RAW opens with John Cena and the usual mixed reaction for “The Champ,” who throws up a one and five to shine a light on his status as 15 time world champion. Michael Cole cues a replay of the interaction between John Cena and Roman Reigns from the close of RAW last week, , then announces that tonight’s main event will be a six man tag pitting John Cena, Roman Reigns, and Dean Ambrose against the team of Seth Rollins, Randy Orton, and Kane.
In the ring now, John Cena get a mic and decides to shill the WWE Network, pitching the idea that he may not have much time left as champion and noting that after Battleground, “the champ may not be here.” In a lot of ways it seemed like Cena was pitching the Network on the idea one may get to see him drop the belt on Sunday, which it seems would be a curious approach for Cena to take, but at least he knows his audience. Roman Reigns interrupts Cena’s promo and heads through the crowd. Cena yaps it up a bit about practically nothing until Reigns tells him to get to the point, and Cena begrudgingly does, noting that they should take care of Orton and Kane tonight, so that come Battleground the title will be between he and Reigns and no one else. Following a bit of posturing, Dean Ambrose interrupts from the backstage, appearing on the Titantron and saying that tonight, the three of them need to work as a team. Ambrose is then surrounded by Orton, Kane, and Rollins, and receives a devastating beatdown just slightly less brutal than the one Daniel Bryan received at the hands of Triple H heading into Wrestlemania. Ambrose shows a little… moxie… and asks the trio if that’s all they got before Rollins puts Ambrose out with a vicious curb stomp, presumably leaving Reigns and Cena at a one-man disadvantage in tonight’s main event.
The first match of the next comes up next, as United State Champion Sheamus heads to the ring to battle The Miz. Sheamus in an inset promo sarcastically notes that it’s good that Miz is facing him tonight, as he is not known at all to be the type to hit someone in the face. Miz comes out and says that he’s going to wrestle with “The Moneymaker” up on the screen, and a picture of his smug mug pops up on the ‘tron behind him. Miz and Sheamus put out a decent bout, but the crowd isn’t exactly interested. The Miz pulls out the win with a rollup after a missed Brogue Kick by Sheamus, giving Miz a bit of momentum heading into the Intercontinental Championship Battle Royal at Sunday’s Battleground pay-per-view.
Backstage Triple H talks up Orton and company, noting how at Battleground the title will come back to The Authority. Orton and the crew walk away and Stephanie says she likes the way Trips takes charge, then they make out. Because none of us have gotten that Steph and Triple H get off on the power trip in the last year.
Dolph Ziggler out next, but one can hardly pay attention to his entrance with all of the WWE Network plugs going on at commentary. Ziggler is taking on Fandango, who heads out sans a dance partner with a non-televised entrance. Their bout hardly begins to develop before Fandango’s music hits and Fandango is distracted by Layla and Summer Rae dancing on the commentary table. The distraction allows Dolph Ziggler to hit the Famouser and pick up the win. LayRae then celebrate with Ziggler and make their exit alongside him as Fandango looks on miserably.
Next up, an awkward backstage segment plugging Sonic Drive-Thru involving Adam Rose and Damien Sandow, who is dressed like a Sonic employee, possibly foreshadowing a future career.. Sandow and Rose fight over a hotdog, because WWE Superstars clearly eat a lot of hot dogs, and Sandow ends up falling off screen as Rose takes a bite and celebrates with his Rosebuds..
Back to the ring as The Usos head out for a match, but their walk is cut short as they are jumped by Erick Rowan and Luke Harper. Harper and Rowan dominate The Usos and close the segment by standing tall over the fallen Tag Team Champions.
Following a commercial break, Rusev, Lana, and Michael Cole are in the ring, waiting for Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter to hit the stage for the scheduled “detente” between the self-appointed representatives between Russia and the USA. Swagger carries Old Glory as he heads to the ring to a decent pop, but the segment drags and drags as all involved take much longer than they should to tell one of wrestling’s oldest stories in “USA vs. Evil Foreigner.” Surprisingly, Zeb Colter counters Lana’s Putin references with support of President Barack Obama, noting that while we may not agree with what a President does, a “Real American” will respect the office of the President. Lana slaps Colter after the crowd joins him in a loud declaration of “We The People,” then Swagger and Rusev brawl to close the segment, with Swagger getting the upper hand heading into their Battleground bout.
Backstage now with Roman Reigns and John Cena, as Cena tells Roman that they need to get on the same page tonight. Roman says that they will take out all three of their opponents tonight, because he’s an excellent talker who drips charisma and makes very interesting points.
In the ring now, Alberto Del Rio is in action against Rob Van Dam. Del Rio makes RVD tap in a really quick match, as Del Rio picks up the win with the Cross Armbreaker. Surely there would be numerous people on the roster who could benefit from a good match with (and a win over) Rob Van Dam, but WWE choose to continue keeping Del Rio strong for seemingly no reason.
