A confused CM Punk confronts Paul Heyman.
By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton Ended in a Double Disqualification
This has been a very entertaining feud thus far, so kicking off the show with it was a smart move. Having their match end in double count-out a minute into it allowed the rematch to take place later on in the night and gave viewers something to look forward to. The live crowd was heavily behind both competitors and was anxiously awaiting their eventual rematch.
Sheamus and Christian def. Team Rhodes Scholars
After losing to Team Rhodes Scholars in Handicap action last week, it made sense for Sheamus to pair up with Christian to battle the devious duo here. That being said, I didn't mind that Sheamus and Christian went over, especially since the action was enjoyable. I'm highly anticipating the upcoming Street Fight between Sheamus and Sandow on SmackDown. I doubt Sandow defeats The Celtic Warrior, but the match itself should be fun.
Kaitlyn def. Aksana
We've seen this match three times in the last three weeks, so it's safe to say that this specific bout was more of the same from these two. Neither of them are good workers in the ring, so why bother having them face one another? The live crowd was flat for AJ Lee's impersonation of Kaitlyn, but it's good to see the Creative Team actually doing something with the Divas division for once. It wasn't the most vindictive act in the world by AJ, but it was at least something to keep the feud going.
Chris Jericho def. World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio by Disqualification (Non-title)
Similar to their match from last week's SmackDown, this contest was very well wrestled. They have great chemistry with one another and they were able to keep a consistent pace throughout the bout. I do question the move of giving this away on Raw, however, as it makes their match from SmackDown feel irrelevant. That aside, I like how tension was teased between Del Rio, Jericho and Dolph Ziggler, who showed tweener tendencies. If the plan was for Jericho to Ryback at Money in the Bank all along, then what was the point of having Jericho get involved in this feud?
Jerry Lawler Unveiled the "WWE 2K14" Cover
They did a segment similar to this last year as well, so I didn't mind it happening here. It was simply a giant plug for the new video game with some bad one-liners from Vickie Guerrero and Brad Maddox thrown in. I understand that having The Rock on the cover is good for business, but he hasn't been seen or heard from since WrestleMania 29 and probably won't be on television for a long while, so putting him on the cover is baffling to me. Furthermore, I fear we might get a John Cena picture drawn by an eight-year-old on the back cover this year. You've been warned.
Ryback def. The Great Khali
This was nothing more than a glorified squash match designed to put heat back on Ryback. The match itself was throwaway, but it was only be remembered for the awesome finish of Ryback connecting with the Shell Shocked on Khali. The Creative Team has done so much damage to his character in recent months that it might be difficult to rebuild him, but this was a nice step in the right direction. I assume his match with Jericho at Money in the Bank will be used to give him his first pay-per-view victory since last year's installment.
WWE Champion John Cena Addressed Mark Henry's Deception
These are the kind of promos I wish we would get from Cena on a weekly basis. He was serious, straightforward and logical in what he was saying. The delivery of the promo was good and it was a nice way of recapping last week's hot angle. He also managed to make the title feel important for the first time in ages, so that's also a helpful sign.
The Usos def. Tons of Funk and 3MB to Become the No. 1 Contenders to the WWE Tag Team Championships
The match was over within mere minutes, and it was pretty predictable who was winning once The Usos entered. I liked how they pinned Tensai to win the match, who was the most dominant competitor in the match. It's a small detail, but sometimes the small details make the biggest differences. The Shield coming out immediately following the conclusion of the contest was well done and made the feud feel meaningful. I don't see The Usos winning the gold at Money in the Bank, but it is a nice addition to the event's under-card.
CM Punk Confronted Paul Heyman
In what was the highlight of the night, CM Punk and Paul Heyman had a strong segment together. I felt like I was watching Punk's "Best in the World" DVD when he discussed the history behind his friendship with Heyman. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, as it provided good background for those unaware of why they're so close. I don't at all think Punk is turning back heel simply because he reunited with Heyman, but I assume it sets up a Heyman turn down the line. With Punk vs. Brock Lesnar more than likely happening at SummerSlam, it's crucial they drag the story out without it getting tiresome too quickly.
CM Punk def. Darren Young
Who remembers when these two were partnered together on the first season of NXT? Oh, how times have changed. Anyway, the match was fine for what it was, but I pleasantly surprised to see the bout go as long as it did. It felt rather random until Curtis Axel saved Punk from an attack from The Prime Time Players, thus setting up a blockbuster tag team match for next week. As previously stated, I assume this was done in order to gain Punk's trust so Heyman can backs stab him later in the feud.
Mark Henry Addressed the WWE Universe
While it may not have been the same awe-inspiring promo we got from Henry last week, it was still a solid follow-up to his actions against John Cena. It was pretty basic for the most part and featured nothing out of the ordinary. Nonetheless, Henry has always been skilled on the mic and I'm glad he's finally being given the chance to showcase that in a high profile feud.
Daniel Bryan def. Randy Orton in a Street Fight
These two always have excellent matches and this was no exception. This wasn't much different from their No Disqualification match from last week, but it was still equally entertaining. They made good use of the extreme environment that surrounded them and were given plenty of time to shine. Bryan going over clean (disregarding the use of the legal weapons) was brilliant booking and made him look like a credible contender going into the WWE Championship Money in the Bank Ladder match. Orton's post-match facial expressions were interesting and left wondering if he'll ultimately turn heel sooner rather than later, but only time will tell as far as that goes.
This week's edition of Monday Night Raw wasn't as exciting as last week's, but it didn't need to be. If every episode was like that, then it wouldn't feel as special as it did. Nonetheless, this was still a good show that featured plenty of solid segments and enjoyable matches. It's also good to see that they are starting to build the card for Money in the Bank this far in advance rather than wait until the last possible minute like they usually do.