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What to do when Plan A fails and Plan B has stumbled out of the gate? If you’re Triple H, you take matters into your own hands. The Game, who was left kicking dirt after John Cena retained the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WWE Battleground and Seth Rollins was pummeled into retreat by Dean Ambrose, took it upon himself to take control of the crown jewel’s fate, promising to name Cena’s SummerSlam challenger by night’s end.
His hesitance to name either of his lieutenants — Randy Orton or Kane — as The Champ’s foe led to yet another bout of infighting among the corporate cabal that was soon joined in physical fashion by Roman Reigns. The Game devised a plan: a Handicap Match that would either feed the former Hound to his dogs, or see him rise above them.
The old saying about houses divided against themselves proved truer than ever on Raw: Not only can they not stand, but they’re likely to blow over with a light gust of wind, to say nothing of a Superman Punch. Roman Reigns, having ran his mouth in Raw’s opening moments, packed the wallop necessary to back it up when he knocked off the fragile alliance of Randy Orton & Kane in Raw’s opening match.
Despite a shaky, albeit steady, united front early in the match, “best for business” proved to be a tenuous glue between The Viper and the former Director of Operations: Further squabbles between the team caused Kane to target Orton when The Viper refused to tag in and Reigns capitalized. The Big Dog blasted the demon with the 1-2 combo of the Superman Punch and Spear for the win, and for all his own talk, Randy Orton wanted no part of the former WWE Tag Team Champion when all was said and done.
Having bought a ticket to Raw, Brie Bella was there to support her sister Nikki in person and spirit. But without her twin in the ring beside her, the magic was in short supply for the Fearless Diva when Stephanie McMahon organized a four-on-one gang-up of the former Divas Champion. Brie, however, couldn’t help herself, and jaw-jacked her way into a physical confrontation with Stephanie that saw her slapped and banned from ringside all before the match even started. Things only went downhill for Nikki when it did start; Stephanie’s fearsome foursome feasted upon the hapless Nikki, with Alicia herself doing the honors by executing a scissor kick to the Bella’s back.
The legend grows. Not only did Bo Dallas notch his 16th uninterrupted victory by knocking off Damien Sandow on Raw, but the Miami faithful was likely glad to see it happen after The Enlightened One competed in the guise of recently departed local hero LeBron James. Alas, the only place Sandow took his talents was the middle of the ring, despite a ferocious offense that left his inspirational opponent seeing … well, stars. Like all true winners, though, Bo only needed one moment to seize his opening — in this case, it was when Sandow took too long to drop the Elbow of Disdain. Bo simply evaded the signature strike and pounced with the running Bo-dog to hit 16-Bo.
Salvation was nowhere to be found for Chris Jericho, who was ambushed by The Wyatt Family on the WWE App one night after knocking off the Family patriarch, Bray Wyatt, in a one-on-one clash at WWE Battleground. With Y2J disposed of, The Eater of Worlds turned “The Highlight Reel” into his hellish pulpit and preached his own baptism by fire, vowing that his holy war with Jericho has just begun.
Stealing the show? Check. And Dolph Ziggler stole the new Intercontinental Champion’s thunder to boot as well, knocking off The Miz in some well-deserved retribution after the underhanded Battle Royal elimination of The Showoff that returned the vaunted title to Miz’s clutches. The Awesome One seemed content, at first, to bask in his own glory in the non-title contest, taunting Dolph from afar and scurrying away when The Showoff’s offense veered too closer to the “Moneymaker.”
Miz did dive into the deep end eventually and had Dolph on the defensive for much of the match, fish-hooking The Showoff’s own face with his fingers in an ironic bit of mockery. The former World Heavyweight Champion blasted his way into the match through sheer force of will, escaping the Figure-Four Leglock and gambling a frozen-rope superkick on a gimpy leg. Miz dodged the move, but Dolph’s quick-strike follow-up of a Zig Zag proved too much for the champ to bear.
Looks like you can take the “fr” out of “frenemies”: Paige is done playing nice with AJ Lee, turning her talons on the Divas Champion moments after their second unlikely victory as a tag team. Their own lingering issues didn’t present a challenge so much as the unity of their opposition: the random but effective combination of Natalya & Emma. Paige took the bulk of the offense from the two submission experts, tagging in AJ only after she’d suffered the Dil-Emma and Sharpshooter in quick measure.
AJ pounced quickly, kneeing Natalya with the Shining Wizard while she still had Paige locked up, then following up with the Black Widow to tap The Queen of Harts out. The celebration was short-lived, though: Paige kept up the friendly façade for all of two minutes before she threw AJ to the ground and hauled her over the announce table.
He did it! He went old-school! Zack Ryder has been promising a return to his roots on “The JBL & Cole Show,” but it was Fandango who got fist-pumped in the face when The Ultimate Broski rode the good vibes of Layla & Summer Rae to knock off the two-faced two-stepper. Initially, the continued dissention of the “Slayers” (their name) spurred Fandango into a strong opening against The Ultimate Broski, though Zack stayed in the game and was quick enough to pounce with the Rough Ryder.
