John Cena, Brock Lesnar, and Undertaker are all scheduled for matches at the top of the card for WWE SummerSlam 2015 in about two weeks, and all of them were missing on Raw Monday night. Still, WWE put together a fun, entertaining show despite a depleted roster, which also includes the absence of Dolph Ziggler who is off filming a movie.
The anchor to the show were the two matches surrounding the WWE World Heavyweight Title. First, Cesaro, Kevin Owens, and Randy Orton wrestled in a triple threat match to determine the No. 1 contender for Rollins’ title later in the show. This was an excellent triple threat match, where Cesaro again shined. He’s rising up the ladder quickly.
Kevin Owens’ stock continues to plummet, but at this point it’s clearly WWE’s plan to do so. It’s nothing Owens’ has done. They had a hot, new, fresh character, and in typical Vince McMahon fashion, he ruined it in short order. Most 70-year-old men have their finger on the pulse of what the 30-year-old fans (and even younger) want, though. Right?
Anyway, Orton then received a title shot later in the show and appeared primed to win the match, if not for Sheamus’ interference. Sheamus then teased cashing in his Money in the Bank contract, but Orton ran him off.
WWE has done a good job making Rollins feel like a vulnerable champion. I still thought they could have done a better job playing up what happened at WrestleMania earlier this year, where Orton actually beat Rollins, only for Rollins to become champion later in the show with the MITB contract. That seemed like a natural storyline for them to really hammer on with this match.
But the match and angle was good to setup up Orton-Sheamus at SummerSlam as well as continue to hammer home the point that Rollins might be vulnerable in his title defense. Being able to further two separate stories within one match, like this did, is a great thing.
1. Nikki Bella, Brie Bella & Alicia Fox beat Sasha Banks, Naomi & Tamina.
2. New Day beat Los Matadores.
3. Randy Orton beat Cesaro & Kevin Owens in a triple threat match to earn a WWE World Hvt. Title match later in the show.
4. Luke Harper beat Dean Ambrose.
5. Rusev fought Mark Henry to a no contest.
6. Neville beat King Barrett.
7. Randy Orton beat Seth Rollins via disqualification. Rollins retains the WWE World Hvt. Title.
1. In what should come as no surprise to anyone who has watched WWE television over the 10 years, the company again threw continuity out the window, with the Bellas working as a babyface team this week, after last week working as a heel team.
2. WWE did a nice job with the video package where other wrestlers were commenting on how big of a match Brock Lesnar vs. Undertaker is going to be at SummerSlam. This was a tactic WWE used a lot in the early-WrestleMania days, and it definitely made this match feel even larger than it already is. When stars are making a match out to be a big deal, it feels like an even bigger deal to the viewer.
3. Daniel Bryan returned to WWE television as a guest on MizTV. Bryan announced he still wasn’t cleared for wrestling but was working his way back. Ryback was the one really set up for failure in this segment. He returned to TV after missing the last several weeks with a staph infection. Bryan’s pop, in his hometown (Seattle), was so big that Ryback’s pop for his return seemed dull by comparison. Still, it was an effective rub for Ryback, who cleared the Miz from the ring and was celebrating with Bryan at the end of the segment.
4. Earlier, we wrote about Stephen Amell now being confirmed for SummerSlam. I really liked how WWE put their wrestlers over in the backstage back-and-forth with Triple H, at first not clearing Amell for the match because it was too dangerous. I thought that added a sense of legitimacy to the wrestlers full-time, which is a good move. Amell, to his credit, was very good.
An underrated episode of Raw. Considering they were lacking Lesnar, Undertaker and John Cena, WWE made the most of the roster available and put together a good show with a mix of angles and hype for SummerSlam.