The Big Takeaway: The show was built around if John Cena or A.J. Styles could win their respective singles matches, they would receive a spot in the main event of Battleground. Cena wrestled Seth Rollins. Styles wrestled Dean Ambrose. Cena and Styles both lost after each inteferred in the other's matches. Roman Reigns was mentioned in the opening by Rollins, and is still slated for the main event of Battleground. Cena and Rollins had among the best Raw matches of the year. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn, billed as the blowoff to the program, is official for Battleground, the only match added to the card tonight.
Seth Rollins came out and brought up Roman Reigns getting suspended. Reigns' tweet from last Tuesday apologizing for his actions was shown on the TitanTron. Rollins ran down Reigns' statement of "owing it" is appropirate because Rollins owns Reigns because he's beaten him once. He said Reigns doesn't deserve a second chance or to be in the main event of Battleground. Rollins wanted to face Dean Ambrose one-on-one.
This brought out Ambrose. Michael Cole called him "the Dude." Ambrose said we all make mistakes, and said he used to be friends with Rollins, that was a huge mistake. He said Rollins wears skinny jeans, which is another mistake. Ambrose said as far as he was concerned, the triple threat match was still on.
A.J. Styles came out and said he agreed Battleground's main event should be a triple-threat match, but he should be in Reigns' place. Fans chanted "Yes" to that. Styles brought up beating John Cena is a dream match. Ambrose said Reigns is still in the match. Styles said it should be changed to a Fatal Fourway and have him included. Ambrose said that was fine with him, but Rollins objected.
Cena arrived and said Ambrose was a fighting champion, he was fight a friend, he will fight a foe, he will fight a fraud, but will he fight the franchise? Cena brought up today being his 15th WWE birthday and he lived the last 12 years in Tampa. Cena said the last time he faced Ambrose for a championship, he won. Cena wanted to make it a five-way match. Once again, Rollins objected.
Stephanie McMahon showed up. She said having Ambrose as WWE World Heavyweight Champion was an embarrassment. She announced that Shane McMahon was on vacation and wasn't there tonight. She arranged Rollins to face Cena tonight. Styles would take on Ambrose. If Cena and Styles are victorious in their respective matches, they will be added to the Battleground main event.
A Brock Lesnar commercial with Paul Heyman doing the voiceover for W2K17 aired. As mentioned earlier on the website, Lesnar will be on the cover.
The Spanish announce team was introduced. JBL chimed in that they tried to explain how Lionel Messi could drill that free kick agains the U.S. last week but miss the penalty against Chile last night. Cole later mentioned that today was the 12th anniversary of JBL defeating Eddy Guerrero for the WWE Championship at the Great American Bash.
Sasha Banks & Paige defeated Charlotte & Dana Brooke via submission (8:38)
Sasha Banks made Dana Brooke tap out to the Bank Statement. Paige made the hot tag to Banks, who delievered a double knee drop against the ropes on Brooke. Outside the ring, Paige laid out Charlotte with a superkick. Banks hit a stiff knee to the face and the bank stabber as a prelude to the finish.
Lana introduced Rusev, which is really all she does now. After that, she's background scenery.
Titus O'Neal defeated Rusev (C) via countout, so Rusev retained the U.S. championship. (4:08)
They did the same finish that Rusev did with Jack Swagger a month ago, except Rusev lost this time. Titus O'Neal and Rusev clotheslined each other on the floor and O'Neal beat the count back in the ring. Once again, O'Neal showed off a more aggressive edge after what happened to his sons at Money in the Bank. Rusev pulled off a standing dropkick with plenty of air underneath. JBL said it was the biggest win of O'Neal's career. Looks like they're building up a blow-off match at Battleground.
Stephanie talked on the phone when she ran into Kane. She wanted to pretend he wasn't there. Kane thanked her for meeting with him and asked for a chance to run SmackDown. She said she was going to be the one running SmackDown. The Miz and Maryse walked up and said they had been gone for a month and there was no red carpet and a poor limo. Kane brought up he was in a new movie called "Countdown." Miz said Kane shouldn't be comparing big budget released to straight to DVD featured. Miz said he was a star and Kane looked like the Devil's favorite insurance agent. Kane suggested Miz defend the Intercontinental Championship tonight. He cited "Rule G-1 of the WWE Rulebook" and said Miz had gone nearly 30 days without putting up the strap. Stephanie thought that was a good idea, but said Miz's opponent would be a mystery.
