Live from Richmond, Virginia this is the Raw Deal for episode #1146. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Here's my detailed WWE Payback review from Sunday night and also my feature about the things WWE did right at Payback as well. It was a good show with good matches all night, but it was predictable too.
The Raw intro video started the show off. No video or photos from Payback.
Promo Time With Triple H And Stephanie McMahon
Triple H and Stephanie McMahon entered for a promo. It's the first time Stephanie has been on Raw since the night after WrestleMania so the announcers sucking up treated it like a big deal. Michael Cole, Booker T and John Bradshaw Layfield welcomed us to the show.
Stephanie asked if the fans missed her, they said no and she said she missed them too. She said that the future has never been stronger because of the WWE Title win by Seth Rollins at Payback. Hunter bagged about Seth's win and said "I told you so" about the victory. Stephanie talked about how there will be a celebration for Seth Rollins later.
Hunter talked about how championships are reserved for those that can rise to the occasion. They unveiled the now vacant Intercontinental Championship in the ring and fans chanted "yes" when Stephanie mentioned Daniel Bryan. Stephanie mocked Bryan for either picking berries or chopping wood since he doesn't own a TV. I think he said he bought one last year, but still mean of her to say as a heel. She did some more insults to him saying his body couldn't hold up.
Hunter moved on to talking about how the IC Championship will be decided inside the Elimination Chamber. A brief video aired showing the Elimination Chamber structure. Cole talked about it while JBL and Booker talked about how painful it was. The couple did their shill for the show, but here's Sheamus with the interruption.
Sheamus was in his ring gear as the fans chanted "you look stupid" at him. Sheamus said he's a big fan of both of them and he loves what they've done to the place. He talked about how he put an end to the silly "Yes Movement" and then clips aired of Sheamus having a match with Bryan on Smackdown with the focus on Sheamus targeting the upper body of Bryan. He said he should be the new Intercontinental Champion.
Ryback's music started up and he entered in his ring gear to get in the ring with the three others. Ryback said he agreed with the fans and told Sheamus he looked stupid. Ryback told Sheamus that Bryan has more heart and determination than Sheamus could ever have. Stephanie told the crowd they are predictable, then Ryback said when Big Guy has a microphone that means he's talking. Uh oh he talked back to Stephanie. Trouble. Ryback suggested that Sheamus tries picking on The Big Guy. Ryback said he doesn't like bullies even though he was a bully when he was a heel. Short memories.
Stephanie said Ryback and Sheamus are both in the Elimination Chamber match for the IC Title. As for right now, they'll have a match after the break.
Analysis: It was the standard 15 minute opening promo with Triple H and Stephanie. Since it's been two months since they were on there together the announcers were talking about it like it was something fresh when in reality it's what we're used to every week on this show since they always start with promos. I thought Ryback talking back to Stephanie was very interesting. She's out there as a heel, but there have been issues in the past with people doing that (Dusty Rhodes a few years ago is an example), so for his sake I hope he doesn't get heat for it. Both guys in the EC match makes a lot of sense. No point in dragging out the announcements. Easy setup for a match too.
Ryback vs. Sheamus
The match started after the break. Ryback was bandaged up because he hurt his ribs against Bray Wyatt. Ryback was the aggressor early on with a powerslam. Ryback continued the attack, the ref made him step back and Sheamus knocked down Ryback outside the ring. Sheamus sent Ryback into the barricade at ringside. When Ryback got on the apron, Sheamus shoved Ryback off and sent him to the floor again. It's vintage floor to commercial break time.
Ryback was in pain selling the rib injury as they engaged in a slug fest. Sheamus hit forearm shots to the chest, but Ryback powered out of it and hit a Powerbomb to knock Sheamus down. Spinebuster by Ryback for two although it didn't connect that great, so Booker said he didn't get all of it because of the rib injury. Sheamus avoided an attack by going to the floor. Ryback gave Sheamus a Gorilla Press slam onto the announce table. Good counter that the crowd loved. Ryback shoved Sheamus right into the steel ring post. Sheamus was grabbing his eye. When Ryback went for Shellshock, Sheamus elbowed him in ribs. Ryback went after Sheamus in the corner, the ref pulled him back, Sheamus kept holding his eye and Sheamus nailed Ryback with a Brogue Kick to win the mach. The match went 10 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Sheamus
Post match, Sheamus removed his hand from his eye and laughed as if to say he was fooling us.
