We take one more step toward Money in the Bank tonight. We know who will be looking to climb the ladder to a WWE Championship opportunity now. Will one of those men try and get a leg up on their opponents tonight?
Daniel Bryan got a big submission win over Randy Orton last week. Will the Viper try and strike back, or was the show of respect at the end of the night the end of the road for this story? And what of CM Punk? We saw him sort of make amends with Paul Heyman, but there's still some uneasiness between the two. Punk teams with Curtis Axel tonight to take on the Prime Time Players. How will that work out?
And in the main event picture, the story builds between John Cena and Mark Henry. How will they continue their story as they set up to fight for the WWE Championship in two weeks?
Show Open, Live from the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, IA
The show opens cold with Vickie Guerrero. She welcomes us to the show and talks about the prestige of the World Heavyweight Championship and the WWE Championship. She lets us know there's a match booked between John Cena and Alberto Del Rio in a Champion vs. Champion match.
They feed it to the Raw intro, then Cole welcomes us to the show. Daniel Bryan's music plays and he comes out. There's a ladder and the briefcase hanging above the ring. Cole gives us some hype for the Money in the Bank match before announcing the rest of the announce team. JBL says Bryan looks hairy while the fans chant "Yes!"
Bryan says the burning question of whether he is the weak link was finally answered. He says it was answered when he made Randy Orton tap out last week. He says the new question is whether he can carry the momentum into Money in the Bank All-Stars and win the WWE Championship Contract. He sets up the crowd into a "Yes!" chant.
Bryan says he wants to be WWE Champion and follow in the footsteps of the greats - "Bruno, Hulk, Steve Austin, The Rock, Daniel Bryan.:" Bryan recalls the history of winning a MITB match and cashing in to become the World Heavyweight Champion. He says it's been far too long. Bryan says that just because this match is filled with all-stars, doesn't mean that history can't repeat itself. "I will be WWE Champion!" Bryan leads a "Yes!" chant.
Sheamus comes out and recalls history of ending Bryan's title reign by beating him in 18 seconds at Wrestlemania. He got booed a bit for that. Sheamus says it's been too long since he has held a championship, and he won't let Bryan or anyone else stand in his way. Bryan poses the question if he calls 1-800-Fella if Sheamus can Brogue Kick himself.
Randy Orton interrupts and says it's been two years since he has held a title. "I'm not hunrgry, I'm starving. And a starving man takes what he needs and I need the WWE Championship." Orton says he won't hesitate to cash in the MITB unlike what Cena did, by cashing in on the first unsuspecting champion he sees.
Bryan points out that he made Orton tap, and Orton retorts by telling "Dan" he will let it slide once but drop Bryan if he disrespects him again. Kane comes out with a pyro pop but no music. Kane says no one is safe, especially Bryan. Kane says no one has been more ruthless than he has, especially when the WWE Championship is involved. Kane says he has no problem committing unspeakable acts against opponents, even friends.
Bryan puts Kane over as being upset about what happened on Smackdown. He says it's not his fault that he couldn't beat Orton like Bryan did. Kane says that's why he can't wait for the ladder match. He says it will be every man for himself, with no partners or friends; only victims. Bryan and Kane bicker over who will win the WWE Championship.
Christian comes out and says he has more experience and success in ladder matches than anyone in WWE. He says he's looking for one more match for the title. Christian says he might not be the biggest, strongest, scariest, or hairiest in the match, but he's the best.
CM Punk comes out without music. He promised himself that he wasn't going to do the predictable thing, but he heard the magic word - best. He says he respects the hell out of Christian and everything he's done, but not only is he the best in the world but he's the best in the MITB match. Punk puts himself over at the only man who won the match twice and soon will be the only three time winner.
Punk says no one can touch him in the ring even though he knows how formidable the competition is. He address Rob Van Dam, looking into the camera and saying he knows RVD is fearless. He calls Sheamus one of the toughest SOB's he's ever been in the ring with. Punk is just about to address Orton when Bryan interrupts and says "enough!" He says if Punk says one more word, he will make Punk tap just like Orton did last week. Punk mocks the idea.
