– We kick things off with The Authority (i.e. Triple H & Stephanie McMahon) making their way down to the ring. They basically said that the three unsuccessful challengers to Seth Rollins‘ title (i.e. Roman Reigns, Randy Orton, and Dean Ambrose) were now going ot the “back of the line” in terms of being #1 contender. They also then set-up the Elimination Chamber match for the Intercontinental championship.
– Sheamus then interrupted Stephanie with his music and an appearance (never a good idea). Chants of “You look stupid” began, which is wrong because I love his new look. They then set-up Sheamus as being the one who injured Daniel Bryan and put him out on the injured list. I like this idea because, quite frankly, WWE has dropped the ball on Sheamus since his return. As he was clamoring for just being handed the title, Ryback (#steroidguy) came out to stake his claim on the IC title…thus setting up a match between the two.
– The story of the match was how Ryback was battling with injured ribs from his match with Bray Wyatt the night before. Obviously, WWE is doing whatever they can to put over Ryback as a sympathetic character deserving of cheers. I mean, at this point he gets little reaction other than the “Feed me more” chants, so anything they can do to make him more likeable can only help him. In the end, Sheamus faked an eye injury and then gave Ryback a Brogue Kick when the referee had him distracted.
– There was a quick backstage vignette with The Authority and Dean Ambrose, which culminated in Kane creating a match between Ambrose and Bray Wyatt later in the show. Interesting booking, as Wyatt destroyed Ambrose during their feud earlier this year and both are on winning streaks at the moment.
– Renee Young did a short in-ring interview with Neville, which had me scared because his NXT mic work was pretty bad. Thankfully, he did a pretty good job during his brief interview before getting interrupted by Bo Dallas.
They tangled a bit before King Barrett made his way to the ring and Dallas joined the boys on commentary.
Again, an interesting turn because I would LOVE to see them pull the trigger on Dallas. He’s got a unique gimmick that was beginning to get over before they pulled the plug on his last year. Now he’s a huge talent floundering around in obscurity and has earned a chance to contribute to the product. At this point, he’s just a one-dimensional character with a ton of potential.
The match saw Barrett go after Neville’s knee, which was “tweaked” during their match the night before at Payback. In fact, as Neville was making his comeback, it fell short as his knee “buckled” and he couldn’t put any weight on it.
Barrett took advantage with a quick Bull Hammer and got the 1-2-3. Once the match ended, Dallas jumped Neville to set up an intriguing first feud for both men (Dallas hasn’t really had a real storyline feud that lasted more than two RAW episodes up to this point).
– Rusev made his way to the ring to help “clear up” what happened the night before during his “I Quit” match against John Cena. He immediately said that, “There is no Lana!” and that he never said “I quit” and that Lana does not speak for him. He called out Cena but Lana came out instead.
Lana proceeded to tell Rusev that she cared about him and did the right thing. She couldn’t just stand there and watch him suffer. Rusev called her pathetic and a liar. He proceeded to call her weak and told her there was no “us” and to go back whereever she came from.
Basically, this was the official break-up…and the angle was done extremely well. Rusev did a fantastic job of being the overly proud man who could simply not admit that he was wrong and would rather split from Lana than swallow his pride. Great stuff.
– Out came Dean Ambrose for his match against Bray Wyatt.
The match itself was really good. These two guys have a lot of in-ring chemistry together. Add to that their unusual offensive styles and a disregard for their own bodies resulted in a “This is awesome!” chant from the subdued crowd. They battled inside and outside of the ring, giving us the match of the night.
Just as Ambrose was setting up a top-rope manouever, J&J Security interfered in the match. Joey Mercury distracted the referee while Jamie Noble pushed Ambrose off the top rope and straight into a Sister Abigail by Wyatt for the pinfall. Backstage, Triple H and Stephanie were smiling and Seth Rollins came out to celebrate with his security team. I guess both Orton and Reigns are taking a legitimate step back to allow Ambrose to run with the ball for awhile. Another interesting booking decision. I guess we’ll see where it takes us.
