WWE World Heavyweight champion Dean Ambrose will defend his newly-acquired title against former Shield partners Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns at Battleground. The 'Lunatic Fringe' agreed to put his championship on the line after dismissing both former titleholders' claims on the belt he wrested away on Sunday night (19 June), when he cashed in his Money in the Bank contract.
Protesting he had never lost the championship in the first place after being benched with a serious knee injury in November, a riled Rollins seethed: "That title is coming back to me!"
And although it was pointed out to Rollins that he had eaten a pinfall when losing the title following the Money in the Bank cash-in, Raw co-manager Shane McMahon agreed the two most recent titleholders should be in the hunt as Dean's next challenger.
However, their bruising Raw decider ended in a stalemate – before the universally-cheered Ambrose suggested getting The Shield back together... but not as a force reunited.
McMahon – in what may be a storyline set-up to crown another brand champion ahead of the much-vaunted Raw/Smackdown brand split next month – went one step further, adapting Ambrose's 'take on all challengers' approach to make the Battleground title defence a triple-threat match.
And although allies Ambrose and Reigns had showed few signs of friction during last night's opening segment, Dean drew a line in the sand in the moment after Shane made his final decision.
Blasting 'The Big Dog' with the aptly-named Dirty Deeds, Ambrose also levelled Rollins with the same move after his slippery nemesis looked to get a few extra licks in on their fallen rival.
Elsewhere on Raw, Sasha Banks made her presence felt with WWE Women's champ Charlotte, who snubbed out the challenge of Brit star Paige following interference from lackey Dana Brooke. Another bout that had been tipped for WrestleMania, Banks vs Charlotte is expected to play out across live events and WWE TV over the summer.
And another set of (hairy) faces not seen for some weeks showed themselves as Bray Wyatt, Erick Rowan and Braun Strowman withstood The New Day's gyrating and baiting to seemingly insert themselves into the chase for the tag titles.
"New Day falls," Wyatt ominously promised Xavier Woods, Big E and Kofi Kingston.
WWE Raw results from the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona:
- A celebrating Dean Ambrose was confronted by Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins
- Sami Zayn countered Kevin Owens' pop-up power bomb attempt and rolled him up for the pin. Owens attacked Zayn after the match and the rivals continued to brawl until they reached the backstage area
- John Laurinaitis attempted to present his case to be General Manager of SmackDown, but was rebuffed by Shane McMahon
- Big Cass and Enzo Amore beat the Vaudevillains
- John Cena demanded another match with AJ Styles – his on Raw for over six months – after The Club 'apologised' for their Money in the Bank shenanigans. But Styles told Cena he could face anyone of them but him. Cena subsequently beat Karl Anderson by DQ after The Club piled into the match
- Baron Corbin finished Zack Ryder with the End of Days
- Charlotte retained her WWE Women's Championship over Paige with a little assistance from Dana Brooke, who placed Charlotte's foot over the rope when it looked as if her reign may be compromised by a cradle DDT. A distracted Paige was then toppled by the Natural Selection before Sasha Banks emerged and made her title aspirations clear
- Bray Wyatt and the Wyatt Family made their Raw return after a couple of months' absence... only to be interrupted by tag champs The New Day.
- A furious and humiliated Titus O'Neil sent US champ Rusev fleeing into the crowd before their Money in the Bank rematch even began
- The number one contendership decider between Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins went to double count out, prompting Dean Ambrose to offer to defend against both men at Battleground. Shane McMahon accepted the champ's suggestion, tweaking it to to a triple threat involving all three former members of The Shield at the same time. Ambrose ensured his pal Reigns was clear their friendship would play no part in proceedings by laying him out with a Dirty Deeds DDT before dishing out the same to Rollins, with whom he has feuded since the faction's break-up in June 2014