7/8 Powell's WWE Raw Live Coverage: The Wyatt Family debuts, Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, and Triple H assess Vickie Guerrero's performance, and final hype for WWE Money in the Bank
By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live from Baltimore, Maryland at 1st Mariner Arena
[Q1] Raw opened with a Wyatt Family video... The opening video aired... Vickie Guerrero and Brad Maddox stood in the ring in front of a ladder that was set up. Vickie welcomed viewers to Raw. She addressed ladder match history and mentioned Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon, and Triple H. She said it also represents how she has climbed the ladder throughout her career. "If I fall, I'm holding all of you responsible," she said.
Vickie climbed the ladder and sat down on top of it. She said there is no book written on how a woman can be successful in a male dominated industry. She said she has done everything on her own. She said every decision she's ever made was because of all the fans.
Jerry Lawler stood up with a mic in hand at the commentator's desk. "I've always wanted to say this to you," Lawler said. "Excuse me?" He said the McMahon family informed him that they will be considering all factors regarding her job evaluation, including fan reaction. He pimped a poll where fans could vote pass or fail on her performance.
After playing to the fans, Vickie announced that John Cena would go face-to-face with Mark Henry. She also announced Christian vs. Kane, Randy Orton vs. C.M. Punk, and Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan as Money in the Bank previews. She said the Sheamus vs. Bryan match would take place immediately.
Bryan made his entrance as Michael Cole, JBL, and Lawler checked in on commentary... A Rob Van Dam video aired and focussed on the WrestleMania 22 MITB ladder match that he won. A graphic hyped RVD's return for the Money in the Bank pay-per-view... [C]
Powell's POV: A series of decent hooks to start the show as whether fans are annoyed or entertained by Vickie, they will likely have interest in seeing whether she keeps her job. They also did a good job of announcing several matches and hyping RVD's return right out of the gate. Factor in the opening with The Wyatt Family video and WWE gave viewers plenty of incentives to stay tuned.
Cole hyped the WWE All-Stars version of the MITB match... Sheamus made his entrance..;
1. Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus. Bryan received a good reaction while leading the fans in Yes chants before the match.
[Q2] Sheamus had the first prolonged stretch of offense and performed the Irish Curse for a two count. Bryan came back moments later and then dove onto Sheamus at ringside, but Sheamus twisted him around and slammed him into the ringside barricade heading into the commercial break. [C]
After the break, Bryan was delivering kicks to Sheamus, who then came back with another Irish Curse backbreaker for another two count. Sheamus went for a Brogue Kick and Bryan ducked out of the way, causing Sheamus to tumble to ringside. Bryan connected with a suicide dive and then rolled Sheamus back inside the ring. Bryan got a two count off a missile dropkick.
Sheamus came back with the ten forearm shots on the ring apron and clotheslined Bryan. Sheamus went to the ropes, but Bryan crotched him and then went for a top rope huracanrana, but Sheamus held on. Sheamus caught Bryan with a battering ram shoulder block. Bryan came back with a big kick to the head for a two count.
Bryan followed up with a top rope headbutt attempt, but Sheamus avoided it. Bryan threw a kick to the head for a two count. Sheamus came back moments later with a Cloverleaf, but Bryan slipped out and caught him with an inside cradle for the win. The announcers played it up as a great match and a huge win for Bryan. Sheamus shook Bryan's hand afterwards...
Daniel Bryan defeated Sheamus in 14:20.
At ringside, the announcers hyped the debut of the Wyatt Family. Cole said the WWE website sent a reporter to the Wyatt compound...
Footage aired of a reporter asking a pair of redneck types for directions to the Wyatt compound. They told him it was a couple miles down the road and then told him he would know it when he saw it...
Powell's POV: A very good match that gives Bryan some momentum heading into the Money in the Bank match. The reporter video definitely has my interest. That said, I hope we're not just seeing the Wyatt Family in this video and not in Baltimore.
