Complete Report Card and Predictions Following WWE Raw for 7/15/13
Just one night after Money in the Bank, Monday's WWE Raw gave us the WWE title match for SummerSlam.
John Cena selected his opponent for the big pay-per-view as a hot Brooklyn crowd roared for its choice. Brad Maddox began his run as general manager, Dolph Ziggler broke up with his girl and Paul Heyman hit a home run of a performance.
WWE continued its recent trend of quality matches and powerful segments as feuds intensified and rivals old and new battled in the ring.
The Brad Maddox Era Begins
Vickie Guerrero's replacement entered following a drum roll. He called Brooklyn "BK" and announced his intentions to be the greatest WWE Raw general manager of all time.
Maddox had little chance to talk beyond that before John Cena interrupted him.
Maddox told the champ that he could pick his own opponent at SummerSlam. Cena threw out the possibility of wrestling one of the Bellas, Dok Hendrix or Dutch Mantell. The Brooklyn crowd made it known who it wanted Cena's opponent to be when it erupted in "Yes!" chants.
Randy Orton slid into the ring and told Maddox that Cena may not be champion for long. Fandango soon joined him and said that he'd be the perfect opponent for Cena. He would certainly give Cena a better match than either of the Bellas.
This solid segment was a chaotic way to open the show with a few fun surprises.
Maddox will be a better GM than Mike Adamle, but not as good as Steve Austin.
How dare Cena interrupt the greatest #RAW GM of all time, Brad Maddox— WrestleEnigma.com (@WrestleEnigma) July 16, 2013
Randy Orton Takes Fandango Down
Monday's first match saw Randy Orton go up against Fandango in a physical, impromptu battle.
Orton was aggressive and dominant for much of the opening moments, but Fandango kept finding a way to stay in the match. The ballroom dancer was gutsy and slippery as he evaded The Viper. Orton kept catching him and punishing him, though.
The crowd tried to recreate the post-WrestleMania 29 buzz, attempting to take over the match with chants like "Randy Savage" and "Boring!"
Fandango and Orton won them over through their intensity and trading momentum several times over. Orton won as one might expect, but this was far more competitive than most would have predicted.
Orton pins Fandango after an RKO.
The opening match was entertaining and refreshing and did well to give both men momentum. Just a few big moments or two more would have raised this to an A grade.
Fandango looked extremely strong in defeat. Orton won but is worn. Great starting match.— Mr. Not PG! (@WWEThatsNotPG) July 16, 2013
The Shield Hands Out Justice to Mark Henry
Mark Henry told the crowd that he pushed John Cena to his limits and he could do it again with another shot at the title. The fans chanted "You tapped out!" to which Henry slickly said, "He'll make all of y'all tap out too."
The overzealous crowd looked to run all over Henry's speech, but it was The Shield who stopped the big man from talking.
The Shield and Henry brawled in the ring before Reigns finally toppled him a spear. The trio gave Henry a triple powerbomb.
The group's motivations are unclear beyond having a taste for havoc. Will this mean Henry is out of action for a bit, or does The World's Strongest Man seek revenge?
This attack creates a number of options for WWE going forward and was a surprising moment even if The Shield has attacked just about everybody else.
Welcome back to the land of Babyfaces Mark Henry! Again, Shield overcome WSM with numbers but Henry looked great as well.— Jimmy Korderas (@jimmykorderas) July 16, 2013
Dolph Ziggler's Crew Implodes
Alberto Del Rio took on Dolph Ziggler once more and the two put on a compelling show, though the headlines will be about Ziggler's girlfriend and bodyguard turning on him.
Ziggler broke up with AJ backstage, and he had to know that move would end in disaster.
The crowd roared in support of him as he nailed the world champ with 10 consecutive elbows and fought valiantly even after Del Rio hurled him outside the ring. After that crash, Ziggler's leg seemed wobbly and his punches looked less powerful.
Both he and Del Rio were drained, running on empty after two hard-fought nights in a row.
Ziggler had just enough to lift himself out of a Tree of Woe and soon looked to be on his way to getting a victory when AJ Lee rang the ring bell. Ziggler looked up confused, and Del Rio took advantage by kicking him in the back of the head.
As Ziggler shouted at his recent ex, Big E Langston charged in and clobbered The Show-Off. Angering a crazy chick clearly has its consequences.
WWE has done an excellent job in highlighting the pain and frustration Ziggler has felt about getting so close to redemption.
Del Rio gets a pinfall victory.
Del Rio and Ziggler give a great match, which is followed by some intriguing drama between Ziggler and his posse.
Ziggler and Big E Langston will battle at SummerSlam, leaving the world title scene open.
I'll never tire of Ziggler vs. Del Rio matches. That bump to the floor that Ziggler sold by landing on his face looked painful! #Raw— John Canton (@johnreport) July 16, 2013
Bray Wyatt Searches for the Truth
After R-Truth ended his "What's Up?" song, The Wyatt Family came down to the ring and gave a more violent and unsettling performance.
Luke Harper and Erick Rowan mauled R-Truth and cleared the ring for Bray Wyatt to address the fans. Wyatt said, "There aint no such thing as a hero." He said that we are addicted to the illusion of heroes and delivered a fantastic promo.
R-Truth tried to even things up by grabbing a steel chair, but Wyatt suckered him in before laying a beating on him in the corner. Leaning over R-Truth, Wyatt talked about Kane following the buzzards.
Wyatt's first live promo crackled with a great, compelling energy.
