By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Tampa, Florida at Amalie Arena
[Q1] Michael Cole welcomed viewers to Raw. Cole was joined on commentary by JBL and Byron Saxton. Lilian Garcia introduced Seth Rollins, and the broadcast team hyped the Battleground main event. They cut to the broadcast team and then they turned it over to Rollins (no mention of Reigns being suspended).
Rollins said that fans will get the Triple Threat match they’ve been dreaming of. “So let me start off by saying…” Rollins said. “You know what, the hell with it, let’s talk about Roman Reigns.” Rollins said he wasn’t supposed to talk about Reigns, but he was on television with a live microphone. Rollins said the Reigns “scandal” embarrassed him as the architect of The Shield because he brought him into the company.
Rollins had the Reigns apology statement appear on the big screen and then read it aloud. Rollins picked apart what Reigns said line by line and said he’s always owned Reigns. Rollins said Reigns doesn’t deserve a second chance or forgiveness, nor does he deserve to be in the main event of Battleground. Rollins said he should get a one-on-one match with Ambrose instead.
Powell’s POV: So Rollins is shooting and WWE didn’t know it was coming, but he knew they would have the statement ready for him on the big screen? Ugh.
Dean Ambrose made his entrance. Ambrose asked whether Rollins’ rant was really about Roman or whether it was about him having the championship. Ambrose said everyone makes mistakes. “I was friends with you, that’s a huge mistake,” Ambrose said. “You wear skinny jeans, that’s a huge mistake.” Ambrose said Reigns made a mistake and owned up to it. “As far as I’m concerned, the title match is still on.”
AJ Styles made his entrance and spoke as he walked to the ring. Styles said the Battleground main event should remain a Triple Threat. Styles pitched the idea of him replacing Reigns in the main event. Styles entered the ring and said that if they take out Reigns and insert him, all will be right with the world. Ambrose said as far as he knows, Reigns is in the match too. Styles lobbied to make it a four-way instead. Ambrose said he doesn’t care, he’d fight them all.
John Cena’s music interrupted Rollins’ voicing his displeasure. Cena spoke about how Ambrose is a fighting champion. Cena said he’s held the title 15 times and said today is his WWE birthday because he debuted 14 years ago today. Cena also mentioned that he now lives in Tampa. Cena pointed out that the last time he and Ambrose met for a championship, Cena won the match. Cena lobbied to make it a Fatal Five-Way match. Rollins again protested.
Stephanie McMahon’s music played and she walked onto the stage. She said she is embarrassed and mortified that Ambrose was the champion. Stephanie said she could ask her brother Shane, but he wasn’t there again. Stephanie booked Cena vs. Rollins, and Styles vs. Ambrose. She said that if Cena and Styles were able to win, they would be added to the Battleground main event…
[Q2] Shot aired of Charlotte and Dana Brooke, and then Sasha Banks and Paige walking backstage while the broadcast team hyped their tag match… [C]
Powell’s POV: I like that they addressed the Reigns suspension even if the live crowd seemed awfully quiet and perhaps unaware in some cases. It was silly to have Rollins act like he was shooting only to blow it by having the apology ready to appear on the big screen. However, I like that Rollins addressed it rather than the company taking a “nothing to see here” approach. It makes the show feel less controlled and it immediately grabbed my attention. I can’t say the idea of a five-way main event excites me more than a Triple Threat match involving the Shield members, but I also wouldn’t complain about Styles and/or Cena being added to the match. My guess is that Styles fails to qualify somehow, so he and The Club prevent Cena from qualifying. By the way, The Club have an actual logo based on AJ’s gear.
Cole noted that it was Raw episode 1,205…
1. Charlotte and Dana Brooke vs. Sasha Banks and Paige. Cole pointed out the Special Olympics logo on the ramp. The heels stalled at ringside heading into the break. [C]
[Q3] Late in the match, Paige took out Charlotte with a clothesline on the floor. A short time later, Sasha made Brooke tap to the Bank Statement…
Sasha Banks and Paige beat Charlotte and Dana Brooke in 8:40.
The broadcast team welcomed viewers watching on PPTV in China. They also hyped Rusev vs. Titus O’Neil in a non-title match for after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: Sasha is clearly being spotlighted. She teamed with Paige, but this was more about her and Charlotte than anything. In fact, I’m surprised they didn’t have Sasha beat Charlotte in the tag match.
