The Big Takeaway: A packed show on the eve of the brand extension draft. The Seth Rollins-Dean Ambrose WWE World Championship match ended with confusion when Rollins hit a superplex on Ambrose, Ambrose got a small package and the referee counted three. But it wasn't clear who won. The referee, who was bumped moments earlier, never raised the hand of the winner.
Lillian Garcia never announced anything. Stephanie McMahon announced the winner as Rollins, who left with the championship as the live Raw ended. Afterwards on the WWE Network, the referee announced the match ended in a double-pin draw, so Ambrose was still the champion.
Daniel Bryan was announced as the General Manager of SmackDown. Mick Foley was named the General Manager of Raw. Stephanie also announced Raw would add a cruiserweight division after the success of the Cruiserweight Classic on the WWE Network. Randy Orton will return at Battleground during an installment of Chris Jericho's Highlight Reel.
Stephanie McMahon came out, but Shane McMahon showed up as she welcomed the crowd to Raw. Stephanie said this would be Shane's last night on Raw since he was named Commissioner of SmackDown Live, and she wouldn't miss working with him.
Shane said she wakes up every morning wishing she had testicles, but if she was his brother, then the slap she gave him last week would have had ramifications down the line. Stephanie said lady balls are a hell of a lot bigger than testicles, and there was nothing Shane could do about the slap she gave him last week. Just like Shane was going to do nothing on SmackDown.
Stephanie announced the launch of a cruiserweight division that would air exclusively on Raw based on the success of the Cruiserweight championship on the WWE Network. She then announced the new General Manager of Monday Night Raw: Mick Foley. Foley looked like he's lost over 100 pounds. If he didn't have a grey beard, you would swear he looks almost as young now as he was in 2000.
Foley mentioned the Attitude Era and the Monday Night Wars. As a veteran of the Monday Night Wars, a little ember started to glow within him when he heard that Stephanie and Shane were competing against each other. Then when Stephanie called him, it became a 5-alarm fire. The same ruthlessness he showed in his wrestling career he was going to show as the new General Manager.
It was Shane's turn to announce his GM. Crowd was anticipating Daniel Bryan, and that's who came out to a gigantic pop. Bryan looked like the happiest man alive during his entrance. He and Foley shook hands. Stephanie tried to shake Bryan's hand, but he wasn't willing.
Bryan couldn't start his speech because the crowd wouldn't stop chanting his name. He said the fans haven't missed him half as much as he's missed them. Bryan said there was a time when he thought he wouldn't be able to come back and be in the ring because he loved wrestling too much.
But Shane called and explained he wanted to put the wrestlers first instead of the executives first. Shane told Bryan that SmackDown would be the underdog and they have a huge fight ahead of them. That's when Bryan realized he can come back, and he needed to because SmackDown Live was the underdog, just like he was the underdog.
He mentioned when he beat Triple H at WrestleMania, he didn't do it alone. The fans and him did it. When he won the World Heavyweight Championship, we did that. Bryan said "we" have beaten the authority before and they will do it again.
Stephanie threw cold water on Bryan's speech saying he lived in a fantasy world and Bryan was a B+ player for a B+ show. Shane told Stephanie that she will always be his little sister and she had to marry a WWE Superstar to stay relevant. Shane asked Bryan if they could make SmackDown a juggernaut, could he answer it in one word. Bryan said "Yes."
They showed a graphic proclaiming Baron Corbin as a Golden Gloves boxing champion with 16 victories, 13 by Knockout.
In passing, they announced Randy Orton would appear at Battleground during a segment of Chris Jericho's Highlight Reel.
Cesaro & Sami Zayn defeated Kevin Owens & Chris Jericho (11:56)
Sami Zayn pinned Jericho with a small package. Cesaro started to give Jericho the Giant Swing, but Kevin Owens ran in to break it up after four reps, running into Jericho's head in the process. Cesaro hit eight running uppercuts on Jericho and Owens while they were in opposite corners, then hit a springboard corkscrew uppercut on Jericho for a near fall.
Announcers spent most of the match building up the Zayn-Owens match for Battleground, proclaiming it as their final singles match. They all but said both men would get drafted to different brands tomorrow night.
Bryan talked to Goldust and R-Truth, Titus O'Neal and Jack Swagger in the back when Stephanie walked up to him. Bryan said he was happy to be back and said he wanted to repackage himself, like Ghostbusters. That was an interesting comparison.
