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April 28, 2015

WWE Raw roundup: The WWE Universe chooses two challengers for Seth Rollins at Payback

WWE’s Monday Night Raw emanated from the Resch Center in Green Bay, WI, one night after WWE adorably tried to take things to the extreme with their annual Extreme Rules pay-per-view. After what I thought was a rather lackluster pay-per-view, I enjoyed Raw a little bit more if only the direction of some of the storylines were finally moving forward instead of remaining stagnant.

We’ve got our Payback main event confirmed, and the semifinals are set up for the King of the Ring tournament to continue tonight on the WWE Network.

Here are some of the main stories coming out of Raw:

Seth Rollins, still with his WWE World Heavyweight Championship, started off Raw with a promo in the ring with Kane and J & J Security. Rollins, of course, boasted about his win against Randy Orton at Extreme Rules, saying he did it single-handedly and with the help of nobody. Kane obviously took some umbrage to that before Rollins finally pushed enough buttons by basically calling Kane a joke to his face and the Director of Operations had had enough. Orton made his way onto the ramp, politely asking Kane for a rematch against Rollins for the title, and then Roman Reigns made his way to the ring area. Reigns said his victory over Big Show at Extreme Rules in a Last Man Standing match puts him in line for a title shot against Rollins.

I predictably thought Kane would have Orton and Reigns fight each other to determine the No. 1 Contender for Rollins’ championship, but he instead put himself and Rollins in a tag match against Orton and Reigns. He then gave the power to the people and said the people would decide who is the No. 1 Contender … or contenders. The options were Orton, Reigns, or Orton and Reigns in a Triple Threat Match. I don’t think anyone didn’t know where this was going.

Predictably, Rollins hit Kane accidentally during a suicide dive attempt, Kane went berserk, and Rollins ran into a RKO and Orton pinned the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. We then found out what the people chose as the main event for Payback, and there was a resounding answer.

For Rollins’ second title defense, he’ll have to beat Orton and Reigns in the same match. I’ll be interested in seeing how WWE books that, because I highly doubt Rollins loses the title next month. But it’s pretty clear where this was headed given the choices WWE gave to its audience.

Bray Wyatt finally disclosed who exactly he’s been targeting in all of his promos in recent weeks, and it would be none other than Ryback. While we’re not entirely sure that Wyatt and Bo Dallas will ever be called real-life brothers on WWE television (they are both sons of Mike Rotunda – or Irwin R. Schyster), there was something kind of cool about seeing Wyatt confront Ryback and hitting him with Sister Abigail after he soundly defeated Dallas in a quick match. Why they couldn’t have done this Sunday night at Extreme Rules is unbeknownst to me.

Wyatt had a message for Ryback later in the program.

John Cena, still with the United States Championship around his waist, and who will face Rusev in an “I Quit” Match at next month’s Payback pay-per-view, had some promo time in the ring tonight. Like he really needed it. But, he did let us in on another wrinkle to the Cena/Rusev feud, and that’s if Cena loses to Rusev at Payback, he will never challenge him for the United States Championship again.

Given how WWE has been booking Cena with the title, I didn’t think there was a way he would lose to Rusev again, but this makes me think otherwise. They could be using this as an opportunity to give the championship back to Rusev, with its status elevated due to Cena holding it, and thrusting Cena back into the main event slot to challenge Rollins for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Sure, he’ll have to get past Orton and Reigns, but no creative writer should have a problem fixing that little problem after the Payback pay-per-view. Something to think about as we head into May.

Cena was ready for another U.S. Open Challenge before Rusev interfered and took out Heath Slater before he could even get to the ring. Lana came out to an abundance of cheers, to which Rusev promptly sent her backstage before running down Cena on the mic and once again providing us with an up close and personal look at the Russian flag over the ring. That’s kind of getting old.

Naomi got some heel heat by shoving Brie Bella down during a backstage segment in which she was talking about her husband, Daniel Bryan, and his health issues he’s currently battling. That was a fantastic way to use the Divas that we haven’t seen in such a long time, and likely will cement the Bellas as faces moving forward. Given Naomi won a match against Brie as well, and it may just be a matter of time before she’s the new Divas Champion.

Damien Sandow is back! Sandow had some promo time in the middle of the ring and thanked the fans for making his Mizdow character a hit, and it seemed genuine coming from him. Curtis Axel interrupted him and the two exchanged words before Sandow hit Axel with a big boot and an elbow of disdain for good measure, along with a legdrop. The only thing that would have made this segment better would have been Hulk Hogan’s theme song.

The King of the Ring tournament returning might be one of the cooler things WWE has done recently, even if a lot of it doesn’t mean much in the long run. The tournament style in professional wrestling is overdone quite a bit, but WWE rarely uses it anymore, so it was something new and exciting for this television program. We saw four quarterfinal matches that will culminate in the semifinals and finals tonight live on the WWE Network beginning at 8 p.m. The two semifinal matches will be Neville vs. Sheamus and Bad News Barrett vs. R-Truth.

Of course, my early favorite to win the tournament was disqualified in the quarterfinals thanks to Dolph Ziggler.

The New Day began their Tag Team Championship reign with a singles win for Big E over Tyson Kidd with a little bit of help from Xavier Woods. Look for The New Day to continue doing little heelish things until a full-fledged turn happens. As it is now, I am finding them more and more entertaining week after week, and it might have just taken some television time and for Woods, Big E and Kofi to become comfortable in the characters they are portraying right now. It’s catching on, and that’s the only thing they could ask for.

In fact, The New Day will defend their newly won Tag Team Championships against Cesaro and Kidd in a rematch from Extreme Rules on SmackDown this week.

It was this guy’s lucky night.

Unfortunately, there was some sad news after Raw went off the air, as AWA founder and wrestling legend, Vern Gagne, passed away. Gagne was a 10-time AWA World Heavyweight Champion and a member of the WWE, WCW, and Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame. Gagne was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2009.

Match rundown

King of the Ring Quarterfinal: Bad News Barrett d. Dolph Ziggler by pinfall via the Bull Hammer elbow. Sheamus distracted Ziggler from the state, allowing Barrett to take advantage.

Big E d. Tyson Kidd by pinfall after Xavier Woods held down Kidd’s foot during the pin.

Ryback d. Bo Dallas by pinfall via the Shell Shock. Bray Wyatt appeared after the match and laid out Ryback with Sister Abigail.

King of the Ring Quarterfinal: R-Truth d. Stardust by pinfall via the Lie Detector.

Adam Rose d. Fandango by pinfall via the Party Foul. Rosa Mendes appeared and made out with Rose in an attempt to make Fandango jealous. Because, you see, they broke up randomly a couple of weeks ago. Not that it’s important or anything.

Naomi d. Brie Bella by pinfall via an inside cradle.

King of the Ring Quarterfinal: Sheamus d. Dean Ambrose by disqualification after Ziggler attacked Sheamus outside of the ring.

King of the Ring Quarterfinal: Neville d. Luke Harper by pinfall via the Red Arrow.

Randy Orton and Roman Reigns d. Seth Rollins and Kane by pinfall after Orton hit Rollins with the RKO.