Orton gets upset and confronts Bryan. Kane steps in front and gets lectured for fighting Bryan's battles. They bicker, and Kane takes the RKO from Orton. The others stare at each other, but leave without further incident.
The live crowd got hot for this early but it fell off by the end. I'm good with the build the match is getting, but the whole "it's been (x) long since I had a title." isn't all that appealing to me .
The announcers talk about what RVD might be thinking about what he's seeing tonight. Cole transitions into looking back at the great champions of history as part of the hype for the champion vs. champion match tonight. They give us video of Lou Thesz and Buddy Rogers.
This may be a nice touch to give better hype to the match. WWE gets too flip about these at times - the history gives some shine to both titles.
Match #1 - Christian and The Uso Brothers vs. The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns)
The Shield makes their entrance through the crowd. Before the match, they show a replay of the Shield being defeated on Smackdown, with Christian hitting a spear. Christian comes out, then the Usos do their full entrance. As the show goes to commercial, the Usos hit dives on The Shield at ringside. Cole asks if the faces have the Shield's number.
The Shield is in control out of commercial. Ambrose mocks the fan clap, which brings on clapping. Christian gets a tag and goes on a flurry with the Usos. It comes down to Ambrose and Christian. Christian teases the Killswitch late, but Ambrose pushes him off. Seth Rollins is at the ropes to slingshot Christian over the ropes. Ambrose hits his finisher to get the win.
Not sure why they're booking the Shield to lose other than to build stock in the Usos and Christian. This didn't hurt or help Christian and the Usos. They need to have one of the Usos involved in the pin though for their sake.
Daniel Bryan meets up with Kane. He tells Kane he got him a rematch with Randy Orton. Kane is pleased by this news. Bryan then tells Kane Bryan will be the special referee, and Kane isn't so pleased.
Match #2 - Dolph Ziggler vs. Jinder Mahal (w/Heath Slater and Drew McIntyre)
Dolph comes to the ring before break. 3MB does not get a televised entrance. We get a recap from Smackdown of Dolph Ziggler interrupting the Del Rio fiesta. Cole says that Ricardo got hurt in that fray and he will elaborate later.
Basic match work here. In the end, Dolph hits the Zig Zag to get the win. Afterward, McIntryre and Slater try to gang up on Dolph. He escapes but they give chase. Ziggler dodges McIntyre, but Slater tries to run at him. Dolph jumps him and Slater eats the steps. Mahal grabs him, but Drew crashes into Mahal on the charge. Ziggler hits the ZigZag on Drew to leave them laying.
A quick, effective match that was never in question.
The next champion flashback focused on Harley Race and Bruno Sammartino.
Cole hypes up a Mark Henry retrospective for after the break.
Vickie is talking to Brad Maddox and she says she's stressed out by all the McMahon family input on her decisions. She makes a mocking voice and Triple H interrupts. He tells her to continue because he thought she was going to make disparaging comments about his family. She declines. H gives her credit for doing a good job with the show and giving fans what they want.
Vickie says she's stressed about the other McMahons telling her what to do. Trips says he has learned through the years to let them vent and get it out, then don't do what they say. He tells her to do what he says.
Cole feeds it to the Mark Henry retrospective package. Lawler talks about having chills watching it, and wonders what Cena's reaction is.
Match #3 - Randy Orton vs Kane; Daniel Bryan as special referee
Orton makes his entrance before commercial. Bryan comes out during the break, and he's already admonishing Orton as we come back. Kane makes his entrance and the match gets started. Kane and Orton exchange strikes to start.
The action is pretty forgettable here. About five minutes in or so, Orton shoves Bryan. Bryan calls for the bell and throws it out. Kane protests, and demands the match be restarted. So, Bryan restarts it. Orton hits a drop kick as the show goes to commercial.
Kane controls things out of the break but eats a drop kick from Orton as he jumps from the ropes. Orton follows with an attempt at an elevated DDT that Kane counters, but Orton gets it on the second attempt. Orton plays to the crowd and hits the Viper pose. Bryan bickers with Orton. Orton gets around Bryan but takes a big boot from Kane. Bryan quick-counts and gives Kane the win.
