The Good, the Great and the Awesome from Raw 7/21/14
The July 21 episode of Raw laid the foundation for the SummerSlam pay-per-view with some tremendous angles and matches.
Brock Lesnar returned and, with the help of mouthpiece Paul Heyman, revealed his intentions to dismantle and destroy John Cena before taking the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and beginning a reign of terror over the company.
Stephanie McMahon picked the wrong night to try to stick it to Brie Bella. After slapping her, she wound up in handcuffs and in a Miami police station, being booked on charges of battery. It was the latest chapter in the intensifying rivalry between the women.
Roman Reigns and Randy Orton exchanged blows late in the broadcast, seemingly indicating that they will be opponents come August 17, while Dean Ambrose sent a loud and clear message to Seth Rollins by unleashing his fury on Cesaro.
Paige brutally assaulted AJ Lee, and Dolph Ziggler scored a non-title victory over new intercontinental champion The Miz.
With the show in the books, relive the very best of the broadcast with this week's edition of The Good, the Great and the Awesome from Raw!
Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton and Kane
The night's opening match was a Handicap match booked by Triple H in response to Roman Reigns interrupting his announcement regarding the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at SummerSlam.
With Reigns being such a hot babyface, it was a solid booking decision to present him early and often in Monday's broadcast.
The match was rather tedious. Kane and Orton took turns beating on Reigns before he made the babyface comeback and scored the win following some dissension among the heels.
It did manage to play up the problems within The Authority while also doing just enough to hint at an eventual bout between Reigns and Orton.
There was nothing spectacular about the segment as a whole, but it did feature some solid, effective booking that will lead to bigger and better things as SummerSlam draws near.
"It's Our Time to Find Purpose"
After a disappointing loss suffered by Kofi Kingston and Big E in a match against Ryback and Curtis Axel, Xavier Woods arrived and convinced the duo that they must work together to find purpose—to take what they want rather than waiting for it.
"We do not ask, we take," he finished his promo with, before being joined by a curious Kingston and Big E.
It remains to be seen exactly what WWE Creative has in store for the trio of talented individuals, but the fact that they will finally be doing something of note rather than floating around the midcard aimlessly is a step in the right direction.
Dean Ambrose vs. Cesaro
Cesaro's revelation that he had ended his working relationship with Paul Heyman came as no big surprise considering the fact that the former ECW owner was not by the Swiss Superstar's side last week. What was a surprise was Cesaro's interest in becoming associated with The Authority.
While Seth Rollins did not seem open to the possibility, Triple H appeared intrigued. He booked Cesaro in a match against Dean Ambrose, telling him to prove his worth.
Cesaro did that, for the most part. He pounded away at the Lunatic Fringe with his trademark forearms and uppercuts, leaving Ambrose even loopier than normal.
With "more guts than brains," as JBL put it, Ambrose fought through tremendous pain in his left shoulder to mount a comeback and inflict pain on Cesaro's shoulder. When he introduced a steel chair to the mix, bashing Cesaro's now-injured limb with the weapon, it became clear that Ambrose was less concerned with winning and more worried about hurting someone.
That is exactly the sort of unpredictable behavior that has led to Ambrose achieving more success as a singles babyface than anyone could have imagined. That he is so angry and willing to unleash that rage on whomever is unlucky enough to share the ring with him until he gets his hands on Seth Rollins makes for an intriguing character that fans can get behind.
Ambrose is so unlike any other performer on the roster that he is a breath of fresh air that fans are ready and willing to inhale.
Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz
One night after capping off his return with an Intercontinental Championship victory, The Miz arrived at Raw for a non-title bout against the man he eliminated from the Battleground Battle Royal to win the gold, Dolph Ziggler.
The Superstars had a highly competitive match that was won by WWE's resident Show Off when he pinned the champion following the Zigzag. Again, Miz's infatuation with his own good looks proved to be his downfall as he was far more worried about protecting his face than beating his opponent.
The win sets Ziggler up nicely to become the top contender for the championship. As one of the best workers in the industry and someone with strong chemistry with Miz, Ziggler could help re-establish the Intercontinental Championship as the prestigious title it once was.
Hell Hath No Fury Like Paige Scorned
From the moment that Paige began acting so nice toward AJ Lee following her Divas Championship loss, many assumed she would turn heel with a monumental beatdown of the popular female performer.
That came to fruition on Monday as the Brit attacked AJ following a tag team victory and beat her around ringside. She ended the assault by tossing the petite champion over the announce table and proclaiming the Divas division to be "my house!"
The segment was just the beginning of a feud that should do wonders for the Divas division. Paige and AJ are tremendously skilled performers capable of carrying the proverbial ball both in and out of the ring. Together, they have the opportunity to create magic and bring plenty of eyes to the sport of women's wrestling.
Hopefully, they can capitalize on this opportunity.
The Beast Is Back
Monday's Raw was headlined by Triple H's announcement of the new No. 1 contender to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. As the King of Kings made his way to the ring, there was definitely a sense of excitement in the arena.
"We want Lesnar" chants began mounting, so fans were prepared when Paul Heyman arrived and then introduced his client Brock Lesnar as the so-called "Plan C" for The Authority.
With a single handshake and a nod of approval, Triple H accepted Lesnar as the challenger to John Cena's title on August 17 at SummerSlam. He exited the squared circle and allowed Heyman to address both the WWE Universe and Cena.
"John Cena, you can't escape this beating," Heyman warned the champion as he detailed the pain and punishment Lesnar would dish out to WWE's resident superhero.
Lesnar's return was greeted with open arms by the fans in Miami. Why they were so accepting of a man who, just three months earlier, had ended the most fabled winning streak in professional wrestling is somewhat of a mystery.
Are fans really that tired of Cena? It appears as though the answer is an emphatic "yes," something Heyman was quick to point out. By doing so, he almost guarantees a story in which fans are pitted against one another more than normal, as if the company is encouraging the pro- and anti-Cena portions of the fanbase to engage in a verbal war in the weeks leading into SummerSlam.
It is a unique way to handle the promotion of the bout but one that could pay off in spades if it attracts more viewers to Raw, SmackDown, the WWE Network and pay-per-view.
Stephanie Slaps a Bell, Gets Arrested
Stephanie McMahon has been the best heel in all of World Wrestling Entertainment in 2014 and again proved why Monday night.
After finding out that Brie Bella was seated at ringside to watch her sister Nikki compete in a 4-on-1 Handicap match, Stephanie confronted the former Diva. She taunted her and then responded to an insult with a slap, something that would come back to haunt her later in the show.
Following a concert by Flo Rida, Stephanie was approached by detectives, who took her into custody and charged her with battery.
Stephanie's reaction—that of a spoiled brat who suddenly found herself on the wrong side of the law and without a way out—was outstanding. Even better was the crowd's reaction. They were elated to see the top villain in the company get some comeuppance, even if they would have preferred it to come at the hands of the gorgeous Bella twin.
The two segments from Monday's show hopefully set up a match between Stephanie and Brie at SummerSlam. The crowd was incredibly hot for everything involving the two, and an official match would immediately become one of the most anticipated on the August 17 card.
Wasting the type of response they got from the fans in Miami would be a monumental mistake.
It has been more than a decade since Stephanie competed in a sanctioned match, meaning that the next time she does, the company can milk it as a special attraction—something it barely does anymore.