Dean Ambrose is on top of the mountain, and we’re enjoying the view as much as he is. Tonight’s episode of RAW was a good time to be sure, featuring a title match, two thrilling returns, and yeah.
The New WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Dean Ambrose, kicked off Monday Night RAW, title in hand and a massive grin on his face. The crowd chanted “YOU DESERVE IT” at full blast and he soaked it in. The exuberant Ambrose recapped his actions at Money in the Bank, saying that what goes around comes back around in reference to the man he cashed in on: Seth Rollins.
“Hard work pays off,” he proclaimed. He discussed his two-year chase for the title, but was interrupted by Roman Reigns.
Reigns said that Money in the Bank was Ambrose’s night and offered his congratulations, asking how good it felt to cash in on Seth Rollins. Ambrose admitted that he would have cashed in on Reigns as well. Reigns asked for his rematch, but an infuriated Seth Rollins emerged, demanding his rematch.
Reigns and Rollins faced off over who deserved the rematch more, and Shane McMahon came out, setting up a match between the two for RAW to determine who would face Ambrose for the title first.
Every time these three share the ring, there is electricity in the air. They promised they would take over the company, and they have.
Ambrose is already an exciting champion. His joy is infectious, and the crowd is willingly rallying behind him. I’d almost forgotten what it felt like to have an over babyface champion. If this promo was anything to go by, his title reign, however long or short it may be, will be a pleasure to witness.
Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens
Looking to settle their rivalry (at least for the moment), Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens went right at it in RAW’s opening match, with Zayn taking Owens down at ringside and sending him back-first into the barricade. Owens looked to leave, but Zayn threw him back to ringside, where Owens took control.
Back in the ring, Owens dropped right on Zayn, targeting his back. He retained full control until Zayn managed to counter a drop, sending Owens out of the ring. He followed, taking to the air to take him out. Returning to the ring, Owens landed a Superkick, nearly getting a pinfall on Zayn.
Zayn countered with a back suplex, setting Owens up for the Helluva Kick, but Owens hit a Superkick. Owens looked to hit the Pop-up Powerbomb, but Zayn countered, rolling Owens up to score the win. He celebrated on the ramp, but Owens cut the fun times off, and the two brawled on the entrance ramp, having to be torn off each other by officials.
The brawl continued backstage, and yeah. It looks like these two really will fight forever.
Enzo & Cass vs. The Vaudevillains
John Laurinitis emerged, discussing the WWE Draft to take place on July 19th, and was interrupted by Shane. Laurinitis declared his intentions to be the manager of SmackDown, and Shane said that no, it would be HIM running SmackDown.
This all was interrupted by Enzo and Cass. Enzo and Shane danced together, and Enzo introduced himself with his usual energy. The duo made fun of Laurinitis, calling him SAWFT before entering the ring.
The Vaudevillains started off strong against Enzo Amore in the match, isolating him from Big Cass until a well-timed counter from Amore allowed him to tag in Big Cass, who dropped English with an Empire Elbow and Gotch with a boot to the face.
Enzo was tagged in, and the two double-teamed to score the pinfall victory.
Enzo and Cass’s hot streak continues. I love it.
John Cena vs. Karl Anderson
An unrepentant AJ Styles emerged to a very welcoming crowd. He talked about his victory over Cena, and how it was “tainted” by the interference from the Club. He demanded that Gallows and Anderson come out and give him a public apology.
The two came out, and Styles told them that he hadn’t needed their help, saying they had given Cena an excuse and had dragged his name through the mud. Anderson complied, as did Gallows, albeit a bit more reluctantly. Styles requested that they apologize to Cena as well.
Cena emerged, puzzled, and said he didn’t need an apology. Gallows and Anderson offered them up, but Cena rejected it all, saying Styles simply wasn’t as good as he says he is. Styles offered him the opportunity to fight Gallows or Anderson, and Cena said it didn’t matter, as he would be fighting the entire club either way.
Anderson turned out to be the one to face Cena, and Styles promised he would knock his teeth out on his own.
Cena started off strong against Anderson, constantly glancing towards the entrance. He hit the AA fairly easily, but before he could pin Anderson, the rest of the Club emerged, ambushing Cena, hitting the Magic Killer and the Styles Clash.
As satisfying as it was to see Cena take the Clash yet again, I do wish Anderson hadn’t been squashed with the Five Moves of Doom. He’s too good for that.
That being said, AJ Styles is doing a wonderful job as a heel. He fills the role with polished ease, sounding more comfortable on the mic every night and clearly having a good time messing with the crowd. He looks right at home sharing the mic and ring with John Cena, and it’s a beautiful sight to see.
Backstage, Rollins said that he proved his worth to be champion at Money in the Bank. He said that he beat Roman at Money in the Bank. Elsewhere, Becky Lynch that if she was the last woman in the division with integrity, so be it, and was attacked from behind by Natalya, who declared that for the first time in years, she would take care of herself.
