Here’s a rundown of the July 22 edition of Monday Night Raw:
This edition of Raw came to us live from the Frank Erwin Center in Austin Texas.
The show is kicked off with new general manager Brad Maddox in the ring with a microphone in hand.
Maddox announced that the show was going to start with a contract signing of the WWE Championship match at Summerslam between champion John Cena and challenger Daniel Bryan.
Cena hit the ring first and allowed Maddox to ask him a question. Maddox wanted to know why he chose Bryan as his opponent for Summerslam.
Cena said the decision was quite clear. He said he asked the WWE universe and that it was an easy decision.
Maddox then began to question the decision saying that some people think that Cena only chose Bryan because he knew he could easily defeat him.
Maddox also said that some people believe Bryan isn’t big enough nor is he mentally stable enough to be WWE Champion.
Before Cena could respond to all of that, Bryan’s music hits and he made his way to the ring.
Once Bryan was in the ring, Maddox began to question him why he deserves a shot at the title. He also asked him why does he believe Cena chose him.
Cena answered the second question himself by saying that the people in charge are afraid see the talent Bryan possesses even with it staring them right in the face.
Cena then said that size doesn’t matter when it comes to being a great champion. He said otherwise Maddox should give the belt to The Great Khali.
Cena then brings up names such as Shawn Michaels, Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero — all guys who were not deemed the biggest, but whose ability pushed them to the top.
Cena then signed the contract and told Bryan that he is the best WWE has to offer right now, but his best will not be enough at Summerslam.
Bryan followed Cena by signing the contract. He then says that he’s waited his entire career for this opportunity and that he deserves.
Maddox asks him again whether he deserves it to which Bryan says yes. Maddox said that although Cena may believe he deserves and what he called a “vocal minority” believes he deserves it, not everyone does.
He then gave Bryan a chance to prove his critics wrong with a series of matches. Maddox ended the segment by saying he does not believe he can prove himself during the show.
Match 1 – Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio
During Sheamus’ entrance, Michael Cole pointed out a nasty bruise on the side of Sheamus’ leg.
Apparently when Sheamus was thrown through a ladder during the Money in the Bank pay-per-view July 14, the impact of the fall left a horrible-looking bruise that was plain to see on Sheamus’ pasty-white skin.
I don’t know if that bruise is legit or not. The match was eight days ago after all. But it looked horrible nonetheless. If it’s not a legit bruise, great makeup job by WWE.
Because the bruise is plain to see, Del Rio began the match by kicking Sheamus in his thigh.
Sheamus got some offense in, but was limping around the ring to sell the bruise. The match was back and forth for the most part with Del Rio’s offense being mostly focused on Sheamus’ leg.
The finish of the match came when Sheamus tried to hit the White Noise on Del Rio, but because Del Rio worked the bruised leg so much during the match, the leg gave out on him.
Once it did, Del Rio reversed the move and rolled Sheamus for the pin and the victory. This was a pretty good television match.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio
After the commercial break Booker T and Teddy Long were interviewed backstage and were asked about their thoughts about Vickie Guerrero being named Smackdown! general manager.
Booker T said that he respected Vince McMahon’s decision to make her the general manager, but was admittedly shocked by it. Long was not as positive in his thoughts and created some tension between and Booker T.
Match 2 – Christian vs. Titus O’Neil
Christian and O’Neil worked a pretty good match together. The match started off with O’Neil showing off his strength by tossing Christian around like a rag doll.
He even stomped Christian in the corner and blew his whistle at the same time, which was pretty funny.
Eventually, Christian made a triumphant comeback and hit the Killswitch to pick up the win.
After the match, we get another backstage interview, this time with Ryback. Ryback said the enjoyed intimidating others, especially average-sized people.
He said that in the law of the jungle, the biggest and strongest survive. Sounded like Ryback is entering a bully gimmick.
After the break, the fans are graced by the presence of Mark Henry.
Henry began his spiel by taking about the fact that he was born and raised not far from Austin, Texas where Raw emanated from. He said that he was proud to be from Texas, but not proud of the beating he took from The Shield last week.
He finished his speech by saying that if The Shield wanted him, he was right in the ring waiting for them.
The Shield adhered to Henry’s request and made their way to the ring. They circled and entered the ring. Once they entered, they were met with flurry of punches from Henry.
Henry put up a good fight, but the numbers game eventually caught up to him. The Shield began to take control of things when The Usos ran to the ring to make the save.
The Usos and Henry cleared the ring of The Shield and essentially complete the face turn of Henry.
After the segment, we cut to the locker room of Bryan who is then confronted by Cena.
Cena is concerned that Bryan won’t make it to Summerslam in one piece. Bryan insisted the he will and that he does not need the help of Cena.
Match 3 – Darren Young vs. Dolph Ziggler
Young put up a good fight, much like the one he had against CM Punk about month ago. But Ziggler eventually got the best of him with the Zig Zag and won.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler
After the match, Big E Langston and A.J. hit the ring and began to attack Ziggler. Ziggler fought back and escaped the clutches of Langston.
After the break, we got another installment of Miz TV. His special guests were the WWE Divas, who will star in the new reality show Total Divas on E!
After introducing all of the divas, The Miz turned the hosting duties over to Jerry “The King” Lawler. Lawler took time to introduce himself to the relative unknowns on the show: Jo-Jo and Eva Marie.
