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Wells Fargo Center – Philadelphia, PA – Sunday, July 14, 2013
Michael Cole, Hall of Famer Jerry “The King” Lawler, and John “Bradshaw” Layfield are on commentary.
KICKOFF MATCH: WWE Tag Team Championship Match – Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns vs. The Usos
Rollins & Reigns have been the Champions since 5.19.13, and this is their third defense. Jey and Rollins start it off, and Jey immediately goes for several pinning combinations but is unable to put Rollins away. Reigns tags in and the Usos continue to control the action and go for frequent covers. Rollins pulls Reigns to the floor so the Champions can regroup. They take a commerical break and when we come back the Shield is in control of Jey. Rollins and Reigns work together to wear Jey down and keep him from tagging his partner. They take another break for some reason and we come back with Rollins attempting a superplex and it turns into a Tower of Doom spot and all four men are down. Rollins is able to cover Jimmy for a two-count. Jey pulls Reigns off the apron just as he’s about to tag in, and when Rollins tries to punish him with a dive Jey decks him with a right hand. Jimmy lands a superkick and a Superfly Splash for a close near-fall but Reigns breaks up the cover. The crowd is going banana. Jey sends Reigns to the floor and then gets hit with a Superman Punch. Back in the ring Reigns makes a blind tag. Rollins hits a Buckle Bomb and Reigns flatens Jimmy with a Spear to get the pin at 7:17 (shown). According to various websites this version of the match is about half as long as the original, which I find bizarre. Did we really need a 17-minute Vickie Guerrero performance review as a bonus feature, but not this entire match? That irritation aside, this was a hot match featuring four rising stars, and the crowd was buying all of it.
MATCH #1: Money in the Bank Ladder Match for the World Heavyweight Championship Contract – Dean Ambrose vs. Fandango vs. Antonio Cesaro vs. Jack Swagger vs. Damien Sandow vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Wade Barrett
This is the Money in the Bank debut for Ambrose, Fandango, and Cesaro. Swagger is appearing in his third Money in the Bank match (with one win at WrestleMania XXVI), the second for Sandow, the fourth for Rhodes, and the second for Barrett. Summer Rae is with Fandango, and Zeb Colter is there for his charges Swagger and Cesaro. Ambrose is the current United States Champion.
It takes less than a minute for ladders to get involved, and it’sa big brawl right off the bat. The Real Americans and Team Rhodes Scholars battle each other in the ring with ladders after taking everyone else out on the floor. Swagger is the first one to try climbing the ladder and he’s stopped by Ambrose. It’s already hard to keep track of everything, as the action is moving at a very brisk pace. The dynamic is also interesting here because all seven guys are actually heels, though this is Philadelphia so the crowd loves Ambrose and the Real Americans. Barrett gets creative and takes a piece of one of the ladders and destroys Sandow with it. He climbs the ladder and Ambrose joins him. Cesaro pulls Barrett down right into a European Uppercut! Swagger tries to bring Ambrose down and Ambrose counters with a DDT! Cesaro and Ambrose climb up and Cesaro shoves him down. Rhodes makes his way back in and brings Cesaro down with a Muscle Buster on a ladder! Swagger climbs up and Barrett takes him down with the Bull Hammer! Barrett goes up and Fandango stops him in his tracks and pulls him down with a sunset bomb! Fandango goes up and Ambrose brings him down with the Dirty Deeds. Ambrose goes up and Cesaro folds up the ladder on him. The crafty Ambrose channels Terry Funk with the whirly bird but the Real Americans stop him and dump him to the floor. Cesaro and Swagger then take Barrett out with a ladder shot. Swagger then puts Cesaro on his shoulders and Cesaro almost reaches the case but Rhodes breaks it up with a missile dropkick. That was awesome. Rhodes catches fire and dumps Swagger to the floor, and then hits Fandango and Barrett with the Cross Rhodes. He goes out and brings in a very tall ladder. Ambrose joins him and they slug it out at the top. Rhodes has been busted open, but he’s able to reach through the ladder and slam Ambrose’s face into it repeatedly. Awesome spot. Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns come out and pulls Rhodes off the ladder just to be dicks. They also take out Barrett and Fandango. The Usos make their way out to fight the Shield off, and they are aided by the Real Americans. It’s a donnybrook on the floor while Ambrose almost reaches the briefcase. Rhodes pushes the ladder over and Ambrose wipes out everyone on the floor! He climbs up the ladder and the crowd is behind him. Then from out of nowhere his tag team partner Sandow appears and dumps Rhodes off the ladder! Sandow climbs up and pulls down the case at 16:20! Boy did they pack a lot of action into that match, especially with four additional wrestlers joining the fray. I didn’t hear much about this match when it happened, but there were plenty of awesome spots, really creative uses of the ladder, and a surprising finish that should have led to more than it did.
