WWE is going LIVE with a very special Memorial Day episode of Monday Night Raw, starting at 8pm Eastern. We will have live coverage of the show as soon as it begins.
On the agenda for the day: Will Daniel Bryan vacate the WWE World Heavyweight Championship? What's the next step in the feud between Evolution and The Shield? And will John Cena break to Bray Wyatt's words?
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- Our evening begins with a tribute to our Armed Forces, for Memorial Day.
- Stephanie McMahon and Triple H come out to the ring to start things off. The Authority has plenty to talk about, I'm sure. Stephanie feels great, and says tonight is all about choices. Daniel Bryan has a choice to do the right thing and surrender the WWE Championship. She takes advantage of the Yes chants and says he knows it's the right thing to do. The fans want to see the champ compete in the ring every night, and he can't physically do it. She says they didn't want to be right about this, and that his heart and mind is there, but his body is a B+. They audience chants for Bryan. She says the fans want to chant for him and want him to compete every night, but tonight he will do the right thing and surrender the title.
- Triple H takes the mic, reiterates that every generation has performers that rise to the top and become superstars. He compares Bryan to a flash in the pan, and then there are those that become legends, because they stand the test of time. "Month after month, year after year, generation after generation, they remain dominant because of their ability to adapt." He says those that don't perish, like Daniel Bryan. He puts over Evolution. This Sunday at Payback, The Shield will find out that you cannot stop Evolution.
- H says there will be a contract signing later tonight, and The Shield will have a choice. They could adapt and not show up, and go on to become legends, or they can show up, sign the contracts, and they will perish. Stephanie takes the mic and addresses Brad Maddox, for his doings last week with The Shield. Maddox walks out, apparently he's not fast enough for them. Anyhoo, Triple H says last week he banned everyone from ringside unless they were in an official capacity. However, Maddox made a choice to allow Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns to be the official guest commentators for the match. Triple H says it wasn't best for business. H gives him a chance to explain. Maddox says he didn't want to, and didn't have a choice. Steph says he understands that he felt like he didn't have a choice, since he was roughed up by them. She says right now, they don't have a choice. Kane's music hits. Maddox stares down Kane, scared. He turns around and Triple H decks him. Kane comes into the ring and kicks Maddox to the mat. The Authority sits back and watches. Steph says, "Teach him a lesson, Kane." He picks Maddox up, then choke slams him straight to hell, and follows it up with a Tombstone Piledriver. Pyro goes off around the ring (albeit a couple of seconds late). Steph stops the music, says she didn't get to finish her conversation. "You're fired!"
Effective segment that sets the tone for the rest of the evening. We know what to expect tonight, so now, hopefully, people will stay tuned instead of enjoying the day with friends and family? It's good strategy, regardless.
- EMTs work on Maddox, stretchering him out of the ring, as our illustrious announcing team discusses Daniel Bryan. They also plug Bray Wyatt's message to the Cenation. We go to break.
- Back from break, we get a Bo Dallas vignette. He debuted on Smackdown this week. Here's hoping we see him on Raw. And yes, we will, apparently.
- In the ring, Cesaro is ready for action. He's facing Rob Van Dam. They recap Wade Barrett's attack on RVD last week.
- Rob Van Dam vs. Cesaro
- Before the match even begins, Bad News Barrett himself heads out to the ring. He's got some bad news. He says it's officially the first day of summer, but summer is the time we all dig out our swimsuits, and find they don't fit because we're fat. He puts over his match at Payback, and says he'll remain Intercontinental Champ.
- The match begins and Cesaro is on the offense. RVD goes for a quick scissors pin, for two. He unloads on Cesaro with some punches on the ground. Cesaro picks him up with ease and tosses him. Cesaro kicks the hell out of RVD in the corner. RVD hits a springboard kick in the corner, and RVD clotheslines him out of the ring. He leaps onto the apron for a moomsault, but Cesaro catches him and tosses him head first into the barricade. He swings him into the barricade as we break.
- We are back, and Cesaro has RVD in a set of pins. No dice on any of them. Cesaro press slams RVD with ease and we get another two-count. RVD's mouth is bleeding slightly. RVD fights through and they trade elbows. RVD hits a jump spinning back kick to even the odds. RVD nails Cesaro with a high side kick, then hits Rolling Thunder. He goes for the cover, only two. Elbow in the corner, and RVD goes up top, hitting a top rope cannon-ball or senton or something. Cesaro bails out of the ring, RVD leaps out onto him. Barrett, still at ringside, starts to get up and RVD catches him with a superkick to the face. RVD hits a split-legged moonsault back in the ring for a near fall. RVD heads up for the Five Star Frogsplash, but Barrett distracts him, giving Cesaro the chance to lock in a German Suplex into a bridged pin. Cesaro wins.
