Hey, it’s WWE Raw! It’s the go-home show for an odd, odd PPV!

The show started with John Cena coming down the ring to issue his WWE US Championship Open Challenge. The stage was filled with a bunch of ladders, I guess in case people didn’t realise how these wrestlers were going to reach the briefcase suspended above the ring.

Cena cut a great talky, and again acknowledged the fans who didn’t like him. Well, you can’t ignore it so you may as well use it. He claimed some of the biggest moments in WWE history were not title matches, like Hogan versus The Rock, Brock Lesnar ending the streak (in New Orleans, where this Raw came from), and the Money In The Bank match.

He said Sunday’s match against Kevin Owens was the most anticipated re-match in WWE history (although, as we know, that was Carmella versus Blue Pants on NXT), and they had a chance to stake their claim. He said Owens was fighting to prove that his time was now and that Cena’s time was up, and he was fighting to prove Owens wrong.

He said he fights for those who believe what he believes – that nothing is impossible. He even fights for those who chant “Cena sucks!” and – deep down in their cold, cold hearts – even those people know that there is no safer bet than John Cena.

This brought out Kevin Owens. He said Cena was proving what he said about him was right, he was delusional. Because Cena was not going to beat him at Money In The Bank. He said that Cena was also delusional thinking people wanted to see him come out at the beginning of Raw, so why didn’t they give the fans something different – an NXT title open challenge?

Cena said that was a great idea, that for the first time on Raw the NXT title would be on the line, and he said, “I accept.” Owens said Cena didn’t get it. He said that they were fighting on Sunday, at the PPV, so they wouldn’t fight tonight. Cena, quite rightly, pointed out that that wasn’t an open challenge, and said that he would do his open challenge instead.

Owens said they should let the next man out choose which title he wanted to go after, and Cena agreed. That man was Neville, who has a loin cloth to go with his cape now, because the cape didn’t make him look stupid enough. Neville said he’d answered Cena’s challenge before and he would fight Cena again one day. But, ever since Owens became NXT champion, he’d treated it as a license to disrespect everyone, and so as a former NXT champion himself, he was here to take back the title.

So Owens and Neville had a great match. Cena sat in on commentary and added little of interest. Seriously, his voice is not made for thoughtful insight. They went almost fourteen minutes and it was back and forth the whole time. These guys worked hard. Owens won with the pop-up powerbomb after evading the Red Arrow, to keep the NXT title.

After the match, Cena stood up at the announcers’ table and applauded Owens. Owens sat on the ropes and beckoned Cena into the ring, apparently to fight. Cena dived into the ring and stood face-to-face with Owens, who then backed off and left the ring, waving a You Can’t See Me as he went.

This was a great opening to the show. No bullshit from The Authority, just a hotting up of an already heated feud, further painting Owens as a cerebral manipulator. Feud of the year so far.

The announcers talked about the Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose title situation and said that Ambrose had been running around New Orleans all day, posing for pictures with Rollins’s WWE title belt.

Backstage, in The Authority’s office, HHH & Stephanie were laughing at photos of Dean Ambrose on Instagram. Seth Rollins walked in to complain about Ambrose doing just that, and asked them what they were going to do about it. They reminded him that he’d said he didn’t need their help last week, and he tried to wriggle out of it by claiming he was talking about J&J Security and Kane.

They said that Rollins would be on his own on Sunday and they were confident he could beat Ambrose all by himself. And, as a tune up, HHH said he’d let Rollins pick his own opponent tonight…

The announcers said that there was a major rift developing in the Divas division, after Paige’s comments last week. Backstage Renee spoke to Nikki Bella, who said that Paige was projecting her own frustrations onto the Bellas. Nikki said she would face Summer Rae tonight – one of the women Paige named as being on her side of the divide – and then would fight Paige again on Sunday at the PPV, so could hardly be accused of not giving them opportunities.

Hey, it’s Summer Rae! She came down to the ring, playing happy babyface (despite being a heel the last time we saw her just eight days ago) and they went to a commercial break.

After the break, the announcers then said that the candidates for Tough Enough had been whittled down to the last forty, and showed the first ten of those forty, really really quickly. They showed more throughout the show.

Then Nikki Bella came out, without her sister, for her match with Summer Rae. With Summer Rae playing babyface and Nikki Bella playing heel, despite them spending the past few months doing the opposite, the crowd were confused into silence.

This was Nikki’s match. Summer Rae got some very brief shine but Nikki came back and won with the Rack Attack in just two minutes. What they did wasn’t bad. Not good, just not bad.

They showed some more photos of Dean Ambrose posing with the title belt. Funny.

Hey, it’s Roman Reigns! He’s wearing his t-shirt so he’s here for talking! He cut a talky about the Money In The Bank match, saying how he used to hate that briefcase but now it didn’t look so bad without Seth Rollins on the end of it. He said he’d go through six other superstars on Sunday to climb the ladder and take the contract, and then the day would come when he’d cash in that contract on the man who would walk out of Money In The Bank as champion, Dean Ambrose.

