WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from June 23
With only six days until Money in the Bank live on pay-per-view and the WWE Network, WWE rolled into the nation's capital, Washington, D.C., for the June 23 episode of Monday Night Raw.
After it was revealed last Tuesday afternoon that there would be a second Money in the Bank match for the guaranteed title opportunity and that Seth Rollins would be the first man entered into the match, the focus turned to filling out the rest of the field Monday night.
Kofi Kingston, Jack Swagger, Bad News Barrett, Dolph Ziggler, Rob Van Dam and Dean Ambrose joined Rollins, ensuring that the second-most important Ladder match on Sunday's card has the opportunity to steal the show.
The most important bout this weekend was heavily hyped throughout the show, particularly in the main event slot, as the three babyfaces involved battled the four heels in a rematch from Friday night SmackDown. While the match was nothing fans have not seen before, the revelation that Kane will now be involved in Sunday's title bout changed things dramatically.
WWE said goodbye to its longest-tenured female performer (outside of Stephanie McMahon) Monday night when Vickie Guerrero made her final appearance for the company. Just when it appeared as though she would be humiliated and disregarded on her way out the door, she got one over on Stephanie and drew one of the biggest face reactions of her career as a result.
With attention almost exclusively on Sunday's program, WWE presented one of the better episodes of its weekly flagship show in recent weeks.
Stephanie McMahon Promo
Stephanie McMahon called out Vickie Guerrero to kick off the night's show and wasted little time bringing up last week's debacle.
Stephanie threatened Vickie with unemployment, to which Vickie responded by begging. Stephanie, unimpressed, told Vickie that she could remain SmackDown general manager if she could win her match.
Her opponent? Stephanie.
Vickie accepted, telling the boss that the one family more respected than the McMahons is the Guerreros. She promised to lie, cheat and steal to win the match before storming off to a huge ovation.
Highlights and Quotes
"That was your biggest failure to date."—Stephanie on Vickie Guerrero allowing Roman Reigns into the Money in the Bank Ladder match
"You're damn right it won't happen again."—Stephanie
"Vickie, for nine years, you've been riding the coattails of your dead husband, Eddie Guerrero. We took pity on you."—Stephanie (ouch!)
"Maybe Eddie deserves that respect, but you don't."—Stephanie
"You don't want to see her beg? I do."—Stephanie
"Your opponent is me!"—Stephanie, informing Vickie that she will face the principle owner of WWE for the right to remain GM of SmackDown
The opening segment of this week's show did everything it was intended to. It revisited the issues between Vickie and Stephanie from last week, teased Guerrero's firing and set up a high-profile match for later in the night.
Above all else, it got Vickie a babyface pop, something she has never really experienced in her WWE career.
A strong segment.
Jimmy Uso vs. Luke Harper
In a preview of Sunday's WWE Tag Team Championship match, Jimmy Uso took on Luke Harper in singles competition.
Harper and Erick Rowan entered to a new entrance theme, a version of "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" recorded on an organ.
Uso and Harper cut a fast-and-furious pace early. Uso caught Harper with a stiff side kick, but it was Harper who captured the win moments later with a discus clothesline.
Luke Harper, via pinfall, following the discus clothesline
Highlights and Quotes
"Better get used to that organ music if they do."—JBL on Harper and Rowan winning the tag titles
"Rowan, Rowan, Rowan...where you going? Bring your stinky ass back to this ring, so I can kick it all over the nation's capital!"—Jey Uso
A quick match with little or no substance that seemed to exist only to set up Jey Uso vs. Erick Rowan immediately afterward.
Jey Uso vs. Erick Rowan
The result of an impromptu challenge from Jey Uso to Erick Rowan, this match continued the hype for the tag title match this Sunday night.
Rowan utilized his strength to his advantage, catching a flying Uso in midair and planting him with a fall-away slam.
Uso ducked a charge by Rowan, who slammed shoulder-first into the corner. Chaos reigned supreme at ringside, allowing Jey to deliver the top-rope splash for the win.
After the match, The Wyatt Family laid Jey Uso out, sent Jimmy into the steel steps and left him lying before Bray Wyatt appeared on the TitanTron and cut a promo.