- Sheamus heads out immediately after the match and nails Cesaro with a Brogue Kick. He "shakes" Cesaro's hand while Cesaro is laid out.
Good back and forth match, but it didn't do either man any favors. Poor booking, in my opinion. Based on this, Cesaro is going to win, and Barrett is going to win. Just a guess.
- Back from break, Eva Marie is in the ring. She'll be facing Summer Rae. Recap of the kiss last week, and brawl with Layla. Yawn.
- Eva Marie vs. Summer Rae
- Well, this is about what you would expect. Eva Marie isn't doing much here. Summer Rae doesn't have much to work with. She continuously slams Eva Marie's head into the mat, until Layla and Fandango come out and dance on the ramp. They start kissing, and Eva Marie cashes in on the distraction. Eva Marie wins with a roll-up pin.
Terrible match, terrible angle.
- Backstage, Batista and Randy Orton are chatting in Triple H's office. Cody Rhodes and Goldust are looking for Triple H. They wanna issue an open challenge to any tag team on the roster. They start having words. Cody is doing quite well here. I missed some of the commentary, but Triple H walks in and makes a match between the two. He doesn't say what kind of match, but it's happening, later tonight. Could be good!
- After the break, another tribute to our Armed Forces. In the ring, 3MB with Hornswaggle. Los Matadores come out to a full intro, El Torito included.
- El Torito vs. Drew McIntyre
- Five years ago, I never would've expected Drew McIntryre would be doing this. El Torito shakes his hips at McIntrye. Drew grabs him and tosses him up in the air, but he reverses it into an arm drag. Drew manages to slam him to the mat, then stalks him. He goes up top with El Torito in a suplex position, but Los Matadores cause a distraction. El Torito gets out, takes the legs out from McIntryre, and gets a pin. El Torito wins.
- After the match, 3MB attacks and Hornswaggle tries to rip the mask off El Torito. He rips the tail off. The bull sells it. Michael Cole asks the important questions, like "How is he going to swat away the flies?" Ugh. Terrible.
- After break, the announcers are selling this like a horrible attack. They're even doing an injury angle. The doctor says "I'm not a veterinarian." Seriously? Thankfully Bray Wyatt interrupts.
- Wyatt comes out, cell phone lights in the air. It's quite a sight, for sure. They show highlights of Cena getting "counted out" last week. Wyatt starts out singing "He's Got the Whole Wide World" or whatever the hell the name of the song is. I hate it. I'm done with it. I'm done with this angle. Anyhow, Bray says the world has come to lean on him, because deep down he only wants what is best for all of us. He says sometimes we have to make sacrifices in life. We go to work and break our backs to keep our children fed, while another man tells us who to be and how to act. "When are you going to understand when all of that is pointless?" He talks about poison, and says the only way to cure a snakebite is with antivenom. He wants to know if he's the snake, or the cure. He says he's the necessary evil the world so badly needs. In the end, if we are his brother or sister, we will stand beside him. If we are his enemy, we will fall at his feet. Wyatt says John Cena is enemy to us all. He says at Payback, he'll be the last man standing. He says he's no fool, he knows to get to the king you must first go through the pawns. He calls Cena the king.
- "Speaking of Kings, Mr. Jerry Lawler, may I have a word with you, please?" Lawler turns him down. "How unfortunate." Wyatt sends Harper and Rowan down to the table. He says he just wants to have a word. He threatens JBL and Michael Cole. JBL stands up and Luke Harper attacks him. Rowan sets JBL up and Harper hits him with a clothesline. Wyatt begs for Lawler to come into the ring. Rowan and Harper "convince" Lawler to get into the ring. He gets a chair and sets Lawler down. Wyatt asks him if he and Cena are friends? Wyatt says yes. He says he's helped Cena achieve his goals and has fed the audience all kinds of nonsense about Cena, but never once did he question Cena's morality. He accuses Lawler of feeding the poison. "It's out of control, Jerry Lawler. Do you feel guilty about this, Jerry?" He asks if he thought he'd get away with it. Harper and Rowan stand Lawler up, Wyatt goes crazy. On cue, John Cena makes the save. He tears through Rowan and Harper, while Wyatt holds Lawler in the corner. Harper and Rowan get control of things. Wyatt puts the boot to Lawler's face. They make Cena watch. "This is all your fault." Wyatt sets Lawler up for Sister Abigail. The Usos run in to even things up. The Wyatts get kicked out (or bail out) and Cena stands tall with The Usos.
