Brock Lesnar is not amused. Suffering a Curb Stomp from your self-proclaimed usurper will certainly do that to you, so it was hard to begrudge The Beast Incarnate the bee in his bonnet when he stormed onto Raw and demanded Seth Rollins make good on his SmackDown grandstanding and fight. The Authority, as ever, was quick to rally around their standard-bearer, and John Cena’s appearance completed the playing field.
Cena’s rousing rhetoric remained unchanged despite suffering the same indignity as Brock last week; the 15-time World Champion repeated his plan to win Brock’s WWE World Heavyweight Title and hold it hostage until Dolph Ziggler, Ryback and Erick Rowan were reinstated. His overzealousness may cost him yet, though: The Authority agreed to put Cena in a match that would reinstate the trio if he won, and excise him from the Triple Threat Title Match if he lost … provided the WWE Universe votes for it to happen at all on the WWE App.
The good news first: Daniel Bryan looked as mobile as ever in his first Raw match in nearly a year, and he didn’t have any hesitance to battle Bray Wyatt despite once numbering himself among The Eater of Worlds’ followers. The bad news: Kane’s unexpected arrival seemed to throw The Beard off his game in a match that was already designed to weaken Bryan in advance of his make-or-break contest against The Devil’s Favorite Director of Operations on SmackDown.
And that was only in the metaphorical sense; Kane influenced the bout in a far more literal manner moments later after Bryan — worn down by a brutal attack on his neck from Wyatt — improbably crawled his way back to the brink of victory. With the win only moments away, Kane sprang from the commentary table and tripped Bryan up on the apron and Wyatt picked the bones, ramming Bryan beard-first into the turnbuckle and finishing the job with Sister Abigail. Moments later, Kane added insult and potentially further injury to The “Yes!” Man, Chokeslamming his old buddy and mugging him for all the WWE Universe to see. We’re a long way from hugging it out, people.
One of Raw Reunion’s marquee attractions (though it'd be tough to top X-dow) got derailed in a hurry when Big Show decided to add his two cents to the Royal Rumble Legends Panel consisting of Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels. After the Legends discussed their Rumble experiences and debated who would win this year’s melee (for the record, HBK picked Bray Wyatt, Hogan pegged Daniel Bryan and “Naitch” threw his lot with Dean Ambrose), the giant thundered down to the ring. He took the veterans down a memory lane detour of the occasions on which they’d been subjected to Show’s own fury and proclaimed himself the inevitable winner of the contest seeing as no one (well, almost no one) can eliminate a giant. He even knocked out Flair for good measure. But Roman Reigns’ appearance evened the odds and proved the giant’s boasts wrong when he hauled all 450 pounds of him over the top rope.
And just like that, the honeymoon’s over for Bad News Barrett, who thwarted Sin Cara on SmackDown to save his title but found himself ground to a halt when he came up against a fighting-mad Dean Ambrose on Raw. Ostensibly acting under The Authority’s orders to neutralize The Lunatic Fringe, Barrett quickly found himself fighting for his life against the former U.S. Champion, hungry for a win after several near misses against Bray Wyatt.
Ambrose came into the match ablaze, pestering Barrett with brutal, street-brawl style offense that sent the big Brit tumbling from the apron after only a few moments. The aggressive style aggravated Ambrose’s previously tweaked knee, but Barrett couldn’t capitalize, missing a wide-open window for the Bull Hammer and instead wandering headfirst into Dirty Deeds when his Wasteland follow-up fell short. Ric Flair may just be right yet.
Another rough day for “The Professional” and “The Fact-Dropper,” as Cesaro & Tyson Kidd once again failed to knock off the pesky positivity of The New Day. But this particular iteration — Kofi Kingston & Big E — didn’t so much overpower the two technicians as they caught a lucky break. Cesaro & Kidd, flanked as always by Natalya, Adam Rose and the Rosebuds, ran roughshod all over Kingston for most of the match, subjecting The Boom Squad General to a pair of pulverizing tag-team maneuvers. Kingston pulled the win out by the narrowest of margins, though, kicking Kidd off the apron and initiating a roll-up pin from atop Cesaro’s shoulders for the win. Even the Rosebuds were impressed.
