By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Minneapolis, Minnesota at Target Center
[Q1] Raw opened with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon make their entrance as the broadcast team of Michael Cole, JBL, and Jerry Lawler checked in. "It's a good night to be right," Hunter started. Stephanie introduced a video clip from Dr. Joseph Maroon, who performed the neck surgery on Daniel Bryan.
Maroon said Bryan is not cleared to compete this month and will be reevaluated in the coming months to get him back in the ring as soon as possible. Stephanie said that footage shows that Bryan won't be unable to defend the title at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view. "You just can't expect an A-plus recovery from a B-plus player," Steph cracked.
Triple H said it's best for business to have a champion who can defend the championship. "Therefore it is with heavy hearts that we officially strip Daniel Bryan of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship," Stephanie said. The fans booed and a No! chant broke out. Stephanie said her assistant tried to call Bryan today to inform him, and she insincerely wished Bryan's wife Brie well.
The two title belts were shown hanging above the ring. Stephanie recalled Alberto Del Rio winning the first MITB qualifier. Hunter announced that the second entrant is Randy Orton and said it's just because he is who he is. Hunter recalled how fans couldn't wait to rub it in their faces after WrestleMania 30. He said Bryan clearly isn't WWE Champion material. He also said Bryan isn't at the show "that's how bad it is."
Hunter recalled using the words "adapt or perish" and added "Seth Rollins adapted." Footage aired of the Rollins turn from last week's Raw. Back live, Hunter announced that Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and a partner would face The Wyatt Family in a six-man tag. He added that Reigns and Ambrose would have a tough time finding a partner, so it could be a handicap match... The announcers hyped Cesaro vs. Rob Van Dam, and Sheamus vs. Bad News Barrett in a MITB qualifiers... [C]
[Q2] The top WWE Network shows were WWE Payback, Legends' House, Main Event, Raw Pre-Show, Clash of Champions, Raw Backstage Pass, WWE NXT, WrestleMania Rewind, WWE Countdown, and WrestleMania 30...
1. Sheamus vs. Bad News Barrett in a Money in the Bank qualifier. Barrett cut a pre-match promo. After some back and forth action, Sheamus caught Barrett with a body block and they both tumbled over the top rope and down to the floor heading into the break. [C] Sheamus hit the Irish Curse backbreaker for a two count.
[Q3] Sheamus was nearly counted out and then returned to the ring and was hit with Wasteland, but he kicked out of Barrett's cover at the last moment. Sheamus came back with White Noise for a two count at 12:35. Barrett came back with a headbutt. He grabbed Sheamus's arm and pulled it over the rope, then threw repeated kicks at him. Sheamus hit the Brogue Kick out of nowhere for the clean win...
Sheamus pinned Bad News Barrett in a Money in the Bank qualifier.
Powell's POV: A good, physical match. I love watching those two work together. I see Sheamus as a legit contender to win the championship. After all, the original WrestleMania 30 plan was for Bryan vs. Sheamus, and I could see them revisiting that once Bryan returns. I would donate to a Kickstarter campaign for a new WWE Championship belt if it meant I wouldn't have to listen to 20 days of "do you think they will split the titles at MITB?"
The Wyatt Family delivered a backstage promo. Bray Wyatt said he is reborn. He said their urges can never be satisfied... [C]
Lana cut a promo on the state and said the leader of the United States "is what we call a girly man." Footage aired of Barack Obama performing an embarrassingly awful workout routine. She said Vladimir Putin is strong. Footage was shown of him beating up other men in what appeared to be a judo contest and riding shirtless on a horse. Rusev came out and spoke in Bulgarian or some other language I don't know, but he speak in English long enough to say he is the super athlete...
[Q4] 2. Rusev (w/Lana) vs. Zack Ryder. Lana told Rusev to crush, and he finished off Ryder with the Accolade. Lana put the gold star medal on Rusev after the match...
Rusev defeated Zack Ryder in 1:00.
Powell's POV: I continue to assume that Ryder has black ancestors. Anyway, my night was made when they showed shirtless Putin riding horseback.
A shot aired of Target Field...
3. Ryback and Curtis Axel vs. Goldust and R-Truth. Before the match, the broadcast team spoke about Axel's father Curt Hennig briefly. Cody Rhodes watched the match on a backstage monitor. In the end, Axel rolled up Goldust and struggled to pull the tights for the win...
