WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (July 15, 2013) from the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn, New York, featuring the fallout show from the Money in the Bank pay-per-view (PPV) that took place this past Sunday night in Philadelphia.
Click here for full results and the live blog from the show if you missed it. Let's get right to reactions. Remember, these were written as the show moved along with real time reactions to everything that occurred hour-by-hour.
- If anyone deserves a lights out, drum roll entrance it's Brad Maddox. If anyone deserves not to be interrupted by John Cena, it's Brad Maddox.
- I guess Cena choosing his opponent for SummerSlam is one way to go about it. It's not in line with the reports we recently passed along, not exactly at least, but it's one way to get to his next opponent being Daniel Bryan. Really, it doesn't matter how they get there, just that they get there. I want to see how good that match could be, and if Bryan is anywhere near as good as we all like to think he is, and Cena is the big time performer WWE wants us to think he is, that could be "Match of the Year."
- Randy Orton really just warned Cena about a surprise attack. That's something that actually happened.
- Did JBL really say Fandango is a cross between MC Hammer and GSP? I actually love that.
- Greatly enjoyed Orton and the aforementioned Fandango match. There are a lot of reasons the move to three hours has been awful and unbearable but the one saving grace is the fact that the wrestlers get more time to work their matches and that's almost always been a good thing. Say what you want about Orton and all the reasons it was stupid for WWE to give him that red briefcase but the dude is still over like a big star at every arena they visit. Can he pop big buyrates chasing the belt and/or winning it? That remains to be seen but how many guys are really moving the needle in this day and age anyway? Brock Lesnar and The Rock, and that's about it. If they go Orton vs. Cena for the belt at Night of Champions and it bombs, then we can talk about it. For now, let's give the benefit of the doubt.
- Well, we knew it was coming. Dolph Ziggler and AJ Lee, jilted lovers, have parted ways. I just ... I really had hope for these crazy kids. I really did.
- Mark Henry just gave everyone a lesson in how to handle an ornery crowd. With the Brooklyn faithful at the Barclay's Center chanting "You tapped out" while he was cutting a promo on his loss to Cena, he responded by saying "yeah, he did tap me out and he would tap out every one of y'all, too." Perfect.
- I'm guessing that attack from The Shield is a way to write Henry off television as opposed to starting up a feud between the two sides. Whether it is or is not, we're going to need some sort of storyline explanation for The Shield's actions at some point soon if they're going to keep doing this kind of thing.
- For the second consecutive night, Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio had an incredible match that ended in AJ Lee ruining it. For story, that's fine. For match quality, not so much.
- I love the consistency in Big E. Langston coming down and destroying Dolph. While he acted as muscle for Ziggler throughout Dolph's relationship with AJ, he only did so because it always benefitted her. Remember, he was originally brought into the fold as AJ's muscle. Ziggler was just a beneficiary of that and now that he left her, that's no longer the case. Not only is it no longer the case, Dolph is the target of her ire and therefore the target of Langston's. Simple but solid storytelling. Should make for a good match later on, too.
- Man, Bray Wyatt is fucking awesome. Just a super compelling character I can't take my eyes off or stop listening to or wanting to know more about. The dude is just interesting in every way he can be. He isn't like any wrestler on the entire roster. He isn't like any wrestler we've seen in a very long time. His closing line after taking out R-Truth -- "You are not the truth we seek" -- was so on the money my faculties briefly shut down. Just amazing.
- As for the electric lamp and Wyatt blowing it out and that being a problem: It's not. It's really not. You know why? Because Undertaker raises the fucking lights by lifting his arms. He summons lightning from inside the arena. He's a walking dead man. He doesn't really exist. That's why.
- That gyrating The Usos were doing as they were climbing into the ring was disturbing. However, it gave us Antonio Cesaro's reaction to that disturbing gyrating, so it was worth it. Now we just need the GIF.
- I don't like Damien Sandow simply working a match one night after winning the blue briefcase for a guaranteed shot at the world heavyweight championship. What's worse, it was against Christian, a fine wrestler but someone who has no involvement in anything involved with him. I don't necessarily mind him jobbing, because, remember, you don't need to win when you have that briefcase. But I would have rather gotten an explanation for his doing things the way he did last night.
- That being said, the Cody Rhodes attack was great and that's definitely an interesting feud that should spawn some good television and potentially even better matches.
- Naomi was pretty good last night. You know, if they gave the Diva's more time to get better in the ring, maybe they could do what Gail Kim and Taryn Terrell have been doing in TNA.
- This CM Punk vs. Paul Heyman storyline is so good. First we got Punk's side, now they give us Heyman's side and that's the fact that Paul feels Punk is not the best in the world if Heyman is not by his side. Ultimately, he's the one who made Punk, making himself a martyr back in 2005 to save Punk's career when the higher powers within WWE were all but done with him. That's a brilliant mix of kayfabe and reality because, well, it's true, but not completely. The rest of the promo went right along the same line and it was wonderful. Heyman, stripped down, has always been and will always be selfish, completely out for his own gain. So his explanation is simple: Punk can't beat Lesnar, so he sides with Lesnar.
- Punk, for his part, basically became The Punisher in response to this. And that's really fucking awesome.
- The brawl Lesnar and Punk had wasn't really all that special, but it did help establish the central thesis in the story, that Heyman might actually be right and Brock might actually be better than Punk. He's a beast and he tossed "The Straight Edge Superstar" around like a rag doll, very nearly injuring him in the process. That F-5 on the table looked rough, mostly because Punk nearly landed straight on his head. His selling a neck issue afterwards could have been closer to reality than anyone wants to admit.
- Final word on that entire segment: One of the best I've seen in Raw history.
- Triple H and Stephanie McMahon messing with Brad Maddox over his decision to let Cena choose his opponent leads me to an apology. I got upset that Vince McMahon was burying Daniel Bryan on an episode of Raw not long ago and got ahead of myself. I was wrong. It was definitely part of a larger story they're trying to tell and that was proven here when Triple H and his wife told Maddox Cena would pick Bryan and it would piss off Vince. This McMahon family drama is actually getting pretty good and this makes it possible, at least possible, that Bryan could be involved in the main event of WrestleMania 30. I don't know if they believe in him that much but it makes sense for everything they've done in the story.
- Rob Van Dam actually cares again and that comes through in everything he does, from his entrance to his work in the ring. Having Chris Jericho as an opponent certainly helps, as Ryback can attest to, but it's good to see that RVD hasn't completely checked out. Outstanding match between the two during a time of the show that you wouldn't expect anything special.
- Also, that Five-Star Frog Splash Van Dam hit last night was one of his best ever. There was a time I wasn't sure we would ever see another RVD match we could truthfully consider "good" let alone "great." This was that.
- When Dave Meltzer reported on the manner in which WWE would get to Cena's next title defense, I wasn't sure it would go over very well. It sounded kind of lame actually, but I really liked the segment. I thought they built to the climax really well, even though it went a bit longer than it probably should have. It made Bryan look like a huge star, too. He's as over as it gets right now and I think they should really hitch their wagon to him and let Bryan vs. Cena close the show at SummerSlam. Even if they don't, this was awesome and fun in every way it could be. And, again, this could be leading to Bryan in the main event of WrestleMania 30.
This was an outstanding episode of Raw. A bump or two here and there but any real complaining would be nitpicking. Great wrestling, great character progression, equally effective storytelling, super hot crowd.
As close to an A+ as it's going to get, folks.
That's it from me. Now it's time for you Cagesiders to sound off in the comments section below with all your thoughts on last night's show.