By Jeff Hamlin, WrestlingObserver.com
Big Takeaway: Once again, the John Cena-Kevin Owens segment stole the show. This time, Cena made Cesaro into a star in one night with the best Raw match of the year. Owens ran in for a DQ to get Cesaro more over as a face. The first hour featured Seth Rollins being a game show host, and it culminated with the unified Authority laying out Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose.
Seth Rollins came out with J&J Security and Kane saying he showed true power last week when he took Suplex City and burned it to the ground. He claimed Brock Lesnar was boarding a plane to Japan right now.
He put over Jamie Noble for suffering three broken ribs at the hands of Lesnar last week and ordered the fans to give him a round of applause. There were a few "Noble" chants. Rollins gave everyone new Apple watches, which I hope is a product placement.
Rollins had a special gift for Kane, mentioning his debut in 1997. He told Kane he was sending him on his first vacation to Hawaii, and unveiled one of those placards from "Let's Make A Deal." Hula dancers and a ukulele player came out. Before Kane left, Rollins proposed a tag match against Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns.
Then Rollins brought out a new Cadillac for J&J Security, complete with a game show model unveiling the new car. Joey Mercury wanted to hug Noble, who couldn't because of his injury. This was the longest game show segment in history, with Rollins unveiling the sticker price. It succeeded in killing the crowd.
The Big Show defeated Mark Henry (1:24)
The Big Show won with two Knockout punches. The Miz was on commentary talking about how his manager has given him numerous career opportunities.
Ryback came out afterwards and gave Show a chop block. Miz ran in and dodged Ryback, who challenged Miz to a match.
Ryback (C) defeated The Miz via countout in a nontitle match (5:06)
Ryback hit a Meat Hook clothesline and Miz walked out for the countout. Miz had a comeback and it was a pretty good match until the weak finish.
Paige defeated Alicia Fox (9:35)
Best match on the show thus far. Nikki Bella tried to distract Paige and Alicia Fox tried a rolling reverse cradle, but Paige reversed it for the pin. Nikki and Brie Bella were at ringside. Crowd got into Paige's comeback, which was the most heat so far tonight.
John Cena came out for the return of the U.S. Championship open challenge. They made mention of Cena being nominated for the ESPN 2015 Sports Humanitarian of the Year, along with Anquan Bolden, Henrik Lundqvist and Tamika Catchings. At first, Kevin Owens came out like he was going to accept the U.S. challenge, but Owens said he would wait for Battleground. Instead, Cesaro answered the call.
John Cena (C) and Cesaro went to a no contest, so Cena retains the U.S. Championship (20:12)
Finish came when Cesaro used an 8-rep Cesaro Swing, then sank in the Sharpshooter. Owens ran in and gave both men a pop-up power bomb, with Owens saying the man who was going to beat Cena for the U.S. Championship was going to be him. It was a hell of a match with the whole crowd thinking Cesaro was going to win after hoisting Cena into the air and throwing a forearm uppercut. Cena gave Cesaro the entire match and what a show Cesaro put on. Cena kicked out of a neutralizer. Owens was on commentary. Michael Cole was going crazy calling the bout a match of the year contender. At one point, Owens felt disrespected and slapped Cole's headset off. The thinking was Owens would get more heel heat for costing Cesaro a chance to win, since the crowd really likes him.
Bray Wyatt did an interview saying he always wanted to be his father's favorite, but he got thrown out like a piece of trash. Now, he has wings. You mean Rotundo's favorite was Bo Dallas? Kevin Nash had better talent judgement than that. Wyatt told Reigns to run because he will always be his crown of suffering.
They showed the Rock's apperance at the Boston house show giving Dallas the People's Elbow.
The Prime Time Players and the Lucha Dragons defeated the New Day and Bo Dallas (14:28).
Good match, if a little long. Titus O'Neal pinned Kofi Kingston after a spinebuster. Darren Young got the heat and Dallas even had some offense.
Dolph Ziggler and Lana came out for a segment where it was announced that "they were going public." Dolph said the relationship between he and Lana didn't start as love at first sight because she admitted to him that she was using him to get back at Rusev. But the situation has changed. Lana said for years she didn't know what a real man was. Crowd was giving her the "what" treatment, which visibily frustrated Ziggler. Lana said they have grown to be more than just friends and said Dolph was very passionate.
Rusev came out with Summer Rae for the first time. Rusev said he doesn't care about Lana anymore and never did. He said when he kissed Lana, it was like kissing the ringpost. Ziggler interrupted Rusev and called Lana his girlfriend. He told Rusev to walk away before he does something about his other leg. They teased a fight before Rusev left. Summer Rae spoke up and called Lana a gold digger.
Summer said Lana was a two-faced phony, then slapped her. Lana tackled Summer and they jostled around. Lana tackled Summer again before Rusev pulled Rae away. Crowd chanted "yes." Fans crapped on Ziggler's interview segment because they don't believe this Ziggler-Lana partnership.
Ambrose was talking to two Terminator robots backstage when Reigns came up and wanted to know if he was ready for tonight's tag match. I assume as part of his video package, Neville now has a comic book cover depicting him in animated form which looks really cool.
Sheamus defeated Nevile (12:42)
Sheamus won with the Brogue Kick in a good match. JBL, who is usually the voice of Vince McMahon backstage, was being fatalistic about Neville's future, overemphasizing how high flying wrestlers never have a long career because they take too many chances. Neville had the Red Arrow set up but Sheamus broke it up by kicking the top rope. For Sports Illustrated's "Where are they Now?" issue this year, they're profiling Hulk Hogan. Perhaps a better idea would be finding all of the wrestlers from companies Hogan has bankrupted over the years.
King Barrett defeated Jack Swagger (1:46)
Barrett won with the Bullhammer Elbow. He's now doing the Harley Race gimmick of demanding every wrestler bow down to him in reverance to the crown. Jack Swagger did no such thing, which really gets the whole deal over.
Seth Rollins and Kane defeated Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns (11:46)
Crowd seemed tired. Ambrose pulled out a table until Mercury pull it away. Reigns no sold a kendo stick shot from Mercury and blasted Kane and Mercury with Kendo Sticks, then hit Kane, Rollins and Mercury with Superman Punches. Wyatt magically showed up and took Reigns out with a uranage onto the announcer's table. With Regins out of commission, Kane gave Ambrose a choke slam and Rollins pinned him after a Pedigree.
Postmatch, the heels teased putting Ambrose through a table but Reigns made the save until Kane choke slammed Reigns. Rollins talked crap to Reigns as he was down until Reigns made his own comeback to clear the ring. The Authority ganged up on Reigns again, with yet another choke slam by Kane. Rollins then power bombed Reigns through a table in the corner to leave him laying. Reigns teased getting up from the table shot, but Rollins gave him a Pedigree.
After The Authority left, Wyatt walked in the ring and gave Reigns Sister Abigail.
SUMMARY: The Cena-Owens feud has been the best in wrestling for 2015. It's made new stars, and not just the two principal characters in the program. It's had dynamic matches. It doesn't get often enough, but Cena is really a remarkable performer. Though not a tactically gifted wrestler, his value to the company has never been more apparent over the last year in getting new personalities over. If WCW had someone with his unselfishness in 1998, maybe they would still be in business. The Cena-Cesaro match made the show.