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 normal show recap. Got thoughts of your own? Let us know - hit us on Twitter (@RingRap or @Bill_SoonerFan) and use the #AskRingRap hash tag so we can find them easily. Or even comment below.
1. Out of Action
The news of the night (and something I’ll talk about in “Around the Ring” later tonight) is that Daniel Bryan legitimately requires an operation on his neck. This really could have killed the show last night, but it didn’t. Bryan gave an inspired and upbeat promo while still expressing the uncertainty of what lays ahead for him.
Even the side-note players last night did a good job. Kane’s attack was well done and keeps him hot for when Bryan comes back. Stephanie faked her concern well then when she got shoved by Brie Bella she got serious. I am pondering whether they pay off that moment with a match; not sure how I feel about it.
2. Right Match, Right Time
Even though the reaction to his entrance was mixed and he was chanted at without even setting foot in the ring, this was the most pro-John Cena a live crowd has been in a while. The crowd was into the match that he and The Usos had with The Wyatt Family, and there were lots of crowd-pleasing spots and rapid-fire finish sequences toward the end. It was a good pick-up for the live crowd after the Daniel Bryan announcement. Also, there is only one real rally towel – The Pittsburgh Steelers’ “Terrible Towel”, but John Cena’s rally towel will be a big hit with kids I’m sure.
Fandango is no longer Vince’s hot new toy. Dolph Ziggler has fallen so far off the radar it’s not even funny. This really could have been a channel changing moment for me. I would love to see these two work when they mattered because I believe they could have good, meaningful matches. Instead they’re just two acts that Vince has lost interest in. And Fandango and Layla have zero chemistry – he and Summer Rae at least had that.
4. Impenetrable Shield…
The Shield is looking really strong in the setup to the rematch with Evolution. I’m not sure how I like this.
When these two teams hooked up, I got worried about the traditional “burial” that comes at the hands of the stars of Evolution. Instead, they’re positioning the Shield strongly, and almost so strong that there’s doubt Evolution can even hang. This works for The Shield, but it takes the luster off of their second match as a major showdown. They need to make Evolution feel stronger than they do right now.
Notable is that Roman Reigns is just “cooler than the other side of the pillow” on the mic. He doesn’t overstay his welcome, he rarely comes off with clunker lines or campy comedy, and they built to his short promo last night very well.
5. Breaking Bad…
Cody Rhodes looks to be turning, eventually. They’re doing it well, with a slow and methodical build. Just a little thing, but that thumb to the eye in his match with Sandow is just another indication where his character is heading.
It’s the oldest trick in the book – make a guy an evil Russian and he gets heat. But Lana was effective yet again, so much so that she had to stop and wait out crowd chants and boos. Rusev put the boots to Big E effectively also. I can see that being the first serious program for Rusev in a matchup of power workers. And it was probably wrong of me to want to see Hacksaw Jim Duggan take a beating…tough guy. HOOOOOOO!
7. Fox in the Henhouse…
Alicia Fox actually showed personality last night. This is a watershed moment in Divas wrestling! I could have done without the hat stealing moment, because it got cat-calls from the horny male demographic. Fox is a solid in-ring worker and we just don’t see her personality at all like we did in her temper tantrum after losing.
Paige is in need of good strong heel Divas to work against. Fox could be that worker if they don’t let all this be a one-week moment for her. Sure, the feud is off on the wrong foot but it’s not something that can’t be recovered.
8. But On The Other Hand…
As good as Paige and Alicia felt, Nikki Bella vs. Natalya was just awful. This was a match about a bad painting. Think about that for just a minute. Not to mention they had members of the Total Divas cast scoring the match.
Maybe they can get something good out of this with a frustrated Natalya turning heel. We’ll see.
9. Better in a Small Place…
Adam Rose still doesn’t click with me, yet. We usually see WWE wear us out with vignettes and then once the talent debuts, they re-run that first night several times while we all scream for the next chapter to hit. One thing it definitely does is establish the character. This time, it feels like they didn’t do enough to establish Rose and are expecting fans to click with it.
I also think this is a better “small venue” gimmick and it’s going to have a hard time translating to the big Raw stage. I am enjoying how Zeb Colter reacts to it in what appears to be Rose’s first feud with Jack Swagger. I want to like this gimmick, but it’s not clicking yet.
Overall, a decent edition of Raw without too many clunkers. Wishing the best to Daniel Bryan on his road to recovery from whatever procedure he undergoes. He just can't catch a break right now. More on this show, and other wrestling topics, in Around the Ring with RingRap that I'll be recording later and our flagship broadcast, RingRap Audio, later this week.