Afterward, Kane complains about the fast count. Bryan tells him he wouldn't have won without his help. Kane doesn't like this and grabs Bryan for a chokeslam. Kane lets it go though. Bryan jaws at Kane and Kane leaves the ring. Bryan turns around into an RKO from Orton and Orton poses on the ropes.
The match was forgettable, but they told a story so I'm not totally down on the whole situation. I would like to see Bryan shift from comedy to the great wrestler he is though - there's more money in him there.
Punk tells Paul Heyman that he will beat up both Players himself and Axel can stand there and watch. Heyman says he understands why Punk is upset at the Players but not the hostility with them. Punk says he trusts Heyman but not Axel. Heyman asks why it was good enough in 2005 but why that isn't good now. He says 'trust me, trust Curtis Axel." Punk seems reluctant but plays along.
Cole hypes the Champion vs. Champion match again. The next video package covers Bob Backlund and Dusty Rhodes as the WWE and World Heavyweight Champions.
Match #4 - Fandango (w/Summer Rae) vs. Sheamus
The announcers talk about the Dublin Street Fight and the potatoes that were thrown, both literally and figuratively. They goofed off as the match got underway. Sheamus mocks Fandango's dance steps early on.
Fandango hits a kick, then Sheamus gets a shot in. Fandango hits another kick. The announcers are still goofing around, and JBL reminds us that Fandango debuted at Wrestlemania and beat Chris Jericho.
Fandango gets caught on the apron. Sheamus delivers the series of clubbing blows to Fandango's chest, and he's decided he's had enough. He collects Summer and backs up the ramp. Sheamus gets the win by count-out.
When the announcers play it right, Fandango walking away puts heat on him. I really didn't need the announcers goofing off like they did.
Lawler gives us some more hype to the Champion vs. Champion match. We also get an ad for the WCW War Games DVD.
Match #5 - Ryback vs. The Miz
Chris Jericho joins the announce position. He makes fun of Ryback and calls him "Cryback" as well. Miz makes his entrance while Jericho says Ryback is showing a cowardly streak.
Ryback controls the early going of this one and dominates Miz. Miz turns it around and works the leg. He hits a running drop kick as it was draped over the ropes. Ryback screams at the official to stop the match, so Miz wins by forfeit.
I would have expected Ryback to come out and destroy opponents. They're just making him look weak though. The "cryback" thing isn't going to be main event in any way or form...heck anything would be hard to get him on track after Cena. It is a new wrinkle though.
After the match, Jericho gets in the ring. He turns Ryback around and hits him with the Codebreaker, then celebrates over him.
We get another Champion vs. Champion hype video. This time it features Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair. Lawler hypes up Cena vs. Del Rio for later on.
Mark Henry Promo:
Henry cuts a promo from the stage. He introduces himself and says he didn't get the name of the World's Strongest Man from a cracker jack box. He talks about representing the US in the Olympics. He says he's earned the respect of every superstar that he's worked with, but admits there's jealousy, politics, backstabbing. He says there are a lot of "accidental injuries."
Henry says he's earned it. "They never gave me a legitimate opportunity to be the WWE Champion." He talks about the miles he's traveled and nights he spent away from home and all the years he "pretended that I liked the boys." He says all the years of doign the right thing for business have gotten him nowhere. "Dammit, I deserve to be WWE Champion."
He says that after all of it, he has earned the right to be WWE Champion. He says the fans hang on his every word and he calls them puppets. He says now that he has his chance, no one will keep him down. "I'm going to do the right thing alright, I'm going to do the right thing for me." Henry says that after he beats John Cena, no one will be able to deny him.
Henry says the fans will be talking about how he earned the WWE Championship. "Yeah, you're gonna say it." Henry demands the camera zoom up close. "John Cena, at Money in the Bank, I'm going to beat your ass."
Solid promo, littered with the garbage that is that "what" chant.
Vince McMahon confronts Vickie and Brad Maddox. Vince asks about Daniel Bryan, and recalling telling Vickie that he is small and has issues. He accuses the pair of not listening to him, but then credits them for the awesome main event tonight. Vickie takes credit and says the other family members like it too.
