We start Raw with a recap of how TLC ended. Ow. So Steph comes out to be booed as she talks about watching her husband having the hell beaten out of him – and the Philly crowd cheers. Of course they do. Roman rocks up to tell us it’s his daughter’s birthday, and that he’s ready and waiting to be fired. Steph slaps him around a bit, before saying that she won’t fire him, because Trips asked her not to, but that big Daddy Vince is coming over to Raw – and he just might. Roman calls the entire McMahon family a disgrace, because he’s ready to commit career suicide unless he gets his damn title.
First match of the night is Dolph Ziggler vs. our new IC champ, Dean Ambrose! I love watching these two in the ring, both quick and good sellers, and I will never get tired of saying this. They are damn incredible at making it look vicious, and I will mark out for both of them as much as I damn well please. Sadly, the IC title doesn’t mean that Cole gets replaced with a fish tank just yet, but we can’t be far off. We can but hope. Chain wrestling again from these two to start, and I love it – these boys do a hell of a job on their mat wrestling, and always do, it’s a pleasure to watch.
Good spots in this match are some nice submission moves held by Ambrose, stretching Ziggler out as much as he can, which again, mean Dolph gets to sell the way he’s so good at it, and Dean gets to look out of control, too. There’s a great clothesline over the top rope from Ambrose, followed by a leap over onto Dolph, leaving the show off insensate. The two have some near falls with a couple of roll ups, and Dean holds his fingers close together, showing just how close he was to getting Dolph down in dirty deeds. That, or Summer’s been telling stories backstage again. There’s a real sense of a respect between the two men, and they both grin, enjoying the fight – that’s what I love to see from these two, and why I enjoy it so much when they wrestle each other, because they both look like there’s nowhere they’d rather be than beating the hell out of their opponent in the ring.
Dean leaps off the top rope into a huge dropkick from Dolph, but manages to kick out at two and a half. He gets the famouser, too, again for two and a half, before there’s a two and a half pin from Dean, too. I normally object to a number of near falls, but from these two, it always feels like it’s more realistic, because they’ll fight to the bitter end, they’re incapable of giving up. Dean goes into the post shoulder first, then gets hit with a famouser, but manages to bounce off the ropes and come back with a rebound lariat leaving both men flat in the ring.
KO comes down to break it up, delivering a pop-up powerbomb to Dean, Ziggler wisely deciding to stay out of the ring where Owens put him. Owens throws the championship belt at Dean, before delivering another powerbomb to the insensate champ, and Ziggler comes in to keep him at bay. Owens powerbombs Ziggler into Ambrose, before leaving. Prize fighter doesn’t like not having a prize.
Backstage segments include KO saying he’s going to make Dean ‘completely insane’ by challenging him for the IC title until he gets it back, and Team Extreme saying they’re still going to keep fighting. Oh boy. Steph’s backstage waiting for daddy, with a sore hand she’s trying to shake some life back into, because Roman’s got a hard head as well as a hot one, apparently.
R-Truth gets the Philly crowd dancing and joining in, and he’s up against Bo Dallas, who we haven’t seen in a while. Two giddy, gleeful inspirations in the ring, it’s always fun to watch. Dallas gets the first hit in, then gets so excited he has to go for a little run around the ring, in sheer glee at being there, or something. We see Vince’s car arrive while the match is going on, and when we get back to the ring, both men have stopped to watch big daddy rock up, sending Steph home to be with Trips. The match is cut really short for Vinnie Mac to come in and make a statement, so we don’t get an ending, Vince sending the boys home so he can play in his own private kingdom, where he’s ‘God Almighty’.
He sits silent for a little bit, getting the crowd riled up as to what he’s going to say. He calls Roman down to the ring, and Roman doesn’t even look that bothered, in all honesty. Like he knows what’s coming, and is ready to lose his job over what he did to Trips. They don’t even give him a mic, because when you’re in the presence of god, you don’t get to speak. Roman’s face quirks a little when Vince is talking, like he can’t stop himself from finding this whole thing a little ridiculous, a 70-year-old man telling him to apologise. He shakes his head, no. He’s not sorry. Vince wants him on his knees to apologise, but again, Roman’s got a silent shake of the head. Roman laughs at the idea that Vince could beat an apology out of him – as well he should, he’s a thirty-year-old professional wrestler, and as much as Vince is terrifyingly muscular for a grandad, and used to wrestle he’s… getting on a bit.
