We're two weeks away from Money in the Bank. The ladder match this time around is for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, since Daniel Bryan has been stripped of the title due to injury. Will Bryan respond in some way, or will he simply heal, bide his time, and strike when the moment presents itself? There are two more slots available for the match - who will get those? Will Seth Rollins be gifted one now that he has joined the Authority's team? And what will his former Shield mates have to say about that?
Show Open, live from the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, OH
Live in the arena, all the roster is standing on the stage. Cole tells us that the Authority has ordered them out there for a critical announcement. The title belts re focused on as there's the familiar Motorhead refrain "King of Kings." Triple H pats Seth Rollins on the back as he and Stephanie come to the ring. Cole feeds it to a recap from Dr. Joseph Maroon saying that Daniel Bryan is not cleared to compete but will be reevaluated to be cleared as soon as possible. Stephanie then officially strips Bryan of the title and announces the World Heavyweight Championship ladder match for Money in the Bank.
Stephanie and Triple H mug in the ring as we come back live and Stephanie welcomes us, to a chorus of boos. She says that they gathered the roster because they care. She says she can't imagine how disconcerting it has been without a champion. Triple H says that 52 weeks a year WWE superstars lay it on the line to prove they are the best. Stephanie puts over Triple H and says the WWE is only as strong as its champion. She bad mouths Daniel Bryan, saying the fans have been represented by a "B+ Player."
Triple H says the thing that is disappointing about Bryan is not his ability but his heart. He says his selfishness brought about refusal to defend the title. His refusal to be a fighting champion is unacceptable and the fans deserve better than that. Triple H says that standing on the stage just might be the next WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Stephanie says the Authority is all about opportunity and asks who will join the field for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Money in the Bank. Stephanie names the competitors in the MITB match and says we'll find out tonight as all the roster competes in a battle royale.
Triple H says "hold on, not everyone will compete." He says certain stars refused to evolve and adapt, and Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and John Cena won't get a shot in the battle royale. Triple H tells Cena to not get excited and he will get an opportunity to compete. He says Cena likes to help people - like helping Daniel Bryan and The Shield. He says now Cena gets to help them. He says Stephanie promised a certain type of match, and Bryan can't compete in that promised match. Triple H says the Authority doesn't like to lie, so Cena will get a chance to earn his entry to the MITB title match in a stretcher match against Kane.
The announcers hype up the battle royale and Cena's stretcher match with Kane. JBL sells it way over the top saying it's best for business and we need to forget that Cena had an exchange with Stephanie. Cole calls the Authority vindictive for setting this up. They also hype Dolph Ziggler vs. Seth Rollins for next, and Sheamus vs. Bray Wyatt for later in the show.
Kane comes out and stares at the ambulance and smiles. The announcers talk about how Cena has never been in a stretcher match as the show goes to break.
A solid opening with two hooks for the show with the battle royale and the stretcher match. They also played up the danger of the stretcher match well too, and Cena having not ever competed in one.
Match #1 - Seth Rollins vs. Dolph Ziggler
Ziggler gets a nice "hometown" pop and is billed from Cleveland. They recap the Rollins turn as he comes to the ring. Ziggler gets early offense and Rollins slides to ringside to regroup. The live crowd derides him with "you sold out" chants. Cole gives us a top-of-show reset of what just happened. Ziggler hits a nice drop kick but takes a hard whip to the corner and they go to break.
Rollins gets a two count coming back from break. Cole says that Rollins was aggressive during the break. Ziggler gives Rollins a jawjacker to break but sidesteps a charge. Rollins sets up a suicide dive but Ziggler throws a right hand, then back in the ring he hits corner punches. Rollins comes back to counter a neck breaker with a kick to the leg then an enzugiri.
Rollins tries the Curb Stomp but Ziggler hits a nice DDT for a good near fall. Ziggler keeps up the offense and tries for the Fameasser but Rollins counters for a moment. Ziggler gets caught but hits a Canadian destroyer for two. Moments later, Ziggler does hit the Fameasser for a good near fall. Both men sell and work to their feet. He tries for the Zig Zag but Rollins holds on to the ropes.
Ziggler rolls Rollins up for two. Rollins comes back with a buckle bomb then throws hands on Ziggler. A second buckle bomb is followed by a curb stomp, but here comes Dean Ambrose. Rollins picks up the win by DQ.
I like watching these two guys work together. The live crowd enjoyed this one.
