Recap May 18
S2015 episode WWE Raw Aired on May 18, 2015

With Randy Orton noticeable by his absence, Dean Ambrose dispatched by Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns out of his hair until SmackDown, Seth Rollins had plenty to celebrate during the “Architect of a Dream” shindig organized for him by The Authority.

That said, Ambrose wanted a WWE World Heavyweight Champion Match, and a title match he was going to get. After getting denied earlier in the night, The Lunatic Fringe crashed the party and asked, once again, for a championship bout. And it took a conveniently placed pile of cinder blocks and a steel chair to convince The Authority to give it to him. Rollins, ultimately, was the one who got the last laugh for the time being, however, dispatching Ambrose with a Pedigree after The Authority temporarily overwhelmed The Lunatic Fringe. Aggressive negotiating at its best, WWE Universe.

Bad news first for Naomi: She didn’t get the Divas Title from Nikki Bella, despite technically defeating the champion in their contest on Raw — and despite having Tamina in her corner while Stephanie McMahon banned Brie Bella from ringside — thanks to Tamina superkicking Nikki post–Rack Attack. The worse news for Naomi followed: Paige returned moments after the match, with retribution on her mind after Naomi took her out to become Nikki’s No. 1 contender in the first place. Finally, bad news came for Nikki: Paige wasn’t in the mood to be buddy-buddy with her, either, planting Nikki with the Ram-Paige and picking up exactly where she left off.

More bad news for Fandango tonight: The dancing Superstar’s been brutalized in consecutive weeks by former Wyatt Family flunkies Luke Harper & Erick Rowan, so he brought some backup in the form of Zack Ryder to take both big men on at once. The plan didn’t take, though. Fandango started with gusto against Harper, but a mistimed leap to the outside gave the former Intercontinental Champion the edge until a tornado DDT opened the door for The Ultimate Broski to storm the ring. A spurt of offense briefly put Harper on his heels, but it was curtains when Ryder ran into a tilt-a-whirl slam and then a hellacioussuperkick and full-nelson slam combo from Harper and Rowan.

As satisfying as it surely was for Dolph Ziggler to finally make Sheamus kiss his arse (Payback is sweet after all), it’s likely that his lip-lock on Raw was all the more sweeter. Having dispatched a reeling Stardust with a Zig Zag, the stitched-up Showoff got a one-two punch of good news. First, he was informed he’ll be heading into the Elimination Chamber to challenge for the vacant Intercontinental Championship. Then, Lana came down to the ring and planted one right on “Zig Man.” Rusev wasn’t particularly pleased, despite having given Lana the heave-ho an hour earlier, but The Super Athlete ended up with egg on his face when Lana slapped him across the cheek and Ziggler dispatched him with a Zig Zag.

John Cena said Raw was the place to be for his U.S. Open Challenge. But no one expected to see The Champ wind up with a nose-to-nose confrontation with the reigning NXT Champion, Kevin Owens. Having a title of his own and a defense coming up this Wednesday on NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable, Owens wasn’t in the mood to challenge for another, instead deciding to make like his Twitter handle and fight. He did it dirty, too, cheap-shotting Cena after a lengthy war of words, pulverizing The Champ with his Pop-up Powerbomb, placing his foot on the prone U.S. Title and hoisting his own NXT Championship high into the air. Now that’s a takeover.

The power of positivity prevails again: Despite Xavier Woods being banned from ringside thanks to his not-entirely-on-the-level pinfall at WWE Payback, The New Day still retained their WWE Tag Team Championship against Cesaro & Tyson Kidd, setting the stage for their sure-to-be-brutal title defense inside the Elimination Chamber.

Granted, they did it because Big E & Kofi Kingston stomped Kidd in the corner until the ref called off the match. But even with Woods’ arrival to tilt the odds in their favor, The New Day got their comeuppance moments later when The Lucha Dragons, Los Matadores, The Ascension and The Prime Time Players arrived to kick off a 13-man melee that ended with PTP standing tall … at least for another two weeks.

