Welcome to this week's edition of Raw Afterthoughts - the hits and misses of last night's live broadcast that we can't type out while covering the show live. Hit us up on Twitter (@RingRap or @Bill_SoonerFan) to discuss your thoughts and opinions of last night's show. We'll even talk about them on the air during our weekly RingRap Audio show, which records tomorrow night.
1. Champion No More…
It came out in the wrestling news during the day that Daniel Bryan was likely not going to be defending his WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Money in the Bank. So in an expected result, Bryan was stripped of his championship.
No matter how much blathering Matt Hester does in RingRap Audio tomorrow night, remember that Drew and I were actually in agreement with him that if Bryan could not compete at Money in the Bank, he should lose the title. The fan in me is not happy that Bryan’s title run has to end like this, but having respect for other humans and their personal well being, Bryan needs this time to recover and should be under no obligations whatsoever to rush a return to the ring. So this is the appropriate call.
How they got there, however, was just super clumsy. Triple H and Stephanie’s gloating over stripping Bryan of the title was fine, but that’s where it all ended. Stephanie said she had an assistant reach out to Bryan but was unsuccessful – yet they had the belts. They handed Randy Orton (who claimed to be “on vacation’) a shot in the MITB match, but not the newly turned Seth Rollins who is playing for their team now? Triple H didn’t pull an ego trip and claim the belts for himself? Why are babyface characters even given shots at the title with heels in authority?
I really hate turning my brain off when there are heel authority figures in wrestling – and as you can see, I just can’t. The segment wasn’t as good as it could have been.
2. Explain Yourself…
I did find Seth Rollins’ explanation promo a solid start to his heel run. Rollins has history of being a good heel, and while the promo wasn’t a home run smash it got him on his way. I like that they sent him out there alone in a sit-down segment with Michael Cole. That put him front and center to work on his own and he held up well.
I am curious, with Money in the Bank looming fairly close, why they didn’t give Rollins an immediate reward – like a MITB spot or even a briefcase without having a match to earn it. Remember – Batista got pissed at Triple H’s empty promises, and giving something to Rollins up front would have gone a long way to keep that from repeating itself. Obviously this is still developing.
3. Out of Focus…
Paige is a prime case in point of a misused champion.
The 21-year old rising star is a quality in-ring talent who has proven herself capable in NXT. Yet, we know so little about her other than she’s the champion. They rushed her to the title, presumably due to AJ’s sabbatical leave. It just seems like WWE thinks that’s all that’s needed and no more character development is required.
In this “storyline” with Alicia Fox, they’re focusing on Fox’s post-match antics and shining very little light on Paige or developing her character. Not to discredit Fox, who could use the development and has shown capability in the ring, WWE is missing the boat totally. Paige is a bright young star that can be built around, and is someone who plays well to both the male and female demographics. This isn’t going well for the young champion.
4. Hand Picked Mystery …
To Cody Rhodes’ credit, his next opponent of choice for Goldust has people talking and speculating. I am not sure what the plan is, but it has me wondering too – and that’s what a good hook to a program should do. Well played.
5. Dance Fever…
I completely wanted to rage when I saw Damien Sandow emerge in tights with a ribbon, dancing to the ring. I will give credit – the execution was alright, but this is a guy that deserves so much better than this.
I hope that WWE is somehow figuring how to move him on from these comedic spots sometime in the very near future, and get him into a more meaningful situation.
6. A Rare Heyman Miss
I thought Cesaro vs. Rob Van Dam went on too long and the live crowd fell off as a result. They surely didn’t buy in to the false finishes with the thought that Van Dam would go over. While MITB plays in to RVD’s abilities well, he’s lost so many matches of late that I know I couldn’t be bothered to care.
Heyman’s tease of Brock Lesnar appearing was clever, but even it fell flat making it a rare miss for him. Not too many in the live crowd thought we’d get an appearance from the Beast Incarnate, and we didn’t.
7. Bad News?
It’s just a little disconcerting to me that Bad News Barrett has now lost clean to Sheamus twice. For a guy like Barrett who can talk and work in the ring, I hope they’re not resorting to the “lose non title matches regularly” formula for the current Intercontinental Champion. That just undermines his credibility.
All that said Barrett and Sheamus put on yet another physical quality match. They mesh well in terms of their in-ring style and they’re not afraid of getting physical. As a result, they put on good matches.
I think Sheamus is a strong candidate to win the MITB title match. He could be a good transitional champion if they go back to Bryan after he heals. It was publicized that they had Sheamus vs. Bryan penciled in at Wrestlemania 30 before all the fan reaction changed that plan. It would be a good match, and they could get to that story logically pretty easily.
8. Logically Well Used…
John Cena was put to good use last night in a logical fashion. The announcers put him over as wanting to help The Shield so he could get his hands on Bray Wyatt again, which made sense. He also came off as a stand-up guy, as a face should, when he set aside his past issues with The Shield to team with them in the main event. It’s also worth pointing out that Reigns and Ambrose also cut a strong promo earlier in the night as well.
I was a little bit surprised about two things out of the main event. First, WWE didn’t play in to the past history of the Wyatts and The Shield in Minnesota, as they faced off at Elimination Chamber at the Target Center in February. Also, we didn’t see Seth Rollins and/or Triple H run out for an attack at any point after all the talk of “ending The Shield” on the show. The match was strong and finished clean with a crowd pleasing finish. One of the few things I truly liked about the show.
I don’t know what it was about last night. Speaking personally, I had a fun and full weekend of events outside of wrestling and MMA going on. Combine that with a long work day, and for some reason this show just never clicked with me at all. I hated most of the broadcast, to be so honest.
WWE typically slumps off a little bit around this time of year, and with two pay per view events in June, you can tell they’re struggling to get the hype machine going for Money in the Bank. The title match adds some excitement, but right now the build is falling flat on its face for this writer.