It seems like WWE Payback just ended, but we are already only two weeks away from Money in the Bank.
While the company has done a terrific job quickly building momentum and heavy interest for the important pay-per-view, there is still plenty of storyline development to be done in the coming days.
On Monday night, Raw had all of that and more.
There was buildup for the All-Stars ladder match, there was another wrinkle in the Paul Heyman-CM Punk-Curtis Axel feud and to end the night, there was a compelling champion versus champion match between John Cena and Alberto Del Rio.
Let's take a look at what went down at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa.
Another Wyatt family video aired.
Time to remove the veil..... Forget everything you thought was real. Next week it begins. #FollowTheBuzzards— Bray Wyatt (@WWEBrayWyatt) July 1, 2013
The Shield defeat Christian and The Usos.
Dolph Ziggler defeats Jinder Mahal.
Kane defeats Randy Orton via fast pin from special guest referee Daniel Bryan. Afterwards, Orton hit Bryan with an RKO.
Sheamus defeats Fandango via count out.
The Miz defeats Ryback after Ryback forces the referee to stop the match. Afterwards, Jericho hit Ryback with a Codebreaker.
CM Punk and Curtis Axel defeat The Prime Time Players. Axel steals the pin from Punk.
Kaitlyn defeats Alicia Fox. Afterwards, AJ Lee shows a photoshopped image of an obese Kaitlyn.
Antonio Cesaro defeats Cody Rhodes.
John Cena defeats Alberto Del Rio.
Wyatt family video ends the show.
Champion vs. Champion
To steadily build the hype of the champion versus champion match throughout the show, the company showed throwback videos of past champions. As Jim Ross pointed out, they filled an important purpose:
The video packages were both tremendous and nostalgic, and they did a great job of showing why a champion versus champion match should be treated as prestigious.
And the match didn't disappoint.
It started out fairly slow, but it featured some impressive offense from both sides, some exciting moments and near-falls and an excited, enthralled crowd by the end.
Although the ending was slightly predictable—Ziggler distracting Del Rio so Cena could score the win—the segment overall was enjoyable and it built plenty of momentum for the Money in the Bank title matches.
Although Ryback lost to John Cena at Payback, he was able to pin the WWE champ cleanly in the first stage of hell.
Even if he wasn't going to continue the program with Cena, many figured that probably meant he was going to come out crushing opponents following the pay-per-view.
Instead, the company has him looking like a crybaby.
During his match on Monday night, The Miz attacked Ryback's leg, and after a while, Mr. Feed Me More was forced to tell the referee to stop the match. To make him look even weaker, Jericho came out and hit him with a Codebreaker.
Y2J then added insult to injury:
And legend Mick Foley wondered what it all meant:
Is this the beginning of the end for Ryback?
Whatever this means, it is at least intriguing. Ryback never really felt right as a main eventer when he was acting as an indestructible monster, and with this new wrinkle to his character, there is certainly some interest moving forward.
With some extra levels to his character, he can be a solid midcard option.