RANDY ORTON (WITH SETH ROLLINS) VS. DEAN AMBROSE (WITH ROMAN REIGNS)
Well well well. It seems like The Shield isn’t quite dead after all! As is logical, given the two remaining face Shield members, they finally fell back on the same side due to the common enemy of The Authority’s Seth Rollins, Randy Orton and Triple H.
Rollins promo bragging about his Money in the Bank briefcase was solid enough, as was Ambrose’s interruption of him and their ensuing brawl. This continues to be the best feud in WWE right now, and Orton getting involved to help his ally Rollins served to create a story for the episode, with Reigns coming in for the save. This all led to the creation of the main event, Orton vs. Ambrose.
The match itself was good, with Rollins causing the abrupt end by disqualification thanks to hitting a flying Ambrose with his briefcase. This led to a 2-on-1 beatdown that was inevitably interrupted by Roman Reigns making the save and standing tall. Interestingly, Ambrose and Reigns never truly stood together or worked together despite fighting the same opponents.
There was one serious downside to this program during the evening though. Roman Reigns entered full John Cena mode in his backstage interview, as he reeled off his Battleground opponents one-by-one, promoting each one before promoting the fight. This is the commentators job, not the competitors. The competitor should be putting over THEMSELVES and their own motivations, otherwise why should fans get behind THEM and not behind any member of the match? This is the storytelling element seriously lacking from Cena, why get Reigns to follow suit?
JERICHO RETURNS, INTERRUPTED TWICE
Jericho’s return on Raw was one of the biggest talking points of the wrestling year, and rightly so. It was one of the finest segments of the entirity of 2014. His “return” promo here was another solid effort, that was different enough to not feel recycled.
After parading his catchphrases, he was interrupted by Bray Wyatt on the titantron who cut a typically good promo – focusing on Jericho’s “Save us” gimmick. After Wyatt vanished and Jericho began his retort, he was cut off by the man who he did the same to on Monday, The Miz. Miz’s return to his douchey gimmick could be his renaissance, although sadly he ate a Codebreaker as soon as he made it into the ring despite a great promo on his walk down to it. So it seems he is simply being fed to Jericho rather than getting to relaunch himself at the same time. Fortunately, his gimmick is a big enough hate target that he can take it if he gets a winning run soon after.
UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP JULY 4TH CHALLENGE
All of the interest in Sheamus’s open challenge was sucked away on Main Event when Alberto Del Rio accepted the challenge. The match it produced was better than expected but was still dull, predictable and mostly uninteresting. Sheamus obviously won, despite getting locked in the (decreasingly intimidating) Cross-Arm Breaker. For some reason this was chosen as the show opener for international fans, because WWE seem to think Sheamus is a hook for these viewers. He isn’t.
INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENDERS ROUND-UP
Cesaro and Big E were supposed to face off, with E searching for revenge for his “friend” Kofi Kingston. The injured Cesaro immediately attacked and the two engaged in an intense brawl instead of a match, where both men looked great for most of it. Sadly for Cesaro, he came off on the losing end of the fight though, making him 0-4 for the week, something that can look nothing but bad.
Bo Dallas ramped up his campaign with another promo aimed at the injured Daniel Bryan, before he dispatched Fernando of Los Matadores. After the match El Torito got involved and was rightly beaten for it. But that was supposed to be booed…
AJ Lee got a win over Eva Marie. For some reason AJ was behaving like the underdog in this match. Despite the fact that if she had slapped Eva Marie and pinned her for the win, no fan would’ve questioned that five second match. Yet, Eva Marie was laughably the dominant force.
Stardust and Goldust’s backstage shtick continues to be inconsistent in effectiveness. Cody really needs to stop using his ordinary voice for it. It takes viewers out of the surreal gimmick.
Rusev attacked Damien Sandow’s latest impression: Bruce Springsteen. Television viewers basically saw none of the impression though, so who really cares?