The Vigilante is back. No, not this vigilante. The Vigilante, The Icon, The Man Called Sting. One week after resurfacing for the first time since the night after WrestleMania and officially staking his claim on the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, Sting opened Raw with a few choice words for the title’s current bearer, Seth Rollins. Specifically, he called Rollins’ continued reign as champion a mockery of justice, to say nothing of The Architect’s self-proclaimed status as a living legend. All of which made for a perfect opportunity for Stinger to seek the one major title he has yet to win and to take Rollins, a “little boy” who he says can't stack up to Triple H on his best day, for “a heck of a ride.”
Now that’s how you redeem a double count-out, baby. In a mulligan of his SummerSlam showdown against Rusev, Dolph Ziggler showed the world he can, in fact, get a leg up on The Bulgarian Brute in a gritty singles match that ended in controversy. Despite a solid defensive game plan by Rusev that targeted Ziggler’s tenderized throat and stopped him from picking up steam, The Showoff showed his heart by simply taking a lickin’ and keeping on tickin’. Eventually, Ziggler hit pay dirt by slithering out of the Accolade and landing a Zig Zag, but Summer Rae rushed the ring to break up the pinfall and hand “Zig Man” the disqualification win. That brought Lana in for another tussle that ended with Summer eating a faceful of The Ravishing Russian’s feet. So Rusev loses and Summer is humiliated, plus Lana and Ziggler make out again. Score one for America. Well, at least until the shower incident, but we'll leave that for The Miz to solve on SmackDown's "Miz TV."
One member of PCB is going to NOC — Night of Champions, that is — as the No. 1 contender to the Divas Title. And since all three of them are technically owed an equal crack at the champion Nikki Bella, it’s up to Father Time himself to determine who gets the nod in the form of a Beat the Clock Challenge. First up among the Divas Revolution’s insurgent upstarts was Becky Lynch, who targeted Alicia Fox’s arm early and often, leaving Team Bella’s wild card to scramble for cover. Alicia held on for three minutes and 21 seconds, but Lynch cut Foxy’s efforts short by rolling out of a tights-assisted rollup to lock in the Dis-Arm-Her.
The Miz is out of the way, dispatched to instigate six-way brawls on “Miz TV” after being pinned by Ryback at SummerSlam. That means it’s The Big Guy vs. Big Show, one-on-one, for the Intercontinental Championship on Raw. And while the jeers of the WWE Universe certainly got in Big Show’s head, The World’s Largest Athlete didn’t have any issue taking his frustration out on a sorely overmatched Ryback. The one thing that carried The Big Guy through the thicket was his toughness, and the one thing that tripped up Big Show was that frustration. That and Miz, who rushed the ring from commentary right as Show was about to administer the KO Punch. The Big Guy snuck up on the giant’s flank and unleashed Shell Shocked on his challenger to retain the title.
The race for the Divas Title No. 1 contendership just got a healthy dose of … Flair. Facing a 3:21 time limit against Brie Bella, Charlotte also had to contend with Brie’s deceptively smart strategy: to simply flee the former NXT Women’s Champion and run out the clock. She successfully evaded the Figure-Eight Leglock, but Charlotte managed to catch Brie with Natural Selection, sealing the win with time to spare and leaving a 1:40 mark for Paige to beat later in the night.
Win, Owens, win, in a rematch of the former NXT Champion’s SummerSlam slugfest with Cesaro that ended with K.O. doubling down on his victories over The Swiss Superman. As impressive as Owens’ victory was, though, it becomes doubly so when you consider the resilience of Cesaro, who absorbed Owens’ best attacks without so much as a flinch, gut-wrenched K.O. off the middle rope, and reversed a top-rope tornado DDT into a crossface. It was, all in all, your standard miracle-working from “The Professional,” but Cesaro’s victories ended with the moral variety after Owens sent him careening rib-first into the commentary table. The injury stopped Cesaro from catching Owens in the Cesaro Swing, and Owens capitalized with a superkick to the side and a Pop-up Powerbomb for the win.
Behold, the apocalypse incarnate in the form of Braun Strowman, The Wyatt Family’s newest monster and resident “Black Sheep.” And behold, a disqualification victory for said monstrosity against Dean Ambrose, though the comfort of a “W” did little to stop Strowman from dismantling The Lunatic Fringe and Roman Reigns, whose interference in the Strowman-Ambrose clash led to the big man’s disqualification win. Despite the combined efforts of Ambrose and Reigns, Strowman once again laid waste to the former Shield members, ultimately feeding Reigns into Bray Wyatt’s waiting arms for Sister Abigail. For real this time: Run.
Last a minute and 40 seconds with Paige? No problem for Sasha Banks. The Boss may no longer be NXT Women’s Champion, but she’s sure as hell up to thwarting The Diva of Tomorrow’s play for the Divas Champion, as she showed in the final installment of the first-ever Divas Beat the Clock Challenge. Rather than simply evading Paige, Sasha took the fight to the former Divas Champion for the duration of their match, though Team B.A.D. saved her from a pinfall after a Ram-Paige that would have otherwise handed Paige the No. 1 contendership. Sufficiently stalled, Paige attempted to lock in the P.T.O., but by then, it was nothing doing. The match was over, and Charlotte was named next in line.
Get the tables! But for whom, exactly? The Dudley Boyz are back with lumber to spare, but whether it’ll be The New Day or The Prime Time Players who take a plunge through the hardwood remains to be seen, even after Bubba & D-Von’s victory against the Tag Team Champions on Raw. With PTP watching from commentary, The Dudleys made their Raw return (10 years!) in high style, taking out the tandem of Kofi Kingston & Big E, while still finding time to sully Xavier Woods’ Andre 3000–style hairdo. While a 3D to Kingston spelled doom for The New Day, a second one intended to send Big E through a table was interrupted. And all the while, PTP watched, scouted and waited. Big E may have escaped the table, but Titus O’Neil & Darren Young may not be so lucky.
Seth Rollins wanted his statue back. Fair enough. But much like the first time Rollins thought he was receiving a tribute from The Authority, The Architect ended up with yet another Superstar sizing up one of his championships. Specifically, John Cena, who is owed a rematch for the U.S. Championship,showed up to make good on that clause. Despite Stephanie McMahon presumably having Rollins’ back as one of his benefactors, she had no choice but to sanction the contest, at which point Sting re-emerged to join Cena in staring Rollins down. So to recap: Rollins has two title defenses at Night of Champions; he has to deal with Stephanie taking him to task over saying he’s on Triple H’s level; and he still doesn’t have his statue. Hey, nobody said being The Man was easy.