They're here. Follow the Buzzards.
The Wyatt Family makes their long-awaited debut. WWE has fed us a lot of video packages hyping up this night and this debut. What will they do, and will they make an immediate impact?
We're six nights removed from Money in the Bank. The competitors of each ladder match are known now. Will these men battle for an advantage? And the major title feuds are heating up. John Cena got the better of Alberto Del Rio last week due to Dolph Ziggler distracting Del Rio. And afterward, Mark Henry played some more mind games with John Cena. Who gets a leg up going into these title defenses?
Show Open, Live from the 1st Mariner Arena in Baltimore, MD.
The show opens with a video package for the Wyatt Family. They then cut to the Raw intro video.
Brad Maddox and Vickie Guerrero are in the ring and Justin Roberts introduces them. The Baltimore faithful boo her fairly hard. There's a ladder in the ring and she says that great things have been associated with the ladder. She talks about Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon and Triple H.
This ladder represents to her how she has climbed year after year with her career. If she falls, she holds everyone responsible. JBL encourages her to be careful as the fans chant for her to fall. She perches herself on top of the ladder and asks for the mic again.
She says there is no book that teaches a woman to be successful in a male-dominated environment. No one ever held her hand and showed her how to run a show or manage a roster. She says she's done it on her own and brought great programming to the fans. She says that from the top of the ladder to the bottom of her heart all that she has done is for them.
Jerry Lawler interrupts, saying that he has always wanted to say this to her. "EXCUSE ME!" He tells her that the McMahon's are going to consider any and all factors in her job evaluation. This includes the fans. He shills a poll on the app for the fans to vote either pass or fail on Vickie's evaluation.
Vickie plays up to the fans, talking about how WWE is like family and everyone has good days and bad days. She insinuates she wants support. Vickie then runs through the card. Cena will go face to face with Mark Henry, Kane will face Christian, Randy Orton will go one on one with CM Punk, and Sheamus will face Daniel Bryan.
A good hook to start the night. No matter fans' feelings, they will want to see what happens to Vickie. Plus we got the Wyatt Family video to open. Loads of incentive to watch.
The announcers formally check in right before we go to break. At commercial, they show a recap of Rob Van Dam winning the MITB match at Wrestlemania 22 in 2006.
Match #1 - Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus
Bryan makes his entrance before the break. Daniel Bryan is leading "Yes" chants. Sheamus comes out right out of commercial.
Sheamus goes on the first offensive run after some kicks and strikes between the two men. He hits the Irish Curse for two. Sheamus takes a move and rolls to the floor. Bryan hits a suicide dive, but Sheamus twists him and slams Bryan to the barrier as they go to break.
They replay the spot out of commercial. Bryan floats over Sheamus in the corner then tries something off the ropes, but Sheamus catches him and hits the Irish Curse again.
A bit later, Sheamus hits a rolling senton, and cues the Brogue Kick. He misses though and tumbles outside. Bryan follows with a suicide dive and goes up top. He hits a missile drop kick for two. Bryan hits a series of kicks on a kneeling Sheamus, but misses the last one.
Sheamus rolls to the apron, hits Bryan in the midsection then hits his clobbering forearms across the chest. Sheamus goes up top but gets crotched. Bryan goes up with him and tries a Frankensteiner but Sheamus holds on. Sheamus hits the Battering Ram for two. After some selling, Sheamus tries to get White Noise but instead backs to the corner.
Sheamus bounces him off the turnbuckle. Bryan counters a charge with a drop toe hold then hits some kicks for two. Bryan goes up, points to the briefcase, then tries the flying headbutt but Sheamus moves.
The two exchange strikes mid-ring. Sheamus catches Bryan in a move off the ropes but Bryan counters to a crucifix pin attempt. Bryan tries to go for the NO! Lock but Sheamus counters to a Cloverleaf. Bryan counters back into a small package roll-up to get the win.
Bryan celebrates as JBL ponders if Bryan can win it all at MITB on Sunday. Sheamus and Bryan stare at each other, then up at the briefcase, then shake hands. Bryan goes back to celebrating.
I enjoyed this opening match. Thought it was well worked between the two. It gave some good momentum to Bryan too for the MITB event on Sunday.
Cole puts over that it's a raucous night in Baltimore, then switches to talk about the Wyatt Family. Cole says WWE.com tried to find the Wyatt Compound, and the reporter needed to ask directions. They feed it to a video package.
They show the cameraman talking to two men who say it's "a couple miles that way" and "Buzzards...you'll know."
Well done, but I hope we see the Wyatts in person, not on video.