An ad aired for the WWE Draft on the July 19 edition of WWE Smackdown…
2. U.S. Champion Rusev (w/Lana) vs. Titus O’Neil in a non-title match. Lana introduced Rusev as the all-time greatest U.S. Champion and her fiancee prior to the match. Titus attacked Rusev before the bell. The ref separated the wrestlers and then started the match. Titus power slammed Rusev at 0:40 for a two count, then Rusev came back with a clothesline. There was a “Let’s Go Titus” chant. Rusev took a powder and indicated that he wanted to take his U.S. Title and leave. Titus ran out and they performed their double clothesline spot again.
[Q4] Rusev got back to his feet and charged Titus, who moved aside and pushed Rusev into the timekeepers area. Titus returned to the ring while Rusev ended up being counted out…
Titus O’Neil beat Rusev via count-out in 4:10.
The broadcast team hyped the Ambrose vs. Styles match… [C]
Powell’s POV: I like the count-out finish in that it gives Titus a win in front of his hometown fans and sets him up for the expected U.S. Title rematch, yet it didn’t require Rusev to be pinned.
The latest sponsored WWE production video aired… Backstage, Stephanie was on the phone when she encountered a smiling Kane. She tried to get past him, but he got her to hang up and said all he wants is consideration for running Smackdown. Stephanie said no one is managing “Smackdown Live” except for her.
The Miz and Maryse arrived. Miz noted he’s been on hiatus while filming a movie. Kane pitched his own movie. Miz said he is a star, while Kane looks like an insurance agent. Kane said that if he were in charge of Smackdown, he would have a problem with Miz not defending the title once in the 30-day window. He said he would book a title match tonight. Stephanie informed Miz that he would be defending the title tonight. She said his opponent would be a surprise…
Cole hyped Rollins vs. Cena for after the break… [C] Cole and a graphic hyped John Cena hyping the ESPY Awards on ESPN on July 13… Ring introductions for the Rollins vs. Cena match took place…
[Q5] 3. John Cena vs. Seth Rollins. A Cena win qualifies him for the Battleground main event. Cena noted the 14-year milestone on the stage, and the broadcast team also discussed it. There were dueling chants for both wrestlers. In a unique twist, they showed a couple of younger women cheering for Rollins rather than Cena. The broadcast team recalled Rollins breaking Cena’s nose in a previous match. Cena did the “You Can’t See Me” only to have Rollins kick him in the face heading into a break. [C]
Cena went for an Attitude Adjustment off the second rope, but Rollins slipped away and performed a Buckle Bomb. Cena avoided a Rollins frogsplash. Cena went to the ropes, but Rollins caught him and suplexed him, then performed the Falcon’s Arrow for two. Rollins showed frustration.
[Q6] Rollins set up for a Pedigree. Cena avoided it and catapulted him into the ropes. Rollins leapt off with a cross body, but Cena rolled through and performed an AA. Cena covered Rollins, who put his foot on the bottom rope to break the pin. Cena went for the move again. Rollins landed on his feet, kicked Cena, and went for the Pedigree, but Cena countered into the STF. Rollins nearly reached the ropes, but Cena pulled Cena to mid-ring.
AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson made their entrance. Styles climbed onto the apron. Cena went after him and Styles dropped to ringside. Rollins took advantage of the distraction and hit the Pedigree and then pinned Cena. The Club laughed at ringside…
Seth Rollins pinned John Cena in 16:00.
Cole hyped Ambrose vs. Styles for later in the show… [C]
Powell’s POV: Flip flop what I wrote earlier about Cena and The Club. My guess is that we’re getting the originally advertised Triple Threat, and a Cena vs. Styles rematch. Either way, I like that they took this approach because it gives a couple of Raw matches more meaning than they would have otherwise had.
Enzo Amore and Big Cass made their entrance with the usual mic work and the crowd talking along with Enzo. Once in the ring, Enzo said there’s not a beach boy out there who can ride their wave. He said they arrived because of the people, and the people are the wave. He said they would ride the wave straight to the top. Enzo asked the crowd to wait until the match starts to perform a wave…
4. Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Carlos and Mitch Walden. Enzo and Cass hit the Bada Boom Shakalaka (rocket launcher) for the win.
Enzo Amore and Big Cass beat Carlos Cotry and Mitch Walden in 0:35.
Cass did the SAWFT bit after the match, but they were interrupted by the Social Outcasts. Heath Slater, Curtis Axel, and Bo Dallas came out and tried to tried to get the crowd to spell HARD to describe them. Slater noted that they were fresh off the set of The Marine 5 and now they’re looking for action. Enzo and Cass took out Slater, then Dallas and Axel dropped off the ring apron…
[Q7] The broadcast team hyped the IC Title match, and Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn appearing on The Highlight Reel… [C]
Powell’s POV: Did anyone miss the Social Outcasts? Me neither.
