Before I kick off the recap of RAW tonight, props has to be given to Titus O’Neil, who undertook the incredible act of giving to others in need, taking homeless out to restaurant style meals two nights in a row. What prompted the act remains something of a personal nature to O’Neil, however this is a showing of what a celebrity should be doing, no matter how small the act.
Check it out here on USA Today.
Some sadness revealed on TMZ today, we have learned “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka has been diagnosed with stomach cancer and has undergone surgery to circumvent it. We wish him all the best of luck in what will be a difficult ordeal.
Prior to RAW kicking off, the entire roster, including a very distraught Vince McMahon were out on the entrance stage as they rang a 10-bell salute, followed by a fantastic, touching, and hearfelt video montage featuring the original Hot Rod, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. I got chills. Numerous wrestlers, babyface and heel, don Hot Rod shirts throughout the night.
Tonight, my wife Evi is joining us tonight on commentary.
We kick off RAW with Seth Rollins being somewhat sympathetic about breaking the face of John Cena, showing multiple replays of the face-cracking shot. Rollins gloats, while the live crowd chants “Thank You Rollins.” If Cena is watching, I cannot image he appreciates that.
Evi: Yes, sometimes Cena pisses me off, but this is where he gets my respect. He is busted up, badly, and finishes the match. I am sure they would have stopped it, within minutes his nose swelled up, and his face looked like meat. I give John Cena a ton of credit, hopefully he does the smart thing and stays home until he fully heals.
Seth Rollins then goes full heel, and in mimicking the U.S. Open Challenge, offers his own open challenge for the WWE Championship, however with two stipulations, the challenger must be under six-feet and less than 200-pounds. JoJo, for whatever reason is in the ring with a mic, and cynically suggests El Torito would be his opponent. Rollins then offers Torito the chance for the title. The Matadores theme hits, but then the lights go out, and we get…
… ADRIAN NEVILLE vs. Seth Rollins in a match of the year. The flow was fluid, Neville hitting some incredible high flying spots early on, followed by Rollins retaliating with some of his own familiar arsenal. Moments where I jumped out of my seat…
Evi: Yes, he really DID jump out of his seat.
… Ahem, as I was saying, Neville plants Rollins with a Reverse Frankensteiner, followed by a rolling German as Rollins bounced the ropes, followed by a second dead-lift German Suplex, and countered a Pedigree attempt into a rollup where it looked like the ref hit the mat three times. Crowd got hot on the ref. Later on, Neville took Rollins for a ride clear across the ring with a top rope Hurricanrana. The crowd on their feet…
Evi: You were on your feet too.
… Right. Neville then hit the Red Arrow, but Rollins got his foot on the ropes. The crowd was on fire, chanting “one more time” to which the challenger obliged, which turned out to be the demise of Neville, as Rollins hit the Pedigree and retained the championship.
We knew there was no way Neville would win the championship tonight, or if he did, somehow wind up having to relinquish it or lose it in some sort of immediate rematch. Despite this, the match was awesome, and enough to make me believe Neville has a long career ahead of himself if he can improve his mic skills.
Evi: You did jump out of your seat… You believed it for a moment.
That I did. That, I did.
We are now treated to an eight-man tag team match featuring The New Day and The Ascension against Los Matadores and the Lucha Dragons. So, Matadores work as faces now? WWE can’t make up their minds. In any case, nice spot fest which concludes when Kofi Kingston cracks Kalisto with the Trouble in Paradise. Prime Time Players on commentary, hysterical. JBL is the one who offers praise to Titus and his good deeds over the weekend. Seems odd WWE would not make more of a big deal. Major media outlets did.
Next up is Team Bella vs. The Submission Sorority. It might sound corny, but I dig the name. We have Becky Lynch and Charlotte up against Brie and Nikki Bella. Throughout the match, each of the submission specialists trap a Bella in a hold. Bellas find ways to gain the upper hand, however not enough as Charlotte manages to trap Nikki in the Figure Eight, forcing the submission victory. Backstage, JoJo (why is she here?) interviews B.A.D. and no surprise, Sasha Banks cuts the best promo, while surprisingly, Naomi is the one to tease a call out aimed at Rhonda Rousey. Tamina… says nothing.
