TAMPA — You know what they say: When the sports-entertainment gods close a door (or cash in a contract), they open a window. In this case, they handed a 30-day suspension to Roman Reigns, giving Seth Rollins the opportunity to capitalize on the controversy and try to get The Big Dog booted from the long-brewing Shield Triple Threat at WWE Battleground, thereby giving him a cleaner shot at Dean Ambrose’s WWE Championship.
Ambrose, of course, wasn’t about to let Rollins get his way, and things quickly got even more complicated when AJ Styles and John Cena threw their names in the proverbial hunt for the title. It fell to Stephanie McMahon to make the executive decision (and point out that Shane was again absent this week), and not only did she preserve Reigns’ spot in the match, she handed Cena and Styles “win-and-you’re-in” matches against Rollins and Ambrose, respectively, for later in the night. So much for an open window.
You wanted Sasha, you got Sasha. And so, unfortunately, did Charlotte & Dana Brooke, who now have to deal with the lurking presence of The Boss as Banks officially maneuvers herself into the WWE Women’s Championship picture. Luckily, Paige is still on the board as an outlier of sorts in said race, so all Charlotte & Dana had to do was get past Sasha & Paige in a Tag Team Match to put some distance between the champ and her would-be challenger.
No dice. Despite an incredibly effective game plan to isolate Paige from The Boss, the former Divas Champion created enough separation to bring Sasha into the fray. Charlotte, thankfully for her, tagged in Dana at the exact same moment, allowing The Boss to deposit a Bank Statement on Brooke while Paige dispatched the champion at ringside.
Titus O’Neil’s march toward the U.S. Championship has been fraught with frustration, but give The Big Deal credit: His persistence has finally begun to put Rusev on his heels. Not only did O’Neil batter The Super Athlete into a Raw retreat last week in lieu of an actual match, he did so again this week.
The downside was, one early punch aside, that the match had started this time around, so O’Neil’s aggression backfired in that it riled Rusev into a fury of his own. The Big Deal fought his way to the win anyway following an outside-the-ring scrap. By tossing Rusev into the timekeeper’s area, O’Neil avoided the official’s 10-count; however, a decisive win over The Bulgarian Brute eludes him still.
The Champ is … not here. Not yet, anyway, since John Cena failed – on the 14th anniversary of his WWE debut – to make it past Seth Rollins in a match that would have given the 15-time World Champion a crack at Title No. 16 at WWE Battleground. In all honesty, though, Rollins should probably send The Club a fruit basket or something; after all, the good brothers intervened at the exact moment Cena had positioned himself to win the contest, locking in a potentially match-ending STF after a neck-and-neck battle that took up the better part of 15 minutes.
Cena released the hold when The Club circled the ring, but it turns out AJ Styles and Co. were just there to provide a distraction. Rollins was more than happy to capitalize, booting the preoccupied Cena in the gut and quickly pouncing with the Pedigree for the victory. Hey, a win is a win. And a Triple Threat Match at WWE Battleground is – for the moment, anyway – still a Triple Threat Match.
If Enzo Amore & Big Cass had a dime for every local athlete that managed to upset them, they would have … ZERO DIMES! *Ahem.* The realest guys in the room, having made their mark in WWE’s Tag Team division, allowed local tandem Carlos Hershey & Mitch Walden to try their hand against them. As it turns out, upsetting a certified G is something that needs to be taught, as these competitors were quickly dispatched while the audience did the wave at Enzo’s request.
The win wasn’t the end of Enzo & Cass’ night, however. Certified movie stars The Social Outcasts returned to Raw to step to “Muscles Marinara and Don Parmesan,” insisting they were the oppostite of “sawft” — they were, in fact, hard. Not hard enough to land a punch on Enzo & Cass, however, who bashed Slater with a boot and forced the Outcasts to fall back.
If there’s one thing that everyone can say about Becky Lynch, it’s that she’s a good teammate. Unfortunately, she has ended up getting the boot from almost every partner she’s had since coming to WWE, the most recent being Natalya’s sneak attack at WWE Money in the Bank.
Needless to say, Maiden Ireland is mad as hell. So mad, in fact, that instead of competing against scheduled opponent Summer Rae, The Irish Lass Kicker made a beeline for Nattie at ringside and commenced to lass kicking, pummeling The Queen of Harts until the referee managed to separate the two Superstars.
Everyone knows that Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens kind of hate each other. And everyone knows that said hate has kept both men from a variety of championships over the last six months, as they inevitably take their eyes off the prize and end up going to town on each other. So, like Sami said last week, it’s time to put the rivalry to bed.
