Welcome to Monday Night RAW!
We open with Seth’s music hitting, and he makes his way down to the ring as we are reminded about the upcoming triple threat match. Seth claims that he’s going to talk about Roman Reigns, even though he’s not supposed to, because it’s live television. He starts aggressively mocking Roman Reigns’s tweet about the suspension; he can’t apologize to is friends because it’s one vs. all, and he can’t apologize to the fans, and the whole thing embarrassed Seth Rollins because he built Roman Reigns when he put together the Shield.
Seth demands that Roman be taken out of the match at Battleground because he doesn’t deserve to be there given the suspension, and asks for a one-on-one rematch with Dean Ambrose instead. Dean makes his way out to the ring at this point, because of course he does. He takes some time showing the title off to Seth before he actually starts speaking, and I love it when Dean gets like this, I really do.
Dean claims that Roman made a mistake, and compares it to Dean once being friends with Seth, and Seth wearing skinny jeans. There’s nothing that can be done now; Roman has apologized, owned the mistake, and they can’t borrow the New Day’s time machine to fix it, so Dean’s still happy to go ahead with the triple threat. AJ Styles makes his way out next, to suggest that maybe it should be a Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins vs. AJ Styles, because if he can beat John Cena it only makes sense. Dean dismisses this, so AJ asks if it can be a fourway instead.
Dean doesn’t care; he’s happy to fight as many people as they throw at him for the title. But Seth still wants a one-on-one, and then John Cena comes out. Dean Ambrose is willing to fight a friend, a foe, a fraud — but will he fight the franchise, and take on John Cena for the title? Let’s make it a five-way!
Finally, Stephanie McMahon makes her way out to address everyone’s bizarre desires. First of all, she commiserates with Seth; Roman Reigns violating the wellness policy was an embarrassment, but worse is the fact that they have to tolerate Dean as heavyweight champion. So, to try to sort this out, she makes a few matches: Dean Ambrose will fight AJ Styles tonight, and Seth Rollins will fight John Cena. If Cena and Styles win, they will be added to the championship match at Battleground.
MATCH: Paige & Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte
Paige makes her way to the ring first, and we get a recap of last week’s RAW; Paige losing to Charlotte, and then Sasha Banks making her surprise appearance. Sasha, and then Dana and Charlotte, make their way down to follow.
- Charlotte and Sasha start in the ring together, and Sasha backs Charlotte into the corner right away, with Charlotte tagging in Dana.
- Sasha sends Dana into the turnbuckle, but a second attempt is reversed. Sasha gets to her feet and drags Dana over to tag in Paige to double-team Dana. Charlotte enters the ring, but takes a double dropkick.
- We cut to commercial with Charlotte and Dana together outside the ring.
- When we’re back, Dana has Paige draped over the ropes, before tagging in Charlotte for a double suplex, leading into a kickout.
- Charlotte picks Paige up again into the corner, then tags in Dana for more corner assault. Charlotte back in, locking Paige into a headlock.
- Paige powers to her feet, but Charlotte goes straight for the knee and takes Paige to the ground.
- Charlotte knocks Sasha off the apron, who enters the ring in protest, giving Dana time to beat on Paige in the corner behind the ref’s back. Paige tries desperately to tag in Sasha, but fails, but manages to get some offense in on Charlotte with a kick to the midsection, then another kick as she finally gets to her corner.
- Charlotte tags in Dana as well and Sasha is right on the offensive, hitting a dropkick then draping Dana over the ropes for a knee drop. Charlotte pulls her out of the ring before getting a successful pin, but Paige takes Charlotte out with a kick before she can capitalize too much.
- This compromises Sasha’s pin, however, and by the time she climbs back in to pin Dana again, Dana is able to kick out. Sasha rolls a Backstabber into the Bank Statement, and Dana taps out.
Sasha glares daggers at Charlotte and Dana as they make their way up the ramp, while Paige still looks miserable and exhausted.
We recap more events of last week’s RAW; Titus O’Neil attacking Rusev rather than actually having a match, due to Rusev’s inflammatory comments. They’re having a rematch this week to see if they can actually manage to fight it out between bells like they’re supposed to instead of just recklessly attacking one another. Let’s see how that goes!
