Welcome to another edition of the WWE RAW Report.
This week, we finally get a resolution to Daniel Bryan’s injury and what that means for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. I hope you’re satisfied with that story progression because the rest of RAW was rather light in that department this week.
That isn’t to say that this week’s episode was bad. Outside of the disappointment of Bryan’s injury keeping him out of Money in the Bank, it was actually a fairly entertaining episode with solid matches.
At the end of this episode, the WWE ended up in a very strange kind of limbo, even through their biggest question mark was resolved.
Let’s hop straight into the show to see where we ended up this week.
At least we get the most terrible thing out of the way early.
Earlier today, news leaked that Bryan would not be cleared for Money in the Bank. Ever since I caught wind of that, I accepted the inevitable and I’m glad the WWE decided to pull the bandaid off quickly at the beginning of the show.
It completely sucks and slams the brakes on one of the best stories that the WWE has had in a long time (yes, I’m completely ignoring anything with Brie & Kane post-Wrestlemania). However, the show must go on and the WWE tried its damnedest to delay stripping Bryan of the titles in hopes of getting one of their biggest stars back.
And yes, the WWE definitely believes that Bryan is one of their biggest stars. If you require more proof than the constant punting of any decision with the belts, just take a look at The Authority’s promo. They immediately go after Bryan for being a “B+ player” once again. A+ players can handle the stress of being a champion and don’t get immediately injured.
They were right, the WWE Universe is wrong. Don’t like it? Tough, they told you so. Oh, and they are going to get the rightful face of the WWE back in the title picture and no he doesn’t have to qualify. Why? Because Bryan is a fluke and The Authority will right the ship.
Bonus: “Brie quit for nothing” – Stephanie, cutting so deep and making me laugh so hard. I’m glad they didn’t try to rewrite history and called out the delay tactic for the absurdity that it was. I love when they own things like that.
Double Bonus: About fifteen minutes before RAW, Randy Orton tweets this:
Beautiful. Makes The Authority’s move to place Orton in the match all the more abuse-of-power awful. Not only does Orton not have to qualify, he doesn’t even have to be there.
Super Awkward: The titles were hanging over the ring. I assume they lowered them down at some point in the middle of the promo, but I couldn’t help but imagine HHH being all “We have a major blockbuster announcement about the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. No there are no belts above the ring, eyes down here. No, stop. Why are you looking up there? Pay no attention the bright shiny objects, we have a big super secret announcement.”
I seriously doubt anyone believed: The Shield wasn’t going to find a partner for the six man tag. Yeah, sure The Shield were beating the hell out of everyone at first, but now they are going after The Authority that’s throwing their power around and making everyone’s life hell. Further, I think just about every wrestling fan on my timeline predicted Cena would be the one, which was also rather obvious considering he confronted Stephanie last week about everything. Just odd that HHH decided to make a big deal about a 3-on-2 match that obviously wasn’t going down.
The midcard titles really don’t matter, do they?
First thing’s first, this was a good match. Sheamus got the win, Barrett still looks like a legitimate champion, and both guys were more than willing to just beat the hell out of each other.
That being said, why put both midcard title holders in the same match? Yes, those titles are obviously logical stepping stones to the big belts, but they should still seem important.
Placing both title holders in the same match makes both belts seem borderline worthless in comparison to the two belts that were hanging above the ring. Even worse, both men were staring at the belts throughout the match and when Sheamus won, he grabbed the U.S. Title and basically put it to his side while pointing at the belts he actually cares about.
If you want to push the midcard title holders into the match, can’t you at least put them in separate matches? At least that way it looks like each guy is trying to take the next step forward against the current WWE title contenders. Instead, both guys look like they are just holding the belts as a temporary prop.
Here’s a glimpse into what The Shield promos should have been like.
As we learned last week, Luke Harper is solid on the mic. Allowing Bray to follow Harper was perfect and was almost like an inverse Shield promo.
The problem with The Shield promos (when they had Rollins) was that they’d lead with their strongest on the mic, Dean Ambrose, and Seth Rollins would follow and kill all momentum. Reigns would conclude with a “believe that” much like Rowan ended this segment with a “follow the buzzards”, but the later works so much better.
It seems crazy that The Shield never figured out this formula, but hey, at least one trio has it down.
Speaking of Shield promos, Duo Shield > Trio Shield.
Usually I don’t go out of order with the segments, but I’m already on the subject, so let’s just keep going.
Rollins not being shoved in the middle of this promo made it so much better. Hell, even Roman Reigns gave more of an extended promo than usual and he managed to take the momentum that Ambrose built and ran with it. It exceeded my expectations and is easily my favorite promo that they’ve done in quite a while.
Wrestling matches are all about building to a climax, an entertaining finish that you’ll remember. Promos work in much the same way and I think The Shield/WWE may have lost track of that. Or maybe the WWE is smarter than I give them credit for and figured removing Rollins from The Shield would work out for the best because…
Seth Rollins can deliver a good promo.
Yeah, we’re still jumping around because after making a point about building momentum in a promo, I probably shouldn’t kill the momentum of my train of thought here.
