The Authority announces a battle royal to determine the next participant in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Back Ladder match. There’s one catch: the remaining Shield members, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose, are banned from entering. Triple H and Stephanie also book a Stretcher match main event between John Cena and Kane to decide the final participant in the PPV title match.
First up, hometown boy Dolph Ziggler faces off against The Shield’s turncoat, Seth Rollins, in the opening contest. Ziggler takes control in the early going, forcing Rollins to take 5 on the outside. The crowd is really hot as momentum shifts back and forth between the pair, trading moves and reversals. A previous Smackdown encounter hinted at the great chemistry they share, and this clash didn’t disappoint. Rollins eventually manages to hit his Blackout kerb stomp finisher, but is stopped from getting the pinfall by an attack by former partner Dean Ambrose.
Triple H appears on the titantron to tell Ambrose, in a hilarious faux English accent, he’s got some ‘bad news’ for him. Cue a match with Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett. A brawling encounter sees Ambrose live up to his billing as ‘The Lunatic Fringe’. A nasty looking fall to the outside has him nursing an injured shoulder. Barrett beats down Ambrose, who responds with a wicked slingshot lariat. Seth Rollins tries to get involved, but Ambrose takes out them both with a suicide dive to the outside. It ends as Ambrose follows Rollins into the crowd and gets counted out. On realising this, he proceeds to attack Barrett in the ring, hitting his Dirty Deeds finisher in the process. Noticeably, the music that plays as he stands tall isn’t The Shield theme, raising questions about the future of the faction.
Cut backstage. Roman Reigns tries to charm Vickie Guerrero into placing him into the battle royal. He’s then seen putting something in the coffee she was carrying for The Authority, which she sneezes in anyway. Strange segment.
The Wyatt Family rear their very creepy heads next. A sea of mobile phone lights and increasingly loud claps along with their music is striking and haunting. JBL says the ‘movement is growing’. He’s not wrong. Bray Wyatt delivers a mesmerising promo which elicits just as many cheers as boos. He talks about the idea of power and how he’s going to win the title at the PPV. He then puts over Rowan and Harper as they challenge The USO’s for the tag titles. A chorus of ‘He’s Got the Whole World in his Hands’ is interrupted by his opponent for the night, Sheamus.
Sheamus seems to be in control in the early going, but The USO’s come down to the ring as The Wyatt’s crowd around The Celtic Warrior. The battle continues with Sheamus getting blasted by a rocketing cross body by Wyatt. The Irishman turns the tables, but is attacked by the family. Chaos ensues with various spots. Bray is laid out with a rolling senton on the outside. Harper and Rowan try to take out The Uso’s with a ladder, but Sheamus makes the save, setting up a very cool outside dive which sees him holding the ladder for Jimmy and Jey to launch themselves from.
To the back again. We get more of the earlier coffee segment; one getting split over Vicki and the other being drunk by Stephanie.
Paul Heyman appears to put over his client Cesaro as the man to win the WWE title ladder match, not forgetting to mention, of course, #hisclientbrocklesnarconqueredtheundertakersundefeatedstreakatwrestlemania.
Back in the ring, Lana is running down the USA before Rusev’s match with the newly solo One Man Band Health Slater - his 3MB cohorts were released by WWE last week. He gains some more crowd sympathy by grabbing the mike and telling Lana and Rusev to go back to Russia. However, it’s back to business as usual when The Bulgarian Brute hits a brutal side kick and applies the camel clutch for the submission.
Another backstage coffee segment. Stephanie is now ill in the bathroom. The bosses’ daughter proceeds to projectile vomit over a screaming Vicki. Unexpected? Yes. Disgusting? Most definitely. The Authority exit stage left, leaving Guerrero in charge for the rest of the night. After the break, the segment continues with Roman Reigns demanding Vicki – still covered in sick – to put him in the battle royal. She agrees. Not sure what lesson we’re supposed to learn from this.
