Styles and John Cena being added to the title match. However, they have to earn that by winning tonight as Cena will take on Rollins and AJ will face Ambrose.
This was something else. They really talked a lot about the Reigns suspension and with the heels ragging on him for it while Ambrose tells us all he made a mistake, owned up to it, now its time to move on. Seems like they are intent on keeping Reigns as a babyface when he returns and if the company truly believes this is going to get him cheered when he returns, then they are 100% delusional. The crowd reaction is likely going to be worse than ever when Reigns comes back and its something they need to realize for the time being. It will pass with time though. The segment itself ran a bit long but it did leave you somewhat intrigued as to what the title match would look like when the night ended.
Paige & Sasha Banks vs. Dana Brooke & Charlotte
Cole notes that Charlotte has held the Women’s Title for 281 days. Charlotte starts off with Sasha but immediately runs to her corner and tags out. Dana comes in and Sasha works her over in the corner. Dana takes her into the corner and mocks her briefly until she gets slapped. Paige tags as her and Sasha clean house as we head to break. The action returns with Paige getting worked on as we saw Charlotte boot Paige in the face from the apron during the commercial. Charlotte works a chinlock then Dana beats on Paige behind the referee’s back. Paige tries to tag out after fighting back in the corner. Charlotte stops her but Paige escapes and tags as Sasha cleans house on Dana. Paige gets payback on Charlotte by booting her in the face on the outside. Back in the ring, Dana gets two with a rollup but Sasha uses a knee smash then puts on the Banks Statement for the win (8:39) **.
Thoughts: Basic match but it did a fine job of getting the story across that Sasha is a threat to Charlotte’s title. Sasha has been made to look strong since her return.
We are shown a clip of Titus O’Neill attacking Rusev last week after Rusev was talking trash about his family to hype up their match tonight.
An ad hyping the WWE Draft on the July 19th edition of Smackdown.
Rusev (c) w/ Lana vs. Titus O’Neill
Titus attacks Rusev as soon as he enters the ring. He stays on the attack for a bit until walking into a clothesline. Rusev destroys Titus with forearm smashes then starts using knee smashes and stomps in the corner. Rusev even busts out a dropkick. Titus mounts a comeback then Rusev ducks out and grabs his belt.Titus follows and they end up clotheslining each other at full speed. Rusev is up first and charges at Titus but gets dumped over the barricade as Titus rolls inside and gets the win via countout (4:07) *1/2
Thoughts: It was a fine way to continue their feud and give Titus another U.S. Title match by still allowing Rusev to look strong. The feud itself isn’t exciting or anything but its a fine stopgap until rosters are sorted out after the draft. Rusev looked really good here too. He is someone who needs a much bigger push than he currently receives.
Stephanie is shown walking backstage on her phone when she runs into Corporate Kane, who just wants a chance of running Smackdown live. Stephanie tells him they covered this already and that she will be running Smackdown. The Miz and Maryse come out as Miz is upset over not getting the red carpet treatment or even a limo driver that opens the door. Kane interjects and mentions is own film, which is available on DVD or digital download, as Miz said he looks like the “devil’s favorite insurance salesman.” Kane then cites a code (that began with G1) that states a champion must defend their title within a 30 day period. Stephanie likes that and takes Kane’s suggestion, telling Miz he has a title match tonight. Miz asks who his opponent will be as Stephanie tells him its what his acting coach would call a “cliffhanger.”
A plug for Cena hosting the ESPY awards on July 13th.
Seth Rollins vs. John Cena
The crowd starts off with a dueling chant here. Cena shoves off Rollins to escape from a headlock then Rollins knocks him down with a shoulder block. They stare each other down as the crowd continues with the dueling chants before Rollins starts firing away. Dropkick gets two. Cena comes back with a dropkick of his own as both men are down. Rollins catches Cena with an elbow smash then gets two with a Blockbuster. Cena breaks out of a reverse chinlock then catches Rollins with a pair of shoulder tackles. Rollins decks Cena after he tried the Five Knuckle Shuffle as the crowd is behind Rollins with the match heading into commercial. The match returns with Rollins escaping from a STF attempt as the crowd is behind Cena, who hits the Fie Knuckle Shuffle. Rollins escapes from the A.A. then hits a super kick for two. Cena comes back with a tornado DDT for two as both men are down. Rollins hits an enziguiri for two. They slug it out, with Cena’s punches showing an awful lot of light, then they fight up top as that ends up with Rollins hitting a buckle bomb for two. Cena rolls away from a frog splash as both men are down again. They are back up top again as Rollins hits a superplex then rolls through for the Falcon Arrow as that only gets two. Cena rolls through a top rope crossbody and hits Rollins with the A.A. but Rollins was able to break the count with his foot on the ropes. Cena tries for it again but Rollins escapes. Cena then locks on the STF and drags Rollins in the center of the ring as The Club comes out. Rollins takes advantage of the distraction and boots Cena before hitting the Pedigree for the win (16:01) ***1/2.
