The show is live from the O2 Arena in London, UK. The crowd played a pivotal role in this week’s episode, and the superstars played to the enthusiastic house. Homegrown talent (i.e. Bad News Barrett, Paige and Neville) were booked strong and featured prominently.
Despite some interesting swerves and entertaining spots, the show felt like a house show which counted for very little. Story lines developed on their way to Extreme Rules, but shorter match length and the absence of a proper main event took away from the show. That being said, it was a fun episode.
- John Cena opens the show and the crowd boos him emphatically. He shrugs it off and proceeds with his US Championship Open Challenge, which is accepted by crowd favourite Bad News Barrett. John Cena ends up taking the match after hitting a springboard stunner and an AA for the pin. Rusev attacks Cena with a steel chain after the bell. It is revealed the US Title match at Extreme Rules will now be a “Russian Chain Match”.
- The Divas (sans Nikki or Brie) compete in a battle royal for the #1 contender spot. Paige wins, and addresses her hometown crowd, but is attacked by Naomi.
- Bray Wyatt cuts a promo addressed to an unnamed individual.
- Lucha Dragons vs The Ascension: Lucha Dragons win by pinfall after a flurry of moves from Kalisto.
- Booker T interviews Roman Reigns in the ring. Big Show interrupts, and attacks Roman Reigns after the interview, smashing him against a prop mini-cab parked on the entrance platform.
- Randy Orton vs Cesaro: Tyson Kidd interferes and gets Cesaro a DQ, but Kane restarts the match and makes it a 2 on 1 handicapped match. Orton wins after hitting Kidd with an RKO off a springboard dive. Randy Orton earns the right to choose a stipulation for the title match at Extreme Rules.
- Backstage, Seth Rollins tells Kane to lay down for him so that he can pick a stipulation in the title match as well. Kane feels conflicted about it.
- Adam Rose vs Dean Ambrose: Dean wins with Dirty Deeds.
- Big Show talks heart to heart with Kane about doing what’s best for business.
- Stardust vs Fandango: Stardust pins Fandango and Fandango dances with the crowd to his old theme music.
- Daniel Bryan talks with Kane backstage, challenging him to stand up for himself.
- Seth Rollins vs Kane: Kane is conflicted about laying down for Rollins, until he finally chokeslams Rollins in defiance but then lays down and pulls the limp Rollins on top of him to throw the match.
- The Miz vs Damien Mizdow: Mizdow wins with a schoolboy roll-up.
- Prime Time Players cut a funny promo.
- Ryback vs Luke Harper: Harper is disqualified after hitting Ryback with a piece of the announce table. Dean Ambrose chases Harper, who escapes through the crowd.
- Naomi cuts a shoot interview on the Divas Championship.
- Dolph Ziggler issues an open challenge a la John Cena, which is accepted by UK boy Neville. Neville dominates most of the spots, but ZIggler sends him into the ring post before hitting the Zig Zag for the win. Sportsmanlike conduct after the bell is broken up by Shaemus who attacks both men. Ziggler and Shaemus brawl before Dolph’s put down with a brogue kick.
- Seth Rollins reveals his stipulation for Extreme Rules: the RKO is banned. Randy Orton reveals his stipulation: a steel cage. Orton attacks Rollins, but the champ escapes when J&J run interference and Mercury eats an RKO.
- Cena’s open challenge continues to be a great bit of business for himself, the championship, and for other superstars hungry for airtime. Barrett was put over huge in front of his people, even kicking out of an AA! It took a springboard stunner and a second AA to put him away. The aftermath was all right, but I feel the folks at WWE will have to enlighten the fans as to what exactly is a Russian Chain Match.
- The battle royal contained nothing special until it got down to the final two – Naomi and Paige. I don’t believe these two have shared many matches together, and a program between them is an enticing prospect. Naomi’s heel turn after losing was unexpected to say the least, and very effective. Perhaps embracing a harder edge is just what the former Funkadactyl’s character needs.
