WWE Week in Review, July 5: John Cena Captures Gold, Chris Jericho Returns
It was yet another historic week in WWE with Sunday's Money in the Bank pay-per-view followed up by the next night's Raw. With Chris Jericho now back in the fold and John Cena holding gold once again, WWE has set the stage for what should be a spectacular summer season.
The main event of Money in the Bank saw Cena capture the WWE World Heavyweight Championship for the 15th time in his career. With his title defense against Randy Orton, Kane and Roman Reigns in a Fatal 4-Way now set for Battleground, who else will step up to challenge Cena for the strap?
In the other Ladder match at Sunday's event, Seth Rollins won the Money in the Bank contract, guaranteeing him a shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at any time and place of his choosing for the next year. However, with Dean Ambrose lurking in the shadows, will Rollins ever get the opportunity to cash in the contract?
Jericho made a shocking return to WWE on Monday's Raw but was attacked by The Wyatt Family before he could properly greet the WWE Universe. How will Y2J exact his revenge on the bearded clan in coming weeks?
I will break down the week in wrestling by analyzing all of WWE's weekly programs and occasional pay-per-views, including each show's highlights, low points and other noteworthy, monumental moments. Also, I will give an award to the show and Superstar who shined the brightest over the course of the week.
Match of the Week: Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Money in the Bank
Since its inception in 2005, the Money in the Bank Ladder match has never ceased to entertain the masses. Two matches began being held every year starting in 2010 with each briefcase holding a shot at either the WWE or World Heavyweight Championship, but now that there is a single undisputed title, this year's Money in the Bank event was the first to host only one Ladder match for the contract.
Not many of the competitors have much of a chance of winning, but each of them proved why they belonged in the matchup. They all thrived in the match and had their respective moment to shine. In the end, however, it all came down to Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins.
Ambrose returned to the ring after being taken out from a shoulder injury, looking to claim the opportunistic briefcase. With some help from fellow Authority ally Kane, Rollins was able to thwart Ambrose's championship aspirations and claim the contract for himself.
Superstar of the Week: John Cena
Whether you love him or hate him, there's simply no denying that John Cena is one of the greatest of all-time. The scary part? His time at the top is far from over, and his milestone victory at Sunday's Money in the Bank event was a clear indication of that.
For the 15th time in his career, Cena ascended the rungs to glory (figuratively and literally) to capture the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, his first undisputed title. It was an unprecedented championship win for the Cenation leader, albeit a predictable one.
Nevertheless, Cena has once again proven why he is the measuring stick to all up-and-coming talent in WWE. Stay on your toes, Ric Flair, as Cena is well on his way to surpassing your record for most world championships held!
Show of the Week: Monday Night Raw, June 30
Perhaps I'm biased because I was there in person, but I think even those watching from home as it aired live can agree that this week's Raw was one of the best in months if not one of the best of the year. Post-pay-per-view shows have always had the tendency to be hot, but the June 30 Raw seemingly set the stage for the rest of the summer.
From Jack Swagger's impromptu face turn to the returns of Chris Jericho and The Miz to AJ Lee winning the Divas Championship from Paige, there was a lot to like about the show and very little to complain about.
The WWE product hasn't been bad per se, but it has lacked a certain something since WrestleMania 30 in April. Raw this week did a lot to peak my interest and breath new life into the stagnant programming.
Those kinds of episodes are few and far between nowadays, and I'm fortunate enough to say I was there live in person for it. WWE's summer season is shaping up to be a great one, and I personally can't wait.
This Week's Highlights
WWE World Heavyweight Championship Ladder match
Although I gave the nod to the Money in the Bank match as the better Ladder match of the night, this insane Ladder bout for the vacant WWE World Heavyweight Championship was very good in its own right.
It featured more star power than it did exhilarating action, but there were several innovative spots that caught the attention of the viewers and made everyone involved look good. Yes, the ending result could be seen coming from many miles away, but take nothing away from the strong effort all the combatants put forth in this contest.
The Usos vs. The Wyatt Family
Was there ever any doubt that this would be a great match? These two teams have always worked so well together, and their Money in the Bank match was no exception. It was entertaining action from start to finish and served as the perfect opener to the show.
As awesome as their matches have been together, I hope to see The Usos move on to a new feud in the near future, hopefully with the debuting Ascension act from NXT.
Chris Jericho and The Miz return
There's a lot to say about this stellar segment, but I'll try my best to keep it brief. First of all, and I'm in the minority on this one, it's good to see Miz back and with a new Hollywood gimmick. He shines as a full-fledged heel, and he can flourish in this role.
