WWE RAW Opening Segment:
Monday Night RAW kicked off with the entire roster gathered on the stage as the WWE gave the late, great Roddy “Rowdy” Piper a ten bell salute and played a video package in his honor. It was a nice gesture to Piper’s family and very touching.
This was a solid way to kick off the show. Nothing was memorable until Rollins issued his challenge to Cena for a title vs. title at SummerSlam. This made this segment buzz as Cena made the same challenge last week. Despite Cena’s broken nose, he is likely to accept and return at SummerSlam.
Neville vs. Seth Rollins
Fans may recall that Neville and Rollins feuded in NXT and Neville dethroned Rollins there. They may also recall the tough match that these two had when Neville was called up to the main roster. Raise the stakes by having the WWE Championship defended on RAW and the crowd was into the match from the start. Neville’s speed and high flying moves had Rollins reeling early on. However, Rollins reversed it by tripping him into the announce table. After a series of great offense from both men, Neville hit the Red Arrow, but, when he attempted to gain the pinfall, Rollins’ foot was on the rope during the count. On Neville’s second attempt at a Red Arrow, Rollins countered and Pedigreed Neville to win by pinfall.
Both times that these two superstars have wrestled, they have put on quality matches. They are the leaders of a new generation of WWE superstars who will constantly wow audiences with fast-paced matches and high flying moves. For many, this was the match of the night even though it was the first one.
The New Day and The Ascension vs Los Matadores and The Lucha Dragons
In a repeat of the match on SmackDown, the New Day teamed with the Ascension to take on Los Matadores and the Lucha Dragons while the Prime Time Players sat on commentary. The match started with Sin Cara beating on Big E and Kofi Kingston of the New Day. However, the Ascension entered and quickly took control of the match. After a series left all of the participants stretched out, Kofi Kingston hit Trouble in Paradise off a distraction from Xavier Woods to gain a pinfall win over Kalisto.
This was a fairly decent match. With no consistent favorite emerging between these teams, it is unclear who will challenge the Prime Time Players for the Tag Team Championship. As it is, everyone but the Ascension appears to be in contention for the opportunity.
Nikki and Brie Bella vs Becky Lynch and Charlotte
Before the match, Paige dubbed her team The Submission Sorority. The accuracy of the name quickly became apparent as Lynch and Charlotte locked submission after submission on the Bellas. However, the Bellas always managed to escape due to interference from Alica Fox. However, the Submission Sorority was too much for the Bellas and Charlotte forced Nikki Bella to tap out to the Figure Eight Leg Lock.
The Divas division has not seen matches like this since AJ Lee. Every match is entertaining now and the in-ring work has become a lot better since the NXT Divas were called up. Paige appears to be on a collision course with Nikki for the title at SummerSlam, but Becky Lynch and Charlotte may have their own designs on it.
Miz TV with Cesaro and Kevin Owens
The Miz opened by giving a short tribute to Roddy Piper. Given the heel’s usual antics, this was a surprise and a nice gesture. After bragging about his side projects, he demanded that Ryback vacate the Intercontinental Championship due to his injury. Then Kevin Owens and Cesaro both came down to the ring as his guests. Owens began by claiming that Cesaro is jealous of him and Cesaro retorted by taunting Owens about walking out of his matches recently. A little encouragement from the Miz started hostilities. Owens shoved the Miz into Cesaro before escaping from a Cesaro Swing attempt.
This segment was excellent from the start to the finish. Cesaro is getting stronger on the microphone every time he touches it. The tension between Cesaro and Owens does not feel forced and this segment added another successful chapter to the Cesaro-Owens feud.
Mark Henry vs Rusev
The Bulgarian Brute battled the World’s Strongest Man in a squash match. Despite Henry being able to slam him several times, Rusev side kicked him repearedly before gaining the pinfall. After the match, he dealt several more sidekicks to Henry before leaving with Summer Rae.
Does anyone take Mark Henry as a serious threat anymore? Whenever he is on RAW, he is on the wrong end of a beat down. As for Rusev, he is trapped inside this Ziggler feud. It is hindering his development and he is losing credibility by constantly fighting in these matches.
King Barrett vs. Zack Ryder
This match was shorter and had less purpose than the previous one. Barrett began the segment by belittling the crowd and Ryder. Once the action started, he weathered an early storm from Ryder before hitting the Bull Hammer to gain the pinfall.
This was another squash match. Barrett does not have a clear opponent for SummerSlam and may be left off the card. Once again, he has too much potential to be disregarded. However, no one knows what is in store for him.
Paul Heyman Promotes Undertaker vs. Lesnar
Honestly, you could watch Paul Heyman for 3 hours every Monday. The masterful promo master came out to make sense of the Lesnar-Undertaker mess. The crowd anticipated what was coming before Heyman started talking. After smoothing out some inconsistencies, Heyman brought out Brock Lesnar and had him bring steel steps into the ring and stand on them. He then called out Vince McMahon, saying that the Undertaker begged the Boss for a rematch after WrestleMania 30 and McMahon denied him because he knew what would happen. Heyman then billed the match as the “The Match That Was Too Big For WrestleMania”.
Heyman’s mic skills are the best in the business and he showed why again. He made sense of the Undertaker’s actions and hyped the match in a way no one else can. For now, the WWE can ride Heyman to promote this all the way to SummerSlam.
Paige vs Naomi
Unlike the fast paced affair between the Bella Army and the Submission Sorority earlier, this match was slower and much more intense. Naomi dominated the early part of the match, showboating as she repeatedly cut Paige down with vicious strikes. However, she missed a crossbody, which allowed Paige to gain control of the match. After some heated exchanges, Paige locked in the PTO and Naomi was forced to tap out.
Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, Sheamus vs Roman Reigns, Randy Orton, Dean Ambrose
Ambrose began the match by beating down on each of his opponents before Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper stopped him. From there, the heels dominated until Randy Orton entered. The match disintegrated into chaos as everyone came into the ring throwing haymakers and hitting their signatures. Roman Reigns finally hit a spear on Sheamus and gained the pinfall victory for the faces.
This was a decent match. It was still outshined by the Neville-Rollins match earlier, but it got the crowd riled up. Each competitor was made to look strong. Going forward, Sheamus and Orton will collide at SummerSlam. Unless injuries or another twist in the storyline interferes, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose will battle Wyatt and Harper at SummerSlam.