Ryback and Curtis Axel defeated Goldust and R-Truth in 2:15.
Powell's POV: Fortunately for Cody, fans at Target Center are used to seeing horrible teams assembled. Hell, he might even be offered the Timberwolves' general manager job since the current GM has his hands full coaching the team that no good coach had any interest in coaching.
Backstage, Layla was getting her makeup done and bitching about how uncultured the fans of Minneapolis are. Summer Rae showed up and poured milk over her head, shoved her on the table, slammed her head into the table, and left her lying... [C]
[Q5] 3MB stood in the ring. Heath Slater started to cut a promo when The Shield's music interrupted him. Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose made their usual entrance wearing their usual gear. They entered the ring and 3MB went after them. Ambrose and Reigns quickly got the better of the fight. Reigns took out Jinder Mahal. Ambrose took out Drew McIntyre. Slater walked up the ramp, the cameraman had a moment, and apparently Reigns speared Slater.
Reigns and Ambrose entered the ring for a promo. Ambrose said The Shield was untouchable and will go down in the history books as one of the greatest groups in sports entertainment. He said they dominated everyone, including Evolution. He said they had a cancer inside of them named Seth Rollins.
Ambrose said history is filled with people like Rollins and everyone in the building knows someone like him. He said Rollins stabbed his brothers in the back. Ambrose calmly spoke about how he will rearrange Rollins' face. He said they were looking forward to what Rollins had to say. Rollins was shown dressed in a suit and watching the segment on a monitor. Ambrose said they will listen to every word and then beat the hell out of him.
Reigns looked into the camera and shook his head. He said Rollins committed the most unforgivable sin. "You're the scum of the earth," Rollins said. There's things you don't do in life. You don't tug on Superman's cape, you don't piss in the wind, and you don't ever stab your brothers in the back."
Reigns said Triple H and Randy Orton are also part of the problem. Reigns said that Orton thinks he's the face of the company, but when he's finished with him he's going to be the ass of the company. Reigns said he and the King of Kings would have their own game of thrones... [C]
Powell's POV: Good mic work from both men. Ambrose was in Joker mode as he stated in a matter of fact manner that he's going to rearrange the face of Rollins. Both men came off very well, but it is a bit alarming that the live crowd didn't muster up my of a negative reaction when Rollins was mentioned. Rollins has some work to do during his segment to generate some heat going forward.
Ring entrances for the tag match took place...
[Q6] 4. WWE Tag Team Champions The Uso Brothers vs. Damien Sandow and Fandango (w/Layla). Layla came out looking like a wreck after the backstage bit with Summer Rae. Sandow came out wearing a leotard and performed a ribbon dance. Awesome. There was actually a loud "Let's Go Sandow" chant at one point. He did a comical dance, which one of the Uso Brothers mimicked before catching him with a superkick. They other Uso performed a top rope splash for the win...
The Uso Brothers beat Damien Sandow and Fandango in 2:25.
Powell's POV: The Sandow dance bit was straight out of "Old School" and I got a big kick out of it. Meanwhile, I have no idea why Summer poured milk all over Layla, so I'll just assume that one or more creative team member has a weird milk fetish. I don't even want to know what it says about me that I approve of the ribbon dancing yet assume that at least one pervert was responsible for a woman taking a milk bath.
5. Bo Dallas vs. Xavier Woods. Before the match, Bo said he knows Daniel Bryan was watching at home and had a lot of anger. Bo said the secret to his recovery is Bolieving. There was a C.M. Punk chant late in the match. Dallas finished him off with the Bo-Dog bulldog...
Bo Dallas beat Xavier Woods in 2:30.
Powell's POV: The live crowd didn't seem to care. Then again, is it fair to judge Dallas when he's working with babyfaces that the fans don't give a damn about?
[Q7] Cole hyped Cesaro vs. RVD in the MITB qualifying match for after the break... [C]
Paul Heyman stood in the ring and delivered a promo about Brock Lesnar. He mentioned Lesnar being the most dominant athlete at the University of Minnesota. The fans cheered. Heyman said he's happy the fans feel that way because he was talking with his client and they feel that this is the appropriate place for a WrestleMania party. Heyman told the crowd to stand up and celebrate with the winner of the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Cesaro made his entrance...