Vince drops his mic and takes his jacket off, starting to take his tie off. Sheamus comes out to save him, saying he wants to beat an apology out of Roman for the McMahon family. He says he’s so certain he can beat him, that he’ll even put the title on the line for it. Vince says his catchphrase, and Roman rips the mic from his hand and calls Vince an old man, and whines about how Vince has shrivelled balls. Slightly worried how obsessed Roman is about the balls of other men, to be honest. Vince says that if he doesn’t win the match tonight, against Sheamus, and become the champ, he’s fired. And then he kicks Roman in the balls, which makes Sheamus giggle with glee.
Next match is Ryback and Swagger vs. Rusev and Del Rio, starting with Rusev and Ryback, Ryback still with what looks like a puppy on the back of his singlet. Is that a puppy? A skull? Gorgeous delayed vertical suplex from Ryback, showing off the strength of these two men, before Swagger gets in there for a bit, swapping out again for Ryback vs. Del Rio. Del Rio either needs bigger trunks, or he just gets really excited in the ring, because he’s practically rubbing himself off on Ryback’s face at one point. Maybe he just likes golden trunks.
Rusev is starting to get booed again now, with Lana clapping on ringside, so that seems to have worked nicely. Ryback is thrown around by Del Rio and Rusev, but finally makes the tag to Swagger, who looks comically small next to Rusev, despite his powerful moves that show he’s more than capable of throwing around the big guys. Swagger gets the patriot lock, but Del Rio delivers a backstabber to Swagger to break it. All four men in the ring for a moment, before Ryback is herded back, Del Rio punishing Swagger behind the official’s back, and Rusev pins Swagger for the win.
The Rosebush is as perfect as ever, with Adam Rose denigrating Ric Flair, and talking about Tommy Dreamer’s thin hair. Brilliant. Now if we could just having him back in the ring, I’d be happy.
Tyler Breeze out for a match vs. Neville, lying down with his selfie stick like he’s trying to get an upskirt shot of Summer Rae, which is probably all the action she lets him get these days. Miz wanders out to direct the action, even calling for it to start. He’s ostensibly out there to be in Neville’s corner, adding cheers and telling him what to do, but Neville just stands there, looking at him for a little while, like he can’t believe he has to listen to this. Remember when Miz main evented WrestleMania? Neville makes the mistake of getting on Breeze’s hair, stepping back in time to fall victim to a low blow. There’s a lovely cry of ‘hey Miz, you suck at wrestling’ from behind commentary, which is perfect, and not entirely inaccurate. Summer Rae tries to approach Miz, but he’s having none of it, screeching at him incoherently.
Neville gets a nice kick to Breeze’s chin and gets the red arrow for the win, despite Miz whining continuously at ringside. I guess maybe they decided that if Tyler had Summer Rae, the only person they could find who was more annoying was the Miz. Neville doesn’t look happy that Miz is around, and in a backstage segment, Miz says he wants to get Neville into Star Warts Episode 8. He also says he needs to copy Neville’s accent for a James Bond audition. Please, Miz, they’d cast an American Bond before they cast a Northern one. ‘Ey up, Moneypenny, this is reet awful, like’ – yeah, not going to happen.
Extreme Rules match of Team Extreme against the Wyatt Family. I was really hoping we could leave this, that the Wyatts are going to be allowed to win, instead of being beaten by the retirement village every single week, but apparently not. Sure, I guess it’s exciting, kendo sticks and crutches and garbage cans, but… this is good, young talent having the holy hell kicked out of them by old, nearly retired guys, and as much as the crowd cheer for the tables, it’s frustrating to watch.
Harper gets some good shots in, and there’s a lovely powerbomb spot from Rowan, too. Rhyno is the main aggressor for a little while, but the cool spots take so much time to set up for the older guys to deliver them, while they seem so much more organic coming from the Wyatts. The crowd don’t seem to care, but then Philly’s only happy when they can watch people beat the hell out of each other with household items.
The match does showcase how the Wyatts can carry a match, and Dreamer puts in a hell of a good showing as well, taking a lot of the abuse from Strowman. The Wyatts claw their way back, showing they know how to use the old guys’ tools as well and the 3D to Harper through the table is very cool, as well as the sister Abigail from Bray to Rhyno, after a misplaced gore. Rhyno gets set up on the table, ready for Rowan to splash off the top rope on him, and the Wyatts win, with the pin for three. Clearly the crowd are a little upset about it, but it’s good to see the younger talent beating the older guys at their own game.
