For the past few weeks, this RAW was heralded as the return of one of the greatest competitors of the generation, John Cena. And with six of the seven men decided for the Money in the Bank ladder match, RAW had something to live up to.
The show started with a Q&A session between the McMahons (Shane and Stephanie) and The New Day. We now know for certain that, after the brand split, there will be a hard split between the rosters. However, the authoritative figures did not rule out breaking up stables such as the tag team champions.
Following on from this, The Vaudevillans would take on Kofi Kingston and Big E in tag action. The match seemed to be following the regular formula when an interference from Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson put an end to the bout. The two men may finally be displaying some from of dominance, taking out all three members of The New Day, including hitting E with the Magic Killer. This could be the beginning of a rise for the new men, and maybe a shot at the titles in the near future.
The second match of the night, also a tag encounter, saw The Usos face Breezango, with Golden Truth at ringside. I feel a little sorry for the twin Samoans, fallen from the top of the card to facing a comedy act. In typical fashion, this was a quick bout which saw Jimmy and Jay pick up victory from a distracted Fandango. If this rivalry starts pulling in other teams from the roster, hopefully this will set precedent by not bringing them down to this, terrible level. Why can’t this story just end?!
While addressing his match at Money in the Bank against Seth Rollins, we saw the return of Roman Reigns‘ favourite line. “I’m not a good guy. I’m not a bad guy. I’m THE guy”. I thought we were past this Roman, stop making yourself sound like an idiot! Seth came down and played his tactical mind-games: rushing the ring, then backing up; then rushing again before backing further. This just proves that Rollins is one of the only guys who doesn’t need to spend hours on the mic to excite the fans and show his character. Throughout this, Reigns just stood in the middle of the ring, arms folded, looking a bit like a stereotypical sassy lady.Please, please, please let Rollins win!
The first singles match of the night saw the US champion Rusev square off against Zach Ryder. Once again, Ryder looked very good throughout but succumbed to a quick finish. At least Zach has received more screen time since Wrestlemania… The Bulgarian Brute took victory with his modified Accolade, which looks less painful but much harder to break out of – rocking right back onto the opponents legs. Following the match, Titus O’Neil was on hand to give the US champ a piece of his mind. The scene is being set very well for a show down at the next PPV. It seems as though some of the creative have got their act together.
Back to tag action next as, the match confirmed on SmackDown, Enzo and Cass faced The Dudley Boyz. After seeing Big Cass dominate both of the Dudleys single-handedly, this one looked like it could only go one way (unless for some reason Enzo makes the team weaker). Indeed it was the former NXT men who picked up victory with a big Rocket Launcher from the top rope. Enzo’s first match back since Payback and he looked sharp, much like his pre-injury self. This team should be in for a rise as long as they stick together through the draft.
After five months on the shelf, we finally saw the return of John Cena. The man who is more patriotic than Captain America himself dropped a very passionate, emotional speech and refused to be overlooked in this “new era”. Who better to go face to face with Mr WWE than Mr TNA, AJ Styles. Styles displayed his respect and admiration for Cena before his former NJPW brethren came to ringside. This kicked off an all-out assault on Cena, spearheaded by Styles – one of the most genuine turns in recent memory. If this means that the Club is back together, and will go through anyone and anything in its path, this is a very good use of the stable. Surely we will see Cena vs Styles at Money in the Bank, a very interesting encounter indeed.
The only Women’s action of the night saw Natalya face Dana Brooke in a rematch from last week. Once again, Brooke picked up a quick victory before siding with Charlotte to beat down Nattie. Thankfully, Becky Lynch was on hand to offer assistance, and force Brooke and Flair from the ring. Looks like the Lynch-Brooke feud hasn’t been forgotten about after all.
Despite winning the rubber match at Extreme Rules, Baron Corbin fought Dolph Ziggler once again. Ziggler claimed this would be a technical battle but, almost immediately, low-blowed Corbin right in front of the referee. It seems as though this rivalry will never end as The Lone Wolf will not take this lightly, and The Showoff continuously looks to irritate him.
The main event saw the men who successfully qualified for the Money in the Bank ladder match square off in a six-man tag match, Cesaro, Sami Zayn and Dean Ambrose against Chris Jericho, Alberto Del Rio and Kevin Owens. The Swiss Superman started the match in great form, uppercutting everyone in sight before ADR took control. Of all six men, Cesaro looks to be receiving the most authentic cheers from the fans, and certainly deserves a shot at the top of the card. However, in my mind there is only one candidate to win the briefcase, and that is Ambrose. Dean was in fact the man to pick up the victory in this encounter, hitting KO with Dirty Deeds. Once the seventh man is revealed, my opinion may be swayed, but until then the Lunatic Fringe is the right man for the contract.