Seth was so good in this promo. He’s been labeled the “architect of The Shield” but it just seemed like some random moniker for the announce team to throw out. Here, Rollins builds on that name, takes The Shield’s history shows how he was really the true reason for the success.
Ambrose can’t be the lead dog, he’s borderline insane. Dean is The Joker in The Dark Knight. Does he look like the kind of guy that has a plan? He isn’t the schemer, he’s an agent of choas. Just look at his wrestling style–he doesn’t even really “wrestle”, but flies in head-first with wreckless abandon.
Likewise, Roman Reigns couldn’t lead The Shield either. He’s just the big muscle that needs direction to be fully effective. Think of every Shield match that we’ve seen. Reigns role is to come in and clean house. He’s the exclamation point in The Shield’s match, the closer. Closers don’t create plans, they just finish the business that laid in front of them.
Further, Rollins has every right to claim credit for The Shield’s recent success. He took two crazy suicide dives off an arena tunnel and a jumbotron and those maneuvers helped seal victory for The Shield each time.
Seth built The Shield and helped propel them to great heights. They started and ended as business decisions. Rollins saw the trio was at the ceiling, found a better deal in HHH, and moved on. This shouldn’t be shocking after all, The Shield entered the WWE as hired guns and, since Seth truly was the brains behind the group, it makes total sense that he turned on them.
I am pleasantly surprised with how the WWE is running with this right now and hope Seth can build on this promo in future weeks. This is great stuff.
Ruining my buzz: John Cena running out for the save and confirming he would be the third man. I hope this is temporary because I do not want Cena turning into The Shield’s good buddy. Let The Shield do something fresh and let’s not have “Cena saves the day” part one million.
Also, please don’t let this be another shoehorning of Cena vs. Bray. Let it go.
Rusev’s terrible medal ceremony last week is now totally worth it.
The WWE moved all-in on the revitalized Cold War gimmick and it’s hilarious. Lana comes out, uses the leaked Obama workout video to make fun of America. That video, somewhat hilariously, got zero heat from the crowd until pictures of shirtless Putin was placed on the Titantron and the crowd went nuclear.
Rusev, once again being announced as from Bulgaria, but now residing in Russia, had his weight announced in kilograms because the super athlete won’t dare debase himself with the imperial system of measurement. He comes out not just waving his Russian flag, but is now wearing that ridiculous medal from last week (and it now has it’s own box at ringside!).
He also takes a cue from Lana and will now also speak in English. This is miles better than speaking only in Russian and leaving the crowd just sitting in dumbfounded silence because no one has a clue of what he is talking about.
Rusev then absolutely destroys Zack Ryder, implementing the same setup for The Accolade, a vicious stomp to the back and a face rake/neck stretch, that he used against Big E. And after the victory, a gigantic Russian flag drops from the rafters.
I love when the WWE goes all-in like this. The gimmick has been getting solid heat, but it more or less died when the match started. Now, Lana and Rusev have it from beginning to end.
You are terrible at picking tag team partners, Cody.
You gave your brother R-Truth?! Seriously?!
At least, I could somewhat believe Sin Cara was a decent replacement. At least he’s won some matches recently. R-Truth though…I can’t even remember the last time he won a match. You set your brother up for failure, sir.
Anyways, the Golden Truth (I’m going to keep naming these teams every week because why not) predictably lost against Rybaxal to keep this story going as expected. After all, Goldust winning any match until Cody turns on him wouldn’t make a bit of sense.
This week though, I’m glad Goldust was the one pinned. For this story to make more sense, he needs to be taking most of the losses so Cody doesn’t look deranged blaming his brother when the crappy partners he picks keeps getting pinned. Logic always wins.
There was no point to this segment at all.
Jealous ex-girlfriend hunts down current girlfriend and dumps milk on her because she can’t move on. Also, Summer Rae is apparently the good guy here, so I guess dumping milk on someone’s head is a super appropiate way to handle your heartache like a responsible adult.
The worse part of this segment though was that it could have been completely omitted from the show. The only fallout was that Layla came out a mess later because of this milk bath. We didn’t even see Summer Rae the rest of the night.
Stop doing things just to do them, WWE. Especially when they are such a tired trope as this one.
Good Lord, Sandow, what did you do to deserve this?
Sandow was fairly funny this week in his flesh-colored unitard, but man, I feel bad for the guy. Sure, he’s getting some laughs now, but he is turning into a bigger joke than Santino, who actually wrestled a match that had very little of his comedic shtick thrown in.
Yes, the guy whose finishing maneuver involves pulling a snake sock from his nether regions is getting to work a more legitimate match than someone with actual in-ring ability.
I feel like I’m in bizzaro world watching this.
Bo Dallas continues to make the best of what he’s given.
A match against Xavier Woods isn’t exactly much to write home about, especially when the match is more or less the same thing that we’ve seen in recent weeks. Still, Bo Dallas is doing whatever he can to build his character for the RAW audiences.