We get a recap of AJ costing Kaitlyn a match on Smackdown when she interjected herself into the matter.
AJ pleads with Big E to watch out for Kaitlyn. She says she can't afford to get into a backstage brawl. Dolph shows up and asks for a moment and Big E excuses himself. Dolph talks about being a power couple and running the place. AJ says her only priority was for Dolph to become World Heavyweight Champion again. She hugs him and asks if he wants to go all the way. He says he wants to go all the way to his third World Heavyweight Championship. They kiss.
They tried to sell that Dolph didn't like AJ's obsession with Kaitlyn, but her flirting got him back. If they're trying to sell Dolph as a face, it's odd. I'm betting she costs him the belt, leading to their split.
We get a Mark Henry video package, and Cole hypes up the Twitter postings between Cena and Henry earlier. They'll face off later.
We get highlights of RVD beating Eddie Guerrero for the Intercontinental Championship in a ladder match on Raw in 2002.
I like what they're doing to hype up RVD. They're establishing that he's been successful in ladder matches with good highlights. Even younger fans will think he's a big deal with these packages.
Match #2 - Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns (The Shield) vs. Tons of Funk (Brodus Clay and Tensai, w/Cameron and Naomi)
The Shield comes out before the commerical. Tons of Funk didn't get their full entrance televised.
Rollins does a lot of selling in this one. Late, Reigns makes a blind tag on Rollins that Tensai doesn't pick up on.
In the end, Reigns hits a big spear to get the win. The announcers hype up the tag match at the pay per view on Sunday. JBL poses if it will be the Usos' time to win the title on Sunday.
The Shield won decisively and that's all that people will remember. They did sell a lot of offense in this one.
Cole hypes up the face-to-face segment between Mark Henry and John Cena still to come.
Out of commercial, we get some shots of Inner Harbor. Cole feeds it to the reporter looking for the Wyatt Compound. They go to a video where the reporter finds the place. He finds the man in the sheep mask, but the other tag partner tells the reporter to follow him.
John Cena's music hits and he gets his standard mixed reaction. He talks about the hyped up crowd and says if he didn't know better he'd think the pay per view was tonight. He talks about Henry's tweet earlier about having something to say. Cena says all that's missing is the World's Strongest Man.
Mark Henry's music hits and he heads to the ring. Cole reminds us of the retirement ruse and how the WWE Championship is the only title Henry hasn't won.
Henry tells Cena has the look of fear on his face. Cena says he's not afraid but Henry tells him he should be. For 17 years, he's starved and there's one thing that will solve that hunger. Cena mocks that statement and says "grab a Snickers and shut up!"
Henry shakes his head and says there's a time in his career that he would have caused bodily harm, but he's just going to chill. He calls himself a new man. He says Cena thinks he knows who he is, but he doesn't. He says he knew Cena before Cena knew himself.
He says Cena is just like the fans and calls him a puppet. "That title will validate my career." and Henry says it will make him a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He would sell out his mother and family to have the WWE Championship.
Cena tells Henry he better win, and says he's won and lost the title with respect. He accuses Henry for selling out his family and lying to the fans for leather and gold. He tells Henry that if he wins he deserves it but if he loses it, he loses everything. "17 years, gone!"
"You think I care what you think? You think I care what these people think? Some of these people love you, and some hate you." Cena says "Welcome to Raw." Either way, Henry says Cena cares but Henry doesn't. There are lines Cena won't cross because of his goodness. Cena asks how Henry can't care about the crowd.
Henry tells him if he interrupts one more time, Money in the Bank will start tonight. Cena pulls his shirt off and tells Henry there's a line. If Henry crosses it, Cena will whip his ass right now. "You want me to cross the line for free?" Henry says he took a 50 percent pay cut before and won't lose money. Cena gets him on Sunday.
Henry says he'll give Cena a sample, and takes his shirt off. He gives a headfake and smiles, then goes to leave. Cena stoops to get the title and Henry hits a cheap shot. Cena tries to hoist Henry for the AA, but Henry's weight is too much and Cena falls forward. "You think I'm an easy win!?" Henry hits Cena with the World's Strongest Slam for good measure.
I found myself yelling at the TV for Mark Henry to end John Cena tonight. Cena did exactly what he always does - crapping all over his opponent when it's supposed to be a monster heel of some sort. He did ZERO to take Henry seriously. Cole's speculation of Cena being able to hit the AA was way off base, as Henry has been hit with that move before. Sadly, Cena will more than likely retain the title on Sunday.