Dean Ambrose cares not for your social niceties or any impending threats to his person. First The Lunatic Fringe — a hair away from the WWE World Heavyweight Title last night, by the way — mouthed off to an embattled Kane backstage and demanded another title match. Then he also more or less shrugged off the idea of facing an opponent handpicked by The Devil’s Favorite Demon, who chose Bray Wyatt for that role.

You’d think fighting The Eater of Worlds, whose long had Ambrose’s number, would be a worrying proposition for the former U.S. Champion, but Ambrose went at Wyatt with the gusto of a true No. 1 contender. Wyatt ultimately won this match, though he sort of owes J&J Security for that one after they bum-rushed The Lunatic Fringe and shoved him off his elbow-drop perch straight into a Sister Abigail from The New Face of Fear.

Granting John Cena a WrestleMania match? Forgivable. Dancing with Fandango on Raw? Aggravating, but not the end of the world. Quitting in Rusev’s stead during a make-or-break U.S. Title Match at WWE Payback? Well, that was one transgression too far for Lana, who was officiallydismissed as Rusev’s ambassador following her decision to throw in the towel on The Super Athlete’s behalf in his “I Quit” confrontation with Cena at WWE Payback. Despite Lana’s emotional pleas for forgiveness from Rusev (and her revelation that he did, in fact, say "I quit" in Bulgarian), the former U.S. Champion put his foot on the proverbial table. He gave The Ravishing Russian her walking papers for the unforgivable crime of showing weakness. From now on, Rusev fights alone.

Are lands and titles in order for Bo Dallas? The former NXT Champion beat on Neville’s gimpy knee after a bit of back-and-forth over their NXT rivalry before The New Sensation’s match with King Barrett. “The Bloody King” reaped the benefits, brutalizing the tender cartilage en route to a nearly uncontested Bull Hammer that got him the win he willingly abdicated last night at WWE Payback. Dallas didn’t just assist the monarch in enforcing royal law, however, he went for a bit of guerilla justice after the bell concluded, picking up exactly where he left off with Neville in Full Sail by stomping him right back down to Earth.

Good thing Ryback’s outlook on life is so inherently positive, because The Big Guy’s woes continued into their second night on Raw. Hungry for a comeback win after falling to Bray Wyatt at WWE Payback, The Human Wrecking Ball had half a mind to turn a jaw-jacking Sheamus into shepherd’s pie. Alas, what Ryback got instead was his second disappointing defeat in as many nights, thanks to a hard-hitting strategy from The Celtic Warrior that focused on The Big Guy’s tenderized ribs.

Ryback’s animal strength and mental toughness kept him in the game longer than Sheamus likely expected. He muscled his way out of the Beats of the Bodhrán and gorilla-pressed Sheamus onto the commentary table, but the Celt saved his wisest move for last. He clobbered Ryback in the ribs when he was airborne for Shell Shocked, feigned an eye injury and Brogue Kicked The Big Guy in the ensuing confusion.

With Triple H having re-inserted himself into The Authority’s machinations last week, Stephanie McMahon didn’t waste any time returning to The King of Kings’ side after a lengthy trip to Singapore. She returned to Raw, million dollar smile on display, to help fete Seth Rollins for his successful defense of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WWE Payback. Of course, she also couldn’t risk a chance to run down Daniel Bryan one more time, showcasing The Beard’s vacant Intercontinental Championship while hyping the Elimination Chamber Match on May 31 that will determine its next bearer.

Two potential suitors for the title made themselves known almost instantly: Sheamus, who clobbered Bryan in The “Yes!” Man’s final singles match before falling to injury, and Ryback, who stood up for the absent fan-favorite. The Human Wrecking Ball brazenly told The Celtic Warrior he looked stupid, successfully stopped Stephanie mid-sentence and, for his grand finale, dared Sheamus to pick on someone his own size. And to top it off, both of them were confirmed as contestants in the Elimination Chamber. To quote a certain someone: “Yes!”