WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from Aug. 25

Ryan DilbertWWE Lead WriterAugust 26, 2014

WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from Aug. 25

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    Jonathan Bachman/Associated Press

    John Cena emerged from his SummerSlam beating a changed man as fans saw on the Aug. 25 edition of WWE Raw.

    Hall of Famers doubted him, and Bray Wyatt looked up at him from the mat in disbelief. WWE piled on rows of bricks as it looked to build hype for Night of Champions.

    That resulted in Cesaro earning a title shot, Dolph Ziggler and The Miz having more issues and Stardust and Goldust becoming hostile toward The Usos. It also meant that even with Brock Lesnar not in front of the live audience in Anaheim, California, he stole the show via a video package.

    How well did WWE construct those stories? How did the wrestlers do when the mic was on or their boots were strapped tight?

    The following is a look at everything Monday's Raw had to offer, complete with highlights, letter grades and results.

Hall of Fame Forum

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    Michael Cole welcomed three legends into the ring: Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels.

    Asked about Cena's chances against Lesnar at Night of Champions, Michaels said he had none. He suggested that the end of Cena's career could be near.

    Hogan talked about Cena's heart, saying that he's rooting for him. While Michaels and Flair doubted Cena's chances, Hogan noted that Cena bested Lesnar at Extreme Rules 2012. 

    Cena stepped in to speak for himself. He looked forlorn as the crowd chanted "Cena sucks!" 

    He recounted his beating at SummerSlam, saying he had no excuse for it. The fight changed him, he told Michaels. At Night of Champions, he'll bring the fight to Lesnar.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "This isn't a personality contest. Everybody likes John Cena. That doesn't change the fact that he doesn't have a chance."—Micheals.

    "Point blank, if there was not Hulk Hogan, there would be no John Cena."—Cena.

    "I'm not going to Night of Champions to beat Brock Lesnar. I'm going to Night of Champions to beat Brock Lesnar's ass."—Cena.

     

    Grade

    B+

     

    Analysis

    A surplus of star power and a strong, emotional performance from Cena mostly balanced out bad acting.

    As good as Michaels, Flair and Hogan are on the mic, it's surprising how stiff this segment was. It felt like all three men were reading a script rather than being allowed to be themselves. 

    Cena walked a straight line to the point while showing shame and anger on his face. The story so far is a simple one in that Cena is looking for redemption. It's one WWE has told using him before, but following the Lesnar loss, it will exist in a new context.

    This is a solid start to the road to his rematch.

Rusev vs. Jack Swagger

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    Both Rusev and Jack Swagger waved their nation's flag before going to battle. Zeb Colter was still not at Swagger's side, thanks to Rusev kicking him in the head at SummerSlam.

    The two powerhouses traded heavy shots before the American knocked Rusev out of the ring. 

    Swagger had him seeking refuge after cranking on the ankle lock. The Oklahoma native controlled the action, smacking Rusev against the announce table and tagging him in the jaw.

    His injured ribs proved to be his Achilles' heel. Rusev attacking that weak point shifted the momentum. The Bulgarian Brute knocked him around and into the ropes and the ring apron.

    Swagger cranked Rusev's foot in the ankle lock, but the big man withstood it. 

    Each man then winced for much of the rest of the match. Rusev's ankle and Swagger's ribs hurt them after throwing each blow. Rusev, though, was able to fight through the pain. 

    He smashed on Swagger's chest with a continuous series of stomps. Eventually, the referee saw that Swagger was not defending himself and stopped the match. The medical staff then checked on the former world champ.

    Backstage, Bo Dallas reminded Swagger that he let his country down again.

     

    Result

    Rusev wins by referee stoppage.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Rusev bites his own hand while in the ankle lock.

    A jackknife cover gets Swagger a close near-fall.

     

    Grade

    A-

     

    Analysis

    Swagger and Rusev have delivered with each opportunity. This bout had the same intensity and physicality that powered their previous ones.

    In addition, WWE made a smart move with the stoppage finish. It painted Rusev as brutal and Swagger as gutsy, even more so than the similar end to their SummerSlam clash.

    Swagger can move ahead, looking tougher, as he continues the story of struggling with his failures. Losses that lead to something can be beneficial, and it looks as if that will soon be the case for Swagger.

