-Don't forget to tune into the CageCast posted about an hour after Raw as Jim Williams and I talk all things Raw. Tweet us with the hashtag #CageCast with your questions! I'm sure our answers will be as good as anyone's.
-Live from Green Bay
-On the call, Cole, JBL, and Booker
-A jovial Seth Rollins kicks things off. If I wrote "has acrimony with Kane, Orton comes out and gets involved" now, would that be cheating? Have to add that Kane's widow's peak is reaching John Holmes levels of impressive length. Rollins runs through his WWE career and takes sole credit for the win inside the cage, which irks Thomas Haden Kane. Rollins declares his version of the RKO the 'SKO'. Jeez, just call it the RKO - Rollins Killed Orton. See, I can be a WWE writer. Rollins mocks Kane's age while stumbling through his lines as this segment begins to go off the rails. Kane gives him the business as I can hardly wait for the Rollins-Kane match at Money in the Bank and/or Battleground. Kane's "Justin Bieber" joke resonated way too much with this crowd. What do you expect, the Seahawks took away their sense of humor, and they're still in the healing process. Orton's out here and he wants a rematch based upon the illegal use of the RKO. Reigns makes his way out, not getting the negative reaction he's used to. Reigns notes that he took Big Show out of the picture, which I would suppose counts as a face turn. Reigns and Orton argue over a shot, so Kane suggests he and Rollins take on the two of them, as you can smell the double-cross a mile away. And the "Universe" will decide who faces Rollins at Payback. Send in your Touts, and we....oh.
King of the Ring Quarterfinals: Dolph Ziggler vs. Bad News Barrett
It can't be a real King of the Ring unless it's sponsored by Super Soaker or Karate Fighter. And you'd think Ziggler would be showing a bit more angst, given the events of last night. As I type that, Ziggler charges with some forearms, so there's that. Back elbow from Barrett gets 2. Booker assures us that Dolph "needs some dirt on him". Wasn't that a proposed Chris Sabin gimmick? Ziggler kicks Barrett to the floor as we hit the early commercial. We return with Barrett working a chinlock as I notice a trend, Barrett hits the post shoulder first as JBL makes a Game of Thrones reference. Hey, that's modern! Ziggler avoids Winds of Change and gets a crucifix for 2. Ziggler counters Wasteland with a twisting DDT for another 2. In 1993, those would have been finishes. Cole lists off past Kings of the Ring with spelling bee recitation. Ziggler eats the post, followed by a Wasteland for 2. The elbow pad slides down, but the Bullhammer misses, and Barrett is superkicked for 2. Sheamus makes his way out and replays the ass-kissing photos. Ziggler turns and gets nailed with the Bullhammer, jobbing to the distraction finish at 8:17. Barrett wins a match! Match was fine, though almost half of it took place during commercial. **1/4 I had Sheamus and Ziggler pegged as the final too. Guess that was too predictable.
Big E vs. Tyson Kidd
Booker asks if New Day are the new Freebirds. I dare not ask which one Michael Hayes is. Big E sends Kidd to the apron, but Kidd slingshots in and almost falls into a Big Ending. A high kick and a springboard dropkick take Big E down, and Kidd brings back the stomps to the tune of New-DAYSUCKS. Apron kick gets Big E 'right to the snout' as Booker informs us. Big E comes back in with a clothesline and gets the quick pin at 1:21 when Woods holds Kidd's foot down. Ordinarily I'd be annoyed at a quick pin, but if it gets New Day more heat, I'm down for it. Kofi and Woods holding a happy Big E up is just hilarious.
Ryback vs. Bo Dallas
The blowoff from last night's epic showdown. Bo offering Ryback a chance to walk out falls on deaf ears. Ryback mauls him early, but Dallas actually gets some offense in with a kick to the leg and a shoulder tackle. Then Dallas drapes Ryback under the apron skirt and punches away. Finlay must be the agent for the match. Ryback turns a second-rope jump into a spinebuster, and follows with the Meat Hook. Shell Shock kills at 2:06. Sure enough, Wyatt shows up afterward and Abigails Ryback down. Like Wyatt's last three feuds, finding the point is elusive.
WWE United States: John Cena vs. Heath Slater
Cena implies that Lana may have blown someone to get Rusev a rematch at Payback. Didn't she tweet about wage equality a week ago? Slater insults Aaron Rodgers, because even bottom-carders have to slag local sports stars to make sure Cena gets cheered. Rusev arrives and kicks Slater off the stage (complete with impressive bump) and sends Lana away to the consternation of everyone. So I guess nobody's accepting the challenge. Slater gets crushed and Cena's all "Welp, the locker room's empty. There's no match, bye everyone."