Jey Uso, via pinfall, following the top-rope splash
Highlights and Quotes
"There it is right there; get used to that sight. They are showing the world exactly what is going to happen. They may have the whole world in their hands."—JBL
"A leader that does not glorify the triumphs of his family is no leader at all."—Bray Wyatt
The match itself, like its predecessor, was nothing special. The beatdown by Harper and Rowan after the bell and the promo from Bray Wyatt that followed did an excellent job of putting over the very real possibility that The Wyatt Family could rule WWE after Money in the Bank.
The Usos still continue to thrill audiences with their energetic and high-flying offense, but the likelihood that their title reign comes to an end on Sunday night is high.
Naomi vs. Alicia Fox
Divas champion Paige made her way to the ringside area to join the commentary team for the next match. Cameron joined the announce table, too.
Naomi started fast, taking Fox down repeatedly and nearly scoring a pinfall victory quick.
Fox laid out Naomi at ringside as Cameron showed heelish tendencies on commentary, going so far as to criticize her Funkadactyls tag partner. Alicia took over control of the match.
Naomi countered a backbreaker attempt into an inverted DDT for the win.
After the match, Paige and Naomi stared each other down, while Cameron looked none too pleased that her friend and partner won the match.
Naomi, via pinfall, following an inverted DDT
Highlights and Quotes
"She is crackers."—Paige on Alicia Fox
"I know people think of me as the cheerleader, but I will dance all over her [Paige], her [Naomi] and her [Fox]."—Cameron
"You act out here like you act on Total Divas, Cameron. No wonder you don't have many friends."—Michael Cole, who appeared to be legitimately annoyed by his guest
Naomi and Alicia Fox had a very competitive match that set the Funkadactyl up for a future Divas title match, perhaps as soon as Sunday night at Money in the Bank.
The best part of the Divas segment on this week's show was the constant bickering going on at the announce table between Cameron and Michael Cole. Cole seemed legitimately annoyed and angered by Cameron talking over the announcers and let her know about it more than once.
Paige vs. Naomi could be a strong championship bout, but one cannot help but feel as though the company has dropped the ball with the 21-year-old Diva during her first three months on the roster.
Bo Dallas vs. Titus O'Neil
Bo Dallas looked to make a Boliever out of the struggling Titus O'Neil Monday night.
A big "let's go, Bo" chant broke out as O'Neil tossed the former NXT champion around the ring. An aggressive O'Neil pounded away but missed a charge into the corner, and Dallas finished with the Bo-Dog.
Bo Dallas, via pinfall, following the Bo-Dog
Highlights and Quotes
"When JFK said, 'We have nothing to fear but fear itself,' he was inspiring a nation to Bolieve."—JBL
"The greatest streak in sports entertainment."—JBL
"Silly me, Mr. Butterfingers."—Dallas, after picking up the microphone that Titus knocked out of his hands
The Bo Dallas experiment is working far better than anyone could have predicted. The crowds are responding to him, and he is making the absolute most out of his opportunity.
Now a babyface, he is connecting with audiences and enjoying louder and louder receptions with every passing week. He took a rough beating from Titus O'Neil briefly but proved resilient and scored a win.
His reaction to O'Neil kicking the microphone out of his hands was priceless and is one of the small things he does really well. That will only endear him to the audience in the weeks and months to come.
Triple H's Money in the Bank Announcement
The King of Kings made his way to the ring to announce the participants in the Money in the Bank Contract match. He ran down Washington politicians and spoke about doing what is best for business before running down the lineup.
Kofi Kingston, Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler, Rob Van Dam and Bad News Barrett join Seth Rollins in the match.
Speaking of Rollins, Triple H pegged him as the favorite and the former architect of The Shield made his way to the ring. He cut a fairly generic promo but was cut off by Rob Van Dam, who had been disrespected and insulted by the COO moments earlier.
Van Dam and Rollins traded some insults before a match between the two was booked for the current show.
