By Long Shot contributor Tim Simko
This Sunday at Money in the Bank, fans will witness a plethora of matches. Kevin Owens will face John Cena in a rematch from Elimination Chamber, Seth Rollins will defend his WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Dean Ambrose once again and a ladder match will be held with the WWE Money in the Bank briefcase on the line. With the briefcase, a superstar can “cash it in” at any time within the next year for a WWE World Heavyweight Championship match. What else will happen leading into Sunday’s Pay-Per-View event? Will Owens get the upper hand on Cena once again? And who else will be added into the Money in the Bank ladder match?
Once again, it is time to get RAW.
John Cena came out and promoted his match against Owens this Sunday. After awhile, Owens interrupted Cena and called him delusional for thinking he can beat Owens. Owens called Cena’s act stale, and said that instead of an open challenge for the United States Championship, he will defend his NXT championship in an open challenge.
Cena said that loved the idea, and accepted the challenge. However, Owens said that their fight is Sunday. Cena criticized Owens for holding an open challenge for everyone except him.
Cena declared that he would start his own open invitational, but Owens said that he would let a wrestler come out and choose whether he will challenge for the NXT title or the United States Championship.
Neville came out and called Owens disrespectful. Neville said that with all due respect to Cena, he would be fighting Owens for the NXT Championship. John Cena moved to the commentary desk as RAW went to commercial.
The announcer made formal introduction, and as soon as the bell rang Owens walked out of the ring. Neville pursued Owens and began to hit a variety of high-flying and fast paced moves as Cena watched on. Owens began to make a comeback and started to beat Neville down. The match became one-sided as Owens continued to beat down Neville for a close two count.
Neville tried to fight back, but Owens regained control and hit a knee to Neville’s gut for another two count. Owens hit a series of punches and began yelling at Neville. Neville fought back with a few kicks, but Owens hit more punches and continued to dominate Neville. Owens threw Neville outside of the ring and Neville laid on the outside writhing in pain as RAW went to commercial.
As RAW came back on the air, Owens maintained control. However, Neville managed to counter a slam by Owens with a DDT. Neville began to hit a series of kicks and hit a moonsault off of the top rope onto Owens on the outside of the ring.
Back in the ring, Neville hit Owens with a kick off of the ropes for a two count. Owens fought back and slammed Neville down for a two count. Neville managed to hit a suplex on Owens before pinning Owens for a two count.
Neville went for his Red Arrow finisher off of the top rope, but Owens got to his feet. Neville hit a kick on Owens and went for his Red Arrow finisher and missed. Neville countered with a kick and went for his Red Arrow for a third time, but Owens countered and hit a pop up powerbomb for the win.
Owens and Cena taunted each other and Owens invited Cena into the ring. Cena ran into the ring, and the two stared off before Owens walked off.
This was a good segment to promote Cena and Owens’ second match, as well as a good spot to showcase the NXT system to casual fans. Both Neville and Owens went through the NXT system, and fans who enjoyed their match can subscribe to the WWE Network to see similar matches on NXT. This was a great way to promote the product while giving fans an excellent match on RAW.
Backstage, The Authority looked at Instagram photos of Dean Ambrose walking around New Orleans with Rollins’ WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Rollins asked what they would do about it, but The Authority told Rollins that he is on his own. Rollins said that he didn’t need the help of J&J Security and Kane, but that he has the upmost respect for Triple H and Stephanie McMahon.
McMahon and Triple H said that Rollins is on his own at Money in the Bank in his match against Ambrose. They told Rollins that he can pick an opponent and that he will have a “tune-up” match on RAW to get him ready for Sunday.
The photos of Ambrose on social media were a nice touch, as Ambrose interacted with fans throughout the day in New Orleans. I am also curious to see who Rollins will pick for his opponent on RAW tonight.
Clips were shown from when The Bella Twins used their “Twin Magic” maneuver on Paige last week, and Nikki Bella gave a brief rebuttal. Nikki said that she takes on all comers, and that she will take on Summer Rae tonight and will face Paige once again at Money in the Bank. She said that Paige is living in the Bellas’ world.
