WWE

WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from June 30

Ryan DilbertWWE Lead WriterJuly 1, 2014

WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from June 30

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    Credit: WWE.com

    On a night of surprise returns, the June 30 edition of WWE Raw laid the framework for a compelling Battleground card.

    WWE followed Money in the Bank by bringing back AJ Lee, Chris Jericho and The Miz. Not relying on those moments, though, the company quickly went to work setting up bouts for the next pay-per-view. A Battle Royal and a Fatal 4-Way are already officially a part of the show.

    Hartford, Connecticut, watched on as The Wyatt Family and The Usos impressed yet again, and Dean Ambrose proved that he isn't done hunting his former partner. Rusev found a new foe, and Cesaro made his enemy's victory an unpleasant one.

    The melange of standout performances, forgettable fare, poor decisions and wise booking maneuvers that was Monday's Raw is recapped and graded here.

Opening Segment

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Stephanie McMahon and Triple H strode smiling to the ring. McMahon talked up Seth Rollins' Money in the Bank win after reflecting on her Connecticut roots.

    The COO congratulated John Cena on becoming world champ. Cena then emerged with the title belts hanging from his neck. He promised to give Daniel Bryan a title shot when he recovered.

    McMahon unveiled the WWE 2K15 cover, dancing along to Cena's music. Cena was suspicious of how nicely The Authority was treating him, leading Triple H to threaten that if Cena didn't respect him, he would make life hard for him.

    Triple H announced that Cena would face Randy Orton, Kane and Roman Reigns in a Fatal 4-Way at Battleground. He added that if Cena retained, Seth Rollins would be right there to cash in on him.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "If you want me to drop the "r," I will. I'll also whip your ass right here in front of everybody."—Cena to Triple H.

    Cena says that his current predicament is at not as bad as falling into a ton of crap as McMahon did last week.

     

    Grade

    B-

     

    Analysis

    Cena showed off both of the extremes of his persona. At his most serious, he's compelling, a warrior one can root for. He too often resorts to goofing around, which he did here with how he wore the titles and kept talking about the "pool of crap" that McMahon fell into.

    WWE went an intriguing route for the next pay-per-view.

    Cena gets caught up in The Authority angle, which he has mostly avoided until recently, and Reigns gets a big opportunity in the title match. It could prove to be a crowded match/storyline, but it has the potential to blend a number of rivalries and be an entertaining bridge to the expected Cena vs. Brock Lesnar match.

Rob Van Dam vs. Seth Rollins

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Rob Van Dam forced Seth Rollins to retreat early. He stunned him with kicks and hurled Rollins to the mat.

    Although he was limping, Van Dam remained the aggressor, knocking Rollins around in the corner. Rollins caught Van Dam in mid-Monkey Flip, but Van Dam escaped the hold and soon had the Money in the Bank winner twisted in his grip.

    Outside, a clothesline to the throat finally had Rollins on top.

    A half-Boston crab from Rollins worsened the condition of Van Dam's leg, but Mr. Monday Night kept on the attack. Rolling Thunder, a split-legged moonsault and a kick to the jaw had Rollins reeling.

    It took a leg whip in the ropes to leave Van Dam vulnerable enough for the Curb Stomp.

    Rollins spent most of his interview with Renee Young boasting. Dean Ambrose interrupted him, appearing on the big screen. Ambrose threatened to prevent every attempted cash-in.

     

    Result

    Rollins wins via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Van Dam flips Rollins' head into the corner with a hurricanrana.

    Van Dam leaps outside the ring onto Rollins, soaring from the top rope.

    Rollins hits a dragon-screw leg whip while Van Dam is caught in the ropes.

    "If you're going to introduce me, lady, do it right. It's Mr. Money in the Bank Seth Rollins to you, toots."—Rollins to Young.

    "I'm going to haunt you."—Ambrose to Rollins.

     

    Grade

    A-

     

    Analysis

    Van Dam keeps pulling performances that belie his age. He was the star of the match, flashing folks back to his prime with some stunning moves.

    The result here was an excellent opening match.