This week, he took the opportunity to give a motivational speech to the injured Daniel Bryan. Bo isn’t even remotely in any kind of title picture or in any other storyline related to him, but that doesn’t mean he can’t use him for easy heat.
Sometimes, the low-hanging fruit should be picked. This is one of those times.
Bonus: “One day, you’ll be a champion of life” – Bo Dallas to a defeated Xavier Woods. I think I just need to collect Bo post-match quotes to his opponents. They are always gold.
Cesaro for transitional champion.
It probably won’t happen, but I can definitely dream. A heel will likely need to grab the belt to set up for SummerSlam and beyond Randy Orton, there really isn’t too much heel power at all in the match (still not buying that Del Rio is going to be a real player in this).
There are still two spots left in the title match and I’m sure one will go to John Cena because I’m sure there is some kind of contractual obligation to put Cena in a title match if there are six people involved. Kane or maybe even Bray Wyatt might snag the final spot. So with that kind of a lineup, a surprise Cesaro push to the belt, while incredibly unlikely doesn’t sound too crazy.
Either way, thank God he won instead of RVD. I likely would have lost my mine if RVD would be shoved into a title match over the King of Swing.
Bonus: Paul Heyman continues to be a master troll. This week we practically convinced the Minnesota crowd their hometown, streak-conquering hero was in the building and out came Cesaro. Sheer brilliance.
Is there anyone else for Paige to wrestle?
It was a good match, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t want the Divas division turning into a best of 100 series between Paige and Fox. No matter how good those matches are, it will get stale.
Can’t we run Summer Rae back out there? It seems Emma has ditched Santino, so why not throw her out there? Not everything has to be face vs. heel.
Also, it appears the WWE loves breakups right now. Is someone in creative going through a terrible breakup or something? We’ve had The Shield break up, Evolution lost a member, Summer Rae and Fandago are no longer tangoing, Santino and Emma appear to be done (please, please, PLEASE), the Rhodes brothers are going to throw down before the summer is done, and now Alicia Fox assaults Aksana with popcorn. Is no relationship safe, WWE?!
This match is pure filler.
I almost have a feeling WWE creative looked at the run sheet and saw they needed to fill another segment and this happened. I really don’t understand the logic here. Even “Santino’s Italian and Zeb wants to deport everyone” doesn’t make a whole lot of sense considering Zeb and Swagger have been going at it with Adam Rose as of late.
But, here we are with a seemingly pointless match, complete with Zeb slapping Swagger around like he was a couple of months ago when the Real Americans were still a tag team. If WWE is going back to building on that to have Swagger ditch Zeb, then this match is an even worse decision. I’m not sure Swagger will hold my interest right now without Zeb.
Bonus and lone bright spot: Pretty sure Zeb is firing back at DiGirono, who has taken to live tweeting RAW, with his “Here’s a pizza my mind” sign.
The main event is a microcosm of the current state of WWE.
During this week’s episode, I had this cross my Twitter timeline:
The main event was great. It was entertaining, fun, and everyone got to look good. From a story perspective, however, nothing happened.
The Shield faced off against the Wyatts…again. The only difference this time is that Cena was with them instead of Rollins and I don’t think Cena is shopping for a pair of black jorts and an over-sized flack jacket any time soon.
The Shield’s beef is with Rollins, HHH, and Orton, the later of which is more or less out of the picture for now since he’s going for the title. Fighting the Wyatts and teaming with Cena doesn’t exactly do anything to progress that. HHH and Rollins just sat and watched the whole thing from the back and didn’t even interfere.
So where is this going?
Equally frustrating is that this whole match came off the heels of some very solid promos by both The Shield and Rollins. The motivations are set and everyone’s cards are on the table. Shouldn’t we be building to some kid of match at Money in the Bank?
And this match wasn’t the only one with this problem. Save for the title qualifier matches and the Rhodes brothers continuing their story, every other match was just kind of there. It almost seems like the WWE is just treading water right now.
I’m sure a lot of this had to do with not knowing what to do with Bryan and the titles until tonight, but that doesn’t explain why Rusev doesn’t seem to be building to another PPV match, Swagger is messing around in a Santino match, Sandow’s dancing around in a unitard with Fandango instead of building a title defense for the Usos, and Paige/Fox matches seem to be the entire divas division right now.
There are only two RAWs left before the PPV and not even the Money in the Bank title match is fully set. I’m sure we will get some solid matches just like we did for Payback, but, as of right now, I’m bracing for an even worse build for Money in the Bank.
Here’s hoping with the title situation sorted out, WWE gets everything back on track quickly.
Tags: Alicia Fox Bad News Barrett Bo Dallas Bray Wyatt Cesaro Cody Rhodes Daimen Sandow Daniel Bryan Dean Ambrose Erick Rowan Fandango Goldust HHH Jack Swagger John Cena Lana Layla Luke Harper Paige R-Truth Randy Orton Rob Van Dam Roman Reigns Rusev Santino Marella Seth Rollins Sheamus Stephanie McMahon Summer Rae The Authority The Shield The Usos The Wyatt Family WWE Raw Zeb Colter