Welcome to the weekly installment of Raw Afterthoughts.  This is the time of the week where we expand on the live coverage of Raw on Monday night.  Feel free to ask questions and leave comments!

Shielded:

The sit down interview segment they did with the three newcomers (Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns) was a highlight of the night.  The sit-down approach was the right way to go with this.  It allowed it to be much more effective.  Ambrose and Rollins came off well in their promo work, and Reigns did a nice job of playing a "silent leader" with how he called off the interview.

One interesting point in the interview:  They put out a strong denial of working for Punk, but Cole never went for the connection to Brad Maddox or Paul Heyman.

In the attack segment at the end, they also did a good job of establishing the Shield members but also made Ryback look good too.  Ryback got his big power spot by throwing all three men down then hitting a series of moves on them before being overcome by the numbers.  My only complaint is that they need to do a better job of establishing what NXT is to casual viewers.

So far, they're doing a good job with this story and hooking people in for more.  I hope there's plans for this group beyond the Punk story.  It has potential and could work as more than a piece to a greater story.

Failure to Establish...

The Cena/Vickie/AJ/Dolph story continues to languish.  It is doing nothing for me at all.

A bigger issue to me is the match that Cena and Ziggler had.  Don't get me wrong, it was a good match, but the result left me scratching my head.  Cena had a number of outs for losing:  his knee, Vickie could have interfered, AJ's interference backfires, etc.  But, that didn't happen.  Maybe we'll get some sort of explanation for this.

Right now, they took Dolph's win over Randy Orton at Survivor Series and at Smackdown and washed them right down the drain by losing clean to Cena.  This has nothing to do with me liking or disliking Cena either.  It's all about establishing Dolph as a dominant character and it's just not happening.  And how can one take Ziggler seriously when he's losing to an injured Cena?

Mid-card Magic?

We got some mid-card title love last night.  Sheamus and Antonio Cesaro had a great match.  They did a good job of protecting Cesaro by having him lose by countout.  The two men worked well together in the ring and there was a really good near fall for Cesaro late in the match.  So the US Champion looked strong and they didn't have him lose for no good reason.

Also, Kofi Kingston had a good TV match with Tensai.  The big thing of note was the post-match interaction with Barrett and Kingston.  Barrett handed Kingston his Intercontinental Championship and walking away with a smug, cocky look.  That was well done.  It helped raise the value of the belt without ever having a match.  This can be a very good feud and I'm looking forward to it.

Quick Hits:

  • Cole was falling into his heel bit through the show.  Hopefully, this is just Cole clowning around and not a full-on heel return.  He had done such a good job while working with JBL and JR.
  • Daniel Bryan and Rey Mysterio had a good TV match.  You might have missed it with the announcers talking about Rey Mysterio's name for the entire match.
  • Ryback, in one week, showed tremendous mic improvement.  He didn't feel so much like the Ultimate Warrior this week.  Only issue I had with it is that, by yelling at Vickie to shut up even though he got what he wanted, it made Vickie look sympathetic.
  • Didn't it feel like they just forced Hornswoggle into the middle of the Rosa/Del Rio/Khali thing?  Must be a "he must appear so many times on WWE programs" clause in Hornswoggle's contract.
  • If you cut the filler out of this show, it would have been a hot two-hour show.  But it didn't feel as hot with a three-hour format.

That's it for this week.  Be sure to follow along with our live coverage next Monday night!