The dust has settled from the mass firing that closed last week’s Raw. But the wound is still open for John Cena, who indirectly allowed the reinstated Authority to serve Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan and Ryback their walking papers as payment for getting them ousted from power at Survivor Series. The 15-time World Champion’s vow to finagle the reinstatement of the “Corpus Christi three” by winning the WWE World Heavyweight Title and holding it hostage only provided ample opportunity for the corporate triptych to salt said wound. The Authority dangled an opportunity for Cena to get his three buddies their gigs back … provided he defeats Seth Rollins … in a Lumberjack Match.
It’s a swing and a miss for John Cena, who wagered the reinstatement of Dolph Ziggler, Ryback and Erick Rowan on the result of a Lumberjack Match against Seth Rollins and whiffed against Mr. Money in the Bank with all the marbles on the line. The “highly motivated” crew of enforcers patrolling the ring certainly had a hand in ensuring Cena’s defeat (Bad News Barrett sprang with a particularly well-timed trip-up of his old foil), whaling on the fan favorite each time he was expelled while J&J Security ensured Rollins’ safety each time he was tossed over the ropes.
Cena managed to turn the tide with a top-rope crossbody to Rollins and the gaggle of lumberjacks surrounding him. Rollins stayed in the fight, though, with a superkick to a kneeling Cena and a nimble escape of the Attitude Adjustment that forced his adversary to keep digging deep. But Cena did, rebounding from a lumberjack mugging that ended with a Cesaro Swing that ping-ponged Cena off the barricade. A second swarming only moments later, this time bolstered by a KO Punch from Big Show, fared better, leaving Cena on a proverbial platter for Rollins to pin.
No disguises necessary: The New Day repaid the sneak attack by Cesaro & Tyson Kidd last week by knocking off the two self-proclaimed “masters” of sports-entertainment, prevailing in a thrilling back-and-forth that left both squads looking like a million bucks when all was said and done. Despite sending Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods into the fray while Big E patrolled the outside to offset Adam Rose, The New Day didn’t have much use for their trademark positivity, instead letting The Dreadlocked Dynamo work his opponents over in surprisingly aggressive fashion.
That Cesaro & Kidd’s unorthodox tandem maneuvers — check the Cesaro Swing-into-a-dropkick combo — left Kingston wobbly should be no surprise. But Woods’ late entry into the contest and neutralization (so to speak) of Kidd with the Honor Roll was the definition of clutch, as was the backbreaker-double stomp combination maneuver that put The New Day over the top and handed them the bout in the end.
Roman Reigns’ impromptu fairytale allegory about kicking Big Show’s teeth in didn’t sit too well with the giant when he gave a particularly salty missive to the WWE Universe. All that probably explains why the former World Heavyweight Champion decided to get involved after Luke Harper skulked out of the darkness to face off against the former WWE Tag Team Champion Reigns in a one-on-one match. What initially ensued was a neck-and-neck slugfest between two of WWE’s best big men. But it took a turn when Reigns picked up momentum and began to beat the sufferin’ succotash out of the former Intercontinental Champion, ultimately negating Harper's brutal discus clothesline with a Spear that cut the big man down like a tree. Big Show wasn’t about to sit back and watch his rival celebrate the hard-fought win, however, instead storming the ring and clobbering Reigns with a lights-out KO Punch that left him flat. That’s all, folks.
Apparently forgetting what happened to her former “Total Divas” castmate, Naomi suffered The Authority’s punishment of choice for the Divas who defy them and was forced to battle Alicia Fox with one arm tied behind her back. Things went about as well as you might expect for the former Funkadactyl. Despite an unexpectedly strong performance from Naomi that put Miss Fox on her heels, the former Divas Champion snuffed out Naomi’s momentum with a boot to the face and a scissor kick for the win that did new Raw commentator Booker T proud.
Might another opportunity for the WWE Tag Team Titles be in The Miz & Damien Mizdow’s future? Despite stumbling in their title rematch against The Usos, The Awesome One got one over on the titleholders by knocking off Jey Uso in singles action, with some timely assistance from Mizdow. The current and former champions had been locked in a dead heat for a long stretch until Mizdow took his stunt double responsibilities into fifth gear, diving into the ring. Mizdow’s move caused a fracas that distracted the ref and gave Miz the chance to plant his opponent with the Skull-Crushing Finale.
Almost a year after he won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and just three days (remember, SmackDown is on Thursday now) before he returns to the ring, Daniel Bryan made his way back to The Big Easy for some one-on-one time with his beloved “Yes!” Movement. Bryan’s message was as gutsy as you’d expect — he promised to go the distance and win the big one all over again — but Stephanie McMahon’s retort was as vicious as it ever was during The Beard’s rise to glory.
