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- Credit: WWE.com
The Judgment Day sent a message to the rest of the WWE roster a week ago when Rhea Ripley and Damian Priest joined new member Finn Balor in a shocking beatdown of Edge. Monday night, the revamped and potentially more dangerous trio addressed the motivations for their actions.
Theirs was not the only promo segment scheduled for the broadcast as Seth Rollins took to the mic to discuss his assault on Cody Rhodes.
Those two heel-heavy segments headlined a broadcast that continued the march toward Money in the Bank on July 2.
What else went down, and what effect did it have on the flagship show ahead of one of the most popular extravaganzas of the year?
Find out now with this recap of Monday’s USA Network presentation.
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- Credit: WWE.com
Monday’s show opened with an edition of Miz TV featuring the special counsel for undisputed WWE universal champion Roman Reigns, Paul Heyman.
The Miz ran down the stipulations of the men’s Money in the Bank ladder match and their potential impact on Reigns, while Heyman focused on Friday’s episode of SmackDown and The Tribal Chief’s defense.
Riddle interrupted the proceedings and vowed to win the championship, only to be hit with one major stipulation: He will never be able to challenge for the title again if he loses on Friday. This brought out The Usos, followed by The Street Profits for the night’s first match.
Montez Ford battled Jimmy Uso, seeking to build on the momentum the Profits earned a week ago in a victory over the brothers in a non-title match.
Ford fought valiantly, overcoming the oppressive offense of his opponent to roll late. Unfortunately, Jimmy utilized Ford’s momentum against him, getting his knees up during a frog splash attempt, and rolled him up for the win.
The match was really strong, with Ford standing out as a guy ready to make the jump to the next level of competition. He’s putting on the muscle, his in-ring game is as good as it has ever been, and management is providing him with opportunities to showcase himself.
He did not win here, but he probably shouldn’t have. The Usos need some momentum after dropping recent matches, and a singles win hardly hurts the Profits. Would it have been nice for WWE to resist the urge to fall into the 50-50 booking that dominates its creative? Sure, but there was no harm with the outcome of this one.
The revelation in the opening promo that Riddle cannot challenge for Reigns’ title again if he loses Friday night is a great addition that heightens the stakes and will draw viewers in.
- Heyman cut off Miz’s introduction of him and delivered his own intro.
- Heyman teased higher stakes for Friday’s match between Reigns and No. 1 contender Riddle, only to be interrupted by The Original Bro.
- “He’s gonna have to kill me to keep me from taking that WWE Undisputed Universal Championship, Bro!” a fired-up Riddle promised the special counsel.
- Analyst Corey Graves brought up the increased muscle of Ford and whether it would affect his stamina in a nice bit of analysis from a guy who has been low-key great this last month.
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- Credit: WWE
During an interview with Kevin Patrick, Seth Rollins attempted to justify his attack on Cody Rhodes a week ago by blaming his rival and claiming all is right now that he has driven The American Nightmare from WWE.
Rollins said the Money in the Bank match was up next, starting with the weak AJ Styles. The Phenomenal One showed up and slapped The Visionary out of his chair to end the segment.
This was continued excellence from Rollins, whose character work is nearing the consistent greatness of his in-ring work. He is convincing because his character fully believes everything he says. He is equal parts antagonistic genius and delusional villain. He is believable, and that is the result of how much he throws himself into his on-screen persona.
Meanwhile, the 24/7 Championship match between Dana Brooke and Becky Lynch never got started as Big Time Becks brutally attacked the titleholder, beating her around the ring before revealing none of it was about the title. Instead, she has a whole lot of anger to get out of her system.
This brought out Asuka for a brawl that ended with the heel escaping to the floor.
Lynch needed to rediscover the edgy, angry side of herself; unfortunately for Brooke, it came at her expense. Big Time Becks looks like a rejuvenated competitor, as likely to win the women’s Money in the Bank match in July as anyone. While that may not be the most interesting or welcome outcome, she has the star power to warrant such a victory.
Of course, that is if she qualifies for the bout and WWE doesn’t focus more on the one-on-one rivalry with The Empress of Tomorrow, which deserves a high-profile, feud-ending match.
A for Rollins’ promo; B for Lynch’s explosive beating of Brooke
- “Cody is a virus,” Rollins said, attempting to justify his cowardly attack on the injured Superstar last week.
