You know what they say: A zebra can't change his stripes, especially a crooked one. Looking to build his momentum to a fever pitch before this Sunday at SummerSlam, Daniel Bryan caught the wrong end of a Sacramento screwjob when Brad Maddox – whose track record of officiating is notoriously iffy at best – was revealed as the guest referee for the submission master's second tilt in four days against Wade Barrett.
The forcibly shorn Barrett hardly leaned on Maddox as a crutch en route to victory, toughing it out through a ruthless attack on his knee from Bryan before literally and figuratively putting the No. 1 contender on the ropes. Bryan turned the tide with a flurry of kicks to the Brit's chest, but Barrett dodged the final strike and rolled the No. 1 contender up, notching the win with the help of a fast-count from Maddox that, if Bryan's post-match reaction was any indication, was potentially ill-advised.
A sturdy new Money in the Bank briefcase did nothing to avert the fate of Damien Sandow, who found himself struck down by his Money in the Bank counterpart, Randy Orton, in a match between the two contract-holders on Raw.
Sandow was initially one step of his various foes, handcuffing his briefcase to the turnbuckle for safekeeping from Cody Rhodes at commentary and taking the fight to The Viper early on. But the duel of the esteemed Messrs. Money in the Bank began in ernest when The Apex Predator gained momentum by backdropping Sandow onto the barricade. Sandow countered by dodging the RKO and slamming Orton into the turnbuckle, seemingly taking control... until another attempted briefcase theft by Cody Rhodes. The would-be pilfering by Rhodes quickly threw The Enlighened One for a loop, though admittedly not so much as the RKO he unwittingly wandered into moments later. Consider it a lesson hard learned.
Now this is how a true total Diva rolls: After weeks of psychological torment at the hands of Brie Bella, Natalya got herself a much-needed win over a woman who's no stranger to mind games herself: Divas Champion AJ Lee. The “Queen of Harts” and her companion The Great Khali had been slated to battle AJ and Big E Langston, but the two titans barely even got a shot in edgewise in a bout that was dominated by Divas action. AJ began the match firmly in control over the Hart Dungeon alumna, but it was a taunt from Hornswoggle that sent AJ over the edge and left her vulnerable to a match-ending Sharpshooter from Natalya.
Aha, so that's how Triple H plans to do it. The King of Kings had vowed last week to pre-empt whatever machinations Mr. McMahon set in place to derail the main event of SummerSlam, and what better way for the COO to ensure the purity of the contest than from inside the ring itself as the guest referee? Granted, the development came in a roundabout way after The Chairman, moved by Brad Maddox's “apology” for his earlier fast-count, first attempted to instate Maddox as the official for the summer classic. But The Game, seeing the proverbial writing on the wall, diffused that situation with a Pedigree to the GM and declaring himself the guest referee. Anybody want to argue with him? That's what we thought.
As Kane steps further and further back into his personal darkness to prepare for Bray Wyatt at SummerSlam, it was Titus O’Neil who caught the brunt of The Big Red Monster's long-dormant sadism on the final Raw before the summer classic. Despite an attempted distraction by Darren Young, Kane sealed “The Big Deal’s” fate with a Chokeslam to the tag-team stalwart, although he was hardly out of the woods when the lights in the ring cut out to herald the arrival of The Wyatt Family. But before the backwoods clan could strike, Kane materialized atop the stage, taunting Bray Wyatt from afar before summoning his signature flames to engulf his foes in their own personal inferno.
Kofi Kingston flew once again in his triumphant return last week, but Alberto Del Rio brought The Boom Squad General crashing down to earth with a vicious victory over the former Intercontinental Champion. Kofi's wave of confidence carried him through the first part of the bout; the multi-time champion easily dodged the opening wave from The Essence of Excellence and was only moments away from the win after countering a vicious kick into a roll-up attempt. Yet it was Del Rio, once again in touch with his inner cruelty after thrashing Ricardo Rodriguez last week, who got the last word by pulverizing Kofi with double knees to the gut as Kingston took flight, following up with a Cross Armbreaker that forced his valiant foe to submit.
Zeb Colter likes to spout platitudes about America and its laws, but The Usos employed a far more old-school regulation when they met Colter's border-patrolling strongmen for the third bout in their recent rivalry: An eye for an eye. Reeling from the loss they took to The Real Americans seven days previously, The Usos thundered into Sacramento looking for a win and a win was what they got after a fast and frantic bout that pitted the Americans’ brawn against the Samoan brothers’ speed.
Brawn, at first, seemed to be the prevailing trait of the contest when Cesaro clobbered Jey Uso with a Swagger-assisted Very European Uppercut. Once Jey tagged in his brother, though, the brothers stormed their foes like a house on fire. Rikishi's twin sons ultimately used their teamwork to decide the bout, outsmarting the desperate Americans with a fast tag as Swagger charged Jimmy on the turnbuckle, giving Jey the chance to roll the former World Champion up for the 1-2-3. OOS!
The Miz has always promised to push buttons, and he fulfilled his promise so well during the latest “Miz TV” that it seemed, for a moment, as though guests John Cena and Daniel Bryan wouldn't make it to their SummerSlam match at all.