[Q3] [C] Backstage, A.J. Lee spoke with Big E Langston about Kaitlyn. Langston asked why she was bugging when she beat her once and can do so again. Dolph Ziggler showed up. Lee tried to huge him, but Ziggler asked Langston if he could talk to her alone. Lee tried to say her only priority was for Dolph to walk out of Money in the Bank as the World Hvt. Champion. A.J. wrapped her arms around Dolph and asked he wanted to go all the way. He said he wants to go all the way to his third World Championship...
Powell's POV: The idea here was that Dolph wasn't pleased with A.J.'s obsession with Kaitlyn, but she eventually managed to win him over by flirting with him. It's a surprising development considering that Ziggler seems to be a babyface. My guess is that she ends up costing Dolph the match leading to the full breakup.
A Mark Henry video package aired... The announcers hyped the John Cena and Mark Henry confrontation... The Sheild headed to the ring for a match... [C] Highlights aired of Rob Van Dam beating Eddie Guerrero to win the Intercontinental Title in a ladder match that aired on the May 27, 2002 Raw...
Powell's POV: WWE is doing a tremendous job with the RVD video packages tonight. We're just two clips in and they've already established his success in ladder matches and shown some really good highlights. Even younger fans who aren't familiar with his work have to be viewing him as a big deal after seeing those highlights.
[Q3] 2. WWE Tag Champions Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns vs. Brodus Clay and Tensai (w/Cameron, Naomi) in a non-title match. Rollins did a lot of selling down the stretch for Sweet T, but Reigns ended up making a blind tag and then speared Sweet T and pinned him to win the match...
Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns beat Brodus Clay and Sweet T in a non-title match in 6:20.
Powell's POV: I was surprised to see Rollins and Reigns give so much offense to Tons of Funk, but they won decisively in the end and that's what people are going to remember about the match.
Cole hyped the Cena and Henry confrontation... [C] Footage aired of the reporter searching for the Wyatt Family. The reporter arrived at a white house. Erick Rowan was picking at the ground with a tool when Luke Harper showed up and told the reporter to follow him...
Powell's POV: I hate to judge people when I don't them, but based on the looks of the porch, it is my unprofessional opinion that the Wyatt Family has a hoarding problem.
John Cena headed to the ring and received more boos than cheers once his music stopped playing. He said Mark Henry wanted to talk to him, but he was there and they were missing the World's Strongest Man.
[Q5] Mark Henry's music played and he headed to the ring. Henry told Cena that he had the look of fear on his face. Cena said he was standing in the ring and was not afraid of him. "Oh, you should be," Henry said. He said he starved for 17 years. "You brought me all the way out here to talk about a damn Snickers bar?" Cena said. "Grab it and shut the hell up."
Henry said the old him would have laughed or inflicted bodily harm, but instead he's going to chill. He said Cena thinks he knows who he is, but he doesn't. Henry said he's a new man. He said he knew who Cena was before he did. Henry said Cena is just like the people in that he's a puppet. Henry said that if he beats Cena he will become a first ballot Hall of Famer.
Henry said he would sell out his own mother to win the WWE Championship and he even sold out his own family. Cena told him he better win then. He said Henry lied to his entire family and if he wins the title he deserves it, but if he loses the match then he gets nothing. "17 years, gone," Cena said. Henry asked Cena if he thinks he really cares about what he or the people think.
Henry said some of the fans love Cena and some of the people hate him. "Welcome to Raw," Cena said. Henry said either way, Cena cares, but he does not. Henry said there are lines that Cena won't cross because of his goodness. Cena asked how Henry could not care about this (the live crowd). The fans didn't really play along with that line.
Henry said they could start Money in the Bank early. Cena took his shirt off, told Henry there was a line, and if he crossed it he would whip his ass right now. "You want me to cross the line for free?" Henry said. He said he took a 50 percent pay cut before and Cena will get him on Sunday.
Henry told Cena that he would give him a sample and took his shirt off. He teased going after him and smiled. When Cena went to pick up the WWE Championship, Henry caught him with a shot. Cena hoisted him up for the Attitude Adjustment, but his legs gave out. "You think I'm an easy win?" Henry yelled. He picked up Cena and put him down with the World's Strongest Slam...