-Rollins nervously appeals to Kane regarding the title defense at Payback, and Lowell from Sandpiper Airlines makes him back up. Rollins threatens to tell Triple H and Stephanie on him, so Kane ups the ante to a possible triple threat match at Payback. #RollinsAll?
King of the Ring Quarterfinals: R-Truth vs. Stardust
Truth's fear of spiders bit was lame in 2011, and yet he dusted it off for the 2015 encore. In the past hour, I had forgotten there was a tournament. Truth almost gets a few early pins as JBL notes that Cody is 'dead'. Did I miss the exploitative "Cody Week" on WWE Network? Cody gets 2 off a head kick, and another off of the falling Goldust punch. Booker compares R-Truth to a "Wayout" from the Flintstones, indicating as usual who's on headset. Stardust gets elbowed on a corner charge and Truth fires off clothesline. Axe Kick misses and Truth is rolled up for 2. Side kick from Truth gets 2 as Booker notes the effective moveset. Disaster Kick is caught by Truth impressively with the Lie Detector at 3:47. Doesn't bode well for Cody, does it? *1/2 for some decent action.
Fandango vs. Adam Rose
Write this down: Fandango wakes Green Bay up. Rose slugs Fandango across the middle rope, but Fandango fires back with chops. Rose goes outside and Fandango flies onto him and two Rosebuds with a flipping senton. Rosa, dressed as a Rosebud, provides a distraction that Fandango has to walk back into the ring and position himself for, so that he can walk into the Party Foul and get pinned at 1:49. The crowd has no idea who she is, and she's been there for seven years.
-Daniel Bryan update: he's still not cleared. Brie Bella continues her ham-handed face turn by relaying the update, so Naomi throws her on her ass.
Brie Bella vs. Naomi
The rematch from last week we all demanded. It's interesting how Naomi's angst toward Paige inspired her sudden love of glowing sunglasses. Naomi lays out Brie with a forearm to the face. Corner bulldog connects, and I maintain that it should be her finish. Naomi gets 2 off of a standing legdrop, and we get a chinlock 2 minutes into the match. Brie gets an alleged faceslam, and Booker admits he doesn't know who got the worst of it. Nobody does. Brie comes back with dropkicks that are met with apathy, and her Brie Mode scream gets a very mixed reaction. Missile dropkick from Brie gets 2. Naomi gets a sudden inside cradle for the clean win at 3:33. Cole blames Bryan's injury for Brie not being mentally up for competing. Explain all of last summer and fall. Match was okay. 1/2*
King of the Ring Quarterfinal: Dean Ambrose vs. Sheamus
Ambrose informs us that if he ruled, he would ban pop country. Well, I promised Rand Paul my vote, but that's a promise I may have to break. Booker informs us that Sheamus is a 'big viking dude who just likes to scrap'. So was John Randle. Shoulder block takes Ambrose down, so Ambrose goes for the leg, refusing to give up the foot, and intricately applies a modified deathlock with a face squeeze. Sheamus clubs Ambrose with a stiff right hand and it turns into a brawler. Ambrose lays out Sheamus with a diving forearm and attempts a dive when Sheamus bails. Just as I predicted on Twitter, Sheamus has a chinlock applied when we return from commercial. IT'S UNSPOKEN COMPANY POLICY TO DO THIS. Sheamus gets the drop-plex and revels in crowd hatred, the loudest they've been in 90 minutes. Sheamus continues the methodical beatdown as I ponder why he wasn't turned heel earlier. He's PERFECT in this role. Ambrose turns the tide with the rebound clothesline and strikes away, but that's cut off by the tilt-a-whirl powerslam. Sheamus teases the Brogue Kick, but misses and is rolled up for 2 (really 1). Ambrose sends Sheamus into the post, and the sequence ends with an Ambrose suicide dive. Back inside, Sheamus gets a powerslam turned backbreaker for 2. Ambrose counters White Noise with a sunset flip for 2. Sheamus blocks Dirty Deeds with a Cloverleaf. Ambrose makes the ropes, and the crowd is actually semi-awake. C'mon, people, the onside kick was three months ago, get over it. Ambrose avoids the Ten Beats, heads up, and gets the vertical flying elbow for 2. The fight spills outside and onto the announce table, with Ambrose flying off with an elbow smash. Sheamus Brogue Kicks Ambrose on the outside, and Ziggler flies out to attack, resulting in the DQ at 12:34. Damn, that was the best match of the night by a wide margin. ***1/4. And Ambrose's losing streak begins anew. Ambrose is upset about the DQ, but let's face it, the last thing he needs is to carry a scepter from town to town, motel to motel.
