Welcome to this week's edition of Raw Afterthoughts, where we break down last night's show in more detail than we can during live coverage.  Got your own thoughts, questions, or opinions?  Feel free to comment below, or hit us on Twitter, and use the #AskRingRap hashtag!

I hear there’s a pay per view on Sunday.  In fact, Drew’s going to be bringing you live coverage.  But this edition of Raw was just marginally better than the norm, and with the exception of the last half hour of the program did nothing for Hell in a Cell.

As has been the tradition since SummerSlam, we’re looking at the overarching story of Daniel Bryan vs. the Authority and the vacant WWE Championship.   I really felt like the closing angle to the show was strong, but got deflated.  The opening, though, didn’t work for me at all.

This segment was just more of the same that we’ve gotten for a while now.  I struggle to find a real purpose to the segment because Triple H and Stephanie just did their normal routine.  Big Show’s interruption just felt like a seven-foot 400 pound piece of baggage on the story and was odd.  You also had Stephanie asking how he could get video fed to the screen, but was able to count down to shutting the video off.  Very strange.

 The contract signing that closed the show on the other hand, was a strong angle for this story.  As it pertains to Orton and Bryan, it was really just more of the same.  Adding Shawn Michaels to the mix though really spiced things up.  His mic work fit in, and it makes it seem that HBK will call this match fairly.  Triple H also added to the moment by teasing that Michaels will side with him.  With Michaels defending Bryan, it gives fans hope that there won’t be a screwjob finish on Sunday – something I don’t think they want to pay for again.

I know a lot of “smart fans” might get worked up over Triple H’s jab at guys like Jericho, Edge, and Rob Van Dam.  Relax.  Seriously.  It was a good line that played straight into his heel character and how his character has been treating Bryan.  I also like how he shot a potential Bryan/Triple H match down and in my view it looked like he was getting fans to concentrate on Bryan/Orton.

The one thing this angle did not need was Big Show driving a semi into the building.  It really took away from the moment despite the fact that it was a neat visual.  And it also took some steam off of Bryan, who could have gotten more out of a scuffle and hitting Orton with his running knee than he did by hitting that same move off the truck distraction.

One other thing I thought could have added to this match is having Bryan and Orton pick their opponents on the show.  Bryan got a solid opener with Dean Ambrose.  I’m never a fan of a secondary champion losing to a top guy in a non-title match, but the match was very entertaining and I think Ambrose benefitted from it as well.  Orton and Dolph Ziggler worked an entertaining affair as well even though the result was predictable.  But had Orton and Bryan been able to select opponents, it could have added to their title match story.

I’m hoping for a clean finish and a decided WWE Champion on Sunday.  But more than anything I’m hoping for a coming end to this story of so many moving parts.  Less is more sometimes,  and this is one of those times.

Other Points of Note:

Falling Flat…

The Heyman/Punk story is losing some steam.  There, I finally admitted it.  The tag match featuring Punk and Big E Langston against Ryback and Axel got us to the Intercontinental Championship on Sunday in the pre-show, but did nothing for the Heyman/Punk story.  I guess you could say that because the Heyman guys lost, it creates some vulnerability going into the match and you know Punk will get to Heyman on Sunday.  But we just saw Punk get to Heyman at Night of Champions.  Heyman won the match, but he got beaten up by Punk and I just don’t hear fans clamoring to see that happen again.

Triple the Tag Team Fun…

I really like the chemistry between the Uso Brothers and The Shield.  They work very well together.  While I don’t think it made the best sense, the non-finish to their match was logical to get to the triple threat match for the title on Sunday.  They could have just as easily gotten there with the rematch angle for The Shield.  The worst part of this match was Cody on commentary.  He was more concerned with getting JBL to laugh about being better than the Briscoe Brothers.  Cody and Goldust need to be cutting promos, not playing around with the announcers.

Patience…

I have to admit that Brie Bella stood out positively in the divas tag match.  She is working hard, and she’s showing some good face charisma that I personally have not seen before.  Creative really dropped the ball here by not making a definitive character turn for her (or both her and Nikki if that’s how they wanted to play it).  Had they done so, I think fans would have connected with her better and sooner.  That said I am hoping they don’t plan on rushing to put the Divas Championship on her.  They need to exercise patience and let the fans get behind her, then put the title on her.

The Quick Strike:

WWE really needs to stop doing Elvis themed stuff in Memphis and Roulette themed shows in Vegas. That’s got to be an insult to the fans in those two cities at some point.

If I never see Santino Marella, Great Khali, or Hornswoggle on my TV after last night’s Elvis bit, it will be too soon.

I don’t care who Dolph upset to get put in the dog house.  It’s time to get Dolph back on track.  He works his ass off and earned a better role than where he is at the moment.

I think it’s time to put the Funkasaurus in extinction.  Brodus Clay’s gimmick was fun when it debuted, but it quickly has become tired.  Take him off TV for a month or two and bring him back as a badass (face or heel) and let him just kick some ass.

I like what I see from Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro as the Real Americans, but I can’t say I’m excited over the potential of a feud with Los Matadores.

Zeb reintroducing the bull whip was fun.

What else can I say, fans like the Wyatt Family act and their entrance gets a pop.  Now, they’re getting into what Harper and Rowan do in the ring.  Bray is all in with his crazy cult leader gimmick too.  It seems they have direction and I am looking forward to what plays out.

I think the extent of gushing by the announce team over the return of John Cena is a bit much as he’s been gone two months, not two years.  Even so, the hype for his return and match with Alberto Del Rio was consistent and logical with the video packages they used throughout the night.

All in all, this was a solid show.  It just wasn’t “go-home” solid.  It failed to deliver the excitement that I needed to go buy this pay per view on Sunday.  They did a good job of hyping John Cena’s return, and gave us a hot last half hour or so with the contract signing and the tag match for the right to face Cody Rhodes and Goldust on Sunday, but that was about it.

That's all for this week.  Be sure to join us Sunday night for live Hell in a Cell coverage, and we'll be back on Monday for all the fallout on Raw right here on Ring-Rap.com.