Welcome to this week's edition of Raw Afterthoughts, where we break down last night's show in more detail than we can in a live recap. Feel free to weigh in with your own comments and thoughts below, or hit us on Twitter!
I feel like we made progress last night. WWE gave us a program to actually feel good about, and feel like it meant something. Part of the reason that this show was so newsworthy was how much they introduced going into the TLC pay per view that comes up in just under two weeks.
The main story of the night was the "unification" match between John Cena and Randy Orton. I can't imagine that WWE Creative thought they truly could build a title unification match feel like a major event with only three or four weeks between Survivor Series and TLC. Last night's closing segment did a lot to help that hype though.
One thing that helped for me is that Triple H and Stephanie guaranteed that one man would walk out with both championships. I won't lie - my guard is still WAY up though for shenanigans. Will the Authority scam someone? Will the two men somehow end up switching titles, or grab their own back? I hope WWE makes good on the "one man will win" promise.
Cena was decent here. One of the things I always have a problem with is his inappropriate comedy timing. He makes jokes and silly comments when they just aren't called for. His promo backstage was effective and to the point, and his words during the contract signing were certainly a rallying point for his fans. He certainly acted as he needed to.
Randy Orton did his part as well. He said things that were particularly heelish ("I'm bigger than the WWE..." is big heel talk to the McMahons) throughout the night and carried his part in the closing segment well also.
The past couple weeks, I really felt like WWE has creatively been mailing it in. With last night's show, they at least have created a situation with the unification match that it has some mystery to it. They also gave us some other matches that at least have a little "on-paper" appeal. Perhaps WWE is starting to get out of their slump.
Other Points of Note:
It's Just Magic...
It just seems like no matter who you put with Cody Rhodes and Goldust, they still end up having a great match with The Shield. I really enjoyed Cody, Goldust and Big Show facing off with the Shield. It was a strong affair with lots of good action. These guys just deliver, week in and week out. A fun match worth looking up if you didn't watch the show.
The only thing I didn't get was the dismissal of Big Show's head trauma issues with no comment. A bit of a disconnect there.
Both CM Punk and Daniel Bryan learned their fates for TLC and they'll both be facing three man factions. Punk will face The Shield, and Bryan will face the Wyatt Family. I have mixed feelings about this. I think there are better uses for the two factions especially, like Dean Ambrose defending the US Championship, or Rollins and Reigns going after the tag titles again. But I do think the work of these matches will be good, so they won't completely disappoint.
Punk had a particularly good night. He opened the show well by throwing his hat into the Authority fray, which makes sense. Punk is the most anti-authority guy on the roster these days, so for him to interject as he has makes sense. His backstage promo was fun with the "I Feel Pretty" vocals and he flipped the switch well into being serious and asking how many of The Shield he would take down with him.
Daniel Bryan had a good match with Erick Rowan to establish their handicap match story. Rowan looked good in defeat also.
Ultimately, I am interested to see how these matches are booked. I can easily see either Bryan or Punk winning their match because WWE will not want to have both matches go down the same way. I am not a big fan of handicap matches and to be honest they bore me at times. But that said, these two have intrigue around them.
The ladies continue to just be a trainwreck. The match between the Bellas and Natalya vs. AJ, Tamina, and Summer Rae could not have felt less important. The women are so poorly positioned so it's hard to care to begin with, and then you add in AJ's skipping gimmick really flattened things more.
AJ blew off the loss after a couple moments by just skipping away. That just sealed it for me to not care at all. I want to care about what they're setting up with AJ and Natalya, who both can work. But Natalya getting yet another pin on AJ doesn't feel like anything special since it has happened before. That said, maybe AJ and Natalya can give us a good pay per view match.
The Quick Strike:
- Mark Henry vs. Fandango was greeted with some silence, but Henry was able to win the fans over. Henry is more money as a heel but he was fun last night.
- It's too soon to clamor for Dolph to face Big E Langston. Ziggler has no momentum, and Big E. is just finding his way as the Intercontinental Champion. Give it time.
- There was some really weak follow-up to Sin Cara getting a win over Alberto Del Rio. That should have been treated as a huge deal.
- I'm mildly curious as to where things go with the Sin Cara character. Hunico played the part last night. I'm also wondering what's next for Del Rio. His title loss poured ice on him.
- Are we seeing the Funkasaurus go into extinction? I can only hope so, as that gimmick has well outlived its shelf life.
- Bad News, WWE: Bad News Barrett just isn't working for me. Utilize this guy much better; he can talk, he can work, and he has a good look.
- Kofi looks like an idiot for teaming with Miz after he got alligator-armed a couple weeks ago.
- Are they fast tracking Ryback and Axel to a tag title shot? Seems like they're getting some attention at the moment as a team and it seems to be working a little.
- And as I said in live coverage, please, for the love of all things holy, don't make puking a part of the Prime Time Players' act. Vince has to be the only one who thinks that's funny.
That's it for this week. Join us next Monday for the coverage of the Slammy Awards edition of Raw that leads us to the TLC pay per view.