Seth Rollins defeated John Cena, denying Cena a spot in the Battleground main event (16:00)
Cena hit the AA after reversing a crossbody block, but Rollins got his foot on the ropes. He went for another AA, but Rollins escaped, only to have Cena lock in the STF. Rollins nearly made the ropes, and Cena pulled him back into the center of the ring. He was about to clamp the STF on again until Styles, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson came down to ringside. Cena was distracted as Styles got on the apron, but Rollins got up and hit the Pedigree for the pin. Maybe the most heat for a Raw match this year. Crowd was roaring with dueling chants before they squared off and all throughout the match. Earlier, Rollins missed a frog splash, Cena went to the top rope, but Rollins recovered to hit a superplex, then turned that into a Falcon Arrow for a great near fall. Cena got near falls after a tornado DDT and the Five Knuckle Shuffle.
Enzo Amore and Big Cass defeated Greg Rains and Cassidy Reynolds (:40)
Enzo Amore said they were riding a wave that will carry them straight to the top. The wave was the people. Amore told the fans to do the wave while the match was going on. Amore pinned Reynolds after the Rocket Launcher.
Social Outcasts came out. Bo Dallas said there was only word to describe Social Outcasts "HARD." Heath Slater said they were fresh off the set of Marine 5. Curtis Axel told Enzo and Cass to get out of the ring. Cass wondered which one of the three was the hardest. Dallas wanted to get in the ring to show them who was really the hardest. Cass knocke Slater off the apron with a big boot. Dallas and Axel backed off as Cass told them they were SAWFT.
Life Lessons with Bob Backlund featured Backlund reviewing Darren Young's goals. Young said he wanted to be a singles champion and headline WrestleMania. Backlund said he was a tag team champion with Pedro Morales and said his era was called the Bob Backlund era. He said he wants to make Darren Young great again.
There was a highlight package showing The Big Show, Kalisto, Cesaro, Banks, Becky Lynch and various other stars training with Special Olympics athletes. Those athletes came out on the ramp with Show and Renee Young handling emcee duties. Show has always been underrated as a talker and he was very good presiding over this segment.
Natalya came out for commentary. She said she jumped Lynch at Money in the Bank because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. She was tired of being a nice person because that only gets you stepped on. Lynch came out for a match with Summer Rae, but before it could start, Lynch went after Natalya, who tried to walk off. Lynch jumped on her again and had to be pulled off by the referee. Natalya went to the back and they forgot about the match.
Former Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston was at ringside.
The Highlight Reel with Chris Jericho had Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn as guests. Jericho brought up Ambrose putting 69 thumbtacks in his back at Money in the Bank. They had a long staredown. Jericho brought up that Zayn was the best man at Owens' wedding, which must have made it hard when Owens stabbed Zayn in the back. Zayn said he wanted to end the program with Owens because it was limiting their careers. He brought up various times where they cost each other chances for championships in the past four months. Zayn wanted to put an end to the feud at Battleground.
Owens stood silent. Zayn said this was the real Kevin Owens, a coward who hides behind lies. Just like the lie he's been telling for two years about why Owens stabbed him in the back. Zayn wanted Owens to tell the truth, that it drove Owens nuts that Zayn was signed by the WWE first. He told Owens to grow a set, who prompted a small chant. Owens finally said that he's told Zayn the truth many times. He turned on Zayn because it was the right thing for his career. He said Zayn ruined their friendship because everything they've done since they've met was done to get to the WWE. Owens said he was happy for Zayn when he got to the WWE. He said Zayn was mad when he won the NXT championship, which proves he was always a better friend to Zayn than Zayn was to him. But that doesn't matter now. Owens said he would fight Zayn at Battleground.
Jericho put that announcement over and said Owens was right, Zayn was a terrible friend and a terrible example of what it takes to make it in the WWE. Jericho said Owens is still trying to follow his lead, but Zayn hasn't figured out it doesn't matter what the fans think. Jericho said he wanted to slap Zayn in the face over it, but he was going to let Owens do it. Jericho said announcing the match on the Highlight Reel puts the match on a higher level, so they were both welcome. Jericho offered to give both men "The Gift of Jericho, Drink it in, Man." Owens and Zayn both kicked Jericho in the face. Owens and Zayn glared at each other as Owens walked off.
