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Being a “wanted man” seems to suit Roman Reigns. Having a target on his back has put a spring in the big dog’s step; he all but sauntered into the Great White North and dared The Authority to take their best shot at him in Raw’s opening moments, going so far as to arbitrarily dismiss the corporate power’s entrants into the WWE World Heavyweight Title Fatal 4-Way at Battleground. And when one of those entrants – Kane – took issue with the former Tag Team Champion, Reigns put his “assess and attack” strategy to good use, beating back The Devil’s Favorite Demon and the horde of referees and officials who came to separate them, spearing Fit Finlay flat into the mat before Superman Punching Kane off the apron. Now that’s what we call a close encounter.
One man’s misfortune is another man’s boon. In the case of The Wyatt Family’s latest clash with The Usos, it was a good old fashioned case of mistaken identity that gave Luke Harper & Erick Rowan their latest leg up in their war of attrition with the Tag Team Champions. At first, the match was more or less even, with The Wyatts muscling their way to an advantage over the titleholders.
The Usos held on, however, to reclaim the lead after Jey Uso tagged in his brother, who ran wild over Luke Harper and nearly had the big man down with a reverse corkscrew plancha off the top rope. Erick Rowan saved the count and, as it turned out, the match, when he tripped up both Usos while they prepared for a double dive to the outside. Jey sprang up and was quickly felled with a discus clothesline … only, unbeknownst to the referee, Jimmy was the true legal man.
Looks like Alicia Fox doesn’t even need two working arms to get her point across. Nikki Bella, on the other hand, could use an extra limb (or perhaps a new partner) to get herself back on track: not only was she further punished for the fired Brie Bella’s insubordination by being placed into a match with the wildly unstable Miss Fox, but both Divas were forced by The Authority to contest the bout with one arm tied behind their backs. Alicia didn’t even wait for the restraints to be applied before she went off the rails, pouncing on Nikki to such a degree that Michael Cole openly speculated if The Authority put her up to it. If they did, job well done.
Rusev is not impressed by high-fliers. This much the WWE Universe found out after The Bulgarian Brute swatted the aerial expert Rob Van Dam in the latest installment of The Super Athlete’s undefeated streak. Van Dam initially appeared to crack the code to defeating Rusev, peppering the big man with kicks before pummeling him with a tornado DDT. But the hot streak ended there, as Rusev unleashed his power maneuvers to counter Mr. Monday Night, finally locking in the Accolade to put the bout to sleep.
What may give Rusev pause, however, is Jack Swagger, who formally challenged “The Fist of Russia” to a showdown at WWE Battleground, courtesy of Zeb Colter. With any luck, The Bulgarian Brute will accept. We, the people, demand nothing less.
Once upon a time, Randy Orton was considered to be WWE’s most dominant maniac, and any rumors of The Apex Predator softening up were put firmly to rest on Raw when Orton knocked off his heir apparent in insanity, Dean Ambrose. That said, The Lunatic Fringe did not go quietly into the night against the former WWE World Heavyweight Champion, pounding the self-proclaimed “Face of WWE” with punches and kicks in a street-style mugging.
Orton got down and dirty to even the bout, hurling Ambrose into the steps to aggravate his beat up shoulder and following up with a torturous armbar to keep the former U.S. Champion grounded on the mat. Ambrose replied with a figure-four leglock to reclaim the advantage, though he overplayed his hand by hauling every steel chair he could find into the ring, giving The Viper time to target The Lunatic Fringe’s shoulder a second time. A hanging DDT off the barricade nearly notched Orton a count-out win, but it was a well-timed RKO that finally put Ambrose down. For now, at least.
That Dolph Ziggler suffered a loss to his self-admitted favorite opponent, Alberto Del Rio, was probably of small consolation, as the loss A) was initiated by outside factors and B) cost Ziggler a chance to challenge for championship gold. The outside factor in question? Fandango, who – perhaps smarting over Dolph’s makeout session with Summer Rae – distracted the former World Heavyweight Champion right as Dolph hit a Famouser to stun Del Rio by gyrating atop the announce table, allowing The Essence of Excellence to superkick Ziggler into defeat. The gold in question? A United States Title opportunity against Sheamus, to be contested tomorrow night on Main Event.
Give Damien Sandow this: He does not discriminate when it comes to his targets. One week after The Enlightened One mimicked The Chairman and The Boss, he spat in the face of Canada itself when he donned the guise of Bret “Hitman” Hart, while the WWE Hall of Famer himself was in the middle of the ring addressing his faithful … in Montreal, no less. Unfortunately, for all Sandow’s gumption, he should probably work on the follow-up. Hart didn’t suffer the imitation long and cold-cocked The Intellectual Savior of the Masses straight in the jaw, cutting his sermon short and restoring glory to the Great White North.
