You'd think that Brock Lesnar's indefinite suspension would mean the Seth Rollins honeymoon would last forever, but here comes Randy Orton just one week into The Architect's stint as WWE World Heavyweight Champion to make a mess of his plans. In an unforeseen twist, however, it wasn't Rollins who felt the sting of The Viper's remarks. It was Kane, whose machinations as Director of Operations seems to have been underappreciated by The Authority, despite the accolades to show for it. In an announcement that took the whole building by surprise, The Devil's Favorite Demon took matters into his own hands by scheduling a Triple Threat Match between Orton, Ryback and Roman Reigns to determine Rollins’ No. 1 contender. Plus, he announced a preliminary bout for each contestant, beginning with an Orton-Kane contest moments later.
That old saying about best-laid plans must have been ringing in Kane's ears after The Devil's Favorite Demon manipulated Randy Orton into what he thought would be a one-sided beatdown for his impudence against The Authority. Instead, it was Kane who was made the example of when Orton prevailed in an irritating manner for the disrespected Director of Operations, though not, perhaps, as decisive a victory as Orton would have liked.
After an early advantage fueled by adrenaline, Kane found himself frustrated and overwhelmed when The Apex Predator hit his stride. Orton nonchalantly whacked the former WWE World Heavyweight Champion with a pair of swinging kicks to the head, and later, a backdrop atop the barricade that Kane replied to with a blow from a steel chair to end the match in a disqualification ruling. So Orton got the win, but going into the main event weakened by a chair, Kane may yet have outsmarted him out of the No. 1 contender spot after all.
A side effect of being The Man That Gravity Forgot is that you find yourself challenging the man at the top regardless of whether you're ready. Just ask Neville, who feasted on Curtis Axel last week and found himself catapulted into a one-on-one bout with Seth Rollins — himself forced into the match for mouthing off to Kane — in only his second week out of NXT. Rollins’ dismissal of his fellow former NXT Champion was ill-advised, though, as Neville booted him in the gut before the bell even rang and tormented him with a head-spinning array of aerial attacks that the “Aerialist,” ironically enough, had no answer for.
Rollins found his rhythm by grounding the highflier with knees to the gut and elbows to the face, but it took J&J Security to snatch victory from the jaws of defeated. With Rollins on his back, the two gofers ran interference right as Neville was about to execute the Red Arrow, giving Rollins an opportunity to recover and avoid Neville's signature strike. The rejuvenated champion rallied with a Curb Stomp, a pin, and after the dust settled, a second stomp to repay Neville for his bravery.
It's week two of John Cena's open-door policy of U.S. Championship defenses, and a man from the stars was the latest to take a swing at America's defender. Unfortunately for Stardust, his decision to answer The Champ's call didn't end with the cosmic traveler draped in Old Glory alongside his Mr. Sinister cape, as Cena swarmed the former Intercontinental Champion from the second the bell rang.
It took about 10 minutes of getting the paint beat off him before Stardust even got a leg up, pouncing with a three-move combo of a Disaster Kick off the turnbuckle, Diamond Dust from the second rope, and a counter of the Attitude Adjustment into an Alabama Slam. Cena stayed in the fight, but Stardust, frustrated after Cross Rhodes only netted a two-count, turned his attention to referee Charles Robinson, and Cena literally leaped into action. The Champ took flight with a springboard stunner, followed by an Attitude Adjustment to retain his title for another week, as a showdown against Rusev looms large in the distance.
It's no secret that the Divas division is one major player light this week, but nobody told Naomi, whose recent hot streak has her gunning for the top spot with no signs of slowing down. One week after earning the pin in a six-Diva tussle on Raw, the former Funkadactyl followed up by pinning Divas Champion Nikki Bella, teaming with Paige against The Bella Twins. Naomi made her presence known at the perfect moment, tagging in after Paige took the brunt of the twins’ abuse.
Brie, of course, ran to Nikki's aid after the champion was bowled over by the Rear View, but in a reversal of last week's miscommunication, she inadvertently shoved Nikki sternum-first into a superkick from Paige. Naomi instantly swarmed the shocked twin with a headscissors takedown into the mat, covered her for the three-count, and funk rolled on for another week.
Randy Orton and Roman Reigns are enough of a main course to satisfy even the hungriest of Human Wrecking Balls. But Ryback is never one to skimp on the appetizers, so The Big Guy sat down to a hefty helping of Luke Harper roughly an hour before he stomped into the main event. The former Intercontinental Champion, however, did not exactly go down easy, as is to be expected from the man who powerbombed Dean Ambrose into oblivion — twice in the same week.
