The build to Money in the Bank rolls on. We know that Alberto Del Rio will be in the Money in the Bank match, but who will join him? Also, Stephanie made sure to say that if Daniel Bryan can't compete, the WWE World Heavyweight Championship would be decided in Money in the Bank. Likewise, if Bryan can compete he would defend the title in a stretcher match against Kane. Will Bryan be ready to go, or will he end up giving up the title he worked so hard to attain? The big news though is that Seth Rollins has left the Shield. He turned on his brothers, attacking them and siding with Triple H and Randy Orton. Will he explain his actions, and what will the Shield do in response?
Show Open, Live from Minneapolis, MN at the Target Center
Raw opens with Stephanie and Triple H making their way to the ring. The announcers check in. Hunter says "It's a good night to be right." Stephanie introduces a video clip from Dr. Joseph Maroon, the doctor who performed the neck surgery on Daniel Bryan.
Maroon clearly notes that Bryan is not cleared to compete this month, and will be re-evaluated in the coming months to get him back to the ring as soon as possible. Stephanie says that footage means that Bryan will not be able to defend his WWE World Heavyweight Championship at the Money in the Bank pay per view. "You just can't expect an A-plus recovery from a B-plus player," she cracks.
Triple H says that it's best for business to have someone who can defend the title. "Therefore, it's with a heavy heart that we officially strip Daniel Bryan of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship." The fans boo and chant no. Stephanie says her assistant attempted to try and call Bryan today to pass the news along and insincerely wishes him and wife Brie Bella well.
They back out with the camera shot to show the belts hanging above the ring. Stephanie recounts Alberto Del Rio winning the qualifier match last week. Hunter says that Randy Orton will be the second entrant "just because he is who he is." Hunter talks about how fans wanted to rub their faces in it after Wrestlemania and adds that Bryan isn't championship material. He says Bryan isn't at the show because that's how bad his neck is.
Hunter talks about his phrase "adapt or perish," and notes that Seth Rollins adapted. They show footage from Rollins turning last week on Raw. Back live, Hunter says that Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and a partner will face the Wyatts in a six man tag. He says that Ambrose and Reigns might have issues finding a partner so it could be a handicap match.
If you read the news earlier, you know that Bryan truly has not been cleared and his injury hasn't been healing well. They had to get there somehow, and most likely this booking was the result of early information they got when Bryan was slated for surgery. If you're Matt Hester, you might want to gloat and think you got something right, but that's not really the case. And I'm snoring at Randy Orton just being handed his slot in the match - such a fail if he wins back the title.
They hype Cesaro vs. Rob Van Dam and Sheamus vs. Bad News Barrett in MITB qualifiers for the show.
Match #1 - Sheamus vs. Bad News Barrett; Money in the Bank Qualifier
The announcers focus on the Bryan conversation in the early going, saying how disingenuous it was of Stephanie to reach out to Bryan via an assistant. JBL can't get his pronouns right, calling Stephanie "he" a couple times. Cole tries to save him on it but JBL blows past it. Cole figures out that JBL doesn't care and calls the match. Sheamus and Barrett tumble to the floor as we go to break.
Barrett is working a headlock as we come out of break. Barrett hits Winds of Change for two, and looks up a the title belts. He tries to set up Wasteland, but Sheamus elbows his way out of it. He hits a bodyslam for two.
Sheamus cues up the Brogue, but Barrett ducks outside. Sheamus hits him with a low kick and takes a risk with a leap from the ropes but collects the barrier. Sheamus beats the ten count only to take Wasteland for a good near fall. Barrett cues the Bull Hammer Elbow but takes White Noise from Sheamus for a good near fall. They battle at the ropes, with Barrett getting the better of the exchange with a series of kicks and running Sheamus to the corner post twi
Barrett gets aggressive in the corner, beating Sheamus down. Out of nowhere, Sheamus pops up with the Brogue Kick to grab the win. He struggles to his feet and poses as the announcers hype that Sheamus could become a dual champion at Money in the Bank. They run some highlights of the closing of the match.
A physical affair. These guys are fun to watch. I see Sheamus being a leading contender to claim the belts. With the original plan to have Sheamus work Bryan at Wrestlemania, they could easily step back to that when Bryan returns.