The New Day come out to resounding boos, because Philly hates fun, or something. They say they’re all messed up from TLC, and the Usos come out. New Day say they’re not ready to fight, and that they want to extend the olive branch – or, you know, keep their titles a little longer. They call for the Lucha Dragons to come out, too, to bury the hatchet. They all shake hands, and the other teams leave the ring – but the New Day can’t help themselves, and have to give themselves a hell of a cheer, so of course the other teams throw themselves in and try to beat the hell out of them. The Dragons and Usos throw the New Day out of the ring to resounding cheers from the crowd.
We see Charlotte linking pinkies with her dad instead of Becky, because the next match is Becky and Charlotte vs Brie and Alicia. Of course, Ric’s out there again, as he’s got nothing better to do right now, or he’s run out of money. Team BAD are at ringside, apparently they got very good seats for tonight, too. Lucky girls. Charlotte seems to want to do most of the fighting herself against Brie, and even takes Brie out outside the ring, but Becky does get to match up against Alicia. Ric Flair helps Becky out by tripping Alicia, giving Becky a chance to lock in the disarmer, for the win. It’s a shame this match is just a chance for more ‘Charlotte isn’t good’ stuff, because the match would be better and stronger if they just let the women tell their stories, without outside interference. I bet Trips is sat at home like ‘I’d never let this happen on NXT, my poor kids, what did I send them into’ while Vince is feverishly cackling over a monitor in the back about how ancient relics like him and Flair get to supersede their daughters’ achievements.
Finally, the match they’ve been teasing all damn show, Sheamus comes out with Vince, because we all know Sheamus needs a father figure, or he wouldn’t keep acting out like this. Roman starts aggressive, but Sheamus is able to give him more punishment, he didn’t take anywhere near as much violence as Roman, so he can slam him into the table easily. Vince is sat next to commentary, looking like he’s on a porch in a rocking chair. Sheamus isn’t letting up, and sleeper holds are used to try and wear Roman down. Obviously, he’s got a hell of a lot to fight for, and he comes back with some good spots, but Sheamus is still able to power through it.
Roman gets a great Samoan drop off the second rope and the pin for two, but Sheamus just looks stronger, Irish curse backbreaker for the two count, and Roman looks like he’s barely able to get to his feet. The crowd is split between ‘let’s go Roman’ and ‘Roman sucks’, but the cheer sounds a little louder. The one arm sit-out powerbomb looks like it will put Sheamus away, but he just won’t stay down – this is about the championship. Roman goes for the superman punch and gets caught, down for two and a half but not out, and Vince keeps getting up like he thinks it’s the end, like he’s waiting – but it isn’t. Sheamus’ nose is bleeding, and he goes for the cloverleaf, Roman clawing at his hands like he can fight out, crying out in pain, but he’s not going to tap, he won’t, and he makes it to the ropes to break the hold.
Sheamus is stunned after a big headbutt from Roman, but Sheamus heads for the brogue kick, – and runs straight into a superman punch. Roman gets the pin for three, but Vince pulls the ref out of the ring, Roman bleeding from the side of the head. Sheamus hits white noise, and the official counts two, Roman kicking out in a last, desperate attempt. Sheamus pushes Reigns out of the ring, Vince keeping the ref busy, and Del Rio and Rusev come down to the ring to smack him about a bit, before throwing him back into the ring to take the punishment. Reigns finds some fire, delivers a superman punch to Rusev on the apron – and then once to Vince McMahon. Holy hell. Now, I’m not about to cheer Roman hitting an old man, but… wow. I just got chills.
Roman’s back on his feet now, anger propelling him through the match, and he takes a brogue from Sheamus for it, face bloody as he manages to kick out again. Vince is still sprawled on the apron, and the whole crowd seems to be on their feet for Roman as he gets the spear, pins Sheamus for three – and he’s the new champion. Two time world champion, Roman Reigns. The whole crowd is screaming for him, he’s over like he’s never been as he kicks Vince off the apron and stands to celebrate his win. We end out Raw with Roman wrapped in the arms of his cousins and brother, the champ, the winner, the guy to beat. What a way to come back from last night.