Welcome to this week's edition of Raw Afterthoughts, where we break down last night's show in more detail. Feel free to comment and discuss your own opinions either in the comments below, or hit us on Twitter.
It seems that at this point in the year, WWE starts to do some “resetting” as it heads to Survivor Series. Did we begin to see the opening stages of that last night? It’s hard to say and probably depends on which expert you ask. Me, as a viewer, I have to say they need to if they haven’t.
Daniel Bryan got screwed out of the title three times, once at SummerSlam, once at Battleground, and now at Hell in a Cell. If you read my reaction to Hell in a Cell, I pointed out that it appears that WWE never planned to hand Bryan the title for an extended run. He certainly is, and has been for a while, the hot commodity. I’m disappointed he isn’t getting the chance right now.
But if there is one good thing for him, it is that his character is transitioning to something more serious and away from leading the “Yes!” chants. His serious appearance on Raw last night was welcome after all that has happened to him. I actually yelled "Finally!" at the TV as it felt too little, too late.
Shawn Michaels, his mentor, offered a pretty lousy explanation of why he did what he did in the Cell on Raw last night. We got a glimpse of the old heel Michaels though, and that was a bit fun to see again. Bryan got a measure of revenge though by locking Michaels in the Yes! Lock. Will that lead to a match down the road somewhere? Hard to say – Michaels swears by being retired and staying there as a way of keeping his word to Undertaker (the man who retired him).
But Bryan’s transition appears to be taking him down the card – to face the Wyatts. Both he and CM Punk were attacked by the Family last night after their respective segments. The attacks are certainly high profile for the Wyatts and move them up to a new place on the card. “The Devil made me do it” is intriguing. Is it Triple H, or perhaps Paul Heyman, or even a combination?
Speaking of CM Punk, it appears he is done once and for all with Ryback. Their street fight match last night was well done and a decent ending to their story. The program just never got going, despite Heyman’s involvement. With this decisive victory, Punk is able to move on and deal with the Wyatts. Ryback on the other hand, needs direction from here.
But the more things change, the more they stay the same. The main event segment was Randy Orton’s “Championship Celebration” with Triple H and Stephanie at his side. This was all just “more of the same” from the power couple. They even brought all the talent to the stage in their famous emasculating moment from when this story started. There was nothing new here to excite me about the direction and position of the championship.
Big Show got a great reaction from the Orlando faithful, but I’m hard pressed to think every crowd will react similarly. His lawsuit was explained by David Otunga (!) during the show and it all seems like a stretch to say that Triple H and Steph could lose control of the company. I can’t be pressed to care about Show vs. Orton, and the apparent money match of Show vs. Triple H shows just how Orton and the title are being positioned at the moment.
Survivor Series is a few weeks away, and I am hoping that we see some fresh direction as we head to the last “Big 4” event of 2013. The Wyatts vs. Punk and Bryan intrigues me, even if Bryan isn’t champion. Everything else at the moment just isn’t cutting it.
Other Points of Note:
The Champ is (Burying People) Here!
John Cena opened the night with a promo segment that felt intense for his return to Raw. To his credit, he left out the poopy jokes and only lightly used mockery of JBL at one point in order to illustrate his motivation. At that point, we reach what is a very strongly divisive topic in wrestling.
Did John Cena bury Damien Sandow last night?
Sandow showed a good edge by jumping Cena with the MITB briefcase, then calling for an official to take advantage and cash in. He then followed that up with a good match with lots of high drama for the World Heavyweight Championship. He lost though, to a “one armed” John Cena.
I side in the camp of how they follow up this loss. If Sandow drops out of sight and doesn’t get opportunities higher up the card then yes, he was buried. If they build on this effort and give him chances to compete for and win titles higher up the card (along with meaningful runs), then no, he wasn’t.
I think it was good to get the Shield a win back last night. They lost the tag belts, then their rematch at Hell in the Cell. But what caught my attention was a line that Ambrose said: “I am the one with championship gold…” Cole pointed it out a couple times. Are they foreshadowing a group break-up? I hope not. There is far too much money on the table yet with the trio to break them up now.
The Big Red Hitman…
Kane’s segment was odd. He pulled off the mask and hair and handed it to Stephanie, which was an interesting visual. He offered himself up as a weapon of sorts for the Authority, and that just doesn’t get me all excited. The obvious two possibilities are Daniel Bryan and Big Show, and that doesn’t scream positive thoughts. Maybe they’ll give him an overhaul that will enhance the act, but I’m not feeling good about it right now. Everything last night was odd.
The Quick Strike:
- I liked the Real Americans picking up a non-title tag win over Brothers Rhodes. It was a good match, and it got the visual of losing to Los Matadores on Sunday out of my mind.
- In fact, a note to WWE: Only book Los Matadores vs. Real Americans if it’s a squash in favor of the red, white, and blue.
- Was it just me, or did the cheap finish to Ambrose vs. Langston put a damp blanket on the hot Orlando crowd?
- I can’t take a wrestler seriously when they’re dressed like Summer Rae was last night.
- Speaking of, she tried to pull off Fandango’s gimmick but she clearly doesn’t have it down.
- If I never hear "Mrs. Fandango!" again, it'll be too soon.
- I still cannot get the Los Matadores gimmick, and their little "bull" El Torito. And their match with 3MB was just traditional comedy filler.
- Darren Young promotes himself as a player, but can't catch. Not good.
That's it for this week. I'll be back in the saddle next Monday night for Raw coverage, right here on Ring-Rap.com.