This brought out Kane, wearing his suit so I guess he’s here to talk, too. Kane said that anyone else in the match had a better chance of winning than Reigns, and said that Reigns’s failures were a weakness. He said The Authority had put him in the match for one purpose – to protect their interests.

Reigns said that it was Monday, not Sunday, and that he thought Kane should get in the ring so Reigns could break his jaw. Zero response from the crowd for that, because it was just a bizarre thing to say. Before Kane could reply, Dolph Ziggler’s music played and he came down to the ring.

Ziggler told Reigns he would be waiting a long time for Kane to make a move because he has to wait for The Authority to pull his strings. He did some poor wordplay, ending up by describing Kane as the biggest tool in WWE. Ziggler said he was on a great run – he had a stand-up gig and a hot Russian on his arm- and he was going to do what he’d done before, climb the ladder and grab the Money In The Bank briefcase and then become WWE champion.

Kane said that even the most common household tool could be used in sadistic ways and then said that all the competitors in the Money In The Bank match would have matches on Raw tonight. He started making those matches but was interrupted by R-Truth.

Truth came out to the top of the ring and implored the crowd to shout “What’s Up!” They did, unfortunately. He said that, at Wrestlemania, he’d overcome his fear of ladders. Kane asked him why he was out there because he wasn’t in the match on Sunday and Truth said, “I’m not? You sure?” Kane said he was positive and Truth left, apologising. Ziggler & Reigns laughed in the ring as Kane shook his head.

Before Kane could continue his match-making, The New Day came out and did their positivity schtick. Kane interrupted them by clearing his throat and began to continue what he was out there for but Sheamus’s music hit. Even I was starting to get annoyed by this point.

Sheamus came out and said that the fact that any of them thought they were going to win had put a smile on his face. He said the WWE deserved a true icon as champion. Hey, Sheamus, if you know one can you send him along?

Kane asked if anyone else wanted to interrupt and no-one did. He said Neville was also in the match, along with one other man… and that brought out Randy Orton. It’s Orton versus Sheamus, after a break. Man, that segment was long and boring.

During the break, everyone except Orton and Sheamus vanished. I wonder how they did that? It must have looked odd. Anyway, Orton and Sheamus had a long, boring match which ended in a DQ for Orton when he used a chair that Sheamus had introduced.

After the match, Orton posted Sheamus and then dropped him on the announcers’ table. He then threw him into the ring and hit an RKO. Orton’s music played and he stood tall. Man, that was an awful half-hour.

The announcers showed more photos of Ambrose around New Orleans.

Backstage, in the locker room, a stressed Seth Rollins was looking at his ‘phone, no doubt at Ambrose’s photos. J&J Security walked in and Jamie Noble told Rollins he’d hurt their feelings last week when he said he didn’t need them, and Joey Mercury was especially sensitive.

Rollins looked up from his ‘phone and said he’d only employed them as security because he felt sorry for them. He said they were incompetent and he didn’t need them. Noble said, “screw you!”, that Rollins wouldn’t be champion without them, and he wouldn’t last one minute without them.

Rollins said that was ridiculous and, since The Authority was letting him pick his own opponents for tonight, he was picking J&J Security. Rollins then slapped Noble, who slapped him back, before Mercury stepped in-between them and said they were going to kick Rollins’s ass in the ring.

After a break, a match started. Seriously, no build-up, no entrances, no announcement… just Dolph Ziggler versus Kane. How odd. Lana was out on the ramp, watching intently, because they’re still going with this awful angle.

So they went back and forth, and it was kind of dull, and the crowd zoned out. They got a tiny bit excited again when Rusev hobbled out onto the ramp and confronted Lana. She was trying to step around him to go to the back when she slipped off the ramp and turned her ankle. Rusev initially looked concerned, then began to laugh maniacally, as goons tended to Lana.

Back in the ring, Ziggler noticed what was going on and tried to leave the ring to aid Lana but Kane grabbed him and dragged him back him for a chokeslam and the pinfall victory. After the match, Rusev laughed some more and then hobbled off and Ziggler recovered to go to Lana’s side.

They showed more photos of Ambrose posing with the belt around New Orleans, and then cut to J&J Security in their locker room, looking confident. Mercury has certainly found his voice.

Backstage, Dolph Ziggler checked on Lana as they iced her ankle. I DON’T CARE.

Hey, it’s The Miz! He was out there to do MizTV, to address the events of last week’s Raw, when he was supposed to face The Ryback for the WWE Intercontinental title and instead got punched out by The Big Show.

The Miz threatened legal action against The Big Show but was interrupted by The Ryback, who came down to the ring as the announcers told us it would be The Ryback versus The Big Show on the Money In The Bank PPV. Well, that’s great.

