As Kane suggested, Seth Rollins might be less an architect than an idiot.
That might explain the surprise on the champ's face when Brock Lesnar emerged and was announced as his challenger at Battleground. A simple process of deduction might have led WWE's "undisputed future" to that inevitability, even if you were to silence the dirt-sheet-smart Cleveland crowd's chant for the Beast Incarnate.
In any case, Lesnar and Paul Heyman's heroic return was one of several developments during last night's post-Money in the Bank show, as the landscape began to take shape for the aforementioned next PPV on July 19. So without any abrupt interruption from Bray Wyatt in a smoke-filled room, here are the five key things (in addition to the usual accompaniment of Twitter-friendly sidebar fodder) I took away from the June 15, 2015 edition of Raw.
5. The Barrett Bury-Age
That suffices for a play on barrage, right? Point being, what's WWE's beef with Wade Barrett? Whether he's holding the Intercontinental belt, belittling opponents as Bad News or reigning as King of the Ring, Barrett's primary function seems to be getting rolled up in defeat via small package by guys with less gold and overall momentum. His recent, successive losses to R-Truth are the latest in a long string of head-scratching bookings for the British bulldog, who when healthy has been nothing less than a competent and charismatic big man. At the risk of sounding like a mark, push Barrett now!
4. Kevin Owens: Music Critic
C'mon, let's be honest: Cleveland native Machine Gun Kelly's unwatchable live performance was the most heelish behavior of the night. So really, Kevin Owens was simply doing the Lord's work by powerbombing the pedestrian MC off the stage. And if you think about it, wouldn't a babyface like Stone Cold have been cheered for duly disposing of unworthy entertainment back in the day? Besides, MGK totally pushed KO first, and according to the former's Twitter feed as of several hours after Raw, he was recovering just fine in his kitchen amid a righteous "vibe session."
3. Anyone See Naomi?
Oh, yeah, there she is, a secondary player during Paige's backstage vignette in which she fruitlessly attempted to rally all the Divas against Nikki and Brie Bella. Wasn't Naomi white hot as the division's latest heel before Paige came back from "injury" and unceremoniously usurped all other comers for Nikki's title? Is the implication that there literally is only room for one narrative at a time among the women? Is it because Tamina was looking rusty in the ring and holding back she and Naomi's family faction gimmick? Is it because of all those factors and more, plus the reality that Paige and the Bellas move the majority of Divas merchandise? For fans to get behind any angle or character adjustment, it needs time to build, but for whatever reason, the women keep getting stuck with stop-work orders.
2. All Quiet On The Eastern-European Front
Or, where the hell has Rusev been the past couple nights? Injured or not, Dolph Ziggler stole his woman, said woman more or less betrayed all their nationalistic principles and the two infidels keep masquerading around arenas making smoochy faces and shopping for each other's short pants. Some kind of Rusev interference in either of Ziggler's matches at MITB or Raw would have sufficed (and been an easy way of protecting Dolph from clean losses). Failing that, a backstage dust-up, promo or encounter of any kind. Very odd. And like that, all the excitement around Lana's autonomy has momentarily been put on mute as she quietly and thanklessly chaperones her new beefcake out to the ring. Look, we're all excited about Owens vs. Cena and Lesnar vs. Rollins, lots of thought obviously went into launching Bray Wyatt vs. Roman Reigns and no doubt precious manpower was spent making sure MGK had his rider fulfilled. But even with one participant hurt, this love-triangle rivalry's been really underrepresented, and Ziggler in particular's been left out to dry in a series of meaningless sell-fests. Too much more of this, and I'm simply no longer buying it.
1. All Hail Babyface Brock!
Neither Lesnar nor Heyman need to do anything different. Let Rollins do all the heavy lifting to delineate between hero and villain. All Brock should concern himself with is what he did last night: Show up in an awesome T-shirt, snort like a Pamplona bull and offer his best profile pose so we get another look at his hideous cauliflower ear as Heyman does his best Don King and causes the champ to cower in fear of comeuppance. There is history here between these two, one that boasts tenuous (and ultimately broken) alliances and Rollins' sneaky thievery of Brock's title at WrestleMania. But really, the most exciting thing about their impending clash at Battleground is that Brock is the good guy. Now if only he'd suplex MGK through a TitanTron.
Below the Belt:
- Sorry, Bray fans: Still not buying.
- Is a Kane retirement not far down the road?
- KO will be champ in a year.
- Can never have enough Megadeth-patch sightings.
- What a mess this IC-title story is.
- Mercury's still got it.
- Why do Sheamus and Randy Orton hate each other again?
- Great, now we gotta deal with Dean Ambrose's kayfabe knee injury for five weeks.
- Is that two straight weeks Kofi Kingston ostensibly main-evented?
- Here's hoping they're scheming something good for Cesaro.
- I'm gonna say Rollins get this win at Battleground.
- Move of the Night: I love Nikki's offense, and really enjoyed those push-up leg scissors.
- Sign of the Night: "My Sisters Made This." Aw.
- In Case You Fast-Forwarded Through Commercials: Is Schick trying to be subtle with its "stroke after stroke" campaign aimed at men? Based on this one for women, probably not. Speaking of trimming, Clipped does not look very good. Nor does The Gallows.
- Noticeable In Their Absence: R.I.P. Dusty.