- “That’s for Cody!” Styles said after knocking The Visionary out of his chair.
- Lynch jumped Brooke before the bell, to considerable cheers, proving where fan allegiance lay in that one.
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- Credit: WWE
The first two competitors from the Raw brand to qualify for the women’s Money in the Bank ladder match on July 2 were determined Monday night when Liv Morgan and Alexa Bliss battled Doudrop and Nikki A.S.H. in tag team action.
Bliss and Morgan showed great chemistry as they overcame the onslaught of their driven opponents to score the win.
It was interesting to see WWE decide on two qualifiers in tag team contests, but it was also a nice twist on the formulaic manner in which the company typically goes about filling out the field for the annual ladder matches.
There are clearly no plans to take women’s tag team wrestling seriously, which is a massive disappointment as Bliss and Morgan are a tandem that could easily carry the titles for months to great fanfare.
As it is, Bliss and Morgan have become immediate favorites to win the MITB briefcase and re-enter women’s title contention. That Bianca Belair is a babyface makes the likelihood that either wins or cashes in less likely, but both should be on the short list of potential victors.
- Bliss entered the arena and interrupted the closing moments of the Asuka-Lynch staredown, potentially foreshadowing a future program with Big Time Becks.
- Nikki A.S.H. arrived in new black-and-gold gear in a nod to comic-book heroes whose outfits have gone darker to reflect their new attitudes. A great touch.
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- Credit: WWE
The rivalry between Kevin Owens and Ezekiel wrote its latest chapter Monday night in a rematch from Hell in a Cell.
Owens shook off a nasty bump off a Death Valley Driver onto the ring stairs prior to the commercial break to seize control of the bout. He beat down his opponent but the babyface seized a single opening and rolled into the ring at the right time, beating the referee’s count and upsetting KO.
The match was fine for what it was but was a step down from their bout at Hell in a Cell. The chemistry was there, but the commercial break in the middle hurt its flow, and the ending felt somewhat abrupt.
The post-match revelation from Ezekiel that his brother, Elias, will return to Raw next week gives fans a hook for next Monday night but also begs the question: How will WWE pull this off?
How ever it does it, it hopefully comes in a segment that is surprisingly entertaining, much like this story arc has been…against all odds.
Up next, Omos accompanied MVP to the squared circle, where the future Hall of Famer squashed former Hurt Business member Cedric Alexander in a match that did nothing to benefit anyone. If anything, it somehow managed to devalue the former cruiserweight champion, something previously thought impossible given his nonexistent stature in the company.
Alexander is better than this and should be tearing the house down in matches against the best wrestlers in the world. For now, he is stuck filling the role of preeminent enhancement talent on the Monday night roster.
C+ for Ezekiel vs. Owens; D- for Alexander vs. MVP
- “The last honest man in WWE!” Graves exclaimed as Owens entered the arena.
- The bump from KO on the steel steps was…ouch.
- Ezekiel teased a men’s Money in the Bank ladder match appearance, and while that seems unlikely, the Elias reveal for next week has the potential to make for some fun TV.
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- Credit: WWE
At one point, Seth Rollins was vocal about the influence AJ Styles had on his career. Monday, he battled his mentor for the right to advance to the men’s Money in the Bank ladder match.
The Phenomenal One had different plans, though, and was looking to avenge friend Cody Rhodes and silence The Visionary in the process.
A physical encounter saw Styles tweak his knee late and Rollins take advantage, grounding the former WWE champion with a chop block. Styles weathered the storm, though, and avoided a frog splash from the heel.
In a contest that saw both men take considerable risks, it came down to a good old-fashioned reversal as Rollins countered a sunset flip into a roll-up for the win.
This was as good as you would expect from these two. The action was great, the late-match tease featuring Styles’ Calf Crusher was dramatic, and Rollins slyly pulling out the win with a simple roll-up reversal was superb.
The best part is that WWE resisted the urge to have the heel go over through chicanery rather than proving he was the better wrestler. Rollins won because he outwrestled one of the best of all time in the center of the ring.
It lends credence to his rambling, proving he is every bit as great as he is over-the-top.
Given his status as the centerpiece of the Raw brand, Rollins immediately becomes the favorite to win Money in the Bank on July 2.
- Rollins, the ultimate slimy heel, dedicated his match with Styles to Rhodes.