Thoughts: Good match that really picked up after the commercial. The ending was fairly predictable and designed to keep the Cena/AJ feud strong. It also makes the AJ vs. Ambrose match result seem predictable as well.
Enzo & Big Cass come out and compare the crowd to the wave that carries them, even asking the crowd to participate in the wave. The pandering to the crowd here came off pathetic to be honest. These guys are over enough not to have to resort to this.
Enzo & Big Cass vs. ????
I didnt catch the name of the two smaller, unknown enhancement talents. Cass boots them both down before putting one of them away with the rocket launcher (0:30).
Thoughts: Just a quick squash match to put Enzo & Cass over.
After the match, the Social Outcasts come out. Bo then says they are not SAWFT, but rather “hard” as they spell that out. Heath tells us they just came off the “Marine 5” set as Axel wants them to leave the ring. Enzo & Cass then asks them if they are really hard and who is the hardest as this leads to more bad comedy until Cass boots Bo in the face. A terrible segment, even by lower card comedy standards. The material was wretched.
Life Lessons with Coach Backlund. Young is asked about his goals and talks about someday main-eventing WrestleMania. Backlund lets him know he used to team with Pedro Morales and called his era the Bob Backlund Era and wants this to be known as the Darren Young Era. Hopefully, this means they will actually go somewhere with this gimmick.
We get a video package highlighting the WWE’s involvement with the Special Olympics. We saw then open up the Performance Center to the participants and this ends with Renee Young and the Big Show on the stage with some of the participants to promote the “Play Unified” program.
Natalya is on commentary for Becky Lynch’s scheduled match against Summer Rae. She talks about how she is tired of being nice and walked on as she notes it is time for a change. However, Becky runs over and attacks Natalya instead of going into the ring for her match. The referee finally backs Becky off as Natalya heads up the aisle. A decent way to jumpstart their feud.
They show Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston in the crowd. He then pumps up the crowd.
Highlight Reel with guests Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. Jericho reminds Zayn how he was the best man at Owens’ wedding and now Owens stabbed him in the back. Zayn says he came out to stop this rivalry and how its interfering with their careers. He then wants Owens to “grow a sack” and tell him to his face as to why he is angry with him. The crowd starts a mild “grow a sack” chant as Owens tells Zayn its his fault their friendship is ruined because they fought against and for each other with the goal to get to the WWE. Owens said he was happy for Zayn when he got to the WWE but that Zayn was not happy for him and his success because it came at his expense. Owens says this proves he was a better friend as Jericho chimes in to agree before saying Owens will never be as good as himself. Jericho tells Zayn it doesnt matter what the fans think and the fact he has yet to figure that out makes him sick to the point he wants to slap his “stupid, idiot” face as he talks about letting Owens do that honor at Battleground. Jericho then talks himself up and gives the two the “gift of Jericho” as that ends with both of them knocking Jericho down. Owens then leaves as Zayn looks a tad shocked.
Good segment. Zayn showed a ton of passion on the mic and the tease of these two former friends possibly uniting again is something to look forward too in the future. For now, they should be having a great match together at Battleground. However, there was too much focus on Jericho and his act could have been more toned down in order to focus on the Owens/Zayn story.
The Miz comes out with Maryse for his Intercontinental Title defense against his mystery opponent. He stands in the ring and waits then we get the Demon Kane, who comes out to little crowd reaction.
WWE Intercontinental Title Match: Kane vs. The Miz (c) w/ Maryse
Miz runs into a punch as Kane takes control. Miz trips up Kane then escapes a chokeslam attempt and kicks away. Kane boots Miz down then follows with a pair of corner clotheslines. Side slam gets two. Kane hits a basement dropkick after a suplex that gets two. Miz tries to get something going but Kane decks him as he comes off the top rope. Kane tries another chokeslam as Maryse is yelling on the apron. Maryse then falls on her own and starts screaming on the ground. Miz fights back from the apron then sees his wife screaming in pain and picks her up and carries her backstage as Kane wins by countout (3:29). -*1/2.
Thoughts: Just an awful segment in every way possible. The wrestling was bad, Kane was a dud of a surprise, and the finish was one of the worst I have ever seen. A feud between Miz and Kane is just a terrible idea and no one wants to see this at all.
After the break, Miz puts Maryse back down. She eventually starts laughing as Miz looks confused. Maryse then says she was acting as Miz puts over her “amazing” performance.
Cesaro & Apollo Crews vs. Sheamus & Alberto Del Rio
Crews and Cesaro beat on Del Rio to start. Cesaro gets caught in the opposing corner as Del Rio hits an enziguiri. Sheamus tags himself in as Del Rio went for his stomp as they tease more conflict between the two. He hits Cesaro with the Irish Curse for two then works a chinlock. Cesaro hits a fireman’s carry slam as both men are down then makes the tag. Crews lays into Del Rio, who fights back. Del Rio then pie-faces Sheamus and before taking him off of the apron with an enziguiri as the crowd cheers. After that, Crews his Sheamus with a spinning powerbomb for the win (5:00) *1/2.
