While last week's episode of Raw focused on the in-ring work to progress storylines, this week focused on promos to build the two Hell in a Cell matches at Sunday night's pay-per-view.
Right off the bat on Monday, the WWE used what little time they had trying to make the crowd care about the upcoming match between John Cena and Randy Orton. This is the 10th time these two have squared off in one-on-one competition on pay-per-view since 2007, so WWE had to give it a little extra something, and only had a week to truly build it.
The first thing they did was have Triple H come out and make the match a No. 1 contender's match. This at least gives the match a reason to be wrestled. It also led to another wrinkle that happened during their segment later on in the night. As the two went back and forth on the mic while in the ring, Paul Heyman came out and made his way down to the ring. This was the first time Heyman has been seen since Night of Champions.
While the segment was a bit of a dud before he came out, Heyman, as he usually does, captivated the audience quickly. He reminded them that while Orton and Cena has been one of the biggest rivalries in the WWE since 2002, Brock Lesnar also debuted in 2002, won the title in 2002, and yet, holds the title today. So just like in 2002, Cena and Orton fell in his shadow.
After Heyman got in both of their faces, Cena grabbed Heyman and put him in an AA position before putting him back down. Then Orton hit Cena with an RKO, and while Heyman laughed at Cena, Orton then hit Heyman as well. While it wasn't a perfect way to set up the match, the match was certainly more intriguing than it was at the beginning of the night.
Later in the night, Dean Ambrose came out to the ring. He carried a manikin of Seth Rollins with him. He brought out different props to show what he wanted to do with Rollins. Quite frankly, and I can't believe I'm saying this about a Dean Ambrose mic segment, it was terrible.
Rollins came out, and actually called him out for using the props, but he couldn't get the segment back on track. Instead, just like the earlier segment, it was a third person who was able to get the segment going. Mick Foley's music hit and he came down to the ring. He didn't focus on the two competitors at first, instead talking about his experiences in the Cell and how dangerous it was.
The feud is already there, so to increase the stakes, instead of talking about the feud, he simply built the match, and did it effectively. Dean Ambrose compared himself to Mick Foley, alluding to his own background in dangerous matches in CZW and other organizations. Rollins, in the meantime, continued to put both of them down.
It was a simple, yet effective, segment that did its job in making the match feel like a bigger deal than it did before the night started.
The night showed what could be done if you insert the right people into segments. Sometimes, a segment needs that outside person, especially when the two people involved with the match have been doing segments with each other for months (or years in Cena and Orton's case). And on Monday night, the WWE showed how the right person can boost a feud.
** The other major development from Raw was the continued deterioration of the relationship between Rollins and Orton. The two have been slightly butting heads for weeks now, and that came to a head at the end of the night. In backstage segments the entire night, the two sniped at each other.
The main event of the evening was a 3-on-2 handicap street fight that featured Orton, Rollins and Kane against Cena and Ambrose. Oddly enough, the basic tag rules were kept in place throughout the match, despite it being a no-DQ street fight. As the match neared its conclusion, the Cell structure, which had been hanging over the ring the entire night, lowered, trapping all five superstars inside.
A sequence of finishers soon followed, which ended with Randy Orton hitting the RKO on Ambrose and pinning him. As he leaned over the fallen Ambrose, Rollins took the opportunity to hit Orton with the Curb Stomp. The night ended with him standing tall.
The ending caught me off-guard. It was obvious that eventually the two would face off, as Seth Rollins continued to act entitled. However, I didn't think the first blow would come this early. Orton is likely turning face in this feud, and I thought they'd hold off until December or January.
I wonder if the viral videos featuring an inserted Randy Orton RKOing people who were falling that swept across the internet this week had something to do with the ending. It will be interesting to see if they immediately turn him against Rollins next week, or try to hold off for another month.
** Rusev beat Big E in a match, but the important parts came after the match. Rusev and Lana both ran down Big Show and signaled for the Russian flag to drop down. It didn't unfurl as it usually does, and instead Big Show was shown on the screen mocking them. Then, the American flag dropped down. Rusev reached up as if he was going to pull it down, when someone dressed as a U.S. solider jumped out of the crowd and tried to get in the ring to stop Rusev.
The man was stopped by security, and then when he was held back, Rusev kicked him in the face, then left the ring.
Big Show came out, appalled at what Rusev did, and saying he crossed a line by attacking a U.S. soldier and that he was going to take out his anger on Rusev at Hell in a Cell. He went backstage to try to confront Rusev, but he had already left the building. It certainly was a cheap way to build heat, but based on the Twitter reaction that I saw, it did the job well.
** Damien Sandow, Stardust and Goldust beat The Usos and Sheamus when Sandow (or should I say Mizdow) pinned Sheamus. The Miz was originally supposed to wrestle, but decided at the beginning of the match to let his stunt double take his place. Sandow's new role as a stunt double is gold, but I am a bit concerned that the reactions he's getting is going to cause the WWE to split the two up earlier than planned.
** Cesaro beat Dolph Ziggler in a non-title match. It was, as expected with these two, a very good match that ended with a European Uppercut by Cesaro. It was interesting to see him win with such a basic move that hadn't won him many matches in the past. Right now the match hasn't been announced yet for Hell in a Cell, but it's probably a safe assumption that these two will face each other for the title on Sunday.
** Alicia Fox beat AJ in a non-title match after Paige got involved. Paige and Alicia faked a fight, distracting AJ enough to let Alicia roll her up for the win.
** Brie Bella beat Summer Rae. Fans were reminded that the Bellas will face each other on Sunday, and the loser will have to become the winner's assistant for the next month.