Welcome to this week's edition of Raw Afterthoughts, where we break down the hits and misses of last night's show. Feel free to comment with your own thoughts and opinions by hitting the comment section below, Twitter (@RingRap) or our Facebook page (facebook.com/RingRap) so we can talk about it on RingRap Audio tomorrow night.
1. UFC-Style Hype Works:
The sit-down style promos that UFC does with its fighters can really add to the story behind the fight. Last night, WWE employed a very similar style of promo for the Lesnar/Cena feud, and it delivered very well. Brock Lesnar is not a good live promo, but when he does the pre-taped versions he does a great job and Cena's rebuttals were good as well. This is something that I'd like to see WWE do more often with major feuds. Even a show like UFC Countdown could be added to the Network for some original programming that would not only help hype key stories but also give the live stream of the Network a boost too.
2. It's Because She's a McMahon...
I didn't feel that Stephanie McMahon and Brie Bella had a great outing last week for some reason I still haven't figured out. I'm blaming the three hour format. Last night, I thought the closing angle of the show just fell flat on its face. Brie felt very wooden and stiff and just didn't come off well in her delivery during the segment. Stephanie continues to be a solid heel so she carried an otherwise lackluster segment. And while this show didn't necessarily contain the big-time star power it normally does, I can only guess this segment closed because of Stephanie being who she is.
Brie was exposed - she gave some decent short deliveries of lines on the mic prior to last night, but an extended promo shows just how far she has yet to go in the wrestling side of her work. On Total Divas, she seems much more natural but that doesn't carry over onto the wrestling programs at all. And the live crowd seemingly faded off during the talking part of the segment.
Stephanie and Brie getting into the physical altercation was alright and the crowd reacted to it. It was more natural for Brie to be frustrated that she couldn't help her sister, so that reaction was well done. But Triple H is 6'-something and 245lbs, and he's supposed to be able to hold back a much smaller woman like he did so it was just "ok, here comes the big move" and felt really predictable. Overall, this segment was a miss for me and didn't get me any more invested in the program.
3. Reigns Left Standing
I thought Roman Reigns was effective in his opening segment involvement. It wasn't a red-hot segment to me, but it was pulled off well. When I heard Last Man Standing was the stipulation for the match between Reigns and Kane, I cringed..."Big move, count to 9, repeat" crossed my mind. But they worked hard and kept my interest. Reigns came off looking strong despite the bleeding from his face, and he got momentum going into his match with Randy Orton.
As an aside, I'm curious what the next step is for Kane. He was told to be a demon last night, and when he didn't beat Reigns he handed over his mask and wig. Makes one wonder what's next.
4. "For Just....$9.99"
Oh dear lord make it stop. It's strange enough to have the heel Authority out there shilling the network. What fan in their right mind would pay "heel characters" money to see their product? It was kind of funny to see fans step up and chant along with Hunter when he would mention the price, admittedly. The problem is it devolved so quickly into jokes from the announce position, repeated mentions, and just every effort to get the price tag trend on Twitter. WWE was doing good work of getting people to focus on the content and SummerSlam lineup, but just went way off the deep end with beating the price point home last night. Total miss.
5. Torn to Shreds...
Rob Van Dam was supposed to face Seth Rollins in a Beat the Clock match, but the Authority made a bait and switch move at the last second and pulled RVD for the loveable loser Heath Slater. That probably set off some grumbling. But in this case the payoff worked wonders. Dean Ambrose came to ringside and toyed with the Money in the Bank contract, tearing it up, stuffing the briefcase full of popcorn, soda, and JBL's hat, and tearing the contract up. All the distractions cost Rollins the match via a roll-up, but he didn't lose anything and will likely get that win back quickly.
I do hope Ambrose does not ask for the stipulation to be the Money in the Bank contract to be on the line. I'd like for those winners to be locked in, because trading the briefcase around in other matches just weakens the MITB concept.
6. We, the People....
Zeb Colter is really finding his spot right now on the mic in this Rusev/Swagger program. His patriotic approach is playing well off of the Lana and Rusev act and as I mentioned in live coverage last night, this story seems to be finding its legs a bit even if it is a draw on stuff from the Cold War Era. If there was one minor complaint, it'd be that Rusev backed off of Colter without incident after roughing up Swagger. It's a little inconsistent with Rusev's character to show restraint like that.
7. Longest Beat the Clock Match Ever...
I don't think any other Beat the Clock challenge has gone past 15 minutes like Ambrose vs. Del Rio did. I know Del Rio is a former champion, but having Ambrose struggle to put him away didn't feel like a really good idea. Ambrose is over right now, and that is the kind of thing that takes away momentum. Del Rio has been beaten by many others in less time when there was nothing on the line, so this felt off to me.
8. Hollywood Almost Gets Kicked...
I am enjoying the fact that Dolph Ziggler is getting a bit of a "mini push" by winning matches heading into the Intercontinental Championship match against The Miz. And the tease of Ziggler hitting a superkick with Miz ducking like a scared schoolboy was decent enough afterward. I just don't like that Cesaro got caught in the middle of that. I want to believe that they are cooling Cesaro for a bigger plan to come after SummerSlam, but I guess it's wait and see time. He gave Cena all he could handle, and now he's doing the job for Ziggler in short order.
9. For some Quick Observations:
- Jericho vs. Harper should have been given more time, but it was really about the angle with Wyatt more than anything else.
- Henry vs. Sandow was over with the Texas faithful, but it just didn't feel like a hot return for the World's Strongest Man. What's next for him - we just don't know.
- Do Ryback and Curtis Axel hold the Cosmic Key? Because we got weeks of nonsense with Goldust and Stardust only to have them come back and face...Rybaxel for the 385783475957th time.
- Summer Rae and Layla are the undercard whores of the roster, I think. They'll hang with anyone to get revenge on Fandango. That whole segment was a giant heap of fail.
- I liked how they followed up Bo Dallas losing to Truth, but still don't get why they had him lose. And WWE would have done well to put the IC title on Dallas.
10. This Was Awful...
The Adam Rose backstage skit was the most terrible thing on the show last night. WWE calls themselves "sports entertainment" but they have to realize that fans respond to pro wrestling instead. WWE got way too cute for their own good in that segment and from what I could hear in my speakers the fans didn't react. Fans want to suspend disbelief - not what we saw during the Rose segment. Consider that the very same segment on any other sort of variety show on television would likely have gotten the exact same reaction. It didn't need to be on Raw, and it wasn't funny at all.
Lots of holes in last night's show. Not having the major star power (Cena, Lesnar, Heyman, etc.) put a damper on things, and a lot of the stuff we got just wasn't really all that hot. Factor in the three-hour fatigue that this show caused, and it all ended up in a bit of a down week heading to SummerSlam.
We'll have more to say on this show, and all the news of the week, tomorrow when we record RingRap Audio. Be sure to get those comments and questions in so we can discuss your thoughts on the air as well.