Highlights and Quotes
"It's not just some empty catchphrase. It is the truth. It is the root of everything I do."—Triple H on doing what is best for business
"Aw, come on; you guys aren't over it, yet? It's been three weeks since that happened. You really haven't moved on yet? That's too bad. I'm over it."—Rollins on the fans' "you sold out" chants
Rollins' crack about taking Van Dam seriously in 2005 was outstanding.
"How 'bout I beat your new golden boy right now?"—RVD
With the talented ladder match veterans involved in the Money in the Bank Contract bout, it definitely has the potential to steal the show Sunday night. Both Ziggler and Barrett should be dark-horse contenders, while Rollins is the early favorite. Expect Dean Ambrose to be added at some point.
As for the segment itself, it did as was designed. It introduced the competitors for the aforementioned match, gave Rollins some mic time and set up a match between him and Van Dam to take place immediately. A quick, painless and effective use of time.
Rob Van Dam vs. Seth Rollins
Van Dam sent Rollins over the top rope and to the arena floor, then threw himself at the former Shield member before posing to soak in the crowd's adulation as we headed to break.
Rollins had control of the match as we returned from the break, using the triple vertical suplexes that Eddie Guerrero perfected to wear down his opponent. He thwarted a comeback attempt and continued to wear down the veteran Van Dam.
Rollins wore down Van Dam with a headlock as chants of "RVD" broke out. The former ECW champ fought out and scored a near-fall. A series of clotheslines and a thrust kick led to Rolling Thunder.
A big DDT by Van Dam led to a Five-Star Frog Splash attempt, but Rollins rolled out of the way.
Moments later, Rollins delivered the corner powerbomb and the Curb Stomp, but Dean Ambrose hit the ring and pounded away at Rollins. Officials tried to pull Ambrose off Rollins, but The Lunatic Fringe ran across the announce table and jumped Rollins.
Ambrose grabbed a mic and headed to the ring.
"We could see a new champion, and we could see another new champion if they cash in the Money in the Bank."—JBL
"The guy belongs in a rubber room."—JBL on Ambrose
"I will screw up the entire pay-per-view."—Ambrose, threatening to be at the Money in the Bank show even if he is not added to the Contract Ladder match
Rollins and Van Dam delivered a competitive, entertaining match, but it was the post-match interaction between the former and Dean Ambrose that put the segment over the top.
The unpredictable nature of Ambrose makes him one of the more fun performers to watch right now. The crowd gave him an incredible response and helped make the moment that much more impactful.
Ambrose threatening to ruin the Money in the Bank show if he is not added to the ladder match is exactly the type of thing his character would do and could help drive in a few buys as fans remain interested as to what he may try to do Sunday night.
A really good segment and the best on the show to this point.
Intercontinental Championship Match: Dolph Ziggler vs. Bad News Barrett
This past Friday on SmackDown, Dolph Ziggler upset Bad News Barrett to earn a shot at the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
Barrett cut a pre-match promo denouncing Ziggler's chances and taking a shot at the Washington Redskins name controversy.
Ring announcer Justin Roberts gave the match the special championship ring introductions, a nice touch that adds prestige and importance to the bout.
Barrett, frustrated after Friday's loss, attacked Ziggler at the bell. Ziggler recovered nicely and scored a dropkick and near-fall. He paid for the two-count rather painfully, as he was clotheslined over the top rope and to the arena floor.
The intercontinental champion worked over his challenger's head and neck area, but Ziggler's ferocity and elusiveness helped him escape the clutches of his opponent and deliver a neckbreaker.
Ziggler elbowed out of Wasteland and delivered the Zig Zag. The pain rushing through his body prevented him from capitalizing and attempting a pin.
Barrett delivered a big elbow off the ring apron as the challenger looked worse for wear.
A top-rope facebuster from Ziggler turned the momentum in the challenger's favor as a "this is awesome" chant broke out.
Wasteland failed to put Ziggler away, and Barrett erupted, berating the referee. He followed with a Bull Hammer attempt, but Ziggler ducked out of the way and delivered the Fameasser for two.
Moments later, Barrett caught a flying Ziggler with the Bull Hammer for the win.
