We are coming at you LIVE tonight from Green Bay, WI! WWE Raw kicks off at 8pm EST, and we will have live coverage as it airs.
Tonight, Daniel Bryan will get his "corporate makeover." Will they ruin what makes Bryan unique or will this take him to the next level? And what sort of involvement will John Cena have?
Also, will Brock Lesnar make a statement tonight? What about CM Punk?
Christian is the new #1 contender to Albero Del Rio's title. Will Captain Charisma make his intentions clear? Will Del Rio try to get a sneaky advantage?
See you tonight, at 8pm!
Fireworks kick us off. Rare these days. We're starting off with Stephanie McMahon sneering in the middle of the ring. Sorry. I don't like her. She says her dad, Vince, doesn't think Daniel Bryan is championship material. She says her husband doesn't agree with that. She made a compromise, and she asked Daniel Bryan to participate in a "makeover".
Vignette time! Cue the spa. Then the gym. Then a trip to eat meat (which he does now, anyhow). This is pretty ridiculous, but funny. After the video, Steph introduces him, and he walks out in a suit and tie. Honestly, he kind of looks like Damien Sandow.
Steph says he looks sharp, and she hands him the mic. "The floor is yours." He thanks Stephanie McMahon for her time and effort. He says he doesn't think this is what the company actually wants. He thinks the company wants someone jacked up, in cargo shorts, and a bright yellow shirt - hey that's John Cena!
Bryan respects Cena because Cena thinks he's the best contender, but he doesn't think Bryan can beat him. But look at him: 5'8", scraggly beard. How could he possibly beat Cena? Because John Cena is an entertainer, and Daniel Bryan is a wrestler!
Bryan takes it to another level - Cena hasn't seen the holes he's drank out of and the mud he's crawled out of. He's a wrestler. Cena doesn't want to admit if he gets fired tomorrow, he goes back to millions and he will never wrestle again. If Daniel Bryan gets fired tomorrow, he'll be in every armory and dirt box that holds 30 people because he loves wrestling. He asks if the audience loves wrestling too. They do.
He says he will dress up and comb his hair back. For now. He'll do what they want. But at Summerslam, he's going to make John Cena tap out.
Vince McMahon hits the ring. He says Bryan has given the "old college try." He makes fun of his pony tail and the length of his pants.
Vince says he doesn't want Cena to be champ, but he wants DB to be champ even less. He's warming up to him though. He says Bryan has the muscularity of a tooth pick (actually, for his size, Bryan is pretty jacked). He compares him to a miniature Mick Foley. VKM says the makeover requires only one more thing - shaving the beard. Bryan is not amused.
VKM calls for a barber's chair to the ring. Bryan says no. The fans join him. Vince says if they truly want him to be WWE champ, he will do what he says. He even threatens to fire him.
Vince goads him into taking that extra step to have the beard shaved. "You want to be WWE Champion Daniel Bryan? Get in the chair!"
Bryan climbs out of the ring and approaches the chair. VKM calls Wade Barrett out to the ring to shave Daniel Bryan's face. Strange. Barrett has a set of clippers and some scissors. Daniel Bryan asks Barrett to leave a little part alone, then when Barrett leans in to look, DB headbutts him! Bryan takes the razor and shaves half of Barrett's face, tosses him over the barricade, and "Yes's" his way up the ramp.
Daniel Bryan says he's not going to change. He's going to be who he's always been, and he's going to be champion. He opens up his shirt and reveals a t-shirt - "The Beard is Here."
Back in the ring, VKM steps all over Bryan's jacket and tosses it into the ring.
Up next, Del Rio vs. RVD!
Decent segment I suppose. Bryan's promo in the beginning was very good, but the barber chair stuff was unnecessary and seemed like an excuse to promote a t-shirt.
Rob Van Dam vs. Alberto Del Rio
Ricardo Rodriguez has returned from "serious injury." Right.
RVD gets control early on, but Del Rio counters. RVD backflips off the apron as we go to break.
Back from break, and the "host" of Summerslam, The Miz is still on commentary with them. RVD gets some momentum with kicks. Rolling Thunder, but he misses. Del Rio kicks him in the face. He gets 2.
Well, another Rolling Thunder attempt works, but still no pin.
Ricardo Rodriguez places a bucket in the corner for Del Rio to use, but RVD sees it and sends Del Rio head first into it. He gets the pin.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio
Not a particularly good match to keep Del Rio strong.
