Welcome to this week's edition of Raw Afterthoughts, where we break down last night's show in more detail. Have questions, comments, or thoughts of your own? Feel free to give feedback below!
A Mystery Man Revealed…
Throughout the course of the day Monday, we got a lot of hype for a “new client” for Paul Heyman’s stable. As the night played out, we finally got to see who this man is. He is Joe Hennig, also known as Michael McGuillicutty, and has now been repackaged as Curt Axel.
I won’t say the repackaging is a hit, nor will I say it is a miss. I’m going to take a “wait and see” approach. Paul Heyman did his part well, giving Axel the big buildup in his introductory promo. When the fans didn’t react to Axel’s introduction, Heyman even had a good comeback for that too (“I told my client you’d react that way…”). I understand wanting to tie in the family history here, but I am not a fan of his entrance music, which is a remix of his father’s “Mr. Perfect” theme.
I will say I’m concerned that WWE might not be too serious about his push, however. Triple H – someone who is said to be high on Hennig’s work in developmental – pushed him to the side in the promo segment by saying “the adults are having a conversation.” Later, when Axel got in Triple H’s face all it took was one slap to knock him down. Granted it was likely scripted as such, but it made Axel look like a bitch, to be so blunt.
The debut match was quickly forgotten in the Triple H injury angle. They had a great chance to make Axel look sadistic and have him attack Triple H when he was bumbling around and down at ringside. Rather, they tried to play the situation differently, like a shoot situation, and that left Axel in la-la land twiddling his thumbs as things played out at ringside.
Reports I have read on Axel all say that former wrestlers (such as Sean Waltman) have had nothing but good things to say about Axel’s ability in the ring. Heyman will be able to cover for his lack of promo skills, but I do have questions as to his charisma to pull this off. It’s just one night in this new gimmick, but it got things off to a sluggish start. So, we’ll take the wait and see approach and hope that things continue to improve from here.
One final point in this reveal: Those up on their wrestling history may remember Shawn Michaels pulling off a similar angle to the one Triple H used some 20 years ago in a match against Owen Hart. It wasn’t a bad angle, really. It’s just a shame that it came at the expense of the repackaged Axel and took any heat he may have had. It also should not have closed the show, because it fell flat.
Feed Him an Ambulance:
Ryback is not ever going to be one of the great talkers in the business. That said, he delivered a solid show-opening promo last night. He felt much more confident than he has been and didn’t carry over some of the bad mannerisms of previous promos such as the pacing and heavy breathing. Opening the show with the ambulance screaming through the backstage and into the arena was a nice touch as well and set the stage for Ryback’s challenge to John Cena.
I would have expected him to come out and complain about the result of the Last Man Standing match with John Cena and why he didn’t win the title. That said, he did a good job of generating heat by ripping into the fans at times and he came off much better than any promo leading up to the pay per view. He also put an exclamation point on his challenge by brutalizing Zack Ryder in a good spot later in the show.
Kick the Bucket!
If any of you that read this article have any idea why Ricardo Rodriguez carries around a bucket, please enlighten me as I just don’t get it. It ended up playing into the finish of the Alberto Del Rio/Big E. Langston match and it took the shine off of what I thought was otherwise a good television match.
Something else that bothered me is how it became such an immediate distraction for the official. He scurried to clear the bucket (thrown in by AJ), which opened the door for Big E to thumb Del Rio in the eye in order to set up his finisher. Also, if the use of instant replay factored into the Extreme Rules match with Jack Swagger, why did it not come into play here also? Will the pay per view finish leave viewers asking why they don’t go to the tape every time a heel cheats – effectively killing any heat a heel might have or try to obtain? I’m not saying they should use replay, but this is an interesting question to pose now.
It was odd to see Del Rio become the number one contender, only to lose to Dolph’s heavy. It’s far too soon to see Langston trade wins and losses, but I guess Del Rio will just get the win back on Smackdown, or some other time in the near future.
Late in the first hour of this show, I grew weary of the WWE app hype. WWE’s latest obsession is their app and all the things you can do with said app. I’m all for pushing new platforms of technology, but there has to be a limit to that push.
Consider for a moment that WWE encouraged users to go to the app to watch a silent Ryback watching the Zack Ryder/Cody Rhodes match on a backstage monitor while the viewers at home were seeing the same match on TV. Let that sink in.
The push of this WWE app has been so aggressive that I personally have been turned off to it and refuse to download it. It takes away from the television product far too much.
That’s all for this week. Join us next week on the Memorial Day edition of Monday Night Raw, right here on Ring-Rap.com.