Ambrose asks for a mic and says this won't be over until he gets his hands on Rollins' smug little corporate face. He demands that Rollins come to the ring and fight him like a man. Triple H appears on the Tron and tells Ambrose to not go all crazy. He says it's great that Ambrose wants to fight, but he's afraid he has some bad news for him. Bad News Barrett's theme hits and he comes to the stage. Cole and King say that Barrett is the Authority's hit man.
Match #2 - Dean Ambrose vs. Bad News Barrett
Ambrose is working in street clothes. The announcers say that this started aggressively during the break. Ambrose beats Barrett in the corner and hits a suplex, and Barrett comes back with some corner beating and a neckbreaker. The announcers debate about whether or not Ambrose is crazy, and JBL saying that it's all excuses. Barrett controls momentarily, but Ambrose comes back with a Thesz Press and clotheslines Barrett to the floor. He follows with a splash to the floor.
Back in the ring, Ambrose sets up a move from the ropes, but Barrett clotheslines him over the top and to the floor. He hits hard on a shoulder that the announcers sell he injured on Friday on Smackdown. Barrett focuses his offense on Ambrose's arm as JBL acts like a total authority shill.
Barrett is in control while Ambrose sells outside the ring. Barrett throws him in and covers for two. Picture-in-picture shows how Barrett attacked the shoulder while Barrett works the arm a bit more. Ambrose begins a comeback working with one arm. Ambrose slaps his arm and hits a tornado DDT for two. Ambrose hits another move while the announcers talk about Dunn and Bradstreet and what's best for business. Barrett hits Winds of Change for two. Barrett cues up Wasteland but Ambrose counters out with a crucifix pin for two, then hits a nasty clothesline.
Rollins appears on the announce table and jaws at Ambrose. He hits the apron and Ambrose strikes him with a right hand, throws Barrett out and hits a suicide dive on both of them. Rollins and Ambrose battle into the fans, and Ambrose loses by count-out. Ambrose heads back to the ring and hits Barrett from behind then lands him with Dirty Deeds. JBL says that Cole and King are probably happy with that.
Backstage, Roman Reigns is sitting on a case when Vickie Guerrero walks up bringing drinks for Triple H and Stephanie. He asks about getting put in the battle royale, but she says they don't want him in it. He sweet talks her a bit, and asks if she will continue to run for The Authority. He reminds her that she is a Guerrero and that should stand for something. He says that if she's going to run coffee, she should do it right and make sure they have sweetener. She leaves the coffees and runs off to get that, but Reigns loads the drinks with something. Vickie comes back and Reigns asks when she will tell them to take the job and shove it. Vickie sneezes on the coffee and shrugs and walks off.
Reigns is too cool for this campiness. They're at least hooking the show well. JBL is really on my nerves tonight.
The announcers hype Cena vs. Kane. The Wyatts do their city-specific introduction.
Back from break, the Wyatts make their entrance. They show a wide shot of the arena and there are tons of cellphone lights. Cole runs down the way to win the ladder match in two weeks. They also hype up Harper and Rowan getting a shot at the Uso Brothers for the tag team championship. They say that the Wyatt family could leave with all the gold at Money in the Bank.
Wyatt talks about power. He talks about how the titles represent power and influence. He says that his brothers will destroy the Usos and take whatever power they have. "Power and influence," he says before he says that he will stand at the top of the ladder and change the world forever. He says the title is his glory and the change the fans have been asking for. "all I have to do, is take it," Wyatt closes.
Wyatt sings to close his promo. Sheamus' music interrupts. He says that it's bad luck to walk under a ladder, especially when it's the biggest ladder match in WWE history. He says that Wyatt talks about having the whole world in his hands, so "how about having my whole boot down your throat." Wyatt laughs and says he likes it. Sheamus says it's time for the talk to stop, and it's time to fight.
Match #3 - Sheamus vs. Bray Wyatt (w/Luke Harper and Erick Rowan)
Physical offense from both men to start. Sheamus lands a series of headbutts in the corner, while Wyatt fires back with right hands. The announcers talk about the various competitors in the match, with Randy Orton being gifted a slot in the match. JBL sucks up on Orton and says he got gifted his entry based on his career accomplishments. Cole asks why Cena wasn't gifted the same chance based on his career and JBL says that Cena gets his chance via a stretcher match.
Lawler tells a story about a four-year old talking about her favorite wrestler. He says the girl sang Wyatts's song in response. The Wyatts surround Sheamus at ringside, and the Uso Brothers' music hits and they run to the ring to even the odds.