The latest Bob Backlund and Darren Young segment aired. It was a replay of the segment from Smackdown… Cole set up video footage of WWE talent training with Special Olympics athletes at the WWE Performance Center. Big Show and Renee Young walked onto the Raw stage with a group of the athletes and delivered a brief speech… The broadcast team hyped Ambrose vs. Styles… [C]
Cole pimped Smackdown tickets for Miami’s taping on Tuesday…
Summer Rae stood in the ring for a match. Natalya sat on in commentary. She said she is tired of being a nice person and being walked on. Becky Lynch made her entrance and attacked Natalya. A referee had to hold back Lynch. Natalya backed up the stage… Cole hyped the Highlight Reel segment…
Powell’s POV: The usual high energy from Lynch. It’s nice to have a women’s division feud that doesn’t involve the championship.
[Q8] [C] Tampa quarterback Jameis Winston was shown in the crowd…
Chris Jericho hosted the Highlight Reel and introduced Kevin Owens as his first guest, then introduced Sami Zayn. Jericho brought up that Zayn was the best man at Owens’ wedding. He said it must have made it even worse when he stabbed him in the back. Zayn said he knew Jericho was trying to stir the pot, but he was only there to put an end to it.
Zayn said neither of their careers were going anywhere until it ends. Zayn took credit for Owens not winning several key matches. He asked Owens to put an end to it by having a final match at Battleground. He said they could be drafted to different shows, but one way or another he wants to end it at Battleground. Owens started blankly at the mat. Zayn said the real Owens is a coward.
Zayn asked him to tell him why he hates him. He told Owens to admit that it drove him crazy when Zayn was signed to WWE first. Owens said he’s already told Zayn the truth many times. Owens said what he did to Zayn was business and it was the right move for his career. Owens said Zayn was actually responsible for ruining their friendship.
Owens said everything they did before was in the spirit of getting to WWE. Owens said he was happy when Zayn got to WWE. He claimed Zayn was furious that Owens won the NXT Title. He said it proves that he was always a better friend to Zayn than Zayn was to him. Owens said none of it matters now, and accepted his Battleground match.
[Q9] Jericho said Owens will never be as good as him, but at least he’s not worried about what all the “mutton heads” think. He said it makes him sick that Zayn cares. Jericho said their match would be huge. He said it won’t be as big as what he does because he’s Chris Jericho. He said being able to announce their match on his show puts them at a new level. “You’re welcome,” Jericho said.
Jericho did his “drink it in, man” pose and then took simultaneous superkicks from Owens and Zayn. They looked at one another, then Owens left the ring. Cole hyped Owens vs. Zayn for Battleground “if the powers that be allow it”…
The broadcast team recapped the opening segment along with video highlights, then hyped Ambrose vs. Styles, and the IC Title match… Cole congratulated a fan for winning a trip to Universal Studios in Orlando, then pimped the new attraction (not TNA Impact Wrestling tapings)…
5. The Miz (w/Maryse) vs. Kane for the Intercontinental Title. Demon Kane was the surprise challenger. Lilian delivered the in-ring introductions for the title match. Flat reactions for both men. Kane dominated the early action. Maryse took a phoney dive onto the floor. Miz came back briefly and then went to the floor to check on her, Mayrse cried out as Miz nearly touched her leg. Miz picked up Maryse and helped her backstage for the count-out…
Kane defeated The Miz via count-out in 3:30.
[Q10] Saxton hyped Apollo Crews and Cesaro vs. Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio for after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: The crowd was beyond flat for that match. I don’t know if it was the two wrestlers or if they are just burned out on a show that’s dragging or some combination of the two.
Backstage, Miz was helping Maryse until she stopped and started laughing. She hopped up and down and said, “Acting.” Miz was surprised and called it an Oscar worthy acting performance…
6. Cesaro and Apollo Crews vs. Alberto Del Rio and Sheamus. Cole pointed out the podiums on the stage and plugged the draft episode of Smackdown. Del Rio actually woke up the crowd by hitting his own partner with en enzuigiri and then leaving. In the ring, Crews hit the powerbomb finisher for the win…
Cesaro and Apollo Crews beat Alberto Del Rio and Sheamus in 6:00.
[Q11] Backstage, JoJo asked him if winning the championship has been everything he expected. He spoke about how it’s been great even though he didn’t get a parade at WWE Headquarters. He spoke about how it allows him to get in the ring with the best in the world, and said tonight he faces AJ Styles.