Bad News Barrett, via pinfall, following the Bull Hammer
Highlights and Quotes
"After I beat Dolph Ziggler tonight and I win again on Sunday, Dolph will be so embarrassed he will be forced to change his name, just like your racist, constantly losing football team."—Bad News Barrett
"What an incredible intercontinental champion!"—JBL
Two weeks, two great Monday Night Raw matches for Dolph Ziggler.
Monday night, he and the intercontinental champ elicited a response from the Washington, D.C., crowd that no other match was able to. Ziggler is such a great, scrappy underdog, and Barrett is clearly motivated by his recent push.
They delivered a phenomenal match that would be extremely difficult for the rest of the card to eclipse.
A fine way to help elevate the WWE Intercontinental Championship and a great example of what that title can be if treated with the respect and dignity it deserves.
Vickie Guerrero vs. Stephanie McMahon
The product of the opening segment of the night's show, Stephanie McMahon returned to the ring for her first match since 2003's "I Quit" match against her father, Vince.
Vickie entered to her late husband's "Lie, Cheat and Steal" entrance theme to remind us that she is the babyface in this match.
Stephanie appeared in her dress from earlier in the night. She directed Vickie's attention to a pool with an unknown substance. The first one in the pool, it was revealed, would be the loser.
Stephanie ordered Alicia Fox, Rosa Mendes and Layla to the ring to attack Vickie. She bailed out and tried to head up the ramp, but Stephanie stopped her.
Vickie fought out of an attempt to throw her in the pool and shoved Rosa into the pool. Layla followed, going face-first. Alicia was next, and Vickie led the crowd in a "Yes" chant. Stephanie seized the opportunity and sent Vickie into the pool.
She fired Vickie to a chorus of boos.
Stephanie appeared to have a great time singing until she realized that Vickie had nothing to lose. Vickie sent Stephanie into the pool to a huge pop from the fans.
"Lie, Cheat and Steal" played Vickie out of the arena as she pointed to the sky.
Highlights and Quotes
"When you lose, Vickie, you will be fired."—Stephanie
"Vickie's got nowhere to go."—Michael Cole
"So long, Vickie. It's been a great ride. You're going out in style."—JBL in a sincere moment
"You just wait. You'll see. I'll get every last one of you!"—Stephanie, as she left to a chorus of boos
A great way for Vickie Guerrero to say goodbye to the WWE Universe. After years of being the butt of the joke and being humiliated, she got the last laugh. Stephanie, who has tormented fans and Superstars alike, got her comeuppance for the first time since WrestleMania in a segment that may have played much better had it not come right after a great Ziggler-Barrett match.
The segment brings to an end the WWE run of one of the best heels the company has produced over the last decade. Whether it was as the love interest of Edge or Dolph Ziggler, the general manager of Raw or SmackDown, Vickie always managed to do whatever was necessary to entertain the audience.
The "Excuse Me" catchphrase remained perpetually over and helped make Guerrero an unlikely star. While the machine will continue to work without her, she will most certainly be missed.
Kofi Kingston vs. Jack Swagger
Two of the competitors in the Money in the Bank Contract match squared off in a preview of Sunday's bout, as Kofi Kingston met Jack Swagger one-on-one.
Swagger overpowered Kingston with a big shoulder block early, but Kingston's speed and agility caught his opponent off guard, allowing him to use the back elbow. The Oklahoman grounded Kingston and used the Swagger Bomb for two.
Kingston caught a charging Swagger with a kick to the face. A dive over the top rope seemed to turn the tide in his favor, but Swagger applied the Patriot Lock for the tapout.
Jack Swagger, via submission, with the Patriot Lock
Highlights and Quotes
"Well, we've seen him four others times, so yes I can."—Michael Cole on JBL asking if he can imagine Kingston in a ladder match
"Way to hype this one, Michael."—JBL on Cole's apathy for the match
Swagger and Kingston were clearly the victims of time constraints, as they rushed through their match, and as a result, the action was somewhat sloppy.
The submission win for Swagger does nothing to help his odds Sunday, as he is involved only to be "a guy." Same goes for Kingston. They have wallowed in the deep, dark abyss of the midcard for so long that they are largely irrelevant despite being incredibly talented.
