Welcome to this week's edition of Raw Afterthoughts, where we break down last night's show in more detail than we can during a live recap. Be sure to comment, or ask your questions via Twitter @RingRap or @RingRapAudio for us to discuss on tomorrow night's recording of the flagship audio program, RingRap Audio.
First, let me add to the many that have expressed their condolences and sympathies to the Danielson family in the loss of Daniel Bryan’s father yesterday.
1. A Big Red Beatdown
The opening segment had a lot of good in it. Daniel Bryan was an absolute trooper for going out there and leading the crowd in chants. You could see it in his eyes that he was shaken and had been crying over the loss of his father, and understandably so. It was very reasonable that he never said a word.
This segment accomplished what it needed to. They breathed life into the Kane character immediately with a strong beatdown angle. It also helped to amp up the story between Kane and Bryan heading into Extreme Rules, which was much needed given the short turn-around time they had. They also gave Bryan the write-off for the evening he needed to (presumably) get on his way home to his family.
Stephanie was pitch perfect too, expressing congratulations with her insincere tone. And I was glad to see Brie Bella out there with Bryan, but they could have put more clothes on her. That was odd.
2. He’s Got John Cena in His Hands…
I LOVED the fan voting options last night for Cena vs. The Wyatts in some combination. Everyone was in on their part of telling the story that Cena is frustrated with the mixed crowd reactions and how the fans are turning on him. They usually sell this as “he’s a polarizing figure” but what they’re doing now is working much better.
I don’t think this is leading to a heel turn for Cena. Vince loves his money-maker far too much. It would make for one outstanding moment, yet I won’t hold my breath on that one.
Also worth noting is that Wyatt showed some great poise during the post-match singing. He didn’t lose his cool when fans didn’t grab on to the song, and just kept interspersing crazy laughter and rubbing Cena’s face. Well done.
3. Dueling Reptiles…
The Santino character has just grown really stale for me. It feels like a house show act now more so than a TV act. He can still deliver the occasional gem but they’re so few and far between now.
I get why they added Emma – they tried to breathe life into his gimmick. But Emma is far above this and can do so much more for the Divas division rather than have simulated “snake sock” sex with Marella. Yes, I just said that.
4. Failure to Evolve.
Fans probably were thrilled to see Triple H, Batista and Randy Orton don the suits again as they did in 2003. Heck, I’m just shocked Randy Orton wore pants on WWE TV (we usually see him in trunks). But the Evolution vs. Shield angle failed at that point for me.
Seth Rollins is the weakest of the talkers in the Shield. His promo started out fine, but it started to overstay its welcome and he rambled a little. Then when The Shield attempted a confrontation, they had the eleven wrestlers that were involved in the handicap tag match run out to flank Evolution. That was weak.
The Evolution trio needs heat and that didn’t work. It also left the Shield in an awkward spot where they couldn’t back up what they said because of the numbers game.
5. The Flash Gets Brighter
Paige continues to grow in the ring and the live crowds continue to warm up to her. Her Scorpion Cross Lock finishing hold was over with Baltimore last night. I just don’t know that she gained all that much by beating Aksana, who rarely picks up wins on TV anyhow.
I do have to admit that I’m looking forward to Paige vs. Tamina at Extreme Rules more than I ever thought I would though. Paige has injected a bit of life into the division.
6. Ravishing Russians Crush People…
Rusev and Lana are growing on me. The approach of squash matches along with more of an MMA athlete style feel to his character is working. He won’t be the traditional heel that is strong only until he’s fed to top talent. The spot where Sin Cara knocked him down could have been saved though. Sin Cara isn’t the right guy to get that moment.
7. Heyman Guy Past Beats Heyman Guy Current…
Rob Van Dam and Cesaro had a solid match that ended the right way. He hadn’t really closed the book with Jack Swagger, so Swagger and Colter interfering and costing him the match allowed some story advancement there without hurting Cesaro by having him lose clean in the tournament. Look for the blow-off of that feud to come very soon. Also, teasing swinging Colter was fun.
8. I’m Afraid I’ve Got Some…Good News…
Usually, a heel character is going to cheat to pick up a win. But last night, Wade Barrett picked up a good victory against Sheamus with a clean finish. Clean wins by heels definitely build their in-ring credibility (TAKE NOTES, TNA!!). I can see Barrett going on to claim the Intercontinental Championship, and hope they do it in a way that serves him better than his last run.
Also, maybe this is a step forward in rebuilding Sheamus’ character. Since his return from shoulder surgery, he just hasn’t seemed like he’s gotten on track. Maybe a losing streak, combined with a possible heel turn, will help jump start him into a new direction.
Last night's show was bookended well, but the middle of it contained a bunch of filler which made the show drag. It wasn't anything horribly offensive, but it could have been better put together. I understand that some of it could have been a result of a re-write to get Bryan off the show and on his way to be with his family, which obviously would have shaken things up quite a bit.
Be watching for RingRap Audio coming up late tomorrow or Thursday. Join us for next week's go-home edition of Raw heading into Extreme Rules right here on Ring-Rap.com.