Post match, Del Rio kicks Ricardo in the jaw and beats the tar out of him. He hits Ricardo with the bucket repeatedly. Did Ricardo just turn face? Del Rio launches Ricardo out of the ring and kicks him in the head with his face between the steps. Huge heat.
Later tonight, CM Punk vs. Curtis Axel
Back from break, Cody Rhodes stands in the ring. He says true friends stab you in the front, so Sandow was never a friend. He has a gift for Sandow, but first, a recap! Remember that time Cody Rhodes threw the briefcase into the Guld of Mexico? Yeah.
Back in the ring, Rhodes offers the well-watered briefcase back to Damien Sandow. He comes out to the ring on a mission. He asks him to put the case down and leave. Cody backs out of the irng, but as Sandow goes into the ring, Rhodes attacks! He reclaims the briefcase and shakes out the contract. He takes it and throws the briefcase at Sandow.
I appreciate the attention to detail with the briefcase. Sand and water inside? Nice touch.
Back from break, Ryback hits the ring. He's facing Mark Henry. Shouldn't this be a pay-per-view match? Oh, it was.
Mark Henry vs. Ryback
The usual Goldberg chant breaks out. Back and forth. Ryback ends up pacing outside the ring. And then he gets counted out. Intentionally.
Winner: Mark Henry
Not sure what that accomplished. Ryback looks more and more like a chickenshit.
Back from break, and the Bella Twins are arguing about who's hotter on Total Divas. Eva Marie walks over and is a horrible actress. Nattie isn't much better. But she slaps Brie Bella in the face, so there's that.
John Cena comes to the ring. He runs to the ring and tosses the belt in as he does so. Never been a fan of that. Cena says he's used to being a target. Usually those that challenge him are bad people and it makes it easy for the fans to choose. But Daniel Bryan is a fan favorite. It forces the fans to choose. Lots choose Daniel Bryan. He says Bryan had a lot of truth. He says he's not gonna be judged or change though. He's not changing for noone.
Daniel Bryan wants to talk about hard times, but he came back to work 24 hours after breaking his neck. He says Bryan glorifies wrestling in a gymnasium because that's where he's comfortable. He's right - Cena wouldn't wrestle anywhere else because he wouldn't tarnish his legacy. He compares WWE to the NFL. The "You can't wrestle" chants kick in. Cena acknowledges them. Says he's been champ 11 times. "You don't get lucky 11 times." The chants switch to "boring." Honestly, it's a pretty good promo from Cena and not boring.
Cena says Daniel Bryan doesn't realize the opportunity in front of him, and if he loses he has to admit he just wasn't that good. Cena says he's been on a roll for 6 months. The champ is here.
Randy Orton chimes in and heads to the ring. He says Cena never ceases to amaze him. Always aware of the target on his back, but never the one staring him in the face. He says the contract in his briefcase guarantees he becomes champion. It could happen at Summerslam, the night after, anytime. Orton says the champ is here (him).
And then The Shield comes out. They surround the ring and stalk Orton and Cena. Daniel Bryan bolts to the ring to even the odds. Brad Maddox interrupts before things get crazy. He makes it a 6-man tag match in the main event - The Shield vs. Cena & Bryan & Orton!
After the break, Tons of Funk dance away in the ring. The Wyatt Family walks out to face them.
Tons of Funk (Brodus Clay & Tensai) vs. The Wyatt Family (Erick Rowan & Luke Harper)
Tensai no longer has the silly "tattoos" on his face. Harper starts things off against him. He hits a big boot and tags in Rowan. It kind of turns into a mess and all four are in the ring. Rowan gets the quick win.
Winners: The Wyatt Family
After the match, Bray Wyatt steps into the ring. He hits his finisher on Brodus Clay. Wyatt takes a mic and cuts a promo on Kane. He says the demon is a lie. He is the man of a thousand truths. He tells Kane to follow the buzzards.
Kane's pyro hits on the stage, but Kane is nowhere to be found. Kane's on the Tron - says buzzards are impossible to follow if you pull the wings off them. Kane says he likes what Bray does - he does them too - but not to spread a message. He does it for his personal amusement. He says noone does the Devil's work better than he does. He says noone can save Wyatt from a ring of fire. Inferno match?