We then get the US comedian Kevin Hart – no relation to Bret, I assume - talking about his new movie. He’s interrupted by Adam Rose and his Exotic Express. Hart is then out on commentary deriding Fandango’s choice in ring attire. WWE’s resident ballroom dancer is joined by Layla in taking on Rose and Summer Rae. The subsequent mixed tag match quickly descends into one on one between the partyboy and Fandango. Rose hits the ‘party foul’ for the win. Hart then joins the ‘Rosebud’ celebrations, despite his initial reservations.
The battle royal is next. Roman Reigns comes out to a strange mix of The Shield theme. Damien Sandow is dressed as a player from the Miami Heat and is promptly dealt with. Rusev eliminates both Los Matadores. Kofi Kingston has a cool spot with Jack Swagger, bouncing off the ropes into a hurricanrana to the outside. Dolph Ziggler is eliminated by Ryback to a chorus of jeers from the Show-off’s hometown followers. Roman Reigns lays everyone out at one point: double spear on Rybaxel, Superman punch to Fandango, before eliminating each man. Bo Dallas tries get rid of several men at a time, but catches a spear and is thrown out himself. It comes down to Roman Reigns and Rusev. The Bulgarian Brute takes him out with a spin kick and a splash. Reigns responds by Superman punching him off the apron to clinch a place in the ladder match for the title at Money in the Bank. One spot remains.
Cue John Cena in the back reacting to Reigns’ win and his stretcher match with Kane. He teases giving the middle finger to the camera. Did the writer of this episode bounce ideas of their 13 year old son?
Divas time! The ‘other’ Funkadactyl goes in against Divas’ champion Paige. Cameron uses some heel tactics to get the initial advantage, but quickly succumbs to the English Diva’s signature submission, The PTO.
Reene Young is with Goldust, teasing his teaming with a partner handpicked by his brother Cody Rhodes, who continues to be in a huff about their inability to win a match. The Bizarre One’s partner is revealed as his brother Cody in the new persona of ‘Stardust’. Resplendent in gold face paint, black and gold onesie and star motif, the younger Rhodes was quite convincing impersonating his big brother’s mannerisms. Surprisingly enough the revamped Rhodes Brothers pick up the win over Rybaxel.
The main event to decide the final entrant into the Money in the Bank ladder match gets underway. The clash between John Cena and Kane in a Stretcher match – the first on Raw in a decade – has been given a heavy build throughout the night. The Big Red Machine gets the advantage early on, but, Cena is the first to use the stretcher as a weapon. Kane recovers and continues the beat down. The ring steps are introduced into the fray. The Demon looks set to wallop Cena over the head, but a low dropkick slams Kane’s head into the steel. The battle then goes to the outside and Kane is put through the announce table; Michael Cole doing his best JR ‘Baw Gawd!’ impression. Cena drags his opponent’s prone body towards the stretcher on the entrance ramp. At that moment, Randy Orton and Seth Rollins run interference, which brings out Ambrose. This allows Cena space to throw the steps out of the ring into Kane. The Monster rises just before the stretcher crosses the line, promoting Cena to deliver an Attitude Adjustment on the stretcher for the win.
This was a fun, action heavy show. Backstage segments, however questionable in taste, were quick and meant something. With a fortnight to go until Money in the Bank, the marque match is now made. A new WWE World Heavyweight champion will be crowned. The addition of Roman Reigns is interesting, and The Authority will undoubtedly have something to say about that next week. The stellar performance of Bray Wyatt hints at the incredible turn events could take if he were to walk off with the strap. Ambrose and Rollins look certain to do battle at the PPV. The inevitable return of Daniel Bryan is also anyone’s guess. Excitement, intrigue and fake vomit: a great Monday Night Raw.
Seth Rollins Def. Dolph Ziggler via disqualification
‘Bad News’ Barret def Dean Ambrose via count out
Sheamus def Bray Wyatt via disqualification
Rusev def. Heath Slater via Submission
Adam Rose & Summer Rae def. Fandango & Layla
Roman Reigns wins Battle Royale to clinch spot in the WWE Title Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Paige def. Cameron via submission
Goldust & Stardust def. Rybaxel
John Cena Def. Kane to win last spot in WWE Title Money In the Bank Ladder Match