Analysis: **3/4 Pretty good match by two power guys. I liked the focus of Sheamus' attack since he went after the ribs of Ryback every time he could and it paid off in the end. Heel Sheamus is a very good performer. I got tired of his face character just like he has said he got tired of it too, so I'm glad he's thriving in this role. Ryback lost two nights in a row. He'll probably get a win on Smackdown as well as Raw next week to get him going again.
The Seth Rollins celebration is later and it's called "Architect of a Dream."
Hunter and Stephanie were in their office. She told Kane to put the celebration together. Rollins was in the office too along with J&J Security and a bottle of champagne. He told Kane that nobody deserves this more than him. Rollins said that after last night he saved Kane's job and he finally has something to celebrate. Dean Ambrose showed up to congratulate Rollins while mentioning that others helped him. Ambrose mentioned that he beat Rollins the last time they had a mach one on one. He said that at Elimination Chamber he's going to greet Rollins with a rematch. Hunter left with Steph and said Kane can handle this one. Kane said that it's up to the champion to determine this one and Rollins told Ambrose he's at the back of the line. Ambrose told Kane that he used to be a monster and wondered what Paul Bearer or Undertaker would think. Kane told Ambrose if he wants action he will face Bray Wyatt later. Ambrose said that's fine and took his glass. He told Kane he shouldn't drink on the clock, then took a sip of the champagne.
Analysis: It sets up things for later in the show with Ambrose wanting the match with Rollins. I thought it was a segment that went longer than it needed to be, but was otherwise okay.
Neville was interviewed in the ring by Renee Young. He said he's been fortunate enough to compete all over the world, but there's nothing like competing in WWE. He said that he's not the biggest guy there is although when he's flying off the top rope he's ten feet tall and invincible. The interview was interrupted by Bo Dallas.
Dallas showed up on the ramp talking about how inspirational it is to hear a good children's story. No more goatee for Bo. He said he would say Neville's career was looking up, but that would be a lie. Neville asked who he beat to start his record breaking NXT Title reign: "I bolieve it was you." Dallas didn't like that, so he took him down by going after the knee. Neville sent him out of the ring. Here comes Barrett.
Analysis: Good job of telling the history of Neville and Dallas in that brief promo. Perhaps this is the start of a rivalry between them on the main roster.
King Barrett vs. Neville
Dallas was on commentary for this match. Neville had his left knee taped. Dallas called Booker "Mr. T" on commentary and Booker didn't like that. Bo is awesome. Barrett targeted the left knee with a kick to slow him down and then he slammed the knee against the ring apron.
Back from break, Neville's knee buckled during the match and Barrett clipped him with a shoulder tackle to take him down. Dallas said he's never jealous of anybody. Neville started his back with a jawbreaker, some kicks and when he went for a German Suplex his knee buckled. Neville hit a boot to the face. Neville went for a springboard attack, but Barrett hit the Bull Hammer elbow on Neville and he covered for the win after seven minutes.
Winner by pinfall: King Barrett
Analysis: ** It looks like this feud is over with Barrett getting the decisive win in this match. Neville did a good job of selling the knee injury for the majority of the match. Barrett capitalized on it to get the win. Once again I don't like a commercial during a match under ten minutes.
Post match, Dallas went into the ring and he attacked the left knee of Neville. He slammed it into the mat. Dallas slammed Neville's left knee into the ring post to cause more pain. Dallas celebrated what he did while Neville was in pain.
Analysis: I'm glad Dallas finally has a meaningful feud. It's based on their NXT rivalry when Neville beat Dallas for the NXT Title. They could have a pretty good match at Elimination Chamber in the undercard.
Photos were shown of Rusev losing to John Cena at Payback. Cena's open challenge is later. Rusev is up next.