Back from break, CM Punk talks with Josh Matthews about his match with Curtis Axel. Punk wants to talk about Mr. Perfect instead - how he would still have a mind of his own, even when teams with Bobby Heenan. Punk says he's gonna take care of Axel tonight, then he's coming for Heyman.
He says at Summerslam, he will neuter "the beast."
Kaitlyn stands in the middle of the ring, waiting her opponent. Flashback to Layla's turn on Kaitlyn last week.
Layla vs. Kaitlyn
Kaitlyn immediately spears Layla. Layla runs away from Kaitlyn and uses a cheap shot when she can. Kaitlyn gets some offense, but AJ Lee comes skipping out to the ring. It's enough of a distraction to get kicked in the face. Layla wins.
After the match, she and AJ skip around the ring.
Layla needs to be re-introduced to the audience, and the little video insert was fine for that, but her character isn't working for me right now.
Congrats to E! network, and blah blah.
Christian stands in the ring, our #1 contender. No promo?
Christian vs. Heath Slater
The rest of 3MB is in the corner. They quickly surround Christian the moment he steps outside the ring. Slater gets some offense. My orange flavored Italian Ice is less predictable than this match.
Slater is showing some really good offense but it's not enough when Christian hits a spear for the win.
Nothing fancy. Just keeping Christian in the picture. He needs a promo to establish the match, in my opinion.
CM Punk vs. Curtis Axel (w/ Paul Heyman)
Punk doesn't even wait for Axel to get to the ring and he heads outside to attack Heyman. Axel meets him and they brawl outside the ring. Punk starts getting the upper hand, and the action hits the ring. The ref officially rings the bell.
Punk gets Axel in a leg lock and drops it in three times. He targets the leg and begins kicks. Clothesline and the action spills outside. We go to break as the fans cheer him on.
We return from break and Axel has the upper hand. Axel hits a knee fromt he second rope. Paul Heyman walks back out during the match. Punk sees Heyman and starts crawling towards him, hate in his eyes. Axel hits a clothesline to stop the progress. 2-count.
CM Punk chases after Heyman outside the ring, but once again Axel cuts him off, this time with a clothesline. Axel misses a splash in the corner and it's all Punk needs to get the momentum again. He knees Axel in the face in the corner, and climbs up top, but gets crotched in the corner.
Axel hits his neckbreaker thing (it's the McGuillicutter, dammit!) for a 2-count.
Axel gets kicked in the jaw and gets laid out. Punk grabs Heyman immediately. Brock Lesnar's music kicks in and Lesnar hits the ring. Lesnar hops to the apron and steps in, but Curtis Axel takes the feet our from Punk. Punk hits GTS on him and sends him packing. Lesnar attacks from behind and the brawl breaks out. Kick to the face repeatedly. Punk climbs on top of the announce table and dives into Lesnar. He takes Lesnar down. Lesnar grabs him and hits a nasty belly to belly suplex. He throws Punk back into the ring. Lesnar goes for an F5. Punk gets out and hits Lesnar with a chair to the back. Punk moves towards Heyman, who is pleading in the corner. Lesnar intercepts and hits the F5 successfully this time. Three chair shots to the back and Lesnar stands tall over Punk.
Nice heat on this feud now. Punk got a nasty cut on the jaw somewhere during this scuffle, and it added to the melee nicely. Definitely looking forward to this match even more now.
Backstage, Brock Lesnar, Curtis Axel, and Paul Heyman join Renee Young. Lesnar asks if that's the best? Lesnar says he's the beast AND the best. "Paul, say something stupid." Heyman asks Young to tell him he may not make it to Summerslam. Heyman challenges Punk to a fight next week on Raw.
Fandango! He's facing off against a returning Kofi Kingston.
Fandango vs. Kofi Kingston
Fandango seems more interested in dancing to start out. Kofi with some kicks, nice dropkick and cover. Fandango gets the advantage however. After some near falls, Fandango locks in a headlock. Kofi gets some momentum when Fandango misses a top-rope dive. Boom drop. He sets Fandango up for Trouble in Paradise, but Fandango rolls to the ropes. He gets a sneaky kick to the head and attempts using the ropes for leverage. He goes up to the top. Kofi ducks, and does a springboard crossbody of his own. Nice sequence, Kofi hits Trouble in Paradise to get the win.
Winner: Kofi Kingston
Good match, nice win for the returning Kofi Kingston. Fandango's star has fallen since his injury.