Orton's watching the monitor and smiles. Josh Matthews walks in and asks his thoughts on his match tonight with CM Punk. Orton says he has always disputed Punk's claims to be the best in the world. Orton puts himself over as the man who will win Money in the Bank on Sunday. He says that if Cena retains, and finds himself in a vulnerable state, he might just cash in on him that night.
Whether or not he wins, Orton sold some PPV's with the possibility that the winner might cash in on Cena. Especially on the heels of Henry leaving Cena laying.
Out of commercial, they highlight a Tweet from Stephanie McMahon about Vickie Guerrero's performance evaluation. Cole hypes the point that "anything can happen" and that Vince will also be present for the evaluation.
Match #3 - Chris Jericho vs. Curtis Axel (w/Paul Heyman)
The Miz joins commentary and says he doesn't want Vickie's job. They recap Miz facing Ryback last Monday on Raw where Ryback quit because of his injured leg. Jericho comes out first, then Axel with Heyman in tow.
Heyman cuts a promo, and he has sunglasses on because he got a black eye from Del Rio. He says he's not there to market himself as a martyr for CM Punk, but instead to bask in the glory of perfection in Curtis Axel.
He hands the mic to Axel, who addresses Jericho. He insults Jericho's light-up jacket and says that the shine of the Intercontinental Championship will let the WWE Universe know he's arrived. He says he won't let the Miz or Jericho stand in the way of perfection.
Jericho hits some chops to start things off. Axel is able to fight back and take control of the match heading into commercial.
After commercial, Axel tries to grind Jericho's face, then tries a fist drop. Jericho starts to get a run of offense in, trying the Walls. Axel shoves him off. Jericho hits a Northern Lights suplex with the bridge for two. Miz puts over all the men who have held the IC title, including Axel's dad, Curt Hennig.
Axel hits a swinging neckbreaker but Jericho kicks out. Axel tries a drop kick but air mails it. Jericho goes back with the Lionsault. Jericho tries the Codebreaker but can't get it, and Axel hits the PerfectPlex for a near fall. Heyman flakes out over that one.
Axel tries a neckbreaker but Jericho counters and locks on the Walls. The crowd pops. Axel breaks at the ropes though. Jericho shoves Axel off the apron and he hits the announce position. Miz smiles.
Miz and Axel stare at each other. Miz stands up and takes his jacket off. The official counts on. Heyman yells at Axel to get in the ring and he does. Jericho hits the Codebreaker to get the win.
Heyman rips off his sunglasses and sells disbelief. Miz smiles about his handiwork of distracting Axel and his chances of winning Sunday.
I'm not sure how I liked this. Made little sense to have Axel lose other than to have him look vulnerable for Sunday.
We get another video package of Rob Van Dam in action in a ladder match. This time it's his Intercontinental Championship victory in 2003 over Christian.
The announcers give some hype to the World Heavyweight Championship match and the Money in the Bank Ladder match for it as well.
Josh Matthews interviews Team Rhodes Scholars. Sandow says that there are no issues between him and Rhodes, and if he can't win Money in the Bank, then he wants Rhodes to. Swagger and Cesaro show up with Zeb Colter. He chides Rhodes for being the son of an American Dream and should know what the nightmare this country goes through every day. Wade Barrett walks in and says that he will win. The men start to bicker among themselves when Fandango walks in and tries to say his name. Barrett knocks him out.
We get another video package with the reporter at the Wyatt compound. The bearded man tells him to not stray but he does spy a guy chanting "obey" over and over. Eventually he finds Wyatt, and he says he's been waiting for the reporter.
Match #4 - Sin Cara vs. Alberto Del Rio
Mood lighting for this one. Sin Cara hits a little bit of offense, but Del Rio pretty much dominates all of this match. Dolph Ziggler's music hits. Sin Cara tried to roll Del Rio up but he kicked out.
Dolph makes his way down the ramp and apologizes for hurting Ricardo. He offers his own style of introduction for Del Rio, introducing him as the loser of the match on Sunday. Del Rio has had enough, and he heads out to ringside to brawl with Ziggler. Sin Cara hits a dive over the ropes on Del Rio as Dolph makes his way back up to the stage. The match ends in a no-contest.
What happened here? It wasn't good. And it's confusing with Dolph's interactions with AJ but now he's to be the babyface? It didn't come off well at all.
They show a shot of Vickie and Brad heading to the ring. The evaluation is next.
Cole gives us a recap of the Henry/Cena angle, and show us a shot of Ray Rice from the Baltimore Ravens in the crowd.