Not only did McMahon remind Bryan of the beating he sustained at the hands of Kane, but she also implored the former WWE World Heavyweight Champion to abandon his quest for the sake of his family. When Bryan, declined — let’s call it — McMahon played her ace in the hole and revealed Bryan’s opponent on SmackDown: Kane. The Devil’s Favorite Demon picked up right where he left off by brutalizing his former fellow WWE Tag Team Champion. Bryan thwarted another Tombstone to the steps, though, instead unleashing hell on his former buddy. Bryan beat Kane back with dropkicks and a suicide dive as vicious as anything he pulled off in his prime. All of which is to say, has Daniel Bryan slowed down? Hell, no.
It’s a good night to be in the Daniel Bryan family. Not only did the “Yes!” Man show he’s still got some pep in his step, but his wife, Brie Bella, got some much-needed vindication against perennial thorn-in-the-side Paige, spoiling The Diva of Tomorrow’s return to the arena where she made her historic debut. But Brie owes the assist to Tyson Kidd, who stepped into the ring at a crucial moment and left Paige vulnerable to a roll-up by Brie. The former Divas Champion didn’t take the misstep lying down, repaying Kidd with a slap to the face that Natalya didn’t seem altogether displeased with.
It took a while there, but the cream did, indeed, rise to the top: Just a few weeks after Mr. McMahon promised Randy Savage would be enshrined in the WWE Hall of Fame, “Macho Man” was feted on Raw with an official announcement naming him the first inductee of 2015’s class. Confirming the swirling rumors that the former WWE Champion was bound for WWE’s hall of immortals, Michael Cole then announced the Superstar to induct Savage would be none other than his former fellow Mega Power, Hulk Hogan. We can dig it.
Another week, another conquest by Konnor & Viktor. And while The Ascension is a ways away from truly surpassing The Road Warriors, Demolition and The Powers of Pain as WWE’s premier big-man tandem, their display against the latest locals to wander into their path was truly a thing of beauty. The poor sods who found themselves on the receiving end of the former NXT Tag Team Champions’ assault didn’t even stand half a chance, and one quickly found himself hauled about 10 feet in the air by the two behemoths before the Fall of Man summarily put him out of his misery.
With Ryback’s firing putting The Big Guy out of Rusev’s hair, The Super Athlete and Lana took the stage at Raw to crow over the fate of the man who, had things gone differently, could well have positioned himself to challenge for Rusev’s United States Championship. The Russian’s posturing brought out Dean Ambrose, fresh off his psych evaluation and looking for a fight.
He got all that and more, eventually finding himself put into a match with the champion that he was almost crazy enough to win. Alas for The Lunatic Fringe, Rusev’s unpinned, untapped streak lives another day, thanks to his targeting of Ambrose’s weakened knee. Ambrose came within a hair’s breadth of the win after he flattened a standing Rusev with a Randy Savage–esque flying elbow, but Rusev’s relentless brutalizing of the knee forced the ref to throw the match out. Never one to be subtle in his celebrations, Rusev punctuated his night by unloading a frozen-rope kick right into The Lunatic Fringe’s face.
Time to cross the T’s, dot the I’s and, well, stomp the heads. What was surely arranged to be a civil contract signing between WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar and his two No. 1 contenders turned into an all-out car wreck when Seth Rollins seized the opportunity to humiliate both John Cena and The Beast Incarnate as only Seth Rollins can. This came after Paul Heyman gave his second address of the night, following his “return to the scene of the crime” by promising the destruction of anyone who stepped into Lesnar's path.
As tensions escalated between Heyman’s camp and The Authority, Cena muscled his way into the fray and provoked Rollins to attack him with the Money in the Bank briefcase. What ensued was a quick, brutal flurry of physicality. Lesnar German suplexed Cena and Rollins clean into the air; Cena countered with an AA to Lesnar through the table and then Rollins provided the two cherries on top by Curb Stomping both Lesnar and Cena to end the show — and, potentially, The Beast’s title reign — on his own terms.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Seth Rollins (w/ J&J Security) defeated John Cena in a Lumberjack match (13:51)
- Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods (w/ Big E) defeated Cesaro & Tyson Kidd (w/ Natalya & Adam Rose) (3:50)
- Roman Reigns defeated Luke Harper (w/ The Big Show) (10:39)
- Alicia Fox defeated Naomi (with one arm tied behind Naomi's back) (3:33)
- The Miz (w/ Damien Mizdow) defeated Jey Uso (w/ Jimmy Uso) (2:10)
- Brie Bella (w/ Nikki Bella) defeated Paige (w/ Natalya & Tyson Kidd) (2:12)
- The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor) defeated Bu Ku Dao & Socoro (1:12)
- Rusev (w/ Lana) defeated Dean Ambrose by referee decision (4:30)
Other on-screen talent