– In a match where Xavier Woods is banned from ringside, Tyson Kidd & Cesaro come to the ring with Natalya to try winning back the tag team titles from The New Day. I gotta admit, though…I’m enjoying TND as heels and they are pretty hot as an act at the moment. Hell…even Kofi Kingston is doing great in his first role as heel.
As the match is progressing, we’re told that R-Truth, King Barrett, and Rusev would join Sheamus and Ryback in the Elimination Chamber match for the Intercontinental Title.
Out of the blue, The New Day were double-teaming Kidd and wouldn’t break at the 5-count, so the referee had no choice but to disqualify them. Xavier ran to the ring and we quickly had a 3-on-2 beatdown.
Out came the Lucha Dragons to clean house on BOTH teams, who were followed by Los Matadores, The Ascension, and the Prime Time Players. Once the Players cleaned house on everybody else, it was officially announced that all six teams would battle inside of the Elimination Chamber for the tag team titles…which should be quite the clusterfuck.
– John Cena came out for his U.S. Title Open Challenge and…OMG…out came NXT champion Kevin Owens!!!
It was a swerve, though. Owens and Cena went back and forth on the mic in an effort to promote the WWE Network and the upcoming live NXT special. Owens then left Cena laying after a pop-up powerbomb and simply walked away.
– Dolph Ziggler made his way to ringside, all sewn-up after needing over a dozen stitches from Payback’s match with Sheamus. Back from commercial and Stardust is his opponent. The match may have lasted two minutes before Ziggler hit the Zig Zag. Thanks for rockin’ that gimmick, Cody. Here’s your burial.
Michael Cole interviews Ziggler in the ring and announces that he’s going to be the next entrant in the Intercontinental title Elimination Chamber. Then LANA comes out and kisses Ziggler. Rusev doesn’t come out (even though both keep looking back) and you have to wonder what the hell the storyline is here. Is she trying to make Rusev jealous or really digging on Ziggler? The crowd chants “One more time!” and she kisses him again to a big pop.
THEN Rusev comes out, so it appears as though Lana’s plan worked to perfection. He knocked Ziggler out of the ring and turned his attention to Lana. She stared at him and stood up without fear. Rusev began yelling at her in Russian/Bulgarian before Lana slapped him.
Rusev got upset and looked like he was about to hit her (though she didn’t seem scared at all), but Ziggler hit the Zig Zag for the save. The two new “lovebirds” then walked their way to the back.
I don’t quite understand Lana’s angle here. OR Ziggler’s gullibility…actually, I do because Lana is SMOKIN’ HOT and I’d do the exact same thing if she came on to me.
– Stephanie confronts the Bella Twins backstage and tells them that Brie isn’t allowed at ringside for Nikki‘s title match against Naomi. I don’t care because the Bellas are inherently unlikeable as characters and, other than being attacked by Naomi & Tamina, have displayed ZERO reason for me to cheer them or like them.
It was a dead crowd for a nothing match. Tamina then interfered when Naomi was about to lose and caused a disqualification. They both double-teamed Nikki before Paige returned to the ring and took out the heels in fine form. Then she DDT’d Nikki and raised the Divas title over her head to a pop. Thank god she’s back. The entire division sucked ass without her.
– In a backstage vignette, Kevin Owens is talking to Triple H before interviewing with Renee Young. He proceeds to tell her that he’ll be facing Cena for the U.S. title at Elimination Chamber in two weeks. OMFG…
– Finishing off the night is a “celebration” of Seth Rollins. The Authority do a little schtick and show off a promo video of Rollins. Just as things are moving along, Dean Ambrose interrupted and made his way to the ring. He demanded another match with Rollins (rather, he gave Rollins the chance to challenge HIM for the title). As expected, a brawl broke out. Ambrose threatened to his Rollins in the head with a chair when Stephanie granted him the title shot. To end the show, Rollins ended up standing tall…appearing to now be using the Pedigree as his new official finisher.
All in all, this was a pretty good episode of RAW. There were a ton of interesting booking decisions and storyline updates to go with a couple of really good matches and a couple of squashes. I can’t really think of anything that totally sucked in the show and I was intrigued by the programming.