That sound you hear isn’t only the rumble of Brock Lesnar’s return, but also the distant shuffling of papers officially negating The Beast Incarnate’s suspension. As wheeled and dealt by Paul Heyman, The Conqueror has added litigation to his list of vanquished foes. Lesnar’s first order of business on his first Raw back was to seal the proverbial deal by “apologizing” to JBL and Michael Cole for laying them out back in March. He accomplished it through a pair of vaguely menacing handshakes to The Wrestling God and a noogie to a petrified Cole.
With those pleasantries out of the way, it was back to the task at hand: Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins for the WWE World Heavyweight Title that The Anomaly never really lost. Heyman was practically frothing at the mouth to hype the match. Not just for the “This time it’s personal” vibe that typically accompanies such confrontations, but because both the advocate and his conquering client were 1000 percent confident that the title would soon be restored around Lesnar’s waist. For the first time in a long time, the WWE Universe seemed to agree with them.
The Devil’s Favorite olive branch? How else could you describe Seth Rollins’ inexplicable interference in his estranged enforcer Kane’s match against The Architect’s own personal thorn-in-the-side, Dean Ambrose — one week after Rollins had cast him aside as a 7-foot pile of dead weight squeezed into a suit?
The Architect’s appearance was especially fortuitous for the former WWE World Heavyweight Champion, as Ambrose had Kane all but dead to rights in their match after grinding his way to a near-insurmountable advantage. After Ambrose hacked Kane to the ground with his rebound lariat and hooked Kane’s arms for Dirty Deeds, Rollins’ music distracted The Lunatic Fringe and gave Kane his second wind. With Rollins’ help, Kane sealed the win by way of a Chokeslam off the top turnbuckle. Not bad for a peace offering. Bad news for Rollins, though: It wasn't enough.
As their rebound showdown with The New Day approaches, The Prime Time Players moved their way out of The Wasteland by knocking off The Ascension on Raw, giving the team a boost on the heels of last week’s Six-Man Tag win. That’s not to say The Ascension didn’t have the champions well-scouted. Konnor & Viktor made it a point to target Titus O’Neil — PTP’s typical closer — early on, but his reversal of a chinlock into a side slam opened the door for Darren Young to storm the gate against Viktor. The Big Deal took advantage of an interfering Konnor with Clash of the Titus, and Mr. No Days Off sealed the deal with a Gut Check to Viktor for the win.
As Sheamus awaits his crowd-sourced cash-in, there are worse ways to spend his time as Mr. Money in the Bank than reaping the benefits of Bray Wyatt’s cerebral warfare. After The Eater of Worlds hand-delivered the Irishman a victory over Roman Reigns on SmackDown, Wyatt interrupted The Big Dog’s rematch with The Celtic Warrior in the same manner. He appeared on the TitanTron, seemingly sharing a tea party with Reigns’ daughter right as Reigns had obliterated Sheamus on the outside.
The image of The New Face of Fear drove Reigns to abandon the match in search of his foe, but little did he know, Wyatt was simply sitting down with an empty, child-sized rocking chair. Reigns’ abdication spared The Celtic Warrior a loss, but he came up empty-handed in his hunt all the same. The only thing he found was the abandoned tea set, surrounded with desecrated images of Reigns himself and “ANYONE BUT YOU” scrawled across the wall.
It’s almost redundant to say that Neville did something to make you believe a man can fly, but there he was again on Raw, leaping Kofi Kingston in a single bound despite the attempted interference of The Dreadlocked Dynamo’s brothers in positivity. Happily, the would-be chicanery of The New Day was negated by the arrival of Neville’s running buddies The Prime Time Players. Even though the ensuing scuffle ended with all four interlopers being ejected from ringside, Neville sealed the latest chapter of the “Altitude Era” all the same, clocking Kingston with an enzuigiri and swooping in with the Red Arrow to end it.