Powell's POV: The build for Cena vs. Henry has been so much better than anything we saw for Cena vs. Ryback. I could have done without the silly Snickers line from Cena, but Henry's intensity and believability more than made up for it.
Backstage, Josh Mathews interviewed Randy Orton, who spoke about his match against C.M. Punk. He said he's never believed Punk's claim of being best in the world. He said he didn't believe him when he beat him at WrestleMania two years ago and he won't believe it tonight or when he wins the Money in the Bank contract. Orton said if Cena retains and finds himself in a vulnerable state, he won't hesitate to cash in the MITB contract and take the title from him...
Powell's POV: Whether Orton wins or note, WWE planted the seed that someone could cash in an MITB contract on Sunday. And whether that happens or not, they just sold more pay-per-views. The timing of the line was perfect considering that Henry just left Cena lying.
The Miz joined the announcers on commentary...
[Q6] Chris Jericho made his entrance. Curtis Axel and Paul Heyman made their entrance. Heyman wore sunglasses to cover up his black eye, then removed them to show it off as he talked about basking in perfection in the form of Axel. Curtis said Jericho needs a Christmas tree light jacket to show off to the world, but he just needs the Intercontinental Title. He said he wouldn't let Miz or Jericho stand in the way of perfection...
3. Curtis Axel vs. Chris Jericho in a non-title match. After a couple minutes of action, the show cut to break with Axel in control of the offense. [C] Axel caught Jericho with the PerfectPlex for a really good near fall. Axel showed frustration by throwing punches at the back of Jericho's head.
Jericho came back and applied the Walls of Jericho, but Axel quickly scurried to reach the rope to break the hold. Jericho knocked Axel off the ring apron and Axel slammed into the announcers' table. Axel stood up and noticed Miz smirking at him. Axel jawed at Miz and asked if he thought it was funny.
Miz stood up and took his jacket off. Heyman got between them and told Axel to get back in the ring or he would be counted out. Axel complied and walked into a Codebreaker from Jericho, who scored the pin. The announcers played this up as Axel's first loss since he joined Heyman...
Chris Jericho pinned Curtis Axel in a non-title match.
Powell's POV: I don't understand the logic of having Axel lose here beyond making him look vulnerable heading into the match with Miz. After all, Jericho appears to be on the verge of taking a hiatus for an upcoming tour with Fozzy. That said, it's possible Axel will beat Miz on Sunday and get a win over Jericho on next week's Raw and this will be quickly forgotten.
The announcers gushed over the Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan match and hyped Randy Orton vs. C.M. Punk for later in the show...
[Q7] [C] Highlights aired of Rob Van Dam beating Christian in a ladder match to win the Intercontinental Title on September 29, 2003... The announcers spoke about the "rising young stars" Money in the Bank match for the World Hvt. Championship contract...
Backstage, Josh Mathews interviewed Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes. He asked if they are concerned that competing in the MITB match will affect their friendship. Sandow said if he doesn't win the match, he'd like nothing more than for his friend to win. Mathews tried to ask Cody a question, but Sandow said he just told him what he thought.
Zeb Colter, Jack Swagger, and Antonio Cesaro showed up. Colter cut a promo about his men winning. Wade Barrett showed up and said he would win. Colter said he didn't understand a word he said. Fandango showed up and struck a pose, causing them to all stop tallking. They told him not to say his name. He got out Fan-Dan, only to have Barrett hit him with the Bull Hammer. Cody and Sandow laughed, then had a staredown with Swagger and Cesaro...
Cole said they were still awaiting the arrival of the Wyatt Family. He set up the next clip of the reporter, who still hasn't been shown on camera, at the Wyatt compound. Harper told him not to stray. They showed a shot of a man saying "obey" repeatedly. Harper told him again not to stray, then pointed him down a hallway. Bray Wyatt told the reporter to come in. "I've been waiting for you," Wyatt said... [C]
Powell's POV: Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey. Obey.
Sin Cara made his entrance. Alberto Del Rio came out next. Cole said Ricardo Rodriguez was injured, and they showed footage of Ziggler putting Ricardo through a table on Smackdown and then striking him with a guitar. They left out that little part about the Wellness Policy violation...