Stephanie said Bryan reminded him of Chucky the Doll from Child's Play, famous in wrestling circles for cutting a promo on Rick Steiner on a 1998 episode of Nitro. Bryan said since Stephanie used to call him goatface, he didn't mind being called Chucky. Bryan mentioned that Stephanie has been running Raw into the ground and walked off.
Darren Young defeated Alberto Del Rio (2:23)
The Miz and Maryse were on commentary. Miz jumped up on the apron and Darren Young decked him. Alberto Del Rio gave him an O'Connor Roll, but the referee was distracted because Miz tried to get in the ring.
Young reversed the cradle, sent Del Rio crashing into Miz and pinned Del Rio with his own O'Connor Roll. Bob Backlund was at ringside and Miz got in a plug for his book. Miz also said he wouldn't get split up with Maryse in the draft because of his attorneys.
John Cena came out to the most negative reception he's had since his return on Memorial Day, which was surprising after his stint at the ESPYs. Cena said the Club would try to beat him up on Sunday, but they "were about to realize they can't see me because I've got the certified Gs."
Out came Enzo Amore and Big Cass. Enzo said without ugly, there would be beauty, so Luke Gallows, thanks for your sacrifice. The only time women open their mouths for Gallows is when they yawn. He told Karl Anderson he was like Times Roman Numeral font, he's as generic as they come. Enzo said the Club wanted sympathy, look in the dictionary and look between spit and syphilis.
Cena said Enzo was all over the place and was only spitting out punchlines. Cass said that's what Enzo does and that's what makes them a great team. Cass started comparing them to great trios like the Three Musketeers, Nirvana, and Wu-Tang Clan (which Cena pointed out had about ten members). How did they forget Rush?
A.J. Styles came out and said Cena was setting himself up for failure by teaming with Enzo and Cass. He was going to give Cena a taste of what he can expect at Battleground. Anderson wondered if Cena, Enzo and Cass had any chemistry, and said the Club had spilled blood all over the world together.
Styles said they were a well-oiled machine and were a team. Anderson got in his Beat Up John Cena line, and said they would beat up Enzo and Cass, and all three members of the New Day.
New Day showed up. Xavier Woods was all jolly again after being melancholy the past few weeks. Kofi Kingston mentioned the Club always talked about who they want to beat. Big E. said "speaking of jerks." Woods said they should be scared after what the Wyatt Family did to them last week, but they weren't normal men.
Kingston asked Cena if he understand "How you doin?" Cena said he didn't. Woods said he was a level 21 Pokemon player, then started listing various Pokemon characters to "How you doin?" chants. Cena ordered them to stop because...and Big E. started the "New Day Rocks" chant.
The Wyatts stopped all of this with their introduction and it started a 12-man tag team match.
The Club & The Wyatt Family defeated A.J. Styles, Enzo & Cass, & The New Day (19:03)
Styles pinned Amore after a Styles Clash. Styles attempted a Styles Clash moments earlier, but Amore got out and tried to clothesline Amore, but hit Cena instead. The storyline here is whether Enzo, Cass and Cena could function as a team on Sunday against the Club, who have teamed for years. Except for when they turned on Styles in January, but of course that wasn't mentioned.
Cass got the chance to shine early. He had a stare down with Braun Strowman. Before they could fight, all 12 men wound up in the ring, but Cass and Strowman cleared the ring by themselves until they were left ready to lock up again. Once they did, Cass got the upperhand. Then Kingston tagged in and tried a crossbody on Strowman.
Of course, Strowman dropped him before he delivered a powerslam. Later, Cena tried the Five Knuckle Shuffle on Bray Wyatt, but Wyatt rose doing the Spider Walk and Erick Rowan nailed him from behind. Action eventually spilled out to the floor after Big E. clotheslined Strowman over the top. Woods did a tope on the Wyatts and the New Day and Wyatts brawled to the back.
Seth Rollins did a taped promo where he walked into an empty Dunkin Donuts Arena. He talked about being in the Shield, walking into the arena down the stairs night after night ready to conquer the world together. But all along, they were just pawns in his game for the ultimate goal of winning the WWE World Championship.
He kept Dean Ambrose to take the beatings and kept Roman Reigns around to deliver beatings. Over time, he cut his losses and achieved his dream. Then his knee caved on the pressure of carrying the company on his back. That allowed Reigns to become top dog. At Battleground, the top dog will be back, but Reigns would never be the same. Rollins said Ambrose was a thief and a coward.
Rollins said he won the title back he never lost at Money in the Bank, but Ambrose stole it all away. He said every night they walked down the stairs together, there was always a piece of him that wanted to push one of them over and see them fall like dominos.