The Ascension have caught flack from JBL for comparing themselves to legendary tag teams who aren’t able to stick up for themselves. But the ascendant behemoths switched up their tactics a bit on “Raw Reunion,” confronting The nWo (that’s Kevin Nash, Scott Hall & X-Pac) moments after the renegade faction winkingly took credit for “anything great that has ever happened.” Their audacity provoked JBL to get up from the commentary table and summon Ron Simmons for an impromptu reunion of the APA. The New Age Outlaws arrived to stack the deck further and that was about all she wrote for The Ascension this time, as the Legends united against the NXT veterans to send them tumbling from the ring.
Despite a few disagreements here and there, it seems like Natalya & Paige might have something going for them as a duo. The Diva of Tomorrow and The Queen of Harts knocked off yet another tandem of the Divas division’s finest in the form of Summer Rae and Alicia Fox. They did this in almost perfect sync, it must be added, with Natalya superkicking Alicia into the P.T.O. while The Bella Twins watched with disdain from ringside. Perhaps the upcoming Divas Tag Team Match at the Royal Rumble will help settle this complicated score.
Give R-Truth credit for having the gumption to face Rusev in the ring with no regard to The Super Athlete’s undefeated, untapped streak since his debut last year. But you’d think the former U.S. Champion would know what’s up by this point. Rusev made quick work of his foe, and even though Truth showed that the Russian monster could be tossed over the top rope in advance of the Royal Rumble Match, it was still an Accolade and a tap-tap-tap for the U.S. Champion.
The Miz has proclaimed that Damien Mizdow gives him not one, but two chances to win the Royal Rumble Match. Alas for the former WWE Tag Team Champion, he had one chance to lose to Jey Uso and that’s exactly what went down on Raw. In fact, Miz was so convinced he’d ultimately overpower the Tag Team Champion same in the same fashion as he did his brother that he remained completely oblivious to the titleholder’s building momentum, not to mention Jey’s ingenious manipulation of Mizdow. Uso hurled Miz into the turnbuckle and the stunt double followed suit, taking him out of the match and rendering both Mizzes unable to counter the big splash that followed. UCE!
The WWE Universe’s support landed John Cena in what ended up being a 3-on-1 Handicap Match against Seth Rollins, Kane & Big Show, and with his buddies’ jobs on the line, Team Cena’s guardian angel came through once again. Good thing, too, because up until that point, the bout hadn’t been so much a wrestling match as a public beating, dished out at great leisure by The Authority, which took no small amount of pleasure in humiliating the 15-time World Champion in his darkest hour.
After a spear from Big Show and a Chokeslam from Kane left Cena down, an image of Sting appeared on the TitanTron just as Seth Rollins was about to put his foe away with a Curb Stomp. What was seemingly a still image of the former WCW Champion turned out to be a live shot of the vigilante himself, who stalked to the top of the Raw ramp for the first time ever and distracted Rollins enough for Cena to steal the win with a roll-up and reinstate Dolph Ziggler, Ryback & Erick Rowan on the spot. Triple H’s irate demands for Sting to present himself again were instead answered by Brock Lesnar, who summarily laid waste to Kane and Big Show, though Rollins got away. This Sunday, he might not be so lucky.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Bray Wyatt defeated Daniel Bryan (16:13)
- Dean Ambrose defeated Bad News Barrett (8:11)
- A New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston) (w/ Xavier Woods) defeated Brass Ring Club (Tyson Kidd & Cesaro) (w/ Adam Rose & Natalya) (3:02)
- Natalya & Paige defeated Alicia Fox & Summer Rae by submission (3:02)
- Rusev (w/ Lana) defeated R-Truth by submission (0:45)
- Jey Uso (w/ Jimmy Uso) defeated The Miz (w/ Damien Mizdow) (2:55)
- John Cena defeated Seth Rollins, Big Show & Kane (w/ J&J Security (Jamie Noble & Joey Mercury) & Stephanie McMahon & Triple H) in a 3 on 1 handicap match (13:35)
Other on-screen talent