Welcome to this week's edition of Raw Afterthoughts, where we run through the hits and misses of last night's show in more detail than we can in a live recap. We want your feedback! Tweet me (@Bill_SoonerFan) or the site (@RingRap) and let us know what you thought, and ask your questions for tomorrow's RingRap Audio recording!
1. Seven Men, One Goal.
WWE has been hyping the Championship ladder match as “historic.” I thought they did a good job last night of using the main event to serve as a set up for that match. The fans reacted to the fast-strike finisher sequence, and the action for the most part was solid.
I thought they told the “every man for himself” story well enough too. The heel team, especially, gave mistrusting looks on tags and so forth. I’m lukewarm on adding Kane at the last minute, though it does add to the dynamic of Orton and Kane “teaming” since they’re both on the side of the Authority. Kane was dominant in his appearance, then when Reigns cut him down with the spear it helped sell his promise of not letting anyone stop him from winning.
2. Pudding and Pie?
Who would have thought in 2014 we’d get Stephanie McMahon vs. Vickie Guerrero? Well, we sort of did last night. The early show announcement of that match served as a hook for the rest of the show, and the live crowd ate it up. Die-hard fans hated this idea, as did I last night.
The segment when Vickie, then ultimately Stephanie, took a dive in the pool of “slop” (pudding, more than likely), took the air out of the show for me as a viewer. The live crowd was entertained though, especially when Stephanie got hers. But this killed the show a bit for me.
As an aside, it’s worth noting that Vickie has been a good sport through the years with all the abuse and things that she has been asked to do. So to see a McMahon get one on her last show is fitting. Best of luck to Vickie as she starts her next chapter in life.
3. Bad News, But a Good Match:
It’s not often that we get a title match of any kind on Raw these days. So to see the Intercontinental Championship defended was a big deal and they needed to play this up bigger.
Barrett and Ziggler delivered a pay per view level match last night. The near falls were all very believable and had fans buying in that the title may change hands. The finish was a cool spot where Ziggler ate the Bull Hammer on a splash attempt, and Ziggler spat his gum out to sell it also. Well done.
4. Not Enough Time…
I thought that it was too little, too late in the build of Jack Swagger and Kofi Kingston. Both are heading to Money in the Bank in the Contract match. Someone had to lose, but the problem is that these guys lose so often that neither feels important, and Swagger winning here did nothing for him.
I thought Naomi and Alicia Fox worked hard in their match. The problem is, WWE production spent more time watching the bickering at the announce table between Cameron and Paige than they did the work in the ring. It took all the shine off of the matchup between Naomi and Paige for the pay per view, especially when those two had a good match on last week’s Main Event show.
6. National Disaster
Once I saw the show was slated for Washington, D.C., I knew we would get a Rusev and Lana bit from some sort of landmark. The problem is now the wheels are falling off of this act. It feels too 1980’s Cold War now. It draws the “USA” chant, but not much more heat than that.
Rusev needs to be positioned as the badass fighter type. This current gimmick is too one-dimensional to have too much steam behind it once Rusev runs into the top of the card babyfaces (such as John Cena). No matter how hot Lana’s legs are, it’s not going to save this act unless it evolves.
7. Lincoln Was Wasted…
Damien Sandow continues to be the most wasted talent in WWE. Granted, he goes all in and carries out the assignment given, but these skits are just awful with last night being no exception. And the promo Big E cut after the match was terrible. If he could harness the energy and deliver a concise and direct promo, it could have been effective. Since he didn’t it fell right on its face.
All that got done in this segment was make Vince McMahon laugh backstage.
8. Lunatic Fringe Makes a Point
The entire sequence of events between Seth Rollins, Rob Van Dam, Triple H, and eventually Dean Ambrose was well done. RVD came off well on the mic, even though he’s not a strong talker. He and Rollins went on to have a solid match, with Rollins setting up to get the win before Ambrose jumped the ring and caused the disqualification.
I’m fine with how Ambrose got to the Contract MITB match. He made an open threat to be added or destroy the pay per view otherwise, but Rollins responded as a confident heel. He said he wanted Ambrose where he could see him. That confidence is money, and Triple H rewarded it by saying it was on Rollins if Ambrose got over on him.
As an aside, Rollins’ new look is solid and sets him apart from his Shield past, and his mic work was good last night.
I wasn’t as high on this as a go-home show as perhaps some others are. I felt there were things that happened on this show (the pudding pool, among them) that dragged it down. But, we did get some solid wrestling and good sell for the Money in the Bank matches. I think the Contract match is a bit rushed as they added it “last minute” but they have the talent in the match to make it a good one.