Wow. Did Mark Henry take us for a ride last week or what? He came out and teased his retirement, but instead set up John Cena for the World's Strongest Slam and challenged him to a match at Money in the Bank for the WWE Championship. How will Cena respond to this? With any luck, he will take Henry's threat seriously.
Daniel Bryan had his match stopped against Randy Orton. Reports are that he wasn't too happy about that fact. He did get his rematch on Smackdown and won by count-out, but that isn't enough. These two are slated to get it on again tonight.
Also, we saw the return of Brock Lesnar at the end of the show. CM Punk has distanced himself from Paul Heyman, and in what appears to be a vindictive move Heyman has called in his beast to take care of Punk. How will Heyman spin this? Will Curtis Axel get involved in the meantime?
Show Open, Live from the North Charleston Civic Center, North Charleston, South Carolina
We get a video recap of the return of CM Punk, including Paul Heyman's "I love you" and Brock Lesnar's attack. The narrator asks if this is Heyman's motive and if he knew Lesnar was in the building. They also recap Mark Henry's faux retirement speech where he suckered in John Cena to issue his challenge for the WWE Championship. The narrator asks how Cena will respond.
Cole welcomes us, and Daniel Bryan's music hits. Cole says Bryan's quest to prove he isn't the weak link continues. He also recaps the two matches between Bryan and Orton. We're going right to action.
Match #1 - Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton
Cole calls this the rubber match and says Bryan wasn't happy about either match last week. Bryan cuts a promo. He says there are some people who have accused him of having a complex, calling him a walking example of little man syndrome. He sets the record straight about not being an extra in The Hobbit.
He says whether on NXT or teaming with Kane, some have called him the weak link. He calls those people morons. He has fought Orton twice and a true weak link would have taken the count out win and ran. He won't be satisfied until he makes Orton pin or submit. "Will I do that tonight? Yes! Yes! Yes!" Orton makes his entrance.
Bryan tells Orton he's glad he came out but Orton takes the mic. Orton tells Bryan he came out to tell Bryan to his face to "shut up and fight." The two brawl and the official separates them to officially get the match started.
The match is essentially a brawl. They exchange strikes in the ring, then it moves to ringside. Orton throws Bryan across the announce position and they keep battling back and forth. The official eventually throws things out as a double disqualification and more officials come out to break them up. JBL says "these two just don't like each other."
A good brawl to establish the heat between Orton and Bryan. Will they continue this later?
After commercial, Vickie and Brad Maddox are talking. Daniel Bryan walks in ranting about the match and the "double disqualification" finish. He demands another match tonight. Brad Maddox speaks up and says the show is full and he's had his match. Bryan gets mad and rants again, saying he wants a match with Orton or with Maddox.
Vickie gives him the match. After Bryan leaves, she makes fun of Maddox's reaction. Vince McMahon enters the frame and says some people think Bryan isn't worthy of being a WWE Superstar because of his size and psychological complexities. "Some people think he's a downright embarrassment." Vickie asks what he thinks and Vince simply says "I'll let you figure that out."
This is a good setup for later. They might give us either a cheap finish to establish a pay per view match, or Orton goes full heel. Vince also was good here and added a good hook. What he says plays into the long-time concerns Bryan fans have voiced about his size and ability. Of course we know now, Bryan is a star without doubt.
Match #2 - Sheamus and Christian vs. Team Rhodes Scholars (Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes)
Cole puts over Sheamus and Damien Sandow will fight in a Dublin Street Fight on Smackdown this Friday.
Christian sells for the heels for a bit. Late, Sandow tags out to Cody and they collide and miscommunicate. That opens up the chance for Sheamus to hit Cody with the Brogue Kick to get the win.
A good tag match with some high energy. I wonder if the miscommunication between Rhodes and Sandow foreshadows something?
Punk is doing something on his cellphone. Vickie approaches him and tries to talk but he has her on ignore essentially. Punk asks if Heyman or Lesnar are in the building. Vickie says she doesn't know if either are there or will even show. Punk goes back to his phone. Vickie says she's putting him in a match but Punk ignores her.
She yells "EXCUSE ME!" at him, but he turns around and yells it right back. He tells her to let him know if Lesnar and/or Brock show up and walks off.
Match #3 - Kaitlyn (w/Layla) vs. Aksana
They recap the issues between Aksana and Kaitlyn from Smackdown on Friday. Cole also talks about how supportive Layla has been of late. Lawler talks about her manipulative ways when she was with Laycool though.
