Newly appointed special guest referee AJ taunts Daniel Bryan.
Fine match between Divas Champion Layla and AJ. I was pleasantly surprised to see a Divas match open the show and it was a nice change of pace. The two ladies worked well, but nothing all that memorable. I'm glad they're holding off on putting AJ in the title picture just yet due to being involved with Daniel Bryan and CM Punk. Bryan's interference was logical as well and gave AJ an out for the loss.
Solid segment featuring Daniel Bryan, Vickie Guerrero, and AJ. Vickie is used to playing the annoying authority figure and played her role well as she was trying to be on her best behavior for the WWE Board of Directors. The poll that was shown felt random since not many fans were probably exposed to it and the ending result was never in doubt. Nevertheless, Bryan and AJ continue to be the most entertaining act on Friday nights.
Brief match with Damien Sandow defeating Zack Ryder to qualify for Money in the Bank. I'm glad Sandow has finally beaten someone with some legitimacy that it makes him looks more credible. The action was short, so I'm still waiting for the match that we get to see Sandow execute more than his usual move-set. It's great that they're inserting Sandow into the Money in the Bank since his act is extraordinarily awesome, but Ryder continues to flounder unfortunately.
Fun match between Tyson Kidd and Jack Swagger. Both Kidd and Swagger have amazing abilities and it was entertaining to see their styles mesh so easily. The bout was mostly Swagger selling Kidd's offense, but he did it in such a way that made this contest enjoyable. I'm very glad to see Kidd finally receiving his much deserved push and being able to qualifying for Money in the Bank.
Good tag team match with Intercontinental Champion Christian and United States Champion Santino Marella defeating David Otunga and Cody Rhodes to qualify for Money in the Bank. The match didn't really kick into high gear until the very end where all the false finishes got suspenseful. While I'm glad to see Christian in Money in the Bank, I'm not too high on leaving Rhodes out of it. Thankfully, Rhodes could always be added since he was arguing that he wasn't the one who was pinned, so there's always a chance he could be inserted at next week's SmackDown special.
Kane attempts to delivers a clothesline to Daniel Bryan.
Great Triple Threat Elimination match to kick off the show between WWE Champion CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, and Kane. They managed to differ their offense from their match at No Way Out and provided solid action. AJ's interference was well done and having her be the be reason Kane was eliminated was logical. Smart booking in having Bryan capitalize on Punk for the victory, thus earning himself a future WWE title opportunity. Hot opening to the show for sure.
Good match between Big Show and Brodus Clay while it lasted. While I know Clay picking up an upset victory here would have been a bit farfetched, it would have made more sense to save this match for SummerSlam or draw it out a bit longer. Clay's winning streak ending here felt very anticlimactic and wasn't acknowledged at all. However, I'm glad they gave Clay an out due to his "injured" knee, thus allowing this feud to continue somewhere down the line.
Forgettable United States Championship match with Santino Marella successfully defending against Jack Swagger. What purpose did this serve? It's certainly not a good thing that Cole mentioned that Marella hasn't defended his gold in over two months, meaning he broke the "defending titles every thirty days" rule. Logic aside, this contest had no build whatsoever and furthered the fact that Santino shouldn't at all be U.S. Champion when more deserving guys such as Zack Ryder or Jack Swagger could be holding it.
Entertaining exchange between John Cena and the returning Chris Jericho. Personally, I found Jericho's Star Wars references to be hilarious and one of the funnier jokes he's cracked in recent memory, but I can believe why people believed Cena should have been taking the promo a bit more seriously. Jericho was awesome as always on the mic and played off Cena well. It set up the main event nicely, but it was too little too late since it was advertised at the top of the second hour. As far as the content of the segment goes, I'm completely against using former WWE Champions in a Money in the Bank Ladder Match. The whole point of the match is to elevate new stars, not give multiple time World Champions such as Cena another chance at the gold. Jericho will be forced to do much of the work in that match, as I don't see it being the spotfest we normally see from these type of matches.
Fine match between Heath Slater and the returning Sycho Sid. Is Slater is the newest jobber for WWE alumni these days? Regardless, he sold well for Sid who looked more impressive that I originally thought. It was fun to see Sid back on Raw for the first time in over fifteen years, and I'm loving this concept of bringing back these familiar faces every week as we progress towards the 1,000th episode of Raw.
Zack Ryder fist pumps with fellow Long Island native Mick Foley.
Solid segment to kick off the show featuring Big Show, Brodus Clay, and David Otunga. It seemed confusing why Teddy Long cut a promo when Show interrupted moments later anyways. Regardless, Show cut a pretty good promo that we should have heard on Raw that announced his intentions to compete in this year's Money in the Bank Ladder Match. I loved seeing Clay looking intense, as that extra layer will only help his growing character. I'm excited to see where this feud between the two beast goes, but Otunga interfering was what it was. It seems that Clay's feud with Otunga is not yet over, which isn't entirely bad since it keeps Clay relevant. However, Otunga wasn't good here on the mic.
Typical Ryback squash match as usual. He used some new maneuvers, but that's about it. If nothing else, the fact the fans are warming up to his character by chanting along with him certainly helps.
