Raw as always is here on Monday night. With John Cena officially rules out for the night and weeks before Hell in a Cell, the questions going into the night were numerous with not many likely to be answered.
Still, with a three hour Raw, the one thing to look forward to is WWE constantly pushing things forward. Where the stories will go, only WWE go show us.
Everybody Wants Power
Overview: CM Punk and Paul Heyman came out to explain Punk’s actions from last week, and Heyman noted how AJ should be fired for striking him. Vickie and Dolph came out to stake Vickie’s claim as general manager before AJ came out and said she has only been put on probation.
Daniel Bryan came out to apologize for ruining the mental state of AJ before his tag team partner Kane came out to fight over who was the tag team champions. AJ ended up making a match for the main event between Punk and Ziggler vs. Team Hell No.
Analysis: That segment was crazy but also hilarious. I liked that WWE acknowledged that striking Heyman was something she wasn’t allowed to do which brings by a story that WWE seemed to forget about months earlier.
Overall, every single person in the ring got a few good words in, and no one looked bad. Kane seemed a bit out of place only because he came in just to cause chaos, but it made sense to build up a main event with great potential.
Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara def. Primo and Epico
Overview: In a dominant display, Cara and Mysterio won with a combination tag team finish leading to the 619 and a frog splash by Mysterio.
Analysis: While we have seen these two teams face off already twice, I still don’t feel they have gotten anywhere near their ability together. Still it was a fun match shortened by a badly timed commercial break.
Having the Prime Time Players watch the action from the outside was nice as it continued what seems to be a side feud between PTP and Mysterio/Cara which is cool as it keeps the tag team division dynamic.
Overview: Cesaro ran through Clay as if he was nothing, hitting the Neutralizer with ease on the 375 pound man.
Analysis: The match was basically a squash, surprisingly since Clay rarely loses. Clay was absolutely crushed by Cesaro who looked very impressive with his strength.
I have seen some of what Cesaro can do before, but his strength has always impressed me.
Overview: In a quick, forgettable match, Miz defeated Ryder with the Skull Crushing Finale.
Analysis: This was simply WWE’s way of keeping the Miz on TV. It was a quick and clean victory for Miz to remind us that he is indeed champion. However, if WWE wants to keep the title picture around Miz thriving, they need to give him some legitimate rivals.
I thought at first he was getting that with Ryback, but Ryback is headed in a different direction. That leaves Miz with no one to challenge him even though many options exist. The same can be said for Antonio Cesaro as well.
The Debate of Two Brutes
Analysis: I may be in the minority, but I’m excited for Sheamus vs. Big Show. Sheamus seems like a guy who could really mesh well in the ring. This debate was decent, drawing the lines of the two’s characters. Sheamus will be making more a joke of things which should aggravate Show into an aggressive showing against Sheamus soon.
The idea that it was a debate was a bit off putting as it didn’t really work that way. Would’ve been better as a straight forward promo. Both men seemed slightly off their game on the mic though I credit Show for some subtle jokes at his own expense in comparison to Sheamus’ rather blatant humor.
Can anyone explain to me why Big Show was kept off TV for a few weeks? He could’ve been built much better up to this feud with Sheamus.
Ryback def. Tensai
Overview: In a relatively quick match, Ryback defeated Tensai with a second clothesline after failing to get him on his shoulders twice.
Analysis: The story coming out of this match was that Ryback could not get Tensai up for the Shell Shocked which was seemingly a botch as he was able to do it on Friday Night SmackDown (which was a much better match as well).
Looking back at it, I think this may be on Tensai who seems to deliberately block both attempts rather than help Ryback lift him. The only difference from SmackDown seems to be on Tensai’s side, but I could be wrong.
Eve Torres def. Beth Phoenix
Overview: Before the match, Eve sold herself as a face champion despite undertones still firmly toward her being a heel. Eve then fought off an angry Beth to win with her neckbreaker.
Analysis: Solid storytelling by Eve throughout this short match as she continues to play a two face character. While the division is lacking quite a bit lately, the work by Eve and the story with Beth and Kaitlyn is keeping it alive.
