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 show review. Got questions, comments, or points of your own? Be sure to hit us in the comments or send them on Twitter and use the #AskRingRap hashtag so we can use your topics on RingRap Audio tomorrow night.
I watched this show today on DVR because I was working Special Olympics Winter Games last night. Here's my top ten...in no particular order.
1. A Leader Emerges...
WWE has definitely been getting behind Roman Reigns of late. He had a standout performance in the Rumble, and slowly but surely WWE has been working toward a singles run for him. They're doing it the right way and the development has been good. On this particular show, Reigns was really cast as a leader in the Shield/Wyatts showdown. They highlighted him in the video package, and pointed out how Dean Ambrose hasn't defended the US Title of late. Reigns stepped up and Rollins and Ambrose followed behind him. I'm really enjoying this build right now.
2. Soon Going Solo..?
I did enjoy watching Christian and Sheamus take on the Real Americans. It was a sold, physical match. But I think WWE might end up facing a dilemma with Antonio Cesaro. He and Swagger seem to be coming together as a badass tag team, but the other signs around them seem to be pointing to Cesaro going on his own as a singles act. Swagger and Cesaro as a team really could be badass, but they may have a hard time being saddled with this Real Americans act that just feels so mid-card. Also, the fans really enjoy the Cesaro swing - so will that end up pushing him to be more face?
3. He is the Measuring Stick...
It's been a long time, but I am glad to hear WWE finally admit that there is change afoot in the company. Maybe, just maybe, this means guys like John Cena as well as the rest of the company are not going to be stubborn and ignore fan reaction like they got at the Royal Rumble.
John Cena cut a good promo that acknowledged these facts. He also put himself over as the measuring stick for young talent. I'm not going to be totally down on this comment so long as it is used the right way to get guys over. Cena has indeed been the man of WWE for a long time now. This assertion that he is the measuring stick should be able to give us fresh matches and hopefully meaningful programs going forward.
4. There's Just Not Time...
I really enjoyed the six-man tag between the Wyatts, Goldust, Rey Mysterio and Cody Rhodes. The match had a good high energy pace, and Mysterio hit a lot of crowd-pleasing spots. It made sense that the Wyatts would be the guys to go over, given that they are facing the Shield at Elimination Chamber.
I'm struggling with how they go from this program to a Wyatt/John Cena program as has been rumored for Wrestlemania 30. Perhaps WWE has an "all-star" match in mind for Cena to face the Wyatts as a family. But in all of this, I can't see how they get to a hot enough program that feels big enough for Cena. They have a story with the drama following the Royal Rumble, but there just doesn't seem to be enough time to get to a hot program for it to feel like anything important for either man.
5. Angry Mexican Aristocrat...
I like Alberto Del Rio's aggressive streak. If you've watched of late, he continues to be more aggressive and intense in his recent matches. Although I really don't enjoy the fact that Dolph Ziggler yet again did the job here, Del Rio is doing a good job. The problem here ends up being the way Batista showed up and destroyed him after the match. They made Batista vs. Del Rio for Elimination Chamber, and they have a week to heat that match up. But there's only a week to the pay per view - so it's just going to feel like too little, too late.
6. A True "Rerun Champion"
Everything with Randy Orton last night felt like I had seen it before. That, sadly, has been a trend with this latest championship run.
Like I said at one time about Rey Mysterio and Alberto Del Rio, they need to keep John Cena and Randy Orton apart for a while. It's not that they had a bad match; quite the contrary. But the announcers sold it like a "end of a rivalry" match, but they'll face off in the Chamber in a couple weeks. Nothing about Orton at the moment makes him feel like a hot opponent for anyone - especially a guy like John Cena who he has faced a lot of times over the past few years.
Also, the opening segment really felt like a repeat too. Orton came out and apologized, and of course nothing changed. For those who enjoy the show "Walking Dead", you could compare it to Carl backing up while luring the walkers toward him. We've seen this all before.
7. The EmmaLoution is not working...yet...
It's early yet, but I am just not feeling the presentation of Emma on the main roster. She is a talented wrestler, but WWE is blowing this. Her quirky dance is really over with NXT fans, and could be connecting with Raw fans had it been presented the right way. But WWE barreled in to her introduction, and gave us no background so fans have nothing to connect with. Now it seems like she's destined to work comedy tags with Santino. While there's time to make things right, WWE needs to make some adjustments in how they're presenting her.
8. Betty White is Awesome...
I groaned when they announced Betty White as a guest host for Raw last night. I feel like the guest host gimmick is worn out. That said, Betty White was generally good in her limited uses last night, so I'll give it a pass. But the segments with the New Age Outlaws were horrible. Other than Road Dogg's entrance schtick, the Outlaws are having a hard time getting anything else out of the fans. And what was the deal with Billy Gunn nearly crapping himself? Seriously? That wasn't even "harmless fun" in my book. Just terrible.
9. The Ladies Miss the Mark Again...
It's been a long-running complaint of mine that the women of WWE just aren't that good and changes need to be made. The six-ladies tag between The Bellas and Cameron against AJ, Alicia Fox and Aksana was just more proof of that. Brie had a rough night, missing a step when she tried to do a springboard move off of Nikki's back. She ended up crashing and burning face-first on Aksana.
The entire division is just filler material on Raw. Aside from a few, most of the true female talent in the company is in developmental. Further, many of the main roster women just don't seem over, and that could cover some of their in-ring deficiencies. That just isn't the case at all.
10. The Network is Coming...but shhhhhh....
I am really surprised that WWE is not pushing the Network harder than they have been. Last night, they established some of the platforms that the service will be on, but beyond that, we didn't see much else and this big moment is only two weeks away. I didn't think the commercial they did with the Bellas posing as flight attendants was, for lack of a better word cute. But cute doesn't sell subscriptions, normally and WWE will need more than something like that to sell fans to buy the network.
That's all for tonight. Join us tomorrow evening for RingRap Audio, where we'll talk more Raw and a number of other wrestling related topics. Be sure to hit that #AskRingRap hashtag on Twitter to ask your questions for the show too!