RAW opened with the participants in the Money in the Bank ladder match all perched atop ladders in the center of the ring. Kevin Owens spoke the most, saying that he would be the one making history at Money in the Bank. Sami Zayn cut him off, saying he would give opportunities to anyone as champion. Dean Ambrose just wanted to fight. Alberto Del Rio told everyone that they are nothing compared to him.
Chris Jericho said that he made the Money in the Bank match, but everyone pointed out that he never even won it. Jericho gave everyone the gift of Jericho, but Ambrose knocked him off. Zayn and Owent went at it, and chaos broke out, but then Teddy Long emerged.
He spouted off match ideas, but Stephanie came out to cut him off. Long asked Steph if he could run SmackDown, and she refused, setting matches for the night and sending Long on his way.
Teddy Long was a cute surprise, and the sight of Chris Jericho sitting primly ont he ladder was highly amusing, so I can’t complain much.
Cesaro vs. Chris Jericho
Chris Jericho started off strong, but Cesaro soon staged a quick comeback, locking in a headlock before hitting a backbreaker on Jericho. Jericho looked to fight back, but ran right into an uppercut from Cesaro.
The action continued outside the ring, with Cesaro flinging Jericho into the barricade and hitting another uppercut. Back in the ring, Jericho fought back into control with a well-timed reversal, driving Cesaro into the mat. However, his advantage only lasted so long, as Cesaro took Jericho for a ride on the uppercut express. Jericho looked to reverse into a move from the ropes, but Cesaro caught him yet again.
Jericho hit a Codebreaker out of the ring, but Cesaro was able to kick out once Jericho dragged him back into the ring. Jericho drove Cesaro into the corner, but Cesaro reversed it into a superplex from the second rope.
Cesaro defeated a future Hall of Famer, you guys. This is the world we’re living in. The match was very entertaining, with the two performers playing their roles well. Cesaro’s momentum looks to be building well, and a win over Jericho only furthers that.
WWE then aired a video package about Seth Rollins and his obsession with regaining his title, which was basically just a condensed version of his WWE 24. So yeah, I don’t know how we can be expected to boo him.
Rusev vs. Jack Swagger
Yeah, Jack Swagger still exists, that poor man.
Titus O’Neil joined Michael Cole and co on commentary as Rusev looked to crush Jack Swagger in his own home state.
Rusev immediately took full advantage of Swagger, beating, kicking and striking him with practiced ease. He drove Swagger into the turnbuckle, and the hometown boy looked to stage a comeback with a powerslam.
Swagger looked for the Patriot Lock, but Rusev rolled out of the ring. He and Swagger went after each other, hitting two clotheslines on each other. Rusev pushed Swagger into Titus O’Neil, just managing to roll into the ring in time to win by countout.
In the ring, Swagger and Titus both went after Rusev, standing tall in the ring as Rusev retreated to end the segment.
This was short, sweet and to the point, which is really all I can ask for in this feud. it furthered the storyline without too much fanfare, ensuring that its two participants aren’t too overexposed and playing to their strengths easily.
John Cena said WHAT?
John Cena talked about his moment in the ring with AJ Styles before his attack, calling it a once in a generation moment. He talks about the dueling chants for himself and Styles, comparing the electricity he felt to what he felt with the Rock. Having said that, Cena asked why in the world Styles would take the “easy way out” and asked Styles to come out.
Styles answered the call with Gallows and Anderson at his side. The chants broke out again, and Styles said that, plain and simple, he had a plan. Styles said that Cena is an insult to him every time he’s in the ring, saying that even on his best day, he wouldn’t be able to beat him.
Cena said that Styles was desperate, but Styles, furious, retorted that he could go anywhere else in the world. He said, “Guys like you bury guys like me,” to justify having the Club at his side, and the three surrounded the ring. However, it was the New Day who would come out to give Cena some backup, and the three retreated.
Yeah, that’s right you guys. In one segment, John Cena name-dropped the Bullet Club and AJ Styles called him out for burying people. This segment is everything that makes wrestling so compelling, to me. It had that touch of realism that made CM Punk’s own MITB feud with Cena so exciting.
Also, Styles was better on the mic than he’s been his entire WWE run so far. You could tell how at ease he felt in his new role, and every word he spoke felt sincere. The same went for Cena, who clearly felt invigorated back in the ring.
Enzo & Cass vs. The Vaudevillains
The Vaudevillains entered first, smug over the injury they “caused” Enzo at Payback. Soon after, Enzo and Cass came out to their usual massive ovation, cutting an impassioned promo with Enzo declaring that he was unbreakable. Big Cass, in his wonderful way, declared the pair of heels S-A-W-F-T and the match was set.
Enzo started things off, and the Vaudevillains both went right after him, double-teaming to take advantage of him, but Enzo was able to tag Cass in with little trouble. Cass hit the Empire Elbow on Gotch, and English broke it up, sending Enzo right through the ropes in the same move that injured him.
But unfortunately for him, Cass saw it, and the big man absolutely snapped, beating English so intensely that the ref called for the bell. Cass continued his carnage, infuriated, and Enzo joined him back in the ring. The two hugged and stood tall to close the segment.
Backstage, Teddy Long suggested that Stephanie book Enzo & Cass, the Vaudevillains, Anderson & Gallows AND the New Day for the titles at Money in the Bank.
Big Cass’s love for Enzo is the stuff of fairytales.
Booking this match allows WWE to go many directions after Money int he Bank. In my opinion, the titles are destined to be around Gallows & Anderson’s waists before long. They are the best choice to dethrone the New Day, who have become so big they don’t need the titles to remain huge players in the game.
