WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (July 8, 2013) from the 1st Mariner Arena in Baltimore, Maryland, featuring the go home show to the upcoming Money in the Bank pay-per-view (PPV) that takes place this 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.
- Did Vickie Guerrero just say Triple H is one of the names associated with a WWE ladder? I can only think of one ladder match he ever participated in. Granted, it was really good. Then again, she's desperately trying to suck up to "The Game" in storyline, so I guess it's fine.
- Oh dear god, Vickie climbing a ladder to cut a promo from the top. I love that they've got two referees hanging out at the bottom holding it in place so she doesn't fall over. Naturally, this was used as a way to get the WWE App over, with fans voting on whether or not she has passed or failed as acting General Manager. It was also good if only because it made for an easy way to set up three different matches on the show, including a segment with John Cena and Mark Henry.
- Why is it that every time Sheamus does a backbreaker it's an Irish Curse? Also, every time Daniel Bryan does that suicide dive with such vigor, I wonder if this is the time he gets bent up like Lita and breaks his damn neck. It doesn't help that so many guys do such a poor job of helping him avoid such a fate. The missile dropkick from the top rope also terrifies me after that stinger a few weeks ago.
- Sheamus vs. Bryan was supposed to be an epic, PPV quality match, not because it was hyped that way but because they wrestled it that way. It was good, but the finish is what made it special. Both guys countering out of each other's best move until Bryan got the upper hand with the small package off the Texas Cloverleaf. These two work well together.
- Also good to see Sheamus shake hands after the match and walk out. I don't care if he's a babyface or a heel, but if they want to convince me he's the former, it's good to see him doing things like this. The handshake was probably more about getting Bryan over even more after another big win in a great match. That's cool too.
- AJ Lee and Dolph Ziggler are on the rocks. And I thought these two crazy kids had a real shot together. Vanity is a stinky cologne.
- Man, Tons of Fun are like a far less impressive version of The Natural Disasters. I do like Tensai's rolling senton in the corner or, as JBL calls it, "the human bowling ball." There just isn't much better than a fat man flopping around doing damage.
- Really enjoyed the match between Tons of Funk and The Shield, too. It was far more entertaining than it had any business being. Loved the finish with Rollins hitting the ropes, Reigns getting the old sneaky back tag, Rollins ducking under a lariat and sunset flipping to kill Brodus Clay on the outside while Reigns surprises Tensai back in the ring with the spear for the pin. Really good stuff here, with the smart booking of making them look strong headed into their title defense this weekend. I love that The Shield continue to maintain such a high quality of tag team work. They aren't just two strong singles wrestlers working together, they've actually done well to become a legitimate tag team.
- You know that WWE championship design The Rock debuted and John Cena is currently wearing has grown on me more and more as time has gone by. It's a pretty nice strap.
- Mark Henry is really good at his job. In one promo, he made the WWE championship mean so much more than the prop that it actually is. "I would sell my own mother out for that strap. I sold my own family out for it." John Cena's response to this was good for the clean cut babyface vs. heel storyline they're running. Henry's a fine heel.
- Also loved the idea behind having Cena attempt an Attitude Adjustment and just collapse underneath Henry's considerable bulk. It adds that extra bit of doubt to the match on Sunday night and when and if Cena does get him up and hit his finish for the pin, it's going to be that much more impressive. This feud has been put together really well, like an old school Hogan vs. Monster type program.
- Oh man, Paul Heyman wearing sunglasses to cover up a bullshit black eye. "I'm not here to be a martyr or anything..." takes off glasses, plays up injury "... I'm just here for Curtis Axel." God, Heyman's great.
- Axel, unfortunately, is not. He's got no charisma on the microphone and no presence outside the ring. There are just too many flaws to overcome. He can downright go between the ropes but in a business like this, that's only going to get you so far. He makes me think of that NFL prospect scouts talk about and say shit like "he doesn't have the intangibles." That's their way of saying they can't really tell you exactly what it is that's missing but there's most definitely something missing and it will most definitely stunt said prospect's career. That's basically Curtis Axel.
- They made a really big deal about Axel losing for the first time under Heyman's tutelage against Chris Jericho, and I'm not sure why. It's not like it was ever a big talking point to begin with, not on commentary at least, and Jericho isn't exactly going to benefit from it all that much. Of course The Miz would cost Axel the match from his cushy spot on commentary. This was simple booking, but not the good kind that feels satisfying.
- I did love Heyman getting in between Axel and Miz and shouting to get back into the ring because "YOU'RE GOING TO GET COUNTED OUT, YOU'RE GOING TO GET COUNTED OUT, GET BACK." It's like Heyman was the only one who gave a shit about the actual match and its eventual outcome.
