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In the outer boroughs of the concrete jungle, a new, young lion has emerged to rule the roost of Monday Night Raw. And his name is Brad Maddox.
The freshly minted General Manager strolled into the County of Kings with all the pomp and circumstance of a conquering general, and as fate would have it, Maddox was only moments into his maiden show before a blockbuster opportunity fell into his lap.
An appearance by WWE Champion John Cena led Maddox to declare that The Champ would be allowed to pick his own challenger for SummerSlam. Of course, the sudden appearance of Money in the Bank contract holder Randy Orton threatened to derail that proclamation before it even took hold, but it was an intrusion by Fandango that drove The Viper to the breaking point. 'Bows were thrown and a fight broke out, but thanks to a quick ruling by the Maddox – check out the big brain on Brad – the dancing fiend was made to face The Apex Predator himself in the first bout of the night.
The slithery Fandango has been known to worm his way out of almost all predicaments that befall him, but the two-timing two-stepper’s latest dance ended in disaster when he stepped into the ring with Randy Orton on Raw. Coming off a strong showing in the World Title Contract Money in the Bank Ladder Match, Fandango looked tough as nails in a scuffle with the new Mr. Money in the Bank.
Photos: Fandango tangos with The Viper
Although The Apex Predator had a new spring in his step with the contract in hand, Fandango met Orton head on and refused to give up the lead, stymieing The Viper by and tossing him into the steel steps and bouncing his neck across the ropes. Still, Orton rallied by forcing Fandango into the corner and executing a superplex that shook the Brooklyn Bridge, capping off his hunt with a hanging DDT and a perfect 10 of an RKO to send Fandango to the showers.
Although Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns successfully defended their Tag Team Championships, The Shield had a relatively quiet Money in the Bank pay-per-view. Rest assured, the black-clad prodigies didn’t give the WWE locker room any such respite on Raw, taking down their biggest target yet in the very same arena where, seven months ago, they notched their first victory.
The unfortunate Superstar in question was Mark Henry, who came to the ring to deliver an uncharacteristically contrite concession speech following his gutsy loss to John Cena at Money in the Bank. The World’s Strongest Man seemed to be (humbly) angling for a rematch at SummerSlam, yet Henry’s plea went unfinished when The Shield made their presence known. The "Hounds of Justice" circled Henry in the ring and stuck with gusto, battling through the big man’s attacks and finally felling him with a gruesome Triple Powerbomb.
Dolph Ziggler may come to rue the day he dumped AJ Lee. Not only did the devious Divas Champion cost Ziggler a rematch (albeit a non-title one) against World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio moments after Dolph dumped her, but the “Black Widow” and Big E Langston left The Showoff’s body as broken as her heart in one of the more devastating attacks in WWE history.
After a grueling battle, Ziggler unleashed a top-rope Famouser that had the champion dead to rights when AJ emerged from the timekeeper’s table and wildly clanged the ring bell in a bid to distract Dolph, and Del Rio capitalized with a skull-rattling kick to the head that sealed the contest. Adding insult to injury, AJ rained slaps on The Showoff's body and unleashed Langston to administer the Big Ending on Ziggler (somewhat ironically, in the same arena where she dumped John Cena – literally – in favor of Dolph), before sealing the attack with a long kiss goodbye to the motionless Showoff. Show’s over.
Brooklyn didn’t get to find out what’s up after all when R-Truth’s entrance was cut short by the sinister reappearance of The Wyatt Family, who wasted no time in pulverizing the “Suntan Superman” before delivering their first official manifesto.
With Erick Rowan and Luke Harper at his side, Bray Wyatt himself took hold of the microphone and delivered a cryptic address to the WWE Universe, pausing only when Truth returned with a steel chair in hand and spoiling for a fight. Wyatt beckoned the former U.S. Champion to take his best shot, but his followers quickly pounced and delivered the lifeless Truth to their master's hands. With his latest victim in his arms, the “Eater of Worlds” planted a kiss on Truth’s forehead and pounded him into the mat before delivering a final message to both him and the man he decimated last week.
The Usos fell short in their bid for the Tag Team Titles at Money in the Bank, but the Samoan wonders rebounded nicely on Raw with a resounding win over Zeb Colter’s squad of “Real Americans,” Jack Swagger & Antonio Cesaro.
The patriotic powerhouses looked to simply bully The Usos – selected as their opponents in a WWE App vote – into defeat, but the wunderkinds would not be denied in the belly of the Barclays Center. Using their agility and teamwork, the tag veterans put the mighty ‘Muricans to bed by reversing Cesaro’s famous gutwrench powerbomb into a roll-up pin, cutting the bout short and leaving the border-patrolling fiends fuming in the ring.