Harper gave Ryback hell to the tune of a superkick that cut the Meat Hook Clothesline off mid-sprint and a mugging outside the ring that orbited, but did not include, a trip through the dreaded announce table. Harper continued to wear away at The Big Guy, looking like the clear favorite to win until a misjudged attack landed him shoulder-first into the turnbuckle. Ryback acted quickly, hauling Harper into Shell Shocked for the win. Done.
So much for clapping. The New Day has been determined to keep smiling despite a frosty reception from the WWE Universe. But their slightly manic, backstage insistence on “we clap or we snap” at least paid off in a strong showing against the red-hot Lucha Dragons on Raw. In fact, Big E & Xavier Woods wasted no time in treating the Dragons like their sworn enemies, trading stomps on a corner-bound Sin Cara for minutes on end until Kalisto tagged in to the rescue.
With Woods on the ropes, it was Kofi Kingston, of all people, who snuck a kick on the former NXT standout to put his trio in position to win. As appreciative as Woods was of his teammate's savvy, it ultimately didn't pay off. Kalisto tagged in Sin Cara, executed the Salida del Sol on Woods, and soared atop Big E and Kingston on the outside, allowing Sin Cara to pick up the win with a top-rope senton. Keep clapping?
That's three main-event competitors who will roll into the final Raw bout with a win under their belts. Roman Reigns rode fighting spirit and a healthy dollop of luck to an earn the “W” over Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal winner Big Show that will carry him into contention for the next-man-up spot. The luck came from a split-second reversal that shoved Show head-first into the corner post after a brutal decimation of The Big Dog by the former WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
Unfortunately for Reigns, Show rebounded quickly from that with a Spear, which cued up Reigns’ fighting spirit. Though it took Reigns a long time to get his feet back under him, he did so in the nick of time, bouncing Big Show off the ropes and unleashing three Superman Punches and a Spear to chop the giant down. He could. He did. On to the main event.
The haircut may have changed, but Sheamus still loves to fight. And he still loves to fight Mark Henry. The Celtic Warrior and self-proclaimed “real man” found himself challenged by the former World Heavyweight Champion after proclaiming his disdain for the “insects” that surround him. But Henry very nearly made the Irishman eat his words. Regrettably, Texas native Henry only ended up eating a Brogue Kick — despite a strong string of offense — when Sheamus took Henry out at the knees with a well-placed chop block. The big boot to the mush followed moments later, and another win with it. If he plays his cards right with Bad News Barrett against Daniel Bryan & Dolph Ziggler on SmackDown, he may yet make it a hat trick.
It seems strange on the surface that an “A-lister” like The Miz would finally go toe-to-toe against Damien Mizdow on Raw instead of the bright lights of a pay-per-view. Then again, any star worth his salt gives the people what they want, and they want to see Mizdow beat the Moneymaker off his former boss. Alas, the people will have to wait.
Mizdow's attempt at retribution was full of more frustration than strategy and Miz was quick to take advantage. A brutal, yet sloppy, opening salvo landed Mizdow in a world of trouble and, despite nearly trapping Miz in the Figure-Four Leglock, Miz's sneakiness won out when he rolled his protégé up with a handful of tights for an ill-gotten win. It was hardly a Hollywood ending, but something tells us a sequel is soon to come.
Three men, one No. 1 contender's spot, no problem for Randy Orton. A few swings from a steel chair clearly left The Apex Predator at less than 100 percent going into Raw's do-or-die main event. But the 12-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion earned his chance at a baker's dozen when he knocked off Roman Reigns and Ryback in a wild Triple Threat Match to close out Raw.
And with The Authority watching from the ramp, The Viper certainly earned that distinction, too, allowing Ryback and Reigns’ raging aggression to tire them out and escaping Shell Shocked just in time to shove The Big Guy into a Spear. The Authority's attempt to involve themselves inadvertently made things easier when Reigns leaped into the assembled faction and suffered two KO Punches that took him out of the equation. While Ryback occupied himself with J&J, Orton struck The Big Guy with an RKO to become No. 1 contender, though a Curb Stomp by Rollins immediately after the bell suggests a long, long road ahead.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Randy Orton defeated Kane by DQ (6:54)
- Seth Rollins (w/ Jamie Noble & Joey Mercury) defeated Neville (11:41)
- John Cena (c) defeated Stardust to retain the WWE United States Championship (13:10)
- Paige & Naomi defeated The Bella Twins (Brie & Nikki Bella) (4:57)
- Ryback defeated Luke Harper (2:46)
- Lucha Dragons (Sin Cara & Kalisto) defeated The New Day (Big E & Xavier Woods) (w/ Kofi Kingston) (3:00)
- Roman Reigns defeated Big Show (10:40)
- Sheamus defeated Mark Henry (2:33)
- The Miz defeated Damien Mizdow (5:03)
- Randy Orton defeated Roman Reigns and Ryback in a Triple Threat Match to be the #1 Contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship (5:12)
Other on-screen talent