By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson and The Vaudevillians def. WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day, Enzo Amore and Big Cass
It's a true testament to how talented New Day, Enzo and Cass are if they can talk for a a certain length of time, not even allude to the upcoming WWE Tag Team Championship and still entertain the hell out of me. The jokes about the topical shoes Kofi Kingston was wearing along with Enzo and Cass bringing Francesca II into the mix were hysterical and had me looking forward to a future feud between them. The heels also played their roles well in the segment and the subsequent tag team match was very well-wrestled. I was glad the heels, specifically Gallows and Anderson, went over on the tag champs to send the message to viewers that there is a likely chance they won't walk out of Money in the Bank with their titles intact.
United States Champion Rusev Attacked Titus O'Neil
Somehow I care more about this feud going into Money in the Bank than I did Rusev vs. Kalisto, though I realize that's not saying much. Maybe it's because we have a heel champion in this program and not the other way around, but it's been a pleasant surprise of a rivalry thus far. This was a simple, straightforward segment to get heat on Rusev, and it worked much more effectively than a match from either of one of them would have. Is it possible they put the belt on O'Neil on Sunday with it being Father's Day?
Dean Ambrose Hosted 'The Ambrose Asylum' with WWE World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins
The Shield highlights and memories that aired throughout the night were a great trip down memory lane and set the stage for this segment perfectly. As seen here, Rollins remains a heel (for now), but he isn't as over-the-top as he was before he left. Is that a sign he's turning babyface in the near future? I certainly hope so. This was an awesome verbal exchange between the two. I also appreciated how Ambrose wasn't merely a background player and instead teased the possibility of cashing in the Money in the Bank briefcase on either man if he wins it at the event as we've all been speculating. Even if that isn't in the cards, it was wise to plant the seeds and Ambrose as the last man standing here was interesting to say the least.
Paige def. WWE Women's Champion Charlotte (Non-title)
Neither woman received an entrance, tension was teased between Charlotte and Brooke out of nowhere, and the champion was beat in under three minutes. So, what exactly did this accomplish? The match was hardly memorable for the time it was given and nothing but a mess. Weren't Charlotte and Brooke a cohesive unit a week ago? I would understand foreshadowing a split if it was a Fatal 4-Way title match at Money in the Bank, but it's not, so what was the point? Furthermore, this marked the second time in the last month that Paige has pinned the champ, though I doubt she'll receive the title shot she deserves in storyline.
Sheamus def. Zack Ryder
Although this was essentially a standard squash match, I liked how it had some backstory with Ryder having a backstage confrontation with Sheamus on SmackDown last week. There wasn't much more to it than that, but I couldn't tell you the last time Sheamus won on Raw or SmackDown before this bout. It was good to see Apollo Crews resurface as well and take the fight to the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2" star ahead of their match on the Money in the Bank Kickoff show.
Sami Zayn def. Cesaro
Anyone who has been following NXT for the past three years knows of the stellar series of matches these two had back in 2013 and 2014. This encounter was no exception as they contested a highly enjoyable match and the finish was just fantastic. It also marked the first victory Zayn has scored over Cesaro since his NXT debut (not counting his one win over him in their classic 2-out-of-3 Falls match). Here's hoping it isn't long before we see these two cross paths in one-on-one competition again.
John Cena and AJ Styles Signed the Contract For Their Money in the Bank Match
Was Cena and Styles not official for the event until this contract was signed? I realize it was, but it's a silly little thing about these contract signings that makes zero sense. That was the only gripe I had about this, though, as everything else was excellent. As high as I was on their promo last week together, this was significantly stronger with Styles seemingly very comfortable on the mic and Cena putting over his adversary instead of pointing out his failures. This also answered the question as to whether The Club will be getting involved in their match. Styles signed the contract that prevents them from interfering, but do we get a Finn Balor sighting instead? I really want this dream match to come down to Cena and Styles and no one else, but either way, I'm highly anticipating the encounter.
Kevin Owens and Alberto Del Rio def. The Lucha Dragons to Keep Their Spots in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Was the ending outcome of Owens and Del Rio winning predictable? Yes, but the crowd bought into the Lucha Dragons' nearfalls as I did because you just never know with this company. I was happy the bad blood between Owens and Del Rio from SmackDown last week led somehow and wasn't totally forgotten about. The added stipulation made this more than a throwaway tag match and gave it extra meaning.
Dean Ambrose def. Chris Jericho
Ambrose vs. Jericho was basically the same bout we saw on SmackDown on Thursday night, but Owens absolutely added to my enjoyment of it with his hilarious commentary. Normally, I would have called it chaotic with all six Superstars around ringside, and it was to an extent, but it made sense and involved everyone in the Money in the Bank Ladder match in a notable way. I don't think Jericho wins on Sunday, but him standing atop the ladder with the briefcase to close the show was a cool visual.
As a go-home show, this edition of Raw was extremely successful in getting me more excited than I already was for Money in the Bank, which is saying something. Every match on the advertised card other than Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin (but who cares about that anyway?) was well-furthered in some form or fashion. The three hours breezed by, making this one of the better go-home shows in recent memory. WWE has set the bar high for the pending pay-per-view, so fingers crossed they deliver.
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