Marie took the microphone from Lawler and instantly went into a heel promo. She ended the promo by slapping Lawler. Lawler quickly turned the hosting duties back over to The Miz, who wrapped up the segment.
After the break, we get a backstage segment with Maddox and Triple H in Maddox’s office.
Triple H confronts Maddox on the fact that he kept saying that Bryan didn’t deserve a title shot and thought that it sounded like Vince McMahon put the words in his mouth.
Triple H went on to say that Bryan could quite possibly be the future of WWE. He said the reason why he didn’t override Maddox’s decision to put Bryan in three matches is because he believes that Bryan is so driven that he could overcome any odds thrown in front of him.
Triple H wrapped up his spiel by saying there are two trains Maddox could get one. The train that Triple H is on is the future. The other train is a dead end.
Upon Triple H’s exit, Stephanie McMahon stopped by to lend some advice to Maddox to tell him she had an idea. She also told him that he needs to get on board with the idea when she finalizes it.
We are then treated to a video package recounting the debut of the Wyatt Family from two weeks ago and the beatdown they laid on R-Truth last week.
Apparently they also beat up on 3MB on Main Event recently.
Match 4 – Fandango vs. Cody Rhodes
Rhodes’ former partner Damien Sandow joined the announced table during the match and was his usual entertaining self.
As for the match itself, it was good athletic match between the two combatants. The pace was so fast, Rhodes went for a moonsault off the top that Fandango barely was able to catch him for.
Sandow tried to interfere in the match, but Rhodes hit the Beautiful Disaster kick onto Sandow, his Money in the Bank briefcase and Fandango all at the same time.
That kick allowed him to hit Fandango with the Cross Rhodes to pick up the win.
Winner: Cody Rhodes
After some commercials, we treated to an appearance from CM Punk.
Punk talked the beating he took from Brock Lesnar last week. He talked about how no matter much it hurt to take that beating he’s still and he kept getting back up.
He said Lesnar can beat him down, but can’t keep him down. He then proclaims that he is not afraid for Lesnar.
Punk then switched gears to his former best friend Paul Heyman. Punk said that he’s going to make sure that Heyman is going to pay for turning on him.
Punk went to say that monsters like Lesnar are put on this planet for one reason: to be slaughtered.
He then laid a direct challenge to Lesnar. He said wanted him Monday, but he’ll wait until Summerslam.
Heyman popped up on the titantron via satellite to interrupt Punk. Heyman runs down Punk for pandering to the fans.
Heyman tells Punk that he didn’t appreciate the fact that Punk held on to the WWE title with his help. Heyman then accepted the challenge of Punk for Summerslam.
Match 5 – Wade Barrett vs. Rob Van Dam
Barrett attacked Van Dam from behind as he was finishing up his entrance and took control early.
Van Dam eventually fought off the early barrage from Barrett (pun fully intended) to mount some offense, including his patented Rolling Thunder.
After a quick comeback, Van Dam climbed to the top rope and hit the Five-Star Frogsplash to pick up another win.
Winner: Rob Van Dam
Match 6 – Daniel Bryan vs. Jack Swagger
Zeb Colter had a microphone in hand to cut another of his promos before the match. He talked about how Stephen F. Austin should take a paternity test to see if he is indeed the real father of Texas. Colter then claimed that he isn’t.
Swagger began the match in control of Bryan. He even cut off one of Bryan’s comeback attempts. After Swagger went to taunt the fans, Bryan caught him in a Yes Lock and forced him to tap out.
Winner: Daniel Bryan
Match 7 – Daniel Bryan vs. Antonio Cesaro
Right after that match, Cesaro hopped into the ring to take on Bryan. We pick up the match with Cesaro in control after the commercial break.
Bryan turned the tables and hit Cesaro with a series of kicks only to be thwarted by Cesaro again.
The Ring of Honor alums put on an amazing physical display that drew a “This is awesome” chant from the crowd in Austin.
Cesaro even hit Bryan with about 20 European uppercuts in a row and a vicious clothesline, but Bryan kept on ticking.
Bryan and Cesaro beat each other to shreds during this match, which was in my opinion a match of the year candidate. The finish came when Cesaro tried to catapult Bryan, but Bryan countered it into a pin and got the three count.
Winner: Daniel Bryan
Match 8: Daniel Bryan vs. Ryback
Bryan took the fight to Ryback from the outset, but Ryback eventually used his power to assume command.
Bryan finally gained some momentum after countering Ryback into a half Boston crab. Ryback made it to the ropes to break the hold and quickly reassumed control of the match. Bryan found a way to put Ryback in the Yes Lock on multiple occasions, but was able to reach the ropes..
After the second Yes Lock, Ryback rolled out of the ring. Bryan got on the apron and tried to hit a running knee, but Ryback caught him and slammed him right on to the floor.
He then picked up Bryan and power bombed him through a table that he had set up earlier in the match and was quickly disqualified.
Winner: Daniel Bryan via disqualification
After the match, Ryback tried to do more damage to Bryan when Cena came out to make the save.
Cena eventually disposed of Ryback and then went to check on his Summerslam opponent. Cena also challenged Ryback to a tables match next week on Raw.
Maddox is met in his office by Vince McMahon who coerced him to make Bryan take on his former tag team partner Kane next week.