During the match, Kaitlyn's music plays and AJ walks out all spoofed up in a muscle costume and a wig. Kaitlyn puts away Aksana with a spear and kicks her out of the ring.
After the match, AJ introduces herself as Kaitlyn and talks about a secret admirer. Big E gets an introduction and he comes out and tells AJ she's the one and gives her flowers. AJ mocks Kaitlyn, saying she wanted someone with a voice as deep as hers and legs as big as hers. Kaitlyn wants to go at her, but Layla holds her back.
Crickets for most of that. Horrible segment and Kaitlyn looks bad for getting worked up by such a bad spoof.
Before we go to commercial, they show a vignette for the Wyatt Family. Cole sets it up with saying how the fans are abuzz about these men.
After commercial, they give us a recap of the Mark Henry segment from last week. Cole hypes up the fact that both Mark Henry and John Cena are in the building tonight.
Match #3 - Chris Jericho vs. Alberto Del Rio (w/Ricardo Rodriguez)
Jericho gets his entrance before the commercial, and Ricardo gives Del Rio the full entrance after. Cole tells us that on the app, it was revealed that Dolph Ziggler has been cleared to wrestle and will get his rematch at Money in the Bank.
Cole talks about Ziggler costing him the match he had with Del Rio on Smackdown, and points out that Jericho hit a Codebreaker on Ziggler. Jericho controls the early offense in this one. He goes for a springboard move over the second rope and misses. Del Rio throws Jericho into the safety barrier as we go to commercial.
After commercial, Jericho catches Del Rio with a kick to the head for two. Del Rio hits a kick of his own that knocks Jericho to the floor. Jericho barely beats the ten count. A bit later, Jericho gets perched on the top rope. Jericho counters, and hits a cross body block for a good near fall.
Jericho hits a bridging suplex for another good near fall. Del Rio gets a brief comeback, but Jericho dodges a corner charge. Del Rio eats the ring post. Jericho tries a Codebreaker, but Del Rio holds on. Jericho rolls up and over and tries the Walls of Jericho. Del Rio counters out and hits a kick to the head for a good near fall.
Jericho hits a bulldog, then goes for the Lionsault. Del Rio gets his knees up though and Jericho lands hard. Out of that, Del Rio locks on the Cross Arm Breaker. Jericho works his way to the ropes though and uses the ropes to spin his way out. He locks Del Rio in the Walls of Jericho.
Ricardo slides in and hits Jericho with the bucket, which throws the match out. Dolph Ziggler hits the ring and attacks. Ricardo ends up getting hit with the Codebreaker from Jericho, and Ziggler hits Del Rio with the Zig Zag. Afterward, Ziggler and Jericho stare at each other and Jericho shoves his way past Ziggler. Ziggler hits him with the Zig Zag also in retribution for taking the Codebreaker on Smackdown. Those two stare at each other as Jericho makes his way up the ramp.
That was very good. I don't mind the bucket now since Del Rio has gone heel. They could easily set up a triple threat match for Money in the Bank for all three of these men could solve the issues between them.
Vickie and Brad are talking again. They're debating canceling the match between Bryan and Orton for later. Triple H walks into the frame and says he's heard a nasty rumor about them cancelling the match.
Vickie agrees and cites Vince's earlier criticisms of Bryan without attributing them to Vince. Triple H says it doesn't matter what anyone backstage thinks, but it's all about what the fans want. The fans want to see this match.
Trips tells Vickie he wants her to over-deliver by giving the fans the choice of stipulation for the Bryan/Orton match. Vickie calls it a wonderful idea. Triple H says they should listen to him, and everything will be fine. He compliments Maddox's shirt and asks if it comes in men's sizes too. Funny.
We get some hype for WWE 2k14 and a segment after the break.
They show another 1-800-Fella commercial. This time, Sheamus saves a cat, then gets shy when the crazy cat lady acts like she wants him.
Jerry introduces Vickie Guerrero and Brad Maddox. He says that this is the official launch of WWE 2k14. He says there will be a contest to create and design the new cover and it is on wwe.2k.com. Vickie says she will take it from there.
She says the fans' voice is important but she's getting booed out of the building. In tonight's rematch between Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton, she will let the fans decide the stipulation. It's either a street fight, lumberjack match, or falls count anywhere. JBL calls the fans' booing "disrespectful."
She says she has designed her own cover for WWE 2k14 and says it's about real leaders making true decisions. She throws it to the Tron and it's a cover showing Vince, Stephanie and Triple H. Maddox puts over his own cover, that he refers to as the "future of Monday Night Raw." It's him, Cena, and CM Punk. He and Vickie bicker but Lawler interrupts to reveal the real cover. Pyro goes off, and it's The Rock. They play his music while King asks if Vickie can smell what that cover is cooking.
