Call it a season premiere or a new day, either way, we still have the same WWE Tag Team Champions. On a night already stacked with blockbuster matches, including the in-ring Raw debut of Sting, The New Day kicked off Raw’s season premiere by knocking off The Prime Time Players in the former champions’ rematch for the twin titles they lost at SummerSlam.
Credit Xavier Woods’ trombone for disorienting Titus O’Neil at the moment of truth and Big E and Kofi Kingston for following up with the Midnight Hour to The Big Deal (Darren Young had been Trouble in Paradise’d into unconsciousness at ringside). Of course, with PTP dispatched, New Day’s next challengers came crawling out of the woodwork when The Dudley Boyz stomped to the top of the ramp, leading the WWE Universe in a “Get the Tables” chant. Enjoy those titles, guys. They could be gone come Sunday.
It turns out there is one downside to Charlotte’s Divas Title opportunity later in the night. The former NXT Women’s Champion wasn’t on hand to support Paige in her tilt against Sasha Banks, which meant Team B.A.D. had PCB outnumbered three-to-two. To her credit, Banks didn’t lean on the support of her squad for the majority of the match, in which she made it a point to target Paige’s arm over and over again.
In fact, it was only after Paige suplexed Sasha out of the ring that Tamina made her move, pulling The Boss to safety when Paige attempted a somersault dive. The Diva of Tomorrow ate dirt on the outside and Sasha did the rest, locking in the Bank Statement for a tap-out while Naomi and Tamina stomped Becky Lynch into the mat.
In all fairness, if you booked The Wyatt Family on a talk show, you’d probably expect something terrible to happen, too. When The Miz hosted the first family of fear on the latest “Miz TV,” it was inevitable that someone was going to get beat up, especially after Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns crashed the party. Somewhat unsurprisingly, that person was Miz, who ended up on the wrong end of a boot to the gut from Ambrose, leaving the two warring families alone in the ring.
Face-to-face with his tormentors, Reigns took hold of the microphone and, after a few choice words about Wyatt’s treatment of his cousin on SmackDown, dropped his biggest bombshell yet on The New Face of Fear. He and Ambrose had found their third man for Night of Champions, and with the side shored up, the former Shield members were ready to go to war once again.
The John Cena–Sheamus match on Raw certainly had the air of opportunism on the part of The Authority, as both men have their sights set on Seth Rollins’ titles at Night of Champions. The corporate power clearly hoped the two heavyweights would simply take each other out before Sunday, and indeed, they haymakered each other wobbly only minutes into the bout, with Cena gaining the upper hand after a Five-Knuckle Shuffle.
Mr. Money in the Bank rallied with 10 Beats of the Bodhrán, but Cena, showing little respect for the mohawk, responded himself with 10 clubs of his own to the Celt’s chest cavity. It came down to who would blink first, and despite a grueling counter of the STF into a rolling senton, that ended up being Sheamus when Cena caught him in an Attitude Adjustment for the win. It was a tough night for Sheamus, but even in defeat, you’d be a fool to say he looked stupid.
After weeks of circling Ryback and one instance of costing him a match, Kevin Owens opted for a far less passive-aggressive approach than previous weeks this time around by crashing The Big Guy’s in-ring interview and (after some choice words about Ryback’s sacred tome, “The Secret”) all but promised The Big Guy he’d take his Intercontinental Title if given the chance. Coincidentally, given Ryback’s competitive nature and the fact that every title must be defended Sunday, it should be no surprise that the Intercontinental Champion had already gone to The Authority and asked for the match. So it's Ryback vs. Owens at Night of Champions. How do ya like them apples?
It took a couple of weeks, but The Man That Gravity Forgot finally got some backup to bring Stardust back down to earth. The Prince of Dark Matter’s burgeoning alliance with The Ascension came at the expense of Neville, and the former NXT Champion didn’t bother with any pleasantries when it came time to answer back. Neville brought in The Lucha Dragons as backup to take out both Stardust and The Ascension, sending the villains into retreat in short order ... and instiaging a challenge for Night of Champions Kickoff.
Charlotte gets the win, but Nikki Bella keeps the record. That was the gist of the Divas Championship Match between Ric Flair’s progeny and the now longest-recorded titleholder of the women’s prize, which had more twists and turns than a “Mr. Robot” episode and about as many people getting involved.
Thanks to a brutal, simple strategy — attack the arm — Nikki had the upper hand until a Charlotte comeback forced her to activate Twin Magic … but Charlotte flipped the script and won anyway, pinning Brie Bella. Once the official realized the ruse, Stephanie McMahon came to the ring under the pretense of upholding the Divas division’s integrity to change the decision to a disqualification, sending Nikki to SmackDown's "Bellabration" as champ. But Stephanie also upheld the title match for Night of Champions, with one new caveat: Should Nikki lose, under any circumstance, she will lose the title as well.
Heyyy, Cesaro’s back! After a couple less-than-stellar weeks for The Swiss Superman, the grand marshal of the Cesaro Section got his legs back under him by serving a rare defeat to Rusev thanks to an innocuous if fortuitous appearance by Dolph Ziggler at ringside. Right as The Bulgarian Brute was in a deadlock with Cesaro, The Showoff sauntered down to the ring with a gift box for Summer Rae, enabling Cesaro to spring with a ridiculously intricate rollup for the win.
Ziggler followed up the win with another surprise, in the form of a superkick to Rusev's face. The big kick left the big man seeing stars, but Summer wasn’t so concerned that she couldn’t sneak the gift, which turned out to be jewelry, away for herself while tending to her man’s health.
Winless no more, Sting officially got a victory on the board in WWE after his first time stepping through the ropes on Monday Night Raw … though there is a catch. The Vigilante’s inaugural “W” came as a result of a disqualification, and led immediately into his second Raw contest after the Sting–Big Show tilt organized by The Authority unraveled in epic fashion.
Holding his own against an opponent he’s known for a very long time, Sting seemed on the verge of toppling the giant. But then Seth Rollins rushed The Icon to avenge his beloved statue, placing the former WCW Champion on the wrong end of a two-on-one beatdown. In came John Cena to even the odds, at which point The Authority intervened to reorganize the scrum into — Holla! — a tag team match.
Make that two wins for The Stinger. Moments after Sting’s battle with Big Show was reorganized in a tag match teaming Sting with John Cena and Seth Rollins with Show, The Authority’s foot soldiers got their wind back when Cena found himself crushed like a jellybean under the giant’s boot.
Miraculously, the Cenation leader survived long enough to tag in Sting, and The Icon ran roughshod over a thoroughly unprepared Rollins, executing a Scorpion Death Drop on The Architect after Cena dispatched an interfering Big Show with an Attitude Adjustment. With Rollins reeling, Sting sealed the deal by rolling "The Man" into a Scorpion Deathlock and achieving a near-instant submission. Better luck Sunday, champ.