Nikki Bella is in action next. Stephanie McMahon comes out and mocks Nikki for being alone. Steph says that Brie abandoned her own flesh and blood when she married Daniel Bryan and chose to quit WWE, and because Nikki is alone, Nikki has to face off against Cameron and Alicia Fox in a handicap match. Nikki puts up a good fight, but Alicia Fox picks up the win for her team.
Cole announces a special commercial up next, as the quick plug for WWE2K15 reveals the reason for Sting’s cryptic Tweet from July 8th, as the commercial announces Sting for the game.
Triple H backstage with Randy Orton. Orton says he gets a bad vibe from Kane. H says that Kane is a pawn, and that the plan is for Orton to talk out champ and bring the title back to The Authority. It seems cracks are showing in The Authority’s unified front.
Stardust and Goldust cut an odd promo backstage. Goldust says that they must go to the most “bizarre place in the universe” as the pair try to out-crazy one another.
Cesaro out next sans Heyman. Commentary says that Cesaro and Heyman have parted ways, which, if true, is a very poor storytelling decision. Cesaro is taking on Big E, who has Kofi in tow. Big E picks up the win over Cesaro after Kofi offers a distraction by preventing Cesaro from using a chair.
A video recap of Chris Jericho being attacked by The Wyatts plays, after which Jericho heads to the ring to cut a promo on The Wyatts. Jericho notes that the WWE ring is home to him. Jericho runs down all the things he has seen and done in his WWE career, and while he’s seen and done practically everything, he notes he has never seen anything like Bray Wyatt. Jericho wants to know why Bray Wyatt is targeting Jericho. Bray appears on the tron, laughing. Bray asks Jericho if he remembers what it was like to be a child and to be filled with childlike wonder, but also childlike fears. “Where we you when we needed you, Chris? You said you would save us.” Wyatt asks if Jericho is afraid of the dark, and the lights cut. When they return, Harper and Rowan are in the ring. The pair try to attack Jericho, but Jericho manages a quick escape. Backing up the ramp to keep an eye on Harper and Rowan, Jericho is jumped from behind by Bray, who lays Jericho out with a Sister Abigail and poses over his prone form.
Cole and the commentary team take a moment to confirm that Dean Ambrose is at a local hospital and that he will, in fact, be out of the main event tonight.
Back to in ring action and Paige is at ringside with the commentary team, watching AJ Lee take on Eva Marie. The bell rings and the crowd starts in with CM Punk chants as Paige explains the concept of a “frenemy” on commentary. Eva Marie taps to the black widow in a quickie. AJ and Paige share an awkward moment at commentary.
Kane confronts The Authority backstage, saying he neither trusts nor likes Randy Orton. Trips says it’s business, and tells Kane that he needs to put all that aside.
Bo Dallas is in the ring after a commercial break, cracking a long “Te-Bo” pose. Bo notes that last week he beat El Torito, who may be tiny but who has a huge heart. Bo says he hopes his opponent tonight has a heart just as large, and The Great Khali responds to the challenge. Khali slaps Bo around, but Bo ends up winning via countout. Bo tries to give Khali a pep talk on the outside, but gets a chop to the face for his troubles.
Seth Rollins is now backstage with The Authority and Rollins seems to think that Orton and Kane can’t be relied on, which seems to indicate that Rollins actually watches Raw backstage. Triple H says not to worry, they know what Plan B is. As Rollins leaves, Paul Heyman heads in. Heyman says he’s been biding his time and says that if The Authority wants a foolproof, can’t miss, guaranteed Plan C, he’s the guy they should talk to.
Ric Flair makes a special appearance next, and seems to be a little under the influence. Renee Young asks Flair who will win the fatal four way at Battleground this coming Sunday and Flair says its going to be Cena. Roman Reigns heads through the crowd at this, and Flair shakes Roman’s hand and clears the ring. Flair’s exit is stopped by Cena. The legendary Ric Flair actually bows to John Cena, and Cena hands Flair the World Heavyweight Championship and tells him to keep it as Cena heads to the ring to join Reigns for the main event.
The main event is middling at best, as Seth Rollins takes a spill which seems to have caused a legitimate injury (but which is being reported as a scripted part of the ending), and the match ends on an awkward disqualification. The four participants in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match trade finishes and tease the free-for-all nature of the upcoming Fatal Four Way as Randy Orton delivers an RKO to Kane, but in the end Roman Reigns stands tall over three fallen competitors to close RAW.
Overall, RAW did a decent job of establishing WWE’s upcoming Battleground pay-per-view, even if it seemed to drag at times. While it did not seem to offer much of anything new or unexpected, it did a good job in progressing the stories which have been established for the Battleground event and creating tension in the upcoming bouts.