Wyatt cut in. Harper cuts a promo, saying that "they" said they were pariahs, two discarded animals. He says he gets urges from a dark place still. Wyatt walks in saying that every man has urges, and a real man learns to control them. Wyatt says the Shield used to refer to themselves as the dominant force, but that's not how he remembers it. He calls them lost in a pit of their desires. He claims he is reborn and the urges will be satisfied. Rowan leans in and simply says "follow the buzzards." to close.
Lana's music hits. She comes to the stage to cut a promo. She calls the leader of America a sissy and cuts to YouTube clips of Barack Obama working out in a hotel weakly. She puts over Vladmir Putin as a virile and strong man among men. They show a video of Putin riding a horse shirtless and beating up other men in what appears to be a judo competition. She says that Putin will crush Obama, and Russia will take its rightful place.
Regardless of one's political stances, the opposing visuals of the two leaders was kinda comical.
Justin Roberts introduces Rusev, and he comes out toting a flag. He stares straight ahead and introduces himself and comes to the ring waving the flag. Lana takes his gold star medal from him and puts it in a box, and it's time for the next match.
Match #2 - Rusev (w/Lana) vs. Zack Ryder
All Rusev as he attacks Ryder early and often. Ryder gets a few right hands in and gets his knees up on a charge but takes a brutal thrust kick. Lana tells him to crush and it's time for the Accolade. Ryder's done. He holds on for a bit til Lana calls for him to break it. He poses with Lana.
Simple squash to continue Rusev's dominance. Not seeing who they're setting up for him next, or if they'll go back to Big E, or what...
They hype that Seth Rollins will break his silence later after turning on The Shield last week.
Match #3 - Rybaxel vs. Goldust and R-Truth
Rybaxel is in the ring already and they briefly sell that Axel is from Minnesota. R-Truth hits the ring with Goldust and they hype that Truth has been selected to team with Goldust by Cody. Truth starts with Axel and Axel hits a nice drop kick. He and Ryback team up for a suplex that nets a two count. Miscommunication makes Ryback take out Axel with a forearm shot.
Truth tags in Goldust who goes on a run, hitting a nice snap power slam. He goes up top and takes out Rybaxel with a cross body. Goldust hits a nice move on Axel, but Ryback breaks the count up then takes out R-Truth. Goldust hits Ryback with a spinebuster but gets rolled up by Axel for the pin. Cody sells a reaction as he watches on a monitor backstage.
Backstage, Layla runs down Minnesota and says she and Fandango can't wait to leave. She cracks that "isn't Summer Rae from here?" She tells the makeup artist to not put so much lipstick on because she kissed Fandango and...well, she gets attacked. Summer Rae dumps milk on her, pushes her onto the table, then smashes her face off of the table a bit before walking away. Layla sits in a pile of makeup powder and milk.
3MB is in the ring. Slater says "The Shield is supposed to be out here to talk..." but The Shield's music hits. 3MB stands their ground as Ambrose and Reigns come to the ring. The fight is on as Reigns and Ambrose assault all three members of 3MB. They send McIntryre into the timekeeper's area, rough up Mahal at the barrier, and Slater backs out of ther ringside area. Out of nowhere, Reigns destroys Slater with a spear. Two men have laid waste to three as the fans chant for Reigns.
In the ring, Ambrose composes himself. He says "The Shield was untouchable and they will go down as one of the greatest groups ever." They dominated everyone, including Evolution. He says little did they know they had a cancer inside, and it's name was Seth Rollins. He calls Rollins a suck up and a sellout to the Authority and says fans all can relate to someone like him. Ambrose says that when he gets the opportunity to rearrange Rollins' face, he will and describes what he'll do. He calls Rollins scum and he's looking forward to what Rollins has to say. He wants to watch him lie to the fans and hear Triple H's words coming out of his mouth. "We'll listen to every word then beat the hell out of you."
Reigns says that Seth committed the most unforgivable sin and calls him the scum of the earth. "You don't pull on Superman's cape, you don't piss in the wind, and you don't turn on your brothers." He calls Rollins only part of the problem and says that Triple H and Randy Orton are. He laughs about Orton being the face of the company and says when he gets done, Orton will be the ass. He addresses Triple H, saying they will have their own Game of Thrones. "Believe that."
Solid mic work from both. Ambrose channeled his Joker as he talked about rearranging Rollins' face. Reigns continued to be the cool heavy and kept it short and sweet. One problem - not much negative reaction when Rollins was mentioned. He will have work to do in his segment to get that heat, and I think - what I know of his past - he can do it.
