Monday's WWE Raw was a night of teases and previews, not allowing fans to see the collisions between enemies that Money in the Bank will showcase.
The WWE title Money in the Bank ladder-match entrants talked a lot of smack, but little violence was handed out. Mark Henry talked a lot about what he was going to do, but did very little.
WWE chose to delay the violence for the upcoming pay-per-view. Instead, fans saw a glimpse into championship history, The Shield regain their footing and John Cena and Alberto Del Rio put on a show.
There was the continued vignette series for the Wyatt Family, but this time, WWE announced a timeline for the group's arrival. Bray Wyatt and his buzzards are coming to next week's WWE Raw. It should be one hell of a go-home show.
Starting with Daniel Bryan, each of the Money in the Bank All-Star match entrants came down to the ring to state why they would win.
Daniel Bryan sported a new T-shirt that suggests that we "respect the beard." Bryan's portion was fun and light. He played with the crowd, getting them to chant "Yes!" and "No!"
Orton said he was starving for a championship. Sheamus said it had been too long since he'd been champ. Kane claimed he was willing to perform "unspeakable acts" in pursuit of the title.
Punk came in last and was his usual well-spoken self even if Bryan interrupted him mid-stride.
The segment felt stilted at times, but there was some good references to Sheamus and Bryan's history and Bryan and Kane’s broken alliance.
As expected, things got out of hand, but only just a little. After Orton hit an RKO on Kane, but that was it. The brawl fans expected never came, and everyone just walked away from each other warily.
WWE set up the Money in the Bank ladder match in a way most fans have already seen, but it was effective in that it got every guy some screen time.
A solid segment, but it felt unfinished without much physicality or a true ending.
To promote the champion vs. champion match main event, WWE took a look back at some of the greatest WWE titleholders and world champs ever.
Throughout the episode, WWE showed video clips of greats like Buddy Rogers, Lou Thesz, Bruno Sammartino, Dusty Rhodes and Harley Race. These were fantastic peeks into the past sure to make younger fans curious.
They did well to rev up the prestige of the titles and to tie the past to the present.
It's awesome that WWE included Sting in this mix. Perhaps, this is the company's way of showing him respect to help bring him into the fold in the future.
A great look at history that showcased pioneers like Thesz and Race while also reflecting on more recent champs like Steve Austin, Triple H and Booker T.
Angry about losing to Christian and The Usos on Friday's WWE SmackDown, The Shield brought a revived sense of aggression.
Dean Ambrose taunted Christian when he had him down. He later mocked Christian's clap routine.
The Shield's angry energy contrasted well with The Usos and Christian's speed and fun approach to offense. Christian and his new partners showed off good chemistry as they flew together against a common enemy.
Bursts of the usual thrilling chaos of The Shield's matches highlighted this. WWE did everything right here to make us excited about The Usos challenging Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins, but strangely decided to place the tag team title match on the pre-show.
Rollins pushed Christian off the top rope, allowing Ambrose to play the hyena and pick up the scraps.
The Shield won with Ambrose rolling up Christian for the pin.
An exciting match which gave The Shield back the momentum it lost on Friday's WWE SmackDown.
The Shield on pre-show? #injustice— BrazilianMadePunker∞ (@UndefeatedPunk) July 2, 2013
In his first action since losing the world title, Dolph Ziggler faced Jinder Mahal.
It was a match that allowed Ziggler to show off, to dominate for the most part and earn an easy victory. By no means was this one-sided, though. Mahal got in several stomps and a knee, but the fans didn't seem interested.
The crowd began to chant the announcers' names rather than respond to the action in the ring.
Ziggler ended it with a surprise Zig Zag and soon found himself having to fight off all three 3MB members.
Ziggler won with the Zig Zag.
Ziggler and Mahal managed to stretch out a typical squash match into something a touch more entertaining.
HHH telling vickie, you are giving the wwe universe what they want...i never requested or wanted to see ziggler vs mahal #FAIL— Juan Ortega (@JuanWWETNA) July 2, 2013
Kane was happy to get a rematch against Randy Orton, but was seething when he heard that Daniel Bryan was the special guest referee.
