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. We'll be recording RingRap Audio tomorrow night, so be sure to comment and ask us questions on Twitter @RingRap or @RingRapAudio with the #AskRingRap tag so we can discuss them on the show.
1. Slapstick Comedy:
I thank my lucky stars for Bray Wyatt. He hasn't had much time on the main roster but he's so good on the microphone that he saved the segment between him and John Cena. Cena came out and cut a comedy laden promo that was super corny. Obviously, they wanted Cena to be comic so that Wyatt could point it out, but they ended up catering to the much younger audience and alienating adult fans. They have to find a way to play Cena's comedy so that doesn't happen.
All that said, Wyatt did a good job of playing into the common Cena criticism that says he makes fun of opponents and laughs them off. That made him look wise. And Cena's final response to set up the cage match at Extreme Rules was actually decent. The rest of the build will tell if I care about this match or not.
2. Evolution is a Mystery:
I am not a fan of the reunion of Evolution and wasn't all that enamored with it in the first run. I will say that straight up. Given their flat reaction, Birmingham, AL wasn't all that enamored with it either. To me, Evolution's place in wrestling has always been a bit overstated. It was the launching pad for Orton and Batista, but overall it didn't burn that hot. That aside, the three names reuniting to face The Shield should have gotten a bigger reaction. Reigns had a good moment in the final segment and Triple H's Pedigree got a reaction, but not much else. As long as this is a short run and Evolution puts over The Shield, I can live with that.
3. Big Red Return:
I like the fact that WWE wants to hit the reboot button on Kane and thought that Kane would end up teaming with Orton and Batista. I guess I'm ambivalent to the whole concept of Kane facing Daniel Bryan. I realize the two have history with Team Hell No, but this possibility doesn't feel main-event worthy. I find myself hoping that they come around to making an eight man tag between The Shield and Daniel Bryan against Evolution with Kane. Fans are already talking like Bryan will assume that "CM Punk" style of title run where he was the champion, but he rarely main-evented a pay per view.
4. Five Stars:
I really liked Rob Van Dam taking on Alberto Del Rio to open the Intercontinental Championship Contender tournament. I was lukewarm to the idea of a tournament, because usually they just hand out the title shots randomly. This tournament, though, has good talent throughout it and the opening match in particular was really good and got me to buy in.
5. I'm Afraid I've Got Some Bad News...
Dolph Ziggler and Wade Barrett worked really hard and technically had the best match of the night. The bad news though is that it was hard to buy in to Ziggler's near falls. Sheamus had advanced, so one had to assume the heel Barrett would advance, and not the face Ziggler. And truth is, Ziggler works really hard and looks good in the ring, but WWE just hasn't done him any booking favors and he doesn't come off as an in-ring threat.
6. Revenge, to a degree...
I liked how The Usos didn't just take the beating they got from Randy Orton and Batista last week and move on. They called them out on Raw, and even attacked them on Smackdown last week. This is good logic and helps them. The problem is we never hear from them - or any tag team for that matter - on the mic to know their personality. Jimmy Uso gets some shine on Total Divas but there's a world of difference between a wrestling promo and appearing on a reality show. I hope WWE gives them that opportunity to establish themselves on the mic because it's going to limit them going forward.
7. Shocker - A Good Ladies Story...
Paige and Alicia Fox had a really good match last night. They were aided by the announcers telling their story well also. The focus was on whether Paige was just a one-hit wonder as Alicia controlled the early going, but got impressed when Paige made her comeback to get the victory. Also, I think the submission move she uses (Scorpion Cross Lock) was much more impressive than going with the Paige Turner as a finish.
8. The Shield Takes on The World...
The minute they kept introducing talent for the main event, it was my assumption that we'd get some sort of gimmick. This just didn't work. We saw most of the guys that came out in earlier segments, so that took some of the pop away and the fans sat on their hands. I was shocked that Rusev came back out, and even more so that he didn't get a moment in the match. He felt just like another guy in that moment. Lana keeps him on the edge of control, but in this he looked whipped by Triple H. Also, 3MB is never going to get a heel team taken seriously - leave them backstage.
9. Speaking of...
Alexander Rusev's earlier effort on the show against Xavier Woods was a simple squash that makes me feel like Rusev can be a true player. He looks like a modern act that seems like a modern badass MMA type fighter. One thing he isn't is the foreign monster of the month. This is a guy who can be a player down the road - maybe not main event level, but definitely upper mid-card for sure.
10. This is a Pairing that Works...
I like WWE pairing up Cesaro and Paul Heyman. Heyman did a good job of hyping him up last night before his match in the tournament. I'm hoping that he is the one who wins the contender tournament and eventually defeat Big E for the title. There's some small hope that they might actually use the championship differently if he does because it seems like WWE is more serious about Cesaro. But I felt that way about Big E too, and he feels pretty throw-away at the moment too. So, I guess time will tell. But in all of this I do have higher hopes for Cesaro as a Paul Heyman Guy than I did Curtis Axel.
That's all for this week. Stay tuned tomorrow for RingRap Audio, the flagship broadcast of the site, where we talk more Raw, TNA, ROH, and whatever else crosses our minds. Thanks for reading, and be sure to hit us up with questions on @RingRap or @RingRapAudio for tomorrow's show.