Summer Rae and Nikki Bella both made their way to the ring and they locked up to start the match. Nikki went for a series of pins but Summer Rae continuously kicked out. The two divas fought back and forth, until Summer Rae held Nikki in a submission hold. Nikki fought out but Summer Rae knocked Nikki down for a two count.
Summer Rae began to gain the advantage, but Nikki countered with a kick followed by her Rack Attack finisher for the win.
This was a decent match, but it bothers me that they never have any real direction with the Divas matches. Summer Rae is rarely seen, and there is barely any buildup to the Divas championship match on Sunday.
Roman Reigns came out and promoted the WWE Money in the Bank ladder match for the Money in the Bank briefcase. The contract within the briefcase can be cashed in at any time and at any place within the next year for a WWE World Heavyweight Championship match. Reigns guaranteed that he would win the match at Money in the Bank before being interrupted by Kane.
Kane said that everyone involved in the match has a better chance of winning than Reigns, and that he has been inserted into the match to protect The Authority’s best interests.
Dolph Ziggler came out and insulted Kane’s corporate makeover over the past few years. Ziggler said that he has been on a roll lately and that he will win the Money in the Bank contract on Sunday and become WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
R-Truth came out to say that he would win Money in the Bank, before Kane pointed out that he is not even in the match. R-Truth walked to the back, and The New Day came out. They announced that Kofi will win the match, and Sheamus’ music hit as he came out. He said that he will win the briefcase and become WWE World Heavyweight Champion once again.
Kane asked if anyone else was about to come out before he announced that Neville would be in the match as well as Randy Orton.
This was a predictable but necessary segment. It promoted the match that the entire Pay-Per-View event is built around, as well as giving most of the wrestlers involved screen time going into the event.
After a commercial break, Orton and Sheamus began to brawl back and forth in a rematch from last week’s edition of RAW. Orton began to get the upper hand as he started to beat down Sheamus. Sheamus rolled out of the ring and began to limp as Orton looked on.
Orton threw Sheamus into the barricade on the outside and continued to beat him down. Sheamus fought back with some kicks and a series of punches. Orton hit a few punches of his own and both men began to fight back and forth with a series of uppercuts.
Sheamus rolled out of the ring again and limped in pain as Orton looked on. Orton continued to attack Sheamus, and Sheamus fought back as the two men brawled recklessly again. Sheamus took over the match and knocked Orton out of the ring as RAW went to another commercial.
Sheamus continued to maintain control, but Orton refused to give up. Orton kicked out of a few pin attempts and Sheamus continued to beat him down. Orton fought back, and the two men traded a series of punches. Orton hit a series of clotheslines followed by a powerslam on Sheamus.
Orton hit a DDT off of the ropes on Sheamus and began to call for his finisher, the RKO. Orton went for an RKO, but Sheamus countered and went for a brogue kick but Orton dodged it. The two men fought on the outside, and Sheamus threw Orton into the barricade and grabbed a steel chair.
Sheamus tried to hit Sheamus with the chair, but Orton countered and then hit Sheamus with the same chair. Orton beat down Sheamus on the outside in retaliation for what happened on last week’s RAW. He hit an RKO on Sheamus as the fans cheered.
This wasn’t a wrestling match, it was a brawl. The two men fought tooth and nail and it showed. With so many high flying and athletic wrestlers, sometimes it is fun to watch a good old-fashioned fight.
Backstage, Rollins argued with J&J Security and ended up slapping Jamie Noble. He said that he would wrestle J&J Security in a two-on-one handicap match on RAW. Joey Mercury of J&J Security announced that they would defeat Rollins in their match.
This will be a good match to watch, as Rollins continues to tease frustration within The Authority. It is very possible that Rollins could break away and shine on his own as the company’s top villain. The next chapter in Rollins’ career will be an interesting one.
After a commercial break, Kane and Ziggler fought one-on-one in a match. Kane had control of the match as Ziggler’s love interest Lana looked on from the outside. Kane held Ziggler in a sleeper hold, but Ziggler fought out of it.
Kane slammed Ziggler for a two count. He maintained control of the match as he continued to beat Ziggler down. Ziggler began to fight back, and hit Kane with a DDT for a two count. Ziggler went for a Zig Zag but Kane countered for a two count as RAW went to commercial.