Damien Sandow’s sinister intellectualism won him a Money in the Bank Ladder Match, but The Enlightened One received a rude awakening the next night courtesy of a pair of Superstars who ensured Sandow’s tenure as Mr. Money in the Bank started off worse than his serpentine counterpart’s.
Sporting a Gob Bluth-esque chipped tooth and hobbled from his injures in the All-Star Money in the Bank Match, Christian was slow out of the gate against Sandow in their match as the "Duke of Decency" targeted Captain Charisma’s ribs. Yet the contract holder banked too much on his own superiority and lost when he mugged a little too long during the Elbow of Disdain, allowing Christian to spring up and defeat Sandow with a roll-up pin. Sandow’s night only got worse moments later, when the ungentlemanly scholar found himself on the receiving end of a beatdown from a jilted, furious Cody Rhodes that sent him scurrying into the crowd. Looks like the mustachioed one finally found a way to break his silence.
Seven months ago, Naomi got her first Divas Championship opportunity against Eve in Brooklyn. And on a hot July night, the feisty Funkadactyl broke out her most exciting moves yet in a ferocious contest against her “Total Divas” castmate Brie Bella. Twin Magic was running strong in the early goings of the match, and the terrible twin’s aggression kept the freewheeling Naomi firmly on the defensive.
The lead was not to last, however. Once Naomi busted out with a hurricanrana and her signature “Rear View” maneuver, Brie never sniffed victory again. Fittingly enough, it was an airborne attack that brought the Funkadactyl her victory, as Naomi ascended the turnbuckle and took flight with a cross body to plant Brie down for three.
CM Punk knows better than most that actions speak louder than words, so it was hardly a surprise when The Straight Edge Superstar demanded that Paul Heyman present himself following Heyman’s betrayal at Money in the Bank. Bristling at Punk’s apparent notions of superiority since his return, Heyman indeed appeared and fessed up to his recent machinations in full. In fact, he did Punk one better, insinuating he turned his back on his friend because his first client – Brock Lesnar – was simply superior and would not fail him as Punk did at WrestleMania against The Undertaker.
Punk, of course, vowed to make Heyman pay, and was summarily repaid with pain when the mad scientist summoned Lesnar from the shadows and sicced the former UFC Champion on The Straight Edge Sueprstar. Punk valiantly rained elbows on The Anomaly’s head, but his heart wasn’t enough on this particular night when Brock unleashed a monstrous F-5 on the former WWE Champion, dropping him onto the announce table and leaving him to eat the concrete and his words in equal measure. Punk did made it to his feet once the dust had settled, but the damage had already been done.
Welcome home, Mr. Monday Night. Rob Van Dam made his return to WWE’s flagship show after a six-year sabbatical and showed that – as the Brooklyn crowd helpfully pointed out – he does, indeed, still have it with a win over Chris Jericho.
The hybrid styles of the multi-time Intercontinental Champions meshed so perfectly in their bout that the two were at a dead heat for almost the entire time. The two veterans unleashed the full scope of their arsenals in the half-hour tilt, with Lionsaults, Rolling Thunders, and cross bodies flying in equal measure.
Jericho regained momentum with a DDT and a Lionsault, but couldn’t turn RVD’s mighty legs into the Walls of Jericho, only locking in his famous hold after a failed hurricanrana from Van Dam. Once RVD reached the ropes, he quickly struck with a kick to Y2J’s head and capitalized off the felled future Hall of Famer’s proximity to the turnbuckle with a Five Star Frog Splash that put the bout to its end.
With his fate in his own hands, John Cena came to the ring in the closing moments of Raw to fulfill Brad Maddox’s history-making edict. But even with a smorgasbord of championship-caliber Superstars staring him in the face, Cena turned, instead, to the WWE Universe to help him make his choice. Not only did they responded with gusto, but they tipped their hand early as to who they wanted him to pick.
Showering The Champ with “YES! YES! YES!” chants, the WWE Universe guided Cena through a series of potential opponents (alas, Cena vs. Slater at SummerSlam will have to wait) and helped him land on a competitor who he – and the WWE Universe – seemingly felt deserved the match the most: Daniel Bryan. And in case his three-letter response was ever in doubt, WWE Unvierse, well … he said "yes" "YES!!!"
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Randy Orton defeated Fandango (w/ Summer Rae) (13:00)
- Alberto Del Rio defeated Dolph Ziggler (12:30)
- The Usos (Jey Uso & Jimmy Uso) defeated The Real Americans (Antonio Cesaro & Jack Swagger) (w/ Zeb Colter) (2:15)
- Christian defeated Damien Sandow (3:00)
- Naomi (w/ Cameron) defeated Brie Bella (w/ Nikki Bella) (4:15)
- Rob Van Dam defeated Chris Jericho (21:35)
- Dark match: John Cena (c) defeated Ryback in a Tables match to retain the WWE Championship
Other on-screen talent