The Goat Face Rises
Daniel Bryan continued his meteoric rise up the rankings in WWE on Monday night, defeating Sheamus in a great match to open the show, then announcing himself as the Superstar to beat at Sunday's pay-per-view.
Immediately following CM Punk's big win over Randy Orton in the night's main event, Bryan rushed to the ring, attacking Punk before introducing a ladder into the fold. He did not discriminate, attacking both men with the weapon before setting it up, climbing it and retrieving the Money in the Bank briefcase.
The segment established Bryan as a legitimate threat to win the match this Sunday, if not the outright favorite.
There has been no Superstar hotter over the last three months than Daniel Bryan. A Money in the Bank ladder match win would cap off what has been an unbelievable summer for the most talented technician on the roster and would put him a step closer to achieving the ultimate prize in the sport: the WWE Championship.
Money in the Bank Preview Matches
Every year, the Raw prior to Money in the Bank typically features a series of singles matches involving the six (or eight) Superstars involved in the following Sunday's ladder matches. This year was no different. Unlike years past, however, this year's bouts had a freshness to them that went a long way in making Monday's broadcast a better show overall.
The night kicked off with an absolutely stellar match between Daniel Bryan and Sheamus. They have exhibited tremendous chemistry with one another over the last three years and continued to do so with an exciting, high quality affair to kick off Monday's show.
Christian and Kane were the second duo to take to the ring. Despite not being of the quality of the night's other two Money in the Bank previews, the match gave both men something to do and played a much bigger role in the long-term, something we will get to in a moment.
The night's main event featured Randy Orton taking on CM Punk. The last time the two Superstars had any real interaction with one another was in 2011, when they had an underrated rivalry that lead to matches at WrestleMania 27 and the following month's Extreme Rules.
Locking horns for the first time in a while, Punk and Orton did not disappoint, delivering a quality match that saw each man counter and escape the other's finishing maneuvers before "the Best in the World" finally slipped out of the RKO, delivered a kick to the face and was able to put Orton down with the Go To Sleep.
The three matches went a long way in selling the All-Stars ladder match and produced two high quality bouts.
For months, fans have been treated to video packages hyping the arrival of the Wyatt Family. As the weeks passed, a noticeable excitement built and built and by the time Monday's Raw hit the USA Network airwaves from Baltimore, Maryland, the anticipation was at a fever pitch.
Throughout the evening, video packages featured cameramen trying to get close to the Wyatt Family, to investigate what they were doing. The videos were creepy, uncomfortable and completely different from anything seen on WWE television in recent memory. They were cool and only added to the anticipation of the fans who had waited two month to see the trio arrive on Raw.
Following the Kane-Christian match, the lights went out, the final video aired and moments later, the Wyatt Family arrived. The light of a lantern illuminating his face, Bray Wyatt led Erick Rowan and Luke Harper to the ring, the melodious tune of "Live in Fear' announcing their entrance.
Harper and Rowan entered the ring when the lights came back on and delivered a two-on-one beat down of Kane, leaving him unconscious.
"Down with the machine," Wyatt stated as he posed over the fallen former World champion.
The Wyatt Family made a hellish first impression. With Money in the Bank now five days away, one has to wonder what impact Wyatt and his "family" will have at the annual July pay-per-view.