Welcome to this week's edition of Raw Afterthoughts, where we break down the hits and misses of last night's show in detail. Got questions, comments, or thoughts of your own? Hit us up, either in the comments below or on either Twitter (@RingRap) or Facebook (facebook.com/RingRap) to leave us your thoughts for discussion in our flagship audio show, RingRap Audio which records tomorrow night.
1. Showing Me Something:
I thought Roman Reigns did a good job on the mic last night. He was left in a spot where he had more time to fill than the normal "couple of lines" segments we get from him. He did a good job of maintaining that "coolest guy in the room" feel he has. Later on in the broadcast, he jabbed at Cena which I thought was well done. Cena also held up his end of the bargain with his response and that all did a nice job of building to the fatal four way match at Battleground.
The show closing shot (pictured above) wasn't red hot, but it certainly did have some energy to it. Also, while talking about Cena, his match with Seth Rollins was very good. I also think Rollins is really settling in to his heel role well as evidenced by his exchange with Kane and Orton backstage.
2. Strange Bedfellows:
We have some unique dynamics going on between the ladies, and that was evident in the tag match that featured AJ and Paige vs. Cameron and Naomi. That alone made their match stand out. Apparently, we're watching the Funkadactlys break up as Cameron and Naomi brawled after the loss. I am wary that Cameron has the skill set in the ring to carry her along as a singles act, so she may just get lost in the shuffle.
The returning AJ is clearly a babyface at the moment it would seem, though her character is not much different from when she was a strong heel. They need to build some story there - tell us why she left, why she's back, a reason for her changed ways. It would really help the backstory of what's going on with her and Paige. I'd also like to see them be patient. I like how Paige is being nice to AJ and they're slowly working into a turn for one of them. I'm almost hoping they hold this off to SummerSlam, but I get the feeling WWE will rush into the turn and force this onto the Battleground card.
3. Raw is Jericho...
Chris Jericho and Bray Wyatt are starting to build a nice story between them. I thought their verbal exchange was solid, and Wyatt's use of the Family to keep Jericho at bay was logical. It makes sense for Jericho to have to go through them to get to Wyatt, presumably by SummerSlam.
Also, I think Jericho might be able to help elevate Miz a bit. The focus right now for Jericho is Wyatt, but the interaction he has had with Miz so far have been good. Miz seems to have evolved his game a little bit since heading off to film. Let's see where they go with this.
4. One Armed Bandits...
The match with Nikki Bella and Alicia Fox was doomed from go. The official couldn't even tie Nikki's arm up correctly. Then you have Justin Roberts say that the match is by orders of the Authority, then the announcers come back with "did the Authority book this?" And they're not doing Nikki any favors. It sounds like a broken record but it's true: Give me a reason to care and invest in the character. Right now, all they're doing is getting fans to pity her because Nikki is being punished for what Brie did.
5. Backwards Momentum?
I like Kofi Kingston, really. I think he has talent. But I'm not sure he should be getting what seems like a mild push at the expense of Cesaro. Cesaro is in the stronger position of the two, but with him losing it feels like the Swiss Superman is moving backwards. This story is interesting for the mid-card, but it feels like Cesaro is moving the wrong way from it as a result.
6. Fun Brawl...
Randy Orton and Dean Ambrose put on a really good match last night, albeit with one botched moment. They recovered from that misstep quickly though, and it didn't hurt the match. Ambrose losing clean was fine, given that Orton is heading to Battleground to contest for the title so he needed to be kept stronger at the moment. They need to keep Ambrose strong, and with his ring work, mic skill, and how the crowd responds to him right now, he won't lose anything even though he lost last night.
7. The Return of The Best
Bret Hart seemed really energized and engaged last night. Maybe it was being in front of Canadian fans, hard to say. Damien Sandow - or should I say, SandHart, is trying hard with the comedy stuff he has been handed to work with. It didn't go over well. I think part of the problem is that fans know Sandow is capable of so much more than what he's being given right now.
8. Tag Team Crazy:
The live crowd got up for Luke Harper and Erick Rowan vs. The Usos from the minute the intros started. These two are having a sound feud, and with the work they've put in, fans want to see them fight and it creates a good atmosphere. Lawler, Cole, and JBL also played along by calling the match and not engaging in their normal silly routine at the announce table. With Harper and Rowan winning, one has to wonder if they get another title shot coming up at SummerSlam.
9. Anti-American In Canada...
I thought it was effective to have Rob Van Dam put over Rusev in their match last night. The only thing I didn't care for is that RVD loses so often that it's not really all that effective anymore.
No follow-up to the hot angle between Rusev and Jack Swagger. Part of the reason behind that is that Swagger cannot enter Canada for a while based on his DUI conviction. They also kept Colter to a sidebar promo to keep the Real American side of the gimmick from getting booed in Canada.
10. Confusion Over What's At Stake...
I thought Alberto Del Rio and Dolph Ziggler had a good match, but it was a good WWE Main Event (the show) match. I got confused though when Justin Roberts said the match featured two Intercontinental Championship Battle Royale competitors, but then the announcers said the winner gets Sheamus on Main Event for the US Championship. Very odd.
And while I tend to enjoy Sheamus vs. Del Rio because they work well together, it's hard to get up for that match becuase it has happened so many times already.
Overall, this was a sound show that I would call average to slightly better than average. With a pay per view coming up, they did advance a couple stories and seem to be putting a few pieces in place for the midcard at Battleground. We'll all find out next week with more Raw coverage, here on Ring-Rap.com.