4. World Hvt. Champion Alberto Del Rio vs. Sin Cara in a non-title match. Cole said the WWE Twitter page made history tonight and has over 3 million followers.
[Q8] Del Rio was dominating the match when Dolph Ziggler's music distracted him. Sin Cara rolled him up, but Del Rio kicked out. Dolph said he felt bad about hurting Del Rio's ring announcer. Dolph gave his own mock introduction of Del Rio, who eventually left the ring and fought with Ziggler at ringside.
The announcers hyped the Vickie Guerrero job evaluation for after the break... [C]
Powell's POV: Now all WWE needs to do now is to get those three million free Twitter followers to cough up money for the WWE Network someday and they'll be right in the middle of that 2-4 million subscriber mark they said they need to make it worthwhile. Um, good luck with that. Anyway, Ziggler was anything but cool here. This didn't come off well and I'm not sure the fans know what to think of him after watching him make out with A.J. Lee earlier and now bomb in a comedic attempt.
A graphic boasted that Smackdown was nine times more active on social media than Dateline NBC... Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was shown in the front row. Cole mocked Lawler by saying Rice has run all over his Cleveland Browns... The announcers recapped the Henry and Cena angle...
Vickie Guerrero sat on a stool in the ring as Brad Maddox stood behind her. Vince McMahon's music played and he headed to the ring along with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. Vince tried to pump up the live crowd. The fans were standing, yet not all that responsive when he pumped his arms.
Stephanie told Vickie they were there to evaluate her performance. She thanked the WWE fans for voting and said their opinion would be factored into their decision. Vince, Steph, and Hunter sat down behind a desk that was set up in the ring. Steph gave Vickie a chance to state her case. Vickie stood up and started, but Steph interrupted and asked her to sit down while she spoke and thanked her for obliging. Funny.
Vickie spoke about the stars that have returned under her watch. She mentioned Rob Van Dam and The Rock, then said some say she inspired Undertaker's return at WrestleMania. Steph said Vickie is taking credit for things she had nothing to do with, yet neglected the signing of the man who took out her husband and father, Brock Lesnar.
[Q9] Vickie apologized. Vince said it wasn't necessary to apologize aside from what Brock did to him. He said re-signing Lesnar was a stroke of genius. Triple H said Vickie screwed up the announcement of the video game because the fans were booing her out of the building. Triple H said he knows Vince thinks Vickie is entertaining, but he said there's also a reason The Golden Girls aren't on television anymore.
Hunter said the WWE Universe wants and deserves better than Vickie Guerrero. He said Vickie possesses the most annoying voice in the history of broadcast television. Vince stood up and said that she does have a unique voice, but he believes she has qualifications that no one else does. He congratulated her for her hard work, dedication, and passion. He said she broke through the glass ceiling of a male dominated corporation.
Vince said he believes Vickie should be named permanent general manager. Triple H stood up and said he doesn't want to argue because he's the COO, but Vince is the Chairman. He said at the end of the day, that means Vince is going to do whatever he wants to do anyway. He said that's pretty much the point. He said Vince puts in a spineless puppet who strokes his ego and does whatever he says.
Hunter said he doesn't want to believe that. He said that since Stephanie called the meeting, they should let her decide Vickie's fate. Vince said he had no problem with Daddy's Little Girl making the right decision. Hunter said he doesn't have a problem with his wife, the mother of his children, and the woman who has to go home and put up with him making the right decision for the business.
Vince said that would be the business of entertainment. "But mostly business," Hunter said. Steph stood up and said this has escalated more than she imagined. She said nothing would drive a wedge between her and her family, so they were letting the WWE app vote determine.
75 percent of the voters said Vickie failed. Hunter covered his face while laughing. "The Universe has spoken, you failed," Stephanie said. Vickie flipped out and said she's not a spineless puppet and it shouldn't be a popularity contest. "Vickie, I've got two words for you," Steph said. "In the immortal words of my father, you're fired." Vickie slowly fell to her knees as the fans sang the goodbye song.
