By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Paul Heyman Addressed WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins
Any show that doesn't open with an Authority promo is already off to a strong start! In all seriousness, this was another gem of a promo from Heyman that was successful in building toward the Battleground main event as well as hyping their appearance later on in the night. He continues to cut the best promos in the entire company and it makes me so happy in retrospect that Lesnar signed on for another few years. As for Lesnar, even though he doesn't say anything, he always adds something just by standing alongside Heyman and looking intimidating.
Intercontinental Champion Ryback vs. Big Show Ended in a Double Disqualification (Non-title)
Admittedly, I didn't have high hopes for this match when it was initially announced because I figured the crowd would be as dead for it as they were for their match at Money in the Bank, but this bout was much better than expected. They picked up the pace down the stretch and the Chicago crowd was surprisingly into much of what they did, especially when Ryback was on offense. The Miz was also excellent in his role by acting like a heel (which is rare oddly enough in wrestling these days) and trashing both competitors from ringside in addition to the audience. I've been enjoying this Triple Threat feud much more that I thought I would, so hopefully the match delivers at the pay-per-view.
Brie Bella def. Paige
One week removed from an excellent outing between Paige and Alicia Fox on Raw, we were back to the same old garbage this week. Once again, don't interpret that as a slight against the women as they put forth a fine effort to have a passable match, but they were barely given any time to work with and it wasn't any different than what we usually see. I'm not saying that Paige needs to overcome the odds every week, but I'm desperately awaiting the next chapter in this "story," and no, having Naomi and Tamina come to Paige's aid is not the answer given their heels. I've been calling for a Charlotte call-up for some time now, so what's taking them so long to pull the trigger?
Sheamus def. Roman Reigns by Count-out
Similar to two weeks ago, Sheamus and Reigns contested a solid match and I was glad to see them go back to it after their last match ended without a real finish. This match was given plenty of time and I enjoyed the freshness of it. Thankfully, the Chicago crowd didn't crap all over it and Reigns was more over with the crowd than I assumed he would be, which is certainly a positive sign for him. Sheamus winning by count-out was fine by me, but if they were going to do another non-finish, why book the bout to begin with? However, that didn't irk me as much as Reigns getting attacked by a Bray Wyatt impostor and then not revealing who it was, or even bother following up on where Reigns went.
Rusev and Summer Rae Attacked Dolph Ziggler and Lana
This was easily the best segment in this storyline so far, although that's not saying much given how atrocious this angle has been since the start. The split between Rusev and Lana, while I didn't and still don't agree with it, was well done at first, but the involvement of Ziggler and Summer has been a disaster. Their talking here wasn't much better, but at least it was saved by Rusev's ruthless attack on Ziggler. Here's hoping this means he's fully healed and they can blow off this god awful feud with a match sooner rather than later.
Dean Ambrose def. Bo Dallas
I enjoy Ambrose as much as the next guy, but what was the point of this? Sure, it gave the Chicago crowd their filling of Ambrose and the match was a quick little showcase for him, but it didn't do anything to establish what's next for him. I have the feeling he'll be involved in the Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt match at Battleground somehow. As for Dallas, they did to do more to make him stand out as a heel. He's entertaining and all, but he needs to show more of the aggressive side he had during his short-lived feud with Neville (who was conspicuous by his absence on this show) a few months ago.
King Barrett def. R-Truth
If you've read any of my recent reviews, then you'd know how stupid I find this feud and how little I care for it. It's really a shame considering how talented Barrett is, but I digress since I've ranted on and on about the misuse of Barrett before. The match wasn't half-bad, but it didn't need to last as long as it did because next to no one was invested in it. Barrett winning still doesn't give me any hope they have the slightest clue what to do with him, but it's better than losing to Truth again, I guess.
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins Called Out Brock Lesnar
On a program that is as stagnant as Raw tends to be more often than not, this kind of segment was exactly what the show needed. Needless to say, Lesnar brings that "must-see, can't-miss" feel to Raw every time he appears and you just had to know there were going to be some shenanigans with the car given how prominently it was featured throughout the night. And Lesnar's destruction of the Cadillac was simply glorious. It was pretty brutal, as was his total manslaughter of J&J Security. The fact Lesnar throw a car door into the crowd says it all; the dude is an absolute animal! I love it. Rollins fleeing the ring was perfectly in line with his character and it should be fun to see Lesnar finally get his hands on him when they go one-on-one.
The New Day def. The Lucha Dragons
I'm shocked The Lucha Dragons aren't on Raw more often since they're such a blast to watch, but alas, Creative likely doesn't have much for them to do at the moment. Nevertheless, I enjoy every opportunity I get to see them in action with this match being no exception. They worked a nice match with The New Day that was all about getting the latter duo over as credible challengers to the Prime Time Players' WWE Tag Team Championship. Perhaps the best part about this entire match, though, was Titus O'Neil calling out JBL for not directing his attention toward what was going on in the ring. I wish more people would do that.
United States Champion John Cena def. Cesaro
First off, let me just say that I was hoping for a Cody Rhodes return here. I might have been in the minority, but I feel as if it would have been fitting considering the Dusty Rhodes special was airing on the WWE Network afterward, he was backstage at the show and it would have been an awesome way of establishing him as a star right from the get-go. That said, I'm not at all complaining it was Cesaro because we got another instant classic out of them, but why not advertise Cesaro as Cena's opponent early on in the evening? Cena could have given him another chance because Kevin Owens got involved last week, but that's nitpicking. Cena and Cesaro had the amazing match only they could and I loved how they got as much time as they did (30 minutes). That's an excellent use of the three hour format and Cesaro came close on several occasions to winning the title. I could have done without Cesaro getting beat cleanly, but at least they didn't do the same finish as last week with Owens interfering and causing the disqualification. There is honestly no doubt that Cena is the workhorse of 2015 in my mind, as he's competed in more five star matches this year than anyone else on the roster.
The first two hours, albeit good, were rather standard and nothing too special, but they definitely kicked up a notch by delivering a hot final hour to the show. The Lesnar and Rollins segment was the biggest highlight coming out of this episode, and you can't call a show featuring a 30 minute gem of a main event between Cena and Cesaro below average. Per usual, the electric enthusiasm of the Chicago crowd also played a part in making this show entertaining on the whole for this viewer.