By Anthony Locicero - New York Sports Examiner Reporter - @anthonylocic on Twitter

 

Instead of providing play-by-play for this episode, as has been done previously, I’m going to discuss my thoughts on each promo, match and sketch.

Opening Segment

Stephanie McMahon continues to get good heat. Vickie Guerrero was planning on leaving WWE quite some time ago, but agreed to stay on past Wrestlemania. I read that the whole bad coffee was based on a recent real life experience one of the McMahons had. Also, Vince seems to enjoy the toilet humor.

Loud “Eddie!” chant from the crowd after Stephanie uses a big-time putdown, telling Vickie that she rode her husband’s coattails for nine years.

Since she dropped the “EXCUSE ME!” Vickie doesn’t generate the authentic heat that she used to.

Guerrero has been limited mainly to backstage sketches where she is embarrassed or insulted.

I was honestly shocked that Stephanie booked herself in a match. She can hold her own in the ring, but it’s been forever… foreverrr… for-ev-er… But since she’s part of The Authority, there has to be some evil scheme brewing.

And that has to be the first time I can remember “EXCUSE ME!” being applauded. Vickie in the face/sympathetic role getting surprising support from the D.C. crowd.

 

First match

Jimmy Uso (w/ Jey Uso) in singles action against Luke Harper (w/ Eric Rowan)

The Usos are booked like a classic 80s babyface tag team. While the high flying moves are exciting – and the brothers are interactive with the crowd – I don’t see them being champions much longer, not with Eric Rowan and Luke Harper as the No. 1 contenders.

Recently, Rowan and Harper have gotten to showcase their skills – and not in Bray Wyatt’s shadow. Both guys are very athletic despite their statures. I think Harper has the brighter future. He’s got the prototypical size. He can do a dive through the ropes.

A quick victory for Harper shows the WWE has faith in him.

That was followed up – predictably – with Jey and Rowan going at it. Booking 101 would suggest that now Jey Uso would pick up the win, since his brother lost.

And that was exactly the case, as Jey earned a quick win after the Uso Crazy.

Even though the tag champs are over with the crowd, I still think they drop the titles Sunday. Bray Wyatt could win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, and make the Wyatt Family the new Shield – a powerful (and the only one left with The Hounds of Justice solo acts and the disbandment of 3MB) trio that’s over with the crowd.

On a side note, Harper and Rowan came out to their own theme song: an instrumental (on what sounded like a Jack in the Box or some kinda toy) version of “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.”

Lana and Rusev in D.C. promo

Are we living through the second Cold War? This whole anti-American shtick is truly cheap heat. I guess its supposed to be topical after the whole Edward Snowden ordeal.

But if WWE is going to have a big time anti-American heel, why not bring back Iron Shiek and Nikolai Volkoff and Sgt. Slaughter?

 

Diva’s Match

Alicia Fox vs. Naomi

Since WWE wants a tie-in between Total Divas and actual wrestling storylines, there’s been discussion of – and some teasing – of a break up of the Funkadactyls.  

Paige, 21, is on commentary along with Cameron. Paige is a hit with Lawler, as he dates and likes women her age.

With Cameron and Paige bickering, it almost puts the match itself on the backburner.

Naomi picked up the win over Alicia Fox, who I guess is no longer a credible threat for the Diva’s title.

I really don’t think there’s any main roster Diva outside of AJ Lee and Natayla that would pose a credible threat to Paige. However, too often Paige is booked as the sympathetic baby face, getting beat down all match before hitting her finisher outta nowhere to win. It’s supposed to get her crowd support, but there’s plenty of fans who enjoyed her work in NXT. Creative is still having trouble with NXT gimmicks getting over on the main roster (see: Dallas, Bo; Rose, Adam).

 

Titus O’Neill vs. Bo Dallas

O’Neill is the next victim of Dallas, who is now 9 and Bo (0) I was surprised that WWE didn’t have Dallas feud with Wade Barrett, since the two have history. But I only heard it mentioned in passing by Michael Cole during last week’s Battle Royal.

