By Graham "GSM" Matthews
The Authority Hyped Hell in a Cell
I feel like I've ranted enough about The Authority opening Raw week in and week out, but it doesn't take away from the fact that it's cliche and overdone. Granted, they did a solid job of building up the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view (and God knows it needs all the hype it can get), but Triple H just had to turn it into a joke by plugging the WWE Network. It wasn't a completely pointless promo by The Authority, but it wasn't the right way to kick off the show.
Damien Mizdow and WWE Tag Team Champions Gold & Stardust def. United States Champion Sheamus and The Usos
We've every combination of this six-man tag team match in the last month or two that it has gotten to the point where I can't even enjoy the action. All six competitors worked hard, but it's the same match every week and it's grown tiresome. If nothing else, Mizdow's win was a pleasant surprise and The Miz's reaction on commentary on priceless. Mizdow is awesome (no pun intended) in the role, but I'm sure a split is coming sooner rather than later.
Alicia Fox def. Divas Champion AJ Lee (Non-title)
I appreciated the fact the ladies got more time than usual (not by much), but the match was still decent at best. However, I will say the finish was creative with Fox and Paige teasing tension only to trick AJ into beating her. It just bothers me that this is the second time Fox has picked up a win over AJ and she has yet to get a title match. Why isn't she added to Sunday's title match? This feud between AJ and Paige has lost all steam in recent months and I don't know how much this did to get people excited for their pending title match.
John Cena Confronted Randy Orton
We've seen this match a million times before that I don't think there's anything these could do to make us care about it, but the stipulation that the winner of their Hell in a Cell match gets a future WWE World Heavyweight Championship match is a step in the right direction. Their back-and-forth on the mic was nothing notable until Paul Heyman came out. I really like how they incorporated him into this given the implications of Sunday's matchup and I give him props for taking the RKO (when was the last time he took a bump on TV?). A babyface/anti-hero turn is definitely in Orton's future.
Rusev def. Big E
These two have had some very good matches in the past, but if you want to see what they're really capable of (without commercials!), watch their Main Event match from last week. This was essentially a condensed version of that. It was an easy win for Rusev going into Hell in a Cell, but the post-match bit with him kicking the military members was strange. It was something different, sure, but it didn't make me want to see the match between him and Big Show any more than I did before.
Big Show Addressed Rusev
As noted above, I wasn't a fan of the angle they tried to do with the plant fan, and therefore this whole thing with Show did nothing for me. He always shows good emotion and intensity, but he should have just left it at, "I'll see you on Sunday." Having him go backstage to look for Rusev, not find out and simply walk away felt like a waste of this to this viewer.
Mick Foley Returned to Confront Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins
As big of an Ambrose fan as I am, even I can admit that the mannequin stuff at the start of this segment was silly and stupid. I know it's his thing is be crazy, but it was way too over-the-top and too cutesy for his character. Thankfully, Foley saved this segment from being a total disaster by making a surprise appearance. He put over the viciousness of the cell more than anyone in this one promo, making the match between Ambrose and Rollins at Hell in Cell that much more meaningful. Hopefully this isn't the last we see of Foley in WWE.
Cesaro def. Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler (Non-title)
You can always count on Cesaro and Ziggler for a great match, but I got the feeling that they were holding back a little and it's not hard to see why. It's obvious they'll be facing each other for the Intercontinental title at Hell in a Cell, which is why the ending outcome of this bout was never in doubt. It was Ziggler's fourth consecutive loss. As I said previously, I understand why it was done, but couldn't there have been another way to make Cesaro the No. 1 contender? The constant losses in non-title action are what make the midcard belts so worthless.
Randy Orton, Seth Rollins and Kane def. John Cena and Dean Ambrose in a 3-on-2 Handicap Street Fight
This was another one of those matches that we've seen so many different incarnations of in recent weeks, but at least they found a way to make it entertaining. There was nothing about it that screamed "Street Fight" early on, and the fact they had to make tags made the whole match completely illogical. I was happy to see them switch it up a bit down the stretch by bringing out the weapons and making things more interesting. It was also nice to get an actual finish to a Raw main event for once and not a disqualification. Rollins attacking Orton afterward was intriguing and I'm sure we'll be seeing him collide with The Viper before long.
As it has been since Night of Champions, this entire show was all about building the top two matches for Hell in a Cell: Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins and John Cena vs. Randy Orton. They succeeded in that respect to an extent, though I still can't say I'm thrilled with seeing Cena and Orton face off yet again on pay-per-view. The undercard of that event is extremely weak and WWE has done a poor job with making anything outside of the main event scene feel meaningful. It's a shame because they have so much talent that they could be doing more with, yet at the same time, it's not surprising because WWE goes into a lull period around this time every year.