6. Cesaro (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Rob Van Dam in a Money in the Bank qualifier. They cut to an early commercial after RVD took offensive control. [C]
[Q8] Cesaro came back with a forearm and then followed up with a powerbomb for a two count. Later, Cesaro hit the Neutralizer and scored the clean pin...
Cesaro defeated Rob Van Dam in 10:55 to qualify for the Money in the Bank match.
Powell's POV: I like the way WWE has placed a couple of believable contenders in the MITB match tonight. Unfortunately, the overall show feels flat. RVD is so beaten down that I just assume he'll be losing to Rusev or Bo Dallas one of these weeks.
Video footage of The Shield related promos from earlier were shown. Cole hyped that he would have an exclusive interview with Seth Rollins after the break... [C] Lawler hyped that WWE Network is listed in Entertainment Week's "must list"...
Michael Cole stood in the ring and introduced Seth Rollins for an interview. Rollins came out wearing a black suit to new music. Rollins shook hands with Cole and then both men sat down in the director's chairs that were set up in the ring. There was a brief "you sold out" chant that faded when Cole spoke. Rollins started to speak and was greeted with boos.
Rollins said what happened last week wasn't a big deal. He said he was doing what was best for business - "my business." Rollins took credit for creating The Shield. "You don't think I had the right to destroy my own creation?" Rollin asked. He said Dean Ambrose is a lunatic who would be face down in a ditch if he were left to his own devices.
Rollins brought up "the golden boy" Roman Reigns. "You'll never see anger or fury like you see in a man like Roman Reigns," he said. However, he said Reigns is nothing if he doesn't have him to harness it. "They owe me every ounce of success they have ever achieved," he said. Ambrose and Reigns were shown watching the promo on a backstage monitor.
[Q9] Rollins said he took The Shield as high as it could go when they beat Evolution in a clean sweep. Rollins said he learned from Evolution that "to be a success in this business you have to evolve, you have to adapt." The fans chanted "you sold out" at Rollins. Seth, who was standing at this point, said he bought into the evolution of Seth Rollins.
Rollins said it took a lot of guts to do what he did last week. He said everyone is fixated on how he stabbed his brothers in the back. "To me, they were just business partners," Rollins said. "And I severed a business relationship." Rollins said for two years he put his fist out and said "believe in The Shield." He said everyone better start believing in him. Rollins recalled The Shield saying they would let him speak his piece and then kick the hell out of him. "Well? I've said my piece," he said.
Reigns and Ambrose emerged from the side of the stage and headed to the ring. The Wyatt Family sounder played. The footage went from the graphic to suddenly Reigns and Ambrose in the ring with Luke Harper and Erick Rowan while Rollins was at ringside. Bray Wyatt showed up and helped his duo. Rollins fled. John Cena's music played and he headed to the ring and helped Reigns and Ambrose clear the ring... [C]
Powell's POV: Great use of Cena by having him come to the aid of Ambrose and Reigns to set up a logical six-man tag match. The Rollins promo was good yet there's still a lot of room for improvement. He's come a long way on the mic and his work here actually shows it, but he's far from a polished heat seeker. It is pretty cool that the company had the faith in him to go out there and deliver in that setting rather than with Triple H and Randy Orton by his side.
Seth Rollins vs. Dolph Ziggler was advertised as the featured match for WWE Main Event Live... Cole confirmed that Cena would team with Reigns and Ambrose to face The Wyatt Family...
7. WWE Divas Champion Paige vs. Alicia Fox (w/Aksana). Fox controlled the bulk of the offense during the first three minutes of the match.
[Q10] She had Paige in her arms and ran toward the ropes when Paige caught her with a huracanrana that sent her to the floor. Paige blasted Alicia with knees to the head and clotheslines in the ring. Paige yelled and got a good reaction from the crowd. Alicia and Aksana banged heads at one point, then Paige applied the PTO for the win.
Afterward, Aksana helped Fox to her feet. Fox slapped her and roughed her up a bit. Paige grabbed two bottles of water and a bag of popcorn from ringside. She poured the water on Aksana, at some popcorn, and dumped some popcorn. Fox roughed up Aksana and then shoved popcorn in her mouth...
Paige beat Alicia Fox in 4:55.