    Rollins could have looked stronger here, though. Instead, he mostly survived. If WWE wants fans to believe in him as a viable contender for the WWE title, he's going to need to be more dominant at times.

    His feud with Ambrose is sure to be a showcase of his talents. WWE wisely has the Money in the Bank briefcase at the center of their story, providing an easy way to keep the rivalry going.

Rusev and Jack Swagger's Staredown

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    Rusev stood alongside Lana as she trashed the United States. Lana wondered who would be next to step up to the big man.

    It turned out to be Jack Swagger with Zeb Colter at his side. Colter told the Russians to shut up before praising free speech. He said he believes that Swagger can stop Rusev.

    The two powerhouses stared each other down. Swagger soon tossed Rusev out of the ring, where Lana held her client back.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Lana shouts at fans for chanting "USA!"

    "Who will be America's next failure to compete against Rusev?"—Lana.

     

    Grade

    A

     

    Analysis

    When an audience is chanting as loudly as it was and is clamoring with as much energy as it did on Monday, you know you timed pairing two foes against each other just right.

    This matchup will play to Rusev's strengths. Swagger, like Big E, will provide a physical, intense bout for him. It's smart of WWE to have Rusev continue his journey through the roster, and he will likely add another victim to his list in Swagger. He will be the first former world champ Rusev has knocked off.

    Swagger and Colter as a babyface duo sounds hard to imagine, but it worked here, playing to the patriotism Rusev has brought out of the crowd.

The Wyatt Family vs. Sheamus and The Usos

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    Jey Uso and Erick Rowan began the battle, but it was quickly a two-on-one affair as both tag champs kicked the bearded bruiser in the abdomen.

    Rowan powered his way to control of the match. Each member of The Wyatt Family then took turns clobbering Jimmy Uso. A moonsault freed him enough to make a tag, and Sheamus came in with his foot on the gas pedal.

    The Celtic Warrior bowled over his foes until Luke Harper kicked him in the side of the neck.

    That led to Sheamus taking a beating in the opposing corner. Rowan kneed him in the sternum. Bray Wyatt took his shots as well, uppercutting Sheamus off the top rope.

    Jey Uso finally came in and darted around the ring. He dodged Harper's strikes and sent him on his back with a thunderous superkick.

    A chaotic sequence saw all the warriors collide, but Harper's clothesline to Jimmy ended the action.

     

    Result

    The Wyatt Family wins via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Sheamus dives to the outside, ramming his shoulder into both Harper and Wyatt.

    Wyatt punches Sheamus out of the ring.

    Rowan's head smacks into the barricade when an Uso dives at him.

     

    Grade

    A

     

    Analysis

    Building on their stellar match from Money in the Bank, The Usos and The Wyatt Family showed off great chemistry. The addition of Wyatt and Sheamus made this not just a straightforward rematch, but a welcome, exciting twist.

    The Usos look to be continuing their war with The Wyatt Family, which is great news, as the two teams always seem to elevate each other.

The Funkadactyls vs. Nikki Bella

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    Before the bout, Bo Dallas asked the Hartford fans to participate in a moment of silence for injured Superstars Bad News Barrett and Daniel Bryan.

    Stephanie McMahon sent Nikki Bella out on her own as punishment for bringing Brie to Money in the Bank. Cameron kicked Nikki backward before Naomi forced her way into the match.

    Naomi hit a crossbody and her inverted DDT for the win. Cameron took issue with her partner, getting in her face before sauntering away from her.

     

    Result

    The Funkadactyls win via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Naomi's crossbody is the best part of a short match.

     

    Grade

    D

     

    Analysis

    WWE keeps teasing a breakup between The Funkadactyls that isn't compelling in the least. It's dragging out a story that hasn't had enough big moments for fans to care about it.

    Monday's match was a perfect example. When the in-ring action doesn't last as long as the entrances, it's hard to develop interest, hard to compose a narrative that sticks. The Funkadactyls' tension came off as tepid as a result.

Cesaro vs. Kofi Kingston

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    Paul Heyman announced that Bad News Barrett had to vacate the intercontinental title and that a Battle Royal at Battleground would determine the next titleholder.