Cesaro vs. Rob Van Dam (United States Championship No. 1 Contender's Match)

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    Sheamus watched from the announce table as Cesaro and Rob Van Dam fought for the right to face him.

    The Swiss Superman kept his distance early, popping Van Dam with right hands. Even after Van Dam hit a Rolling Thunder, Cesaro dominated, fists thumping against flesh.

    Cesaro paying too much attention to The Celtic Warrior allowed Van Dam to mount a comeback. A moonsault and a number of kicks had Cesaro taking a breather outside. He quickly ran back in, hit the Neutralizer and stared at Sheamus as the referee counted to three.

    After the match, Cesaro tossed the United States title in Sheamus' face before scurrying off. 

     

    Result

    Cesaro wins via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Cesaro's hard strikes.

     

    Grade

    C+

     

    Analysis

    This match ended strangely, as if it was missing a few beats before its climax.

    The good news is that Cesaro will soon be facing someone he has far better chemistry with than Van Dam. WWE doesn't appear to be putting effort into this feud, but it's the right pairing.

    Cesaro and Sheamus will thrive together at Night of Champions. The company has to offer more of a plot than Cesaro eyeballing Sheamus. This has a thrown-together feel so far.

Paige vs. Natalya

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    Natalya nearly scored an early victory with a schoolboy pin. That only angered Paige who started pounding on the second-generation star.

    She held Natalya in an abdominal stretch before the former Divas champ reversed the hold. Natalya's mat skills allowed her to overtake Paige for a few moments.

    Paige survived a Sharpshooter and knocked Natalya out with a Paige Turner. AJ Lee came out skipping to her music, providing enough of a distraction for Natalya to hit a spinning clothesline.

    AJ showed concern for the champ. She hugged her in the ring before kissing Paige's hand.

     

    Result

    Paige wins via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Paige hits a nasty forearm.

    Natalya throws Paige across the ring with a release German suplex.

     

    Grade

    C+

     

    Analysis

    With minimal time, Paige and Natalya put on a good performance. Since Paige has debuted, she has often brought out her opponent's most aggressive side.

    Natalya adding a touch of viciousness was a welcome sight.

    The directionless of the AJ and Paige story brings the grade down. It's a muddled plot with no clear motivation. WWE just seems to be telling the two women, "Just go out there and do something weird." 

    The rivalry is on a roundabout path to who knows where.

The Eulogy of Dean Ambrose

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    Kane stood next to a large photo of Dean Ambrose and a wreath. He said the following ceremony was to be a celebration of the future and Seth Rollins.

    Rollins chuckled as he watched the replay of him stomping Ambrose's head into the stack of concrete blocks.

    He said that Ambrose's story was now one of "what if?" Snarling, he said it was likely that we would never see Ambrose again.

    Roman Reigns interrupted the service, cutting through the crowd as his music played. He and Kane slugged it out. It was then Rollins and Reigns' turn.

    Just as Reigns seemed ready to end the brawl, Kane pulled Mr. Money in the Bank out of the ring. The heels retreated with Reigns staring them down.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "That headache that Dean Ambrose is going to have for the rest of his life is no accident either."—Rollins.

    Reigns hits Rollins with a podium.

     

    Grade

    A

     

    Analysis

    Rollins' fake laugh aside, he nailed his performance as a heartless predator. He was callous and self-righteous, exuding villainy with his lines.

    It's smart of WWE to tap back into the tension between Rollins and Reigns. They didn't clash much after Rollins' betrayal. There's unharnessed anger to work with there.

The Usos vs. Goldust and Stardust (Tag Team Championship)

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    Stardust and Goldust did their usual bizarre routine backstage before their title opportunity. Stardust didn't fare well at first, suffering a chop from Jimmy Uso and a schoolboy pin from Jey.

    He fought back, bowing in the middle of the fight.

    Even after taking an enzuigiri to the side of the head, Stardust stayed in control. He and his brother briefly kept Jimmy grounded. 

    Jey charged in soon after. He had both face-painted foes reeling. After a dive to the outside, Jey came up limping.

    He was unable to get back in the ring before the 10-count. Goldust growled in the mic that The Usos got counted out on purpose. The Rhodes brothers than assaulted the champs, tearing at Jey's knee.