Lawler hyped the six-man tag match... [C]
Powell's POV: An underwhelming match considering the talent involved. WWE has spent more time focussing on Fox's post match antics than they have in establishing the personality for their 22 year-old Divas Champion. There were some "boring" chants and other jeers from the crowd during that lame post match scene. They have to do more with Paige. Throwing the title on her and changing the name of her finisher every week clearly isn't enough.
8. Jack Swagger (w/Zeb Colter) vs. Santino Marella. Colter had a sign that read "Here's a pizza my mind" on one side and "Deport Santino" on the other. Santino delivered a pop-box promo saying he wants Zeb "exported." Swagger got off to a rough start. Colter slapped him twice. Swagger returned to the ring and roughed up Santino. He dodged The Cobra late and hit a powerbomb for the win...
Jack Swagger beat Santino Marella in 1:55.
Powell's POV: Here's hoping that the lack of Emma in Santino's corner means that they have given up on that silliness and will instead give her a chance to get over on her own. By the way, why didn't Colter slap the piss out of Swagger months ago?
[Q11] [C] Cole hyped WWE Network and showed a graph that listed a 90 percent satisfaction rate...
Powell's POV: The other ten percent must have the shitty feed that I've been getting on PS3 and PS4 ever since NXT Takeover.
Backstage, Cody Rhodes told Goldust he finally found someone good enough to be his tag partner. He said it's someone he has never seen before. Cody said the man that can magnify the magnificence of Goldust will be on Raw next week... Footage of the opening segment with The Authority stripping Daniel Bryan of the WWE Title was shown...
Backstage, Stephanie McMahon was upset because John Cena was getting involved with The Shield. Triple H said this was the last time anyone would see The Shield. Vickie Guerrero showed up with champagne toe celebrate the departure of Brad Maddox and the Daniel Bryan situation. Vickie sneezed in the glass. Stephanie slapped it away and said she's fired her once, "don't make me do it again"...
Ambrose and Reigns made their entrance through the crowd... A video hyped Kevin Hart as the guest host for next week's Raw... [C] Sheamus vs. Cesaro in an apparent non-title match was advertised for Friday's Smackdown television show...
[Q12] 9. John Cena, Roman Reigns, and Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, and Erick Rowan. The Wyatt Family delivered their custom to the city introduction. There was a loud dueling chant regarding Cena as Harper got the better of Ambrose heading into the break. [C]
Ambrose continued to sell after the break and was nearly pinned by Wyatt, but Reigns broke it up. Cena tagged into the match and the crowd fired up, but Rowan cut him off. Wyatt worked over Cena and then motioned for the crowd to sing. Cena got up and dropkicked Wyatt. Cena tried to make a tag, but Wyatt cut him off again and tagged in Harper at 14:00.
[Overrun] The Wyatts continued to isolate Cena in their corner. Wyatt missed a running back splash and Cena finally made the hot tag to Reigns at 18:10. Reigns hit a couple of his running kicks on his opponents while Ambrose brawled with them. Reigns had Harper pinned, but Rowan broke it up. Cena returned to the match with a cross body block off the top rope onto Rowan.
Cena went for the AA on Rowan, but Wyatt caught Cena with Sister Abigail. Wyatt walked into the Superman punch from Reigns. Ambrose performed a suicide dive onto Rowan. Harper caught Reigns with a big boot for a strong near fall. Reigns speared Harper and pinned him to win the match for his team...
John Cena, Roman Reigns, and Dean Ambrose defeated The Wyatt Family in 20:20.
After the match, Triple H and Seth Rollins were shown watching the match on a backstage monitor. The babyface trio played to the crowd to close the show...
Powell's POV: A good television main event. The Target Center crowd is a little spoiled, though, as they saw the first Shield vs. Wyatt Family match at Elimination Chamber. They did get up for the match and there were some scattered "this is awesome" chants late, but it didn't pack anywhere near the punch that the match at EC did. Still, I really like the way Cena looked like a good guy for coming to the aid of Reigns and Ambrose in this match despite their history.
Overall, this show looks newsworthy when you think about the title situation, the MITB qualifiers, the first Seth Rollins promo since he turned, etc., yet it didn't feel like a hot show by any means. There were a lot of rematches, squash matches, and filler. Fortunately, the important elements of the show seemed to click, which I'll have more to say about tonight during the free Prowrestling.net Live audio show and in Tuesday's WWE Raw Hit List. Thanks for watching along with me tonight.