Welcome to this week's edition of Raw Afterthoughts, where we break down last night's show in more detail. Got comments, questions, or thoughts of your own? Feel free to comment below.
One Last Chapter of McMahon Family Drama?
Whenever the McMahons get involved in the WWE Championship match story, the build falls apart. That includes people acting in their stead, such as Brad Maddox.
I get the point of Brad Maddox officiating Daniel Bryan’s match with Wade Barrett. It got us to the point where Triple H asserted himself as the special referee for Sunday’s match between John Cena and Daniel Bryan. Two issues I had here: first is the fact that Daniel Bryan lost a match heading into SummerSlam. It’s not the end of the world, but I think it makes more sense for a contender to have momentum going into the title match and losses take a little away from that. Second, Triple H is the COO and if he so chose could have just appointed himself the official without Maddox ever donning the stripes. So, that all felt like a bit of a miss to me.
The Miz TV segment though was a home run. This story needed it a big hit and this was it. No McMahon drama, no troll talk, nothing but two popular stars exchanging verbal jabs. Bryan established himself as a wrestling purist who craves the respect that winning the WWE Championship would give him. Cena was painted as the defensive long-running champion who feels he isn’t getting all the respect he has earned from both Bryan and the fans. They’re also making it work to position Bryan as an underdog. It’s not a role I’m a fan of, but since it’s been established they’re working with it fine.
Miz played his part well, and while I could have lived without it having Triple H come out and stand between them was fine as well. More important in that closing visual was the tease of Randy Orton coming to the stage holding the Money in the Bank Briefcase. It’s a nice touch that keeps his looming threat to cash in the contract in play.
CM Punk knew exactly what he was walking in to. He also figured a way around it.
Paul Heyman was slated to face CM Punk, but rather than a match Heyman cut a promo. Again, Heyman was on point and delivered great mic work. Lesnar appearing, but not speaking, to show that he and Heyman did indeed conspire to gang up on CM Punk was smart. As an aside, I liked that they re-ran the pre-taped promo from Lesnar that originally aired on Smackdown. Lesnar is very effective in these style promos and to have that segment re-aired was “enough” talking from him that was needed on this night.
It was a nice touch that Punk did outsmart the heel pair. Usually we end up getting subjected to face characters who end up looking silly because we as viewers all saw the trap that they were about to encounter. This seems so simple, but it was effective. Punk getting the better of the duo going into Sunday is also good booking sense in that Punk looks like he has a chance to slay the beast. Lesnar sold the beating he took very well and it gave some great final hype to their match. It was the right choice to end the show on this angle.
A Not-So-Beautiful Disaster
Wow. I am really lost with Cody Rhodes at the moment.
He was stabbed in the back by “his friend” Damien Sandow at Money in the Bank, which in most cases is cause for sympathy in a story. Last night, Rhodes was featured on commentary though during Damien Sandow’s match with Randy Orton. Rhodes basically admitted that he would have done the same thing to Sandow if roles were reversed. If that is indeed the case, then why should I as a viewer invest any sympathy into Rhodes being “cheated” out of the Briefcase?
Money in the Bank matches are always positioned and sold as “every man for himself.” That said, I had some hope that Rhodes could have created some form of a back story that added to the point that Sandow had wronged him somehow, with the incident at MITB being the breaking point. Unfortunately last night the hole just got deeper for Rhodes, especially with the way the announcers kept pushing him during the match.
Hitting the Highlights:
One of a Kind Contender:
I think the addition of Rob Van Dam challenging for Dean Ambrose’s United States Championship to the SummerSlam is smart. Given their styles, this looks to be a good, athletic match worthy of the pay per view. Putting it on the free preview show though will definitely bring eyes to the preview and may even create a few impulse PPV buys.
The Shield’s backstage promo was sound and effective. They addressed the threats to their respective titles and expressed their hunger to remain in control of them. I like that Roman Reigns reminded us of the open challenge for the tag team title. I can only assume after seeing Big Show return to Raw after the battle royale that we’ll see Mark Henry and Big Show answer that challenge.
Botchamania, Here We Come…
What in the world happened at the end of the mixed tag match with Natalya and Great Khali facing AJ and Big E. Langston? Big E looks like a doofus for not breaking up the submission hold not once but twice. The official looks dumb for being in position yet out of position. The whole sequence was just awful and had to be embarrassing for all involved.
Alberto Del Rio needed wins, and he got one against Kofi Kingston in a solid television match.
“Tonight is the Night” (or whatever the Raw theme is actually titled) makes me yearn for Nickelback to return. This is not good.
I failed to see the point of the “dance off” between R-Truth and Fandango. Had I not been watching live, this would have been a fast-forward segment so I could miss it. Use your video production team here, WWE.
Big Show’s been working out. Impressive.
I’m not as down on the “Ring of Fire” match build as some, but I am looking forward to getting past the Kane/Bray Wyatt match on Sunday to see what the next chapter is for the Family.
The matches between the Uso Brothers and the Real Americans have been fine, but if this is going to be a continuing feud I’d like to see more out of it than Colter’s wishing for California to fall off the continental shelf.
That's all I've got for Raw this week. We'll be back with you on Sunday night at 7PM EST for the SummerSlam pre-show and 8PM EST for the pay per view with live coverage and results, and of course live show coverage for all the fallout next Monday night!