Overview: Before Santino could decidedly defeat Heath Slater, Jinder Mahal and Drew McIntyre got involved and assaulted Santino. After they destroyed Santino, the new stable, the Encore announced that they were not ready to be ignored.
Analysis: The match was nothing to write home about, but this stable of Slater, McIntyre, and Mahal makes for an interesting if uncredible tag team. I like the tandem and am interested in their future, but they are most likely just a comedy trio of jobbers.
Sheamus def. Damien Sandow
Overview: After a stellar double digit contest between Sandow and Sheamus, Sheamus overcame Rhodes’ interferences and hit a Brogue Kick to Sandow and Rhodes at the same time before getting the three count, handing Sandow his first pinfall loss.
Analysis: Well, bravo, Damien Sandow, that was quite the performance. I have not seen Sandow quite this honed in on a match since he debuted. He is really starting to buck the label he has been given as a poor in ring technician.
He’s not perfect, but he’s putting on quality bouts with main event guys. He also already has the character and mic skills to work with those guys. Overall the upsides shown by Sandow were enormous, and the match was easily the best of the night between Sheamus and Sandow.
JR Appreciation Night Ruined by CM Punk
Overview: Jim Ross had his appreciation night early, the first one they’ve showed on live TV, only to be interrupted by CM Punk who demanded JR call him the “best in the world”. When JR refused, things got dangerously close to physical, but Ryback came in for the save causing Punk to walk away.
Analysis: CM Punk and JR were perfect foils for one another in a similar vein to last week’s Foley/Punk interaction. JR was at his best here over any other time tonight, and it was one of JR’s best times on the mic in the ring I’ve seen.
I like how WWE is having legends try to push Punk to finally agree to a Hell in a Cell match against Cena. It makes the build to that match solid despite a lack of Cena at times.
I haven’t been reviewing Raw lately, so I haven’t been able to say much lately on Ryback. WWE has been doing a great job with his build lately. I have no idea where he fits in against Punk, but the slow, high impact build for him is very interesting and effective. For example, that crowd was completely behind him coming out to defend JR.
Overview: In a good but a bit short match, Kofi fought with a head of steam but ended up taking the Cross Armbreaker and having to tap.
Analysis: Kofi here looked good for the time he got, and Del Rio did a solid job as well. Overall, it was a bit of a filler match not going anywhere for either man.
By the way, Ricardo on guest commentary was hilarious. I wouldn’t mind them having him do that during all TV matches that Alberto Del Rio wrestles in.
Team Hell No def. CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler
Overview: With AJ as the special guest referee, Paul Heyman and Vickie Guerrero were ejected from ringside. Vickie’s departure caused Dolph to follow leaving Punk all alone to take a chokeslam and be beaten by the tag team champions.
Analysis: A solid tag team contest here between four solid to great workers, it’s hard to complain. This was simply a match to keep up this dynamic between AJ, Heyman, and Vickie.
The tag team champions ended the show again as they’ve been doing quite a few times lately. It may be time to say WWE has begun to turn the division around in a positive direction.
Final notes: Throughout the night, AJ was working with her probation officer. The segments were somewhat hit and miss.
The one with Kaitlyn was a bit strange though the cameraman should be credited with helping to make sure we all know why this WWE breast cancer awareness is important with the opening shot of Kaitlyn. The one with Wade Barrett was a bit unnecessary, and the final one where AJ got rid of the man was fine.
Overall, this was basically just a way of fueling the questions around AJ as general manager which is fine. The only other thing of note was that JR had some noticeable commentary mistakes throughout the night that show that while he’s good he is not quite comfortable as a long term solution on the table.
Conclusion: Overall, this was a pretty down episode. It had a great match between Sandow and Sheamus and a great segment between JR and Punk, but stories were not really advanced this week. The midcard is back in drift as WWE over-emphasizes the tag team division while leaving Miz and Cesaro squashing competitors.
John Cena being on the show wouldn’t have changed much, but, without him, the show ended on what seemed an unimportant note. What WWE is doing right now is moving on autopilot with Raw. They really need to do something big in the coming weeks; otherwise, despite a promising developing card, Hell in a Cell may not deliver.
I don’t think this was a bad night, but I don’t think it was a good one. Every thing was moving in a straight line rather than advancing at all which made this a bit of a downer.