Bryan was impartial at first as Kane and Orton traded offensive bursts. He later yanked Orton off Kane to which The Viper responded with a push. Bryan immediately called for the bell, disqualifying Orton.
Kane wouldn't have it. This was an unacceptable cheap victory, and he demanded that Bryan restart the match.
As the action continued, the crowd chanted for Bryan. The goat-faced one soon made an impact on the match again as Bryan counted to three at lightning speed after Kane hit a big boot on Orton.
Bryan avoided getting chokeslamed when Kane thought better of attacking his former partner, but Orton would show him no such mercy. He landed an emphatic RKO on Bryan.
The Money in the Bank ladder match is looking more intriguing as this trio's tension increases.
Kane wins, thanks to Bryan's quick count.
The slow match was boosted by Bryan's involvement and what their hostility toward each other means for Money in the Bank.
Sheamus mocked Fandango's dancing and then proceeded to deliver a beating to the dancer.
Fandango got in a few kicks that stunned Sheamus, but mostly, this was match where "The Celtic Warrior" overpowered his foe. Otherwise, Fandango held Sheamus down in a wear-down hold that took up far too much of the match.
A few forearms to the chest later and Fandango decided to walk away, taking the count-out loss but keeping his hospital bills low.
Fandango doesn't look like much of a threat in his Money in the Bank match right now. We'll see what next week brings for him.
Sheamus wins by count-out.
Too much of the match was spent on Fandango holding Sheamus in a rest hold.
Fandango has had enough, takes a powder & allows himself to be counted out, giving Sheamus the win. Of note, Summer Rae is very pretty.— WrestleZone.com (@WRESTLEZONEcom) July 2, 2013
The storyline of Vickie Guerrero trying to please Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon and Triple H continued.
She kissed up the best she could to all of them. She tried to sell her ideas as great, but she can't hope to win when the rules change so often. The McMahons all gave conflicting orders, and at one point, Vickie appeared on the verge of breaking down.
Stephanie teased a job evaluation for Vickie where she could either get promoted or fired for next week.
So far, Vickie has become increasingly sympathetic as the victim of this power struggle. This evaluation could continue that arc.
If this story does indeed end or take a major turn next week, the pacing will have been done well. We have had enough time to feel Vickie's pain and are now sufficiently curious to how this plays out.
The Miz clearly saw Justin Gabriel kick Ryback's knee into an injured state on Friday's WWE SmackDown. He attacked that part of the body with precision, kicking, pulling at it and hyperextending it.
Chris Jericho did his best to build up Ryback from the announce table, calling him a "demonic entity," but the story of this match is that Ryback called for it to stop when his leg hurt too much. Here is a man made to look like a destroyer, and he cries uncle when his knee gives him trouble?
A very curious decision makes Ryback look rather weak going forward, and Miz doesn't even really benefit from it. It's not so much a victory for Miz as it is a self-induced defeat for Ryback.
The Miz wins when Ryback tells the referee to stop the match.
Working in a weakness for Ryback is one thing, but having him make the cowardly move of stopping the match is the wrong choice.
"The World's Strongest Man" is on a hot streak on the microphone.
For the third straight week, he enthralled audiences without fighting in a match. Mark Henry bordered on a shoot promo when he talked about Superstars injuring him in matches and about not getting an opportunity with the company.
Henry was angry, forceful and swayed from side to side. "No one's going to keep me down anymore," he told the crowd. Reiterating the discussion many fans have been having, Henry said he deserved the title and that he has earned the right to be WWE champ.
It was a moving, powerful speech that used enough truth to make it especially memorable.
Henry delivered another fabulous promo. His match with Cena gets more exciting each time the World’s Strongest Man talks about it.
CM Punk and Curtis Axel teamed up against The Prime Time Players, but looked less cohesive than Team Hell No's early days.
Axel tagged himself in. He remained distracted as he kept trying to show off for Punk's sake. Meanwhile, O'Neil flung Axel around, baiting Punk to come into the ring.