Things began civil enough in the wake of Triple H's blockbuster announcement as the guest referee, but tension began to escalate when The Awesome One brought up Bryan's heated words for Cena, and stirred the pot even further by insinuating Bryan was doomed to lose. Bryan countered by seizing the microphone and delivering his most explosive comments to Cena yet by decrying The Champ as a parody of himself as opposed to a wrestler like Bryan.
Cooler heads initially prevailed, until Bryan offered to slap Cena in the face as decreed by Japanese wrestling custom (it's a motivational tool) ... then retracted said offer, because he didn't believe Cena deserved it. The Champ, of course, followed up by striking Bryan, but the “Yes!”man wouldn’t take the bait. The presence of Triple H and Randy Orton only amped the tension, and this Sunday, the WWE Universe will see who comes out standing tallest.
Time to do a little Fandango: A scheduled bout between R-Truth and the dancing fiend turned into a battle of rhythm when the “Suntan Superman’s” opening dance routine shocked Fandango into retaliation. Sporting pants that seemed to be made from the pelts of half the Serengeti, Fandango certainly brought his A-game to the impromptu dance-off. Yet he ultimately opted to cheap-shot Truth in the back of the head. The former U.S. Champion came out smiling, though, after he tackled Fandango to the ground and tossed him from the ring. A perfect 10!
Looks like Dean Ambrose has a one-of-a-kind challenge on his hands at SummerSlam Kickoff. With 20 Superstars in contention to become No. 1 contender for Ambrose's stars-and-stripes title, it was Rob Van Dam who beat the odds and outlasted the rest of the WWE roster to claim the coveted spot.
The first part of the Battle Royal was all Ryback, all day: The “Human Wrecking Ball” ran roughshod over everyone in his path. As the herd slowly thinned out, the playing field narrowed down to Mark Henry and RVD, who worked in tandem to toss Ryback. It was Henry's power that ultimately doomed him when RVD dodged a freight-train charge and sent the former World Champion tumbling over the rope to win the melee.
A gentlemanly handshake between the two was cut short by the arrival of The Shield, but the 3-on-2 odds were soon evened by the sudden return of Big Show, whose presence effectively forced the “Hounds of Justice” into retreat. Can't really blame them, can you?
When one agrees to battle with Paul Heyman, of wits or otherwise, one is never walking into a fair fight. Happily, CM Punk knew this to be true the second he agreed to tangle with the mad scientist (he didn't tweet that photo of Admiral Ackbar for nothing), and he was more than prepared when Heyman summoned Brock Lesnar to the ring before their tilt was set to begin to make the fight 2-on-1.
Daring Punk to play the “stupid hero,” Heyman beckoned the former WWE Champion to the ring, but didn't count on the fact that – IT’S A TRAP!! – Punk was already there. The Second City Saint proved himself smarter than the average beast when he emerged from beneath the ring to strike Brock with a ring camera and steel chair. Heyman amscrayed immediately, and was only able to escape the furious Punk when Curtis Axel ran interference and ate a Go to Sleep in his boss’ stead. Not bad for the self-proclaimed “Best.” Now all that's left is to slay the Beast.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Wade Barrett defeated Daniel Bryan (with Brad Maddox as Special Guest Referee) (5:25)
- Randy Orton defeated Damien Sandow (14:50)
- The Great Khali & Natalya (w/ Hornswoggle) defeated Big E. Langston & AJ Lee (3:45)
- Kane defeated Titus O'Neil (w/ Darren Young) (1:45)
- Alberto Del Rio defeated Kofi Kingston (6:10)
- The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) defeated The Real Americans (Jack Swagger & Antonio Cesaro) (w/ Zeb Colter) (4:50)
- Fandango (w/ Summer Rae) vs. R-Truth ended in a no contest
- Rob Van Dam won a 20 man Battle royal to become number 1 contender for the WWE United States Championship at SummerSlam pre-show vs Dean Ambrose (14:00) (The other participants were: Rob Van Dam, Brodus Clay, Tensai, Heath Slater, Drew McIntyre, Jinder Mahal, Ryback, Mark Henry, Titus O'Neil, Darren Young, Jimmy Uso, Jey Uso, The Great Khali, Fandango, Justin Gabriel, Wade Barrett, R-Truth, Jack Swagger & Antonio Cesaro
Battle Royal eliminations
|8||Heath Slater||The Great Khali|
|9||Drew McIntyre||The Great Khali|
|10||Jinder Mahal||The Great Khali|
|11||The Great Khali||Ryback|
|12||Jey Uso||The Real Americans|
|13||Titus O'Neil||Rob Van Dam|
|14||Kofi Kingston||The Real Americans|
|15||Antonio Cesaro||Mark Henry|
|16||Jack Swagger||Mark Henry|
|17||Wade Barrett||Mark Henry|
|18||Ryback||Mark Henry & RVD|
|19||Mark Henry||Rob Van Dam|
|-||Rob Van Dam||WINNER|
Other on-screen talent
Wade Barrett v Daniel Bryan
Randy Orton v Damien Sandow
Great Khali & Natalya v Langston & AJ Lee
Vince named the guest referee for SummerSlam
Kane v Titus O'Neil
Alberto Del Rio v Kofi Kingston
The Usos v The Real Americans
Cena & Bryan on "Miz TV"
Fandango v R-Truth
===Big Show returns