The Good, the Great and the Awesome from Raw (6/9/14)
Monday night on Raw, Seth Rollins revealed his reasons for betraying Shield teammates Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns last week. Reigns and Ambrose responded by vowing to tear their former friend apart and do the same to Randy Orton and Triple H until Evolution no longer exists.
While The Shield saga is the lead story in World Wrestling Entertainment, it was the announcement that The Authority was stripping Daniel Bryan of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and putting it up for grabs in a Money in the Bank Ladder match that stole the headlines.
Sheamus and Cesaro picked up big victories in qualifying matches, earning the right to join Alberto Del Rio, who qualified last week, and "The Viper" Randy Orton, who was handed his spot by Triple H.
John Cena partnered with Ambrose and Reigns to take on the Wyatt Family in the night's main event, a great Six-Man Tag Team match that saw Reigns score an impressive pinfall victory over Luke Harper.
The Divas took center stage, Bo Dallas and Rusev continued their winning ways and Goldust had another new partner as he took on Ryback and Curtis Axel.
What made this week's list of the Good, the Great and the Awesome?
Take a look for yourself.
Rob Van Dam vs. Cesaro
Rob Van Dam vs. Cesaro is one of those cases where, no matter how many times they square off with one another, they simply do not have the chemistry necessary to deliver that one great match. Fans witnessed it again Monday night as they wrestled one of their worst matches together.
Cesaro wrestled a very technically based match with hard strikes and unrivaled precision. Van Dam's style is more wild and clumsy, but in a good way. He throws punches and kicks that are as likely to hit as they are miss, and his unorthodox offensive attack does not necessarily lend itself to great matches with everyone.
Their bout Monday night was solid enough and featured Cesaro picking up another win en route to a Money in the Bank appearance. Van Dam misses out on a chance to compete in a major Ladder match, but the Swiss Superman is the more impressive and fresh competitor with bigger upside at this point in his career.
Hopefully, fans do not have to see these two wrestle again for quite some time.
Spotlighting the Divas
The WWE Divas were all over Raw Monday night, proving that the company's women can be involved in more than one storyline and not take away from the male members of the roster.
Summer Rae and Layla reminded fans that they are involved in a program, as the former poured milk all over the latter in an attempt to humiliate her during a brief backstage skit. Michael Cole, JBL and Jerry Lawler did a fine job of putting over the dispute while Layla was at ringside for Fandango's match, her hair wet and matted.
Later in the show, Paige scored another victory over Alicia Fox, adding to her impressive resume.
After the match, Alicia attacked friend Aksana while the commentators repeatedly mentioned the term "bi-polar," indicating that Fox's instability may finally have a cause.
The company did a fine job of giving fans a reason to care about its female performers for reasons other than "they're on a reality show." The Divas should continue to build off of their work Monday night as WWE continues to develop characters and put the female talent in the spotlight.
The Authority Strips Bryan of the Title
This week's broadcast kicked off with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon making their way to the ring with huge smiles on their faces despite the complete disdain shown to them by the WWE Universe.
Confirming news that was broken earlier in the day by SEScoops.com, they revealed that Daniel Bryan will be unable to defend his WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Kane at Money in the Bank. To help him save face and to validate their claims, they aired video from Dr. Joe Maroon, the surgeon who performed the operation on Bryan.
The glee with which they made the announcement and the gloating they did afterwards was everything one would expect from sleazy, unlikable heels. For the second week in a row, Triple H got the last laugh. The more that happens, the more anticipation builds for someone to knock him off and provide a happy ending to the story.
With rumors persisting, like this one from Wrestle Zone's Nick Paglino, that Roman Reigns will face The Game at SummerSlam, the powerhouse that is The Shield may be that someone.
Seth Rollins Interview
After the cop out of a promo on SmackDown, Seth Rollins needed a strong performance on the mic Monday night to help him maintain the momentum he had coming off the heel turn on last week's show. He needed clear motivations for his actions and had to convince the fans that he was thinking on his own and was not some puppet for Triple H.
For the most part, he delivered.
He repeatedly referred to himself as the reason for The Shield's success and cited his desire to evolve as the reason he betrayed The Shield. He called Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns "business partners" rather than brothers, something that surely stung the remaining Hounds of Justice.
Reigns and Ambrose hitting the ring to attack Rollins only to be jumped by the Wyatt Family made little sense in that Wyatt, Harper and Rowan should not care about the well-being of Rollins given how many times they had fought over the last six months. However, it helped set up the excellent main event, so at least it's forgivable.
Sheamus vs. Bad News Barrett
The night's opening match was a Money in the Bank Qualifier between United States champion Sheamus and Intercontinental champion Bad News Barrett.
Two Superstars with impeccable chemistry tore the house down early in the broadcast with a match that ranks as one of their best to date. The action was every bit as hard-hitting as fans would have expected, and the sequencing, especially late in the match, was stellar.
The finish, one used previously in a match between Sheamus and Titus O'Neil, worked to perfection. Bad News Barrett, frustrated after signature moves Wasteland and Winds of Change failed to put the United States champion down for the count, unleashed on him in the corner.
The referee backed Barrett out of the corner in an attempt to prevent a disqualification. When Barrett turned his attention back to Sheamus, he ate a Brogue Kick and had his shoulders pinned to the mat for three.
Many will complain about Barrett being beaten again, but the Money in the Bank Ladder match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in a major pay-per-view main event needs star power to help it, especially since it will be the selling point of the show.
Sheamus is one of the top babyfaces in the sport and a great worker. He has excelled in past Ladder matches and should do so again come June 29.
The Shield Destroys 3MB; Dean Ambrose's Promo
After being outsmarted and left for dead at the end of last week's Raw, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose needed a strong statement to prove that they would not fold following the departure of "the Architect" Seth Rollins.
They delivered just that, wiping out 3MB in impressive fashion before turning their attention to their former teammate.
Ambrose vowed to disfigure, maim and otherwise dismantle Rollins while Reigns targeted all three members of Evolution. It was the former who really stood out, getting animated and delivering strong facial expressions as he spoke about his plans to deliver an epic beating on Rollins.
The promos from both men were short, sweet, intense and to the point.
Exactly as they should have been.
John Cena and The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family
If there is one thing WWE can do right at this point, it is a Six-Man Tag Team match, and Monday night, John Cena, The Shield and the Wyatt Family proved it once again with a great main event to close out an otherwise average episode of Raw.
Ambrose really stood out as the ferocious pitbull-like competitor, taking the fight to all of his opponents and withstanding a brutal onslaught by Luke Harper, Erick Rowan and Bray Wyatt. When he made the hot tag to Cena, the crowd came alive. It proved to be a fake-out, however, as Cena found himself isolated from his teammates.
The heat segment on Cena killed the crowd a bit, but the fans were picked right back up with the hot tag to Roman Reigns and the pinfall victory for the babyfaces.
For the sake of The Shield's coolness factor, the Reigns and Ambrose need to stay far away from John Cena. For one night, the pairing worked, and Michael Cole did a fine job playing up the surprise of Cena standing side by side with two men who had left him lying on countless occasions in the past.
Triple H and Seth Rollins watching from backstage as Ambrose and Reigns proved that they were not easily extinguishable made for a strong way to close out this week's broadcast. Now fans will tune in next week to see what Evolution does to try to bring an end to the Hounds of Justice.