Welcome to this week's edition of Raw Afterthoughts, where we run down the hits and misses of last night's Raw broadcast. Be sure to check out the live coverage if you've missed the show, and also hit us on Twitter @RingRap or comment below and on either Facebook or Google+ to let us know what you thought of the show! We'll be discussing this and more tomorrow night on RingRap Audio, so get those things in now.
1. You're Under Arrest!
Probably the hottest angle of the night goes to Stephanie and Brie Bella. Yes, two women. They jawed at each other prior to the handicap match with Nikki early in the show, then after Flo-Rida's performance, the crowd went bonkers when Stephanie was hauled off in cuffs. Stephanie's reactions were great, and Triple H added to the segment backstage. It was comical that he decided to stay for his announcement rather than head off to the station to be with Stephanie, but it was what it was.
In all of this though, Nikki Bella is getting nothing but internet pervs marking out over her nip slip during the match. I guess there's always the chance that she could turn on her sister and agree with Stephanie about being put in the tough spots she has been in.
2. Beast Incarnate Stakes His Claim:
Paul Heyman is such a good talker that he made the closing segment work without John Cena in the building. As has been reported, Cena was off filming movie scenes so he did not appear on Raw. Paul Heyman created a compelling promo though to set up the SummerSlam main event between Lesnar and Cena for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Brock had an easy night - he just had to stand there and look tough. Even though leaks spoiled where the main event was going for SummerSlam, Heyman made it feel like a big deal.
3. Leave the Music Alone!
Flo-Rida is not my cup of tea generally, so if he's yours, great. This miss has nothing to do with music, or the artist. It's all about why on earth you would have a music act perform on a pro-wrestling show. Historically when you look at the quarter-hour ratings, these kind of segments lead to lots of channel surfing, and I would be curious as to what happened in that regard last night. That is a shame, as the Stephanie arrest came on the heels of this musical act.
4. Dusty Nonsense:
Right now, Goldust and Stardust feels like an act going nowhere. Professionally speaking, Cody is all in with the Stardust gimmick and both guys are working hard to play the given roles well, but it just feels like gibberish and nonsense. I think Rhodes and Goldust were doing great work as a team, but for whatever reason WWE minimized on them as we went to Wrestlemania. I am hoping something comes of this that works, but right now I'm not feeling it.
5. Finally, Sides are Chosen:
I expected Paige to turn on AJ, so the surprise wasn't there for me but it was well executed. I think playing heel fits Paige better than face and I'm looking forward to it. Right now we need to hear from AJ, who is still just doing her skipping gimmick and wrestles and exits. This should allow WWE to give these ladies a better story to their feud going into SummerSlam and that will help their match feel hotter.
As an aside, this was the first time we saw Natalya on TV since Takeover (the NXT broadcast event). I am surprised after how good that match was with Charlotte Flair she has been an afterthought. Hopefully this is leading to something.
6. Business Decisions
I have been confused by the booking of Cesaro. Last night, he made it clear that he is no longer a Heyman Guy and wanted to be a Triple H Guy. Did they do that just to create a quick fix situation? Hard to tell. I also am not sure why he has been losing so much of late and I think they took the edge off of him that he had going. That all said, his match with Dean Ambrose last night was very good, and something I would like to see more of.
7. Handicapped Odds
I give Roman Reigns a minor hit for his performance in the early part of the show. He cut a sound promo in the talking part of the segment, and his work in the handicap match was also solid. My only gripe here is that beating two guys of Kane and Orton's level should mean more, but the way they have been handled they are meaningless. Orton was poorly booked through the fall. They really just feel like mid-card henchmen doing Triple H's bidding. And if you put Reigns vs. Orton at SummerSlam, what does that do for Reigns?
8. Under the Radar...
Lana and Rusev got some darts thrown at them in the mainstream press due to her pay per view promo. I guess WWE cut her promo off last night in order to stay under the radar a bit until the heat dies down from that one. It would be nice to see WWE use this as an opportunity to add layers to the gimmick that aren't related. The "cold-war" style efforts and putting over Vladmir Putin is getting pretty repetitive and boring. Besides, where do you go after you show Vladmir riding a horse shirtless?
9. Inspiration from a Different Source:
After Big E and Kofi lost to Rybaxel, Xavier Woods arrived to rally them. This left me intrigued, which is more than I can say for anything else WWE has given us for his character. I really liked Consequences Creed in TNA and believe he has a lot of potential. They really doomed him from the start though when they brought Woods up and he never really got traction. But last night, Woods cut a good promo and he delivered it well. Here's hoping they use this to move all three characters forward.
The overall show was alright, but it wasn't the hot start to SummerSlam that I was hoping for. Nothing was terribly offensive and for the most part the in-ring work was quality. I know you want to pace a build, but I thought we could have gotten more out of the program last night.
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