Well, that was certainly unexpected: Columbus, Ohio's Nationwide Arena got itself a good old-fashioned upset right off the bat when Raw kicked off with a Triple Threat Match between Ricardo Rodriguez, Zeb Colter and Big E Langston ... and it was the Zubaz-toting perennial underdog Rodriguez who shocked both the “Founding Father” and Dolph Ziggler's personal man-mountain to claim the victory.
Granted, the bout was as one-sided as it gets at the start. Colter's got a hard-boiled history and the WWE Universe knows Ricardo's got some moves, but the mighty Langston ran roughshod over them both, decimating Zeb with the Big Ending to bring victory within a hair's breadth of his pumped-up clutches. Thanks to some quick thinking, though, Ricardo took advantage of a melee between Ziggler, Del Rio, Langston & Swagger to roll up Colter for la victoria, thereby giving The Essence of Excellence the privilege to pick the stipulation for the World Title Match at Extreme Rules.
The Champ is here, and he brought some friends with him. Just hours after an appearance on "Today," John Cena came to Columbus with three guests of honor trailing behind him: A trio of Make-a-Wish kids who were named honorary WWE Superstars for the evening. With the WWE Universe cheering them on, Cena introduced the WWE Universe to their three newest heroes: Jacob "The Eliminator" Larson, Nicholas "Nick The Stitch" Santillo, and "Lightning" Logan Parks. Judging by the reaction of the WWE Universe to their debuts, it sounds like they've got big things to look forward to in the WWE family.
Randy Orton and Cody Rhodes have a long, storied history together (one might almost call it a legacy), and it appeared that a long sojourn between bouts did nothing to dim their animosity for each other during their Columbus clash on Raw. Rhodes’ rough road of late has put the former Intercontinental Champion in a feral mood, and he gave The Apex Predator everything he had in a truly inspired effort.
But it was Orton, once again harnessing the serpentine instincts that abandoned him at WrestleMania, who proved the tougher of the two this night. Despite Cody's expert reversal of the RKO into Cross Rhodes, Orton pulled through and spelled Rhodes’ doom with a mid-air RKO ... moments before he hit Rhodes with the move a second time when he charged Orton after the match was done.
Hold off on that hocus-pocus: The Bella Twins resurrected Twin Magic two weeks ago for a wily win over Kaitlyn, but their signature sorcery fell short in a bout against Naomi in Nationwide Arena. Naomi had Brie on the ropes (literally) when Nikki pulled the switch and notched the ill-gotten pin, but the referee seemed to realize the mistake moments later and reversed his decision. The swap awarded Naomi the victory in the process, but didn't save The Funkadactyls from a decidedly un-bellissima beatdown at the hands of the jilted twins.
Credit to 3MB where credit is due: It's not a whole lot of Superstars who have the sand to call out The Shield not once, but twice, but the band gamely rallied from their previous attempt and made to throw down with the “Hounds of Justice” for the second time in three weeks. Given that inviting The Shield out didn't go so well the last time, though, they switched up their strategy and interrupted the men in black's victory speech following their decimation of The Undertaker last Friday on SmackDown.
The plan panned out more or less like the WWE Universe would expect: The ferocity of The Shield was simply too much and the NXT alumni quickly turned the tables on 3MB. The vicious trio beat the band into the ground with minimal fanfare, though they were quickly interrupted by the arrival of Team Hell No, who drove the "Hounds" into retreat
Dolph Ziggler's lieutenant Big E Langston may have fallen short in a Triple Threat Match earlier in the evening, but The Showoff rallied to give his camp a big win when he squared off against longtime rival and current United States Champion (and new father) Kofi Kingston.
The two champions picked right up where they left off, hitting each other with acrobatic knees and dropkicks to the face (Kingston nearly KO’d The Showoff with one particular shot) at top speed. He took control of the bout early on, but — thanks to some help from AJ Lee and Big E — Ziggler stayed alive throughout the contest. Ultimately, The Showoff didn't need an interference to put Kingston away, instead taking advantage of a missed crossbody off the top rope to hit the Zig Zag on a confounded Kingston before feeding him to a pair of Big Endings from an irate Langston.
With his new ’do, Zack Ryder came to Columbus looking to have a little fun at his old foil Jack Swagger's expense, pre-empting their singles bout by replaying the footage of Ricardo Rodriguez pinning Zeb Colter earlier in the night. This turned out to be a huge mistake for the former U.S. Champion, as Swagger unleashed his rage on The Ultimate Broski in short order, laying into Ryder with some old-fashioned fervor in response.
