PROVIDENCE, R.I. - For those of you who had a WWE Hall of Famer and a former WWE Champion in your General Manager pool, it’s time to collect your winnings. Coming off last week’s announcement that Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon and SmackDown Live Commissioner Shane McMahon would appoint GMs to run the day-to-day of their respective shows, the McMahon siblings went left-field in both of their selections.
Stephanie not only broke the news that Raw would have sole ownership of WWE’s new Cruiserweight division, but she also picked Mick Foley, no stranger to epic sports-entertainment eras, to run Raw as the GM. Shane-O-Mac, no stranger to showing up his fellow McMahons, summoned Daniel Bryan(!!!) from retirement to lead the charge as the showrunner for a SmackDown Live whose mission statement is to shatter the glass ceiling and send the establishment packing. He sounds like the right man for the job.
In just six days, the bad blood between Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens will — they hope, at least — be settled forever. But that’s then. For now, the animosity rages on, and the latest flare-up between the eternal rivals ended in a win for The Underdog from the Underground, who united with Cesaro to battle The Prizefighter and Chris Jericho. As befits the frantic animosity between Zayn and Owens, the bout was fast and furious to the point that all four Superstars were throwing hands before they noticed who had been tagged in. Zayn initially looked like he was going to get the worst of that confusion when he went after an interfering — but illegal — Owens. Jericho, the legal man, attempted to schoolboy him, but Zayn reversed the pin attempt to deliver the gift of pinfall to The Ayatollah of Rock ’n’ Rolla.
Darren Young’s campaign for the Intercontinental Championship may have gotten off to a low-key start, but Mr. No Days Off’s march towards “Great”-ness has officially made its first big splash. Facing Alberto Del Rio, Young seemed at first to be the proverbial sacrificial lamb; The Miz, in any case, was certainly expecting his No. 1 contender to suffer defeat at the hands of The Essence of Excellence. It did seem like that was the likely outcome, until The A-Lister sprang up from his commentary spot and attempted to cheap-shot Young, which distracted the referee from Del Rio’s pin attempt and allowed Darren to capitalize with a back-bridge rollup.
What happens when you get The Face That Runs the Place, The Realest Guys in the Room and the W. W. E. World. Tag. Team. Champions on one team? As it turns out, some serious miscommunication, which is why John Cena, Enzo Amore, Big Cass & The New Day fell short at the eleventh hour against the dastardly superteam of The Club & The Wyatt Family.
This intense conflagration of rivalries, all set to come to a head on Sunday — New Day battles The Wyatts and Cena & the certified-Gs take on The Club — began as a test of strength between Braun Strowman and Big Cass. But it eventually ended in chaos when The New Day and the Wyatts battled up the ramp, leaving AJ Styles to throw a disoriented Enzo into an also disoriented Cena before executing the Styles Clash on “Muscles Marinara.” In other words, if you had a dime for every time Cena, Enzo & Cass won a match as a team, you’d have zero dimes. Hopefully they’ll get a payday this Sunday.
Among the more under-the-radar nuggets of the WWE Brand Extension Draft: The Lucha Dragons are eligible as individual competitors and have indeed decided to go their separate ways. Although their potential last Raw as a duo may have included a loss for Sin Cara, they at least got the chance to showcase their unity one last time. It’s a shame it didn’t turn out better. Sin Cara had just fallen to Baron Corbin in relatively quick fashion, but when The Lone Wolf attempted to further punish The International Sensation, Kalisto came Sin Cara’s rescue. The final stand of The Lucha Dragons, however, was cut short when Corbin axe-handled Kalisto in the back of the head, splaying The King of Flight all over the outside.
Sasha Banks says she’s all-good when it comes to her mystery tag team partner at WWE Battleground. That’s cool. Hopefully things go better for that duo than it did for The Boss & Becky Lynch on Raw, who technically got a win over Charlotte & Dana Brooke, but only by default when Natalya inserted herself into the action and broke up the match.
The Queen of Harts’ interference came right as Sasha was getting the better of Dana and caused a disqualification, which both took out Becky and enabled Charlotte and her enforcer to whale on Sasha with impunity. True, a win is a win. But this was a moral one at best.
Dolph Ziggler pinned United States Champion Rusev on SmackDown, which was a long time coming for The Showoff. That, alas, was where Zig Man’s honeymoon ended, as his team-up with Rusev’s No. 1 contender Zack Ryder against The Super Athlete and Sheamus ended with Ziggler bowed over in a backbreaking Accolade.
Before that, though, it looked like Rusev & Sheamus would self-destruct of their own accord. The Irishman refused to tag in an eager Rusev, meaning the Irishman’s record of teaming with his former League of Nations “Lads” is as spotty as it was a few weeks ago. Ryder eventually forced Sheamus to tag Rusev in right as he reached Ziggler, and a few hiccups aside, The Bulgarian Brute managed to lock in the Accolade in short order.
The good news first, if you’re a Dean Ambrose fan: The Lunatic Fringe is still WWE Champion. The good news second, if you’re a Seth Rollins fan: The Architect fought like hell to wrest the supreme championship from his former Shield ally. Rollins took Ambrose to both the physical limit and the time limit in a match that spilled into a WWE Network overrun after a disputed pinfall left the match with an unclear victor.
Things ended far more decisively in the extra innings, so to speak, when the referee went to the tape and ruled the match a double-pin draw. Ambrose ultimately got the better of Rollins when The Architect attempted to ambush him with the title, meaning he’ll walk into WWE Battleground as champion. And lastly, the good news if you’re a Roman Reigns fan: He’s back Sunday. And that could be very, very bad news for the other two.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Sami Zayn & Cesaro defeated Kevin Owens & Chris Jericho (11:56)
- Darren Young (w/ Bob Backlund) defeated Alberto Del Rio (2:23)
- The Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt, Braun Strowman & Erick Rowan) & The Club (AJ Styles, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson) defeated John Cena, Enzo Amore & Big Cass & The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) (19:00)
- Baron Corbin defeated Sin Cara (1:18)
- Sasha Banks & Becky Lynch defeated Charlotte & Dana Brooke by DQ (2:20)
- Sheamus & Rusev (w/ Lana) defeated Dolph Ziggler & Zack Ryder by submission (3:48)
- Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Seth Rollins in a WWE Championship by Double Pin (24:16)
Other on-screen talent