With R-Truth, aka “King What’s Up,” laying claim to King Barrett’s divine right, the brawling Brit needed a win to give him some momentum in this developing War of Two Kings. Enter Zack Ryder, fresh off a strong showing at NXT alongside Mojo Rawley and looking for a fight. Unfortunately for The Ultimate Broski, King Barrett was way more hyped than he. Even though Ryder got in position for, potentially,another 450 Splash, His Grace tripped Ryder up on the ropes and lit him up with the Bull Hammer for three. All claims to the throne aside, however, Truth pardoned Little Jimmy. Now that’s what’s up.
As yet another self-styled king might say, it’s on like a pot of neckbones. Kevin Owens called out John Cena for a U.S. Title Match and took out Machine Gun Kelly as a warning shot. The Champ responded in his first Raw in two weeks by addressing the NXT Champion’s challenge for the Stars and Bars at WWE Battleground on July 19. Owens’ game of verbal one-upmanship continued when he mockingly responded to the Cenation leader in French, but Cena spat fire in French and Chinese in return. The long and short of it? Cena accepted the challenge, told Owens to put up, shut up and settle their differences at Battleground. After all, these colors don’t run.
Can a Divas division divided against itself stand? The Bella Twins’ dominance of the ladies’ locker room has forced the femme fatales of WWE to either side with the twins or with lone rabble-rouser Paige, but The Diva of Tomorrow has her work cut out for her if Raw’s latest development is any indication. Taking on Naomi & Tamina, who have taken up a neutral stance in the intra-division conflict, The Bellas —flanked by “Team Bella” member Alicia Fox — continued their winning ways. They didn’t need Twin Magic to do it, but twin teamwork sufficed just fine when Nikki shoved an interfering Tamina straight into the Rear View and followed up with a Rack Attack to seal the contest.
The Big Guy’s got Big Show and a bigger ego to deal with at WWE Battleground, but if Ryback’s performance against Mark Henry on Raw is any indication, defending his title might not be such an insurmountable proposition. In a WrestleMania 29 rematch, and with Big Show watching at commentary, The Human Wrecking Ball fended off a suffocating attack from the former World Heavyweight Champion to win in a most unusual fashion.
For all Big Show's insistence that Ryback lacked the necessary strength to defeat him, The Big Guy pulled off the win by escaping the World’s Strongest Slam and laying out Henry with the Meathook Clothesline before putting Henry away with a Frog Splash. Having been thoroughly proven wrong, an embarrased Big Show went after Ryback backstage, but The Big Guy got the better of him yet again, overpowering the giant in their fistfight and slamming him headfirst into a steel door.
Adam Rose is back on Raw! And while the onetime grand marshal of WWE’s never-ending party may be planning his “masterpiece,” Dolph Ziggler left the newly mustachioed Rose all black and blue on Raw, to say nothing of a lurking Rusev backstage. After Rose decried Ziggler and Lana’s relationship as a hollow echo of art and love, “Zig Man” put his money where his lips are by shaking off a very game Rose. He put him away with a superkick that cut Rose’s top-rope axe handle short in midair, sending Dolph to SmackDown against Sheamus on a high.
In celebration of Ziggler’s win, Lana quite literally let her hair down before sharing a passionate kiss with The Showoff that sure didn’t look fake. All of this was too much for Rusev, who was watching backstage and threw a tantrum, chucking his crutches in frustration backstage and inadvertently taking his own legs out from under him. Happily, someone was there to help him up: Summer Rae.
So it’s come to this: Seth Rollins, the man who did it all on his own, was forced to grovel his way back into The Authority’s good graces. It was all in an attempt to regain his precious support system before he goes to the mat with Brock Lesnar at Battleground. Kane and J&J Security seemed relatively amenable to Rollins’ proposition, but when Lesnar crashed the party, only The Devil’s Favorite Demon stayed to defend Rollins from The Beast with a sneak attack.
Despite Lesnar initially getting the better of Rollins, Kane managed to land a Chokeslam, at which point Rollins and Joey Mercury quickly closed ranks and, against all odds, the corporate power got the job done. The Authority targeted Lesnar’s leg, set him up for the Pedigree and, as Raw faded to black, Lesnar had been taken down, Paul Heyman was silent, the champion was standing tall and his comrades were once again at his side. Here comes the pain?