There was a congratulations for Titus O'Neil as the Megadad Celebrity Dad of the Year. It was by fan vote. Good for him.
Rusev Addresses His Loss
Rusev entered for a promo. The announcers bickered about if Rusev actually quit at Payback. He said there will be no Lana tonight and that Lana needs to learn her place. Rusev said that Lana does not speak for him, that he speaks our stupid language and he said that he knows how to say "I Quit." He yelled at the fans for chanting for Lana. Rusev said he didn't quit and that he crushed Cena while mentioning that Cena passed out in the ring. He added that Lana quit because she's weak. Rusev wanted Cena to come out to restart the match.
The lovely Lana showed up with a microphone as the fans cheered. He yelled at her for coming out there. She wanted to explain herself. She said that he's not just the Bulgarian Brute - he's misunderstood. She spoke in a foreign language for him. Lana added that she's been with Rusev from the very beginning and she thought he'd be the first man to say "I Quit." She added that it was disappointing, but that's life. Lana said that she cared for Rusev, so he told her that she was pathetic and disgusting. She said that she did the right thing for him and the right thing for us. Lana said that Rusev was screaming in Bulgarian "I Quit" and the crowd chanted "you quit" at him.
Rusev: "I don't need you. I need noone. You're weak and you make me weak." He told her to get out of the ring and go back to where she came from. Then he yelled at her in a foreign language. Lana left with a sad look on her face while the crowd chanted "no" for it. Rusev kept on yelling at her as she went up the ramp. He celebrated what he did.
Analysis: Good promo work by both of them. There's the breakup after months of speculating about it. They did the "I Quit" match so that they could do the angle where she quits for him and it leads to him getting rid of her. I'm interested in seeing what's next for her not just because she's really good looking, but because she's a talented performer and I hope that she can be a big star on her own. I'm also wondering if this is the best thing for Rusev because I have my doubts about that. She added a lot to his act.
The tag titles are on the line with New Day vs. Cesaro and Tyson Kidd.
Dean Ambrose entered for his match against Bray Wyatt.
Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt
This rivalry was a big one towards the end of last year with Wyatt winning most of their matches. After Wyatt missed a senton splash, Cole called it a rare in-ring appearance for Wyatt. Ambrose charged off the ropes, but Wyatt knocked him down with a clothesline. Ambrose tried a comeback only to suffer from a corner clothesline by Wyatt. Ambrose hit a forearm smash in the corner. Wyatt nailed Ambrose with an uppercut punch when Ambrose tried a dive and then Wyatt hit a unique suplex outside the ring.
Back from break, Wyatt was still in control after a forearm smash during an in-ring collision. Wyatt did his suplex into a slam move. Outside the ring, they did a double clothesline spot. Back in the ring, they had an intense staredown. Ambrose hit a clothesline and connected with a bulldog. Ambrose dropkick against the ropes followed by a legdrop to the back of the head for a two count. Wyatt charged, Ambrose ducked, Wyatt went to the floor and Ambrose hit a suicide dive to knock him down. In the ring, Wyatt wanted Sister Abigail, Ambrose fought out, bounced off the ropes and Wyatt crushed him with a stiff clothesline for a two count. Great nearfall. After a Wyatt punch, Ambrose did his bounce off the ropes for a clothesline of his own. Wyatt went for a senton splash off the second rope, but Ambrose rolled out of the way. Ambrose to the top. Joey Mercury showed up to distract the ref, then Jamie Noble shoved Ambrose off the top and Wyatt hit Sister Abigail to win. It went 14 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Bray Wyatt
Analysis: ***1/4 Very good TV match. A competitive match between two guys familiar with eachother, but they haven't wrestled in a while so it felt fresh. I liked a lot of the nearfalls. They had some really good counters in there too. It was a cheap ending to protect Ambrose and build on his story with Rollins. I'm not that surprised that Ambrose lost although if he's going to be number one contender than a win would have been nice. I'm not sure where Wyatt goes from here. A feud with Roman Reigns or Randy Orton is possible since I think both of them need a feud too.
