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WWE Monday Night Raw – August 10th, 2015

The Pacific Northwest, birth place of grunge music, Starbucks coffee and craft beer, plays host to the Fed’s big red. It’s Raw, live from Seattle!

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With SummerSlam only two weeks away, the focus turns from the Undertaker/Lesnar main event toward the sometimes neglected WWE Heavyweight Championship picture. With John Cena still out with a facial injury, the contenders begin to knock on the door of champion Seth Rollins. Also, WWE revisits your favourite feuds from earlier this year: Dean Ambrose and Luke Harper; Rusev and Mark Henry; Neville and King Barrett; New Day and Los Matadores. All this, Divas tag action, Miz TV, and special invited guest star Stephen Amell from TV’s “Arrow” finally confronts Stardust.

THE RUN-DOWN:

  • WWE Champ Seth Rollins opens with promo. Cesaro challenges Rollins. Owens challenges Rollins. Orton challenges Rollins. Triple H makes triple threat match, winner meets Rollins for title in main event.

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  • Team Bella vs Team BAD: Tamina misses superkick, Brie rolls her up for pin. Postmatch, all Divas brawl, with Charlotte and Sasha Banks facing off to close segment. Michael Cole announces three-way elimination trios match for SummerSlam.
  • New Day vs Los Matadores: Trouble in Paradise misses, but Big Ending hits for three – New Day wins. Backstage celebrations, Rene Young reveals four-way tag team title match at SummerSlam.
  • Triple Threat Match – Randy Orton vs Kevin Owens vs Cesaro: Cesaro avoids pop-up power-bomb, Orton hits RKO on Owens, then on Cesaro. Orton pins Cesaro for win.
  • backstage promo from Ambrose and Reigns.
  • Promo vignette on Undertaker/Lesnar rivalry.
  • Dean Ambrose (with Roman Reigns) vs Luke Harper (with Bray Wyatt): Harper hits discus clothesline, gets pin-fall victory.

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  • Miz TV: Miz introduces Stephen Amell to audience. Daniel Bryan special guest. Big Show interrupts. Ryback returns, takes out heels and celebrates with Bryan.
  • Charlotte promo vignette
  • Rusev (with Summer Rae) vs Mark Henry: Summer Rae attacks Lana, ref calls match off because reasons.
  • King Barrett vs Neville: Neville hits Red Arrow and gets pin. Stardust attacks Neville, shoves Stephen Amell. Amell jumps into ring and attacks Stardust. Backstage, Triple H eventually agrees to tag match at SummerSlam, Barrett and Stardust vs Neville and Amell.

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  • WWE Heavyweight Championship Match – Randy Orton vs Seth Rollins (c): Orton hits RKO, Sheamus breaks up pin, tries to cash in Money in the Bank but Orton hits RKO and stands tall.

ANALYSIS:

  • Obviously, someone in WWE has been paying attention to recent observations from critics, who say the presence of a heavyweight championship division is hurting Rollins.

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  • On Raw, WWE revealed what the possible unification of Heavyweight and US Titles could yield: all of the top-tier competitors gunning for Cena’s belt (Cesaro, Owens, even Rusev) will be thrown into the race for the big prize, joining veteran competitors like Orton, Cena, Sheamus and Lesnar, not to mention past contenders like Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose.

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  • Suddenly, in one night, the depth of talent surrounding the WWE World Heavyweight Championship has grown exponentially. At the centre stands Seth Rollins, standing tall – as he should.

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  • The Divas division is benefiting from these tag matches. It gives each wrestler chances to show some of their skills without revealing their full potential in a match. It also protects anyone unfortunate enough to job out, and that onus can be passed around night to night.

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  • Team PCB struggled a bit on commentary, but Paige is showing particular improvement thanks to her role on Tough Enough. Brie’s popularity in Seattle made the victory satisfying for the crowd, as did the staredown between rivals Charlotte and Banks.

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  • This rivalry will obviously be a focal point to build for a future event.
  • New Day and Los Matadores put on a solid and entertaining tag match. The matadors are a talented team and deserve to be included in the championship picture. Making them a part of SummerSlam’s fatal four-way adds excitement to the match, but they would benefit more from a solo match on the card against either New Day, Ascension or Lucha Dragons instead.

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  • On that note, the exclusion of the Ascension is conspicuous, and begs for their interference in the fatal four-way. They have a history of making their presence felt in dramatic fashion, and injecting them at SummerSlam would help push them toward future tag belt contention.

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  • The triple threat match was the clear match of the night and possibly match of the week. Randy Orton has a tendency to slow the pace of in-ring action, but he was able to keep up with the ROH vets and their feverish work-rate throughout the bout and look strong. Both Cesaro and Owens pulled off big spots over the top to the floor, which drew huge pops, as did Cesaro’s spring-board, spinning uppercut.