Back live after break, the live crowd is chanting for CM Punk. Sheamus hits the Ten Beats of the Battern on Wyatt and cues up White Noise but Wyatt escapes. He clubs Sheamus in the back of the head. Sheamus comes back, and sets up the Brogue Kick. Harper and Rowan get involved and grab him, and that throws the match out.
All six men battle after the bell, with the Usos superkicking the ladder into Rowan and Harper. They use it to set up a dive, then Sheamus throws the ladder out onto the Wyatts.
Three matches, three cheap finishes. That's getting lame. The results don't even feel like they matter. The Wyatt tease of holding all the gold could be interesting and I would be all for that. Wyatt doesn't fit as a long term champion, so he could be the right guy to get back to Bryan.
Backstage, Triple H and Stephanie are talking. Vickie comes in, and she hands Stephanie her coffee but Triple H bumps her and spills his on her. He blames Vickie and tells her to go get him another coffee. They go back to their conversation, and Stephanie sips her drink, saying it's really good.
After break, Stephanie is with Renee Young. Renee asks who will win the battle royale later. Stephanie pauses and muscles out the words "let the best man win" and bolts. Enter Paul Heyman. He asks what WWE would be like if Bray Wyatt won the title. He mentions Orton possibly winning and that gets booed. He says only one man has a strategist in his corner, and that man is the same one who said Brock Lesnar would beat Undertaker at Wrestlemania. Heyman said that wasn't a prediction, it was a spoiler. Heyman says Cesaro will win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. "That's not a prediction, that's a spoiler."
The Stephanie stuff was stupid, with the one sip being the time she realizes the coffee's spiked and she gets ill. Heyman did do a good job though, and he went back to his "spoiler" line from Wrestlemania season which came true. It means something when he says it about Cesaro now.
Match #4 - Rusev (w/Lana) vs. Heath Slater
Slater stands in the ring as they air Rusev's medal ceremony. Rusev and Lana come to the ring, and Lana boxes Rusev's medal before he gets in the ring. Lana delivers her routine anti-USA promo putting over Putin and Russia. She says monuments will crumble and new ones will be put in their palce. They show a revised Mt. Rushmore with Russian figures on it. Rusev speaks briefly, putting himself over as the super athlete.
Slater gets a mic and tells them if they like Russia so much, they should go back. He says he's sick of hearing it.
Slater gets a few quick shots in, but he takes a big kick and Rusev locks him in the Accolade for the win.
Rusev feels directionless, and Lana's hotness can't make up for the repetitive anti-USA promo stuff. They need more direction.
Backstage, Triple H is by a door, and you can hear Stephanie getting sick behind it. He winces in pain with her as it sounds like she's puking. Vickie appears with a coffee for Hunter, and she asks what's wrong. Triple H says Vickie needs to go in and check on Stephanie. He opens the door, and Stephanie pukes on Vickie. Yes, that happened. Stephanie emerges and Triple H tells her "we have to get you out of here." He leaves Vickie in charge and tells her that nothing can go wrong in the battle royale. After Triple H and Stephanie leave, she screams.
Yes, this happened. Dammit this show is sucking now. Will it get better? Not feeling it. Vince was the only one laughing at this.
After break, Roman Reigns knocks on Vickie's door. He says she's in hot water and will probably get fired next week. She still has a chance to stand up to the Authority and do something for the fans and put him in the battle royale. She screams that he's in and slams the door shut.
Renee Young interviews Kevin Hart about his movie. Adam Rose and his Rosebuds show up. Rose tells Hart his movie is great and invites him along on the Exotic Express. Hart declines and Rose tells him to not be a lemon, but be a rosebud. Young wishes him luck on commentary, and says it will be great. He walks off humming the Rose entrance theme.
Rose and Young looked annoyed by Rose and the posse. It will be interesting to see if that's a one-off skit moment or not.
Kevin Hart gets his entrance, and he joins the announce position for the next match.
Match #5 - Fandango and Layla vs. Adam Rose and Summer Rae
The Rosebuds come out with Rose. Fandango and Rose get a moment but Summer and Layla end up brawling to the back. Rose hits Fandango with the Party Foul to get the win quickly. Afterward, Rose and Hart dance in the ring, then fall into the Rosebuds and get carted backstage.
So, Hart comes off as enjoying this and Rose is definitely the face.
The announcers hype up that the Battle Royale for the next MITB spot is up next.
