The Montreal crowd is red hot as things open with Randy Orton. He talks about what he's going to do at Payback before he's interrupted by Roman Reigns. They trade barbs until New Day surprisingly cuts them off. The WWE Tag Team Champions cut a fun promo before facing Orton and Reigns in a 3 on 2 handicap match. After seeing what Orton did to the tag team division in recent weeks, I was scared about the Tag Champions jobbing here. It was a competitive match and a miscue where Reigns speared Orton allowed Kofi to get the win. Fine booking here as your champions get a win, but your top World Title contenders don't lose straight up. Kane comes out and books Orton/Reigns for our main event. We also get told that Dean Ambrose will face Seth Rollins later tonight. After a break, the perfect Renee Young is in the ring and she brings out Ryback. He cuts a promo about how his injury early in his career and managed to turn the crowd around from shitting on him to cheering him, which is impressive. He isn't scared of Bray Wyatt, who appears on the titantron and cuts one of his usual promos. It was fine but I think Bray shouldn't talk every week. His words would mean more if he spoke less. Also, add in the fact that it's hard for me to by into him as the new "Face of Fear" when he lost to the Undertaker at WrestleMania.
Next, we moved to a tag match pitting Tyson Kidd and Cesaro vs. the Ascension. It was a solid bout that the crowd loved because of Kidd and Natalya's connection to Montreal. Cesaro ran wild with like ten straight uppercuts and looked great. They won, and didn't have to go over the champions so we don't get a thousand rematches. For some reason, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins aren't headlining. Especially when Kane comes out to say that if Ambrose wins he gets added to the Payback main event. That's great as it gives this a real reason for happening and got me, the viewers and live crowd even more into it. The match itself was the usual greatness between these two. Despite interference from J&J Security, Ambrose was able to roll up Seth and win. This makes the Payback main event much more interesting and though I'm sure Dean is there to take the fall, it's still fun. The booking of Raw has been spot on so far.
After some short backstage segments, we move to Rusev vs. Fandango. The crowd is totally giving Rusev the Marc Mero treatment, though I hope he doesn't end up jobbing like him because Rusev is really good. Lana ends up Fandangoing, so Rusev sends her away to boos. They're executing this right as Lana is way over. Fine segment here. Next, Stardust faces R-Truth and the match involves fake spiders. I shit you not. This was the worst thing on the show so far. Actually, it was the only bad thing so far. With how much Cody Rhodes gives to the Stardust character, he should be booked much better. I mean, he did win here but still, this was dumb.
So, John Cena's Open Challenges have been some of the best things going each week. However, lately we had the Heath Slater one which disappointed. Here, after an overly long promo, his challenge is answered by Bret Hart! The crowd goes nuts at this as Bret actually comes to the ring! He is here to introduce someone but Slater shows up. The running gag continues which is fine since Heath is fantastic in this role. Bret takes him out with the mic and introduces SAMI FUCKING ZAYN! I marked so hard, you have no idea. The hometown reaction Sami gets is awesome. During the match, Sami injures his shoulder which hurts the match a bit but I thought it was still very good. Sami was the ultimate underdog, the crowd was ridiculously hot and Sami looked great in defeat. They took advantage of where they were and it worked perfectly. Also, Michael Cole was shockingly great through this whole affair. After the match, Cena left the ring to allow the fans to give Sami a standing ovation.
The Bella Twins walk backstage and see that New Day is still celebrating. I love these guys. See what a little mic time and character development can do? As the Bellas go to the ring, they are attacked by Naomi and the returning Tamina Snuka. This basically tells us that Tamina will continue her bodyguard role, which is a fine spot for her. The pairing with Naomi could be interesting. We move to a tag team match pitting King Barrett and Sheamus against the Lil Fellas, Dolph Ziggler and Neville. This was a good match where Barrett pinned Neville after the New Sensation went high risk and jumped into the Bull Hammer. Glad to see the King get the win.
The main event is set to begin at 11PM so you know the match won't be very long. We get a bunch of Authority shenanigans but the big issue is that the crowd is pretty dead at this point following Rollins/Ambrose and Zayn/Cena. The no contest finish happens as the Authority attacks, bringing Dean Ambrose out. They send Seth and the Authority packing before Randy Orton hits Roman Reigns with an RKO. Ambrose wisely takes out Orton with the Dirty Deeds and actually stands tall to close things. Overall, this Raw felt like it was booked by a completely different team, in a good way. Ambrose is in the title picture, the Tag champs looked great and Sami Zayn faced John Cena. With the exception of Stardust/Truth, I found no issues with this episode of Raw. 8.5/10.