Welcome to this week's edition of Raw Afterthoughts, where we break down last night's show in more detail.  Feel free to give your own thoughts, opinions, and questions below!

It’s Indie-riffic!

I can’t help but start off talking about the match between Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins.  On a night where we got generally solid ring work, this effort stood out.

What we got was about sixteen minutes of solid television wrestling that easily could have main-evented the show.  Both men hit some big spots and moves, and they really did a great job of teasing submission holds also.  A great sequence of the submission holds was when Bryan failed on the surfboard attempt.  Rollins was able to get him up in it, then Bryan countered his way out and followed by putting Rollins in the same hold.  Very nice sequence.

This shows the depth WWE is working on putting in their roster.  I am looking forward to matches we get from these former independent/Ring of Honor workers down the road.

Hug it Out!

Can someone please clue me in as to what the end game is in the latest McMahon family saga?

We started off the night with Triple H following through on what he said he would do – face Curtis Axel in the ring.  The match got underway, only to have Vince McMahon come out and declare it a disqualification.  Trips had it restarted, only to have Vince come back out and end it with a forfeit.  Trips restarts it a third time as an Ironman match, only to have Vince come out, stop it and take the bell and mic.

Backstage, Stephanie first tearfully pleads with Hunter to “not beat up Vince”, and then arranged a meeting between the two by the end of the show.  The three end up basically creating a parody of the Kane/Daniel Bryan/Dr. Shelby story by hugging it out just before the closing segment.

None of this benefitted Curtis Axel in any way.  If he is the latest guy WWE wants to push, this took all eyes off of him.  And I’m not buying the “Axel was in the ring with Triple H” argument about getting him attention.  The “hug it out” moment was a lame payoff to the bickering between Vince and Triple H.  And with concussions and head trauma being a serious concern these days, it made the Triple H head trauma story feel like a joke.  This was not well thought out at all.

Tarnished Shield:

I have made no bones about this feeling of late.  WWE is getting terribly, terribly lazy with booking finishes for The Shield.  Aside from the match between Seth Rollins and Daniel Bryan, WWE took the cheap way out in the remaining matches.

Kane vs. Dean Ambrose was not the worst match I’ve ever seen, but it was slow.  In the end however, the other two members of The Shield hit the ring to create the disqualification finish.  Early in The Shield’s run, you had hope that a face character could beat one of them, had it not been for the others getting involved.

In the other match, Roman Reigns took on Randy Orton.  We don’t get Reigns one on one too often, so this gave us a good moment of looking at him.  Some of the early action was a bit forgettable and there was one awkward moment.  The crowd didn’t really get into it till the end as Orton started to hit his signature spots.  What was weird here was that the match should have been over when Seth Rollins got involved.

It just feels to me like that when The Shield comes out, we know someone’s getting disqualified.  Between the no-contest finish here, and the DQ finish in the Kane/Ambrose match, it’s just one more repeat of lazy storytelling.  It’s not going to bury the three men in The Shield, but they do need to handle this faction better than they are presently.


We got a lot of changes to the Payback card last night.  New matches were announced, and some matches were changed.  It was a lot of information for viewers to process, and in the end nothing really stood out.  So I’d call this a miss as a go-home show, and really just an average program.

To WWE’s credit, the predictablilty factor of their longer matches is going down.  We got some longer affairs over the past couple weeks, and the results were definitely in question.  The three-hour format continues to drag though, and this show was a good example of that.  The live crowd was responsive at the key points they needed to, but they seemed to fizzle long before other crowds have.

Quick Hits:

Ryback was less “Robo-Back” this week in his mic work.  He seems to do better in front of live crowds as a rule.

By not building up the Three Stages of Hell match better than they have, they lost a money angle with the pull-apart brawl.  It was still good overall, but with a bit more attention to the build of the match the show-ending angle would have been much hotter.

Generally, Cena was okay in his promo, but you could see some smirking creeping in, and I felt the “change your diaper, wipe your nose” stuff was a bit out of place.  He needs to quit that trend, post haste.

A bit surprising that Ziggler got such little reaction in his return.  In a way that’s good because he is a heel and you don’t want him to get the babyface pop.  The reactions should change once he steps back in the ring.

I find myself wandering to thinking about a double turn on Sunday in Chicago in the Jericho/Punk match.  His words and over the top face antics certainly open up that question to me, among others.  I really like Jericho putting the importance on beating Punk in his hometown though, and we’ll see what goes down at the pay per view.

Will we see Antonio Cesaro join forces with Zeb Colter?  One could ponder that given how Colter put him over on commentary last night.

I know they’re trying to tell a story in the Divas division, and I credit them for that.  However, there is no place for “unloveable cow” to be spoken toward a woman who is fit and carries more muscle than most Divas from being a past female bodybuilder.  Be a star, WWE.

That's it for this week.  Join me Sunday night for live Payback results and reaction, and Drew Koscelek will have your Raw coverage next Monday night.