Match #5 - Great Khali (w/Natalya and Hornswoggle) vs. Ryback
Khali wins the early test of strength. He backs Ryback to the corner and chops him and kicks him. Ryback fights back with some strikes of his own but gets a boot and a clothesline for his troubles. Khali teases the Punjabi Plunge, but Ryback counters into Shellshocked. He gets the big man up for the win.
A power display people will remember for sure, in hopes they forget Ryback lost the Three Stages of Hell match for his seventh straight PPV loss.
Cole hypes up John Cena's appearance after being blindsided by Mark Henry for after commercial. We also see an ad for Total Divas, coming out on E! on July 28.
John Cena makes his intro after commercial to his normal mixed reaction. They talk about the newest WWE Magazine coming out and how it's gone digital. They also hype the Money in the Bank title match between Mark Henry and John Cena.
He talks about the "lively bunch we have here tonight." He talks about the WWE Championship, and how there have been 43 men who held it. Whether you held it for eight years like Bruno Sammartino or one night like Rey Mysterio, it puts you in an elite category because you've earned the respect of your peers.
Cena says shortcuts don't equal respect. He says men have tried to buy and steal the title. He says people have cracked under pressure chasing the title. Cena says even Vince McMahon even needed to be WWE Champion for a sense of validation.
"And last week, we saw how low a man will sink to chase this," Cena says. He holds out the title belt as illustration. Cena says Henry disgraced his family, cheated the fans, and felt the speech Henry gave was a disaster to guys who stood in the ring and said they could never do this again. Cena says Henry made a mockery of guys like Ric Flair, Edge, Shawn Michaels, and others.
Cena says he understands why. He says Henry has been in WWE for 17 years and might be the World's Strongest Man, but his time is running out and his legacy in WWE won't be complete without the WWE Championship. Cena says that's where he comes in, because if Henry wants the WWE Championship, he has to go through Cena.
"Allow me to introduce myself, I'm John Cena...the WWE Champion." He says the best part of Henry's speech was when he handed Cena back the belt and says it has to be earned. He says everything else was a load of crap and the only thing Henry earned is the right to have his teeth knocked down his throat.
Cena says Henry forgot to check the calendar, and we're in the middle of whoop-ass season. He says in three weeks, Henry will find out what the world knows - "our time is now, and The Champ is here!" He walks out with the belt held high, facing the fans.
Cena was straightforward here, with no clowning around. He's not showing fear, but at least established the value of the title and disgraced Henry's actions.
Match #6 - The Usos vs. Tons of Funk (Brodus Clay and Tensai, w/Cameron and Naomi) vs. 3MB (Heath Slater, Jinder Mahal, and Drew McIntyre); #1 Contender's match to the tag team championship
Tensai and Clay get their entrance with Scottie Campbell, the winning bidder of this chance from the Sandy Hook relief auction. 3MB didn't get an entrance but the Usos did.
In the end, one of the Usos hits a Samoan drop on Tensai. The other is perched up high, and he hits a splash to get the win. Afterward, The Shield appears through the fans, and Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns hold the belts up and taunt as the Usos look on.
The Usos were excited, but there wasn't much other reaction to this win.
Paul Heyman comes out to the ring with no music. The announcers reset what happened last week at the end of the show with Brock Lesnar coming out to attack Punk.
Heyman gets a mic and introduces himself. He says he ignored Punk's calls, texts and emails all week. He says that since they live their lives in front of the public, he wanted to address this face to face in front of the fans. Heyman calls Punk out to the ring to get his answers.
Punk comes out to a big reaction. "You want to do this in public? You want to air dirty laundry in public for their entertainment?" Punk says he should recap why he has questions, starting with why, despite Heyman's lousy reputation, he is still a Paul Heyman Guy.
Punk talks that he created some buzz for himself in 2005. He talks about the "goof" John Lauranaitis in charge of talent relations, while Heyman was in charge of developmental. Punk says he was set up to fail, and received weekly notes who says that Punk was no good and not what WWE was looking for.
Punk says no matter how many times Heyman was told to fire Punk, Heyman refused to pull the trigger. "He saw something in me and had my back." He says he was Heyman's first draft pick when ECW was reformed. Punk apologizes for boring anyone with the laundry.