MATCH: Titus O’Neil vs. Rusev (with Lana)
Rusev, introduced by Lana, makes his way to the ring first, of course. Titus follows, going straight in for an assault on Rusev as soon as he makes his way into the ring. The ref separates them, and the bell rings.
- As soon as the bell rings, Titus goes for the assault again, getting in several strikes before whipping Rusev into the corner and following up with a splash.
- Titus throws Rusev to the mat and goes for a cover, but Rusev kicks out.
- Rusev takes Titus down with a clothesline, and then climbs on him for several more strikes.
- Rusev locks in a side headlock and brings Titus to his knees, but Titus powers back to his feet and breaks the hold with several elbows. Rusev creates space and hits a dropkick.
- Strikes back and forth as Titus gets to his feet. Rusev sends Titus into the corner, but takes an elbow, and slugfest resumes in the ring.
- Rusev takes a shoulder tackle, then a clothesline from Titus, then climbs out of the ring to grab his US Title. He and Titus collide on the floor and both men get to their feet at the count of six, but Titus sends Rusev over a barricade and climbs back into the ring.
- Rusev is unable to make it back into the ring by the ten count, and Titus wins.
Rusev looks mutinous at the barricade, while Titus celebrates his victory in the ring.
Backstage, Stephanie is on the phone with someone, and runs straight into Corporate Kane. They argue over who it is that’s going to be running SmackDown, when Miz and Maryse appear with a few complaints. There’s no red carpet, the limousine driver didn’t even open the door for Miz, and basically everything is terrible. Kane brags about his own movies, then when Miz sasses him by calling him the devil’s favourite insurance agent, reminds Stephanie and Miz of the fact that a reigning champion has to defend his title at least once every 30 days. This means that Miz needs to defend his title tonight, though he doesn’t get to know who he’ll be up against.
MATCH: Seth Rollins vs. John Cena
Seth makes his way to the ring first, and gestures to his own waist as he enters, shouting that he is the rightful champion. He actually looks surprised to be getting booed, which is interesting.
- Collar and elbow tie-up to start the match, then Seth locking in a side headlock on Cena. Cena breaks the hold by rebounding both men off the ropes, and they look at each other suspiciously.
- Cena gets a headlock in on Seth, who breaks the hold in much the same way. The two men rebound off opposite ropes, and Seth leapfrogs Cena, then catches him the other way and takes him to the mat.
- Both men seem distracted by the crowd chanting, but I can’t even make out what they’re yelling.
- Seth gets Cena to the mat again after Cena gets to his feet, then picks him up and whips him into the ropes and hits him with a dropkick coming the other way.
- Cena kicks out of Seth’s cover.
- Seth tries to whip Cena into the ropes, but Cena reverses and hits Seth with a dropkick.
- Cena with Seth in the corner for several strikes, then sending Seth into the opposite corner, where he takes an elbow, then a Sling Blade.
- Back and forth between Seth and Cena until Cena gets Seth on his back and signals for the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Seth kicks Cena out of the ring instead, taunting him as we cut to commercial.
- It’s very high energy when we’re back, Cena back in the ring and hitting Seth with a pair of shoulder tackles and then setting him up for the Five Knuckle Shuffle again. This time, he manages to hit it, but Seth slides out of the Attitude Adjustment.
- Seth hits Cena with a superkick to the face, then goes for a cover, but Cena kicks out.
- Seth goes after Cena in the corner, but takes a tornado DDT, but kicks out of the cover.
- Seth drops Cena with an enzuigiri, but another unsuccessful cover.
- Strikes back and forth, but it’s Seth who finally gains advantage, ducking under a strike to rebound off the ropes to take Cena with a kick. Seth climbs onto the turnbuckle but Cena comes after him, giving Seth the opportunity to slip under him for a turnbuckle powerbomb.
- Cena kicks out of the cover and Seth climbs up onto the turnbuckle for a frog splash, but Cena rolls out of the way.
- Cena onto the top rope now, but Seth is up after him to hit a superplex, then a falcon arrow. Cena still kicks out of the cover.
- Seth waiting for Cena to get to his feet for the Pedigree, but Cena counters, catapulting Seth into the rope then hitting the AA. Seth can’t kick out, but manages a rope break.