Post match, J&J were at the top of the ramp with Rollins, who had a glass of champagne. The replay showed that Noble snuck in through the crowd. Wyatt posed over Ambrose after his win.
More reminders of what's to come.
Tough Enough submission videos aired.
Prior to the tag title match Kofi Kingston and Big E complained about how Xavier Woods wasn't there at ringside. They also complained about having to defend the tag titles against five teams at Elimination Chamber. Big E called the fans simple, illiterate people in a backwater state and fans chanted "New Day sucks" at them. Kingston said they would persevere. They encourage clapping, which led to more "New Day sucks" chants.
Tag Team Titles: The New Day's Big E & Kofi Kingston vs. Tyson Kidd & Cesaro (w/Natalya)
Big E did a Gorilla Press slam on Cesaro and then Cesaro hit a delayed suplex. Outside the ring, Cesaro knocked down Kingston and Kidd hit a hurricanrana off the apron to take down Big E as they went to break two minutes into the match.
The heels were working on Kidd, but Kidd made a comeback by knocking Big E out of the ring. Kidd put the Sharpshooter on Kingston. Big E made the save. Cesaro went after Big E, but that didn't work. Kingston and Big E stomped away on Kidd at the same time without stopping, the ref disqualified them.
Winners by disqualification: Kidd & Cesaro
Analysis: *1/2 What a bizarrely booked match that was more of an angle than a match because of what happened after it. They worked for about two minutes, went to break for three minutes and came back for two minutes. Why do a commercial on such a short match? Please time that better.
Post match, Woods came out to help his buddies. The Lucha Dragons showed up and took out Kingston & Woods with dives off the top rope. Los Matadores took out Big E outside the ring. The Ascension tossed the Lucha Dragons out of the ring and then did a double team move on Kidd. The Prime Time Players showed up to clear the ring of everybody else. Lucha Dragons hit double dives over the top to take out the others while PTP and Woods were around the ring. O'Neil brought Woods into the ring, which led to Darren Young hitting the Gutbuster on Woods to end the segment. The crowd was cheering "this is awesome" and just generally in favor of the entire chaotic situation. It was well done.
Analysis: It was an obvious set up for the match at Elimination Chamber, but there's nothing wrong with that. Some of those teams are barely on TV, yet are getting tag title shots. That was still an exciting way to set up the match.
It was announced by Cole that these six teams will be in the Elimination Chamber match for the tag team titles: New Day vs. Cesaro/Kidd vs. Lucha Dragons vs. Los Matadores vs. Prime Time Players vs. The Ascension.
Analysis: I figured the Wyatt/Harper team would be in there instead of Los Matadores, but other than that my guesses were right.
John Cena up next at the start of hour three.
John Cena US Open Challenge
John Cena entered to the usual mixed reaction and said this is the Championship that represents America as he held up the US Title. He also held up his "never give up" towel since he didn't give up at Payback. Cena did his usual promo about how this title is so important that he sucks up to everybody. He said we all know that the WWE Championship is the biggest prize, but this is our championship and the champ is here. Same old Cena promo.
Who will answer the Cena open challenge? The NXT Champion Kevin Owens! Yes! His Raw debut. Great performer. He had the NXT Title with him.
Owens: "Hello John." He congratulated him on his victory at Payback. Owens said he didn't need to introduce himself because Cena he knows who he is. Owens told people that didn't know him that they're not worth his time in the first place. Cena said we have to do this right and introduced NXT Champion Kevin Owens. Owens thanked him for that and then said that Sami Zayn was already hurt and that he's going to hurt him again.
Owens said that he hasn't been in WWE for as long as Cena, but he's been wrestling for longer than Cena (he said 15 years) and the only difference is that he didn't get his break until now. Cena said that he looks into Owens eyes and sees a scared kid that realizes he's in over his head against Cena. That led to Cena telling him that they're there for the people. It was Cena's way of firing up the crowd to get them behind him and against Owens.
Owens told Cena that he's not going to challenge him for the US Title, but he's going to go after him on his terms at his time. Owens said he already had a prized championship. Owens did a cheapshot kick on Cena, then hit a Popup Powerbomb on him. Owens stepped on the US Title and left. Owens walked away with Cena selling the move. When Owens got up the ramp, he wiped some imaginary dirt off his shoulder as if to suggest that was easy.