Punk turns to Heyman and tells him to tell Brock Lesnar he's coming for him. "I don't care that he's bigger, I don't care that he's stronger, because he's not better than me. You know what I'm going to say next. I'm the best wrestler on the planet. And you know it better than anyone and I'm going to say it straight to your face because Brock doesn't have the balls to be here today." Punk says there's no one more relentless or dangerous than he is, and he will do whatever it takes to take Heyman's beast incarnate down.
Punk asks Heyman if Lesnar attacked on his own or if Heyman put him up to it. Punk tells Heyman to tell the truth for the first time in his life. Punk says he wants the truth and tells Heyman to make him the exception to the rule by telling the truth. Punk gets worked u and tells Heyman to swear on his children and tell the truth for the first time in his life.
Heyman hangs his head first, then looks to the sky. "I never wanted it to be this way between us. And since you demand the truth and because you would be able to see through me and because as my best friend until something happens you are my best friend, you deserve the truth and I will tell you the truth to your face."
"On my children, I did not know that Brock Lesnar would be here last week." The fans boo that answer. "And that's the very same response that I used to get from Vince McMahon and Stephanie McMahon and John Lauranaitis>' He says that the moment Punk said Lesnar needs Heyman's help, he picked a fight with Brock. "You didn't pick a fight with me, you picked a fight with Brock Lesnar."
Heyman says the professional jealousy between Punk and Lesnar ran deep for a long time. Heyman says the reason he never pitched a Lesnar/Punk tag team or why they would not be seen in the ring at the same time. "I kept the two of them apart, and why, because of the professional jealousy between you."
Heyman says all the things Punk said are true and he's never denied that. Heyman says he's not stupid but he will walk down the aisle again with Punk one day when he challenges for the WWE Championship and main eventing Wrestlemania. Heyman calls that his dream. Heyman tells Punk he loves him and he won't kill his dream because Punk wants space.
Heyman tells Punk he won't represent anyone against Punk, even Lesnar. Heyman recalls not listening when people told him to get rid of Punk. Heyman says now the people are telling Punk to get rid of him. He tells Punk his fate is in his hands and now it's Punk's move.
Punk and Heyman eye each other. Heyman shakes his head and turns away. Lawler talks about Heyman lying and questioning his love for Punk. JBL poses that Heyman might go to sleep at the hands of Punk. Punk hugs Heyman and says "I'm sorry I doubted you." which is greeted with boos from the fans.
This was a strong segment. At least this time, they're holding off the payoff of Punk hitting the GTS on Heyman, unlike what they did with Triple H. The background stuff lays out a good story that isn't "open and shut."
Match #7 - CM Punk vs. Darren Young (w/Titus O'Neil)
Young and O'Neil make their entrance prior to the break. Punk stayed out there. They start off with some strikes. Punk hits a suplex and covers for one, then beats Young down in the corner.
Young fakes a knee injury to get control of Punk. He whips him to the corner, then follows with a clothesline off the whip. Punk comes back with a springboard clothesline for two. Punk limps a little after it and Cole recalls the knee injury at Wrestlemania.
Punk tries the GTS, but Young gets out and hits a gutbuster for a good near fall. Punk hits a kick and locks on the Anaconda Vice for the submission win.
Afterward, Titus charges the ring and the Players team up on Punk. Curtis Axel's music hits and he runs out for the save. Axel and Punk clear the Players out. Heyman gets in the ring and says they'll talk about it. He tells Axel he did the right thing and tells Punk there was no other way.
Neat twist. The live crowd didn't seem to react or get it right away. Let's hope creative doesn't thumb this down because of that fact. Surprised to see Young get so much offense in.
Vickie Guerrero leaves another message for Brad Maddox, demanding her coffee. Stephanie McMahon enters and asks Vickie about announcing the Money in the Bank participants. Vickie calls it a crazy night and says she's sorry. Stephanie says she'll take care of it.
Jerry Lawler gives us the voting options for the Bryan/Orton match coming up later. They're either a lumberjack match, street fight, or falls count anywhere.
The Bella Twins hand out copies of the WWE Magazine to fans.
Money in the Bank Participants:
Stephanie McMahon's music plays and she's introduced. She comes to the stage, and hypes up what the Money in the Bank ladder match is all about. She puts over what's at stake for the winner.
She says that since Vickie is too busy, she will introduce the ladder match participants. They are: CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Sheamus, Randy Orton, Christian, Kane, and Rob Van Dam.
That's a loaded lineup...
Ryback enters Vickie's office and complains about not being in the Money in the Bank title match and demands it be changed. Chris Jericho enters and complains about not being put in the Money in the Bank ladder match. The two go face to face, and Vickie eventually interrupts them. She books Ryback vs. Jericho for Money in the Bank. Ryback says "see you at Money in the Bank, junior."