- Cena goes for a second AA, but Seth lands on his feet and tries to reverse into a Pedigree. Cena reverses and locks in STF. Seth tries to go for a rope break, but Cena is just managing to keep him away.
- Suddenly, AJ Styles and the Club show up, and Cena stops what he’s doing with Seth to eye them off. Seth takes advantage to hit the Pedigree for a successful cover.
I don’t like endings like that, because why was John Cena so distracted by AJ Styles that he would just ignore Seth and give him that opportunity? Spots like this almost never work for me, and they’re overused. But, John Cena isn’t going to be a part of the championship fight!
MATCH: Enzo & Big Cass vs. Carlos Hershey & Mitch Walden
Enzo and Big Cass make their way down to the ring, and Enzo is giving one of those perplexing Enzo promos. There’s something about a wave, and how they’re going to ride that wave to the top, and then Enzo tells everyone to start a wave around the arena.
- Enzo floors one of the competitors, then Cass floors the other and throws Enzo for the Bada Boom Shaka Laka. That’s actually it.
Big Cass starts to spell out SAWFT, when the Social Outcasts appear and Bo Dallas spells out HARD to describe himself because, well, why wouldn’t he? When Enzo and Cass question this and ask who’s hardest, they start to fight amongst themselves until Bo shushes them and tells his teammates to not let them drive a wedge through the group. They rush the ring, but Heath Slater takes a big boot from Big Cass, and Bo and Curtis think better of getting involved.
It’s the same Make Darren Young Great Again promo from SmackDown! Darren Young wants to be great again, and I want that, too! The first way to do this, in my opinion, is stop showing us the same promos. I mean, the actual, literal same promos. Don’t run the promo on SmackDown if you’re going to do actually the same thing on RAW.
The WWE is partnering with the Special Olympics this year. We get a video from the performance centre, then a promo with Renee Young, the Big Show and the president of the Special Olympics from the ramp. On behalf of the WWE Universe, the Big Show says that he is honoured to be involved with the Play Unified campaign, and the Special Olympics.
MATCH: Summer Rae vs. Becky Lynch
Natalya is on commentary for this match! We are reminded of Natalya’s heel turn at Money in the Bank, and the feud that has been subsequently brewing between Becky Lynch and Natalya. Before the match begins, Becky slides out of the ring and throws herself at Natalya to attack her. A referee tries to pull Becky away, and Natalya gets up to leave, but Becky throws herself after Natalya and hits her into the barricade. Natalya eventually gets away as Becky yells after her, but now they’re advertising that Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens are going to be on the Highlight Reel later and we cut to commercial, so maybe Summer Rae is just hanging around awkwardly like guys, did I really need to come out here?
It’s time for the Highlight Reel! I like the scarf Jericho is wearing today, but on some level I am concerned that I don’t actually like it, I just have gotten used to the scarves. Jericho starts to talk about Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn but ends up screaming about Dean Ambrose putting 69 thumbtacks into his skin. He manages to get himself back on track eventually, to introduce both his guests properly, so that’s good at least.
Jericho tries to rub in the fact that Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn used to be very close and now they hate each other, but Sami’s having none of it. He wants to put an end to this feud once and for all at Battleground, because fighting like this isn’t doing anyone’s career any favours. Kevin just looks at him, silently, looking actually sort of sad. When Sami drops the word “coward”, Kevin’s gaze flicks up but he still doesn’t say anything.
Sami goes on a tear, claiming that Kevin’s claim that the betrayal was a business decision to feed his family is bull, and that Kevin should grow a pair and tell Sami the real reason – that he has always resented Sami. The crowd starts chanting “grow a pair”, which Jericho finds funny, but Kevin picks up the mic and tells Sami that he’s been honest this whole time, it was just a career move. More than that, he blames Sami for tearing up the friendship. After all, Sami put his career before their friendship by signing with the WWE before Kevin did, and Kevin accepted that, but when Kevin made a career move at Sami’s expense, Sami just couldn’t cope with that and acted like it was the end of their friendship. But, Kevin accepts the challenge.
Jericho gets back on the mic and tells Sami that Kevin is right; Sami is a terrible friend, and kind of a terrible person, because Kevin is like Chris Jericho (but not as good, obviously), and Sami cares what the crowd thinks of him. As Jericho invites the room to drink in the gift of Jericho, he takes a kick from both Sami and Kevin at the same time. The two men eye each other off for a moment, then Kevin Owens silently makes his way out of the ring.
