LOS ANGELES - Well, well, look who’s back. Despite all indications that Shane McMahon’s stint as Raw’s de facto showrunner last week was a one-and-done deal, overwhelming fan support handed him the keys to the Corvette for a second consecutive week. Shane picked up exactly where he left off, too, using his "new stars, new opportunities" edict to place Sami Zayn — who was bushwhacked out of last week's Fatal 4-Way by Kevin Owens — in a match against AJ Styles where a win would add The Underdog From The Underground to WWE Payback’s WWE World Heavyweight Title Match as a third competitor.
This, unsurprisingly, was met with no shortage of resistance from Owens himself, who took Shane-O-Mac to task for showing favoritism to his former best friend and for not giving him a rematch for the Intercontinental Title he never technically lost. Shane met KO in the middle with an opportunity to become the No. 1 Contender to the Intercontinental Championship. Of course, Owens would have to get through Cesaro in the process, but hey, adversity is just opportunity in disguise, right?
Sound the sirens: Cesaro is The Miz’s No. 1 contender, and The Awesome One’s holiday in the sun may well be coming to a painful, painful end. The Swiss Superman took full advantage of the opportunity given to him by Shane McMahon, beating back a fighting-mad Kevin Owens to become No. 1 contender and notching an elusive victory over The Prizefighter in the process.
He had to overcome a substantial disadvantage to do so, as Owens wisely zeroed in on Cesaro’s taped-up shoulder to leave The King of Swing doubled over in pain. Count ambidexterity as one of The Swiss Superman’s powers, then, as he simply switched arms, railroaded KO with the Uppercut Express and reversed the Pop-up Powerbomb into the Neutralizer. If that wasn’t bad enough for Owens, his continued threats to Sami Zayn after the bell got him ejected from the building by Shane-O-Mac.
Rough night for The Lucha Dragons. You could even say … booty. And you’d be right to, since the No. 1 Contenders’ Tag Team Tournament that Kalisto & Sin Cara just got bounced out of is officially sponsored by Booty-O’s (they make sure you ain’t booty). The team that advanced one step closer to facing The New Day in their place was The Dudley Boyz, who incapacitated Kalisto and fended off a mighty effort from a solo Sin Cara with a 3D for the win.
Things went south for Bubba & D-Von in a hurry, though. Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady chose that moment to make an entrance and verbally clown the ECW Originals for the second week in a row, sending the Dudleys trudging to the showers and leaving no doubt that the newcomers were anything but “sawft.”
So Roman Reigns says he’s the guy. Fair enough. That means he’s got to deal with the pressure. On Monday, said pressure arrived in the form of The League of Nations, now one Englishman light and looking for a rumble with the self-proclaimed face of the company. As the WWE Universe well knows, Reigns has no issue with One Versus All, but The Wyatt Family chose that moment to appear out of thin air and beat The League of Nations back right as they began to overwhelm The Big Dog.
With tensions mounting, Shane McMahon cooled the situation with a compromise by decreeing two of the League’s members would battle in Raw’s main event as a tag team against Roman Reigns and a Superstar who’s both The Big Dog’s sworn enemy and the League’s current scourge: Bray Wyatt. Innnnteresting.
Charlotte wheeled and dealed her way to the WWE Women’s Championship just like her daddy taught her, so it makes sense that she’d retain in her first title defense the same way she got the gold in the first place: with flair. Actually, make that with Flair, since stage dad extraordinaire Ric Flair once again inserted himself into the action to thwart Natalya’s bid for the Women’s Title, with Dr. Phil watching on commentary all the while.
Despite Phil’s challenge for Charlotte to win without “The Nature Boy’s” help, the champion relied on her papa when the situation was most dire, having whiffed on a moonsault at the end of what turned out to be an almost exclusively submission-based battle. Proving he hasn’t lost his timing, Flair yanked the ref out of the ring at the exact moment Charlotte tapped to the Sharpshooter, earning his daughter a disqualification-based retention in the process.