Vickie eventually laid down and then threw an all out hissy fit tantrum. She got back on her knees and pleaded for her job. She climbed on top of the McMahon desk and went from pleading back to tantrum mode. "Are you people happy?" Vince asked. He said they broke Vickie's heart. He said Vickie didn't fail, each and every one of the fans just failed.
Vince said the fans threw away what could have been the most entertaining general manager of all time. Vince said they have no idea what the right decision would be so he's going to make it for them. He said they need a new general manager of Raw and the people deserve this. Vince named Brad Maddox the new general manager of Raw. Vince led Vickie out of the ring while Maddox stood there with a stunned look on his face. The announcers questioned what qualifications Maddox has. "Welcome to the Titanic," JBL said... [C]
Powell's POV: All of those bad McMahon family skits were done just to let the fans decide Vickie's fate and then name Maddox the new general manager? Ugh. I like Maddox and I think he has upside as a performer, but it seemed like they went through a lot of work just to get to the same dynamic they had under Vickie. The timing is interesting in that perhaps there's a storyline reason it occurred before Money in the Bank.
[Q10] Highlights aired of Rob Van Dam performing the Van Terminator on Kane during a four-team TLC match on the October 7, 2002 Raw...
Backstage, Vince McMahon consoled a crying Vickie Guerrero. He told her he would make it right somehow. Brad Maddox showed up and said he was sorry about what happened. He extended his hand to Vince and thanked him. Vince didn't accept the handshake and asked how long he was going to keep his hand out. Vince said he gave the fans what they deserve.
Maddox said what Mr. McMahon wants is what he gets. Vickie snapped and attacked Maddox and screamed "get out" at him repeatedly. Vince complained that his jacket was ruined and stormed off...
5. Kane vs. Christian. The announcers noted that Kane won a MITB match, while Christian has not. Christian dove onto Kane at ringside heading into the break. [C] After the break, Christian performed a tornado DDT inside the ring for a two count. He tried to get the crowd clapping and didn't have much luck. Moments later, Christian charged toward Kane, who grabbed him by the throat and chokeslammed him to set up the pin...
Kane pinned Christian in 7:40.
Powell's POV: The live crowd was really flat for the match. They didn't really have any incentive to cheer or boo either man, and I'm sure they're still in a state of, um, something coming off of the silliness with the McMahon family and Vickie Guerrero.
After the match, Bray Wyatt appeared on the screen in a rocking chair. He was inside a dark room. He said he doesn't have followers, he has only brothers and sisters in the name of cause. People are sheep and they need to be led. He said people busy and sell fear and worship war. "I created wars," he said.
Wyatt said it's time for the masses to wake up. He said the world is deteriorating. He said they whisper and wonder but never do anything about it. He said he has seen it all in his dreams and his thoughts. He said it's not the beginning, it's the end. Hit lit a latern and said "we're here" as Rowan and Harper stood behind him.
[Q11] Inside the building, the lights went out and Wyatt walked out carrying a lantern. His music played and he walked to the ring with Rowan and Harper following closely behind him. Wyatt sat down in a rocking chair at ringside and blew out the lantern (which was electrical). The arena lights turned on and Rowan and Harper beat up Kane.
They took him to ringside and threw him into the ring steps and continued to punch and kick him. Rowan picked up a piece of the ring steps as Harper positioned Kane's head on the other part of the stairs. They slammed the ring steps into Kane's head. Wyatt stood up from the rocking chair and walked over to Kane and struck the crucifix pose over Kane. A loud "Husky Harris" chant broke out... [C]
Powell's POV: Really, a Husky Harris chant? Well, aren't you smart. Can you imagine going to a play starring David Hyde Pierce and having a group of fans chant "Niles Crane" at him? A dated reference, but you get the point. Anyway, the electrical lantern was a little cheesy, but I liked the set up video and everything else about the segment. Does this mean Kane will be out of the MITB match? If so, who replaces him?
Backstage, Vickie Guerrero was walking with a box of her belongings when she encountered Ryback. He took the boxes and put them down. Ryback hugged Vickie and said, "You deserve better, Vickie, it's going to be okay." Ryback picked up the boxes and gave them to her again...
