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 live broadcast. Hit us up with your own comments, questions, and complaints on Twitter or in the section below!
Drew was in the saddle last night for this show for our live coverage. That left me to both man the Twittah Machine and watch this show with a bit of a different set of eyes.
This was the go-home show heading into Night of Champions. My initial reaction to the show is that there were some good individual segments, but overall this was a rotten egg in terms of the pay per view. They did an “alright” job of building up the handicap match between CM Punk and Curtis Axel and Paul Heyman. The rest of the card got lip service, if that, throughout the night. I believe that the talent in the matches will do their job and hold up a good show, but from the story perspective this feels like a very missable event.
Again, we’re going to start with some talk about the overall story arc concerning the WWE Championship, Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton in detail before hitting some other highlights.
We got a hot start to the night that really set the crowd off with the arrival of the Hall of Famer, Edge. They popped huge for him as the show kicked off and he hosted his “Cutting Edge” segment with Daniel Bryan. He and Triple H really exchanged words and barbs well and they even used the “phantom” attack on Christian well.
We saw both men in the WWE Championship battle in separate singles matches. Randy Orton drew Goldust, who was fighting for Cody Rhodes’ job. Daniel Bryan drew Dean Ambrose. Bryan’s match against Ambrose was yet another quality main event.
Big Show is not advertised for Sunday’s pay per view, but it seems he might be somehow involved in this match. I don’t get what the point of his involvement was last night. I understand that they “put him at ringside” to give the appearance of even sides, but he wasn’t allowed to touch The Shield. Perhaps he would have found a loophole and went after Randy Orton?
While we’re on the subject of the Big Show, his “ironclad contract” story has a hole a mile wide in it. WWE tried to respond by saying he could be fired if he refused matches, then they said he’d be fired if he attacked The Shield. So much for an ironclad contract, right? A little bit of storyline consistency would go a really long way here. There are other ways around this snag.
Goldust made his return for a night in Toronto. WWE made a real effort to make him feel and seem like a star with the video packages they used throughout the evening. Given the story of him trying to get Cody Rhodes’ job back, I think they could have left the comedic stuff behind but it all worked.
The match between he and Orton was a good match, coupled with that strong backstory. Goldust was certainly in shape and up for the challenge, and Orton showed why he is a main event player. It might have been assumed by all that Orton was definitely going to go over in the match, but the near falls were believable and easy to buy into.
In the end analysis though of where we are with this story, it’s progressing well and it’s interesting. However, the problem is that so much of the heat is on Triple H and Stephanie. Randy Orton is getting booed, but not nearly as much as Hunter. It almost feels like they’re working toward a Triple H/Daniel Bryan match, but I’m not sure.
My one fear is that down the road, they look to “restore order” with a returning Vince McMahon and John Cena. I hope that isn’t how it goes down. Bryan is on the cusp of being made here, despite my minor misgivings with the story, and to have Cena ride back in and kill it off would be disappointing on many levels.
Other Points of Note:
I liked what Paul Heyman did last night. It was essentially a throwback bit where he as the heel is cowardly, trying to escape his match with CM Punk. Faking the knee injury was a bit eye rolling but it worked. Punk’s growing obsession with getting to Heyman, and Heyman showing that he’s getting more and more afraid, is effective. Last night wasn’t white hot as previous exchanges had been, but it did more than any of the other storyline work going into Night of Champions.
Cue the internet ranting. Antonio Cesaro lost to Santino Marella last night. I could hear the “How dare they?!” from all over the globe. I’m with you though – I would like to see Cesaro get used in a more effective way, but this was Santino’s hometown. It was logical to give him the win on his first night back in the ring.
Rob Van Dam vs. Ryback was just bad. If there was ever a pairing that had no chemistry, these two were it. At the end, Ryback was to crotch RVD on the ring post, but RVD blocked it, only to get the bell rung for the DQ anyhow. There was one spot where RVD dove off the ropes and crashed into the safety barrier which was neat, but this match was terrible.
I’m struggling to understand why WWE would book Bray Wyatt vs. Dolph Ziggler unannounced with no hype behind it. It felt just kind of random. That said, I am glad that they got Wyatt a meaningful television win on last night’s show that wasn’t a squash match. Ziggler didn’t really lose anything from it either, as it was Harper and Rowan running a distraction that cost him the match.
Dolph, though is so much in neutral after suffering the concussion. I can’t recall the last time something happened that really gave Dolph any sort of momentum. And did WWE forget he has a match with Dean Ambrose on Sunday? I guess we’ll get some shine on that on Smackdown.
The Quick Strike:
- While I hold out very little hope, there are actually four fairly athletic women in the Divas Championship match on Sunday. I doubt the booking will be good though.
- Speaking of, Natalya’s use of the Sharpshooter was more over last night than any of the ladies in the match. Yes, a move was more over than talent.
- Tony Chimel really put some extra zing in the “SOOOOPERStar” for Edge last night, so much so his voice cracked. Less is more, Tony.
- Stephanie McMahon plays the “condescending bitch” pretty well.
- Perhaps it will happen on Smackdown, but the Tag Team Turmoil match to kick off Night of Champions feels a bit “thrown together” right now, and got zero attention beyond a graphic on Raw.
- Del Rio and R-Truth got shat on by the fans, and deservedly so. It wasn’t interesting to me either. I just couldn’t chant for the announcers in protest…well, I could, but the neighbors might find me odd.
That's it from me for now. I will be by as a part of our staff predictions and previews for Night of Champions later this week, and on Sunday night for live results and reaction to the Night of Champions pay per view event!