Analysis: What an incredible Raw debut for Kevin Owens. That's one of the best segments of the year and a very memorable way to have Owens start on Raw. When you present a guy like a star from the moment he shows up that's how the fans are going to treat him. If he debuted and targeted some midcarder then that's fine, but going after Cena like that is really making a statement. As somebody that has watched Owens for a long time and is proud of him as a Canadian guy that has worked hard to get where he is, I'm genuinely happy for the guy. He must have loved that moment. There's even a video of his son reacting to it as well. We love great matches and we remember them all the time, but that segment with Owens taking it to Cena was damn special too. Great job by Owens and also by Cena in putting him over that way. It was hard to cover everything in the promos, so here's the video. Great work by both men.
Dolph Ziggler entered for a match.
Cole was doing a sound check when they gave up so Booker and JBL made fun of him for it.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Stardust
Stardust was aggressive early on. When he went for his finisher, Ziggler kneed him in the face and then hit Zig Zag for the win. When I say "early on" I didn't think they would get only about one minute for the actual match.
Winner by pinfall: Dolph Ziggler
Analysis: That was really brief, but a way to get Ziggler a win after losing a night earlier. Since the Stardust gimmick is probably ending soon they're doing a losing streak gimmick for him, which will probably lead his return as Cody Rhodes.
Ziggler was interviewed by Cole after the match. He joked that he was hideous while mentioning the stitches on his head. He said he's a hockey fan and chicks dig scars, so here we go. Cole informed Ziggler that he'll be the sixth man in the Elimination Chamber match. Ziggler did a promo about how he'll take on anything that comes his way.
The lovely Lana walked down to the ring as the fans chanted "We Want Lana" at her and Ziggler was smiling at her. She went up to Ziggler and gave him a soft kiss on the lips. Fans chanted "yes" for it. They chanted "one more time" at them. She kissed him on the lips again. Ziggler kept looking around expecting Rusev and here he comes Rusev.
Rusev hit Ziggler with a knee lift to knock him down. Rusev turned to Lana and started yelling at her. She slapped him in the face, which led to a huge ovation from the crowd. Rusev was mad, so Ziggler nailed him with a Zig Zag to knock him down. Ziggler escorted Lana up the ramp.
Analysis: The crowd absolutely bought into that segment and loved seeing Lana lay a kiss on Ziggler. It wasn't some long kiss or anything like that, but it got the point across. Good for Ziggler. Lucky man.
Kane was walking around backstage encouraging people to get stuff ready for Rollins. Adam Rose was standing there making out with Rosa Mendes. Kane shrugged his shoulders and kept walking.
Analysis: They did something similar on Smackdown with Kane walking by them kissing.
The commercial aired for NXT Takeover Unstoppable that airs this Wednesday on WWE Network.
Luke Harper & Erick Rowan vs. Fandango & Zack Ryder
No televised entrances for these guys. Dropkick by Fandango on Harper, but then Harper shoved him into the barricade and then booted him in the face. Rowan hit a big splash on Fandango. The crowd is pretty quiet for this. Harper nailed Fandango with a forearm shot as the fans chanted for Ryder. It's not like it was a lot of fans. Fandango hit a DDT out of the corner to knock down Harper. Ryder made the hot tag and hit a dropkick, but Harper dropped him with a huge slam. Harper hit a superkick on Ryder into a Full Nelson Slam by Rowan for the win after four minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Luke Harper & Erick Rowan
Analysis: *1/4 It was a dominant win for the newly reunited powerful team of Harper and Rowan. They should be in Elimination Chamber instead of Los Matadores. Ryder's hot tag sequence was one of the worst ever since he was knocked down so quickly. It's great seeing Harper with Rowan again.
The Bella Twins were backstage getting ready for their match. Stephanie McMahon went up to them. She said she's scheduled some counseling sessions for Brie Bella, so she thinks Brie shouldn't accompany Nikki to the ring tonight. Brie looked upset.
