WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from Sept. 22

Ryan Dilbert@@ryandilbertWWE Lead WriterSeptember 23, 2014

WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from Sept. 22

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The Sept. 22 edition of WWE Raw didn't have the kind of spark one expects from a show following a pay-per-view.

    Repetition and rematches kept the Night of Champions' fallout show from being anything special. Mark Henry's emoting, Dean Ambrose's frenzied energy and Dolph Ziggler's title win highlighted a night with no surplus of highlights.

    WWE made it clear which rivalries are continuing, some of which seem to be reserved just for TV, while others will likely be a part of Hell in a Cell. 

    The following is a look at all the segments, matches and moments from Monday's Raw. Grades and analysis look at how effective WWE's storytelling was and how entertaining the wrestlers' performances were.

Opening Segment with Dean Ambrose and John Cena

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    Dean Ambrose paced around the ring before shouting to the crowd about being back. The footage of Seth Rollins stomping on his head played on the big screen.

    The Lunatic Fringe said that he wouldn't leave the ring until he got his hands on Rollins again. He propped out a folding chair and waited.

    John Cena soon arrived, looking as agitated as Ambrose. Tension built between him and the former member of The Shield over who would get a crack at Rollins.

    Triple H led out The Authority just when it looked like Ambrose and Cena were going to start swinging. The COO said that no one would be fighting Rollins, but the two babyfaces ran out of the ring and brawled with anyone within striking range. 

    Ambrose chased down Rollins through the crowd. Backstage, Cena and Ambrose tried to grab hold of their common enemy, but he slipped away, stealing a car and escaping.

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "I'm not dead!"—Ambrose.

    "I never get tired of punching Seth Rollins in the face."—Ambrose.

    "You're flying real close to a plane, brother."—Ambrose to Cena.

    Grade

    B+

    Analysis

    Ambrose's wild energy was fun as usual. He delivered one of his better WWE promos, a passionate, straightforward speech.

    The tension between him and Cena teased at an intriguing feud down the road. 

    It makes sense too that Ambrose's character wouldn't trust Cena and would have friction with him. He's a lone wolf and the antihero to Cena's superhero.

The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler (Intercontinental Championship)

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    The Miz proudly held up his newly won Intercontinental Championship on the way to the ring. Damien Sandow mirrored him, carrying a paper replica of the title.

    Dolph Ziggler seemed powered by an extra focus. His moves had an extra snap to them, including a DDT that nearly got him the win.

    The Miz fought back with a signature move of his own. He clamped down on the figure-four, weakening the challenger from that point on.

    Sandow nearly cost Ziggler the match with a distraction, but The Showoff countered a roll-up and grabbed hold of The Miz's tights for the win.

    Result

    Ziggler wins via pinfall.

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    The Miz hits a nasty neckbreaker on the apron.

    Ziggler kicks out of the Skull Crushing Finale.

    Ziggler celebrates with the fans after reclaiming the title.

    Grade

    A-

    Analysis

    Ziggler and The Miz continue to nail each opportunity. Their chemistry is great together. They both have made the IC title feel like a prize worth giving everything of one's self for.

    The issue is that the championship has now changed hands so often in the last few months. The reigns have all felt insignificant, and the champs have had little chance to build any momentum.

    Switching the titles back and forth feels cheap and shortsighted. The great work that The Miz and Ziggler are doing together suffers because of that.

Jack Swagger vs. Bo Dallas

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    Bo Dallas had Jack Swagger reeling early. Knees to the head and a forceful clothesline had an upset seemingly on the horizon.

    Swagger responded with a Swagger Bomb, but he soon found himself crashing to the mat. Off balance and on the defensive, Swagger finally dodged his foe and caught him in the ankle lock. Submission was imminent.

    Zeb Colter mocked Dallas afterward.

    Result

    Swagger wins via submission. 

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "I 'Bo-lieve that Jack Swagger just made you tap out."—Zeb Colter.

    Grade

    B

    Analysis

    The two wrestlers managed to cram some good action into a small space. The short match was hard-hitting and fluid.

    There hasn't been anything special about their rivalry, though. Swagger has just earned a number of victories without much story surrounding them.

    It's hard to imagine this feud is going to be featured on a pay-per-view with the number of clean losses Dallas has suffered now.

Summer Rae vs. Natalya

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    Layla accompanied Summer Rae. Rosa Mendes stood in Natalya's corner.

    After Summer did some trash-talking, she slapped Natalya and kicked her onto her back before clamping on a scissors hold. Summer was aggressive and vicious, but she didn't have control long.

    Natalya escaped the hold. She went on a brief flurry as Rosa and Layla fought outside.

    A few seconds in the Sharpshooter forced Summer to tap out.

    Result

    Natalya wins via submission.

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Natalya kicks Summer in the back of the head and then hits a running dropkick.

