By Graham "GSM" Matthews
United States Champion John Cena def. Bad News Barrett
Given that England is usually an anti-Cena crowd, Barrett was the perfect opponent for him on this show. Based off the reaction he got when his entrance music hit and the "Thank You Barrett" chants, Barrett came off like a complete star and you would have never known how badly he's been booked since his return from injury. They have history their feud roughly five years ago and as expected, they worked a very solid match. Barrett kicking out of the Attitude Adjustment was a pleasant surprise, so it was refreshing to see him looking strong in defeat. The U.S. Open continues to be an entertaining fixture of Raw each week. Meanwhile, the post-match attack from Rusev was well done and I'm interested to see what a "Russian Chain Match" entails.
Paige Won a No. 1 Contender's Battle Royal for the Divas Championship
The Battle Royal was throwaway as most Divas Battle Royals are (Rosa Mendes embarrassingly rolling out of the ring when eliminated got a good laugh out of me), but the final few minutes when it came down to Paige and Noami were suspenseful because either of them could win. I guess Paige going over shouldn't be as surprising as I thought it would be given that this was her home country, but it made for a cool moment. What was surprising, however, was Naomi going heel. She's a natural babyface, but a heel turn is a great way to shake things up for her, and she'll likely be the first opponent for Paige if she wins the belt at Extreme Rules.
The Lucha Dragons def. The Ascension
The Lucha Dragons have been shining since arriving on the main roster two weeks ago and the live crowd (obviously) reacted very favorably to them throughout this bout. The Ascension are, unfortunately, a lost cause by this point, as this match was all about showcasing the skills of The Lucha Dragons. Their last few wins should set them up for a WWE Tag Team Championship against Cesaro and Tyson Kidd at Extreme Rules, which has the potential to be one hell of a match with the right stipulation.
Big Show Interrupted and Attacked Roman Reigns
Reigns' promo was better than most of his mic work and being in there with Booker T as opposed to being by himself certainly helped. My only gripe is why didn't this happen sooner? WrestleMania was two weeks ago. It's not like he couldn't have addressed this the last two weeks, but better late than never, I guess. I'm not at all enthralled with another Reigns vs. Show match, but Show's attack on Reigns was strong. They finally made use of the English car on the stage for once!
Randy Orton def. WWE Tag Team Champion Cesaro by Disqualification; Orton def. WWE Tag Team Champions Cesaro and Tyson Kidd in a 2-on-1 Handicap Match
I really looking forward to Orton vs. Cesaro one-on-one given their great chemistry, so I was a bit disappointed we only got a minute or so of that before it ended in a disqualification. The Handicap match was nice and all, but I didn't see any reason in beating the tag team champs in such a scenario. It doesn't make them extremely weak, but it didn't help them (or Orton for that matter), either. The RKO "out of nowhere" on Kidd at the end was pretty nice, though.
Dean Ambrose def. Adam Rose
This was a basic squash match and a showcase for Ambrose, and if there was anyone to do it against, it was Rose who has never meant less. Ambrose was crazy over with this crowd and he picked up a good win, but why not do this on SmackDown and save Ambrose's return for after the Luke Harper vs. Ryback match? It would have made his return feel slightly more meaningful.
Stardust def. Fandango
Similar to Ambrose vs. Rose, this was nothing more than a quick squash match that felt useless when it first got started. Neither guy was apparently babyface, so there wasn't anyone for the crowd to cheer for. Thankfully, they got the match over with and it made sense afterward with Fandango apparently ditching Rosa Mendes and dancing to his old entrance music. If this was the trigger for his face turn, then this was the perfect place to do it. I'm no Fandango fan, and this face turn comes two years too late, but it's nice they finally have something for the guy to do and they've finally established a face turn for him in front of a crowd that appreciated it.
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins def. Kane (Non-title)
I honestly never expected I would enjoy a Kane match as much as I did this one. The segments dedicated to Kane throughout the night were absolutely excellent and it's most Kane has meant in a long, long time. He's been associated with The Authority for so long (longer than anyone else in the group other than Triple H and Stephanie McMahon) that it's to be a major moment when he eventually breaks away and the crowd went crazy for him when he teased doing so here. Him fighting back against Rollins only to intentionally take the loss was brilliant. His face turn is not yet complete, but I bet it will be before long.
Damien Mizdow def. The Miz
I didn't mind the match as much this week if only because after last week, it became apparent that they're building to a rubber match of some kind for Extreme Rules. It was kept short and sweet, so not much was given away. They can save their best bout for the pay-per-view. On a side note, I don't mind Summer Rae being added to Mizdow's act. It's not necessary, but at least it gives her something to do (and it's obviously their way of promoting the release of "The Marine 4").
Ryback def. Luke Harper by Disqualification
The crowd wasn't as into this match or its competitors as I would've expected them to be, but with it being so late in the show, it was understandable. Neither guy could afford a loss, so I was fine with the non-finish. As I already noted, Ambrose coming down would've meant more had he not competed earlier in the evening, but it was still an effective way of furthering his feud with Harper. A Fall Count Anywhere or Tables match between the two at Extreme Rules could be all kinds of awesome.
Dolph Ziggler def. Neville
For the second straight week, Neville had one of the best matches on the show against one of the best wrestlers on the roster. The action was incredible and that 450 splash off the barricade left me speechless. Just phenomenal stuff. Although I would've preferred that Neville won, especially considering this was his home country, it looks like he'll have an underdog-like persona where he'll put forth a hell of a fight only to end up losing. He can't lose every week, but when up against top-tier guys, it makes sense. Also, the post-match brawl between Sheamus and Ziggler was fantastic and their rumored match at the pending pay-per-view should be equally exceptional.
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins and Randy Orton Chose the Stipulations For Their Extreme Rules Match
It was cool that both Orton and Rollins got to pick stipulations as it now puts the title match in question. The RKO being banned makes sense given that it played a major factor in Orton's win at WrestleMania, as does it contested inside a Steel Cage given all the interference from The Authority (although history has shown us that they'll probably interfere anyway). As for the segment itself, it was entertaining because Rollins is perfect in his slimy heel role while Orton feels more motivated and relaxed than ever before. The progression of this feud has been very well done and is probably better now than it was before WrestleMania.
My bias for the (amazing) England crowd aside, this was an outstanding show. Maybe I'm being too generous, but I honestly couldn't find a single thing I didn't like about it. Sure, I could nitpick the little tings, but on the whole, everything served a purpose and was entertaining. Furthermore, there was a ton of build for Extreme Rules which is shaping up to be a stellar event. The England atmosphere only added to my enjoyment of this episode, making it a very fun night overall.
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