    His client, Cesaro, and Kofi Kingston would both be in that bout. 

    Kingston flung Cesaro out of the ring and then flipped on top of him. Cesaro soon caught Kingston in midair and smashed his knee into the high-flyer's back. The King of Swing clubbed his foe in the corner before keeping him on the mat with a reverse chinlock.

    Cesaro looked to be setting up for the Cesaro Swing but changed his mind, instead wearing down Kingston with his arm around his neck. Kingston rolled Cesaro up for the win, inspiring a rampage from his opponent.

    The Swiss strongman turned up the viciousness, brawling with his foe on the outside and then smashing him into the ring post. He walked away grinning as the medical staff checked on Kingston.

     

    Result

    Kingston wins via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Kingston dives over the ropes onto Cesaro on the outside.

    Cesaro uppercuts Kingston in the back of the head.

    Cesaro flings Kingston into the crowd.

    Cesaro flips Kingston over with a clothesline.

     

    Grade

    B

     

    Analysis

    The after-the-bell action was more thrilling than the match itself, which was good but hampered by the fact that the finish came during the commercial break.

    A relentless, predatory Cesaro enthralled in his attack on Kingston. It didn't have the full effect that it should have because most fans had missed what set him off.

    He heads toward Battleground with great momentum despite the loss and as a favorite to win the IC title.

The Great Khali vs. Damien Sandow

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    Damien Sandow's latest persona change had him stomping to the ring as Vince McMahon. He talked about recognizing great talent and officially entered himself into the Battle Royal at Battleground. 

    Stephanie McMahon came onto the big screen to scold him. She had him take on Great Khali as punishment.

    One chop sent Sandow on his back, earning the giant a three-count.

     

    Result

    Khali wins via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Sandow's McMahon walk is dead-on.

     

    Grade

    D-

     

    Analysis

    Sandow's exuberance in his role saved this from being a complete failure. Having him dress up as different people could work, but not if it's just a means to step all over him.

    Michael Cole taking a shot at his physique (saying it wasn't as impressive as McMahon's) is one of many ways this match hurt Sandow.

    Fans weren't expecting an Iron Man match from Khali, but to only have a single move in the match is a letdown. It also makes it even more difficult to ever build Sandow up again. 

The Miz and Chris Jericho Return

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    WWE teased a former world champion was coming back. It was The Miz, dressed in white, claiming that he could be the greatest movie star of all time. He said he was back to prove he wasn't a fluke.

    Chris Jericho then made his own return, shocking the crowd.

    Miz mocked him, telling him he didn't have the right to interrupt him. Jericho responded with a Codebreaker. He wanted to deliver his catchphrase, but The Wyatt Family surrounded him. The backwoods clan pounded on him, welcoming him back with clotheslines. 

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "You have any idea how many assistants I have?"—The Miz.

    "Oh, this is 2012 Jericho, where you come back for three weeks, don't talk in your stupid Lite-Brite jacket."—The Miz to Jericho.

    Jericho and The Wyatt Family share an intense staredown.

     

    Grade

    A

     

    Analysis

    WWE set the audience up. Miz's return was a letdown, the kind of minor return that the company tries to hype up too much. That's what fans thought until Jericho came back.

    No one is able to keep a return secret longer and better than Jericho.

    He immediately enters a feud with The Wyatt Family, making for an excellent opponent for the group's patriarch. Battleground is boosted by Jericho's presence and a potential marquee matchup with Bray Wyatt.

Fandango vs. Dolph Ziggler

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    Fandango gloated after an early flurry, gyrating in Dolph Zigger's face. The Showoff soon fed off the crowd chanting for him, hitting dropkicks and a neckbreaker.

    Summer Rae waltzed into the match. She planted a kiss on Ziggler to infuriate Fandango. 

    With the ballroom dancer distracted, Ziggler hit the Zig Zag for the win. 

     

    Result

    Ziggler wins via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "We now have us a love rectangle."—John "Bradshaw" Layfield.