    Rosa knocks Layla off the apron.

    Grade

    C

    Analysis

    Natalya provided flashes of excellence in a blip of a match.

    If WWE is going to promote Total Divas by promoting its stars, it's smarter to use Natalya and Summer than Cameron or Rosa. Still, the Divas division is plagued by bouts like these smushed into such a short amount of time.

Kane vs. Dean Ambrose

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    Dean Ambrose peppered Kane with punches early. He controlled the action, dodging Kane's attacks and issuing dropkicks and clotheslines. 

    When the fight moved outside the ring, Ambrose pulled out a chair. Kane made sure he didn't use it, hurling him into the ring steps.

    Just as Ambrose hit Dirty Deeds, Rollins pounced. He attacked his former partner, with Kane later helping him with a chokeslam.

    Once Kane left, a chair-wielding Ambrose inspired Rollins to retreat.

    Backstage, Triple H told Rollins to stop starting fires. Before he had a chance to expound on that, Ambrose attacked again. Security guards had to restrain him.

    They hoisted him up and shoved him into a dressing room.

    Result

    Ambrose wins via disqualification.

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Kane uppercuts Ambrose as he leaps off the top rope.

    "Have we ever thrown anyone out that hasn't come back?"—Stephanie McMahon.

    Grade

    B- 

    Analysis

    The post-bout brawl was better than the match itself.

    Triple H instructed Kane to finish Ambrose but held him in an armbar and wasn't especially aggressive. Ambrose and Kane lacked chemistry as well.

    It wasn't until the action moved backstage that the fun began. Ambrose's unhinged nature remains one of the more exciting elements of WWE right now.

The Usos and Sheamus vs. Goldust, Stardust and Cesaro

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    Jey Uso and Goldust traded blows early, the echo of slaps filling the arena. The Usos soon had Goldust seeking a respite out of the ring. Stardust struggled in his first opportunity as well.

    When Cesaro and Sheamus stepped in, the intensity picked up. Their hot brawl only lasted for a moment.

    The two teams made frequent tags, with no one gaining an advantage for long.

    Sheamus knocked the tag team champs around some, only to have Cesaro start pounding on him. The King of Swing hurt the U.S. champ outside the ring and then grounded him once they were back inside. That allowed Stardust and company to punish Sheamus and keep him away from his partners.

    The Usos forced their way into the match, and the pace picked up. Bodies began to zip by the screen. Boots collided with jaws.

    Jimmy hit a splash for the win. 

    Result

    The Usos and Sheamus win via pinfall.

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Cesaro slams Sheamus' face onto the floor outside the ring.

    Stardust cackling at Sheamus from the ring apron.

    Stardust flies off the turnbuckle and crashes into Sheamus.

    Jimmy dives onto both Stardust and Goldust.

    Grade

    B+

    Analysis

    A solid match turned into an enjoyable one toward the end. The Usos continue to deliver on both TV and pay-per-view, and Cesaro's chemistry with Sheamus sucks the audience in.

    It's clear that The Usos will be getting a rematch after pinning the new champs. It looks as if Cesaro and Sheamus are headed for another collision as well.

    Those are both good moves, but the U.S. title feud is going to need more of a storyline than what it had before Night of Champions. It's felt like an afterthought of a rivalry outside the ring, even if the champion and challenger produced a thriller once the bell rang.

Mark Henry vs. Rusev

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    Mark Henry glumly spoke of his loss to Rusev. He apologized for letting his fans down.

    Lana and Rusev soon interrupted him. She called Henry "pathetic" as the crowd chanted "U-S-A!" The Ravishing Russian offered him another chance at Rusev.

    He accepted and was soon wincing from a succession of kicks to his spine. Henry struggled to stand as he tried to fight The Bulgarian Brute off. 

    Rusev wrapped his arms around Henry's neck and squeezed the air out of him.

    The World's Strongest Man rallied back, slamming Rusev and then sending him crashing into the ring steps. He set up Rusev in the corner, and while holding his pained ribs, he climbed to the second rope. Rusev yanked him down.

    Trapped in The Accolade, Henry refused to tap. He blacked out in the hold, and the referee stopped the match.

    Result

    Rusev wins by referee stoppage.

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Lana mocks the Tennessee accent. 

    Henry struggles to even get to his hands and knees as Rusev sneers behind him.

    "Mark Henry's hurting so bad, but he's gotta try to dig down deep, guys. He's gotta block out the pain."—Michael Cole.

    Grade

    A-

    Analysis

    In terms of in-ring action, this wasn't as exciting as The Miz and Ziggler, but it told a better story.

    Rusev delighted in Henry's frustration and pain. The result was the heel looking heartless and the babyface looking gutsy.

    Cole aided the narrative by playing up how hurt Henry was and how much this match meant.

The Bunny and Adam Rose vs. Heath Slater and Titus O'Neil

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    Titus O'Neil changed Adam Rose's mood in an instant.

