Dolph Ziggler vs. Seth Rollins
WWE's bad habit of booking the same matches reared its ugly head Monday night, as Dolph Ziggler and Seth Rollins met one-on-one for the third time since Rollins' heel turn two weeks ago.
Luckily, a potent mix of a hot crowd and a great match helped mask the fact that it is such a repetitive pairing.
Ziggler, always good for a standout performance, looked extra motivated as he competed in front of his hometown fans. His sequencing with Rollins was phenomenal, and the spot where he caught Rollins attempting a suicide dive through the rope brought about a big pop.
The final stretch was dramatic, but the finish felt a bit clunky, almost as if Dean Ambrose missed his first cue and the wrestlers had to repeat the spot until he hit the ring.
Still, Rollins and Ziggler have really solid chemistry with one another, and as the former Shield member continues to adapt and evolve as a heel worker in WWE, a match between the two further down the road may be worth revisiting.
But, like, much further down the road.
Rollins has beaten Ziggler up enough for now.
Dean Ambrose vs. Bad News Barrett
Former members of The Shield dominated the first hour of Raw, as Dean Ambrose brought Rollins vs. Ziggler to an end via disqualification, then was booked in a match with Bad News Barrett by COO Triple H.
There were a few things to take away from the match, none of which pertain to the actual action. However, Barrett did a fine job of working the shoulder of Ambrose and telling a story centered around that injury.
Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and JBL all alluded to the fact that Barrett is the Authority's go-to guy when it comes to dealing out punishment to the power couple's enemies. Anytime the three stooges shill something that hard, one knows it is meant to be a "thing."
The only problem with Barrett working with the Authority is the fact that he has lost more than he has won as of late and only beat Ambrose via count-out because the Lunatic Fringe and former Shield mate Rollins fought in the crowd while Barrett was left lying to close out the segment.
At what point does Triple H become dissatisfied with Barrett's performance and begin talking down to him? Does that trigger a babyface turn? How badly does the Bad News gimmick suffer if Triple H and Stephanie are doing the talking for him?
The other takeaway from the match pertains to Ambrose's new music. No longer using The Shield theme, it appears as though the group may have split without anyone telling the fans.
With Ambrose coming to Cena's aid later in the night but not Battle Royal winner Roman Reigns, there are many questions surrounding the status of the Hounds of Justice. The need for singles stars is understandable, but at least give some sort of resolution to the story.
After all, Reigns and Ambrose were still referring to one another as brothers as late as last Friday's SmackDown.
The Roman Reigns-Rusev Showdown
Battle royals generally tend to be awful. There is just so little that one can actually do in a match where 20 men crowd the ring, and as a result, they often descend into a waste of 15 minutes in which guys who never had a chance in the first place try to elude elimination before being tossed over the top rope and allowing those who are meant to be spotlighted to do their thing.
That was again the case Monday night, as the Superstars involved took their good old time eliminating fodder like Fandango and Big E before the match settled down and stars such as Roman Reigns, Bo Dallas, Rusev, Bad News Barrett and Rob Van Dam reintroduced some life to the match.
The best part of the entire ordeal came in the closing moments of the bout when Reigns and Rusev stood across the ring from each other, the final two participants in the match, and the Cleveland crowd erupted. It was a showdown of the unstoppable force and the immovable object, to steal one from Gorilla Monsoon.
Both men have been built up so effectively over the last three months that fans wanted to see them fight.
Amazing how that works.
Reigns got the upper hand on the Bulgarian Brute and knocked him off the apron with the Superman Punch to secure the win and earn a spot in the Money in the Bank WWE title match. Rusev turned in his best performance and will only benefit from it in the immediate future.