Backstage, Triple H and Stephanie are backstage. Steph is crying because Vince chewed her apart. Triple H says Vince has lost it. He says Vince just walks around doing whatever he wants to do. Triple H is pissed. He says he's tired of it and isn't going to let Vince run the ship into the ground. He says he isn't gonna let Vince ruin Summerslam.
Recap of Del Rio's attack on Ricardo Rodrguez earlier, and now Zeb Colter stands in the middle of the ring with The Real Americans, Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro. He cuts a promo on Wisconsin. We the people.
The Uso brothers comes out to face Swagger and Cesaro.
The Real Americans (Jack Swagger & Antonio Cesaro) vs. The Uso Brothers
Jimmy and Jack Swagger start it off. A Green Bay Packers chant starts (it was topical). Swagger hits an elbow and launches Jimmy into Cesaro's uppercut. Tag back and forth - they're isolating Jimmy from tagging in his brother.
Nice double-team from the Americans. Jimmy gets the hot tag after a kick to the face. Jey Uso is flying all over the place. Nice offense from Jey. He goes for a pin but Swagger breaks it up. Jimmy Uso attacks Swagger outside the ring. Cesaro jumps off the top rope and Jey hits a nice kick. 2-count. Swagger whips Jimmy into the ring post, and recovers in time to assist Cesaro in hitting the Neutralizer for the win.
Winner: The Real Americans
Good tag match for TV. Both teams put on a high-impact match and it gives me hope there's some love for the tag division.
After the break, Dolph Ziggler hits the ring for his match against Big E. Langston
Dolph Ziggler vs. Big E. Langston
Ziggler seems more concerned with showing off than wrestling, but he hits a nice drop kick. Big E. power lifts Ziggler, but Ziggler is able to outsmart Langston and grab the ropes. Langston hits a knee that sends Ziggler outside the ring anyhow.
Back and forth action, AJ is walking around outside the ring when Kaitlyn comes out, and a cat fight breaks out. It spills into the ring, and Dolph tries to separate the two before Big E slams him with a clothesline. Big E hits the Big Ending to get the pin and the win.
Winner: Big E. Langston
Decent match. I have to assume they’ll wrestle at Summerslam, so I’m not quite sure why they’re having them wrestle on TV.
After break, Josh Matthews is interviewing two chicks from that show Summer Camp. They have no idea what’s going on. The fans shit on this.
Daniel Bryan is out first for our main event. Randy Orton, then John Cena. The Shield comes out next. Commercial time!
The Shield vs. Daniel Bryan & Randy Orton & John Cena
Orton and Rollins start things off. Back and forth, but Rollins gets in some kicks to get the advantage. It’s short lived, and Orton gets 10 punches to the face in the corner. Suplex. 1-count. Tag to Daniel Bryan. Missile dropkick. Ambrose tags in and DB flips over Ambrose in the corner. Running clothesline. Bryan dives out of the ring onto Ambrose. He fights off Rollins outside too, but Ambrose takes advantage of the distraction. Ambrose unloads outside. Tag to Reigns.
The Shield cycles through tags as the crowd gets worked up. Daniel Bryan’s comebacks get cut off. Nice teamwork from The Shield. Reigns taunts Daniel Bryan, but he starts getting some momentum. He kicks Reigns in the head and crawls for the hot tag. Tag to Cen, but the referee was distracted by Ambrose. He never saw the tag.
Daniel Bryan reverses a rollup into a Yes lock, but the rest of The Shield run in and the ref calls for the bell. Cena helps clear the ring, and the fans start chanting Yes with Daniel Bryan. Cena looks on as Orton RKO’s Bryan out of nowhere. Cena and Orton get attacked again, and they team up to clear The Shield out of the ring. Cena turns around and hits an RKO on Cena out of nowhere.
Orton walks out of the ring and grabs his briefcase. He’s preparing to cash it in, but The Shield return and scare Orton off. Reigns hits a Spear on Cena and Ambrose kicks Daniel Bryan. Orton just watches and walks away. Triple Powerbomb to Daniel Bryan. The Shield stands tall over Bryan to close out the show.
Not a bad match to close the show, but it’s the after-match happenings that were most important. The Shield are back in the main picture, but even more importantly, they’ve illustrated that Randy Orton can strike at any time.
Thanks for joining me tonight during my coverage of Monday Night Raw. Make sure to follow us on Twitter @RingRap!