Dallas is still having trouble getting over, as not everybody in the WWE Universe bo-lieves. Though a small “Let’s Go Bo!” chant was picked up by the D.C. crowd. The most vocal I remember hearing the crowd being for him. For those who don’t know, Bo Dallas is the real life brother of Bray Wyatt. So, when you compare the two, Wyatt obviously has the bigger ceiling. So much better on the mike.

This was a squash and Dallas actually hit his finisher without trouble. I really like his off the ropes bulldog. I really don’t like JBL’s continued awful puns. “Bo-livia. Bo-tacular.” That last one doesn’t even have ‘Bo’ in it.

 

In the past, the Raw ladder match featured the big names and the Smackdown ladder match was for more of the mid-card and up-and-coming guys. This year, the ladder match for the title features seven individuals, four of whom have had the WWE and World Heavyweight titles (Alberto Del Rio, Randy Orton, Sheamus and John Cena), and three rising stars (Roman Reigns, Bray Wyatt, Cesaro).

First there was a rumor that a heel would emerge champion. Now, it is being said that Cena will emerge victorious in his home state.

[You can check out my Money in the Bank preview on this site.]

 

A second ladder match – the traditional ladder match with a future title shot up for grabs – has been created and it highlights the lack of depth/mid-card.

After Seth Rollins, the entrants are: Kofi Kingston, Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler, Rob Van Dam and Bad News Barrett.

WWE never seems to know what to do with Kingston. I remember seeing him job week after week – if he was even on TV – and then pick up a clean win over Randy Orton. Kingston’s high flying prowess and knack for awesome, athletic spots make him a good entrant, but not a winner.

Swagger has seen his stock rise and plummet over the last year/year and a half. He’s a former champion, but the “WE THE PEOPLE” chant is more over than he is. Swagger has been lost in the mid card shuffle and is most likely not going to come down with the briefcase.

Ziggler has seen his stock rise recently, after rumors that he wasn’t being pushed due to his injury history. But he makes everyone he faces look better and has an outside shot at winning, after earning it in 2013.

Rob Van Dam is still a novelty act. He’ll get his signature spots in and do some cool moves – as someone who saw him in his prime, it’s a shame to see him old and a bit worn down – but won’t win as a part-timer. RVD is also a former champion and MITB winner. I loved his match against Cena in the old ECW arena at ECW One Night Stand (2006), when Van Dam cashed in his briefcase and won. (Do yourself a favor and find it on YouTube.)

Bad News Barrett’s stock is on the rise, having won the Intercontinental Title recently. But, I really think this match is set up to highlight Seth Rollins and have him win.

I’ve liked Rollins and felt like it was easy to overlook him with Reigns seemingly being pegged by everyone as the ‘Next Big Thing.’ Rollins has a great move set – finally some better entrance music, but ugly new gear – he’s extremely athletic and he’s getting better on the mike.

(Completely off topic, Rollins is friends with Dan “Soupy” Campbell, the lead singer of one of my favorite bands, The Wonder Years. Rollins has great taste in music, giving me another reason to root for him.)

As much as I enjoyed and rooted for the Shield, I think all three members really needed to breakout on their own and showcase their abilities.

(For a great read on their split, check out the Masked Man’s Grantland.com article: Who Will Be The Shield’s Marty Jannetty?)

 

Rob Van Dam vs. Seth Rollins

Great back and forth match. Both guys got in their signature offense and kept the crowd invested. Dean Ambrose came out to attack Rollins. Ambrose also has new gear: street clothes.

An Ambrose/Rollins feud would be amazing since both guys have put on terrific matches against each other in NXT. It would be a great match for Money in the Bank, but Rollins is in the secondary ladder match and Ambrose is… not on the card?

He teased interference in the match and could very well play a role in the outcome. If Rollins doesn’t win, it will be because of Ambrose. Who wins instead is up for debate. But Rollins wants him in the match and HHH adds Ambrose to the fold. This should likely set up the feud between the two that could carry over into Battleground or Summerslam.

Seemed unlikely that Ambrose would not be involved at Money In The Bank, especially when he’s been interfering in Rollins’ matches.