Great match between Intercontinental Champion Christian and Alberto Del Rio. It's been nearly a year since we've seen these two last lock up, so it felt fresh and had a ton of suspenseful counters and false finishers. Honestly, I'd love to see a title feud between the two down in the mid-card since it fits Del Rio's character nicely. While a win is beneficial for Del Rio, the commentators should have made it feel like a bigger deal coming off of his recent concussion. Cody Rhodes attacking Christian was predictable, but not logical. Captain Charisma has already defeated Rhodes clean twice, so what other purpose does Rhodes have for chasing him and the belt?
Good match between Daniel Bryan and Kane. It didn't make much sense having two heels face off, but since Kane is a bit of a tweener, I let it slide. These two were able to provide some pretty decent action despite the awkward finish, but I believe that was the point. Nonetheless, it was a good way to further the rivalry although they need to find new ways to make it feel fresh. Where was CM Punk here?
Throwaway match with Zack Ryder defeating Heath Slater. I'm glad Ryder was finally able to score a victory, and he should move to SmackDown permanently so he can get more airtime. Mick Foley's promo prior to the bout was well done and his exchange with fellow Long Island native Ryder after the match was fun.
Sheamus delivers a nasty Brogue Kick to Daniel Bryan.
Fun promo to kick off the show featuring the returning Mick Foley and John Laurinaitis. It's always awesome to see Foley, especially in his hometown of Long Island where he received a great pop. His exchange with Laurinaitis was humorous, and although they failed to mention it, Laurinaitis was the one who clocked Foley on an episode of Raw back in January. I'm excited to see who else they bring back as Interim General Manager, as that could prove to be a intriguing concept for the next month or so.
Solid tag team match with WWE Champion CM Punk and World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus defeating Daniel Bryan and Kane. The action between all four guys was great as usual given their natural chemistry together. AJ's interference was also very well done and it's nice to hear the crowd react to her so loudly when she came out. Her ongoing relationship with Kane has been entertaining, but Bryan feels like the afterthought here. Nevertheless, the GTS into the Brogue Kick was a cool spot.
Good match between Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger. This "breakup" between the two bleached-blonde Superstars felt anticlimatic since it was made in a backstage segment on Raw instead of on a pay-per-view. Since this was the first ever singles meeting between the two, they proved that they can provide a nice story-telling match with Ziggler's selling of his "injury" sustained during the bout being spot on. While it is a step in the right direction to give Ziggler a credible victory, it appears he'll still be aligned with Vickie Guerrero. It's a shame, as it's time to split these two and allow Ziggler to shine on his own. The outcome was a bit shocking since Ziggler was receiving massive cheers throughout, yet is still with the heat magnet known as Vicke. As for Swagger, where does he go from here? He wasn't even shown after his loss and was quickly forgotten about. As the old saying goes, Ziggler took one step forward, only to take two steps back.
Great promo exchange between Triple H and Paul Heyman. They made the entire rivalry feel legitimate, exactly as it should going into their huge SummerSlam encounter. The Game was much better here than he was last night, and Heyman was picture perfect on the mic as always. It felt like they could have drawn out Heyman teasing Hunter for a few more weeks, but maybe rushing to the finish with HHH punching Heyman could lead to something. Whatever the case may be, this was an effective segment for sure that has me looking forward to the build to SummerSlam.
Kane carries an injured AJ away as she smirks behind him.
Throwaway match between David Otunga and Brodus Clay. They did an okay job of getting over Clay's injury during the bout, but the count-out finish felt unnecessary. I understand they might want to keep the rivalry going, but there's no reason to protect Otunga at this point.
Solid match with World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus successfully defending his title against Dolph Ziggler. The bout featured some pretty good storytelling and got over Ziggler in a big way. Although it was predictable that Ziggler wouldn't leaving as the new champ, he looked very impressive in defeat. Sure, this was a hot opener, but it shouldn't have occurred so early in the night. The finish felt a bit anticlimactic for this viewer.
Comedic match between United States Champion Santino Marella and Ricardo Rodriguez. It may have entertained some, but the live crowd's "boring" chants didn't help matters obviously. It was pretty much what'd you expect from these two, and merely used as a time killer in between matches. On a side note, if Marella isn't going to even bother defending his U.S. title, then why even be champion at all? The strap is treated as such a joke and should really be moved onto a wrestler more deserving of holding it.
Good match with Intercontinental Champion Christian successfully retaining his title against Cody Rhodes. Sadly, the live crowd wasn't alive for a majority of this match, and I can't blame them since they weren't given an incentive to really invest in this feud. However, it's a shame, too, because these two have great chemistry and deserve better. The final series of maneuvers woke the crowd up, and made for a cool finish. Hopefully, Rhodes moves on to bigger and better things from here.
Fun Fatal 4 Way tag team match the Prime Time Players defeating the Usos, Primo & Epico, and Justin Gabriel & Tyson Kidd to become the new number one contenders to the WWE Tag Team Championships. The crowd may have popped for the big spots, but they didn't seem to care overall due to most of the competitors being regulars on WWE Superstars and NXT. Personally, I enjoyed the action as well as the swerve that Abraham Washington is now with the Prime Time Players. I'm not sure if this turns Primo and Epico babyface, but I don't think the audience cared regardless.
Effective promo from Triple H. He got straight to the point of challenging Brock Lesnar to a match at SummerSlam, and I like the idea of building this blockbuster match two months in advance. However, the segment felt rushed and wasn't one of the Game's better promos. I was hoping we'd get an appearance from Paul Heyman, but no such luck. They're probably saving Heyman for a later date in order to draw out this feud, which is a smart strategy.
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