Analysis: Please spare us Brie Bella acting segments. Please. She's fine in the ring, but the acting is poor.
Prior to the Divas Title match, Naomi and Tamina said the divas division belongs to them now.
Divas Title: Nikki Bella vs. Naomi (w/Tamina)
Nikki was really aggressive as she hit a clothesline to send Naomi out of the ring. Nikki hit a suicide dive between the top/middle rope to take out both girls. That was impressive. Commercial time.
Naomi took control during the break after tripping up Nikki when she was on the middle turnbuckle. Nikki drove Naomi face first into the knee. Nikki with two clotheslines, a dropkick and a back body drop. There was a double leg takedown type move by Nikki for two. Nikki wanted the Rack Attack, but Tamina went into the ring and hit a Superkick on Nikki. That led to the DQ finish after six minutes with only thee minutes shown.
Winner by disqualification: Nikki Bella
Analysis: * Another instance where a commercial break hurt a match because there just wasn't enough time for them to do anything substantial. Naomi really wasn't made to look strong enough in this match.
Post match, Naomi and Tamina attacked Nikki. Paige made the save as she made her return after being out for about a month. She took out Naomi and Tamina. When Nikki smiled at Paige, Paige grabbed her and hit a Rampaige DDT. Paige celebrated with the Divas Title.
Analysis: Good job by Paige on the return. She's one of the best divas WWE has and it's nice to see her back after she was gone filming a WWE Films Christmas movie. The story behind this is that Naomi took her out with a cheap attack and she had earned a title shot at Nikki when she was taken out, so she showed Nikki she wants the title. I think it's going to lead to Nikki vs. Naomi vs. Paige at Elimination Chamber.
After a replay of Kevin Owens' Raw debut, Triple H went up to Owens backstage and Hunter wished him good luck. Renee Young walked up to ask what he was talked about. Owens said that The Authority made a match for him against John Cena at Elimination Chamber.
Analysis: Love that. Very happy to see that Owens is going to be on the main roster longer than one night. WWE knows how talented he is. He deserves it. I hope he wins at Elimination Chamber too. It doesn't appear to be a US Title match right now, but that could change.
That Rollins celebration is up next.
The Architect of a Dream Celebration for Seth Rollins
The red carpet was in the ring with Stephanie McMahon, Triple H and Kane. Stephanie announced the architect of a dream, Seth Rollins. Rollins entered in a suit along with J&J Security by his side.
Triple H congratulated Rollins for winning the WWE Title at WrestleMania. He said since then Rollins has beat six men in triple threats and fatal fourways. Triple H told Rollins he sees the reflection of the cerebral assassin. Hunter said it gave him goosebumps to see Rollins win with the Pedigree on Sunday. Hunter encouraged everybody to cheer for Rollins. Kane was clapping too, but you could tell he looked conflicted. Hunter wanted Authority members to talk about Rollins starting with Kane.
Kane told Rollins there are so many things he'd like to say to him now. Everybody knows they haven't seen things eye to eye, but what do you expect since he's a foot taller than him (not really true, but good effort in a joke). Kane said that he's glad Rollins is still champion and he's truly best for business. Rollins asked Kane if that was it. Kane thanked him for helping him keep his job, so here's a video package Kane made.
A video package aired about Rollins' journey to the top of WWE with some clips of him in FCW, then as NXT Champion and The Shield dominating WWE. Then it showed the Money in the Bank win, the cash in at WrestleMania and his WWE Title win. No clip of the Curb Stomp in that. Then it showed a lot of things that has happened along the way. Good video.
Jamie Noble said that the cream rises to the top and that it's been an honor to protect Rollins as the WWE Champion. He said Joey Mercury had something to say even though he gets worked up, but he' going to shock the world. Mercury had trouble saying anything since he was emotional.
Here comes Dean Ambrose. His music started up and he marched down to the ring. Stephanie said he had a lot of nerve coming out there. Ambrose said he was out looking for the perfect Justin Bieber outfit for Seth, which led to the Bieber chants. He said he's going to give Rollins another opportunity for a match with him with the WWE Title on the line. Rollins said that Ambrose is at the back of the line with Orton and Reigns. Ambrose said he's a notorious line jumper.