Cole hypes his interview with Seth Rollins, where Rollins breaks his silence. The announcers talk about the main event six-man tag when Ambrose and Reigns and a partner to be named take on The Wyatt Family.
Match #4 - The Uso Brothers vs. Fandango (w/Layla) and Damien Sandow
The Usos get their entrance first, then Fandango and Layla come out and she grumbles about getting milk dumped all over her. Sandow comes out in long underwear doing some sort of crazy dance thing. Fandango cartwheels past Uso and takes an atomic drop and a right hand. Fandango tags Sandow in and JBL has an oral orgasm over how Sandow is doing interpretive dance. Sandow takes Uso down with a headlock takedown.
The fans are chanting for Sandow. Uso whips him to the ropes and Sandow does a dance of some sort. Uso superkicks Sandow, then Fandango, then after a tag Usos hit their splash to get the win. Layla goes over to tend to Fandango and Sandow rolls out of the ring as Usos celebrate and do the mocking dance in the ring.
Sigh. Damien deserves so much better, but I guess that's not happening anytime soon.
Cole hypes his interview with Seth Rollins again.
Match #4 - Xavier Woods vs. Bo Dallas
Woods is in the ring as "the inspirational Bo Dallas" comes to the ring. JBL compares him to Neil Armstrong somehow as he Tebows in the ring. Dallas cuts a promo, saying he knows Daniel Bryan is watching and has a lot of anger inside. There is only one way Bryan can come back stronger than ever, and the secret to his recovery - "all he has to do is Bo-Lieve!"
Chain wrestling to start as the announcers debate the Daniel Bryan situation. Bo hits a series of short forearms and a clothesline to take Woods down. Dallas poses then says "he's doing his best!" Woods fires back with a forearm shot of his own then tries a springboard move but gets a shot from Dallas. Dallas hits the Bo-Dog to get the win, and he celebrates with his victory lap. He crawls back in the ring and hugs Woods, telling him to keep up the good work.
The live crowd didn't care, but no one cares about Xavier Woods either, so that makes things particularly difficult. Gotta get Bo working with guys who fans care about.
The announcers hype up Rob Van Dam vs. Cesaro in a MITB qualifying match, next.
Back live, Paul Heyman is in the ring, and he says "I am the one behind the one in twenty one and one." He says he earned that when Brock Lesnar broke the Undertaker's undefeated Streak. He puts Lesnar over as the most dominant athlete at the University of Minnesota. The fans cheer that and Heyman says that he's glad the fans feel that way because they have something special in mind. He says this is a great place for a Wrestlemania celebration. He tells the fan to stand up and celebrate as we welcome...the winner of the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale, Cesaro.
Match #5 - Rob Van Dam vs. Cesaro (w/Paul Heyman); Money in the Bank Qualifier
More hype of Bryan being stripped of the title at the top of the show and how this MITB match is for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. RVD hits a thrust kick then a flip dive out of the ring. Both men sell going into commercial.
RVD starts to mount some offense, hitting a spin kick that knocks Cesaro down. A clothesline and some strikes, then Cesaro misses a charge and takes a kick from RVD. That sets up a split leg moonsault from RVD for two. RVD assaults Cesaro in the corner then tries a monkey flip but Cesaro hits him with a big uppercut.
Cesaro follows with a series of forearms and a double underhook powerbomb for two. RVD comes back with a crucifix pinfall then hits him with Rolling Thunder for two. RVD hits a big kick in the corner and tries a springboard move but Cesaro takes out his feet. He rattles RVD's legs off the post as the announcers hype that's the way to take away RVD's offense. Cesaro hits the Neutralizer to get the win.
We have some good, believable contenders in the MITB match. RVD still just feels so flat and beaten down though.
JBL hypes that we could be looking at the third WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Heyman points to the belts above the ring as he and Cesaro talk. The four men in the match now are Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus, Randy Orton, and now Cesaro. They show a tweet where Orton said "I wish I could be there." and laying on a beach chair.
The announcers recap the top of the show, with Triple H saying that Rollins adapted and the rest of The Shield will perish. They also highlight the Shield's promo from a bit earlier. The Rollins interview is up next.
Michael Cole introduces Seth Rollins, who comes out to some kind of generic rock beat. Not a ton of heat til he gets to the ring with some "you sold out" chants mixed in.
