Welcome to the weekly edition of Raw Afterthoughts, where we break down last night's show in more detail.  Be sure to comment, ask questions, or voice your own opinions below!

Road Blocks Ahead?

While it was extremely predictable booking from the start, the main event tag match was well done.  This keeps both title stories going as we move toward Hell in a Cell at the end of October.  The main focus of this one, however, is the most likely pairing of Cena and Punk in the Cell.

The finish with the rookie referee missing Punk's foot on the ropes was well done.  I can easily see this playing out as Punk going to AJ, complaining about the official's decision and putting another road block in Cena's way as they head to the obvious HIAC match. 

They need to be careful with this though.  Punk is doing a good job of being the jerk looking for respect at the moment.  If they keep giving him legitimate reasons to complain with stuff like this, it could backfire on them eventually.

Tag Team Hopes...

Daniel Bryan and Kane have a good act right now.  They worked it well last night, but didn't get the same kind of reaction they have been.  Is that due to the crowd as a whole being somewhat limp last night, or is the act losing steam already?  I like to think it was the former because, at least how it played out over TV, the crowd last night was pretty flat.

Titus O'Neil showed me something though.  They dropped the silliness of the "Prime Time Players" gimmick and let him cut an intense heel promo after destroying Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio.  O'Neil and Young (he didn't say much in that segment so it's hard to judge) could end up being a good foil for "Team Friendship" if they keep the PTP a bit more on the intense, serious side.

Miz TV - Change the Channel!

I am not alone when I say that I feel Miz needs to develop more as a character.  Dropping the faux-hawk and growing a little facial hair is not what I had in mind either.  This segment last night was just painful.

Miz is a good talker but he can be repetitive on the mic.  The real problem is that Miz doesn't win on TV often and that has rendered him irrelevant in the eyes of fans.  As a result, no one wants to hear an irrelevant guy go on for a long time in a promo.

I'm sure if you're a Ryback fan, you enjoyed how the segment ended.  It seems we might be heading for a Ryback/Miz program which might just be a bit lopsided.  But the ending can't take away from the fact that the segment got some "boring" chants that I believe even JBL acknowledged on commentary.

Especially in the three-hour format, a "talk show" on the lines of Miz TV can work.  They have to do it the right way - without an "in-ring" set like they've done for 20 years, and either do it with a guy who is better positioned than Miz, or change Miz's positioning so that it feels more special.

The Undercard...

I know I'm not alone in this point I noticed last night:  WWE has plenty of fresher faces and/or fresh directions to move people in on the undercard.  The issue is that WWE just isn't bothering to utilize them or tell the stories with them that they could be.  They just run these guys out there week after week to work filler matches.

Some of these guys have good acts.  Damien Sandow can talk and could really fire up the crowd if they give him something real to work with.  Ryback shows potential, but all he does is kill off jobbers.  And while it isn't clicking with me, Wade Barrett's revamped role is a place he seems comfortable in.

Right now, Sandow gets a random match on Raw, Barrett is just getting his legs back under him after injury, and Ryback seems to be heading for a feud with a jobber that happens to hold a title.  WWE is leaving a lot of money, and talent, on the table by not finding ways to book their undercard in meaningful ways.  It could really produce some solid TV, especially using the three-hour Raw format if they put some effort behind the undercard.

Quick Hits:

  • From Pin-Up Strong to Pin Her Always, Beth Phoenix has fallen a long way down the Divas ladder.  Not sure why this is, but it's a shame.
  • Really enjoyed the three-man announce booth.  Cole did well as the straight play by play guy, and JR and JBL filled in the gaps well.  JR seemed a bit rusty but the chemistry as a whole was there and made for a good night from that angle.
  • I'm not really looking forward to Brodus vs. Antonio Cesaro.  They may prove me wrong, but on the surface this doesn't look entertaining.
  • Pretty disappointing that we got no real rebound for Dolph Ziggler losing at the pay per view.  I thought they may try to work a better angle with him but instead they just fed him Santino for what was essentially a squash win.
  • Sandow and Zack Ryder had a good match, but as I mentioned above, it feels like filler material since the undercard is floating along with little to no direction.

That's it for this week folks.  Join me again next week as we bring you more Raw brand coverage here on Ring-Rap.com.