That, at least, was the conclusion the two came to as guests on Chris Jericho’s “Highlight Reel,” where Zayn 1) demanded that Owens come clean about how he's always been jealous of him, and 2) laid down a once-and-for-all challenge to The Prizefighter at WWE Battleground. Owens accepted (he didn't quite admit jealousy, however), but Jericho wasn't done with their meeting. Instead, he riled up the two enemies to the point that, upon his attempt to deliver "The Gift of Jericho," both Superstars superkicked him in perfect sync. Turns out they can get along when the mood strikes.
Fun news: Kane’s back again! Well, Corporate Kane, that is, once again attempting to maneuver himself into the COO job for SmackDown Live. To bolster his chances, he displayed some matchmaking know-how against The Miz, who was returning from the set of “The Marine 5” and needed to defend his Intercontinental Title, lest he be stripped of the prize for failing to fulfil his 30-day defense clause. Kane, helpfully, suggested an impromptu title defense, which Stephanie McMahon sanctioned.
Miz's opponent turned out to be … Kane! Well, Demon Kane, that is, all hellfire and brimstone as he set about dismantling The A-Lister with ruthless abandon. That Miz left as champion was both a minor miracle and a testament to some serious acting chops … though surprisingly not his. Maryse feigned an ankle injury and Miz took her backstage while the ref counted him out. She only revealed her subterfuge once she and her champion husband were safe and sound backstage.
A couple of months ago, Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio were WrestleMania victors as members of The League of Nations before it all went down the tubes. Still, you’d think that facing a team of their respective rivals Apollo Crews & Cesaro would at least force The Celtic Warrior and The Pride of Mexico to play nice for a soft reunion.
Long story short: It did not. Sheamus & Del Rio bickered all the way down the ramp, and things didn’t get better when the match started, especially once Cesaro let loose against The Essence of Excellence. Sheamus joined the fight right as Del Rio forced The King of Swing to tag in Crews, but Del Rio enziguiri’d his own partner to the outside right as the tumultuous tandem began to gain momentum. Crews booted the steel steps into Sheamus’ shoulder outside the ring and pinned him with the Spinning Sit-out Powerbomb moments later. Are you not entertained?
The Power of Positivity is all good, but does The New Day really want to keep clowning The Wyatt Family? The W. W. E. World. Tag. Team. Champions. didn’t hesitate to mock the first family of fear for a second consecutive week; instead, they even took it a step farther by dressing up in their finest swamp-monster duds.
However, when Bray Wyatt, Erick Rowan & Braun Strowman returned the favor from last Monday by interrupting them, it became pretty apparent that The New Day might have crossed a line or two. Wyatt's sermon against the limits of the Power of Positivity did nothing to shake the faith of the WWE Universe, but with Xavier Woods once again petrified into silence by The Eater of Worlds, it looked like there might be something to this whole "New Day falls" prophecy.
Sure, the sports-entertainment gods may have closed a door and opened a window, but it seems that Seth Rollins has decided he’ll take the door after all. With John Cena barred from the WWE Battleground main event, Rollins had no choice but to throw his support behind Dean Ambrose’s efforts to keep AJ Styles from joining July 24’s marquee match.
Luckily, Rollins got his wish, and oddly enough, he has John Cena to thank: When the rest of The Club showed up to thwart a surging Ambrose, Cena sprinted down the ramp to fight them off, allowing the WWE Champion to plant The Phenomenal One with Dirty Deeds. While The Club swarmed and dropped Cena with a retaliatory Magic Killer on the entrance ramp, Rollins jumped Ambrose from behind with a pair of Pedigrees. WWE Battleground is set. Consider the opening salvo fired.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Sasha Banks & Paige defeated Dana Brooke & Charlotte by submission (8:39)
- Titus O'Neil defeated Rusev (w/ Lana) by Count Out (4:07)
- Seth Rollins defeated John Cena (16:01)
- Realest Guys (Enzo Amore & Big Cass) defeated Carlos Hershey & Mitch Walden (0:31)
- Becky Lynch vs. Summer Rae No Contest
- Kane defeated The Miz (w/ Maryse) by Count Out in a WWE Intercontinental Championship Match (3:29)
- Cesaro & Apollo Crews defeated Sheamus & Alberto Del Rio (5:00)
- Dean Ambrose defeated AJ Styles (15:34)
- Dark Match: Big Cass, Dean Ambrose, Enzo Amore & The Big Show defeated The Club (AJ Styles, Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows) & Seth Rollins
Other on-screen talent