WWE Begins Setting the Stage for SummerSlam

WWE booked its main event for Payback and the King of the Ring returned on Monday’s WWE Raw …

WWE booked a three-way match for the WWE World Heavyweight Title at the upcoming Payback event next month, with champion Seth Rollins defending the title against Randy Orton and Roman Reigns. The match was arranged by Kane, through a WWE App poll.

WWE continued to tease some dissension between Kane and the rest of the Authority. The three-way match is a smart play by WWE, though. Keeping the belt on Rollins seems to be their plan, and given that in WWE’s universe (no pun intended), three-way matches are generally contested with No DQ rules, it gives them an out for Rollins to win through interference.

Moving forward, it seems that WWE will want to keep the belt on Rollins until a rematch with Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam. That’s been speculated by some well-respected news outlets as well. For now, WWE can book some matches between Reigns and Rollins, putting a bookend on the storyline of Rollins screwing Reigns out of his one-on-one WWE Title match at WrestleMania. Given that Rollins and Reigns are two relatively new faces to the main-event scene in WWE, injecting Orton for some star power is also a smart move.

If WWE moves to Rollins-Lesnar in the summer, they’ll need to find a way to pull Orton and Reigns out of the title picture. When pulling a babyface out of the title scene without winning the title, it’s always smart to give them a personal issue to move on to. For Reigns, that could be a number of things. A Reigns-Triple H match at SummerSlam would make sense, and also could showcase Reigns against a top-level name, at a big event, and we’ll presume it would be a big win for Reigns.

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SummerSlam is the next big thing to WrestleMania, and giving Reigns a top-level match there, and a big win, should be a priority. But for now, these three will be battling over the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

Quick Strikes

1. The King of the Ring format returned on Raw, which first-round matchups on the show. The semifinals and finals will take place as part of a live special on WWE Network Tuesday night. Wade Barrett, R-Truth, Neville and Sheamus will fight for the honor.

This seems like a good moment to crown Neville, and really send him on his way as a next-generation babyface. He got the big win over Barrett at Extreme Rules on Sunday, and WWE seems to be going all-in since bringing him up to the main roster.

It helps Neville’s case that Daniel Bryan is out of action with an injury, because it opens up a spot. Neville has to be the favorite to win the tournament, with Sheamus a close second. WWE has liked to use the King of the Ring to activate a heel and use the annoying “king” gimmick. It worked with Booker T and Owen Hart, about 20 years ago now. Sheamus is more of a killer heel since being brought back after WrestleMania, so I’m not sure that really fit his character.

If they aren’t going to go with Sheamus winning the tournament and using the moniker as a way to annoy the fans, then crowning Neville and giving him the big push coming out of the tournament would be the way to go.

2. There were some segments on this show that seemed to be give-backs after losses at Extreme Rules. Naomi beat Brie Bella after losing to Nikki on Sunday. Randy Orton was part of a winning team in the main event after losing to Seth Rollins.

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3. There was some strange filler on this show. The Damien Sandow segment, where he re-emerged as himself, and not Mizdow, was meant to be funny (I think?) but didn’t come across as such. Curtis Axel interrupted Sandow’s promo and said “Axelmania was going to run wild.” That whole thing. It ended with Sandow chucking Axel out of the ring and some generic music.

Adam Rose beat Fandango, which was pure filler. Both Rose and Fandango have been used as glorified enhancement talent the last several weeks, so it was strange to see them in a one-on-one match. It almost would have been better to utilize one of them against a bigger name — Jack Swagger? Bray Wyatt? — in order to give them a win.

4. Speaking of Sandow’s promo, whoever wrote the verbiage did a terrible job. Sandow said he was “told to his face that he wasn’t entertaining enough,” and that he was “on a quest to entertain.” This couldn’t be more counterproductive. Within the context of the television show, it’s NOT about “entertaining” people. It’s about WINNING MATCHES. That has to be the context. It’s not an athletic contest, but it’s a simulated athletic contest.

If you’re a hockey fan, the Washington Capitals beat the New York Islanders in Game 7 of their playoff series last night. It’s funny, I don’t remember seeing the Islanders’ John Tavares, or any other player, saying something like, “Yeah we lost, but we’re just here to entertain you, so if you were entertained, we’re happy.”

WWE needs to get with it in this regard. They do things like this with far too much frequency.

Match Results

1. KOTR First Round: Wade Barrett def. Dolph Ziggler via pin

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2. Big E def. Tyson Kidd via pin

3. Ryback def. Bo Dallas via pin

4. KOTR First Round: R-Truth def. Stardust via pin

5. Adam Rose def. Fandango via pin

6. Naomi def. Brie Bella via pin

7. KOTR First Round: Sheamus def. Dean Ambrose via DQ

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8. KOTR First Round: Neville def. Luke Harper via pin

9. Randy Orton & Roman Reigns def. Seth Rollins & Kane

The Finish

A good Raw, setting up the next pay-per-view. There was a lot of filler, but that’s a product of the three-hour era. The stuff that meant something was well done in setting up the next phase of storylines heading into Payback next month.