Jericho's return came as a major shocker, and it made for a great moment. His interaction with The Wyatt Family was also a pleasant surprise, and I loved how they jumped right into that feud. How many wrestlers put over another talent their first night back? What a class act Jericho is. I can't wait to see what he has in store for this summer.
AJ Lee wins the Divas Championship
AJ's return was a hot moment because it was very well timed. It wasn't too soon for her to come back nor was it too late. I really liked how her segment with Paige was a callback to their first encounter the night after WrestleMania 30. I also liked how the title match between the two was kept relatively brief, as it saves their eventual blockbuster match for a later date. The reversing of the roles was interesting, and hopefully Paige can find her footing better now that she's a heel.
Jack Swagger turns face
This was long overdue. It's crazy to think that Swagger has been in WWE for six years and not at any point in his tenure has he been a babyface. His character has been stale for so long that this face turn freshens things up significantly. It's logical to have him feud with Rusev and it will benefit both guys in the process. Yes, Swagger will probably come out of this rivalry on the losing end, but at least he's doing something of note for once.
Seth Rollins vs. Rob Van Dam
On an absolutely stacked Raw, I don't think this match received the rightful credit it deserved. Both guys worked tremendously hard to have an excellent match, and they delivered. The crowd popped for all of RVD's high-flying maneuvers, and it was cool to see him do the honors for Rollins here. Yes, RVD has been losing left and right as of late, but a win over the one-of-a-kind competitor still means something in my book.
Sami Zayn vs. Justin Gabriel
As expected, Zayn and Gabriel had a very good match together. It started out slow, but they picked up the pace down the stretch and delivered a fun final few minutes. It was another nice win for Zayn and Gabriel's post-match heel turn was intriguing. The matches Zayn and Adrian Neville will produce with Tyson Kidd and Gabriel should be fantastic.
This Week's Low Points
Summer Rae vs. Layla
I hate to sound like a broken record, but I still couldn't care less about this storyline. Don't get me wrong, I was happy for the ladies for scoring two spots on the Money in the Bank card, but if one of those matches has a horrendous story behind it, then what's the point?
It was not well wrestled at all because it was mostly brawling and making out with special guest referee Fandango. Not even the end result made sense since Summer is the one that WWE should be pushing right now, not Layla.
Goldust and Stardust vs. Rybaxel
The matches these two teams have produced in recent months haven't been bad by any means, but the match is never any different. What's worse it that I don't care for Ryback and Curtis Axel as a team, and I'm still not buying into the Stardust character. The live crowds are seemingly into it, but I don't know how much lasting power it has or what purpose it's supposed to serve.
If they don't find new opponents soon, then Cody Rhodes becoming Stardust will be considered a waste of time.
Bo Dallas' moment of silence
I very much enjoy the Dallas character and found his segments at Money in the Bank with Daniel Bryan and on SmackDown with El Torito to be incredibly entertaining, but this segment on Raw was a swing and a miss. Being in the arena for it, I can tell you that no one was sure how to react. It was just kind of there. Regardless, the Dallas character has shown a lot of promise, and I hope he moves into a substantial feud sooner rather than later.
AJ Lee vs. Eva Marie
AJ's first match as champion should not have been with Eva. How hard is that to figure out? She's absolutely atrocious in the ring and is passable only when she's being protected in tag team matches. In singles matches, her weaknesses are exploited. It says a lot when not even AJ can get a halfway decent match out of you.
The Funkadactyls vs. Nikki Bella and Alicia Fox
Let the record show that I've really been liking the tension being teased between Naomi and Cameron. Their split has been all but confirmed, and the way they went about foreshadowing their breakup at Money in the Bank, Raw and Main Event was well done.
They weren't the problem here. It wasn't even that the match was bad (I already expected that going in). It was the idea that Nikki would even trust Fox—Stephanie McMahon's handpicked partner for her. She didn't bother showing any signs of frustration after attempting to tag in Fox! Ridiculous.
Alberto Del Rio vs. R-Truth
How pathetic is it that Del Rio went from competing in the main event of a pay-per-view on Sunday to taking part in the Superstars tapings on Monday night? Putting two characters together that are immensely uninteresting is never a good idea. The match was very mediocre, and the finish looked terrible. No one has fallen faster than Del Rio in only a matter of months or, in this case, in a matter of a day.
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Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is a journalism major at Endicott College. Visit his website at Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.