Vince gets mad and complains about them throwing money away because the match should be on pay per view. He complains that they're throwing it away for free. He says that Vickie, and the other family members, don't understand good business. Vince says there's a long list of those who were excommunicated, fired, or thrown out of buildings for not listening to him. He tells them to have a good night and leaves.
I wish I could figure out where these segments are going. The McMahons showing up like this just continue to take impact off their appearances. Maybe this is making USA happy.
Match #6 - CM Punk and Curtis Axel (w/Paul Heyman) vs. The Prime Time Players
CM Punk comes out first. As he makes his entrance, they recap the angle with the Players that set this match up last week. Heyman and Axel come out second, and Lawler says that any time Heyman's lips are moving he's lying.
Punk tells Axel to take the corner and he does eventually. He tags himself in though. Punk isn't happy but lets him go at it. Axel and Young start, and Punk wants a tag but Axel ignores it.
Titus tags in and Axel continues to work, denying the Punk tag. The fans chant for PUnk though. Axel hits a drop kick then bickers with Punk. Axel walks into a clothesline out of that discussion. Titus mocks a CM Punk chant then tags Young back in.
Axel tags in Punk. Punk hits a springboard clothesline and follows with a running knee to Young in the corner. Punk hits a short arm clothesline then goes up top for the elbow drop after yelling "Best in the Word!"
Punk hits the GTS, then throws out O'Neil as he charges. Axel gets a quick tag and steals the cover to get the win. Punk watches and just walks off. Heyman tries to get Punk to celebrate with them but he refuses.
That keeps things interesting. Nice tension play between Punk and Axel. Heyman played his part very well too, especially with the whole "playing in to the celebration" thing.
The final Champion vs. Champion video focused on Sting and Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Match #7 - Kaitlyn (w/Layla) vs. Alicia Fox
Not much here. Kaitlyn takes a drop kick in the early going, but comes back with a spear to get the win.
AJ comes out afterward, with Big E Langston. AJ mocks Kaitlyn and calls her trash. She asks if Kaitlyn remembers her modeling pictures before WWE. They show a photoshopped image of Kaitlyn that is extremely obese. Kaitlyn asks if she's serious. Layla tries to calm Kaitlyn down.
AJ tells Kaitlyn that she wanted to remind her where she came from, and where she will end up after she loses at Money in the Bank.
This feud is getting well off the tracks now.
Vickie is giving Brad instructions when Stephanie walks in to interrupt. Stephanie admonishes Vickie for not watching her own show and didn't manage the situation between AJ and Kaitlyn like she wanted. Stephanie also recounts telling her about announcing the MITB participants.
Vickie tells Stephanie she's going nuts with Hunter and Vince pulling her in different directions. Steph puts over the unpredictability of Raw as a fantastic thing. She tells Vickie she can relate because it's hard when you get conflicting direction from the top. Vickie tries to play being fellow businesswomen and talks about Vince and Trips being crazy.
Stephanie takes offense and tells Vickie that she deserves clear direction from the top. She tells Vickie she will get a formal evaluation next week in the ring. Stephanie says Vickie could be promoted, or she could lose her job. "It's one of the beautiful things about Raw, you just never know what is going to happen next."
How do you feel about this, fans? Vickie is a heel figure, but the McMahons are making her sympathetic. It's time for this to pay off one way or another. This isn't well written at all.
They show us a hype video for the return of RVD in two weeks. The in-arena reaction is pretty good to it.
Match #8 - Cody Rhodes (w/Damien Sandow) vs. Antonio Cesaro (w/Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger)
Rhodes comes out with Sandow, and he cuts a promo. He puts over the two of them being in the MITB match and how they will continue to be friends no matter what is at stake. Colter cuts a promo as he comes out with Cesaro. Colter vents about losing freedoms in America, and re-introduces Jack Swagger to the program.
Cody tries a backslide late in this one, but Cesaro hits the Neutralizer to get the win.
Odd pairing, but all four wrestlers are involved in Money in the Bank.
The most recent title videos focus around Triple H and Booker T.
Could have used some promo work from Cena and Del Rio to go along with these packages. They're good, but just need a little more here.