    Rose was having a blast on his way to the ring, but O'Neil slammed him to the mat. Heath Slater took his shots on the party-happy star as well. 

    Slater Gator couldn't keep Rose in their corner for long, though.

    The Bunny flew around the ring, knocking Slater down with a missile dropkick. He then attacked O'Neil, allowing Rose to hit the Party Foul for the win.

    Result

    The Bunny and Rose win via pinfall.

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    The Bunny dives out onto Titus O'Neil.

    Grade

    D

    Analysis

    There's a place for a silly feud involving a man in a bunny costume, but WWE has shown such a lackluster effort with this story.

    Hornswoggle vs. El Torito had hype, their animosity building over time. This rivalry has been too dependent on the novelty of The Bunny. There was no spark to this match or to the feud overall.

    Rose can't connect with the audience if he only fights for two minutes at a time. It's hard to get invested without better storytelling at work.

    WWE is missing an opportunity to make his run a lot more exciting.

Nikki and Brie Bella Collide Again

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    Nikki Bella
    Nikki BellaCredit: WWE.com

    Nikki Bella blamed her Night of Champions loss on the fact that her sister had badmouthed her in an interview before the match.

    Brie Bella came out, and the twins bickered. Nikki said that Brie didn't deserve the Bella name. She demanded that Brie give up the name, leaving her as the only Bella in WWE.

    She then insulted her husband. Pushed too far, Brie slapped Nikki and sent her scurrying.

    AJ Lee soon came down to the ring, ready for her match with Nikki.

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "You're an embarrassment to the name Bella."—Nikki to Brie.

    Grade

    D-

    Analysis

    Using the Bella name as a key part of their feud is a terrible idea. That is simply not an interesting set of stakes.

    WWE keeps straying from tried-and-true storytelling techniques with these women. 

    Their acting hasn't improved any either. While Mark Henry or Paul Heyman hypnotize the audience with their performances, The Bella Twins irritate it with theirs.

AJ Lee vs. Nikki Bella

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    AJ Lee
    AJ LeeCredit: WWE.com

    Paige sat in on commentary as AJ dominated Nikki early.

    Nikki floored the new Divas champ with a clothesline and then pounded on her in the corner. She then threw AJ into Paige at the announce desk.

    Holding AJ by her neck, Nikki swung her opponent side to side. She wrenched on AJ's arm in an armbar, but AJ countered in, turning it into a pin.

    After dodging Nikki in the corner, AJ clamped on the Black Widow.

    Result

    AJ wins via submission.

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Nikki hits an Alabama Slam.

    Nikki does a strange move where she pushes AJ with her butt.

    "I'm skipping the art of skipping."—Paige.

    Grade

    C+

    Analysis

    Just as you get ready to say aloud that Nikki has improved in the ring, she presses her butt against AJ's in an inexplicable move. At times, she came off as a sneering predator, but her overacting got in the way. 

    AJ mostly took a beating and hit her finisher for the win.

    The end result was an OK match that gave the champion a win and made Nikki look more formidable.

John Cena vs. Randy Orton

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    Randy Orton
    Randy OrtonCredit: WWE.com

    Randy Orton had both Kane and Rollins in his corner. Cena had on a new T-shirt that read "Keep calm and never give up."

    The Viper used a side headlock to grab the reins of the match early. He soon turned to punches to the ribs and pressing his boot into Cena's throat. 

    The match was mostly one-sided, Orton taking his time punishing his foe. He smirked as he threw Cena into the steel steps and announce table. 

    Cena later powered out of Orton's grip. He was in the midst of his usual comeback sequence, but Orton had a counter ready at every step. He spun out of the STF and avoided the Five-Knuckle Shuffle.

    When Cena finally did look like he had Orton beat, Rollins and Kane pounced on him. A kick to the head and a chokeslam had him flat on his back. 

    They dragged the fan favorite to what looked like the cinder blocks that did Ambrose in. But when Kane lifted the cover, Ambose was hiding there instead. He leaped at Rollins, delivering rapid-fire punches.

    A brawl broke out, and the babyfaces had the heels retreating.

    Result

    Cena wins via disqualification.

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Orton slams Cena into the announce table. 

    Orton hits his rope-hung DDT from the top rope.

    "I don't know how much mind he ever had, but Ambrose's lost it."—JBL.

    Grade

    B

    Analysis

    Despite Orton's quality performance, this didn't feel like a main event.

    Blame that on the fact that we've seen these two guys go at it so often. Blame it on the same narrative of Cena taking a beating and then charging back. Blame it on a disqualification finish that is getting awfully familiar as of late.

    Ambrose emerging from what was supposed to be a stack of cinder blocks was fun. His popping-out-of-stuff routine, though, is becoming less exciting as it continues to happen.

    It's time to try something new with this story.