     

    Grade

    C+

     

    Analysis

    Ziggler will take any kind of win he can get, even if he's not the central figure of the narrative. It's Summer Rae and Layla's feud that was the centerpiece here.

    Fans chanted to see Ziggler in action, but they only saw him in a brief bout. He gave Summer a look that may signal the two of them working together. Even if that doesn't come to pass, he ends his trip to Connecticut with a victory and a kiss from an attractive young woman.

Ryback and Curtis Axel vs. Stardust and Goldust

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Curtis Axel bashed Goldust with forearms, shouting "Look at you" at him. Ryback had his turn at him, tagging him with right hands. 

    The Bizarre One nailed a spinebuster to get free. Stardust tagged in, zipping around the ring. He soon planted Axel in the mat for a three-count.

     

    Result

    Stardust and Goldust win via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "Time for a bunch of weirdos."—John "Bradshaw" Layfield.

    Stardust hits a springboard clothesline.

     

    Grade

    C

     

    Analysis

    Stardust adds nuances to his persona each time out, introducing new mannerisms. WWE didn't showcase him much here in a short bout with few highlights.

    Seeing him and Goldust get a win that didn't give them any trouble offered little drama. It's time for the brothers to move on, to find more fitting rivals. That's going to be tough going, though, with as thin as the tag team division is right now.

Paige vs. AJ Lee (Divas Championship)

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    Paige said that she normally lets her actions speak for her, but she wanted to address her doubters. She told fans that she has proved she belongs on top.

    AJ Lee burst in, surprising the champ and the crowd.

    AJ said that Paige was right about belonging. She regretted letting her title reign inflate her ego.  

    They agreed to an impromptu title bout. Headbutts and a thrust kick sent AJ flying backward, but AJ rolled up the champ to capture the crown.

     

    Result

    AJ wins via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    AJ's return leaves Paige stunned.

    AJ calls Paige her "sweet, little crumpet."

    "This is my house now."—Paige to AJ.

     

    Grade

    B-

     

    Analysis

    Fans are finally getting an AJ vs. Paige feud, one that has tremendous potential. As great as her surprise return was, WWE made the same mistake it did when Paige won the belt—not devoting enough time to the title match.

    If the championship is changing hands in two-minute bouts, it feels far less prestigious than if it took mighty, gutsy efforts to win it.

    Paige showed flashes of a more aggressive in-ring style, something the company needs to tap into more as this rivalry continues.

Roman Reigns and John Cena vs. Kane and Randy Orton

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    As they have done so often in their careers, Randy Orton and John Cena traded blows. The WWE champ quickly let Roman Reigns in. Orton tagged in Kane in response.

    The heels grounded Reigns, keeping him in their corner and taking turns blasting him with strikes.

    The powerhouse fought back, smashing Kane into the barricade, but Orton soon regained control. He and Kane continued to punish Reigns. It took Reigns winning a slugfest with Kane for him to reach Cena and tag him.

    Cena went on a tear that saw him try for an Attitude Adjustment only to taste an RKO from Orton. Reigns and Orton brawled on the entrance ramp and into the locker room. Meanwhile, Kane hurled Cena into the ring steps.

    He earned a disqualification by cracking the steps against Cena's head. A Tombstone Piledriver had Cena out cold.  

    Seth Rollins emerged, trying to cash in. The referee hesitated, allowing Dean Ambrose enough time to attack him. The two took their brawl into the stands.

    Triple H moved in on Cena, but Reigns returned to spear Kane and stare the COO down.

     

    Result

    Reigns and Cena win by disqualification. 

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Reigns hits a stunning leaping clothesline.

    Ambrose chases down Rollins.

    Reigns and Triple H's faceoff inspires a "This is awesome!" chant.

     

    Grade

    A

     

    Analysis

    The match was solid but won't win any awards. The stories that unfolded afterward are what capped off Monday's Raw right.

    Rollins and Ambrose's feud added intensity. The Superstars in the Fatal 4-Way have more reasons to dislike each other. WWE also signaled that Reigns would eventually go after Triple H, a moment the fans responded to in a big way.

    WWE is wasting no time in building to the next show, not even letting fans breathe after Money in the Bank.

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