The Miz and The Ryback did back and forth talky, and it was very poor, although The Ryback was very over with this crowd. Then The Big Show came out and added little to the segment, disrespecting The Miz. The Miz had had enough and attacked The Big Show from behind. The Big Show no-sold it and dumped The Miz out of the ring and then turned round into a boot to the tummy from The Ryback, who then Shell-Shocked him. This was such a nothing segment with people I don’t care about, although the crowd did pop for The Ryback.

They showed more photos of Dean Ambrose, and then Los Matadores were suddenly in the ring, along with el Torito. Remember when they turned on him? The writers don’t. Luke Harper & Erick Rowan came down to fight them and it was a squash, with Harper & Rowan hitting the 3D on Diego for the win. JBL noted that they call the move The Way, and then they also hit it on Fernando after the match.

After the match, Luke Harper grabbed a mic’ and told someone that judgement was coming and it was time for them to pay for their sins. Rowan said that it was okay to be afraid and told whoever that they should be.

Backstage, Kane walked in to Seth Rollins’s locker room. He told him he saw Sunday going two ways. Either Ambrose exposes Rollins as a fraud and then Kane would cash in the Money In The Bank shot he was going to win on Ambrose. Or Rollins somehow beats Ambrose but then freezes in terror as Kane comes down to the ring with the briefcase.

Rollins told Kane he was welcome to try and Kane said that he would be in J&J Security’s corner tonight. This again? PULL THE TRIGGER.

Outside the arena, Dean Ambrose bought a ticket off a scalper. Why? I’m pretty sure his name’s on the list…

They showed a commercial for Ted 2. I have no idea why but if it leads to an in-ring confrontation a la Rick Steiner and Chucky, I’m all for it.

Hey, it’s Big E! He was in the ring with the rest of The New Day, waiting for his opponent, Titus O’Neil, who came down to the ring with his fellow Prime Time Player, Darren Young. Big E got the early part of the match, then O’Neil came back with some slaps and a pounce. Xavier Woods distracted O’Neil by going after Young and Big E took advantage to hit the Big Ending for the win. Not a great match by any stretch of the imagination.

After the match, The New Day stood their ground in the ring as Roman Reigns’s music played. He came down through the crowd to fight Kofi Kingston, because matches. The announcers told us that R-Truth would fight Bad News Barrett on the pre-show on Sunday.

So Reigns and Kingston had a match and Kingston got far too much of what should have been a domination by Reigns. Still, it wasn’t bad, and these two worked well together. Reigns got the win, despite interference from Big E & Xavier Woods, with the Superman Punch.

After the match, Reigns walked over to the announcers table and grabbed a chair. He leaned against the barriers, checked his imaginary watch, and then Dean Ambrose’s music hit. Yes, despite buying a ticket from a tout, and coming through the crowd, and not being part of any match, Ambrose got his music. WRESTLING! Ambrose had popcorn, drinks, and some of those beads you get on Bourbon Street, and he sat down next to Reigns to watch the main event.

Backstage, HHH & Stephanie were watching Ambrose & Reigns on a monitor. Rollins walked in and they pointed out what was going on. They told Rollins to go and get the belt, and he stomped off like a child.

Hey, it’s our main event! It’s Seth Rollins versus J&J Security! J&J Security came out with Kane, as promised, and Rollins seethed at Ambrose at ringside. Then they had a match and it was a fun match because Noble & Mercury are awesome.

Rollins pushed Mercury around early doors before Mercury took over with some actual wrestling. Noble tagged in and faced off with Rollins, who forced him to the outside, where Kane called Noble & Mercury in for a huddle. Back in the ring, Noble & Mercury clotheslined Rollins to the outside, where Ambrose dumped popcorn on him.

Noble & Mercury continued to work over Rollins, who fired back and threw Mercury outside. He went out after him and threw him into the barriers, before throwing him back into the ring and working him over some more. Mercury made a hot tag and Noble came in for a neckbreaker and a one-count. Noble went up top but Rollins crotched him. Mercury came in and they tried a sneaky roll-up on Rollins but he kicked out at two and threw Mercury out of the ring.

Rollins then grabbed Noble and set up The Pedigree, and Ambrose jumped the barrier and threw the title belt into the ring. Rollins dropped Noble and picked up the belt, and Mercury schoolboy’d him for the win.

After the match, J&J Security celebrated with Kane and Ambrose laughed. Rollins held up his belt but Ambrose attacked him and hit Dirty Deeds. He grabbed the belt, walked up the ramp and posed on a ladder with the title as the show went off the air…

This was a Below Average Show. The booking was wonky and unhelpful to just about everyone on the show save for Ambrose, and the matches were mostly boring. Last time they only had two weeks to build to a PPV they did a great job but it hasn’t been a success this time out.

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