'WWE Raw': Between a Brock and a Hard Place

Rollins' mojo suffers sans Lesnar, Cesaro and Cena go semi-Iron Man and Ziggler and Rusev let their ladies do the fighting

Bray Wyatt takes out Roman Reigns on 'WWE Raw.' Credit: WWE

As much of the roster rallied for WWE's big trip to Singapore and Japan, there was ample room on last night's card for matches to run well past the five-minute mark. Hell, even Paige and Alicia Fox had an opportunity to showcase more than a pair of moves each before the former beat the Bellas' new BFF and scurried to safety.

And with Brock Lesnar among those en route to Asia, it meant Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns would finally get a chance to move their rivalry front and center. Although to the disappointment of many, there were no more incantations of "I'm a Little Teapot" or pint-sized rocking chairs adding to the atmospherics. But have no fear. There was plenty to hiss and cheer. And here are the five key things (in addition to the usual accompaniment of Twitter-friendly sidebar fodder) I took away from the June 29 edition of Raw.

5. See, Was That So Hard?
That's what Dolph Ziggler said to Lana. Hey-oh! No, actually, it's what I felt like asking the ravishing Russian after she finally, overtly referenced having been brainwashed into her anti-American xenophobia by Rusev. Not that this Rusev/Summer Rae vs. Ziggler/Lana imbroglio suddenly feels any less thrown together (it always comes back to a catfight), but at least now I can watch fans clamor for the Show-Off and his lady's courtship with a cleaner conscience. Although I still have plenty of reservations about Dolph and Rusev's respective topknots.

4. KO Not a Knockout On Commentary
Hey, the guy can't be great at his job and someone else's right out the gate. After swerving John Cena with a phony acceptance of his U.S. Open Challenge, Kevin Owens took a seat beside Michael Cole and Co. and chatted ringside while his adversary grappled with Cesaro. Unfortunately, he wasn't quite as at home in the commentator's chair, clearly getting his wires crossed with Cole on a few occasions and generally coming across less convincing in that kind of free-for-all conversation than during one of his solo promos. But hey, no harm or foul in mixing up the format of he and Cena's feud, as they've got a few weeks to go till Battleground and can't just butt heads time and again. Besides, he still stormed the ring, kicked ass and cleared house when it was said and done, continuing to emphatically answer any doubt about who's NXT.

3. Oh, and Regarding That Cesaro vs. Cena Bout
It was great, but Match of the Year or worthy of Twitter going bananas between then and the end of the broadcast? Not so sure. Or maybe it's because the announce crew was so distracted by integrating Owens into the mix to further a narrative that really needs no extra explanation that they virtually forgot to acknowledge the battle of wills being waged in the ring. Until, naturally, they swung the other way and commenced with breathless hyperbole about it. Between the inconsistent commentary and requisite commercial interruption, what was no doubt a terrific tussle (although methinks Raw audiences are also conditioned toward extreme gratitude for any match that goes 15-minutes-plus) felt far from epic as broadcasted.

2. I'm Craving a Cadillac, Apple Watch and 'Terminator' Tix
Is it only me? I mean, I can't figure why. I just woke up this morning thinking, "OK, the last thing I watched was three hours of Raw, and now, despite my limited finances, feel almost mandated to make a purchase at my most comfortable tier of spending: $25 for me and my lady to see Terminator: Genisys in 3-D, $550 for a smart watch or $55K on a Caddy." And if the latter is good enough for Seth Rollins to offer J&J in his largesse, then who am I to quibble? For that matter, if Kane looks good sporting the sentient, time-keeping wrist accessory gifted to him by Rollins, then I oughta treat myself too. Come to think of it, if being flanked backstage by Terminator's post-apocalyptic robots gets Roman Reigns so pumped up he's about to go Big Trouble in Little China, then I best see that sequel/reboot/retcon (what, exactly, is it?) stat! Thank you, WWE. I may not be sure if I want to purchase Battleground after last night, but I definitely want to buy the champ's favorite luxury vehicle.

1. Paging Bray Wyatt…
I'm not suggesting Bray pulled a Papa Shango and missed his cue to come down the ramp, and it seemed like the plan was for that main-event tango between Seth Rollins/Kane and Dean Ambrose/Roman Reigns to culminate with the Authority powerboming Reigns through the table and leaving Wyatt the scraps. But boy, it took a while to get there. And frankly, Bray belatedly arriving to finish the job on his foe was far less exciting than if Lesnar had pulled one over on Rollins and made the de facto rescue. Alas, the Beast was indeed on a plane somewhere overhead, and we signed off with a labored climactic assault that felt more like the Authority making a statement than Wyatt marking his territory. Long story short: Brock and/or Paul Heyman really needs to be around to headline Raw opposite Seth between now and Battleground, and Roman and Bray can still carve out time to settle their conflict over who's childhood makes them more deserving of what.

Below the Belt:

  • Am I crazy to foresee Lesnar vs. Wyatt at SummerSlam? Or sometime soon?
  • So, as always, is Cesaro heel or face?
  • In a similar vein, this is the second-straight week of Ryback instigating heelish behavior. Me confused.
  • That Sheamus/Neville match could have been more exciting.
  • Is anyone having more fun than Titus O'Neil?
  • Stop honking the horn, Noble.
  • Wait, has Kane been in WWE 17 or 18 years?
  • Bo Dallas has to work on those mudhole-stomping kicks.
  • Oh, hey, Jack Swagger.
  • And fine, I get it: I'll buy tickets to my local house shows in case the Rock shows up.
  • Move of the Night: Again, I'm a sucker for the subtle moments, and didn't foresee the underrated Darren Young's backdrop of Bo Dallas on the apron.
  • Line of the Night: KO: "Cena's been watching some of my old matches and picking stuff up." Zing!
  • In Case You Fast-Forwarded Through Commercials: Who knew oil filters could have such a sense of humor? Ew. And OK, now Sonic's just fucking with us.
  • Noticeable In Their Absence: Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, Randy Orton, Luke Harper, Brock Lesnar.