In a very classy opening, The Miz introduces Miz TV as the “second best” talk segment and then praises the other talk segments such as The Heartbreak Hotel, the Barber Shop, the Snake Pit, the Cutting Edge, and the Highlight Reel, saying none would have existed if not for the original and the best segment, Piper’s Pit. Miz cuts a short heartfelt promo before reverting back to full-heel mode, demanding Ryback forfeits the Intercontinental Championship to him, and then brings out Kevin Owens. Apparently, Owens is a big fan, and owns all the Blu Ray versions of the Miz’s movies. Owens is cut off by the entrance of guest number two, Cesaro. The two immediately verbally cut into each other, with Cesaro offering a new moniker of “Walk Owens Walk” and cites his habit of walking away mid-match. All while Miz has the great goofy smile on his face. Before the fight breaks out, Miz gets hyped up, prompting Owens to shut him up and “let the two guys who know how to wrestle handle this.” Owens winds up scuttling off, and I am willing to bet this will be a highly anticipated undercard match as SummerSlam.
Rusev is out with the Lana-lookalike in Summer Rae. Flashback to Rusev injuring Dolph Ziggler. As it turns out, this wrote out Ziggles so he could film a movie with the also written-out-with-an-injury Kane. Tonight’s jobber to Rusev is Mark Henry. You know, they give Henry ONE damn World Championship reign, as a heel, and it was soon forgotten. Seriously, the hell is the problem here? When did Mark Henry become a bona fide jobber? Rusev mauls him in under three minutes. Pathetic. I would rather see Zack Ryder job for the eighteenth time than see Henry reduced to this garbage. I like Rusev as a character, a behemoth, and a brute, but this does nothing for him.
JBL makes an odd sales pitch for the WWE Network, using visual aids to explain the price saving and benefits to being a subscriber. They show a clip from Swerved where Xavier Woods shoots a powder gun at Kofi Kingston. Staged much?
We get a creepy clip of Bray Wyatt ripping a flower apart with Luke Harper standing behind him. I do not know what is creepier, Wyatt and Harper, or Sheamus joining with his own ominous promo.
In the ring, Zack Ryder awaits his opponent, King Barrett who brings back the “can I have some decorum please” line, followed by his laughable intent to rid the WWE of pretenders, having dispatched R-Truth, and apparently since Ryder is the King of the Internet, it is the duty of the King of the Ring to defeat him as well. I do not know who this is worse for, Ryder or Barrett. His feud with Truth was at least entertaining, but Barrett remains on this slow…
Evi: Did JBL just say King Barrett is bigger than the Beatles? I just lost respect for a guy who never had it from me in the first place.
Sorry Evi. Well, Barrett defeats Ryder in minutes. Sigh…
At the top of the 10pm hour, we are graced by Paul Heyman as he introduces the clip of the Undertaker sabotaging and causing Brock Lesnar to fail in capturing the WWE Championship. Heyman then introduces the next clip, showing the all-out brawl between the Dead Man and The Beast. Heyman is magical on the microphone. As Brock stands atop the ringstairs in the center of the ring, Heyman cuts a crafted promo, cutting to the heart of the issue, promising SummerSlam will be the final resting place of the career of the Undertaker, even reciting the Last Rites. Not bad for a Jewish guy.
Naomi and Paige have a decent match. Naomi seemed to be off her game, botching a couple of spots. She is good, might have been an off night. Evenly paced back-and-forth, with Paige coming out on top, forcing Naomi to tap to the PTO. Looks like the Sorority clean-sweeps tonight.
A Facebook-broadcast video by Stardust, ridiculing Neville for pandering to fans and losing his championship match as a result, concluding with a motion appearing as though he was firing an arrow.
This results in a tweet from Stephen Amell stating his intent to be at RAW in Seattle next week, showing a picture of a Green Arrow action figure facing off with a Stardust figure.
— WWE (@WWE) August 4, 2015
Another touching promo for Rowdy Roddy Piper.
Main event time! Randy Orton, Dean Ambrose, and Roman Reigns up against Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, and Sheamus. Lots of brawling all over, which seems standard for these guys. Halfway through, this match spilled to the floor, with Reigns and Ambrose taking everyone out at the expense of their own bodies. Nice chain of events leading to the finish, Ambrose dives onto Harper on the outside, Wyatt eats a RKO, Sheamus attempts to Brough Kick, but is speared and pinned by Reigns. The babyfaces win to end the show.
I would have preferred a more crazy finish for the Rollins/Neville match. When Rollins had his foot on the ropes, the ref should have been blind to it, thus awarding the WWE Championship to Neville, only to be stripped of it by the Authority or have the match restarted and then Rollins could hit the Pedigree for the win.
Overall, a great show, and a lot of great build for current and future feuds. I cannot wait for Cesaro and Kevin Owens. Heyman as usual is the cornerstone of the Undertaker/Lesnar build, and it remains to be see what happens with John Cena.
Looking forward to next week, as the hype for the now Four-Hour SummerSlam gets more intense.