Welcome to this week's edition of Raw Afterthoughts, where we break this week's show down in more detail than we can during a live show recap. Feel free to chime in with your own comments and questions below!
The show opened cold with Paul Heyman in the ring to address Brock Lesnar's challenge from last week to Triple H. This was one of the bigger stories of the night, so it was a proper lead-off.
I really liked how they teased that Triple H was not at the show. When Heyman said that, you could feel a little wave of disappointment in the live crowd. Then when Triple H's music hit, the crowd popped bigger. While not a full-time wrestler, you still have to consider Triple H a lead babyface right now and you want him to get that bigger reaction.
They kept this simple and to the point. In the three-hour format, WWE tends to stretch these kinds of segments out but this one was done well. Heyman came out and recapped the challenge, then Triple H came out with his response, then got violent.
The only thing I don't understand is why they don't hold hitting Heyman with the Pedigree to build to that moment a little more. The last three times Triple H and Heyman have been in the ring, Heyman has gotten a beating from him.
WWE did a really good job of putting a spotlight on The Shield last night. From the helicopter entrance to the backstage promo and attack, through the match with Undertaker and Team Hell No. I felt the attack at the end of the show on Ryback took some of that spotlight off because they were so easily dispatched by Cena.
The match itself was entertaining. Undertaker's entrance continues to be a special moment given the point Taker is in his career. The Shield hitting the ring before Team Hell No was a good moment. It reinforced Taker's lack of fear and the threat of the three men of the Shield. It also gave Team Hell No's entrance a bit of a boost when they came out to join the match.
The match itself was a very good affair. The pace switched back and forth from fast to slow. The Shield got some long runs of offense, with the faces getting some good hope spots and having their own moments of controlling the affair. Taker looked pretty good in this one, with only a slight bobble on his Old School spot that really didn't matter all that much.
Two final points here: Seth Rollins getting that chance to taunt Undertaker had to be a dream come true. To work with Taker at this point has to be special. Also, Daniel Bryan ended up taking the fall in a bit of a flukey way, so there's a reason to continue on with the story, with or without Undertaker, at least until Extreme Rules.
The Champ Gets a One-Up:
The closing segment was really flat. They built to this throughout the night, and it seems that the lead-up to Mick Foley talking to Ryback felt a bit contrived.
I enjoy seeing Mick Foley on my TV. Last night, though was not Mick's best work. When Mick is off, it's obvious. When he's on, he's great. Last night, Foley just wasn't on and it was noticeable.
Ryback is struggling on the mic live. He did a great job in that pre-tape that he did last week, but last night was not good. He paced a lot, his pausing was a bit awkward, and to add to it he seemed out of breath at times. Combine that with Foley being off, and the two created a segment that fell on its face. Foley couldn't carry Ryback to a better segment.
This was the turning point for The Shield's momentum through last night, too. When they came out to attack Ryback after Cena walked off, it was a good moment. The problem was that Cena came back to the ring and dispatched the three men by himself with a steel chair. That stole some of the momentum the Shield had gotten through the evening.
Cena's chair wielding was silly and not exactly safe. Reigns took a shot to the back of the head as a result. Also, Cena hitting the AA on Ryback wasn't ideal, either. I get it that Cena has to get over once in a while, but he could have afforded to "lose" last night with several weeks to go to Extreme Rules.
That's all for this week. Join us next week for more Raw coverage here on Ring-Rap.com.