Monday's WWE Raw did well to shift the Money in the Bank feuds and matches into higher gear as we head into the pay-per-view on Sunday.
John Cena and Mark Henry sold their match extremely well.
The Money in the Bank ladder match participants battled each other, jockeying for momentum as the McMahon family saga continues to play out.
A hot Baltimore crowd welcomed the Wyatt Family to the main roster, cheered on Daniel Bryan and Sheamus as they put on the match of the night and watched as Vickie Guerrero unraveled on live TV.
From the great match that opened the show to the great match that ended it, here are the results and grades for the last WWE Raw before we crown two Mr. Money in the Banks.
Daniel Bryan battled Sheamus in a fantastic opening match.
Their slugfest featured Sheamus and Bryan smashing each other's forearms, throwing each other into the barricade and going all out less than a week from their WWE title Money in the Bank ladder match.
Momentum shifted constantly as Sheamus tried to overpower Bryan and Bryan tried to outwrestle Sheamus.
Theirs was a well-worked match that provided the show with great energy to begin with. The last few moments saw Bryan counter White Noise into a pin attempt, Sheamus counter the "No! Lock" into the cloverleaf and The World's Toughest Vegan turn that submission into the winning pin.
Both men shook hands after the fight. There will be no hand-shaking come Sunday.
Bryan reverses the cloverleaf into a roll-up for the win.
Sheamus and Bryan showed off their great chemistry again and gave a great effort to produce the match of the night.
Only if that Bryan Sheamus took place at #WM28— WrestlingHeadsRadio (@wrestlingheads) July 9, 2013
While most fans likely expected The Shield to just squash Tons of Funk, this was a highly competitive match that toyed with that expectation.
Brodus Clay tossed Seth Rollins around in the beginning. He tagged in Tensai, who hit a big suplex on Rollins.
It took a double-team effort by Rollins and Roman Reigns to get things back on track for the tag champs. Reigns then clobbered Clay, playing the hammer to Clay's nail.
Tons of Funk and The Shield had awkward chemistry together, a mismatching of styles holding this match back from being really good. The Shield has been much smoother and more interesting against other opponents.
The excitement was in either Clay or Tensai getting near-falls. Tons of Funk seemed on the verge of an upset several times.
It was not meant to be, however, as Reigns made a tag unseen by Tensai and came steamrolling right at him.
WWE accomplished a number of goals here. The Shield looked vulnerable going into Sunday, which makes the title match that much more exciting. Tons of Funk look good going forward, and fans got a surprisingly entertaining show out of this odd matchup.
Reigns spears Tensai for the win.
It was a solid match in what was a surprisingly tough test for The Shield as they head into Money in the Bank.
Couple good near-falls there for Tons of Funk, even though there was no way they were going to actually win. #raw— Greg Parks (@gregmparks) July 9, 2013
The segment featuring the WWE champ and challenger at Money in the Bank was simple, effective and powerful.
Mark Henry opened by saying that John Cena looked afraid. He told the crowd, "For 17 years I've starved, and there's only one thing that can satisfy my hunger."
Cena was his goofy self, making jokes, while Henry juxtaposed him with intensity and intimidation. The straightforward, succinct promo set up what's at stake in the match and what the title means to both men.
Henry said that if he won the WWE title his career would be validated and that he'd be a surefire Hall of Famer. Cena had some good moments here, but Henry was the star, extending his streak of awesome mic work over the last few weeks.
The talking turned to violence when Henry waited for Cena to turn away before clocking him. Cena tried to respond with an Attitude Adjustment, but Henry's weight sent the champ crashing face first.
Expect Cena to try that move again on Sunday and succeed. Will it result in a three-count or will Henry surprise us with a victory?
A great segment made both men look good and stirred up excitement for their Money in the Bank match.
Henry/Cena did a fine job selling the match. Refreshing to hear someone whose only goal is to be champion.— Jay Hunter (@OSWreview) July 9, 2013
With The Miz on commentary, Curtis Axel took on Chris Jericho once again.
Paul Heyman stood at ringside. His sunglasses covered a nasty black eye.
Jericho opened the match with a quick pace, but Axel soon ended his flurry. The intercontinental champ took control with a neckbreaker and proceeded to choke, stomp and pound on Jericho.
Both men surprisingly kicked out of finishers, though those moments didn't have as much drama as one might expect.
Distracted by Miz, Axel nearly got counted out. Heyman urged him to make it back into the ring, almost pushing him in.
Jericho waited for him, nailing him with the Codebreaker.
Jericho wins via the Codebreaker.
Axel’s first loss comes in his best match to date. His match with Miz now has an added motivating factor.
Axel and Jericho was fun too!— Player Uno (@PlayerUno) July 9, 2013
The men involved in Sunday's World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank ladder match got together backstage to tell each other who was going to win.
Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow vowed not to split up. Zeb Colter promised one of his men, either Jack Swagger or Antonio Cesaro, would win. He then made fun of Barrett's accent, asking him what language he was speaking.
Fandango got the biggest reaction. Nobody wanted to hear him say his name, and they all warned him not to say it.