- That stock backstage segment with all the world title Money in the Bank ladder match participants was missing someone. I think he wasn't there because WWE knew he would outshine everyone else in the group so badly that no one would notice anyone else's presence. I mean, that has to be it, right?
- In all seriousness, maybe it's just me but Fandango stood out most in that pre-tape segment. Damien Sandow ran a close second with Zeb Colter coming in third.
- I think it's time to petition WWE to dump the Sin Cara lighting. I can understand it on a SmackDown in a meaningless match against an equal but we're really going to be forced to deal with it while he's wrestling the fucking world heavyweight champion on Monday Night Raw? Really?
- Wrestlers are now doing promos on the outside of the ring while others are wrestling inside it? Yeah, okay.
- They're really giving us the panel of Vince and Stephanie McMahon, and Triple H, all hanging out at a desk in the ring. Triple H looks like he's having way too much fun with this. "Vickie can be unintentionally entertaining," he says. That's great. Stephanie played mediator here while Vince said he felt Guerrero has done a great job and Trips said she has done a terrible job. He called her out for having an annoying voice and getting X-Pac heat without actually using that term. I could potentially see some folks hating this and thinking he was kind of bullying her but he didn't really say anything that wasn't true.
- I did like that they bothered to have the App decide Vickie's fate, if only because it made it worthwhile for those poor souls who actually decided to download and use it. I was more surprised that 25-percent of the vote was in her favor.
- Stephanie firing Vickie was fun. The post-firing tantrum from Vickie was sad. But Vince quickly naming Brad Maddox the new General Manager was awesome. His facials are almost as good as old "Vinny Mac" himself. He perfectly mixed shock, surprise, and befuddlement right after McMahon named him GM. I love it.
- Kane vs. Christian was mostly boring but HOLY FUCKING SHIT, THERE'S BRAY WYATT ON THE TITANTRON. HE JUST CUT A PROMO AND IT WAS ONE OF THE BEST THINGS EVER. IT DOESN'T EVEN MATTER WHAT HE'S SAYING, HIS DELIVERY IS OUT OF THIS WORLD. HOLY SHIT, THE LIGHTS ARE OUT AND HE'S WALKING TO THE RING ILLUMINATED ONLY BY A LAMP. HIS SHEEP JUST TOOK OUT KANE. THIS IS SO FUCKING GOOD. WYATT IS IN A CHAIR ROCKING BACK AND FORTH IN THE AISLE. IT'S SO GOOD. HE JUST STOOD OVER KANE AND MUTTERED SOME SHIT I COULDN'T MAKE OUT BUT I ASSURE YOU IT WAS AWESOME AND REALLY DEEP AND A BUNCH OF OTHER COOL SHIT.
- Let me stop to say this: If you went to this show last night and participated in the "Husky Harris" chants, know that I hate you and everything you represent in this world. You are an awful human being who deserves nothing good to happen to them. You tried so hard to ruin something good for everyone else and that alone makes you an awful piece of crap. And the people who did that are not "smarks," they're wannabe performers who suck at everything in their life other than being obnoxious douche bags. Also, let me know if you chant things like that and comment on this site, please, so I can ban you immediately.
- Ryback is compassionate now? I'm intrigued. That's my genuine reaction to seeing him hug Vickie on the way out of the building. His quitting thing last week was terrible but they're giving him some depth to his character and that is ALWAYS a good thing.
- Didn't enjoy much of anything about the time the Diva's got on TV, but in fairness I'm still pissed about those idiots in the crowd who tried their best to ruin a good thing. Those are probably the same assholes who talk shit about WWE not creating new stars. Guess what? SOMETIMES YOU'RE THE FUCKING PROBLEM, YOU TOOLS. Wyatt has an AWESOME new gimmick that he has completely dedicated himself to that has captivated the shit out of even casual fans and you repay him by bringing up the bullshit gimmick they first saddled him with that never had a chance of getting over? Fuck you.
- CM Punk vs. Randy Orton was a good match. It wasn't great, but it was definitely really good. I like that Orton has embraced his role as an enhancement talent, because over the past couple years, that's exactly what he's been.
- WWE is the kind of company that likes to mess with your head, so I don't know how to feel about Bryan coming out at the end of the show and climbing the ladder to grab the briefcase. That might mean they know we think he'll win, so they tease that he will only to take it away, or they tease that he will knowing we'll think that means they know we know their plans and they'll stay the course because we'll now expect them not to. Or it doesn't mean shit and I should stop confusing myself. Yeah, let's just end here.
I thought this was a very good show. It wasn't explosive, necessarily, but it had some good wrestling, some depth of character, some storyline progression, and the debut of the most interesting character in a long, long time (even if some dipshit fans tried to ruin it).
Had Punk vs. Orton been a better main event, this would have been an A- show. Still, solid effort headed to Money in the Bank.
That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off with all your thoughts on last night's show. Did you like it as much as me?