MATCH #2: Intercontinental Championship Match – Curtis Axel vs. The Miz
Axel has been the Champion since 6.16.13, and this is his second defense. Miz starts off hot, eager to regain the title he has held twice before. Axel cuts him off and starts wearing him down, but Miz weathers the storm and sends the Champ to the floor. Miz pulls an Eddie Guerrero behind the referee’s back to make the ref think that Heyman took a cheap shot. That proves to be a prudent move, since the ref kicks Heyman out of the ringside area! The crowd actually chants “We Want Heyman,” reminding me that we are in Philadelphia. Even without his manager, Axel is able to take control. Miz avoids a charge in the corner and puts together a string of offense but can’t put Axel away. A series of reversals ends with Axel kicking Miz shoulder-first into the ring post. That’s a good setup for the Perfectplex, but it only gets two. Miz comes back and attacks the leg, and is able to apply the Figure-Four Leglock! Axel turns it over, and Miz turns it back, and Axel reaches the ropes. The Champ rolls to the floor and Miz immediately chases him back to the ring. Axel catches Miz with a couple of kicks to the face and follows with the Axehole to get the pin at 9:20. That was a solid back and forth encounter, and Axel certainly looks good in winning without Heyman here.
MATCH #3: Divas Championship Match – AJ Lee vs. Kaitlyn
AJ has been the Champion since 6.16.13, and this is her first defense. She has Big E Langston in her corner, while Kaitlyn has Layla by her side. Kaitlyn has her elbow wrapped up. The challenger is all fired up and she works AJ over, hitting a nice gutbuster and throwing her to the floor. Kaitlyn looks to ram AJ into the ring post, but AJ slips out and shoves Kaitlyn elbow-first into the steel. AJ attacks the injured limb, always good strategy. Back in the ring AJ covers for two. AJ goes to work on Kaitlyn’s arm, which further weakens her for the Black Widow submission hold that AJ used to win the title last month at Payback. After several minutes Kaitlyn is able to create separation with a backbreaker. Kaitlyn unleashes a flirry of offense, turning AJ inside out with a huge shoulder tackle. She hits an inverted DDT for two. AJ cuts Kaitlyn of by going back to the injured arm. She goes to the top rope and Kaitlyn shoves her down, but Big E is there to catch her. Back in the ring AJ scores a small package for two. Kaitlyn hits a hue Spear but hurts her elbow in the process and can’t cover. AJ kicks at the arm and then locks on the Black Widow. Kaitlyn is forced to tap out at 7:02. While not quite as good as their match last month, it is apparent that these two have amazing chemistry and in time could develop a modern day Trish/Lita dynamic. But then Kaitlyn quit so that’s no longer possible and that makes me sad all day.