Baron Corbin vs. Zack Ryder
Ryder looked to start off strong against Corbin, but Corbin managed to dodge a Broski boot. Ryder hit a dropkick off the apron into the barricade, setting Corbin up for the el-bro drop.
But that was the end of his momentum, as Corbin caught Ryder with End of Days for the win.
Eh. This happened. Poor Ryder.
Charlotte vs. Paige (WWE Women’s Championship match)
Paige was fired up at the match’s start, tackling the champion to the ground and landing a wicked kick. She drove Charlotte into the turnbuckle before Dana Brooke dragged Charlotte out, allowing the heel duo to take control back from the Brit.
Back in the ring, Paige staged a bit of a comeback, wearing Charlotte down with a series of kicks and a running knee to the face. Charlotte responded with a boot of her own, but Paige caught her with a fallaway slam.
Paige looked for a superplex, but Charlotte slammed her down, landing a moonsault for a near-fall. Charlotte looked to lock in the Figure-Eight, but Paige rolled her up. Paige managed to hit the Ram-Paige, but Dana Brooke pulled Charlotte’s foot under the ropes. The ref looked to kick Brooke out, distracting Paige enough to let Charlotte hit Natural Selection to retain.
Brooke and Charlotte began beating down on Paige, but then Sasha Banks emerged to a monstrous ovation, taking Charlotte down and holding the title up with purpose.
Before I get to keyboard-smashing, let me say this: Paige and Charlotte put on an excellent match, and I am glad they were given time. Paige had the crowd fully behind her, and Charlotte’s moonsaults are a thing of beauty.
SASHA BANKS IS BACK! And what a welcome she got! Hopefully this is the start of a strong and respectable title program that ends with the kind of momentous victory she deserves.
Bray Wyatt returns
Backstage, Bray Wyatt and his boys stood in their familiar dark room.
“We’re here,” Wyatt said simply.
Bray Wyatt came out to the ring, the thrilled crowd giving him his much-missed firefly entrance.
“WELCOME BACK!” the crowd chanted.
Wyatt declared that he had never forgotten what he stood for, saying that the Wyatts were as strong as they had ever been. But that’s just about all he got out before the New Day interrupted. They cracked a few jokes.
Bray merely told them to run.
Xavier Woods being hypnotized was hilarious, and seeing Wyatt back was absolutely fantastic. These groups being put together is wonderful to see. It’s unexpected, what with them being so different. And frankly, I wouldn’t be mad if the Wyatts ended up dethroning the New Day.
Rusev vs. Titus O’Neil
O’Neil went right after Rusev, furiously pummeling the champion before driving him straight into the barricade like a man possessed. Again and again, he drove the Bulgarian brute into every art of the barricade, driving him over and out into the crowd. Rusev retreated through the crowd as O’Neil stood tall in the ring.
Backstage, Shane McMahon stumbled upon an angered Chris Jericho, who said that he deserved a shot at Ambrose’s title. Shane brushed him aside.
Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns (No. 1 Contender’s match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship)
With Ambrose on commentary, Reigns went right after Seth Rollins, taking him down with a shoulder tackle. Rollins retreated from the ring, pulling Reigns out only to be shoved into the barricade and bouncing him off the announce table.
Back in the ring, Rollins landed a neckbreaker from the ropes and then in the center of the ring. He hit a dropkick on Reigns’ face, locking him into a chokehold. The fight left the ring, and Rollins kept momentum back into the ring, taking a moment to look down on Ambrose.
Reigns caught Rollins with a kick, with Rollins going for a series of high-flying moves before Reigns caught him again. Rollins took over with a boot of his own, locking in a sleeper hold on Reigns back in the ring, but Reigns caught Rollins with a right hand, hitting him with abandon.
Rollins got to his feet, stunning Reigns with a dropkick, and the two exchanged strikes and headbutts. Reigns hit Rollins with a series of clotheslines, but Rollins caught Reigns out of the ring with a suicide dive. Reigns slammed Rollins with a powerbomb, nearly getting him, but Rollins refused to surrender.
Reigns caught Rollins with a Superman Punch after Rollins went for a Pedigree, but Rollins stayed alive, catching an attempted Spear with a kick and hitting a flying knee and kick. Reigns stayed in the match. Rollins looked for a Frog Splash, but Reigns dodged.
Reigns caught Rollins onto the announce table, but Rollins caught him with another kick. Reigns drove Rollins over the announce table with a Spear, and neither man made it back to the ring in time, with both being counted out. Shane McMahon emerged, setting the inevitable Shield triple threat for Battleground.
Ambrose planted both Reigns and Rollins with Dirty Deeds, standing tall to end the night.
On one hand, I am THRILLED about finally getting this Shield triple threat match. This is the stuff of legends, the kind of match that can transcend this generation and go into the history books. This match is the culmination of years and years of storytelling, the start of a new chapter in a story that began years ago at Survivor Series.
So why put it on a smaller pay-per-view like Battleground? This match could put butts in the seats of WrestleMania or SummerSlam. It deserves that kind of stage.
But I digress. I’m excited either way.