The Wyatt Family tries to recruit Kane into the family.
Wyatt's mic work is unreal. I was afraid about a live mic in front of thousands, but he proved that he has it. #RawWithSubtitles— WWSubtitles (@WrestleSubtitle) July 16, 2013
The Usos Rebound from Money in the Bank
Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro are officially known as Real Americans. WWE fans voted for The Usos to face them in their debut as a tag team.
Cesaro took the early punishment, battling with both Usos. Swagger then came in only to taste a superkick.
Before the match had a chance to tell much of a story, it was over. The Usos won to solidify themselves as still being The Shield's top contenders.
The Usos win by pinfall.
It's great to see a new team in the tag division, but this match ended before it really got interesting.
The Usos don't lose a non-Shield match until after SummerSlam.
Being a Real American is not Working put right now. Samoan-Americans are Running Things!— ThreeManBooth (@3ManBooth) July 16, 2013
Christian Gets a Win Against Mr. Money in the Bank
Christian surprised Damien Sandow with a relatively quick victory.
Sandow was aggressive, swatting down Christian as he flew at him. Early on, Sandow pushed Christian off the top rope to the outside of the ring with Captain Charisma taking a dangerous spill.
Christian would get his revenge soon after. He countered the Elbow of Disdain and got a surprise three-count.
Cody Rhodes stormed the ring and pounded on his former tag team partner with stinging fists. As sad as it is to see Team Rhodes Scholars disband, this rivalry looks to be an awesome one.
Christian wins with a jackknife pin.
The match was a touch better than The Usos and Real Americans, plus it had the added excitement of Rhodes and Sandow's feud getting rolling.
Sandow eventually puts the Money in the Bank briefcase on the line in a future match against Rhodes.
Not sure why Christian beat Sandow, I but I like the storyline progression between him and Rhodes. Expected it to be slow burning tho. #RAW— Ryan Frye (@WiFrye) July 16, 2013
A Bella Takes on a Funkadactyl
Brie Bella battled Naomi in a match that was not the right fit for a Brooklyn crowd. The crowd grew restless during their action, and Brie did little to reverse that.
She held Naomi in a wear-down hold for far too long. There was little action here save for some fun, athletic offense from Naomi to end it.
The Funkdactyl won with a crossbody.
Naomi defeats Brie.
The mostly low-energy match dragged.
The Total Divas show coming out is going to mean a lot more Bellas in the near future.
Paul Heyman Explains Himself, Sics Brock Lesnar on CM Punk
CM Punk called out Heyman and Brock Lesnar. Heyman came out minus Lesnar and began a scathing promo by saying, "You don't exist."
Punk snarled in the ring as Heyman talked about Punk's failings. There was hurt and betrayal in Heyman's voice even with all the viciousness he spewed. He talked about Punk having no family, and said all that he has are the fans.
He ended by proclaiming that Punk can't beat Lesnar.
Punk then promised to hurt Heyman and to burn down everything around him.
Lesnar came out and tossed around a game Punk. Punk kept coming at The Beast Incarnate, but the big man hit an F-5 on the announce table and left him writhing on the floor.
Two of the company's best talkers delivered convincing emotion, and Lesnar's attack furthered a feud that is going to be the story of the summer.
Punk will take on Curtis Axel for a few weeks in between Lesnar appearances.
Rob Van Dam vs. Chris Jericho
In a pairing sure to have fans flashback to several years ago, Rob Van Dam took on Chris Jericho in front of an appreciative crowd.
Van Dam looked good, rolling around the ring and moonsaulting off the apron. He landed on his feet after slipping out of a suplex and delivered a tooth-rattling boot.
Even though he's clearly slower these days, Van Dam was able to work with Jericho in creating an entertaining, compelling matchup. Both men used their experience and savvy to avoid each other's biggest moves.
Van Dam reopened his wound from Sunday, blood sliding down his forehead.
In the end, the tired titans rewarded WWE for making their battle the main event.
Van Dam hits the Five-Star Frog Splash for the win.
This had great energy from the crowd and more than enough drama to be more than a mere nostalgia match.
Van Dam will take over Jericho's role of putting over younger stars and looking good in the process.
Great crowd, Y2J vs. RVD, I feel this is 10 years ago all over again. #RAW— Pᴜɴᴋ. (@BigEvil93) July 16, 2013
John Cena Chooses His Challenger
Brad Maddox asked John Cena to pick his SummerSlam opponent, and so just about ever Superstar stood at the entrance ramp awaiting the champ's decision.
Cena tried to placate to the hostile audience, saying that he respected their opinion. He'd have them help him decide.
This segment was indicative of why Cena is so divisive. Fans who dig Cena likely found his antics funny, while his detractors likely criticized him here for not taking the moment seriously enough.
While it was fun to joke that Heath Slater or Great Khali would main event SummerSlam with Cena, the segment dragged. Cena did his best Ryan Seacrest impression by teasing the decision only to delay it for another moment.
Had Cena chosen anyone other than Bryan, the arena would have been caught in a storm of anger. Instead, the night ended with a series of "Yes!" chants.
The decision gets an A grade. The delivery gets a C. Average that out to get a B.
Bryan uses Cena's STF move in their SummerSlam clash.
Felt like WWE dropped the ball on how they got to Cena vs. Bryan. Came across like Bryan "won a sweeptstakes" a la Chris Sabin in TNA.— James Caldwell (@jctorch) July 16, 2013