The Bellas meet two rookie divas who will be on the Total Divas show. The Bellas put themselves over as the stars of the show. One of the newcomers speaks up and says it's an ensemble cast, but the Bellas say "some stars shine brighter than others, sweetie." They say how they're walking red carpets.
The Bellas jab at some other divas standing nearby, like Natalya, Cameron and Naomi. They all end up bickering and the Bellas get even more catty.
All the cleavage and tight dresses in the world can't convince me to watch Total Divas now.
The announcers talk about a cryptic tweet from Bray Wyatt and say that the Family will be on Raw next week. We get another video package for the Wyatts.
Match #8 - John Cena (WWE Champion) vs. Alberto Del Rio (World Heavyweight Champion)
Before commercial, Del Rio makes his entrance. The announcers recap Ziggler crashing the Fiesta on Smackdown, and mention that Ricardo got hurt when Ziggler put him through the table. Cena makes his entrance to a mixed reaction, saying into the camera "The champ is here!" Justin Roberts handles the in-ring introductions.
A lot of early on back and forth work between the two. The first really notable moment is when Del Rio is in the corner. Cena charges, but Del Rio moves and Cena eats the ring post with his shoulder. Cena rolls outside and Del Rio works the arm. JBL says the arm has a bulls-eye on it now.
Del Rio throws Cena into the barricade then throws him back in the ring. A bit later, Cena rolls away from the second rope, which ends up sending Del Rio to the floor feet first when he charges.
Cole resets the show as we head to the overrun. Cena hits his trademark offense on Del Rio, with the shoulder blocks, the side slam and Five Knuckle Shuffle. He tries to load the AA, but Del Rio counters to a bridging German suplex for two. A bit later, Cena tries to pull off a move from the top, but Del Rio hits the step-up enzugiri for two.
Del Rio hits a tilt a whirl backbreaker a bit later for two. He ties Cena up in the Tree of Woe and charges, but Cena sits up. Del Rio goes through the ropes and connects with the ring post. Cena hits a cross body block out of that for a near fall. Cena tries the AA, but Del Rio slips out and tries to get the Cross Arm Breaker. Cena counters back and locks him in the STF.
Mark Henry makes his way to ringside, sans music. The announcers sell it and Cena is distracted. He ends up breaking the STF and watching Henry. Del Rio gets a roll-up that Cena kicks out of. Del Rio takes advantage and hits a superkick on the kneeling Cena.
Dolph Ziggler runs out and jumps on the top turnbuckle. Del Rio is setting up the Cross Arm Breaker, but Ziggler yells "Hey Del Rio!" and that draws his attention. That gives Cena an opening to hit the AA to get the win.
Afterward, Henry retrieves the WWE Championship and gets in the ring. He and Cena stare at each other, and Henry teases hitting Cena with the belt. Henry smiles and tosses the belt down at Cena's feet. Cena goes to pick it up, and Henry flinches again like he's going to attack. He backs off though. Cena gets the belt, and Henry leaves the ring with a smile on his face. He points to his wrist as the announcers sell it as Cena's time winding down.
They show a shot of the announcers, and they talk about what just happened. JBL poses we saw fear from Cena while Cole sells it as respect. They give us a final sell for Vickie's job evaluation next week, and the arrival of the Wyatts. The show ends with another Wyatt Family vignette.
I enjoyed seeing the video hype throughout the night for this match. As mentioned, some promo work could have helped but that's being nit-picky. That said, once the bell rang it just didn't feel all that special to me.
I will give Cena and Del Rio credit that they worked hard and put on a good match. The "cheap finish" made sense because there really isn't a reason to put one guy over another here, so I'm fine with what they did.
I liked what Mark Henry did too. Cena showed some fear of what Henry can do to him, and yet they didn't go at each other physically. It seems to work for me as far as the MITB match goes.
With all the hype behind the Wyatt Family, it must be some huge debut. Hopefully, WWE won't let us down next week, and I'll consider it a victory if they live up to HALF the hype they've been getting.
Overall, a solid but not white hot show again tonight. I'll have more to say in Raw Afterthoughts sometime tomorrow. Thanks for watching along tonight.