Entertaining Monday Night Raw tonight. While three hours still feels too long for a weekly wrestling show, the show had a number of great hooks, and a solid final build towards Money in the Bank that made it worth watching. Let’s take a look:
Opening Segment w/ Vickie Guerrero: Vickie talked about how the ladder in the ring has been a symbol for many great things in the history of WWE, including Razor Ramon and Triple H. She said that it also represents her rise to the top, and that if she falls, she’s taking the entire WWE Universe with her. The King said “excuse me” and interrupted her, announcing that the fans would get a chance to vote on Vickie’s job performance, and the McMahons would take it into account during their performance evaluation. Vickie then announced a number of crowd pleasing matches for the rest of the night.
Solid way to kick off the show, and the “All-Stars” matches were a good hook for the rest of the night. Also, a Cena and Henry face-off segment was a great way to push their match at Money in the Bank.
Daniel Bryan def. Sheamus: These guys put together an entertaining match. They started off slow, and Bryan took a couple of nasty bumps before the commercial break. Afterwards, the two exchanged blows inside the ring before Sheamus attempted a Brogue Kick – and Bryan dodged. Both men did a great job of selling the action with numerous pin attempts down the stretch. Watching Sheamus turn the No-Lock into a Texas Cloverleaf was impressive, as was Bryan’s counter into a pin. Smart way to protect both men and still end up with a clean finish.
AJ/Dolph Ziggler backstage segment: Ziggler confronted AJ on leaving him at ringside last week on both Raw and Smackdown. She claimed that her only focus is making sure that they both walk out of Money in the Bank with their championships. I’m really enjoying this slow build towards their breakup, and this was the logical next step.
John Cena/Mark Henry Face-to-Face: Cena talked about how “riled up” the crowd was. I think that’s a nice way of saying the booed the champ. Mark Henry talked about how he was starved for the championship, and John Cena made a smart alec comment about a Snickers bar. Weak. Henry said, “I knew who you was before you knew who you was.” He talked about selling out his family to win the championship. Cena said that Henry better win the championship on Sunday, or that his last 17 years were for nothing.
Things finally picked up when Cena challenged Henry to “cross the line” right there, and Henry said no, before surprising Cena with a sneak attack. While I think things fizzled out a bit from that amazing first Mark Henry promo, this segment should help sell Cena fans on Sunday’s PPV.
Chris Jericho def. Curtis Axel: The Miz joined on commentary.Heyman cut a pre-match promo, and then Axel got a chance to speak. He sounds solid, and looks like a much bigger star for speaking alongside Heyman.
Jericho and Axel matched up well here. Axel looks surprisingly solid in the ring, and Jericho lacks the ability to have a bad match. Sweet spot late in the match where Axel reversed a Codebreaker and went for a Perfectplex of his own. Miz provided the distraction that let Jericho steal the win. I think this loss is smart because there’s no shame in Axel losing to a veteran like Jericho, and it gives his rivalry with The Miz a little more bite.
Alberto Del Rio vs Sin Cara ends in count-out: Short match. Alberto Del Rio looked dominant (as expected) before Ziggler interrupted things. He did his own introduction for Del Rio, promising to regain the championship on Sunday. Eventually, Del Rio and Ziggler brawled outside the ring. The match was worthless, but it served the purpose of promoting Sunday’s PPV.
Vickie Guerrero Job Evaluation: Vickie Guerrero pleaded her case, naming all the superstars she brought back, before Stephanie called her out on it. Vickie was criticized for bringing back Brock Lesnar, but Vince McMahon called her “entertaining.” Triple H said she is terrible at her job. Vince wanted to make her permanent GM, but Triple H said that Vince just wants a spineless puppet on Raw.
They both eventually deferred to Stephanie. Stephanie said they should just let the votes from the app decide (because that seems fair), which, of course, ended in a landslide against Vickie. She freaked out afterwards, and Vince named Brad Maddox the new general manager of Monday Night Raw. Interesting choice as GM, and while it isn’t as splashy as other possibilities, I am curious to see where it goes. Overall, entertaining segment.
Wyatt Family Debut: Happened right at the end of the Kane v. Christian match. After a final video segment, the Wyatt family came out and attacked Kane. Expect a few more opinions tomorrow, but for right now I’ll say this – hot debut, hot segment, and I look forward to whatever happens next.
CM Punk def. Randy Orton: Orton took an early advantage as the announce team put over the bad blood between these two men. I liked how this was positioned as face vs face match – I think these have a lot of potential if WWE sells them correctly.
After the commercial, Punk fired himself up and regained control. Both men eventually attempted finishers, and both men saw them countered. Punk finally hit the GTS and scored the pinfall. Then Daniel Bryan ran out to attack Punk and Orton, before setting up the ladder to retrieve the briefcase.
While I wish both men had been given longer to work, this segment succeeded both in being entertaining and promoting Sunday’s Pay-Per-View. Plus, it put over Bryan as a true contender, and gives his fans a reason to tune-in.
Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns def. Tons of Funk: Slow, plodding pace – and I’m not just talking about Brodus Clay’s dance moves (har-har). This match suffered from big man syndrome, and was just sloppy in parts. Tons of Funk also got a lot more offense than either member of The Shield. Unfortunately, the champions looked weak in victory here, and this did little to hype their match on Sunday.
Backstage Interview Segment featuring Smackdown Money in the Bank participants: Meh. All the participants showed up to argue why they should win. The effort here is appreciated, but it just came off as forced and overbooked. The “Fan”-”don’t say it” part was funny, but not much else.
Kane def. Christian: Michael Cole described this as a “competitive matchup,” but how competative can a match that only last 90 seconds be? I always hate to see Christian lose so easily.
Natalya and Layla vs. AJ Lee and Alicia Fox ends in count-out (?): Uh, apparently I missed most of this segment whenever I sneezed. I get that they had to put the divas on here to promote their match for Sunday, but this was a useless segment.
Vince McMahon pit stains: Keep the jacket on.
The name display accidentally showed “Michael Mcgillicutty” when Christian walked out. Whoops!
The Bellas on Commentary: They said “trainwreck” a lot, and made fun of Kaitlyn’s weight. Yes, this was a trainwreck.