The announcers hype up that Sheamus and The Usos will face the Wyatts on Main Event. The Battle Royale contestants are mostly in the ring.
Match #6 - Battle Royale to Determine an entrant to the MITB Championship Match, featuring Bo Dallas, Ryback, Wade Barrett, Roman Reigns, Jack Swagger, Xavier Woods, Big E, Damien Sandow, Titus O'Neil, Los Matadores, Rusev, Kofi Kingston, Dolph Ziggler, Curtis Asxel, Santino Marella, Sin Cara, Fandango, Rob Van Dam and others.
The field gangs up on Sandow to dump him first. Punching and kicking ensues, with Marella and Los Matadores being tossed courtesy of Rusev. Xavier Woods gets tossed next, and Big E is in danger getting worked by Barrett. Sin Cara gets slingshot out by Swagger, and Kofi tries to eliminate Swagger but can't. Ziggler staves off elimination by Rusev with a kick to the head.
Kofi hits Swagger with a huracanrana to eliminate Swagger. They go to break, with Cole hyping using the App to keep track of what happens during the break. Back live, Rusev is standing on Roman Reigns. During the break, Kofi got tossed by Ryback. Rybaxel teams up to eliminate Dolph. We're down to RVD, Big E, Fandango, Bad News Barrett, Rybaxel, and Roman Reigns and Rusev and Bo Dallas. Rybaxel teams up on Roman Reigns.
Reigns fires up, hitting a Samoan drop on Ryback, a superman punch on Rusev, and a clothesline. Rybaxel teams up on Reigns again, but they take a double spear. Fandango gets sent packing by Reigns. Some quick eliminations with Rybaxel hitting the road. Reigns takes a thrust kick from Rusev. Dallas attacks RVD, who is working Barrett in the corner. RVD gets the better of him, but takes a boot from Barrett. Barrett and Dallas team up on RVD.
RVD tries the monkey flip but gets eliminated by Dallas. They celebrate, but Barrett ends up clotheslining Dallas and throwing him over but he's not out. Rapid fire now. Barrett, Dallas, Big E all go out fast. Cleveland is hot for Reigns and Rusev squaring off. They jaw, then Rusev hits a leg lariat and a corner splash. Reigns comes back with a corner clothesline and hoists Rusev over the ropes. Punches at the ropes, and Reigns hits a superman punch to put Rusev out and win.
Reigns celebrates as the announcers put over how the other competitors have to be upset that Reigns is in. They run through some highlights as Reigns poses in the ring after the match. They reset the competitors - Wyatt, Orton, Sheamus, Reigns, Cesaro, and Del Rio. There is still one spot left, and Cena vs. Kane will settle that later. Reigns points to the belts from the corner.
The Reigns victory was predictable, but it's a good thing. The live crowd liked everything he did, and the Reigns/Rusev showdown was a cool moment. I like it. They can go back to Rusev vs. Reigns too if they want. The match is pretty loaded, with Reigns and Cesaro feeling like favorites.
Backstage, Renee is with John Cena. She asks what Cena's reaction to Reigns' win. He says that Reigns wasn't supposed to be in, and the impossible is possible. He says the Authority needs his help - the Authority wants a stretcher match and Kane needs an opponent. He tells Renee that he has a message in the middle of his hand. He runs through some campy lines, teases the middle finger and goes with the index finger, saying he will help himself to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Money in the Bank.
Cena sucked all the danger out of the stretcher match with that happy-go-lucky promo.
Match #7 - Paige vs. Cameron (w/Naomi)
I guess this got set up via a backstage story where Paige got slapped across the mouth. Paige starts off aggressively, kneeing Cameron in the ropes. Cameron teases a handshake and lands a kick to the gut, then slaps Paige across the mouth. Cameron goes on a short offensive run, but Paige counters a suplex. Cameron wants to apologize, but kicks Paige again.
Paige goes on a run with clotheslines, then locks on the Paige Tap Out. This one's over. She gets a nice reaction for the win.
A bit better than the normal "five minutes of domination, then a finisher" from Paige, but not much. Not to mention that the announcers went on to the Rhodes Brothers story almost immediately, not letting anything settle with the ladies.
The announcers talk about the story developing between the Rhodes Brothers. They show highlights from Payback, where Cody says Goldust needs a better partner. Backstage, Byron Saxton interviews Goldust. He says that Goldust has met tonight's partner, and Goldust says it's going to be hot. That's next.
Out of break, they recap last week's story between Cody Rhodes and Goldust, setting up this partner's appearance.