Tonight, he would be the one to put an end to Ambrose's run as WWE Champion. When he's fallen as far as he can go, he'll pick up his title, put it over his shoulder and prove that as far as the Shield is concerned, he was always the man. Really good segment.
Foley talked with Tyler Breeze and Fandango when Shane walked up. Shane told Foley he didn't know why Foley would want to work for Stephanie. Foley knew that Stephanie was ruthless. But where the WWE Universe sees a vindictive person, he sees passion and opportunity. Foley said he has some talent to scout. Foley had a look on his way like he was wary of Shane's concern to build the right amount of tension.
Baron Corbin defeated Sin Cara (1:18)
Corbin won a squash with the End of Days. It was announced that Lucha Dragons are no longer a tag team so Sin Cara and Kalisto could pursue singles careers. So Cara got squashed here in 78 seconds. Then Kalisto ran out afterwards to save his former tag team partner. Corbin laid him out in less time that it takes to write this sentence. How's that for a start to a singles run?
Sasha Banks & Becky Lynch defeated Charlotte & Dana Brooke by DQ (2:20)
Sounds unusual to have Sasha Banks and Charlotte meet in a tag team match to build up to another tag team match at Battleground, but they barely touched. Natalya ran out to attack Becky Lynch for the DQ. Natalya and Charlotte had a brief stare down like they were on the same page. Dana Brooke and Charlotte beat down Lynch, who will have a mystery partner on Sunday.
Ambrose did a promo using the same surroundings of his old Shield promos. He said he used to cut promos using that camera vowing vowing that the Shield would carve a path of destruction that would change the WWE, which they did. He also vowed to retain the WWE Championship tonight and on Sunday at Battleground.
Lana, wearing camouflage and a red bra, introduced Rusev.
Rusev & Sheamus defeated Dolph Ziggler & Zack Ryder via submission (3:48)
Yet another match where former League of Nations members teamed together after they broke up in April. Rusev made Dolph Ziggler submit to the Accolade following a thrust kick to the back. This was Rusev getting his win back after Ziggler pinned him on SmackDown thanks to a distraction from Zack Ryder.
They ran a package profiling Randy Orton.
Foley talked with the Ascension backstage. Konnor said they have a pool, tennis courts and a pitch and putt before Bryan walked in. The two General Managers discussed how much they had in common. They both had beards, wore flannel, won world championships, married wives way out of their league and were underdogs.
Foley said they both outworked and outlast competition to remove any obstacle in their path. Now, Foley said Bryan was in his way. Bryan said Foley was standing in his path. Bryan said they never fought before, but they were going to fight now. Foley said he was Raw and Bryan was SmackDown, let the games begin.
They shook hands and had a uncomfortably long stare down. Foley had a slight sound of a heel in this promo.
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins ended in a draw with Ambrose retaining his title (24:15)
Shane, Bryan, Stephanie and Foley watched from ringside. There was a ref bump where Ambrose went for a superplex, but Ambrose threw him off the ropes and he went into the referee. Not long afterwards, Rollins hit a superplex. They did the Randy Savage-Dynamite Kid finish from the 1985 Wrestling Classic where Ambrose landed, but gave Rollins a small package.
Both men's shoulders were on the mat and the referee counted three. Rollins reacted like he won. Stephanie announced Rollins as the winner and he left with the championship. The referee, who was able to deliver the three count, could have put an end to the confusion by telling Lillian Garcia what happened.
Instead, he just remained seated in the corner while everyone else walked around looking confused. Later on the network, it was announced the match ended with a double pin and declared a draw with Ambrose still champion after the referee watched a replay.
It was a flat finish to an excellent match. First big spot came about 13 minutes in when Ambrose missed a clothesline on the floor and Rollins knocked him into the barricade. Rollins lifted Ambrose up for a power bomb onto the barricade, then threw him right back in the ring for a frog splash for a two count.
After a commercial, Ambrose hit a hurricanrana on Rollins landed on his hand very close to the corner. Everyone at ringside looked concerned after that, but Rollins never missed a beat.
Rollins even threw some Toshiaki Kawada kicks. Then came a great sequence where Rollins hit an enzuigiri, Ambrose went for the rebound clothesline, but Rollins caught his arm and hit the power bomb into the corner, but Ambrose somehow hit the Dirty Deeds for a two count.
Ambrose cleaned off the Spanish announce table for reasons that weren't clear. Rollins hit the Pedigree, but Ambrose kicked out. To show how unique that was, the crowd chanted "Holy shit."