MATCH #4: Chris Jericho vs. Ryback
Here are two guys who had nothing else going on so they got each other. Ryback takes the early advantage with his overwhelming strength and power. Jericho comes back and sends Ryback to the floor, and the big man is in no hurry to get back in the ring. To that end, Jericho hits a dropkick and forces Ryback back inside. Jericho goes up top and hits a big forearm to the back of the head. Ryback cuts him off with an explosive clothesline. Momentum continues to shift back and forth until settling on Ryback. Jericho tries to fight back but Ryback outpowers him and knocks him hard to the floor. Back to the ring Ryback keeps Jericho grounded with a chinlock. Jericho fights back with a Northern Lights Suplex for two. He goes up top for an ax handle but Ryback catches him in a belly-to-belly suplex. Ryback goes for Shellshocked but Jericho fights out. Jericho tries the Codebreaker but Ryback catches him and slams him down to the mat. Ryback charges right into a low dropkick, and Jericho follows with an enziguiri for two. When Ryback rolls to the apron Jericho takes the opportunity to hit him with a mini Codebreaker and Ryback falls to the floor. Back in the ring Jericho hits a high cross body from the top rope for two. Ryback goes for Shellshocked but Jericho counters with a DDT for a near-fall. Jericho unloads with a series of strikes. He tries the Lionsault but Ryback avoids it and scores a schoolboy rollup to get the pin at 11:22. That was better than I anticipated; a pretty good clash of styles that played to both guy’s strengths. It was hardly a classic but it was a good in a SmackDown main event kind of way.
MATCH #5: World Heavyweight Championship Match – Alberto Del Rio vs. Dolph Ziggler
Del Rio has been the Champion since 6.16.13, and this is his first defense. Both men start off quickly and go for early covers but obviously neither man gets a pin yet. Ziggler takes the first advantage with his smooth offense, including a series of 10 elbow drops, much to the crowd’s delight. He clotheslines Del Rio to the floor, and when he throws him back in the ring Del Rio capitalizes with a wicked enziguiri. Del Rio is like a shark, smelling the blood of Ziggler’s injury and zeroing in on the head. He charges at Ziggler against the ropes and Ziggler ducks, sending Del Rio crashing to the floor. Back in the ring Del Rio tries going to the top rope and Ziggler brings him down with a super X-Factor. Ziggler continues to press the advantage but can’t put Del Rio away. He goes for the Fame-Ass-Er but Del Rio avoids it and hits a German Suplex for two. Del Rio goes for the corner enziguiri but Ziggler ducks and hits the Fame-Ass-Er for a near-fall. Ziggler charges in and gets caught with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for two. Del Rio goes up top and Ziggler slices him out of the air with a dropkick for a two-count. AJ Lee’s music hits and the Divas Champion makes her way out, skipping around the ring. Ziggler hits a big DDT for two. He goes up top and Del Rio is able to knock him down. Del Rio brings Ziggler down with an inverted superplex for two. A series of reversals ends with Del Rio hitting the low superkick for a near-fall. Del Rio readies another superkick but Ziggler catches it. For some reason, AJ gets in the ring and drills Del Rio with her Divas Title belt, giving Del Rio the DQ win at 14:38. That was a pay-per-view quality match with a TV quality finish. I see what they;re going for, it was just really deflating after tha terrific, fast-paced matchup.
MATCH #6: WWE Championship Match – John Cena vs. Mark Henry
Cena has been the Champion since 4.7.13, and this is his third defense. Henry immediately asserts his power advantage and slugs away at the WWE Champion. He knocks Cena to the floor and picks him up in a suplex, but drops him ribs-first on the steel steps. Back in the ring Henry covers for two. The challenger continues his domination. Cena fights back briefly but Henry cuts him right off with his size and power. Henry sends Cena to the floor for some abuse. Back in the ring Cena avoids a charge and tries to pick Henry up but Henry falls down on top of the Champ for a two-count. Cena is able fight back again, and this time he strings together some offense, including the Five Knuckle Shuffle. He goes for the Attitude Adjustment but Henry simple falls forward and lands on the back his head. That gets two for the World’s Strongest Man. Henry tries a powerslam but Cena counters it into a DDT! Cena hits the Attitude Adjustment and Henry kicks out! The champ goes to the top rope and leaps off, but Henry catches him in the World’s Strongest Slam for two! Henry goes outside and grabs several chairs. He puts them in the ring and the referee throws them out. Henry charges at Cena near a corner, and Cena moves out of the way. Cena locks on the STFU but Henry makes it over to the ropes. The referee accidentally gets bumped and Henry kicks Cena square in the nuts for a near-fall. Henry tries the World’s Strongest Slam but Cena slips out and applies the STF for the tapout win at 14:43. This was classic big man stuff from Henry, and Cena excels with larger opponents as well, so this was rather enjoyable. The finish was the standard Cena stuff, but the match preceding it was good stuff.