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  • All three of these wrestlers proved they deserve a place at the top of the heap in WWE. Although Orton’s finisher is still very much over, and Owens has brought a significant following to compliment his heel heat, Cesaro is ever-so-slightly pulling out ahead in the popularity department these days, a testament to his work ethic, perseverance and raw athletic talent.

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  • Ambrose and Reigns are good on their own, but shoot to another entertainment level when paired together. Ambrose benefits from a straight man to play off his off-key antics, and Reigns comes out of his shell with support at his side.

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  • The way these two slide out sly wit and talk about drinking beer and causing havoc, they are becoming the modern incarnation of teams like WCW’s Outsiders or the original D-X. Paired with a couple of rivals like Wyatt and Harper, this program has the potential to be epic. However, all four of these men thrive on chaotic energy in a match, and the match at SummerSlam would be ten times better if given a street fight stipulation.

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  • The match on Raw served primarily to build up Luke Harper as a force to be reckoned with, perhaps because he is the least developed of all four wrestlers lately. Taking out Reigns and then beating Ambrose cleanly made him look formidable and dangerous.

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  • The Miz TV segment covered a wide array of topics, and was entertaining at every step, thanks to the mic skills of Bryan and the Hollywood A-lister. Big Show once again is hovering in that limbo state where fans are confused as to whether to cheer for him or not (Is he still a member of the Authority?).

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  • Ryback was given a warm welcome back, and having Daniel Bryan there to support him was an extra insurance policy he probably didn’t need. It was a great moment for the Intercontinental Champion, and a clear sign that his new-found popularity is alive and well, and hopefully his reign as champ continues past the triple threat at SummerSlam.

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  • Charlotte’s promo vignette captured her determination and resolve to elevate the Divas division, and spoke volumes of her potential to re-shape the entire sport. Her bold statement that her goal is to one day main event WrestleMania is the most ambitious from any female competitor in the history of WWE, and her unflinching confidence makes one believe it is entirely possible.

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  • Mark Henry, and to a certain extent Rusev himself, were throw-aways in a segment entirely about Lana and Summer Rae. They are obviously building toward a mixed tag match at SummerSlam when Dolph Ziggler makes his return to the ring, and its nice to see Summer exhibit more physicality. Considering she is a seasoned wrestler and not primarily a valet, she should be above slap-fights.

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  • One development which marks another step down in the drama surrounding Rusev is the tendency the announcers have now of referring to Summer and Lana as “girlfriends” of Rusev. Lana began as a manager, was demoted to valet, and now is a girlfriend. This detracts from Rusev’s contender status, and also diminishes Lana’s strength of character, and makes the entire fiasco a high school jealousy triangle. It will be a miracle if any one of these superstars come away from this program looking stronger than they did going in.

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  • Neville and Barrett were involved in a feud not more than a couple months ago and had a series of hard-fought battles, but on Monday night the former NXT champ finished off the 2015 King of the Ring decisively in a couple of minutes. If this match was only going to be a set up for the Stardust/Amell confrontation, why did Barrett have to job out? Stardust could have broken up the pin and gotten Barrett disqualified instead of allowing Neville the pin.

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  • Furthermore, the video package before the match implied that Stardust was somehow an influence in Neville’s loss to Seth Rollins last week, when he actually had nothing to do with the match. This entire program smacks of making something from nothing, from King Barrett’s inclusion which has no real motivation, to a supposed social media battle between Amell and Stardust which has not been built up sufficiently.

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  • On the plus side, Amell’s backstage bit with Triple H was well performed and smacked of reality.

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  • Randy Orton and Seth Rollins put on a great main event for Raw, aware of the expectations built up after their past matches at WrestleMania and Extreme Rules. The injection of Sheamus was a good move, since it added one more top tier star into the equation which has been thus far kept out. The rivalry between the Celtic Warrior and Orton also appears far from over, and no doubt a match between the two former champions will be added to SummerSlam.

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  • Furthermore, the reality that Sheamus might cash in his contract has never felt so close and conceivable before, the heel deciding to keep his relationship with the Authority unmarred. Now Rollins knows how hunted he is, how coveted his belt is, and how much he needs to stay alert on any given night. With so much focus on Brock Lesnar and the returning Phenom’s big fight coming up, the WWE Championship and Seth Rollins have been pushed back on the card, and this week’s episode of Raw brought a new importance to them both.

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  • The Beast Incarnate may eventually return his sights to the title belt, but while he’s got other fish to fry at the moment it means it is open court on Rollins, and it’s nice to see so many superstars trying to grab that brass ring. It’s also nice to see Rollins holding his own and showing strength, a sight sorely needed after all the jobs he’s been doing on television since winning the company’s top prize.

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Photographs copyright WWE.com

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