The Champ is … not here, thanks to a knee to "The Face That Runs the Place" from Seth Rollins that turned John Cena’s nose into mush and condemned him to a rare stint on the injured list. But while The Champ mulls Rollins’ winner take all, title-for-title challenge for SummerSlam, the dueling factors of nostalgia and hubris (San Jose is where Rollins won the WWE World Heavyweight Title and Cena started his own U.S. Open Challenge) moved The Architect to institute his own open title defense in Raw’s opening moments.
Thanks to a few Authority-imposed stipulations — the challenger must be shorter than 6-feet and less than 200 hundred pounds — Rollins thought he was getting El Torito. Instead, he got Neville. And he almost lost, too, if not for a fateful foot on the ropes that saved Rollins from a three-count after the Red Arrow. The Architect managed to evade the second attempt and win with the Pedigree, but boy, was that close.
The Gordian Knot of the tag team division found itself even more twisted on Raw when four of the teams currently orbiting The Prime Time Players’ titles mixed it up in a rematch of their eight-man rumble on SmackDown. In one corner was the unorthodox combo of The Ascension and The New Day, and in the other was last week’s show-stealers, The Lucha Dragons & Los Matadores — with PTP observing from commentary.
In a development that would have made Roddy Piper proud, the ne’er-do-wells won the day, all thanks to some well-timed chicanery from Xavier Woods. After a mind-boggling scrum left everybody but Kofi Kingston and both Lucha Dragons standing, Woods got into it with El Torito right as Kalisto prepared to take flight against Kingston. Kalisto dispatched the would-be interloper, but Kingston still got the drop, Trouble in Paradise–ing the Dragon off his perch to claim the win. Positively impressive. Let's see if they can repeat on SmackDown when Mark Henry joins PTP for a six-man rematch.
Meet The Submission Sorority. They’re talented, they’re gorgeous, and they will tap you out in about five freaking seconds, especially if your last name is “Bella.” How do we know this? Well, two of the Divas division’s newest pledges, Charlotte & Becky Lynch, took on the resident queen bees and almost immediately backed up their moniker, locking in holds that torqued The Bella Twins’ joints into every angle imaginable.
The twins were no slouches themselves, though. After taking a fair amount of punishment, Brie managed to escape the Dis-arm-her and give Team Bella some life. But once Becky reached Charlotte, all of The Bellas’ blunt-force offense couldn’t match the former NXT Women’s Champion’s ingenuity. A fresh Nikki found herself tapping to the Figure-Eight moments later, giving The Submission Sorority their latest win. And don’t forget: On Wednesdays, they wear pink.
Get the popcorn ready because “Miz TV” is back and two people who hate each other are the guests of honor. Joining “the second most must-see talk show in WWE history” for Miz’s latest interview were Cesaro and Kevin Owens, who have developed a gritty rivalry of late that escalated on SmackDown when The King of Swing pinned K.O. in a tag-team contest. The animosity between the two didn’t exactly cool in the setting of a talk show. Owens called Cesaro jealous of his talent, and Cesaro accused Owens of disrespecting the WWE Universe.
As tempers rose, Owens balked at Cesaro’s challenge to fight, but settled for a cheap shot by shoving Miz into The Swiss Superman. Cesaro recovered quickly and nearly sent Owens a-swingin’ into the "Cesaro Section," though the former NXT Champion escaped with his body intact, rejecting the fight until his terms are met.
Somebody’s gonna get his face kicked. Unfortunately for Mark Henry, that “somebody” was him, though The World’s Strongest Man had reason to be optimistic in his showdown with Rusev on Raw. After all, The Bulgarian Brute was no longer the undefeated monster who humbled the former World Heavyweight Champion last year, and Henry showed the Hall of Pain was quite open for business only a few weeks back. Unfortunately for Henry, Rusev’s own induction into the Hall was cut short in brutal fashion. The Bulgarian Brute smothered his foe from the jump, felling Henry with two thrust kicks to the face for the pin, and a third one after the bell for fun.
It would appear that after retaining his kingly status at WWE Battleground, King Barrett has chosen to annex Long Island into his domain. He did so by way of trouncing Zack Ryder on Raw, but The Ultimate Broski got his kicks (literally) in, mushing His Grace in the mug with the Broski Boot. The former U.S. Champion couldn’t land the Rough Ryder as his follow-up, though, and Barrett capitalized, tossing his opponent over his head and clobbering him with the Bull Hammer while Ryder tried to recover.
Nobody’s going to be unseating The Submission Sorority on WWE’s Greek night anytime soon. After Becky Lynch & Charlotte knocked off The Bella Twins, Paige answered a challenge from Team B.A.D.’s Naomi and gave her sisterhood their second win of the night. In what was a hot topic on the “Stone Cold” Podcast following Raw, Paige played defense for the majority of the match, suffering two turnbuckle attacks by Naomi. Paige countered the third, though, shoving Naomi face-first into the turnbuckle, dodging a crossbody and locking in the PTO for the win. Not B.A.D. at all.
If there was ever a proper way to pay homage to “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, it’s got to be a ruffian in a leather jacket teaming up with two of his friends to beat up a bunch of thugs in the main event of Raw. So kudos to Dean Ambrose (the spitting image of Piper in his Hot Rod tee and leather jacket), Roman Reigns & Randy Orton for getting the job done against The Wyatt Family and the enemy of their enemy, Sheamus.
The Viper-Shield combo was a well-oiled machine throughout the entire six-man blockbuster that blew the lid off Raw’s final moments. Even Ambrose, who found himself isolated by the group’s foes, ended up being the difference-maker when he suicide-dove Luke Harper over the commentary table to neutralize the former Intercontinental Champion. That left The Apex Predator free to RKO Bray Wyatt and allowed Reigns, who had been revving up for minutes, to Spear The Celtic Warrior for the win. Cue the bagpipes.