Rollins stops Cole before he gets started and says he doesn't understand the controversy. He says last week wasn't a big deal and he was doing what was best for his business. He puts over The Shield as the greatest faction - "created by me." He says it takes an architect to put that kind of faction together. He says Ambrose couldn't have done it because he's a lunatic. He says Ambrose will be face down in a ditch without him. He calls Reigns the golden boy and there's no force like him, but without Rollins he's nothing.
He asks Cole why this is such a surprise. He says The Shield beat everyone and conquered the world. He recalls beating Evolution in a clean sweep at Payback. He says he learned from Evolution that one has to adapt and evolve. Minnesota tells him he sold out but Rollins says he bought in to the evolution of Seth Rollins. He says it took a lot of guts to do what he did last week. He says everyone is fixated on him betraying his brothers last week. To him, they were just business partners though. He severed that business relationship.
He says for two years he put his fist out and said believe in the Shield. What he meant is you, and everyone else, is to believe in Seth Rollins. He asks Cole if that's all and pauses. He says that Ambrose and Reigns said they would hear him out, then come kick the hell out of him. He calls out what's left of The Shield.
Reigns and Ambrose come from the side of the stage and approach the ring. We get the Wyatt cut-in, and Harper and Rowan are there when the lights come back up. The four men battle, with the Wyatts momentarily getting the upper hand before The Shield battles back. Bray Wyatt joins the fray after it's down to Reigns and Ambrose going after Rollins. The Wyatts momentarily get the upper hand, but John Cena joins the fray now to even the odds. Rollins scoots out, and The Shield and John Cena dispose of the Wyatts. They back up the ramp as Cena and The Shield hold the ring. The announcers ponder if The Shield found a partner for the main event.
This is a good use of John Cena. Have him come to the ring for the save and it sets up a logical six-man. Rollins was sound on the mic, but he has room to grow. He will eventually become a polished heat seeker. I like that the company had confidence to send him out there alone though rather than have him go out there with Orton and Hunter.
Match #6 - Paige vs. Alicia Fox (w/Aksana)
The announcers recount Alicia Fox and Aksana winning a handicap match against Nikki Bella last week in a match set up by Stephanie McMahon in revenge for Brie quitting. Paige slaps Fox and Aksana at ringside Alicia locks on a headlock in the ring, hits a suplex, then locks it back on. She screams about Paige being on her hair. Paige rolls Fox up quickly for two but takes a clothesline.
After selling for a bit, Paige makes her comeback. She takes a move from Fox and ends up in the ropes though. Aksana sticks her nose in things, and as Fox approaches Paige trips her into Aksana to take her out. Paige locks on the PTO (Scorpion Cross Lock) to get the submission win.
Afterward, Paige leaves then Fox and Aksana talk in the ring. Fox turns on Aksana, slapping her and roughing her up. She goes to ringside and grabs popcorn and water from a fan. She dumps both of them on Aksana, then force feeds her some popcorn and leaves.
That was more about Fox's antics than it was about anything else. Paige is in a bit of danger of feeling like an afterthought at the moment than the champion.
Match #7 - Santino Marella vs. Jack Swagger (w/Zeb Colter)
Swagger gets no intro, but Colter has a sign that says "Here's a Pizza my mind, Deport Santino." A picture in picture promo from Santino says that Colter should be deported back to where he came from, hell.
Marella gets the better of Swagger at first. He ends up at ringside and takes two slaps from Colter. Back in the ring, Swagger takes it to Santino, hitting him with power moves. Colter motions to break Marella. Swagger collects the ringpost on a charge, and Marella cues up the Cobra. Swagger avoids it and hits the gutwrench powerbomb for the win.
Meh. The fans had fun chanting "We the People" during this one, but it wasn't anything newsworthy. One good thing is Emma was not with him - which could point to her getting her own legitimate push.
Cole hypes up the main event between Cena and The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family.
Backstage, Goldust is looking despondent about losing earlier. Cody approaches him and says that there's someone he has in mind to tag with Goldust. Someone he has never seen before. Someone who can magnify Goldust's magnifigance. Rhodes smiles and exits.
We get a recap of the open of the show, with Dr. Joseph Maroon commenting on Bryan's injuries and Stephanie making the formal announcements regarding the MITB match and stripping Bryan of the title. Backstage, Triple H and Stephanie discuss the MITB match. Stephanie asks what the deal is with John Cena - interrupting her last week then getting involved with The Shield this week. Triple H tells her to not worry and that tonight will be the end of The Shield.