MATCH: The Demon Kane vs. The Miz (with Maryse)
Okay, there were some brief technical difficulties, so I don’t know what I missed, but when I get the television working properly again, Kane and Miz are in the ring together. I hope I didn’t miss too much!
- Miz backs Kane into the corner for some strikes, then charges at him, but gets caught for a chokeslam.
- Miz avoids being chokeslammed but takes a boot from Kane, then is whipped across the ring and takes a side slam.
- Vertical suplex from Kane, then a low dropkick, but Miz kicks out of the cover.
- Miz is whipped into the corner but hits an oncoming Kane with his elbow. Miz leaps off the turnbuckle, into a strike from Kane.
- Maryse on the apron yelling at Kane, then I don’t even know what happened because suddenly Maryse is clutching her ankle and Miz is fussing over her, before he picks her up into a bridal carry and walks away with her. Kane wins by count-out.
Next thing we know, Miz and Maryse are backstage now and Maryse is gamely limping while Miz scolds her for putting too much pressure on her injury. Maryse bounces up and down and admits that she was only acting, and he looks so happy to have a wife like her, I actually just love these two.
MATCH: Cesaro & Apollo Crews vs. Sheamus & Alberto del Rio
Two former members of the League of Nations teaming up against their rivals here! Not much to say about this, as I’m not really invested in either story.
- Tensions already high between del Rio and Sheamus as the match starts, undecided over who starts in the ring.
- Apollo Crews starts things off with a hip toss then a dropkick to Alberto del Rio, then tags in Cesaro who climbs up to the top rope for a crossbody; del Rio kicks out of the cover at two.
- Cesaro starts an uppercut train, then signals for the Cesaro Swing. Sheamus makes his way in and Cesaro picks him up for the swing, but is intercepted by del Rio.
- Del Rio hits Cesaro with a running enzuigiri, then a DDT, but Cesaro kicks out at two.
- Cesaro draped over the ropes for del Rio’s finisher, but Sheamus tags himself in to kick Cesaro then hit him to the ground.
- A running knee and then an Irish Curse backbreaker leave Cesaro looking pretty unhappy. Sheamus reaches out his hand, just out of reach for del Rio’s tag, then pulls back and locks in a headlock on Cesaro. Cesaro powers to his feet and breaks out with strikes.
- Sheamus goes for the backbreaker again, but Cesaro able to reverse. Both men on their backs and but manage to tag in their partners.
- Del Rio and Apollo rebound off the ropes past each other until del Rio manages to use Apollo’s momentum to send him over the ropes, then slaps Sheamus and hits him with an enzuigiri.
- As del Rio just walks away, Apollo picks up Sheamus and brings him into the ring for a spinning sitout powerbomb for the win.
Apollo Crews and Cesaro celebrate their victory together in the ring, and why not?
JoJo is backstage with Dean Ambrose, and she asks him if it’s everything he expected, being champion. He’s disappointed in the lack of parades, elephants, tigers, and all that sort of business, but tonight he gets to fight the phenomenal AJ Styles, so that’s pretty cool. Stephanie McMahon comes in and talks a bit of trash a Dean, calling him unshaven and lopsided, but he just shrugs it off as “deep down, she really likes me”.
It’s the New Day dressed up as the Wyatt family. Kofi Kingston has a sheep mask with a unicorn horn all done up like Erick Rowan, Xavier has a white singlet and jeans like he’s a slightly cleaner version of Luke Harper, and Big E appears to think that they are farmers because he’s wearing a straw hat, a false beard and denim overalls.
The New Day’s opinion is basically that the Wyatts are pretty intimidating, largely because they lack hygiene, but also that they aren’t positive forces like the New Day are. Or, at least, Big E and Kofi are – Xavier Woods has been pretty quiet and looking uncomfortable through this roast, and tries to put it to a stop before the real Wyatts show up – which, of course, they do.
Bray picks up a microphone and screams, “It’s a New Day, yes it is!”, and counters the New Day’s roast by saying that the New Day are popular because they tell people what they want to hear, not what they need to hear. The crowd starts chanting “New Day rocks!”, but Bray dismisses them. How can the power of positivity help an unemployed man put food on the table?