Stephanie McMahon showed up and said it’s appalling that he is the champion and the face of her company. She said that if AJ wins, then she is one step closer to ending “this appalling nightmare.” After Steph left, Ambrose told JoJo that deep down Stephanie really likes him… [C]
Powell’s POV: The live crowd liked the Del Rio kick, but it was hard to tell whether it’s going anywhere. They showed tension from the start, so this might be their way out of the match rather than a turn for Del Rio.
Cole hyped Dean Ambrose on Miz TV for Smackdown (they probably haven’t written the rest of the show yet)…
New Day made their entrance and were dressed like the Wyatt Family members. Kofi Kingston was dressed like Erick Rowan. Xavier Woods was dressed like Luke Harper. And Big E was Cousin Luke (or maybe Bray Wyatt). E noted that he was born on Tampa.
The Wyatt Family made their entrance. The teams went back and forth about the power of positivity. Kingston said it’s a way of life. E said it flows through your body. Wyatt asked Woods, who was staring at Wyatt again, whether he agrees with them. Wyatt took a few steps forward and told Woods that he could confide in him and trust him. Wyatt said they were just playing one of their little games, but in this game there are no winners or losers, only malice and destruction. He said every knee shall bow, then closed it by saying New Day falls…
A shot aired of The Club talking backstage as Cole hyped the main event… [C]
Powell’s POV: Poor Braun Stromwan didn’t even get an imposter. I’m still not sold that the comedy antics of New Day will mesh with the serious Wyatt characters. I continue to hope that this will bring out another side of New Day rather than turn the Wyatts into comedy foils.
[Q12] Cole hyped The Wyatt Family as Jonathan Coachman’s guests on ESPNews on Tuesday. Yes, really…
Backtage, Renee Young caught up to New Day as they were singing, “Hey, we want some new day.” Young asked if it was a good idea to make fun of the Wyatts. Kingston and E were still having fun, but Woods kept a sullen face and walked away…
7. Dean Ambrose vs. AJ Styles. Seth Rollins sat in on commentary and said he hated to say that he was pulling for Ambrose to win the match. They cut to break without either wrestler gaining a real advantage during the first few minutes of the match. [C] Rollins spoke about how hard hitting Styles is and said it’s underrated. He said he can’t wrap his head around Ambrose being champion.
[Overrun] Ambrose blocked a spinning back fist from Styles and then performed a neckbreaker for a two count. Ambrose followed up with a backslide moments later for another two. Styles came back with a kick and a facebuster for two. Ambrose performed a superplex and got a couple more near falls.
Styles came back and went for his forearm finisher, but Ambrose avoided it and went for his finisher, but Styles blocked it. Ambrose went to the second rope and leapt off for a move and Styles flung his arms up to backdrop him (or something) and Ambrose came up selling the knee. Styles applied the Calf Crusher, but Styles reached the ropes.
Ambrose sent Styles over the top rope to the floor, then performed a suicide dive. Ambrose continued to hold his knee and threw Cena back inside the ring. Five guys seemed to chant “this is awesome.” Styles performed a Pele Kick, which Ambrose no-sold by coming right back with a clothesline.
Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson headed to ringside. Styles took advantage of the distraction and got a two count. John Cena ran out and roughed up Anderson and Gallows. Styles jawed at Cena. Ambrose caught Styles with Dirty Deeds for the win…
Dean Ambrose beat AJ Styles in a non-title match 15:35.
Rollins applauded the finish since it laves the Ambrose vs. Rollins vs. Reigns as the main event of Battleground. Anderson and Gallows pulled Cena to the floor. Ambrose looked like he was going to help, but Rollins attacked him from behind and put him down with a Pedigree.
Styles joined Anderson and Gallows in working over Cena on the stage. Anderson and Gallows performed their finisher on the stage. Rollins picked up Ambrose and gave him a second Pedigree. Rollins stood over Ambrose and posed with the title and received good heat. Rollins jawed at Ambrose and mugged for the crowd to close the show…
Powell’s POV: So we’re right back where we started as far as the Battleground main event is concerned, which is the right move as far as I’m concerned. I wasn’t a big fan of the overall show, but I like that the heels closed the show with heat. It gets said a lot, but three hours is way too long for a wrestling show. This show felt like it went on forever and the live crowd seemed to lack passion as the show dragged on. If you think tonight was slow, just imagine what next week’s show will be like since it falls on the Independence Day holiday in the United States. I will have more to say about Raw in the member exclusive audio review tonight, and in Tuesday’s WWE Smackdown Hit List.