United States Championship Battle Royal
Battle royals can oftentimes be hit or miss, but, on Monday night, the company delivered one that was more of a success than failure, thanks to a few entertaining stories and spots presented throughout.
Big Show and Mark Henry established dominance as the biggest competitors in the match, only for the rest of the competitors to team up and eliminate them. Santino Marella utilized the Cobra to deliver the strike that ended Dolph Ziggler's night, something that drew a chorus of boos from the audience. Dean Ambrose went on a tear late in the contest, showing the tenacity of a pit bull, but simply fell victim to a bigger and stronger opponent in Sheamus.
The Celtic Warrior delivered the Brogue Kick and dumped Ambrose, drawing a mixed reaction as he celebrated with his newly won United States title.
The match was set up by Triple H to put Ambrose at a disadvantage and get the title off of the Shield's most unpredictable member. It worked, kicking off a night full of revenge for Evolution.
Kofi Kingston vs. (Not So Alexander) Rusev
Down goes another first name in the WWE Universe!
Fans were treated to a taste of what Rusev is capable of when he took on Kofi Kingston in a very entertaining showcase of athleticism and skill. Kingston, one of the best midcard babyface workers WWE has ever had, looked great as he threw his speed, leaping ability and high-flying skills at Rusev, only to have the Bulgarian Brute brush them off, counter with his agility and power, and defeat Kingston with the Accolade.
Until Monday night, Rusev had been tearing through guys with the same two or three moves and was failing to connect and draw the interest of the audience. While the crowd in Albany still hesitated to get behind the Super Athlete, it's performances like this one that will ultimately get him over with the WWE Universe.
The jaw-dropping, gorgeous "Ravishing Russian" Lana and her use of old school wrestling heat will not hurt, either.
Rob Van Dam vs. Cesaro
RVD and the King of Swing are two Superstars one wishes had better chemistry than what they have shown thus far. Sunday night's Triple Threat Elimination match, which consisted largely of action between the two of them, was mediocre at best.
Monday's match was slightly better, but had an awful finish that detracted from its quality quite a bit. The sequencing was better on Raw, the action tighter and less sloppy, but the ending ruined what was a perfectly fine contest between two accomplished workers.
Van Dam hung upside down in the ropes while Cesaro unleashed with several forearms to the face. He refused to stop by the referee's count and was disqualified as a result. Paul Heyman had to pull his latest client away, telling him, "You don't want to get suspended."
Perhaps the finish would have had greater effect had Cesaro done something more vicious and violent than relying on the same forearm shots he uses regularly in his matches.
Still, a very good match that was marred by an ill-advised finish.