- Cena says "Enough is enough." He says Wyatt has crossed "some serious lines." Wyatt says he is a god. Cena says he's intriguing and charismatic, but Wyatt doesn't even listen to himself. He says Bray is sick with power. He doesn't think what Wyatt does is "necessary evil." It's "just plain evil." Cena puts over the Last Man Standing match. He says "At Payback, I bring you to justice. Justice may be blind, but for you, Payback will be a bitch."
Wyatt cuts great promos, but this story is stale. WWE just did everything they could to get the fans to stop cheering them and start booing. No idea if it worked. I'm not sure it did. JBL is so inconsistent, half of the audience is probably glad he got taken out. If they wanted real heat, they would've attacked Lawler, or even Cole. Side note: The Usos look like they're a big deal by coming to Cena's aid. It's important for them as tag champs.
- Back from break, JBL is missing from the announcers table. They put over the attack he suffered. During a very serious moment, Zack Ryder comes out to the ring with an American flag. I don't get it. Ryder grabs the mic and starts talking about it being Memorial Day. Lana interrupts him before he can finish his sentence. She says a bunch of stuff about "pathetic Americans." She introduces Alexander Rusev. He says something, then marches to the ring.
- Alexander Rusev vs. Zack Ryder
- Ryder loses. The end. Nice seeing you on TV. Rusev lock in The Accolade, refuses to let go. Big E runs out to make the save. He takes a ton of hits, but Big E fires back and sends Rusev packing. He grabs the flag and starts waiving it. He's chanting USA. Big E showing some actual charisma.
- Backstage, Alberto Del Rio and Stephanie McMahon are having some words. We go to break.
- After break, Evolution hits the ring. Well, Randy Orton and Batista, anyhow. They're facing Cody Rhodes and Goldust.
- Evolution (Randy Orton & Batista) vs. Goldust & Cody Rhodes
- Batista and Cody start things off. Rhodes hits a nice kick to the face of Batista. Batista hits a clubbing blow to the back. Kick to the gut and a drop punch, tag to Goldust. Batista sends Goldy into the corner, tag to Orton. Orton attacks, but Goldust gets a near fall. Powerslam. This match is moving fast. They must be short on time. Tag to Cody, who attacks. Orton trips Cody, slams fists into his face in the corner. Back and forth here. Orton gets the advantage with a knee to the gut, then a tag to Batista. A "Bootista" chant breaks out. Batista hits an elbow on Cody, then goes for a slam, but Cody makes a hot tag to Goldust. He hits some clotheslines, then drops and hits a punch. Batista gets a lucky spinebuster for a near fall. We go to break.
- When we come back, Goldust fights out of Batista and Orton's corner, but it's short lived. Batista takes him down. Two-count. Tag to Orton, tag to Cody. Cody is on fire. Kick, then a knee to Orton. He hits a springboard dropkick from the apron, two-count. Disaster Kick to Batista. He sets one up for Orton, but Orton catches him with an RKO instead. Randy takes out Goldust on the apron. Instead of pinning Cody, he lands a second RKO for good measure. It's over. Randy Orton & Batista win. Oh wait, just kidding. Justin Roberts breaks in, says he was just informed that it's actually an elimination match, and it's no hold's barred, so now Goldust has to face off against Batista and Orton at the same time. Goldust bails out of the ring, but he's surrounded. They attack him at the barricade. Orton tosses Goldy into the barricade. They set him up on the apron. Orton goes for a DDT, Goldust flips him out, and Batista nails him with a spear. Orton hits the RKO. Batista hits a Batista Bomb. Batista covers Goldust and it's over. Randy Orton & Batista win. Again.
A fine match up until the silly finish and added stipulation. I get the message they're trying to send, but I find it unnecessary.
- We get another Bo Dallas vignette. Bolieve, up next.
- We come back from break, and Sin Cara is already in the ring. It's a rematch from Smackdown, apparently. Bo Dallas makes his WWE Raw debut. Quite an entrance, if you've never seen it. He grabs a mic, and introduces himself. He says Monday Night Raw is the summit on the top of the mountain of his dreams. He says he's learned that we don't conquer the mountain, we conquer ourselves. All you have to do is Bo-lieve.
- Bo Dallas vs. Sin Cara
- Dallas hits an arm drag and immediately celebrates outside the ring. Sin Cara takes advantage of the situation, but Dallas reverses an Irish Whip in the corner. Near fall. Dallas hits a suplex, and a series of rolling knees. He's all smiles. Sin Cara lays into him with a few kicks, and an enzuigiri. Sin Cara hits a nice moonsault, and gets in some good offense. Olympic Slam, and Sin Cara goes up top. Bo Dallas moves away. He launches Cara into the turnbuckle, then hits the "Bo-dog" in the corner for the win. Bo Dallas wins.