Match #7 - Ryback and Curtis Axel vs. Goldust and Stardust
Stardust looks a lot like Cody Rhodes - I'm just saying. Anyhow, they go hot after Rybaxel right from go. After Ryback gets sent out, Stardust works Axel. Fans chant for Axel though. Stardust hits a quick finisher to get the win. The "dust" personas celebrate in the ring. The announcers talk about how a few changes might get someone's head back in the game.
The live crowd is not sure what to think of Stardust. They're going to have to work hard to get this one over. Maybe it's a means to get to a quick heel turn for Cody rather than just spoofing his brother like this.
Cole talks about the Special Olympics USA Games and sends it to highlights of the opening weekend. Lots of face style comments from Stephanie McMahon about the event. They show the logo on the entrance ramp and wish the athletes luck.
Lawler hypes Cena vs. Kane in a stretcher match, and that's up next.
After a Smackdown sell for Alberto Del Rio vs. Roman Reigns, they recount the happenings of the Battle Royale. Justin Roberts runs down the rules of the stretcher match and we're set for the main event.
Match #8 - John Cena vs. Kane; Stretcher Match rules.
Cena comes out first, throwing his "never give up" towel to someone along the ramp. Cena eyes the title belts above the ring while the announcers debate if him never being in a stretcher match is a factor. Kane's pyro interrupts the moment and he comes out. Cole again runs down the rules.
Doesn't start well for Cena, who starts aggressively with Cena with strikes. It rolls outside already, and Kane puts Cena on the stretcher. Cena kicks him, then jabs the stretcher into Kane's midsection. He takes the stairs shoulder first for his troubles. The two continue to brawl at ringside, with Kane getting the better of things. He loads Cena on the stretcher again,but Cena rolls off.
Kane is controlling the offense as we come back. He props a chair in the corner and tries to throw Cena into it, but Cena reverses and Kane takes the chair. Cena goes up, but he gets caught and chokeslammed by Kane. Kane goes for the stairs and throws them in the ring. Cena kicks him low and Kane took the steps instead. Both men sell, then Cena loads the AA but Kane counters with a DDT on the steps. They both sell again.
Kane drags Cena out to the stretcher and loads him. Kane starts to push, but Cena rolls off then starts firing away with hands and he throws Kane to the post. Cena eats the barricade, then Kane rips the announce table apart. Cena quickly loads the AA and hits it through the table. Cena caries Kane across the ringside area and to the stretcher. Cena tries to load him but the stretcher rolls away. He grabs the second stretcher and loads Kane, but Seth Rollins runs out as does Randy Orton.
Orton hits the RKO after he and Rollins mug Cena. Dean Ambrose hits the ring for the save, attacking Seth Rollins and throwing Randy Orton out. Cena grabs the steps and throws them at Kane, knocking Kane to the floor. Cena goes out and drags Kane to the stretcher, loading him up. He pushes the stretcher up the ramp, but Kane sits up and goozles Cena for a chokeslam at the stage. Cena counters out and hits an AA onto the stretcher and shoves it across the line. Cena punches his ticket to the Money in the Bank match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
Cena poses and celebrates at the stage. The announcers set the match for us - it's Cena, Randy Orton, Sheamus, Bray Wyatt, Roman Reigns, Cesaro, and Alberto Del Rio who will all fight for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Money in the Bank. Cena motions "you can't see me" as Cole hypes he could become a 15-time champion as the show ends.
This should come as no surprise. The minute Cena was booked for this I knew he was going to the MITB match. But, that said the match is loaded, and there are several possible winners so there is some intrigue and hype there and that's good in terms of the pay per view.
This show got off to a decent start, with a good segment from Triple H and Stephanie but it fell off the rails from there. The three no-finish matches in a row started to suck the life out of it for me. Two of them made sense (Rollins/Ziggler and Ambrose/Barrett) in terms of the storyline between Rollins and Ambrose. I can live with that. The Sheamus/Wyatt match ending in a no finish ended up feeling really inconsequential to me. It didn't put heat on the tag team title match really either.
Reigns is too cool for campy drink spiking, the Stephanie throwing up bit was god awful, and JBL was grating on my last nerve all night. Before you say "he's a heel, he's supposed to...", this was "go away" heat, not the right kind of heat for any heel (announcer or otherwise) to draw. So this show gets a pretty hefty thumbs down from me tonight. We'll see if they do better next week on the go-home edition of Raw heading into Money in the Bank.
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