-Damien Sandow, name restored, gets some promo time away from Miz's shadow. Light-impact work-shooty stuff about not being 'entertaining', rolling through all of his copycat gimmicks, and thanks the fans for supporting him as of late. This brings out Curtis Axel, who plays the oblivious irony card in regards to trying to be something he's not. See, because Axelmania is like Hulkamania! Sandow irks him by copying him in mocking fashion. Axel demands that Sandow leave the ring, and that doesn't go over too well. Sandow beats him down, fakes the leg drop, and hits the Elbow of Disdain before reverting to the legdrop. Sandow debuts a new power-pop theme, which I hope will grow on me.
-Bray Wyatt rambles again
King of the Ring Quarterfinals: Neville vs. Luke Harper
JBL with a smile-worthy comparison between Harper and Caligula. Neville can't get a sunset flip, so he resorts to a headscissors. Harper avoids a baseball slide, but Neville comes off the apron with a beautiful hurrachanrana. Back inside, Neville comes off the top and gets nailed in the abdomen for 2. Neville reminds me so much of the Benoit/Malenko/Guerrero invasion of Nitro in 1995, where he completely blows away the staleness of the medium. Sure enough, we return from commercial and Harper HAS A CHINLOCK APPLIED. Through the fucking looking glass, people! Harper misses a corner charge, falls to the floor, and Neville gets a top-rope with quebrada that had such height he almost dented a rafter. Springboard missile dropkick and a standing shooting star press get 2. Harper stuns Neville with a big boot and follows with a half-nelson throwing suplex for 2. Neville responds with a deadlift German suplex, but falls into a sick-looking sitout powerbomb for 2, resulting in Harper Face. Crowd is digging this shit. Neville blocks a superplex and stuns Harper with a stiff kick before landing a sunset powerbomb. Red Arrow hits to end it at 10:11. Kinda looking forward to Sheamus-Neville in the semis. Neville continues to be the freshest thing about these endless Raws. Match was damn great too. ***1/2
Roman Reigns/Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins/Kane
It's a mish-mash of The Shield and the stale guys in 2013 they used to beat up. Cole: "It's best for business that the fans be happy, and give them what they want to see." Well, it's off to the re-education center for him. Kane and Rollins still tease unease, The crowd chants the Bieber chant, which speaks to what amuses Green Bay. Rollins starts with Reigns and bails early, consulting with Kane and dipshit security while JBL and Cole bitch at each other. It's 10:48, we're all tired and punchy. Reigns gets an impressive tilt-a-whirl slam back inside. Tag to Orton, who drops Rollins across the top rope with a layout suplex. Stomp to the gut leads to a transitioned knee drop to the face, something you don't see every day. Reigns is back in, and the faces tee off as Cole wonders aloud which Payback main event choice the
We're back and ROLLINS HAS A CHINLOCK APPLIED. I'm starting to think this shit is staged. Rollins lands JTG's Shout-Out for 2. It's great how he pays homage to the legends that came before him. Orton gets a capture suplex on Rollins and it's double tags to Kane and Reigns. Corner clothesline combo on Kane, a Johnny Ace staple from Japan, is followed by a diving clothesline on Kane and a Samoan Drop on Rollins. Both heels are sent out, but Mercury prevents a a dive outside. Kane then throat-thrusts Reigns to break up the possible finishing sequence. Sadistic monster. Rollins tags in and the match slows down again? Two heat segments? Aw hell no. Rollins high kick gets 2. Booker informs us that Roman doesn't have quit in his DNA, which makes sense; Sika told him to quit after WrestleMania and he didn't. Kane slaps on a bear hug, a real crowd-pleaser. Reigns suplexes Kane and Rollins tags in, preventing Reigns from getting out. A Reigns roll-up is transitioned into a deadlift powerbomb. Orton tags in and goes to town, hitting the snap powerslam for 2. Reigns disposes of Noble, and powers out of a Kane chokeslam. Rollins accidentally dropkicks Kane, and Superman punches Mercury. Rollins knocks Reigns outside and Orton gets the champ with the Draping DDT. Rollins avoids the RKO and rolls him up for 2, then superkicks him. Rollins attempts a suicide dive, but hits Kane when Orton and Reigns split. Kane snaps and tosses the security guards, then strikes Rollins. Back inside, Superman punch and RKO finish at 18:38. Very slow start but a very hot finish, so we'll split the difference. *** Kane, winded, now hosts the voting results, and sure enough the triple threat wins with 78%. Well, duh. Reigns spears Rollins and gets booed for it, thus undoing all of the progress he'd made in two nights. Ah well.
OVERALL: Man, that third hour boasted three really enjoyable matches. Shame the first two hours had more filler than a New York City hot dog, because if wasn't lulled by the first 120 minutes, I'd have enjoyed that last hour far more. Just further proof that these three hour shows are death.