     

    Result

    Goldust and Stardust win via count-out.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Goldust and Stardust both dive out of the ring onto The Usos.

     

    Grade

    B+

     

    Analysis

    While this match won't win any awards, it points toward future excellence. The two teams showed off great chemistry, and Goldust and Stardust's turn makes their next clash far more interesting.

    The Usos were without a top challenger, and making the Rhodes brothers hungry, angry villains is the right way to change that.

    Look for a convergence of speed and brotherhood to steal the show at Night of Champions.

Brock Lesnar Promo Video

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    Highlights of Lesnar's trouncing of Cena at SummerSlam played on the screen as The Beast Incarnate talked about his conquest.

    He said that he gave Cena an out early on, scoffing at his "never give up" attitude. Paul Heyman claimed that Lesnar took pity on Cena when he ended the fight. Heyman said that he had made a mistake in asking for a rematch.

    Lesnar mocked Cena, talking about his father filling his head with dreams.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "My client is humiliated by the fact that John Cena would dare invoke this rematch clause. How dare you, sir. Are you out of your mind?"—Heyman.

    "Night of Champions is going to be your last night in this universe."—Lesnar.

     

    Grade

    A+

     

    Analysis

    This is how to make use of Lesnar's ominous aura with his limited schedule. If the production team keeps hitting home runs like this, if Lesnar keeps spouting out intimidating lines and Heyman does his usual magic, this title run isn't going to need him at Raw every week.

    Anyone unsure of their interest in seeing this rematch just got convinced.

    The story of Lesnar's beastliness against Cena's heart feels fresh, despite their recent collision. WWE has found a new way to spin this tale, and it's going to suck fans in.

Damien Sandow vs. Dolph Ziggler

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    The Miz announced that Damien Sandow would serve as his stunt double for the match. The Awesome One sat in on commentary while Sandow went to battle.

    Sandow took The Miz's mannerisms and moves to the point of working on Ziggler's leg to set up the figure four. The Showoff countered the hold and soon hit the Zig-Zag for the win.

     

    Result

    Ziggler wins via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "Mickey even asked me to take a picture with him."—The Miz.

    "He's fired."—The Miz as Sandow lost.

     

    Grade

    B

     

    Analysis

    WWE finally used Sandow's costume-changing gimmick in an entertaining way. It was fun to see him employ The Miz's offense, and that bit added to the so-called movie star's gimmick.

    The bout itself wasn't great, but the antics surrounding it were fun. The company needs to find more ways like this to incorporate The Miz's character into the show.

    With his feud with Ziggler clearly continuing, it looks as if officials are going to get a chance to do just that.

Bella Twins Collide

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    Jerry Lawler tried to play moderator between Nikki and Brie Bella. Nikki turned away as Brie tried to reach out to her.

    Brie apologized. Nikki brushed her off.

    She talked about Brie wanting to be loved more and about her pretending to be someone she wasn't. Nikki ran down all the things that she was tired of which included everything from Daniel Bryan to guys into twins.

    She tore at Brie's hair, pulled her down and dragged her around the ring.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "When my mom was pregnant, she saw ultrasounds of me and Nikki holding hands in the womb."—Brie.

    "I wished you'd died in the womb."—Nikki to Brie.

     

    Grade

    F

     

    Analysis

    WWE is giving the Bellas the stage, and they are shrieking on it rather than singing. Their acting is painful to watch.

    Brie's tearful expression and Nikki's angry face compete for two of the least convincing performances of the year. Adding the uncomfortable line about dying in the womb didn't help the segment either.

    The story of abandonment and betrayal is a good one; this is just too big of a role for these two.

Roman Reigns vs. Kane and Seth Rollins

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    Roman Reigns' fury only carried him so far. He began by punishing Kane and Seth Rollins, but the numbers disadvantage soon came into play.

    Rollins and Kane pounded on the powerhouse. He eventually tossed Rollins out of the ring and fought back into the match.

    A spear to Kane seemed to have the match won, but Rollins used the Money in the Bank briefcase to save his ally.

    Following the disqualification, Kane and Rollins stomped on Reigns. Kane revealed a stack of cinder blocks just like last week. Reigns broke free, though, and started dishing out hard shots.

    He threw a cinder block at Rollins' head. It just missed, shattering against the ring post. 