Kane maintained control of the match as Lana looked on. Ziggler made a comeback with a series of kicks and hit a famouser for a two count. Kane fought back and went for a chokeslam but Ziggler countered with a kick and both men went down.
Rusev came out on crutches and began to harass Lana before inadvertently knocking her down. Lana held her ankle and Ziggler went to check on Lana but Kane took advantage of the distraction and hit a chokeslam for the pin and the win. Ziggler walked to the outside as some EMTs came out to check on Lana’s ankle.
This was a decent match by both men, but definitely not a match of the year candidate. I appreciate that Lana isn’t overacting her “injury,” likely because she is a seasoned actress who has taken part in films such as Pitch Perfect 2.
Doctors tended to Lana backstage as The Miz began an episode of his talk show, Miz TV, featuring Intercontinental Champion Ryback and Big Show. The Miz complained about the actions of Big Show last week when he punched Miz right before his Intercontinental Championship match.
Ryback came out and told the crowd to wake up. Ryback said that he was robbed of the pleasure of beating up Miz. Miz said Ryback was rude and that it was his show.
They argued back and forth and Ryback said that if he wrestled Miz that he would have taken years off of his career. Ryback looked directly at the camera as he smiled and laughed, possibly hinting at former WWE wrestle and current UFC fighter CM Punk’s claims on Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling podcast that Ryback was reckless in the ring.
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Big Show came out and said that he’s always hated The Miz. The three men began to argue, and after some bickering Ryback told Big Show that if he wants the WWE Intercontinental Championship it is right here.
Ryback and Big Show began to trade insults as Miz tried to egg them on. Eventually, Miz tried to hit Big Show with a cheap shot but Big Show threw him out of the ring and Ryback hit Big Show with Shellshocked as the fans chanted “Feed Me More.”
I am a fan of the wrestling talk shows, but Miz TV will never be on the same level as Chris Jericho’s Highlight Reel or “Rowdy” Roddy Piper’s Piper’s Pit. However, it was worth waiting through the rhetoric to see Ryback hit Big Show with his finisher.
Luke Harper and Erick Rowan came out for a match against Los Matadores. Harper and Rowan used their power and strength to dominate Los Matadores throughout the match. The two men continued to hit a series of power moves and threw one of the Los Matadores. Fernando of Los Matadores went for a tag but Rowan and Harper knocked down his partner earlier. They hit him with the Dudley Death Drop (3D) for the win.
It is interesting that they are using the 3D, a finisher made famous by The Dudley Boyz. Bubba Ray Dudley clashed with The Wyatt Family faction when he was a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble, perhaps this opens up the door for them to return and face off against Harper and Rowan. It is unlikely, but in the WWE anything is possible.
WWE showed an Instagram post of Dean Ambrose with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and a ticket for tonight’s show as RAW went to commercial.
Big E and Titus O’Neil fought one-on-one as The New Day and O’Neil’s tag team partner Darren Young stood at ringside. There was back and forth action between the two powerhouses as Big E began to get the advantage. After O’Neil began to make a comeback, The New Day began to distract O’Neil and Big E took advantage and hit The Big Ending to win the match.
This match helped promote the WWE Tag Team Championship match between The New Day and The Prime Time Players at Money in the Bank. Sometimes less is more, and although the match was short it worked well for their program.
As The New Day celebrated their win, Reigns came down to the ring for a match against New Day member Kofi Kingston. The two men locked up, and Reigns got the advantage. Reigns began to use his strength to out power Kingston in the match. Kingston tried to use his agility to counter, however Reigns once again used his strength. Kingston escaped the ring, and after talking to his New Day partners, they surrounded the ring. Kingston took advantage of the distraction and started attacking Reigns.
Kingston attacked Reigns in the corner and began to hit a series of offense. However, Reigns countered with a clothesline and then knocked Kingston out of the ring. Reigns began to attack Kingston on the outside while watching The New Day closely. Reigns dove outside of the ring and landed on Xavier Woods of The New Day but Kingston took advantage and hit a dropkick on Reigns as RAW went to commercial.