Kofi and Big E explain that the power of positivity is a way of life, but Xavier has still been silent until Bray calls on him to speak. Bray walks slowly to the ring, talking directly to Xavier Woods, imploring him to trust him, and Big E steps in to make sure Xavier is actually okay. Bray laughs it off as just a game, and they vanish.
I’ve been loving this so much, it’s brilliant.
Backstage, Renee Young asks them if it’s a good idea for them to keep taunting the Wyatt Family. Kofi and Big E are jolly and happy about it, but Xavier Woods just quietly walks away.
MATCH: Dean Ambrose vs. AJ Styles
Seth Rollins is on commentary for this match! As Dean makes his way to the ring, Seth confesses that he actually wants Dean to win this match, even though he doesn’t like the idea of wishing wins on him. AJ makes his way down too, and Seth reiterates that he wants a one-on-one with Dean, and doesn’t want AJ, or for that matter, Roman, to be there too.
- Some mat wrestling I can’t quite follow – Dean has AJ in a side headlock, snapmare takedown, AJ tries to turn it into a pin attempt, Dean goes for a rollup then gets AJ in another headlock, AJ powers out and takes Dean to the mat in a headlock.
- Dean powers to his feet and rebounds off the ropes; AJ leapfrogs him, but is still slammed down on the way back. Dean tries to follow him down, but AJ rolls out of the way.
- AJ looks to be going for the Styles Clash; Dean tries to reverse into Dirty Deeds; AJ counters.
- When we’re back from commercial, AJ has Dean in a chinlock. Dean powers to his feet and breaks the hold with a strike. AJ takes Dean to the mat with a dropkick.
- Dean kicks out of the cover easily, but AJ locks in the chinlock again. Dean to his feet again, striking AJ in the ribs, but then there’s strikes back and forth and AJ backs Dean into the turnbuckle.
- Dean takes a corner clothesline, then collapses in the middle of the ring. AJ goes for a cover, but Dean manages to kick out. AJ gets Dean in an armbar, but Dean manages to get to his feet.
- AJ goes for a jumping forearm, but Dean catches him and throws him into the ropes, and then both men hit the mat again.
- Strikes back and forth, and this time it’s Dean in control, creating distance then taking AJ down with clotheslines, then a fisherman suplex; AJ kicks out.
- Dean climbs up onto the turnbuckle; AJ rushes at him and Dean leaps over him, trying to pin AJ with a backslide.
- AJ is back to his feet and climbs onto the turnbuckle, and Dean comes after him, going for a superplex but both men seem hurt.
- Dean attempts a running bulldog, but AJ manages to counter.
- AJ jumps for the Phenomenal Forearm but Dean catches him with a kick and then goes for Dirty Deeds, which is countered again.
- Dean jumps off the turnbuckle but AJ catches his knee, then immediately goes for the Calf Crusher on the injured leg.
- Dean struggles for a rope break while Seth claims on commentary that he’s too stupid to tap out; Dean gets the rope break, but his leg might be too far gone now, as he’s more than favouring the other leg now.
- AJ on the ground, and Dean dives after him, bad knee and all, then throws AJ back into the ring and climbs up on the turnbuckle for an elbow drop. AJ rolls throw into a pin attempt, which Dean kicks out of.
- AJ hits a Pele Kick, and both men are down again, and as Dean gets to his feet, Gallows and Anderson make an appearance. AJ uses this distraction as an opportunity to hit a brainbuster, but Dean kicks out.
- John Cena enters to fight Gallows and Anderson, and Dean hits Dirty Deeds on AJ for a successful pin.
Seth on his feet clapping for Dean’s victory, and Gallows and Anderson still fighting John Cena. Dean stops what he’s doing to watch, and Seth hits a Pedigree on Dean. AJ, Gallows and Anderson triple-team Cena on the ramp, then Gallows and Anderson land the Magic Killer.
Back in the ring, Seth is holding the heavyweight title thoughtfully, then drops it and Pedigrees Dean for a second time. Seth screams at Dean “that’s what it feels like when someone sneaks up on you from behind, it’s not very fun” as we close, and the irony is not lost on me.
We’ll see you on Thursday for SmackDown!