 

Intercontinental Bad News Barrett vs. Dolph Ziggler, IC title match

After rumors that he wasn’t being pushed due to his injury history, Ziggler has recently seen his stock rise. He defeated #BNB on Smackdown in a non-title match.

I’ve liked Barrett from the start and I’m glad to see him recover after being buried by Cena years back, and returning from a 2012 injury just when he was in line for a big push.

I think Barrett has found his biggest success with this Bad News Barrett, which has gotten him some backstage praise.

I am personally a fan of both guys, so it would make my rooting interest difficult. But it doesn’t seem like the right time to take the belt off Barrett unless he’s going to get bumped to the main event picture, enter some sort of lowly mid card feud, or be punished.

Title changes on Raw are rare these days, especially in an era of long title reigns.

This was a good, energetic match that kept the crowd engaged. Lots of times we’re treated to squash matches or plodding matches that don’t pick up until the finish. Good to see some matches that don’t make me want to change the channel. Plenty of near falls and the possibility (even if it seems somewhat unlikely) that Zigger could win helped. A loud “THIS IS AWESOME!” chant picked up. It was definitely a great TV match, but that chant gets used way too often, unfortunately.

 

Main Event plug

Six man tag match: Kingston, Ziggler and RVD against Rollins, Swagger and #BNB.

In these large tag matches, a lot of times the superstars are teamed with guys they’ve had programs with. We are supposed to forget any bad blood. Seems like just because these guys are faces and those guys are heels, they just end up on the same team. It’s like they are bonded by the fact that they are good/bad. Too simplistic, but I guess we can’t ask for a reason for them to team up for anything…

 

Vickie Guerrero vs. Stephanie McMahon

Oh, of course Stephanie isn’t going to wrestle. Instead it’s the heel divas: Alicia Fox, Layla and Rosa Mendes.

Since Vickie is always made to look bad, it would seem inevitable that Vickie ended up in the pool of… diarrhea?

She threw in the three divas first, but of course, Stephanie pushes Vickie in.

Stephanie tells Vickie she’s fired, but no one was as good as Vince with the “YOU’RE FIRED!” There’s YouTube compilations of Vince firing people.

At least Vickie was given the luxury of throwing the Billion Dollar Princess in the muck too.

And that’s her send off…

 

Goldust and Stardust (Cody Rhodes)

Supposedly, if Stardust gets over, WWE will keep the Rhodes Brothers tag team together. If it doesn’t, the two will start feuding.

I think this Stardust gimmick has the potential to get over due to Cody’s dedication to it.

 

Kofi Kingston vs. Jack Swagger

I guess Swagger won to look strong heading into Money in the Bank. Kingston really has no shot at winning, but I’m excited to see what kind of crazy spot(s) he’ll take part in.

 

Damien Sandow

He’s been reduced to some really horrendous comedy roles. He’s got talent and I thought he had a great gimmick as the Intellectual Savior. He won the Money In the Bank Briefcase, lost to Cena and then faded into obscurity. I’ve heard of WWE having superstars lose for long periods of time to test their loyalty… or because the talent was punished. I’m really not sure what the deal with Sandow is. I hope he can rebound. He does give these ridiculous characters his best effort, though.

 

Big E Promo

Ummm??? U-S-A?

 

Lana

She was in Pitch Perfect and I believe she’ll be in the sequel.

 

Rusev

No suplex, but the Bulgarian Brute (who lives in Russia, lest we forget), will break your back and make you humble with the Camel Clutch… I mean, Accolade.

 

4 on 3 Handicap Match

This was a big spot for Reigns. He got to clean house and look strong heading into the PPV.

An excellent finish, with all the superstars getting in some last second offense.

Kane comes out to clean house. I still don’t get why Kane is a factor. He’s showing his age. His character has long been a joke and he’s basically irrelevant now. And now he’s also added to the Money in the Bank ladder match? Yawn…

SPEAR!!!! Roman Reigns lays out Kane and stares down HHH. I really hope Reigns is the new champion.

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