Sami Zayn vs. Alberto Del Rio
Zayn started off with vigor, hitting a hurricarana and then landing a moonsault off the barricade out of the ring. Del Rio took control during the commercial break, but Zayn battled back with a huge crossbody. He went for a suplex, but Del Rio reversed it into the backstabber.
Zayn rolled him up, but Del Rio countered with a kick, slapping Zayn silly until the underdog hit a desperate clothesline. Zayn went for the Helluva Kick, but Del Rio countered with a kick of his own, setting Zayn up on the ropes for his finisher, but Zayn reversed it at the last second. However, Del Rio got more kicks in, finally hitting his finisher to put Zayn away.
Backstage, Owens trashed Ambrose, saying that he was worried for Ambrose, calling him crazier than usual lately. Ambrose brushed his “worries” aside, bringing up his multiple victories over Owens last year.
Well, we can’t win them all.
This match built well, though the ending did seem to suck the life out of everyone. I get that Del Rio needed some momentum heading into Money int he Bank, but I wish it didn’t come at Zayn’t expense.
WWE aired the Reigns video package…and I still don’t feel any desire to root for him.
Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens
Ambrose started off strong, sending Owens out of the ring only to be thrown over the announce table by the prizefighter himself. Owens grabbed a headset to talk trash, but Ambrose went right back after Owens, hitting a side suplex in the ring and going for Dirty Deeds.
Owens hit a dropkick, slamming on Ambrose from behind, but Ambrose managed to reverse a clothesline, landing him on the mat. He ran right into a kick from Owens, however, who then locked in one of his beloved headlocks.
Ambrose managed to hit a superplex, but Owens managed to knock him off the ropes before hitting his running canonball. He went for the Pop-up Powerbomb, but Ambrose reversed, sending Owens out of the ring. He went for a suicide dive, but Owens caught him, slamming him onto the apron before hitting a frog splash.
However, Ambrose managed to hit Dirty Deeds out of nowhere, scoring a win. He ascended a ladder to grab the briefcase and make a statement, but Owens knocked him off, pointing at the briefcase and declaring it his.
These two have fantastic chemistry, and I love to see their old rivalry revisited. between the two of them, a wildly entertaining match was had, and the crowd definitely enjoyed it. Ambrose looks to continue to be on the upswing, and Owens isn’t slowing down int he slightest.
I have a feeling that the next Mr. Money in the Bank was in this match.
Mic in hand, Charlotte apologized for what she said, but wouldn’t retract anything she said. No one understands the pressure she’s under, she claimed. She said that she still wanted him as her family, but that she wanted to stand on her own as WWE Women’s Champion.
This was interrupted by Natalya and Becky Lynch, who berated Charlotte for using others to get to the top and warning Dana Brooke that she was just using her as well.
Brooke looked to be seriously contemplating what the two women said, stepping away from Charlotte only to sucker punch Natalya. Chaos erupted in the ring, with the four women brawling. Charlotte and Dana stood tall to close the segment.
I miss the days of multiple women’s segments. Or the women wrestling in a match over five minutes. I miss the buildup to WrestleMania.
Here’s hoping the brand split forces WWE to give its women the time they deserve to tell multiple stories. Right now, it’s just a waste.
Tyler Breeze vs. R-Truth
R-Truth seemed to be starting off strong against Tyler Breeze, and Fandango distracted him. The match itself didn’t last much longer, with both teams brawling in the ring and Breezango retreating.
Teddy Long interfered, looking to restart the match as a tag match, but was escorted away. Backstage, a furious Stephanie McMahon informed Teddy that it would be her running SmackDown, not anyone else and not Shane.
FINALLY, Stephanie is showing her true colors. I’m looking forward to seeing how this develops as July 19th inches closer and closer.
WWE then aired a tribute to Muhammad Ali.
The New Day vs. The Club
The action started immediately, with Woods and Styles going at it int he ring while their comrades brawled at ringside. Woods gained momentum against Styles at first, flying around the ring with surprising speed, but Anderson caught him off guard, allowing STyles to land the Styles Clash at ringside.
The match finally began with Woods prone at ringside, and a furious Kingston started off fired up against Anderson. Woods knocked AJ off the corner, landing a drop on Anderson before tagging in Big E, who landed a huge back body drop. He then hit a splash on the apron, but Styles hit a pelee kick to E with the ref not looking, allowing Anderson to tag in Gallows.
Styles tagged in briefly before letting Gallows go to work on E, locking in a fierce headlock. Big E tried powering out, but Gallows kept him grounded, tagging in Anderson, who looked for a leg drop, but Big E dodged.
Kingston and Styles both tagged in, with Kofi flying in with a fury, hitting a boom drop. He planted Gallows, looking to hit a crossbody, but Styles dodged, looking for the Styles Clash. Anderson broke the pin when Kingston hit SOS, and the ensuing chaos let Styles hit Kingston with the Phenomenal Forearm. The violence went on after, but John Cena emerged to even the odds, heading right for Styles, who retreated from the ring.
Styles attacked Cena from behind, taking him out, but Kingston and Big E interfered, allowing Cena to plant Galows with the AA. The babyfaces stood tall to end the segment.
A fitting main event in every way, this match gave us a glimpse of heel AJ Styles in all his glory. The Styles Clash early on and the Phenomenal Forearm both had the crowd going nuts. Gallows & Anderson looked wonderful as well, and though I’m not thrilled to see them fall to Cena, they still beat the tag champs clean.
The New Day is absolutely shining as top babyfaces. Kofi Kingston, especially, is shining in the ring. Even Xavier Woods has seriously stepped up his game. It says a lot that WWE had them stand tall with John Cena to end the night.
Overall, RAW was a good time. Nothing earth-shattering happened, but it was entertaining across the board, if a tad predictable.