Kingston maintained his advantage as RAW came back on the air. Reigns began to make a comeback, but Kingston started to use his speed to maintain his advantage. Kingston jumped off of the top rope and pinned Reigns for a two count.
Reigns hit a series of clotheslines on Kingston before attacking him in the corner. He went for his Superman Punch but missed, and then Reigns hit a slam for a two count. Reigns hit another slam but Kingston kicked out at two. Roman Reigns went for his Superman Punch but was distracted by The New Day. Kingston tried to take advantage but Reigns kicked out at two. Reigns hit a Superman Punch on Kingston for the pin and the win.
Power against speed is always a fun match to watch. Reigns gained a lot of flack from fans for his fast rise in WWE over the past year, but he is starting to win me over. He is truly earning his stripes.
Reigns stayed at ringside as Dean Ambrose came through the audience adorned in Bourbon Street beads while carrying the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, popcorn, and a soda. Ambrose sat in the front row as Rollins watched on from backstage with The Authority.
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins made his way to the ring for the main event of RAW. J&J Security came down, accompanied by Kane, as Joey Mercury started off the match with Rollins.
There was back and forth between Mercury and Rollins before he tagged in Noble. Rollins gained the advantage and threw both Noble and Mercury out of the ring. J&J Security proceeded to surround the ring and Kane distracted the referee as they pummeled Rollins and threw him outside of the ring.
Ambrose threw some popcorn on Rollins as J&J Security took advantage and continued to attack Rollins. Rollins began to lose his temper as he started to attack Joey Mercury at ringside. Ambrose began to taunt Rollins with the stolen WWE World Heavyweight Championship as Rollins took out his anger on Mercury.
Mercury made a comeback and had a close two count on Rollins but Rollins kicked out and began to attack Mercury again. Mercury tried to tag in Noble but Rollins kept stopping Mercury. He managed to tag in Jamie Noble and Noble hit Rollins with a series of offense. Noble managed to pin Rollins while Mercury held his legs down for a two count.
Rollins began to attack both men at once before throwing Mercury out of the ring like a rag doll. Rollins went for a pedigree on Noble, but Ambrose distracted Rollins as Mercury tagged himself in and rolled Rollins up for the win. Ambrose hit Dirty Deeds on Rollins before standing on a ladder and taunting him with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship to end the show.
This was a great main event segment. Casual fans might not know that Joey Mercury and Jamie Noble were both decorated champions within WWE. Noble is a former WWE Cruiserweight Champion, and Mercury was a former WWE Tag Team Champion as one half of the tag team MNM. Noble received “You still got it” chants toward the end of the match and they were very much deserved, as he hasn’t lost a step since transitioning into a backstage role.
- WWE continues to show their faith in Kevin Owens by continuously booking him in a dominating fashion. I hope that his career doesn’t go in the same direction as Rusev, who was booked in a similar way.
- Neville’s match with Owens was a great way of showcasing the NXT system to even the most casual of fans. Even something so little as a ten minute sample of NXT can give fans a reason to subscribe to the WWE Network and watch NXT every week.
- While R-Truth coming out during the Money in the Bank segment got a chuckle out of me, it seemed random and I am still scratching my head over why that happened.
- Erick Rowan and Luke Harper have been using the 3D as their finisher lately, and I am curious to see if this could lead to a feud with The Dudley Boyz.
- The repeated Instagram posts of Dean Ambrose shown throughout the night were funny and contributed greatly to the storyline despite Ambrose’s absence for much of the program. This was a great example of WWE incorporating social media into the product, and this can also keep the storylines relevant with minimal effort.
- RAW is PG, yet showed a trailer for Ted 2 live on their program. Ted 2 is a rated R movie created by Family Guy’s Seth MacFarlane. It seemed odd that the commentators of a family friendly program would promote a trailer for a rated R movie.
- WWE has done a great job of turning Ambrose into a credible main event star in the last few months. With the lack of depth within the main roster, and guys like John Cena approaching 40, WWE needs to establish the next generation of stars.
I will be reviewing this Sunday’s Money in the Bank Pay-Per-View. The WWE Network is still free for new subscribers for the remainder of June and I highly recommend that any wrestling fans subscribe and watch the event, along with some of the other content in WWE’s digital library.