Welcome to this week's edition of Raw Afterthoughts, where we break down last night's show in more detail than we can during a show recap. Feel free to add your own comments, questions, and complaints in the comment section below!
An Uphill Battle:
Like last week, I want to take some time and dissect the main story arc that we’re watching right now, which is Daniel Bryan vs. “Corporation 2.0”.
Let’s start at the top of the show. I was surprised when Triple H’s music hit that he got that “big star” pop from the live crowd. It was very much a face reaction from the Phoenix crowd, and that doesn’t reconcile with the heel authority figure he is trying to be. Personally, I’m not a fan of heel authority figures at the moment simply because they’re overused. If WWE is going to go this route, then the goal has to be getting heat on Triple H.
Triple H is the Game, and he’s playing now. He’s catering to Randy Orton (the man who screwed Bryan over), humiliating the roster by making them watch last night’s main event and threatening firings. So they’re moving in the right direction of getting heat on him. The one key thing missing is something that heel Triple H was so good at and that was attacking the fans verbally. I think that would speed up the process of putting total heat on him.
Randy Orton is falling in the same category at the moment. He still got a decent face pop when he showed up last night for the first time, notably with some female squealing. He’s definitely the “privileged bad guy” after having the title handed to him and easily one-upping Bryan after some three on one beatdowns. Again, a couple of scathing promos against the fans would do wonders for solidifying Orton’s turn.
Speaking of three-on-one affairs, the main event segment was good. Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins delivered a very entertaining match in the opening of the gauntlet. Bryan lost nothing in terms of momentum with his effort. He looked strong, getting the pin on Rollins and nearly getting a submission on Ambrose before Reigns caused the DQ. They got heat on Orton for “picking the bones” of the assault by the Shield at the very end, and Triple H mocking the roster for laughing earlier with the “YESCalade” incident.
This is a money angle and it’s going to pay off big. But I do have questions that feel unanswered at the moment. Why should I care about paying for a rematch at this point? If Triple H and Co. screwed him once, why won’t they just do it repeatedly? Is Big Show’s iron-clad contract only effective when he’s a heel? If so, knowing he has issues with The Shield why does he not intervene? And is all this “if you intervene, you’re fired!” talk going to bury the face side of the roster and neuter them?
It’s week two. Obviously there’s a lot more to digest going forward, so let’s see how it plays out.
“I loved you!!”
Paul Heyman is gold right now. Really, the entire Punk/Heyman angle has been gold so far. Last night was no exception. Punk faced Axel in a match where if Punk won, he’d get his hands on Heyman in the ring. It almost came to fruition.
Punk got his win, and he had a chance to get Heyman, but Curtis Axel helped Heyman escape. They gave Punk one of the more intense beatdowns I’ve seen on Raw in a while. It went on maybe just a little longer than I thought it needed to, but it was effective to continue their story.
My one problem is Curtis Axel. Axel is a talented wrestler, but he lacks that “it” factor as I see it. Right now he feels like a henchman for Paul Heyman, and nothing more. Even Heyman sort of treated him that way last night. He got heat for his role in the beatdown, but they need to find a way to make it stick, somehow. Despite carrying the Intercontinental Championship, his act is very much in neutral at the moment.
And I will repeat what I said last week – Heyman needs more “Heyman Guys” if they intend to keep running with this story.
She told you…
I am not a fan of AJ, but her delivery and shredding of the ladies making up the cast of Total Divas was solid. She made her case that none of the ladies, despite their show’s popularity and success, were worthy of the championship that she carries. She really cut deep with words like cheap, expendable, and interchangeable. Probably one of the better female promos we’ve seen in a while.
Now, WWE needs to build up a strong face foil for her to work against. Also, the Bellas and Eva Marie running on at the mouth while AJ was talking was a serious distraction from the promo. Production needed to cut that mic that was nearby.
- I am looking forward to the Night of Champions match between Alberto Del Rio and Rob Van Dam. I think it will entertain. The problem is that I just don’t see how Ricardo fits in right now with RVD. Maybe there’s a title-saving swerve ahead?
- Give me a reason to care about the Prime Time Players vs. the Real Americans. Trading wins isn’t helping me do that.
- Zeb Colter feels like a powder keg ready to blow at times when he gets the mic. Last night he took a shot at welfare abuse with the “if you can’t feed ‘em, don’t breed ‘em” line. I’m glad he’s stayed away from the obvious comments he could make with Darren Young out there.
- As with the Players and Real Americans, the ladies of Total Divas traded wins last night too. Where is this all going? E! has had success with Total Divas, but that hasn’t translated into anything meaningful on Raw or Smackdown to this point.
- Having a tag partner walk out is a good place to put heat on someone. When that tag partner is Fandango and he walks out, it’s just lazy booking. Johnny Curtis is better than this and has upside with or without the dancing gimmick.
- The “YESCalade” moment could have been seen coming a mile away in the opener, but it was still fun and served its point in the overall story for the night.
- I’m hoping that we see something even remotely concrete in this “Bully Ry” version of Ryback. Maybe someone from developmental shows up to shut him up…oh, say…Sami Zayn?
That's all for this week. Be sure to look for the staff roundtable coming later today, and more live coverage next Monday night right here on Ring-Rap.com.