Welcome to this week's edition of Raw Afterthoughts. This is my opportunity to elaborate on opinions and thoughts I've had during the live show report. Questions, comments, opinions of your own? Feel free to weigh in by commenting below.
We're going to do a little different format this week and do some "hits and misses", as I feel it better suits how I felt about last night's show.
“Air Goat” Looks for Respect:
Ryback is booked to be a monster. That means he should be destroying everything in his path heading to his Three Stages of Hell Championship match with John Cena at Payback. I winced when the match between Daniel Bryan and Ryback got set up, because Bryan should not be losing those kinds of matches.
I was pleasantly surprised that WWE decided to let these guys work and avoid that “conventional wisdom” style of booking. These two put on a great 15 minute match where both men came out looking good. Ryback looks like the badass heading to his title match, and Bryan looks like the guy who can hang with the monster heel. This was my favorite match of the night, and I am excited for a Daniel Bryan singles run that seems imminent.
Six Man Madness:
Randy Orton, Kane and Daniel Bryan vs. The Shield initially had me rolling my eyes. We’ve seen some form of this six-man match what seems like a thousand times now, with the same results. But it was a good opening match, especially going up against Game 7 of the Miami Heat/Indiana Pacers Eastern Conference Finals Series.
Early on in this one, the action dragged a little bit, and some of the extended selling periods prior to a hot tag felt longer than need be. It didn’t really take much away from the match though. Randy Orton was insanely over with this crowd, as he got a huge pop when he tagged in. Daniel Bryan’s offense was even well received even though he didn’t get the immediate pops when he tagged in.
I liked what we saw from Curtis Axel last night in the ring. I thought he was given a chance to show off his in-ring skills last night more than he had been able to previously. They really telegraphed Ryback getting involved by Vince setting up this match as No DQ, but it paid off well with Ryback throwing Cena into the table to end the match. Ryback gets heat for taking out Cena, and Curtis Axel gets another win he can brag about. Call it a win-win.
The McMahons appearing right at the opening, especially Stephanie who hasn’t been on Raw since last year, added some immediate star power on a night when WWE had to take on a big NBA game.
With the right story, time, and some effort, the Usos could be built into legitimate contenders to The Shield for the tag titles.
I really like the way Alberto Del Rio used his Cross Arm Breaker submission to get into the pinfall on Big E Langston. That’s something we don’t normally see from him, as he uses the submission hold primarily.
WWE has really been shoving the WWE App at viewers, and of course viewers have been responding with six million downloads. The constant shills have been nothing short of annoying and distracting though. Last night they again had two less-than-memorable moments with it.
They set up The Shield entering while Stephanie and Vince were in the ring to open the show. Cole fed it into a lousy plug after the break that said we could watch the McMahons leave without incident on the App. Also, we got another “watch these talents watch this match on a monitor backstage on the app, while the match is going on” shill.
I appreciate the drive to have viewers experience the product on the available platforms, but this is getting ridiculous.
Worst in The World?
When Jericho and Heyman were advertised for a contract signing, I expected a fairly strong talking segment. I think my expectations needed to be adjusted.
This wasn’t a horrible segment, but it wasn’t what I thought it could be. Jericho shoving the signed contract in Heyman’s pants was just strange. In all of this, WWE really didn’t build interest to the other main player in this – CM Punk. I like that they’re keeping him off TV until the pay per view, but we’re going to need a strong sell on next week’s go-home show to make this feel more important than it does.
Irish Eyes are Goofy…
Every time Sheamus is smiling or smirking backstage, I just know what’s coming. We are set up for a lighthearted comedy segment that’s just not working with this character. I want the straight forward ass kicker that Sheamus can be.
His behavior presently actually comes off more of a heel than a face, if you really dissect it. Last night, he beat Cody Rhodes then slapped Damien Sandow and knocked him down after Sandow refused to shake his hand. I found that to be another very odd move for a face character.
As an aside – has WWE really lost their way with Rhodes Scholars or what? I wish we could see them be used in a stronger way, as they would be good for the tag division.
The exchange between The Miz, Fandango, and Wade Barrett was really awkward. Miz prevented Fandango from exiting during his match with Great Khali. Barrett hits Miz with the Bull Hammer at the stage. Then Fandango comes out to run a distraction that cost Barrett a win in a match with Miz. What?
No one really cares about the Divas. The six-woman tag was greeted with crickets from the live crowd, and it really didn’t advance any sort of a story. Maybe the new E! program “Total Divas” will do something for them, but I’m certainly not pinning any hopes on it.