- After the match, he does a victory lap, then climbs back into the ring. He takes a mic and thanks his Bolievers. He says he couldn't have done it without us. "The truth is you don't get satisfaction from victories, you get satisfaction from effort." He says if you give it all you've got, you're already a winner. He gives Sin Cara a handshake and a huge, then walks away.
The Bo Dallas character is going to take some time to really get under the skin of fans. This was a good start.
- After break, we get a recap of Brad Maddox's firing. Stephanie McMahon heads out to the ring. She reiterates tonight is a night of choices. She wants an active WWE World Heavyweight Champion, so she needs Daniel Bryan to do the right thing. Daniel Bryan's music kicks in, and he walks out to the ring, belts in hand, wearing a neck collar. He takes a microphone from Steph, and stands across from her. She says it's great to see him standing there and doing so well. She says the road to recovery must be long. She says she could just strip him of the title right now, but she realizes it would make him a martyr. She wants the fans to hear it from him that they deserve an epic champion with epic matches. She says he knows he's not physically able to do it, and she says he needs to do the right thing for them - surrender the championship.
- The fans chant no. He says becoming the champ at Wrestlemania 30 was the payoff to years of hard work and sacrifice. He says however the injury is worse than they thought, in no small part thanks to a demon. He calls her a liar. With that said, he says there's no shame in handing over the title, healing, and becoming champion again. She promises him another championship opportunity. He says he would love to do it all over again (sarcasm). He says there is no shame in handing the title over, but this isn't about them. He says she's wanted to strip him of the title since he beat Triple H. She's not doing it for the fans, she's doing it for herself. He says it would negate everything he's fought for. He says if he hands it back to her right now, it would be throwing it back in the face of the fans. So, he's going to tell her a word she's not used to hearing, one she's probably never heard since she was a kid. He says "No! No! No! No!" The fans carry it on.
- Steph says she was afraid of his ego getting in the way. She didn't bring it up before, because of the sensitive nature of things. She says two weeks ago, his wife, Brie Bella, put her hands on Steph. She says you can't put your hands on the boss. She says for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. She's going to give him one more chance to do the right thing - at Payback, he will either surrender the championship, or she will take action against his wife, and fire Brie.
They're milking this angle for all it's worth. Seriously, make a move at this point, would you?
- After the break, we get a recap of Alicia Fox's "celebration" last week after winning against Paige. She comes out to the ring, through bubbles. I guess she's facing Emma? She's facing Emma.
- Alicia Fox vs. Emma
- Emma dances her way out, then barely flips in. Here's hoping she has a real match tonight. The ladies tie up, and Fox pushes her. Emma hits a clothesline, but gets whipped into the corner. Emma locks in the Dilemma, then the Emma-mite Sandwich in the corner. Alicia Fox rolls out and starts to walk away. Emma chases after her, but gets kicked in the head. Fox sets Emma up on the apron and hits a jump axe kick to her. In the ring, two-count. Fox pushes Emma around. Fox gloats, Emma slaps her back. Fox misses a kick in the corner, and Emma gets the roll-up victor. Emma wins.
- Emma starts to leave, but Fox attacks her an slams her into the barricade. Fox knocks the soda out of the hands of one unlucky fan, then tosses Emma back into the ring. She hits a corkscrew backbreaker. Fox then literally tosses Emma out of the ring. Sloppy looking. Fox starts antagonizing the announcers again, as well as the ring crew. She grabs the bell and starts hammering it. She yells "I am not a loser." She's getting some decent heat, actually. She attacks the ringside doctor and tosses him to the floor. She rips off his shirt and gives him a pretty nasty wedgie. Seriously. Fox shakes up some soda cans and opens them up in the ring crew's faces. She's jawing with the fans, pours soda all over herself, then apologizes to the doc, kisses him, and walks away.
I'm not entirely sure how I should feel about that segment. I love that Fox is getting over and I think she's long overdue, but that segment was overdone. Fine lines and all.
- After our break, John Cena narrates a tribute to the Armed Forces of the United States of America.
- Damien Sandow comes out dressed as "Davey Crockett." Complete with music and everything. Apparently some dude backstage thought he was a Rosebud. Whatever. Adam Rose and crew parties to the stage.