- “An unforced error may have cost AJ his best opportunity,” Graves said. Another great line that ties in a baseball reference along the way.
- The finish was brilliantly executed, with one wrestler dipping deep into his playbook after everything else failed to put his opponent away.
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- Credit: WWE
If you forgot Ciampa was a member of the Raw roster, WWE reminded you Monday night as the former NXT world champion battled Riddle. Sort of.
Ciampa received no entrance, was not announced for a match with the No. 1 contender and had no chance of winning.
Despite a dramatic near-fall by The Blackheart, Riddle fought back and scored the win with the RKO, building momentum ahead of his championship opportunity against Roman Reigns on Friday night.
As a glorified enhancement match, it continued the unsatisfactory use of Ciampa but did manage to put Riddle over strongly. Given the effort and contributions that have gone into making a star of The Original Bro over the last year, beating a guy who has yet to receive anything resembling a push was the right call.
After the break, The Judgment Day interrupted a promo from Raw women’s champion Bianca Belair and cut more of the generic, foreboding promos that have become a staple of the group. Considering the fact that Finn Balor’s arrival led to Edge’s departure and he assumed the leadership role, the fact that he was not given anything of substance to say is a little concerning.
Still, Rhea Ripley was given the most to say, and she executed it to near-perfection and created anticipation for a showdown between her and fellow NXT export Belair.
Their impending match might be one of the best women’s contests of the year, even if WWE Creative really should reconsider presenting The Judgment Day as it did Monday night, especially coming off a hot angle.
C+ for Riddle vs. Ciampa; B- for the promo segment
- Ciampa jumped Riddle before the bell, putting over determination and desperation to score a much-needed win.
- The Miz did not get involved at all, leaving one to wonder why he sat in on commentary. His presence hints at a higher-profile feud with Riddle once The Original Bro gets his title shot on Friday’s SmackDown against Reigns.
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- Credit: WWE
Mustafa Ali has gone from top contender for the United States Championship to wrestling an inconsequential match against the equally underrated Chad Gable.
There was nothing inherently wrong with the match, thanks to the above-average talent of Gable and Ali. The crowd was not particularly into it, nor should they have been. As good as the workers were, there was no rhyme nor reason for the match to occur, and there was nothing for the audience to sink its teeth into.
Worst of all, Ali continued his downward spiral, falling from No. 1 contender to losing to tag team specialist Gable relatively cleanly, minus a momentary distraction from Otis.
The rivalry between Rey Mysterio and Veer Mahaan continued, with the latter maintaining his path of destruction thus far on the main roster.
Mahaan dominated the action and trapped Mysterio in the Cervical Clutch, seemingly putting an end to their feud. If recent WWE trends are any indication, all that means is that the program will continue for another few weeks while overstaying its welcome and doing nothing to benefit either man.
Mahaan looks like a beast, but it is time to move him past the Mysterios and onto something a little more interesting than the one-dimensional rivalry he has been a part of to this point.
C+ for Ali vs. Gable; D for Mahan vs. Mysterio
- The Mysterios remain perpetually over, no matter how many times they lose, as evidenced by the pop that accompanied them.
- Otis interfered late, providing a brief distraction that Gable took advantage of by pinning Ali with Chaos Theory for the win.
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- Credit: WWE
Bobby Lashley previously made it clear that he intended to challenge Theory for the United States Championship, but Monday, they did battle in…a pose-off.
Yes, a former world champion and the bright young up-and-comer in professional wrestling were in a competition in which the man with the more statuesque body was deemed the winner—you know, instead of proving their value between the ropes, where titles are won.
Lashley predictably won before a dismayed Theory blinded him with baby oil and stood tall to close out the segment.
This was the most misplaced main event segment in recent memory.
The feud is not hot enough to justify its placement, and the audience just didn’t care. Two guys flaunted their muscles, and the crowd popped for the obvious babyface. In the end, the heel got over.
He should continue to, especially if he is tapped to combat John Cena upon the future Hall of Famer’s return to the company in two weeks. Theory should have momentum on his side, and beating Lashley is exactly the way to achieve that.
Still, that does not make up for a putrid segment that did more to dissuade fans from sticking around than actually investing in what was going on.
- That one pose where Graves talked about vascularity while fans tuned out everything about the broadcast.
- The heel incessantly snapping pictures is fun but also begs the question: How many photos are left on that phone anyway?