By Graham "GSM" Matthews
The Authority Opened the Show
What I despised most about the time frame from September 2013 to March 2014 is that it felt like The Authority opened every episode of Raw. Now that Daniel Bryan has been stripped of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, it'll probably go back to being that way, which is a shame. I also hate the visual of the entire roster standing at the top of the stage, as it makes them all look like chumps. If nothing else, The Authority announcing the final two Money in the Bank qualifying matches gave viewers something to look forward to for the rest of the night.
Seth Rollins def. Dolph Ziggler by Disqualification
This is the third time these two have faced off in recent weeks. It's been fun to watch every time so I'm not complaining, but you'd think the Creative Team would switch things up a bit and come up with something a bit more... you know, creative. Nevertheless, the action was entertaining from bell to bell and it was crazy to see just how over Ziggler was in his home state. He always gets a good reception, but he came off like a star in this match. I liked the disqualification finish as it was different from Ziggler losing clean for the third straight week. Dean Ambrose received a great pop in front of his home state of Ohio when he ambushed Rollins and Triple H announcing Bad News Barrett as his opponent was a nice hook going into the commercial break.
Intercontinental Champion Bad News Barrett def. Dean Ambrose by Count-out (Non-title)
Ambrose wrestling in his street clothes was a nice touch as it gave the illusion that Triple H gave Ambrose zero time to prepare for his match. Barrett and Ambrose worked a solid bout and developed good chemistry together. Barrett was being booked strong for a while and I'd hate to see WWE ruin that by casting him as a background guy. Yes, he won this match, but he gained nothing from it being via count-out. Ambrose attacked him afterward anyway, so Barrett looked weak when he shouldn't have. On the other hand, Ambrose came off like a star and I have no doubt that he along with Rollins and Barrett are future world champions.
United States Champion Sheamus def. Bray Wyatt by Disqualification (Non-title)
Wyatt's pre-match promo was excellent as usual that succeeded in hyping the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Ladder match and how the entire Wyatt Family could leave Money in the Bank as champions. Sheamus' promo was nowhere near as good, of course, but that's merely due to the fact that his current character is so stale. They had a good match, but not as good as their clash on Main Event from a few months ago. The crowd wasn't invested in the action early on, but the final few minutes delivered and the disqualification finish was a smart move. The post-match brawl was more entertaining than the match itself and built toward both the Ladder match and tag team title match for the pay-per-view.
Rusev def. Heath Slater
Despite the fact 3MB is now 1MB, Slater is still coming out to the 3MB entrance music and attire. I hope that changes soon. That said, Slater is so much better on his own. He shined in his work with the Legends in 2012 and I hope he goes back to being that incarnation again soon. This was nothing more than another squash match for Rusev, but I'm curious as to whether this marks an unofficial face turn for Slater now that 3MB is no more.
Adam Rose and Summer Rae def. Fandango and Layla
My worst fears have come to fruition: Rose and Fandango are now feuding. Fandango is damaged goods at this point, so pairing Rose with him will not do either guy any favors. They're both very good wrestlers, don't get me wrong, but they're not even the main focus because Layla and Summer are. Is Summer face now? Quite frankly, I couldn't care less and it's a shame Rose is being dragged into this just as he's getting over. On a side note, Kevin Hart was funny on commentary and his post-match dancing with Rose was humorous.
Roman Reigns Won a Money in the Bank Qualifying Battle Royal
Battle Royals can usually be hit or miss, and while this one in particular was clunky at times, it was a decent as a whole. The only issue with it is that the finish was foreshadowed beforehand with Reigns winning. It couldn't be any more predictable, especially since most of the match's contestants were scrubs who haven't done anything meaningful in forever. However, the crowd came unglued when it came down to Reigns and Rusev and it certainly had that big match feel. Rusev, or ever Bo Dallas for that matter, shouldn't have been put in this match to begin with since you knew they weren't winning, but at least they were the final two eliminated.
Divas Champion Paige def. Cameron (Non-title)
Paige carried Cameron to a passable match, but the issue with the Divas division continues: there's no story or feuds for fans to carry about. Cameron might be on the verge of turning heel, but she showed no signs of that here, so I'm not sure what we're supposed to believe. Cameron would be better off as a heel anyway since she's naturally annoying, but until the Divas are given a real story to work with, their matches will continue to render irrelevant.
Star Dust and Goldust def. Rybaxel
WWE built up the suspense nicely for who Goldust's partner was going to be this week, but you had to know the payoff was going to be silly once Goldust said the words "magnificence" and "galaxy". That said, I didn't at all think Goldust's partner would be Cody in makeup. Yes, it was fun for a one-off thing and the crowd got behind it, but I truly hope this isn't for the long-term. I was really looking forward to seeing these two face off at SummerSlam and hope that's still the plan.
John Cena def. Kane in a Stretcher Match
Can anyone honestly remember a good match that Cena and Kane have ever had together? Exactly. I didn't have high hopes for this bout and there were a handful of terrible-looking spots, but at least they made the most of it. The highlight was easily the interference from Randy Orton, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose. Stretcher matches aren't exciting in general, but putting two guys that don't have much chemistry together in one isn't smart. Personally, I would've rather had the Battle Royal close the show, but hey, that's just me. With so many fresh faces in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Ladder match, I will be legitimately pissed if either Cena or Orton win it.
The show started out strong with two great matches and a solid opening segment, but the next two hours were a mixed bag. A majority of the matches were too predictable, specifically the Money in the Bank qualifiers, but at least they did an effective job of building toward the Money in the Bank pay-per-view. The filler on this episode wasn't horrendous, though I really wish I could get the image of vomit all over Vickie Guerrero out of mind. That aside, this was a good show for the most part and the Money in the Bank event continues to shaping up to a must-see show on paper.
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