A lot has happened in the last eight days since Money in the Bank, but lets not pretend that anything is bigger than the unexpected suspension of Roman Reigns for violating WWE’s wellness policy. Roman Reigns is gone for thirty days and can come back to work three days before Battleground, in which he’s still scheduled to be in the main event against Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose. Which is odd, it’s basically saying “Here, have a rest for thirty days, we’ll have the main event waiting for you when you get back.”
Elsewhere on last weeks Raw (which I missed, I’m sorry) The Wyatt Family returned after a two month absence and are entering a program with The New Day. After pinning the champion twice in the past month, Paige finally got her Women’s Championship match against Charlotte (she lost, but Sasha Banks returned so all is good) and John Laurinaitis made a surprise appearance to troll us all. Time to focus on this week.
We start off Raw with Seth Rollins and he says the phrase everyone wanted to hear “To hell with it… Let’s talk about Roman Reigns!” Seth says the Reigns’ suspension is actually an embarrassment for him as he brought Roman to WWE. He brings up Roman’s apology tweet and reads it out and says that it doesn’t matter what he says, Roman doesn’t deserve to be in the WWE Championship match at Battleground (and he has a point).
This brings out Dean Ambrose and JBL is acting like Ambrose being champion is the worst thing to happen to WWE, as if The Great Khali never existed. Also on top of that, Roman Reigns has just been suspended for drug policy violations, Seth Rollins had his dick pic leaked on Twitter last year but no, Dean Ambrose is the embarrassment. Dean says that the Triple Threat is still on. Out comes AJ Styles who wants in on the match and then Cena appears to say he wants in too. Which brings out Stephanie McMahon.
She makes Cena vs. Rollins and Styles vs. Ambrose and if either win, they’re added to the WWE Championship match. This is probably a smart decision, have the focus on other possible contenders while we try and make do with the fact that a guy has been suspended.
Sasha Banks is in her first match on Raw since April. She hasn’t been in a match on Raw since April. I’ve said it twice because I have to reiterate how stupid it is that she’s been gone for so long while Natalya is out there getting distracted by the wind and losing by roll up. Anyway, Sasha teams with Paige to face Charlotte and Dana Brooke. I have to point out that while Dana is not great in the ring, like at all, her character is on point and I always get a chuckle when she yells at the ref “I know the rules!”
Sasha and Paige score the win when Sasha forces Dana to tap out to the Banks Statement, it’s so good to have Sasha back on Raw. We’re probably heading towards Sasha vs. Paige in a number one contenders match at Battleground and I’m very happy with that.
We’re continuing on with what I hope is just a filler feud for Rusev before moving on to something more important at SummerSlam. It’s Rusev vs. Titus O’Neil and when Titus makes his entrance he gets his standard quiet response from the crowd but when Lilian Garcia announces he’s from Tampa, Florida, the crowd explodes seeing as we are in Tampa tonight. You legitimately heard the crowd go “Oh yeah! He’s from Tampa! We totally forgot!”
Titus gets the win via count-out and JBL says it’s one of the biggest victories of his career. I mean, sure, Titus won the WWE Tag Team Championship last year at Money in the Bank, but this count-out victory on a random Raw is definitely the biggest. Another JBL quote…
“This could pull him into that championship match he’s been wanting for so long.”
So long? He had a title shot EIGHT DAYS AGO. Anyway, it looks like we’re getting this again at Battleground and as long as it’s the last one and Titus loses, I’m fine with it.
The first of two matches to determine if we have new contenders for the WWE Championship match is next as John Cena faces Seth Rollins. This was a really good match, these two have faced each other in main events on big shows before and they still manage to keep it fresh. While I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a fan of John Cena again like I was when I was twelve in 2004, but I’m certainly not going to boo him at live events anymore.
Seth Rollins gets the win with the Pedigree after a distraction from AJ Styles and The Club. John Cena is NOT going to be in the WWE Championship match at Battleground, but AJ Styles still has a chance though.
It’s a good old fashioned local athlete squash match for Enzo & Cass and I genuinely miss these. Rather than using Zack Ryder or Damien Sandow every week (before they fired him) and let them lose all their credibility, get some local guys in and make people look good without sacrificing your roster. The match goes for thirty three seconds, bell to bell.
This brings out The Social Outcasts, Curtis Axel, Heath Slater and Bo Dallas. They’ve been off filming a movie with The Miz and Naomi and it all just sounds awful. So after two months away they’re back to say that there is only one word to describe the Social Outcasts and it’s not ‘sawft’, it’s H-A-R-D. Enzo & Cass proceed to make dick jokes and I’m going to admit I laughed at them. I’m an immature jackass, leave me be.
Becky Lynch is scheduled to take on Summer Rae next, but Natalya is on commentary so god help us all. Natalya turned on Becky following their loss at Money in the Bank and she attacked Becky again last week on Raw. Everyone seems to turn on Becky so I’m thinking that she’s doing something off screen that makes people want to attack her. Maybe she fiddles with the music too much in the car or talks in her sleep or maybe she made one too many puns, I don’t know. But Becky should definitely look within herself and see if she’s doing anything wrong.