He did anyway, and before he had a chance to let the A's breathe, Barrett punched him in the jaw.
This was basically a reminder of who is in this Money in the Bank match with the single satisfying sight of Barrett clocking Fandango.
WADE BARRETT JEALOUSLY ATTACKING THOSE WITH CATCH PHRASES.— typicalROHfan (@typicalROHfan) July 9, 2013
Sin Cara took on Alberto Del Rio, but their match quickly became about Del Rio and Dolph Ziggler.
Sin Cara delivered a few of his trademark quick and acrobatic moves. Del Rio kicked him with merciless shots to the head.
Soon Ziggler distracted the world champ by doing his version of Ricardo Rodriguez's announcing. Ziggler tried to be both funny and serious in the segment. He talked on as the two men wrestled, and it all felt awkward.
Ziggler and Del Rio got into a brawl, but the referee didn't ring the bell.
Ziggler's interference leads to what one would have to assume is a no-contest.
Ziggler’s bit on the mic fell flat, but the feud was amped up in time for Sunday.
Vickie Guerrero’s job evaluation became both a chance for the McMahons to squabble and for Vickie to transform into a squealing animal.
Triple H wanted Vickie fired because he believes she's terrible at her job. Vince McMahon said to keep her around because she has been entertaining. This was clearly a power struggle that was more about control of the direction of the company and less about Vickie's job.
The family drama appears to just be getting started.
Vickie kissed up to the McMahons. She pleaded and whined, but it was in vain. The fans had already voted her out via the WWE app.
When the decision came down, she lost control and began to howl and crawl on the desk in the ring. McMahon grew angry, named Brad Maddox the new general manager as an act of spite and foreshadowed a heel turn.
The segment went on a touch long, but it had drama, comedy and a surprise at the end.
So when @ExcuseMeWWE applies for unemployment, does she put down that a social media application fired her 75% to 25%?— DavidHerro (@DavidHerro) July 9, 2013
Christian came out to face Kane, and the screen behind him read Michael McGillicutty. You can guarantee someone heard a few non-PG words from Vince McMahon after the show.
Kane and Christian had a decent match, but Christian seemed a step slower than usual. Hopefully he's just saving himself for Money in the Bank and that's not the result of another injury.
Kane stopped a very offensive roll that Christian went on with a boot, a series of punches and a thunderous chokeslam in the end.
He had no time to celebrate, however, as the lights went off and Bray Wyatt's sneer appeared on the Jumbotron.
Kane won after a chokeslam.
The two veterans put on a pretty good show in a short span, but neither one seemed particularly energized or enthusiastic.
Bray Wyatt gave one last sinister speech before his family's official arrival. He told us that he created war and everyone needs to "wake up and look at this lie they're living in."
Then the lights went out and Wyatt and his so-called brothers marched down to the ring by the light of a lantern in his hand.
This got a big reaction from the Baltimore fans. When the lights went on, Erick Rowan and Luke Harper clobbered Kane. They launched him into the steel steps and then picked them up and whacked him with them.
Wyatt leaned over the fallen Kane, and a devious grin slid across his face.
Where the WWE takes this story from here is going to be intriguing. Does the family continue to battle Kane, or is he just their first victim?
It's great to see the Wyatt Family aboard, and the first chapter of their story leaves us wanting to see what's next.
I need Wyatt's entrance promo STAT. Seriously, that was TOP NOTCH #RawWithSubtitles— WWSubtitles (@WrestleSubtitle) July 9, 2013
AJ Lee and Alicia Fox were set to face Layla El and Kaitlyn in a tag team match.
Kaitlyn's growing fury derailed those plans. She didn't wait to get tagged in and sent the match out of control early on as she chased AJ around the ring.
The Bella Twins provided an excess of cattiness on commentary, and the fast-paced action that Layla and Fox began was overshadowed. The best part of the match was Kaitlyn's devastating spear on the outside.
She looked like she was Goldberg there for a moment.
The action unraveled, and the match ended without an official decision.
The spear gets an A+, while the tag match didn't last long enough to earn a grade.
CM Punk and Randy Orton both gave a performance worthy of the main event.
Orton stomped and sneered. Punk fought back as the crowd grew louder. Punk hit his own head on a suicide dive at the barricade, and Orton soon took advantage, wearing Punk down with unrelenting holds.
This was a mostly even battle, one that let both men shine.
A fabulous sequence ended things as each man slipped out of the other man's moves until Punk landed a Go To Sleep and got the win.
Bryan ran in after the match, kicked Punk senseless and then knocked Orton out of the ring with the ladder. The night ended with a man many consider the favorite in the Money in the Bank match holding the briefcase atop the ladder.
Punk hit the GTS and earned the clean win.
Punk and Orton put on a great match that was just a shade below what Sheamus and Bryan did earlier.
Overall, A great edition of #RAW this week. The Wyatt's debut was epic, Sheamus vs Bryan and Randy Orton vs CM Punk were amazing matches.— d bryan mark ™ (@2000awesome) July 9, 2013