Vickie Guerrero interrupts, with champagne glasses in hand. She says she wants to celebrate with them since there's no more Daniel Bryan or Brad Maddox. She offers a drink but Stephanie bats it away. She says she fired Vickie before, and she'll do it again. She chases Vickie out.
Reigns and Ambrose make their entrance for the main event before a break.
Match #8 - John Cena, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns vs. The Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan)
After a sell for Cesaro vs. Sheamus on Smackdown, Cena gets his entrance to his usual mixed reaction. The Wyatts do their city themed entrance with a sea of cellphone lights welcoming them to the arena. The Wyatts stall outside the ring and slowly get in as the teams stare down. It's on as a six man brawl in the early going when the bell rings. It quickly calms down to Dean Ambrose and Erick Rowan in the ring in a standard six-man tag.
Ambrose controls Rowan in the early going. He hits a dive on Harper, then goes back to work on Rowan with a bowling ball move in the corner. He tags in Reigns, who continues to control the offense. Rowan is able to tag out to Harper, who tries to suplex Reigns but gets countered. Ambrose tags back in and focuses his offense on Harper's leg, hitting a drop kick then using a dragon screw leg whip. Ambrose ends up in the wrong corner then takes a big boot from Harper. Wyatt tags in and yells "come on Ambrose" as the Wyatts work quick tags in and out on Ambrose.
Outside the ring, Ambrose counters a whip where Rowan ends up eating the steps in a hope spot. The Wyatts continue to control the action as JBL gloats that this will be the last night we see The Shield. The fans get into dueling Cena chants while Ambrose sells for Harper. Ambrose takes a big forearm shot for two, and we go to commercial.
Cena gets a hot tag and goes off on Rowan with some of his trademark offense. Rowan manages to cut him off though. Cena begins to sell for the Wyatts for a period of time.
Wyatt takes a few moments to play conductor and that lets Cena regroup to hit a drop kick. As Cena tries to get the tag he takes a shot from Wyatt. Cena gets tied up in a tree of woe by Harper. Harper loads a torture rack and hits a neckbreaker out of it. Cena tries to mount a comeback but takes a powerbomb from Harper. Rowan tags in and continues to work him over while the announcers do a show reset and JBL can't make up his mind if he's a heel or a face. Cena tries to fight out of the wrong corner but takes a fallaway slam from Rowan. Wyatt lands a bunch of shots on Cena at the apron then they do their dance spot. Wyatt hits a big throw suplex for two.
Wyatt does his crab pose and sets up for the back splash but Cena moves. He gets the hot tag to Reigns, who goes off. He takes it to all the members of the Wyatt family with his running kicks on the apron. He hits a side slam on Harper for two that Rowan breaks up.
A rapid fire sequence ensues. Cena hits a cross body on Rowan. Wyatt comes back with Sister Abigail on Cena only to take a Superman punch from Reigns. Ambrose hits a running dive on Rowan outside the ring when he's dumped out by Reigns. Reigns takes a big boot from Harper for a two count. In the end, Reigns comes back with a spear on Harper to grab the win.
Triple H and Seth Rollins look on backstage, shaking their head. Cena and The Shield pose in the ring and celebrate their win as the show goes off the air.
This was a good television main event. This is the same live crowd that got to see Wyatts vs. Shield the first time back at Elimination Chamber, so admittedly they were probably a bit spoiled by that so this match lacked the same punch for them. It was solid though, and Cena comes off looking good for coming to the aid of Reigns and Ambrose (admittedly to get his hands on Wyatt again) despite the Shield's history with him. It was logically told to get to this point and a feel-good ending of the show for the live fans.
That's about all I have good to say about this show though. I don't know why, or what, or how, but this show did not click with me at all. We did get some newsworthy moments regarding the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, the qualifiers for Money in the Bank being established, and Seth Rollins explaining his turn on his fellow Shield members. But the rest was loaded with filler, squash matches, rematches, and just plain garbage programming.
Be sure to watch for Raw Afterthoughts coming out sometime tomorrow evening, and more Raw discussion this week on the flagship audio program, RingRap Audio. Be sure to comment below or tweet us your thoughts on this show to @RingRap or to me directly @Bill_SoonerFan and we'll discuss them on the air. Good night and thanks for following along!