     

    Result

    Reigns wins via disqualification. 

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Reigns suplexes Rollins on the ring apron.

    "I created you!"—Rollins to Reigns.

     

    Grade

    B+

     

    Analysis

    The match lacked highlights and was too short to milk the drama of the situation. Reigns nearly getting the treatment that Dean Ambrose received was what fans will remember.

    Rollins comes out of the situation looking like an even more dangerous man. Reigns looks unstoppable, per his usual.

    As Michael Cole pointed out, a piece of the block flew off and nearly hit Jerry Lawler. As thrilling and inventive as these spots have been, that's a sure sign that WWE has to steer away from using cinder blocks as props.

Los Matadores vs. Slater Gator

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    Heath Slater and Titus O'Neil bickered about superheroes backstage before taking on the bullfighters.

    Diego launched himself at Slater off the ring ropes. Fernando soon flung him to the ground with an arm drag. 

    Los Matadores controlled the match until a kick to the throat from Slater.

    After that blow, O'Neil came in and pounded on Diego, telling Slater that this was how it's done. Slater Gator had issues with tagging, each man aggressively letting himself into the match. 

    Diego rolled Slater up for the win after Slater lost his focus.

     

    Result

    Los Matadores win via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Slater does O'Neil's signature bark at a much-higher pitch.

     

    Grade

    B-

     

    Analysis

    What would have been more ordinary was buoyed by Slater and O'Neil's dysfunction. Their infighting was the real highlight here.

    It was the wrong move to end Slater's winning streak last week on Superstars without making a bigger deal about it. Having him and O'Neil be the jesters of the division could be fun, win streak or not, though.

Bo Dallas vs. Kofi Kingston

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    Kofi Kingston's speed was the key to his early advantage. Bo Dallas fought back with right hands to the ribs.

    Kingston went to the top rope, but Dallas knocked him over. Dallas then hit the Bo-Dog for a three-count before taking a victory lap.

    Dallas talked about how Swagger let down his country. Swagger, injured ribs and all, pounced on him with a spinebuster.

     

    Result

    Dallas wins via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Swagger attacks Dallas from behind.

     

    Grade

    D

     

    Analysis

    Kingston didn't have enough time in the ring to impress with his athletic gifts. Dallas didn't have enough time on the mic to make an impression there.

    It's hard to accept that Swagger is mad enough at Dallas to attack him while he's injured. All he's been so far is a mild pest. WWE has to make him dangerous as well as annoying to make him most effective.

    It will make Swagger's need to beat him into the ground more interesting as well.

Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena

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    John Cena exuded intensity as he opened the bout with a nasty clothesline.

    Cena hit a German suplex, inspiring a confused look on Bray Wyatt's face. Barking at Luke Harper and Erick Rowan, Cena went back on the attack.

    The bout looked like the SummerSlam WWE title bout with Cena playing Lesnar and Wyatt playing Cena. Wyatt rolled around, more vulnerable than we've ever seen him.

    With Cena punching away, Harper and Rowan attacked. Mark Henry and Big Show joined the fray.

    The match was then turned into a six-man tag. Big Show smacked Harper across the chest before letting Henry barrel into him.

    The Wyatt Family took over. Each bruiser took turns beating on Henry. Big Show didn't fare any better. 

    Wyatt, Rowan and Harper dominated the big man.

    When Cena tagged in, he continued his newly aggressive style. An STF forced Harper to tap out. He then dished out Attitude Adjustments to The Wyatt Family.

     

    Result

    Cena, Show and Henry win via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Rowan bodyslams Henry.

    Harper dropkicks Big Show off his feet.

     

    Grade

    B+

     

    Analysis

    The change in Cena was enthralling. Borrowing Lesnar's move set was brilliant. It's just odd that WWE chose Wyatt as his roadkill.

    Cena already defeated him in two of their three matches. Wyatt's an emerging star in need of momentum. Having Cena pull a Lesnar on him hurts that cause.

    Randy Orton would have had no trouble absorbing a loss like that. It would actually continue his story of his stumbling enraging him. 

    Still, Cena embracing the hate, as Kane would say, is going to create a lot of buzz. A darker, seething Cena is the closest thing we'll ever get to a heel turn for him.