Kingston is likely to thrill audiences with his jaw-dropping offense, while Swagger will bring muscle to the fray, but outside of that, do not expect either of them to leave Boston with the briefcase in his possession.
Big E vs. Damien Sandow
Damien Sandow was dressed as Abraham Lincoln and ran down the fact that the audience did not previously find him entertaining. It still doesn't. Big E cut him off.
Sandow suckered Big E in and pounded away in the corner. The former intercontinental champion exploded with a huge clothesline and finished him off with the Big Ending shortly thereafter for the win.
After the match, Big E cut a promo on Rusev. It was a pro-American promo that was ultimately cut short by the appearance of Lana. She distracted Big E, allowing Rusev to attack and leave E lying. The Accolade finished off the assault as the crowd chanted, "USA."
Highlights and Quotes
"Four score and seven years ago, I was told that you all don't find me entertaining."—Damien Sandow, as Abraham Lincoln
"I am 'Honest Abe,' and to be honest, I would rather spend another night in Ford's Theatre than allow you simpletons to dictate my destiny."—Sandow
"That was shorter than the Gettysburg Address."—Michael Cole
The Abraham Lincoln stuff was absolute nonsense but was to be expected, seeing as how the show was taking place in Washington, D.C.
Big E calling out Rusev and Lana after the disrespectful anti-American promo from earlier in the show reintroduced that rivalry to television, and Rusev's sneak attack all but sets up another undercard match for Sunday's pay-per-view.
4-on-3 Handicap Main Event
The main event of this week's show pitted the seven men involved in Sunday's Money in the Bank WWE World Heavyweight Championship against each other in a 4-on-3 Handicap match.
John Cena, Roman Reigns and Sheamus met Randy Orton, Alberto Del Rio, Cesaro and Bray Wyatt in the same match this past Friday Night SmackDown, but this being the flagship show of WWE, this bout was far more meaningful than the original.
Reigns entered to the loudest ovation of the babyfaces, indicating that everything WWE Creative has done with him is working.
The heels isolated Cena thanks to the offense of Cesaro. Bray Wyatt wore down his recent rival, punishing him with a back senton as we headed to the last break of the night.
Cesaro locked in the Boston Crab, but Cena fought out. The King of Swing attempted the Neutralizer, but Cena delivered a back body drop. He made the hot tag to Reigns, who exploded into the match and laid waste to the opposition.
Del Rio slowed him with the Back Stabber, and Wyatt took over. He threw himself at Reigns and nearly put him away.
The heels worked over Reigns, who ultimately fought back and made the hot tag to U.S. champion Sheamus.
The Celtic Warrior unleashed on Cesaro, delivering forearms to the chest and a powerslam. After the trading of finishers between Cena and Cesaro, Sheamus caught Cesaro with the Brogue Kick for the win.
After the match, Kane arrived and laid waste to everyone involved in Sunday's WWE World Heavyweight Championship match.
Triple H announced that Kane would enter Sunday's title match as the eighth participant.
Reigns recovered and laid Kane out to end the show.
Sheamus, John Cena and Roman Reigns, via pinfall, when Sheamus pinned Cesaro
Highlights and Quotes
"Can you imagine this movement if Bray Wyatt becomes WWE champion on Sunday?"—JBL
"Ladies and gentlemen, the eighth participant in Sunday's WWE World Heavyweight Championship Ladder match, the Demon Kane."—Triple H
A mediocre main event from a match-quality perspective, but as the final hype for the biggest match on Sunday's card, it was phenomenal. All seven Superstars were highlighted, and fans were taken by surprise with the announcement of the eighth entrant, Kane.
Roman Reigns again looked phenomenal, as he was the last man standing and the clear front-runner to leave Boston with the world title. Of course, that means it will not happen, but WWE Creative has still done a tremendous job with the handling of his main event push to this point.
The introduction of Kane is interesting, but he seemingly exists only to give the bout some more star power. A former Money in the Bank winner and a Ladder match veteran, he brings experience to the bout, strengthening an already extraordinary lineup.