Vickie's Job Evaluation
Vickie and Brad are in the ring as the McMahons make their entrance to a rousing ovation. Stephanie hypes the voting one last time and says the fans' vote will be taken into consideration. She turns the floor over to Vickie as the three take seats behind a table. Vickie stood up and started to talk, but Stephanie tells her to sit down.
Vickie puts over the stars that have returned with her administration. She says that Rob Van Dam and The Rock were a part of that, and some say that Undertaker was inspired by her to return for Mania. Stephanie stops her and says that Vickie is taking credit for things she has nothing to do with, yet neglected to mention signing Brock Lesnar who attacked Vince and Triple H.
Vickie apologizes and Vince says it's not necessary. He calls the Lesnar signing a stroke of genius. Triple H speaks up and says she screwed up the announcement of the video game. Fans booed her out of the building and she couldn't be heard. Trips says he knows Vince thinks Vickie is entertaining but he says there's also a reason the Golden Girls aren't on television any longer.
Hunter says the fans deserve better than Vickie and she possesses the most annoying voice in the history of broadcast television. Vince stands up and says she does possess a unique voice but believes she has other qualifications that no one else does. He congratulates her for her hard work, dedication, and passion. She broke through the glass ceiling of a male dominated corporation.
Vince say Vickie should be made the permanent general manager. Trips objects, saying he doesn't want to argue because he's the COO, but Vince is the chairman. He says at the end of the day, Vince will do what he wants to anyhow. He says that's pretty much the point. Vince puts in a spineless puppet who does whatever he says and strokes his ego.
Hunter says he doesn't want to believe that. He defers to Stephanie since she's the one who called the meeting to decide Vickie's fate. Vince says he has no issue with "daddy's little girl" making the right decision. Hunter says he has no problem with his wife, the mother of his children and the woman who has to put up with him at home making the choice that is right for business.
Vince calls it the business of entertainment. "But mostly business" Triple H says. Stephanie speaks up, saying this has escalated beyond imagination. She says nothing will drive a wedge between her and her family and says the fan vote will decide Vickie's fate.
75 percent of the vote says Vickie failed. Trips hides a laugh while Steph says "the Universe has spoken, you failed." Vickie flakes out and says she's not a spineless puppet and it's not a popularity contest. "Vickie, I have two words for you. In the immortal words of my father - You're fired." Vickie falls to her knees and the fans sing the goodbye song.
Vickie throws a fit. She screams and crawls up on the table to scream at the three. Stephanie and Triple H back away slowly and leave. Vince has a mic and moves chairs around as Vickie screams on. He asks the fans if they're happy about what just happened. He tells the fans that they failed, not Vickie.
He tells them they threw away the most entertaining general manager of all time. He says that the fans deserve another general manager and names Brad Maddox the new GM. Maddox looks shocked by the decision. Vince escorts Vickie from the ring and Maddox follows, still shocked by the news. The announcers question Brad Maddox's qualifications as they exit.
So we went all that way to get to this point? That was a lot of work to make that happen. I'm not sure how the Maddox thing will go over. Must be a storyline reason to do this right before a pay per view.
We get highlights of Rob Van Dam hitting Kane with the Van Terminator on Raw in 2002.
Vince consoles Vickie and tells her that somehow he will make things right. Brad shows up and apologizes for what happened. He offers his hand to Vince and thanks him for the opportunity. Vince doesn't accept though and asks how long he will wait. Vince says he gave the fans what they deserved.
Maddox says whatever Mr. McMahon wants, he gets. Vickie snaps and attacks Maddox, screaming "Get out" at him numerous times. Vince complains about his jacket getting ruined and storms off.
Match #5 - Kane vs. Christian
As things get started, the announcers point out that Kane actually won a MITB match, while Christian has not. Right before commercial, Christian dives out of the ring onto Kane.
After commercial, Christian hits a tornado DDT for two. He tries to pump up the crowd but that doesn't work. Christian charges toward Kane but takes a chokeslam. Kane gets the win.
The fans didn't care much. No incentive to cheer for either guy in this one. Plus that horrible McMahon segment....
Afterward - we get a cut in on the Tron. It's Bray Wyatt sitting in a rocking chair. He says he doesn't have followers, only brothers and sisters in the name of cause. He says People are sheep that need to be led. He says people buy and sell fear and worship war. "I created wars..."
Wyatt says it's time for the masses to wake up. He says the world is deteriorating, and people whisper and wonder but do nothing. He says he has seen it all in his dreams and thoughts. He says it's not the beginning, but the end. He lights a lantern and Rowan and Harper join him. He says "We're here."