MATCH #7: Money in the Bank Ladder Match for the World Heavyweight Championship Contract – Rob Van Dam vs. CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton vs. Christian vs. Sheamus
This is the second Money in the Bank appearance for RVD (with a win at WrestleMania 22), the fourth time for Punk (the only man to win twice – at WrestleMania XXIV and The 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania), the second appearance for Bryan (with a win at Money in the Bank 2011), the third appearance for Orton, the record-tying sixth time for Christian, and the second time for Sheamus. Kane was supposed to be in this match but he was destroyed by the debuting Wyatt Family last week on RAW and is too injured to compete.
Everyone is a little cautious to start, and as soon as RVD starts to gloat the other five guys team up on him and dump him to the floor. Sheamus is the next man to get dumped out, leaving Bryan to fight Orton and Christian battling Punk. Bryan and Punk win those battles and the crowd is juiced to see these two square off. They go back and forth for just a few moments before Sheamus comes back in brandishing the first ladder of the match. Now all hell has broken loose, with offense coming from all sides. RVD clears the ring and soaks in the adulation of the crowd. He shows impressive strength by press slamming Christian onto a ladder, and then delivering the Rolling Thunder to Bryan while on top of the same ladder. RVD goes up for the Five-Star Frog Splash on Orton, but Christian hits him with a ladder to knock him down. Christian uses a tiny ladder as a weapon very effectively. Sheamus gets rid of Christian and fights off RVD as well. The action is non-stop and tough to keep up with. All six men make it back to the ring and share two ladders, all climbing up and reaching for the case. Of course that doesn’t end well and all six men go crashing to the mat. Sheamus recovers first and starts throwing everyone around. He climbs up for the case and Bryan joins him, only to get pounded with forearms to the chest. Sheamus almost grabs the case but Punk is able to knock him down at the last second. Punk beats on Sheamus until Orton cuts him off. In an awesome spot, Orton goes for an exploder, and then sees a ladder set up in the corner and turns around so he can suplex Punk onto the ladder instead. Orton hits Punk with the Rope-hung DDT. Christian dishes out a few Spears and goes for the case but RVD knocks him down. RVD goes to the very top of a ladder and comes down on Christian with a Five-Star Frog Splash. Ouch. RVD almost brings the case down but Sheamus stops him. Bryan rejoins the fray and throws kicks at both Sheamus and RVD. He flies all over the place with kicks and dives, working the crowd into a frenzy. Bryan knocks Sheamus off the top rope and onto a ladder that had been set up between the apron and the announce table, snapping the ladder in half. He goes up and appears poised to grab the case, but Curtis Axel runs out and decimates Bryan with a chair, and then hits the Axehole on the floor. Punk takes Axel out with a Go 2 Sleep. Paul Heyman comes out to yell at an unconscious Axel, angry at him for going after Punk. Back in the ring Punk is all alone, but when he climbs up the ladder Heyman gets in the ring and repeatedly slams a ladder into him! Heyman gets a good shot to the head and Punk is out of it. RVD goes up for the case but Orton pulls him down into an RKO! Orton climbs up and sees no one else around, so he pulls the case down at 26:39. The Curtis Axel interference seems kind of lame and beneath where Bryan was at this time, but I guess they really wanted a reason for Heyman to go out there so there’s that. But none of it takes away from the incredible effort put forth by all six guys, with non-stop action for almost 30 minutes and lots of cool spots. This was different than the opening ladder match, and that’s always impressive when they can pull that off. I’m a sucker for these matches.
Tags: CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, money in the bank, Randy Orton