Catching a fist to the chin from Bret Hart was just the beginning for Damien Sandow, who caught a boot to the mush from Sheamus not ten minutes after interrupting The Excellence of Execution on his home turf. Sheamus, looking to keep his wits sharp in advance of his U.S. Title defense against Alberto Del Rio, got a stiff challenge in the form of his old rival, who pounced with a top-rope Elbow of Disdain. It didn’t take a screwjob to put “Sandhart” down, though, just Ten Beats of the Bodhrán and a big old Brogue Kick for, as they say in Montreal, the un, deux, trois.
Someone call Little Johnny Russo and console him: “The Moneymaker” has been compromised. Throughout the much-anticipated clash between The Miz and Chris Jericho, The Ayatollah of Rock ‘n’ Rolla had made it a point to target Miz’s mug, peppering it with punches and slamming it into the mat with a bulldog. Even though Miz rebounded to lock in the Figure-Four Leglock, Jericho threw The Awesome One off his game with one final shot to the moneymaker and a Walls of Jericho for a tapout victory.
Y2J’s celebration didn’t last long, though: Bray Wyatt appeared on the ramp to pontificate in the direction of the nine-time Intercontinental Champion. Jericho made a move to make The Eater of Worlds eat his words, but the appearance of Harper & Rowan at Wyatt’s side stopped Jericho cold in his tracks.
If there’s one thing to be taken away from the Divas tag match on Raw, it’s that good enemies make better tag team partners. Take, for example, AJ Lee & Paige, currently dancing around the Divas Championship, who joined forces to claim victory one week after The Black Widow forced Paige into defending – and losing – the butterfly title.
Paige’s exaggerated shows of respect prompted The Authority to order their team-up, but it was The Funkadactyls themselves, ironically enough, who enabled their enemies to win the match: An unimpressed Cameron refused to tag in until Paige & AJ had all but picked Naomi apart, and then wandered promptly into a match-ending Paige-Turner. The budding tension within The Funkadactyls finally came to a head after that, and Planet Funk imploded as the two Divas brawled, with Cameron finally storming off in a huff. Good friends make better enemies.
Oh, the irony. While Paul Heyman’s original client, Brock Lesnar — sorry, BRRROOOOCK LESNARRR — snapped a famous winning streak, his newest charge, Cesaro, has started to build a streak of his own. Namely, two straight losses to Kofi Kingston. All of Cesaro’s immaculately articulated disdain for the French-Canadian residents of Montreal translated well to the ring; Kingston came out swinging and was met with unmitigated brutality by The King of Swing. Thankfully, Kofi’s trusty sunset flip came through for a second time, pinning Cesaro in the nick of time. And before The Boom Squad General could suffer another pounding at the hands of his enemy, reinforcements arrived in the form of Big E, who turned Cesaro back to form a unified front at which The King of Swing could only sneer from a distance.
What Bo’s around comes around, as El Torito discovered when he challenged Bo Dallas to a one-on-one match just three days after being bodyslammed by the former NXT Champion on SmackDown. Unfortunately for Torito, he was more concerned with embarrassing Bo than beating him, and Dallas capitalized by elbowing him into mañana, taking out Diego at ringside and hitting the Bo-dog for the win. ¡Bo-lé!
Seth Rollins isn’t all talk after all. Set to battle John Cena in the main event of Raw, The Aerialist took the fight to The Champ in a big way, breaking out the most dynamic moves from his deep catalogue – hello, spinning chinlock – and very nearly spelling doom with a leaping enziguiri to Cena on the top rope. The Champion of Champions rallied to connect with the Five-Knuckle Shuffle, and even though Rollins escaped the Attitude Adjustment, Cena locked in the STF to strand his opponent in the middle of the ring … and then all hell broke loose.
First, Kane made his entrance to distract Cena. Then, Randy Orton slithered in from behind to help the demon batter The Champ. Roman Reigns arrived to fend off The Authority, and Rollins attempted a cash-in of his Money in the Bank contract, which was foiled in feral fashion by – hello boys, he’s back – Dean Ambrose. The night ended with Reigns making a last-minute save of Cena when Orton went for a final strike and a mutual show of respect between the two Superstars. It may be the last time that happens though. Once Battleground begins, all bets are off.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- The Wyatt Family (Luke Harper & Erick Rowan) defeated The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) (11:03)
- Alicia Fox vs. Nikki Bella in a one hand tied match ended in a no contest
- Rusev (w/ Lana) defeated Rob Van Dam (4:38)
- Randy Orton defeated Dean Ambrose (17:40)
- Alberto Del Rio defeated Dolph Ziggler in a WWE United States Title #1 Contendership Match (4:34)
- Sheamus defeated Damien Sandow (2:34)
- Chris Jericho defeated The Miz (5:52)
- AJ Lee & Paige defeated The Funkadactyls (Cameron & Naomi) (2:20)
- Kofi Kingston defeated Cesaro (w/ Paul Heyman) (1:51)
- Bo Dallas defeated El Torito (w/ Diego) (1:22)
- John Cena vs Seth Rollins ended in a no contest (10:00)
Other on-screen talent