Kane defeated the Miz (C) by countout, so Miz retains the Intercontinental Championship (3:27)
The Demon Kane was the surprise opponent. He was about to chokeslam Miz when Maryse jumped up on the apron. After a few seconds, Kane very audibly said to Maryse "Get down!" At that point, she took a bump on the apron though no one touched her. Maryse wound up selling her right knee. Miz attended to her at ringside and carried her to the back. No heat at all.
Miz and Maryse were in the back. Maryse was still limping when she started laughing. In the shock of shocks, Maryse jumped up and down to reveal she wasn't really hurt. Miz put her over saying it was the best acting he's ever seen and it was an Oscar winning performance. They laughed over it. No follow up to this at all, except Miz is hosting an episode of MizTv on Thursday with a guest who isn't Kane.
Apollo Crews & Cesaro defeated Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio (4:58)
Alberto Del Rio and Sheamus broke up two months ago, but were back tagging here. They did the "faction that just broke up now tagging again" gimmick. They also did the "partners that don't get along" gimmick. Del Rio slapped Sheamus, then gave him an enzuigiri for some reason. Del Rio watched from the ramp as Apollo Crews pinned Sheamus with the spin-out powerbomb to complete silence.
Ambrose did a promo with Jojo about how the last two weeks have been the best of times. Stephanie walked in and said it was appalling that Ambrose was the face of her company. Stephanie said if Styles wins tonight, she's one step closer to ending this appaling nightmare. At least Ambrose got the last word, saying "Deep down, she really likes me."
What appeared to be the Wyatt Family promo was instead the New Day dressed up as Wyatts. Kofi Kingston threw down Erick Rowan's goal mask and wondered how he breathes in that thing. Kingston said no one wants to hear the Wyatts' negativity anymore. They need a big ol' bowl of Booty-Os instead. Big E, who was wearing overalls, a cowboy hat and a ZZ Top-style beard, said the Wyatts smell like a rotten piece of cabbage left beside a Tampa highway. E. said he was born in Tampa at Tampa General Hospital. Xavier Woods was noticeably quiet in all this and wanted to wrap up the segment. Kingston and Big E. wanted to keep going, but the Wyatts came out.
Bray Wyatt screamed "It's a New Day, yes it is." Wyatt said the masses line up for the New Day because they tell them everything they want to hear instead of everything they need to hear. Wyatt said his sole purpose was to tell people what they need to hear, because the world isn't full of rainbows or unicorns. It's a dark world full of evil. Wyatt said what would the New Day tell the man who lost his job? Kingston said the power of positivity flows through your body and Big E. said positivity was a way of life. Woods looked uncertain.
Wyatt asked Woods if they agreed with him, because it looked like he was shook. Wyatt said Woods could trust him. Wyatt said in this game, there are no winners or losers, there's only malice and destruction. And in the end, New Day Falls. Woods didn't say anything as the screen went black.
New Day walked in the back. Young walked up and asked if it was a good day to make fun of the Wyatts tonight. Kingston and Big E. were laughing over it, but Woods never smiled and walked off.
Dean Ambrose (C) defeated A.J. Styles in a nontitle match, so Styles was denied a spot in the main event of Battleground (15:32)
Rollins was on commentary. He said he felt divided because he hated Ambrose but didn't want Styles to win because it would make the Battleground main event a four-way. Ambrose hit a blockbuster, but came up selling his knee. Styles put on a calf crusher. Rollins was actually rooting for Ambrose to make the ropes, which he did. Ambrose knocked Styles to the floor with a forearm and followed with a tope. Styles hit a Pele kick, but Ambrose hit a rebound clothesline. At that point, Anderson and Gallows came out. Ambrose was distracted and Styles hit a brainbuster for a two count. Cena ran out to brawl with Anderson and Gallows. As Styles was distracted by Cena, Ambrose hit Dirty Deeds for the pin. Rollins stood and applauded the finish.
Anderson and Gallows jumped Cena. Then Rollins went after Ambrose and gave him a Pedigree. The Club pounded Cena 3-on-1. The brawled to the top of the ramp, where Anderson and Gallows gave Cena the Magic Killer on the ramp. Cena had a rough landing, too. Back in the ring, Rollins gave Ambrose another Pedigree, then stood on top of Ambrose with the championship belt.