By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Seth Rollins Addressed Roman Reigns' Suspension
There was absolutely no way WWE could keep Reigns in the Triple Threat WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at Battleground (which I still don't agree with) and not acknowledge his suspension at all. Rollins pretty much echoed the thoughts of the majority by demanding he be removed from the match. Additionally, I loved how he tied it back to himself and how it "embarrassed" him because of their former friendship. Styles and Cena both have claims to be involved in the title picture, so their respective matches with Ambrose and Rollins made sense in storyline and were exciting announcements in regards to the rest of the show. Reigns remains in the title match, but it is what it is, I suppose.
Sasha Banks and Paige def. WWE Women's Champion Charlotte and Dana Brooke
This was a very logical follow-up to the events of last week's Raw that I didn't even think of ahead of time. Well done, WWE. It was a well-wrestled match and I was happy to see all the women receive entrances this week. Banks was the central focus of the match and the crowds are responding to her in a major way. WWE could have very easily had Banks pin Charlotte for the win, which I wouldn't have hated simply because it would have earned her a title shot, but I was glad WWE resisted having the champion eat another loss.
Titus O'Neil def. United States Champion Rusev by Count-out (Non-title)
The rematch wasn't that much better than their Money in the Bank encounter, but the extra aggressive element to O'Neil's character has at least made him and this feud more engaging for me. O'Neil's count-out victory was well done. It protected Rusev in defeat, gave O'Neil a rare credible win, and set up the need for a title rematch. They'll likely wait until Battleground to do the third match, but I'd personally prefer for it to be held next given it will be the Fourth of July.
Seth Rollins def. John Cena
These two have always had excellent chemistry together and I can't recall one bad bout they've ever contested. Needless to say, this was another highly entertaining encounter from them, even if the finish and interference from The Club could be seen coming from a mile away. That said, it was exactly the type of opportunity Rollins would take advantage of as a heel, so this worked on several levels.
Enzo Amore and Big Cass def. Local Athletes
Of course, the match was over in a matter of seconds, so there really isn't anything to analyze in regards to that, but WWE actually encouraging fans to do the wave in the crowd was interesting. I don't remember that ever being the case before. There are bound to be those who see as a feud with The Social Outcasts as a step down for Enzo and Cass, but I'm completely content with it. The promos should be funny, you know Enzo and Cass are winning each match, and it will keep them busy before they eventually reenter the WWE Tag Team Championship picture.
Becky Lynch vs. Summer Rae Went to a No Contest
Two women's segments in one night? Has hell frozen over? In all seriousness, I realize it isn't unprecedented, but since WrestleMania, the division has been solely focused on the WWE Women's Championship without any secondary stories. This Lynch vs. Natalya feud has been a breath of fresh air and I appreciated how Lynch went straight after Natalya instead of worrying about the match. Has anyone else ever wondered why Superstars never attack their rivals despite how they're sitting right there at ringside?
Chris Jericho Hosted 'The Highlight Reel' with Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
This was a side of Owens we hadn't seen since the first WWE incarnation of their rivalry in NXT when Zayn demanded answers from him as to why he betrayed their friendship only for Owens to walk off. We saw something similar here and both guys played their roles exceptionally. Although Jericho was a riot per usual, I was going to question why he was putting himself over throughout the segment, but the payoff was Zayn and Owens working together to shut him up. Their Battleground match should be stellar, but expect their feud to be far from over. They are destined to fight forever after all.
Kane def. Intercontinental Champion The Miz by Count-out
The crowd sat on their hands for a majority of the matchup and I can't say I blame them because Kane was an underwhelming surprise, especially since we saw him earlier in the night as Corporate Kane. Part me held out hope the real shocker would occur afterward, but not such luck. Rather, we were treated to a flat match with a weak finish. I have zero desire to see this feud continue beyond this point. There many other stars I'd prefer to see chasing the Intercontinental Championship before Kane.
Apollo Crews and Cesaro def. Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio
Knowing WWE, I fully expected them to ignore Sheamus and Del Rio's history in League of Nations and subsequent split, and thus I was pleasantly surprised they teased tension throughout the bout. In fact, Del Rio ended up turning on his partner (which drew cheers from the crowd) and walking out, allowing Crews to kick Sheamus into the steel steps (a nod to their SmackDown match last week) and finally score the decisive victory over the former WWE World Heavyweight Champion. There was so much done right with this one match.
The Wyatt Family Interrupted WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day
I usually dig New Day's comedy, but them dressing up as the Wyatts didn't get much of a chuckle out of me. However, it was nice to hear Kofi Kingston bring up the "power of positivity" and its ability to overcome evil. If this feud is going to work, we need more of that serious side of New Day. I'm still not sure what to make of Xavier Woods seemingly getting brainwashed by Bray Wyatt, but it certainly has me intrigued.
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Dean Ambrose def. AJ Styles (Non-title)
As a first time ever encounter, Ambrose and Styles worked well together and produced a great main event match. I don't think there was much doubt Ambrose was winning and the Triple Threat would remain, but they contested a very fun matchup regardless with Ambrose's knee injury serving as a solid story. This is a bout I would definitely love to see more of down the line if both guys are drafted to the same show. Furthermore, I liked the heels standing tall over the babyfaces to close out the night.
I might be in the minority here, but I throughly enjoyed this edition of Raw and the three hours didn't seem to drag as they typically tend to. Cena vs. Rollins and Ambrose vs. Styles would have been awesome either way, but the added stipulations made both bouts more meaningful. Meanwhile, the rest of the episode featured plenty of storyline progression and build for matches set to take place at Battleground. Next week's edition should be throwaway given it will fall on the Fourth of July, but there is a small chance they exceed expectations by delivering a passable show.
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