Thoughts: The crowd was dead for this except for when Del Rio turned on Sheamus. Looks like we are getting a Sheamus vs. Del Rio feud at some point. I assume Sheamus is still feuding with Crews but after getting pinned cleanly twice, who knows.
Jojo is backstage with Dean Ambrose. She asks him if being the World Champion was everything he thought it would be. Ambrose talks about expecting a parade but that they need permits for that. Stephanie McMahon comes over as Ambrose asks if she wants an autograph. Stephanie tells Ambrose he is an embarrassment as the champion and makes fun of his look. Ambrose then sarcastically waves goodbye before telling us that deep down inside, Stephanie really likes him. I thought Ambrose came off natural and likable here. Its part of the reason the fans react to him in a positive manner.
The New Day are dressed up like the Wyatt Family as they are shown backstage in the same style that the Wyatt Family are shown before they make their entrance. They come out and talk about how the Wyatt’s want to always scare and intimidate before making jokes about their hygiene. Xavier is noticeably quiet here. Big E lets us all know he was born in Tampa then Xavier thinks they should wrap things up. The Wyatt Family finally make their entrance as Bray tells the New Day the fans line up for them as they tell the fans what they want to hear, not what they need to hear. The crowd chants for the New Day as Bray tells us its a cruel word filled with dangerous men and how can the power of positivity help a man who lost his job put food on his family’s table. Bray then calls out Xavier for looking shook up and that he can trust him as in this game, there are no winners or losers, just malice. I’m liking the dynamic here with Xavier acting scared and mesmerized by the Wyatt Family and how Bray called him out on that fact. This feud could really be something fresh and different if they let it and they have the performers to have it all come together.
After the break, Renee catches up with the New Day. Xavier still appears preoccupied as Big E and Kofi are confident and not scared of the Wyatt Family.
Dean Ambrose vs. AJ Styles
Rollins is out on commentary. Dean takes control of the match to start. He works a side headlock for a bit as Rollins is determined to face off against Ambrose in a singles match at Battleground. AJ now works a side headlock then they mistime a spot before AJ dodges an elbow drop. They end up in a stalemate as we head into commercial. The action returns with AJ in control as we see a clip of him hitting Ambrose with a sliding knee smash on the apron. AJ works a chinlock then hits him with a forearm in the corner for a nearfall. AJ works an armbar now as Ambrose escapes then hotshots AJ as both men are down. Ambrose fights back with chops and clotheslines. Fisherman’s Suplex gets two. AJ hits a flurry of moves but Ambrose catches him with a reverse neckbreaker for two. JBL refers to Ambrose as a “corporate embarrassment” as Ambrose hits a few different pinning combinations for nearfalls. AJ hits a facebuster for two then heads up top but Ambrose cuts him off and hits a superplex. AJ comes back and hits a spinning powerbomb from the rack position for two. They counter each other’s finishers then AJ cuts off Ambrose in midair as Ambrose sells his leg. AJ gets dumped then Ambrose flies out with a tope as both men are down on the floor. Back inside, AJ rolls through a crossbody for two then hits a Pele Kick but Ambrose comes back with a rebound clothesline. Gallows & Anderson come out ringside then Cena runs out and starts beating on them . AJ eggs him on then Ambrose rolls him over and hits the Dirty Deeds for the win (15:34) ***1/4. Rollins is happy that AJ will not be in the title match then the Club stats attacking Cena. Rollins sneaks in from behind to take out Ambrose with the Pedigree. Gallows & Anderson hit Cena on the ramp with the Magic Killer as Rollins is in the ring celebrating with the belt.
Thoughts: Good match but this crowd was dead for this and after everything else we saw tonight, its tough to blame them. The finish off the match was expected after what we saw earlier as the show-long storyline was a way to hype up a Cena vs. Styles match, likely taking place at Battleground. I also enjoyed Rollins on commentary, rooting for his interest of having less people involved in the title match.
Final Thoughts: Overall, this show was all over the place. Sure, there were some good segments but the bad stuff tonight was just putrid.
A lot of the bad stuff tonight highlighted how the company is out of touch with their fanbase. Between the obvious pandering by having the crowd do the wave, thinking Kane would go over well as the Miz’s mystery opponent, and seemingly thinking they are going to have Reigns come back to sympathy cheers after getting suspended for steroids, its clear they are struggling to get their fingers on the fans pulse.
I liked the Owens/Zayn segment on the Highlight Reel and we got two really good matches. The top matches for Battleground all seem really good. Plus, with the draft coming up, you cannot rush everyone and everything into a feud. You need guys to bide time for a bit, like Rusev is with Titus.
The big question is how can they fill three hours of RAW each week after the draft when they can barely do it now. I hope they are saving ideas for when the brand split happens and that still has me intrigued at the moment, especially the idea of who is going to each brand and potential NXT callups and other outside talent being brought into the company.