Ryder gave as good as he got but it was all for naught in the end, as Swagger forced Long Island Iced-Z to tap to the Patriot Lock. Adding insult to injury, Colter decided to mess with the beaten broski after the fact, decking Ryder for some humiliation to go along with his disciple's win.
A man who can stop a running automobile with his legs is surely no scrub in Tug-O-War, and yet Mark Henry still managed to find not one but three Superstars who decided to try their hand against the big man in the schoolyard favorite. The first two contestants turned out to be the individual members of Tons of Funk, neither of whom were able to unseat The World's Strongest Man on the rope. But challenger No. 3 turned out to be Sheamus, and this is where things got interesting.
Truth be told, The Celtic Warrior took something of a dive against Henry, but it turned out to be for a good cause: Sheamus released the rope at the height of his stalemate with the former World Champion, and Henry's momentum sent him tumbling back. When The World's Strongest Man rallied, he ran straight into a Brogue Kick from the mighty Irishman. A win is a win?
Like a Jack Ryan novel in the ring, international superpowers collided in Columbus when Mexico's own Alberto Del Rio battled The Swiss Superman himself, Antonio Cesaro, in a down-and-dirty grudge match that showed off the best that the two old-school grapplers had to offer. Cesaro kept Del Rio at bay with his signature strength for the majority of the match, powering out of submission holds and nearly took Del Rio's head off with a European uppercut, but the former World Champion rallied to trap The Swiss Superman in the Cross Armbreaker for the win.
Soaking in the glow of his victory, The Pride of Mexico made his blockbuster announcement: Thanks to Ricardo's victory earlier in the night, Del Rio would be able to pick the stipulation for the World Title Match at Extreme Rules ... and he had chosen a Ladder Match.
We all know The Great Khali's got some dance moves, but how does he stack up against the man who embodies the pinnacle of dance, Fandango? Well, not bad, to be honest. Khali's assertion that he was a better dancer than former “Dancing With the Stars” contestant Chris Jericho may have been pushing it, but The Punjabi Titan was surprisingly light on his feet for a big man, bringing the WWE Universe to its feet during his lighthearted dance with Natalya.
The WWE Universe had plenty of love for Khali, but Fandango's routine with his partner Summer Rae drew a shower of boos from the Columbus crowd. The WWE Universe's reaction made Khali the dancing king, but the 7-foot-1 Superstar wasn't dancing for long after Fandango took him out at the knees and dropped a big top-rope leg on the former World Champion in retribution.
Three champions, one injured ankle and three tolls of the bell: Not even the tip-top trio of the WWE Champion and WWE Tag Team Champions could stop The Shield's winning streak, as the “Hounds of Justice” made mincemeat of Team Hell No and the wounded John Cena in their second Six-Man Tag Match in as many weeks, keeping their undefeated streak alive.
Despite a lingering injury to his Achilles tendon, Cena was game from the start in the epic contest, though the tag champs were hesitant to tag him in thanks to his injury. Kane (whose fury over his brother's beating nearly got the trio disqualified at one point) eventually summoned Cena in a last-ditch effort, but The Shield would not be denied, and it was Roman Reigns who ultimately struck the hobbled Cena down with a spear for the three-count.
But Cena's evening wasn't done, as Ryback (who had supposedly left the building) quickly made his way to the stage to stare Cena down, daring him to rally in time for their WWE Title Match at Extreme Rules, or better yet, daring him to back out.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Ricardo Rodriguez (w/ Alberto Del Rio) defeated Big E. Langston (w/ Dolph Ziggler & AJ Lee) & Zeb Colter (w/ Jack Swagger) in a Triple Threat Match (5:00)
- Alberto gets to pick the match for the title at Extreme Rules.
- Randy Orton defeated Cody Rhodes (16:25)
- Naomi (w/ Cameron) defeated Brie Bella (w/ Nikki Bella) by DQ (1:15)
- Dolph Ziggler (w/ AJ Lee & Big E. Langston) defeated Kofi Kingston (12:50)
- Jack Swagger (w/ Zeb Colter) defeated Zack Ryder (3:05)
- Alberto Del Rio (w/ Ricardo Rodriguez) defeated Antonio Cesaro (13:30)
- The Shield (Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose & Roman Reigns) defeated John Cena & Team Hell No (Daniel Bryan & Kane) (15:25)
Other on-screen talent