Anyway, before the match can get started Becky leaves the ring and jumps Natalya. A wild brawl ensues at ringside until the referee is able to break them up. What’s this? A secondary women’s rivalry that doesn’t involve a championship? Will wonders never cease.
This weeks edition of The Highlight Reel with Chris Jericho is going to feature Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn and I don’t need to tell you that this segment is going to be amazing. Chris Jericho continues to be a shining light on Raw with his ridiculous caricature of himself as this scarf with no shirt wearing snob. It’s glorious and his default facial expression is like Ja’mie King from Summer Heights High.
Sami Zayn says that this bitter rivalry needs to end because neither of their careers will be able to progress until it’s finished and he wants to end it at Battleground. Sami shows some incredible passion and anger in his delivery when he yells at KO to be real for once in his life and admit why Owens stabbed Zayn in the back almost two years ago. KO simply says it was the right move for his career and blames Zayn for ruining their friendship by not being happy for him when he won the NXT title even though it was at his expense.
Jericho interrupts and keeps talking about how much better he is than either man and he gives them the gift of Jericho. “Drink it in maaaaannnn…” and then he gets superkicked by both men for his troubles. We’ve definitely got Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens one more time at Battleground and even though they will fight forever, it appears this may be the last time for a while.
Earlier in the night The Miz (along with Maryse) returned after a month away filming The Marine 5, which is a movie series that apparently needed five installments. Kane in his corporate attire turned up again to mention to Stephanie that a title holder must defend their championship at least once every thirty days which is a rule WWE only seems to pay attention to when convenient to them. Stephanie says that Miz will defend the Intercontinental Championship against a surprise opponent of her choosing.
So who could it be? Randy Orton and Neville are expected back from injuries very soon, what about a new guy from NXT? The possibilities are endless so they went with Kane. Damn it. Maryse fakes an ankle injury so Miz carries her to the back and loses by count-out. That was thoroughly pointless and underwhelming.
Last minute tag team action now as Cesaro and Apollo Crews faces Alberto Del Rio and Sheamus in a League of Nations reunion that nobody was clamouring for. Sheamus lost to Apollo Crews at Money in the Bank and that’s pretty much the only story going into this. Del Rio hits Sheamus with an Enzuigiri which is like the most painful way to tag your partner ever and walks off. Apollo pins Sheamus again.
There’s not much to say here other than I really don’t want to see Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio. We had five consecutive pay per view matches between the two in 2012 and that was pretty much all I needed to see from them for the rest of my life.
The tap water in Australia isn’t spiked is it? Because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The New Day dressed up as The Wyatt Family and used their glowing unicorn horns/dildos as their lamp. New Day roast The Wyatt’s and Xavier is noticeably anxious. The mood instantly changes when the real Wyatt Family turn up and to say that the power of positivity is a lie. He asks Xavier if he agrees with Kofi and Big E. to which he can’t reply due to being frozen in fear. Bray says that New Day falls.
I was so on the fence about this potential rivalry last week because these two groups are absolute polar opposites but after seeing this segment I am so on board. The New Day were able to mix their fun and jokes with their serious tone when the Wyatt’s came out. Xavier looks absolutely terrified and is not fully on board with what Kofi and Big E. are doing. I am very intrigued to see where this goes.
Main Event time! Dean Ambrose vs. AJ Styles and if AJ wins, he’s added to the WWE Championship match at Battleground. It’s also the first time these two have ever faced off one on one, so there’s freshness to this main event. The Club try to interfere again but John Cena returns the favour from earlier tonight and costs AJ Styles the match which prevents him from entering the title picture. Seth hits two Pedigree’s on Ambrose, while The Club hits Cena with the Magic Killer on the stage to end the show.
The match was fine, nothing remarkable which seems to be a standard for Raw these days. The Magic Killer on the stage looked sick, so I enjoyed that. Just a pretty standard way to finish Raw.
In regards to the handling of Roman Reigns suspension, I think WWE did the best and most honest thing they could have done. Having the focus of this weeks Raw be the possibility of having new contenders in the match at Battleground definitely helped the show go on with the noticeably absent Reigns. The fact that WWE knew about Roman Reigns’ suspension before Money in the Bank really makes the decision to go ahead with the Triple Threat really confusing. WWE obviously have a plan going forward for the next three weeks but I’m struggling to think how you promote a three way match when one of the participants isn’t allowed to be there.
Elsewhere the show was pretty good. The Highlight Reel and the segment with The New Day and Wyatt Family were very strong and the women’s division appears to be picking up some momentum. But every week you just get the feeling that WWE are just padding time until July 19th for the draft. We have about three weeks to go and it can’t come quick enough.
Final Rating: 7/10