Stephanie said that Rollins is a fighting champion that won't be intimidated by Dean's threats. She told Rollins to get him. The others in The Authority backed away.
Ambrose went after Rollins, which led to J&J quickly getting involved. Ambrose suplex to Rollins on the floor. Ambrose took out J&J at ringside. Ambrose gave Rollins a back body drop onto the announce table. There were cinderblocks at ringside. Ambrose held Rollins under his foot with a chair in his hand. Stephanie said that if Ambrose let's him go then he gets the WWE Title match at Extreme Rules. Mercury took the chair away. Ambrose took care of them again as well as hitting a dive off the barricade onto Kane and J&J.
Rollins was able to get away thanks to Triple H helping him. Kane hit a big boot on Ambrose, but Ambrose fought out of a Chokeslam. Ambrose wanted Dirty Deeds, Rollins saved Kane and Rollins hit the Pedigree on Ambrose.
Rollins held up the WWE Title over Ambrose with the rest of The Authority applauding him as Raw came to a close at 11:13pmET.
Analysis: It was pretty obvious that Ambrose was going to get the title shot, but they decided to spend about 15 minutes to get to that point. It was a good brawl with Ambrose threatening to attack Rollins with the chair on the cinderblocks as some payback for what Rollins did last year. I like the story continuity. It was a bit weird that Hunter didn't get physical to try to help Rollins or that Kane took a while to help, but that was done to just try to tell the story they wanted. It worked for the most part since the crowd was hot for a lot of it. If the crowd buys into it then that means it was a success. My only gripe about the ending was that it felt a little long.
Rollins vs. Ambrose is good every time. Their match on Raw a couple of weeks ago was the best match of the year. Looking forward to seeing it again at Elimination Chamber.
Three Stars of the Show
1. Kevin Owens - What a Raw debut.
2. John Cena - Because he put over Owens big in a non-match setting and it worked perfectly.
3. Dean Ambrose - Love seeing him in the main event picture.
7.5 out of 10
Last week: 6
Last 5 Weeks: 6, 9, 6, 5, 6
2015 Average: 5.82
2015 High: 9 (May 4)
2015 Low: 4 (Feb 9)
I’m giving it a 7.5 out of 10. That's tied for my second highest score of the year. Very good show.
- A well booked show from top to bottom. They knew they had to tell a lot of stories with Elimination Chamber in two weeks and it flowed pretty well. They set up four matches that became official while others were set up nicely. Some of them are new too, so that's a welcome sight.
- Kevin Owens had a very memorable Raw debut. I don't see him staying as a NXT only guy for very long because they need heels on the main roster and he certainly belongs. I loved that segment so much. Happy for Kevin.
- I felt like the main event segment dragged a bit. Ambrose showing up definitely helped. I'll never get sick of Rollins vs. Ambrose. Love their matches.
- They promoted three title matches. Two ended by disqualification and the other one didn't even start (US Title). That's a bit frustrating, but I don't mind too much since I enjoyed Payback. I just thought it was worthwhile to point out.
- It was very odd for Roman Reigns not to be there. He should have been there complaining about getting screwed out of the WWE Title due to Kane. Instead, he wasn't booked for Raw. Neither was Randy Orton. Odd choice. Reigns did appear in a dark match after the show.
- I'm interested in what's next for Rusev and Lana. Either she's swerving Ziggler or really going to break out on her own.
- Both Elimination Chamber matches are intriguing to me although I hope Harper and Rowan replace Los Matadores in the tag title match.
Having another major event two weeks after Payback could seem like WWE is doing too much, but with Elimination Chamber looking like a very good show with four good matches already announced I'm pretty optimistic about things in WWE right now.
That’s all for this week.
I'll write about NXT Takeover Unstoppable only for TJRWrestling.net on Wednesday night live at 8pmET. Love NXT. Should be a fun show.
Check out my feature column archive that’s exclusive to WhatCulture.
Thanks for reading.
John Canton - firstname.lastname@example.org