Even though ‘Dango reached the ropes with his foot, Layla secured the win for Long Island Iced-Z by shoving his foot off the cable, enabling the ref to count to three and handing Ryder a big Raw win, plus some serious kisses from Summer & Layla. What can we say? Chicks dig the bro-tee.
What started as an evening of delight quickly turned sour for Stephanie McMahon, who introduced hip-hop superstar Flo Rida only to find herself hauled out of the building in handcuffs when all was said and done. Having conclude some unfinished business with Heath Slater, Flo took to the stage for a medley of “Good Feeling,” “Wild Ones” and “Let the Good Times Roll” before Stephanie was approached by two officers — called by none other than Brie Bella — arrested, escorted out of the building and later charged with aggravated battery despite her persistent, vehement protests. And, cue the “Yes!” chants.
“Kof-E” might need some work yet. The budding tag team of Big E & Kofi Kingston fell in brutal fashion to their predecessors in portmanteau, RybAxel, and it seems that Xavier Woods saw the whole thing coming. Even though Big E thundered out of the gate against the two bullies, RybAxel unleashed a rabid attack against the former Intercontinental Champion that forced him to call in Kofi as a reinforcement. E disposed of an interfering Axel to give Kingston the reins; Ryback proved his worth by reversing a top-rope cross body from The Boom Squad General into a pin. As upset as Kofi and Big E were after the match, Woods seemed madder: Popping out of nowhere in a white suit, the PhD candidate declared it was time for the three Superstars to “take” what was rightfully theirs.
America isn’t enough for Rusev. The Super Athlete extended the reach of his dominance to India on Raw, defeating another giant in The Great Khali one night after a (slightly lucky) count-out win over Jack Swagger at WWE Battleground. Acting as an unlikely champion of the U.S.A., Khali attempted to take up the challenge of knocking off Rusev’s winning streak and very nearly proved himself equal to the task. A couple of well-timed kicks and the Accolade spelled doom for Khali, and the “Fist of Russia” remained unscathed.
Good news for Cesaro: His power play as a potential No. 1 contender after ditching Paul Heyman as a manager ended in victory. Bad news: The King of Swing’s win was a hollow one, notched only after Dean Ambrose tapped into his rabid side and beat the former U.S. Champion to the point of a disqualification. Cesaro seemed to have bitten off more than he could chew from the start; Ambrose’s unhinged in-ring style did not immediately provide an outlet for Cesaro’s more stately offense to find its mark.
That it did was a testament to The Swiss Superman’s skill: Cesaro blasted Ambrose with a European uppercut as The Lunatic Fringe flung himself over the ropes, targeted his shoulder and trapped him in the Tree of Woe. Yet while Cesaro merely flirted with getting himself disqualified, Ambrose went all the way, smashing The Swiss Superman with a steel chair to cost himself the match, though the message to Seth Rollins seemed well worth it.
And John Cena’s SummerSlam opponent is … Randy Orton?!?!
Not quite. The Apex Predator emerged when Triple H made his move to announce The Champ’s challenger, though he was intercepted by Roman Reigns on his way to the ring. So, Plan A is out. Plan B has Dean Ambrose to deal with.
Enter Paul Heyman with Plan C. “C” as in the conqueror himself, Brock Lesnar. And one quick handshake with the COO and reiteration of Brock’s bona fides later, Heyman made a declaration that may yet become a spoiler as well: “This malpracticing Doctor of Thuganomics is in for the beating of a lifetime.”
Bold words. But he’s been right before.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Roman Reigns defeated Randy Orton & Kane in a Two On One Handicap Match (12:22)
- Cameron, Alicia Fox, Rosa Mendes, & Eva Marie defeated Nikki Bella in a Four On One Handicap Match (1:05)
- Bo Dallas defeated Damien Sandow (2:33)
- Dolph Ziggler defeated The Miz (13:58)
- Paige & AJ Lee defeated Emma & Natalya (2:30)
- Zack Ryder (w/ Layla & Summer Rae) defeated Fandango (1:45)
- RybAxel (Curtis Axel & Ryback) defeated Big E & Kofi Kingston (3:21)
- Rusev (w/ Lana) defeated The Great Khali (2:25)
- Cesaro defeated Dean Ambrose by DQ (12:30)
Other on-screen talent
Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton & Kane
Nikki Bella vs. Alicia Fox, Eva Marie, Cameron, & Rosa Mendes
Bo Dallas vs. Damien Sandow
Bray Wyatt hijacked 'The Highlight Reel'
Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz
Flo Rida deals with Heath Slater
AJ Lee & Paige vs. Natalya & Emma
Zack Ryder vs. Fandango