Well, the good news first: Jimmy & Jey Uso are one match closer to challenging The New Day, having bested Heath Slater & Curtis Axel of The Social Outcasts in the No. 1 Contenders’ Tag Team Tournament, sponsored by Booty-O’s. (They make sure you ain’t booty.) Now, the bad news: The Usos hadn’t even had a chance to celebrate their win — via a rollup of Heathy Baby after a premature Bo Train threw Slater off — before New Japan veterans and rumored WWE signees Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson stormed the ring in street clothes. With nary a word of introduction, the duo laid waste to the two-time Tag Team of the Year with their self-dubbed “Magic Killer” tandem maneuver. Good luck in Round 2, Uces. Assuming, of course, they even make it there.
Looks like Sami Zayn will have to settle for underdog status a little while longer. Faced with a chance to turn the WWE World Heavyweight Title Match at WWE Payback into a Triple Threat, Zayn came up short against Roman Reigns’ current No. 1 Contender, AJ Styles, whose victory assures the main event of Payback will remain a one-on-one affair.
What Styles and Zayn initially implied would be a respectful contest between old friends turned gritty in a hurry. AJ brought the fire against Zayn and Sami responded in kind, thwarting the Styles Clash and lining his foe up for the Helluva Kick. AJ was ready for that, too, dodging the incoming boot and clobbering Zayn with the Phenomenal Forearm for a well-earned win.
Dean Ambrose has a talk show? Dean Ambrose has a talk show. That means, of course, that Chris Jericho does not, now that the “The Highlight Reel” has been cancelled mid-segment (thanks, Shane!) in favor of The Lunatic Fringe’s new freeform program, “The Ambrose Asylum.”
Despite Jericho’s guess that the show was merely Ambrose’s attempt to pay back the former Undisputed Champion’s own interruption on SmackDown, it turns out “The Ambrose Asylum” is 100 percent legit. And go figure, it’s a hit! And a kick. And a Dirty Deeds to The Ayatollah of Rock ’n’ Rolla, whose attempts to bully Ambrose and his potted plant off the set were cut off by The Lunatic Fringe’s flailing fists. Tune in next week, folks.
Another win for the Apollo Nation on Raw, as Apollo Crews marked his second straight week out of NXT with a second consecutive Monday night victory, this time over Adam Rose of The Social Outcasts (tough night for those guys). “The Radical Mongoose,” like any mongoose worthy of the name, at least went down kicking and screaming, though technically it was Bo Dallas who did all the screaming on the outside. All the Bo-lief in the world wasn’t enough to propel Dallas’ fellow Outcast to the win, however. Rose put Crews on his back for a moment and had a shot at a small package, but Crews simply muscled his way out of the rollup and landed the Spinning Sit-out Powerbomb to win it.
Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt: bitter enemies, better teammates. Who’d have thought it? Despite The Eater of Worlds’ claim that he and The Big Dog are “mortal enemies,” he proved himself worthy of the trust he asked Reigns to give him all the same. And so he did.
Not only did the two put aside their animosity to beat back Sheamus & Alberto Del Rio of The League of Nations, but The Big Dog also ceded the ring to Wyatt to soften The Pride of Mexico up for the final push. When Rusev got involved on the side, the rest of the Wyatts came to the rescue and Wyatt capitalized, executing Sister Abigail on Del Rio while Reigns Speared an interfering Sheamus. Not bad, right? Well, even that win wasn’t enough to completely wipe out the bad blood, as the victorious team went off the air staring daggers into each other. Shane or no Shane, change happens slowly.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Cesaro defeated Kevin Owens in a No #1 Contenders Match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship (14:48)
- The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D-Von Dudley) defeated The Lucha Dragons (Sin Cara & Kalisto) in a No.1 Contenders' Tag Team Championship Tournament First Round Match (3:09)
- Natalya defeated Charlotte (c) (w/ Ric Flair) by DQ in a WWE Women's Championship Match (10:56)
- The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) defeated Social Outcasts (Heath Slater & Curtis Axel) (w/ Adam Rose & Bo Dallas) in a No.1 Contenders' Tag Team Championship Tournament First Round Match (4:16)
- A.J. Styles defeated Sami Zayn (16:45)
- Apollo Crews defeated Adam Rose (w/ Bo Dallas) (3:30)
- Bray Wyatt & Roman Reigns defeated The League of Nations (Sheamus & Alberto Del Rio) (w/ Rusev) (11:07)
Other on-screen talent
No.1 Contenders' Tag Team Championship Tournament Bracket
|The Dudley Boyz|
|Raw||The Dudley Boyz||Pin|
|4/11||The Lucha Dragons||3:09|