We get a shot of Mark Henry in a suit and tie walking toward the ring.
CM Punk tells Heyman he doesn't need his help and asks how he could be any clearer. Heyman asks if two guys jumped him on the street, would it be business if Punk got involved. Punk tells him he doesn't need Axel to get involved. Heyman tells Punk he went to Vickie and got it cleared for next week to be the Prime Time Players vs. Punk and Axel. Punk isn't happy but he says he'll take the fight because it's his fight.
We get another plug for the Bryan/Orton match stipulation poll.
Mark Henry makes his way out to the ring for a promo. He smiles and says he fooled everyone. He says he saw fans cry. "And because of my specatular performance, I've been nominated for an Academy Award." He claims he's been contacted by famous directors like Tyler Perry, Steven Spielberg, and Quentin Tarrentino.
Henry says he has people upset because he used them. He won't apologize to any of them though. He says people told him he was a big kid and shouldn't hurt the little children. "Please." He talks about being told to work hard and win Olympic gold for the United States. "Please."
He calls the fans puppets who do what he asks them to. He talks about the line about "coming home" last week. "I'm coming home alright. I know I look good, this ain't no Men's Wearhouse. I'm coming home WWE Champion."
Not a white-hot follow up, but it was solid. Henry was rattled by the fans doing that "What!?" chant.
The announcers talk about Henry's promo, then feed it into another Wyatt vignette. "They say we're coming but no, we've been here all along. Follow the brothers."
Lawler hypes the voting one more time before the main event.
After commercial, Jerry Lawler gets a mic and gives us the vote results. 50 percent went street fight, 28 percent went falls count anywhere, and 22 percent went lumberjack match.
Match #8 - Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton; Street Fight Rules
The two start off as they did in the opening of the match. Bryan tries a suicide dive, but Orton holds up a chair. Bryan hits the chair head first as they go into commercial.
Out of the break, they show us that on the app Bryan took a suplex on the ramp. The brawl rolls on with a chair and a table in the ring. Bryan goes on an offensive run. Orton cuts it off again with a chair shot.
Cole resets the show as we head to the overrun. Bryan goes on offense again, with Orton on the apron. Bryan tries to knock him off, but Orton hangs on through a couple of attempts. Bryan slides outside and hits a powerbomb through the table on Orton. A bit later, Orton hits a big suplex on Bryan that crashes Bryan through a table set up in the corner. Orton holds his elbow, Bryan holds his shoulder. I could have sworn one or the other asked if the other was okay.
A bit later on, Orton sets Bryan up on the rope and tries a superplex. Bryan counters his way out of it with strikes to the side. Bryan follows up with an attempt at a huracanrana but Orton counters it into a powerbomb for two.
Bryan locks on the No! Lock. Orton stretches out to grab a kendo stick and beats his way out of it with the stick. Orton continues to work Bryan over with the stick until Bryan rolls under the ropes. Orton hits the elevated DDT, and JBL says it's the beginning of the end.
Orton hits his Viper's Pose and teases the RKO, but Bryan counters it into a backslide for two. Bryan grabs the kendo stick and hits Orton with it a few times, then goes back to the No! Lock. Orton grabs the stick again, but Bryan grabs it. This time, he uses the stick to enhance the hold. Orton taps out.
After the match, Bryan celebrates. Orton stands in the ring holding his arm and Bryan turns around. The two face each other, and eventually Orton offers a handshake that Bryan accepts. Orton leaves the ring without incident, but slowly. Bryan goes back to celebrating and kneels down mid ring as the show ends.
This was a very good brawl that gave us a definitive finish, and it was tied together well with the opening segment. The live fans enjoyed Bryan, but he wasn't as over with this bunch as he is in other places.
The win didn't feel like a huge moment though. Part of it goes to the set-up. They had a big angle early, but it got lost throughout the night aside from the announcers plugging it. I'd have liked to have seen some backstage segments and promos to help this along. In fact, WWE could use this for ALL of their main events.
Overall, this was a decent show but it wasn't the follow-up I'd have liked to see following last week's show. The fans felt a bit burned out with the number of lengthy talking segments. Generally, those work better for a TV viewer than a live crowd. We did get some news with the Money in the Bank ladder match participants being announced. I guess we'll find out if there's a Smackdown version of the ladder match on Friday.
I'll have more to say on this show tomorrow night on Raw Afterthoughts. Be sure to follow along on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RingRap for other news and commentary. Join us next Monday for more live Raw coverage. Thanks for watching along tonight.