Powell's POV: Is Ryback getting estrogen shots?
6. Kaitlyn and Layla vs. Alicia Fox and A.J. Lee (w/Big E Langston). The Bella Twins sat in on commentary. A.J. mugged for the crowd and didn't stand on the ring apron initially. She eventually tagged into the match and Kaitlyn ran in and attacked her for the apparent DQ. A.J. went to ringside and Kaitlyn ran after and speared her on the floor. Langston carried A.J. to the back...
A.J. Lee and Alicia Fox defeated Kaitlyn and Layla by an apparent DQ.
Powell's POV: I'm okay with the weird finish because it made the Bella Twins stop talking.
Backstage, Josh Mathews interviewed C.M. Punk, who took exception to Randy Orton saying he's not best in the world. Punk said holding the WWE Championship longer than anyone in the modern era makes him the best in the world, as does beating Orton, and winning MITB for the third time...
[Q12] Randy Orton made his entrance... [C] Footage aired from the June 11, 2006 ECW One Night Stand pay-per-view of Rob Van Dam beating John Cena to win the WWE Championship...
Powell's POV: I can't say enough good things about the buildup that Van Dam is getting tonight, as I have no doubt that they are selling pay-per-views by setting him up Sunday as the return of a major star.
C.M. Punk made his entrance for the main event...
7. C.M. Punk vs. Randy Orton. Punk connected with a suicide dive heading into the commercial break at 3:45. [C] Highlights aired from during the break of Orton backdropping Punk onto the ringside barricade. Cool spot. Back live, Orton had a headlock applied. The women and kids had an Orton chant going, while the bass-filled voices countered with a louder Punk chant.
Punk came back with a kick to the head, but Orton fired right back with a couple of clotheslines. He went for his slam, but Punk held onto the ropes and then caught Orton in a pin for a two count. Punk caught Orton with a high knee in the corner and then went to the top rope. Punk looked up at the MITB briefcase and smiled, then performed a top rope elbow on Orton.
[Overrun] Punk motioned his arms to get a chant going and had minimal success. He signaled for the GTS, but Orton dodged it and then wrestled Punk into position and performed a hanging DDT. Orton played to the tired crowd aggressively and got them to pep up a little as he went for the RKO. Punk avoided it, but Orton caught him with a quick power slam for a good two count.
Later, Punk had Orton up for the GTS, but Orton elbowed out of it. Orton went for the RKO, but Punk caught him with a kick and followed up with the GTS for the clean win...
C.M. Punk pinned Randy Orton in 13:40.
After the match, Daniel Bryan ran out and attacked Punk. He brought a ladder inside the ring and then rammed it into Orton. Bryan set up the ladder in the middle of the ring. Bryan climbed the ladder and pulled down the MITB briefcase that was hanging above the ring all night. Bryan got a Yes chant going and pumped the briefcase over his head to close the show...
Powell's POV: The crowd has been really tough and this match was no exception. Granted, they didn't have a definitive heel to root against, but both wrestlers had to go above and beyond to get them to react to anything. WWE has the spotlight on Bryan going into the match via tonight's Raw. Then again, they also had Punk pin Orton clean and hyped the hell out of Rob Van Dam. They did a very good job of building up the All-Stars version of the Money in the Bank match, and the clean finish in the main event rather than a big MITB brawl leading to a cheap finish was a pleasant surprise.
Overall, the crowd seemed really drained by the end of this three-hour show. They were attentive, but they just weren't reacting to much. Still, WWE did a nice job of setting up a couple of the key matches heading into the pay-per-view. The final hype for the WWE Championship match and MITB was very good, and the Wyatt Family debut was strong. The negative of the show was the step back that was taken for the World Hvt. Championship, but that's more of a side item. In other words, the pay-per-view buys shouldn't suffer as a result of that and I assume it will get more focus on Smackdown. Thanks for watching along with me. I will be back on the members' site later tonight with my audio review, and I will be back on Tuesday for the WWE Raw Hit List. Be sure to check out Will Pruett's Pause review of WWE Raw on Tuesday as well, and join us on Sunday night for live coverage of WWE Money in the Bank.
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