When Punk finally got involved, he had things in control, even landing a Go To Sleep on Darren Young. That's when Axel swooped in and got the pinfall—much to Punk's chagrin.
There is clearly a story here that WWE is exploring of Punk breaking away from Heyman and leading a rivalry with Axel.
Axel and Punk win via pinfall with discord brewing between them.
The match was solid. The ending was surprising and will certainly lead to more strife between the Heyman guys.
I wanna see more of these Punk/Axel tag matches. Could lead to a future match at some ppv between the two. #raw
— Stephen Harris (@disclaimerboy) July 2, 2013
Katilyn continued her win streak since she lost the Divas title to AJ Lee at Payback.
"The Hybrid Diva" powered through her match with Alicia Fox and ended a short, dominating performance with a spear.
AJ then came out to poke fun at Kaitlyn. She talked about Kaitlyn's real-life pre-WWE racy photos which many male fans are already aware of and showed fans a fake version of one. A photoshopped image of Kaitlyn featured her as an obese woman in red lingerie.
Their feud, which at its peak has been about psychological warfare, has recently gotten increasingly silly. The fat picture wasn't really funny or damaging to Kailtyn.
Kaitlyn won with a spear after a minute or two.
Kaitlyn earned an easy win, and her feud with AJ went in a juvenile direction.
I wanted to see a real model picture of Kaitlyn. [Searches Google] #RAW— #BarrettForMITB (@OhItsJustJarrod) July 2, 2013
After Zeb Colter tossed in a marriage act comment with his usual anti-immigration rhetoric, he announced Jack Swagger's return. Now his militia is a trio, with two of its members heading into the same Money in the Bank ladder match.
Partners Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow are in the same MITB match as well, so things should get mighty interesting when alliances are forced to break.
Rhodes and Sandow had great chemistry.
Rhodes tried to get a cheap pin with his feet on the rope. Cesaro landed a thunderous uppercut. Their potential show-stealer ended early, however, with Cesaro landing his finishing move.
Sandow appeared peeved at Rhodes for losing. That's likely a bit of foreshadowing. Team Rhodes Scholars look to be on the road to implosion.
Cesaro hit Rhodes with the Neutralizer.
Two of WWE's better in-ring performers ended their match much too soon.
What was essentially an ad for the Total Divas reality show pitted Nikki and Brie Bella against the Diva newbies and later Natayla and the rest of the face Divas.
WWE does not often feature Daniel Day Lewis-level acting, but this catty back-and-forth was especially bad. It felt like all the women were reading from a teleprompter, and only the Bellas really seemed into it.
Perhaps, that's because they were the stars. The Bellas were snide and vindictive as we've come to expect, just not in an interesting way. The segment lasted longer than Kaitlyn match against Alicia Fox.
Not only did the segment go on too long, it didn't go anywhere. The only thing that saved this from being completely unwatchable is the collective attractiveness of the women involved.
Boy can't wait for that reality show #sarcasm— Lance Storm (@LanceStorm) July 2, 2013
Alberto Del Rio and John Cena put on an excellent match especially considering the lack of current storyline between them and the lack of stakes in their battle.
Del Rio kicked Cena in the ribs and stomped on him with a sneer on his face. He continued his recent trend of turning up the aggression.
Cena took more risks than usual, once hitting his shoulder on the ring post after a missed charge and later trying to dropkick Del Rio in the air.
The clash featured close calls and two men giving their foes their best shots. It was a match built on both stars going all out, one that built well to the climax.
Mark Henry came down to ringside, but it was Dolph Ziggler who caused the real distraction. Del Rio stopped in to look at his Money in the Bank opponent and then found himself getting his attitude adjusted.
Henry teased a post-match attack, but like the opening segment, there was no violent aftermath. WWE appears to be saving the carnage for later.
Cena won with an Attitude Adjustment.
Their Money in the Bank opponents could have got more involved, but Cena and Del Rio delivered a well-worked match worthy of the main event.
That was a surprisingly great match. Credit to Del Rio and Cena.— Wayne Naylor (@Approximation) July 2, 2013