Lights out in the arena. Wyatt walks out with a lantern, with Rowan and Harper in tow. Wyatt sits down in a rocking chair and blows out the lantern. The lights come up and Rowan and Harper go after Kane.
They get Kane to ringside and toss him into the steps then keep working him over. Rowan grabs a part of the steps and they position Kane on the base. They slam the steps down on Kane's head. Wyatt gets out of the chair and comes over to where they are, kneels down and smiles in a crucifix pose.
They set this up well and carried it off well. I wonder, does this mean Kane has to be replaced in MITB? And with who? Bray Wyatt, maybe?
Vickie sadly carts out a box of her belongings. She comes across Ryback. He takes the box and puts it down, then hugs her. He tells Vickie she deserves better. He picks the box back up and gives it to her and walks away.
Ryback must be on hormonal therapy - female hormonal therapy.
Match #6 - Kaitlyn and Layla vs. Alicia Fox and AJ (w/Big E Langston)
The Bellas sit in on commentary primarily to shill Total Divas. AJ mugs for the crowd but doesn't get on the apron right away.
Eventually, she tags in and Kaitlyn charges and attacks her. The match sort of just ends, either no contest or DQ. AJ rolls out to ringside and goes to leave but Kaitlyn hits her with a big spear and leaves her laying. Big E carries AJ out.
The Bellas stopped talking, so I'm good with the finish. Tired of their catty routine.
Josh Matthews is with CM Punk. Punk takes exception to Orton saying he's not the best in the world. Punk says holding the WWE Championship longer than anyone in the modern era makes him the best in the world. Beating Orton and winning the MITB for the third time also validates that claim.
We get a video package highlighting RVD's win of the WWE Championship at One Night Stand in 2006.
They have really done a good job with this build-up tonight. Definitely they've sold some pay per views with how they've handled this.
Match #7 - Randy Orton vs. CM Punk
Orton gets his entrance before the break. CM Punk gets his after. The announcers put this match over as Vickie's "swan song" now that she's no longer the general manager.
The two men exchange some basic offense early on. CM Punk hits a dive out to the floor onto Orton going into the commercial break.
After commercial we get a recap of action during the break. Orton drops Punk onto the barrier in a neat spot. Back live, Orton's got a headlock on. The women are cheering Orton, the men Punk.
Punk hits a kick to the head but takes a couple clotheslines. Orton tries for the scoop slam but Punk grabs the ropes and catches Orton in a pinning predicament for two. Punk hits his running high knee in the corner and goes up top. He looks at the briefcase, smiles, and hits his Macho Elbow.
Cole gives us a quick show reset as we hit the overrun. Punk tries to get the crowd going with not much luck. He calls for the GTS but Orton counters out. He wrestles Punk into position to hit his elevated DDT. Orton plays the the fans and gets a little bit of a rise out of them as he teases the RKO. Punk gets away, but only to take a powerslam for two.
Punk gets Orton up for the GTS a bit later. Orton elbow-shots his way out, then tries for the RKO. Punk counters again with a big kick. He follows that up with the GTS to get the win.
Afterward, Daniel Bryan charges the ring. He attacks Punk first, hitting a series of kicks then throwing him through the corner area of the ropes. He goes out for a ladder and brings that in. He sets up Orton to take a shot with it and Orton rolls out of the ring. Bryan sets the ladder up, climbs it and retrieves the briefcase and chants "Yes!" as the show closes.
This seemed like a tough crowd, and here again they weren't really given any incentive to choose one man over another in this match. Orton and Punk worked hard, and had to in order to draw a crowd reaction at all.
WWE seemed to do a good job of hyping up Rob Van Dam, and they really seemed to highlight Daniel Bryan. I really like how they built up this "All-Star" version of MITB. I particularly enjoyed letting the main event finish clean, rather than the big scrum brawl with all the competitors we normally get.
This crowd seemed tired by the end of the night. They weren't reacting to all that much down the stretch. Is that WWE's fault? Hard to say. I didn't care for the McMahon segment at all and felt it took a lot of energy out of the live crowd.
We got some good setup for the MITB match with the RVD videos and the matches we saw. I am cold on what we saw from John Cena in the WWE Championship build. I thought Henry did a solid job again, but Cena got too goofy with it. The Wyatts had a sound debut and I though that worked very well. The World Heavyweight Championship match should get some more shine and focus on Smackdown, so that was a neutral item for me.
Thanks for watching along tonight. I'll be by sometime tomorrow with Raw Afterthoughts.