- Adam Rose vs. "Davey Crockett" (aka Damien Sandow)
- Rose dances his way to the ring, and even gets a lift from his Rosebuds. Rose's first match on Raw. They lock up. Rose starts doing his rolling around the ring. He leans against the ropes and kicks his leg up. They lock up again. Rose backs into the ropes, then kicks at Sandow. Sandow gets kicked in the face. Rose hits a shoulderblock and goes for a cover. Jack Swagger's music kicks in - he and Zeb have a rosebud with them. Sandow tries to take advantage, but Rose hits his finisher for the win. Adam Rose wins. Jack Swagger attacks him immediately, slamming him into the corner. Rose sneaks in a spinebuster, then attacks Swagger with some fury. Swagger tries to climb out of the ring, Rose continues to attack. "Nobody touches my lemon." The Rosebuds dance their way out to the ring. Rose stage dives into the crowd and they back their way to the stage.
Decent action while it lasted. I have NO idea what was up with Sandow. Rose needs to harness that aggressive side, otherwise noone will take him seriously.
- Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio
- Sheamus out first, Del Rio second. They get physical right away. Both men trade hits. Early pin attempt by Sheamus. Sheamus lays into Del Rio with 10 strikes across the chest. Del Rio takes Sheamus out with a kick to the head, sending him to the floor as we go to break. When we come back, Del Rio is still in charge. Sheamus goes shoulder first into the ring post, and Del Rio kicks his head right into it. Two-count. Del Rio starts slapping Sheamus, and it fires him up. He hits a back breaker for a near fall. Sheamus goes for the leg, Del Rio kicks him in the head. He hits White Noise, but he's having trouble getting up. Sheamus hits a shoulder in the corner, then a nice running powerslam. He starts going for the Brogue kick, but sells a head injury. Del Rio hits an enzuigiri to the head. Side kick to the face. He goes for the cover, gets two. He sends Sheamus into the ropes, so of course Sheamus pulls a Brogue Kick out of his ass and gets the win. Sheamus wins.
- Apparently, Paul Heyman was at ringside, and he taunts Sheamus. He puts over Lesnar breaking The Streak, then talks about how Sheamus didn't just face a Paul Heyman guy. While Sheamus is focused on Heyman, Cesaro attacks him with a kick to the head and a bunch of fierce punches and elbows. Cesaro gets pulled off by some referees, but he breaks free and attacks the head again. He hits a bunch of knees, then nails Sheamus with the Neutralizer. Cesaro walks away.
The match would've been fine if Del Rio had any shred of credibility left. The post-match angle gives Sheamus fans some doubt going into Payback. I wish I could say I'm excited about this, but I'm not.
- We come back from break, and it's time for our contract signing for the No Holds Barred elimination tag match. Michael Cole starts to introduce things, but The Shield interrupts. They come down through the crowd, as expected. Ambrose takes the mic from Cole. Seth Rollins grabs one too. Ambrose says tonight is historic - it's the last time you'll see The Shield vs. Evolution on Raw. He says one team will be Eliminated. Meanwhile, Roman Reigns begins tossing all of the chairs out of the ring. All six of them. Seth Rollins takes the mic and says it's time to rearrange the place and get down to business. Evolution comes out to the ramp. Triple H wants everyone to be aware of what they're witnessing. If they sign it, it'll be the last time we see The Shield on Monday Night Raw. Both teams are talking like the losing team has to break up. Did I miss a memo? Anyhow, Triple H talks about the contract each of them signed when they came to WWE, and he thought they were the future of WWE, but they threw it all away. He asks them if they're sure they wanna sign their names. They're sure.
- Seth Rollins signs it first. Ambrose second. Ambrose drops the pen. Roman Reigns signs it next. He throws the contract at Evolution, through the ropes, to the floor. All three members of Evolution sign. Triple H calls them a statistic. Roman Reigns shakes his head, and says "Get in the ring and fight." Evolution steps up to the apron, look as if they're going to drop off, but then step in and all hell breaks loose! It's a brawl. Ambrose sends Triple H flying, Orton too, Seth Rollins goes flying over the top, Batista takes out Ambrose, and Reigns hits a Superman punch right in Batista's face. He sets Batista up, but Triple H breaks out the sledgehammer. It's the equalizer they need. RKO to Rollins. Spear to Ambrose. Triple H squares up Reigns, and hits him in the head with the hammer. Evolution tears apart the announcers table. They set Reigns up and send him through the table with a Triple Powerbomb. Evolution stands tall as our show comes to a close. They put their fists together, like The Shield, standing over Reign's body.
Not a very effective go-home show for Payback. The build has been the same, more or less, each week. Tonight was no different. I'm no more excited or less excited than I was. Kind of disappointing.
We will have plenty to say about the show come Wednesday night, when we record @RingRapAudio. In the meantime, if you have a topic you'd like us to cover, hit us up on Twitter! Follow me on Twitter @PsionStorm. Thanks for following, folks!