- I’m intrigued as to whom Bray Wyatt is addressing in his promos now. I only hope we don’t see a repeat of his “feud” with The Undertaker, i.e. months of the same rambling speech followed by a blow-out match – which Wyatt ends up losing. Face it, these new promos would mean a lot more if he had won at WrestleMania.
- Kalisto is being put over massively since debuting last week. Ascension remains a floundering tag team with no credibility.
- Roman Reigns gave, in my opinion, his best promo to date. He seemed confident and smooth in his delivery, and he worked off the crowd’s chanting without batting an eye. Big Show’s violent attack was effectively violent, but I fear it may be too little, too late. The giant has been a pushover for so long that it may be difficult for him to regain clout in the eyes of the fans. It simply seems like lazy booking to put Reigns back into the same feud as a few months ago.
- Orton and Cesaro had the potential to be a good match, but it was far too short and the DQ finish felt cheap. Ultimately, every man delivered a passable performance. The fact that Orton and Rollins were battling for their right to choose a stipulation was not established enough, in my opinion.
- The dissension angle between Kane and Seth Rollins seemed flimsy at first, but both men have thrived in the absence of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon.
- Ambrose’s match with Rose was little more than a squash and had no redeeming value.
- Big Show’s moment backstage with Kane seemed strange, considering these two were teasing a feud for weeks before WrestleMania that seems to have been abandoned in favour of a Kane/Rollins feud.
- Stardust’s victory meant nothing, it was merely a vehicle to set up Fandango’s moment with the London audience. It was a wonderful moment to see the whole crowd come alive when Fandango’s old theme hit.
- Daniel Bryan pep-talking Kane was even more out of place than Big Show’s “bro-ment”. Don’t these two hate each other? That being said, Bryan’s “Be a man” bit played perfectly the story, and there’s no one else who could have delivered it as effectively.
- The segment with Kane and Rollins went over, succeeding in part because of the crowd being so on board with every moment of it. Kane played his part exceedingly well, and Rollins continues to be the best heel in the business. The way the segment ended guaranteed the story will continue and the tension increase, without taking away from the championship match with Orton.
- Having Summer Rae accompany Mizdow to the ring does not help her character, the same way it doesn’t help Naomi to wear an Usos tee-shirt as her costume. These women are wrestlers, not valets. The match itself was nothing special, but Mizdow continues to be over with the people, and his mugging with the crowd spot is great. (Summer Rae joined him in the spot, and did anyone else notice the fan going for a bit of tummy touching on the blond beauty? Careful, Summer, those London fans can get a bit rowdy.)
- The Prime Time Players are having so much fun with their promos these days, and it shows. Darren Young slipped in a very funny, “Rainbow is my favourite colour.”
- Although the thought of a feud between Dean Ambrose and Luke Harper – especially with Extreme Rules right around the corner – is awesome and exciting, both Ryback and Harper were wasted in this brief segment. Harper running from a fight with Ambrose seems to go against character.
- Naomi’s interview worked in putting over her heel turn. Her frustration felt real, and it will be interesting to see how the crowd reacts to her when they return to American soil.
- Neville got such a rub from Ziggler, dominating the majority of the match with impressive spots and only narrowly coming up short. It would have been nice to have him do a bit of speaking in front of his country men and women, the match went over well enough without. Shaemus continues to be effective as a monster heel, something the company sorely needs with Kane and Brock Lesnar appearing to turn face.
- The stipulations for the championship match were a bit underwhelming. Banning the RKO seems like squandering a gift, and when in the history of wrestling has a steel cage effectively prevented outside interference? It would have been more intriguing for Randy Orton to stipulate that if Seth Rollins lost by count out or disqualification, he would lose the championship belt. That would surely prevent outside interference, from J&J at the very least. The segment was a poor main event for an otherwise semi-entertaining episode of Raw.