Welcome to this week's edition of Raw Afterthoughts, where we break down last night's show in more detail. Feel free to chime in with your own thoughts and comments below, or join the conversation on Twitter.
So, after last night what do we really know about Survivor Series? Not much.
My enthusiasm for Survivor Series through the years has always been pretty high. Something big is going on at the top of the card, or they give us a good traditional five on five elimination match. The hype is always sound. This year, it's not working.
This show last night just did not do anything to help my excitement. We got a good final angle and match, and that looks like it could have led to something at Survivor Series. But it was a good show if Survivor Series were six weeks away. This is the week where things would be coming to a head, and angles heading into the event would be hot, and it didn't happen.
Right now the card is anchored by two pretty soft World title matches, and they have one week of programming left to sell the pay per view. Needless to say, WWE has a LOT of work to do over the next week (Raw and Smackdown both this week and next) in order to hype up the pay per view. Sadly, next week's Raw feels like it will be saddled by the country music gimmick, and ongoing authority figure drama.
Speaking of authority, did you know that Triple H and Stephanie were on vacation this week? Just in case you didn't know that, the announcers reminded us probably twenty times throughout the night. All this talk and hub-bub about the couple not being there positioned them as the stars of the night even in their absence.
When Kane was announced as the "Director of Operations" I had some hope that Triple H would begin to take a step back and it would allow fans to get more engaged in what Randy Orton is doing and ultimately the WWE Championship. The Power Couple could have stayed in control, but instead limited their on-air time to make their appearances more impactful.
If you've done any searching through the internet on Kane (Glenn Jacobs), you might find that he is actually a composed and competent speaker. While he would never be confused for greats on the mic like The Rock or CM Punk, Kane is certainly capable of selling a story on the mic. They could have really established Kane as a man of authority and given him a hot start.
Instead, Kane's first night was a letdown. Rather than establish him in a strong role, they had all three authority figures bicker and argue amongst themselves about who was in charge. Maddox tried to "lead the way" for Kane, and Vickie got her way simply by speaking last in the opening segment. And in every way, they pointed back to Triple H and Stephanie being on vacation and argued about who was in charge of the show.
One final related point is the match that the GM's ended up making happen. Randy Orton faced Goldust and Cody to open the show. I did enjoy the match, but this made absolutely no sense. First, why would they not position Orton more strongly in Triple H's absence. They had a chance last night to make viewers care about seeing him face the top faces, rather than tease the possibility of Triple H (the part-time wrestler) facing those same top faces.
Survivor Series is in trouble in my estimation. All the focus right now is on Triple H and Stephanie, neither of whom will be wrestling on the show. WWE needs to turn the corner with this week's Smackdown and really put the focus on the guys working matches on the show. Get away from the authority figure silliness and make it about wrestlers telling stories in the ring.
Other Points of Note:
CM Punk and Daniel Bryan vs The Shield was a very entertaining match that ended up being followed by a hot angle. We got a brief glimpse of a program in the future between The Shield and The Wyatts down the road, and if they really want to go there set up the possible six on six Survivor Series match. The brawl between all twelve men was effective and closed an otherwise forgettable program on a strong note.
Cena vs. The Real Americans was a good match, but it felt like "feeding time" for Cena. If this were a month ago, maybe it's not that big of a deal. But if you recall, The Real Americans got a recent win over the tag champions. Send that momentum straight down the tubes, and this win isn't all that big of a deal for Cena either. And if you think that Del Rio's attack on Cena's arm will even the score, just remember that Del Rio lost to a one-armed John Cena at Hell in a Cell.
An Injured Man Speaks...
Paul Heyman was gold last night and his work on the mic got him heat yet again. I have to say that I'm glad the story is only paused, and isn't over, between him and CM Punk. I thought when Punk got to him on top of the Cell that was the end of the program, but for Heyman to go away for a couple weeks and come back to state he's going to hover "like the Sword of Damacles" was brilliant. I see this leading to either more Heyman guys, or the eventual return of Brock Lesnar for a return match with Punk.
Time for a U-Turn?
Ryback. My lord, how this has gone wrong.
He lost by a roll-up to R-Truth, which in and of itself isn't all that important. What is, however, is how Heyman trashed him in his promo. Are they giving up on his heel turn, or perhaps on Ryback the character altogether? Realistically, the only way things turn for him is if they give up on his bullying gimmick and work back to a babyface character for him. That seemed to work, and it seemed he had momentum going. Is it too late? Hard to say. I think he has something to offer but it's going to be a challenge to make him relevant again.
The Quick Strike:
- Ziggler vs. Axel was a well-worked match, but the live crowd just didn't care about Axel. They did like Ziggler though.
- Only in WWE can you dress heels (Fandango and 3MB) in the home country's colors and get away with it.
- I didn't care for it, but the live crowd did react to Santino and the Cobra wearing the bull horns.
- I think the live crowd took a nap during Damien Sandow's match with Kofi Kingston.
- Speaking of, I like that Sandow is getting wins but it just feels like WWE doesn't have a clue as to what to do with Sandow in light of his big "coming out" showing against John Cena.
- I would really like to see a substantial program between Fandango and Tyson Kidd that is more than about Fandango flirting with Natalya. I think those two could really shine in the ring and tell some good stories.
- The best way to build someone up is to get them a series of wins before he gets to the big match. They're not doing that with Big E. Langston, and I think it's a mistake. Don't get me wrong, the matches are good, but I don't think it's setting fans up to believe he can win in matches with top guys simply by being competitive before losing.
- Fans going into business for themselves with "we are awesome" chants and chanting for commentators and such is getting pretty obnoxious, especially if what's going on in the ring is actually good. By all means, if it's bad, crap all over it and let them know, but otherwise enjoy what's happening and stop annoying those of us trying to enjoy what good there is in the product.
That's all for this week. Join us next week for the "Raw Country" go home edition heading into Survivor Series, right here on Ring-Rap.com.