By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Dean Ambrose Attacked WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins
It's incredible how far Rollins' microphone work has come in the last year. I'm typically not a fan of dragged out promos kicking off the show, but Rollins was entertaining here and I was glad he kept his promo relatively short and sweet. The crowd was hot for the brawl between Rollins and Ambrose, but from a storyline standpoint, why is Ambrose still going after him? Money in the Bank marked the third time he came up short of winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, and as much as I love this feud, there isn't any point in it continuing right now if the plan is to keep the belt on Rollins going into SummerSlam.
Dean Ambrose def. Sheamus
I like what's new, and I enjoyed this match not only because it was well-wrestled, but because it felt fresh. Better yet, the crowd was invested in the action because they care about both characters. That's a great example of what happens with good booking and proper character development. I didn't have much of an issue with Sheamus losing because as he said himself before he attempted to get himself counted out, he's Mr. Money in the Bank, but I hope WWE doesn't use that as an excuse to make him lose all the time like they've done with past winners. As I've said before, I have no desire in seeing Orton and Sheamus feud because they don't create compelling matches, no matter how much it makes sense after what's happened in recent weeks.
R-Truth def. King Barrett
There really aren't words left to describe how asinine the treatment of Barrett has been as of late. Truth is fine as a comedy character, but having him beat Barrett decisively is a massive mistake. And I don't want to hear the "it's all a part of a bigger plan" argument. It absolutely isn't, and you would know that if you've been following WWE's booking of him since the downfall of The Nexus five years ago. Even attacking Truth afterward won't help fans take him seriously. He needs to win more matches and not be booked like a joke.
NXT Champion Kevin Owens def. Dolph Ziggler (Non-title)
I was excited to see Owens' open challenge accepted by Ziggler for the great match that would result from it, but I completely forgot Ziggler was the hometown boy, so that made it more special. As expected, they contested an excellent matchup with plenty of entertaining action and a few suspenseful near-falls down the stretch even though you knew Owens was bound to win. The Pop-Powerbomb into a Zig-Zag spot was terrific and Ziggler was surely made to look strong in defeat. Owens making it a non-title match was a classic heel move. By the way, I was confused by Owens wanting the United States Championship yet not wanting it after he beat him at Elimination Chamber, but hopefully it's an indicator Owens wins the title the next time they do battle.
Kane def. Randy Orton in a No Holds Barred Match
WWE had to realize that as soon as Kane was announced as Orton's opponent, it was going to be met with groans from fans. It's a match that's been overexposed, and as I've said many times in the past, Kane does absolutely nothing for him in his current role. Put the mask back on or go away, I say. If nothing else, Sheamus was able to get his heat back from earlier by costing Orton the victory.
The Miz def. Big Show by Count-out
While I understood why this match was happening following the events that transpired at Money in the Bank, I was left wondering who the crowd was supposed to cheer for since they're both heels. It wasn't until after the match that I heard some of the cheers for Miz and remembered he was Ohio. That might've worked out better had he not trashed Ohio the night prior and not declared Los Angeles his new home as a way to get heel heat. The match was fine for what it was, but it was wise to ensure it didn't overstay its welcome, and Big Show was able to escape the clutches of Ryback afterward. Speaking of whom, Ryback is very well-spoken and I enjoyed his time on commentary during this bout.
Roman Reigns Called Out Bray Wyatt
Reigns' verbiage wasn't as good as some of his more recent promos ("I'm pissed off!"? Really?), but it wasn't terrible. I'm glad that unlike in his feuds with Ryback and The Undertaker, Wyatt actually has a reason for targeting Reigns and he made it very clear: he cost him his chance of competing in the Money in the Bank Ladder match two weeks ago on Raw. We now know the motivation behind the feud, but the picture with Reigns and his daughter felt forced. Remember when he did something similar in his rivalry with Dean Ambrose last year and it added nothing to the feud?
The Bella Twins def. Paige in a 2-on-1 Handicap Match
Based off the backstage segment, it looked like this was going to be the time and place we were going to get a debut from an NXT talent, but apparently not. Honestly, that was the only thing holding my interest during this match, so if WWE's intention was to tease that possibility, then well done, they got me. The match was decent for what it was, but we desperately need new blood in the Divas Division. I'm holding out hope we get a Charlotte call-up next week, but seeing is believing.
Kevin Owens Attacked Machine Gun Kelly
While I understand MGK is from Cleveland, that didn't make his "concert" any more bearable. It's not as if he was booed out of the building, but simply put, no one cared. It's 2015; I'm shocked WWE hasn't realized sooner that wrestling and musical acts don't mesh well together unless it's WrestleMania. I'm glad I took this take a bathroom break yet still made it back in time to see Owens powerbomb him off the stage. That was glorious, though I'm pretty sure it solidified him as a heel to a majority of the viewing audience.
Neville and WWE Tag Team Champions Prime Time Players def. The New Day
This was perhaps the perfect placement for this match the show. It took place right before the main event and despite it being so late in the show, they worked a fun match and kept the crowd invested for the most part. Neville's Red Arrow finisher also woke up the crowd and it was a nice win for the newly crowned tag champs Prime Time Players. On a side note, I don't think these recent losses have hurt The New Day because they're nothing a quick promo can't fix.
The Authority Chose Brock Lesnar to Be WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins' Battleground Opponent
The Authority's selection should have been obvious to anyone knew Lesnar was advertised by the arena website to be at the show, so I don't think it was necessary to drag out The Authority's promo as much as they did. I'm assuming their logic is that it made up for them not speaking at the start of the show this week. Still, Lesnar's presence alone is always awe-inspiring and when his music hit, the crowd came to their feet. I would have loved to hear from Paul Heyman, but in retrospect, it's better they kept the crowd wanting more so they come back to hear what he has to say next week. I'm surprised they're going with this huge match at Battleground and not saving it for SummerSlam, but they might have something bigger in time for the August pay-per-view.
Coming off the newsworthy Money in the Bank pay-per-view, this was the hot follow-up edition of Raw I was hoping for. I wouldn't go so far as to say this was one of the best Raws of the year to date, but the first half of this show (with the exception of Truth vs. Barrett, of course) was strong and the return of Lesnar and Heyman at the end was a great way to close, making for an enjoyable episode on the whole. It's encouraging to see that to build to Battleground has already begin although it isn't for another five weeks. Business is about to pick up with Lesnar around again, that much is for certain.
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