Hold on to your cowboy hats, folks – last night’s WWE RAW stoked up the hype train in a big way. The show opening, with Big Show getting “fired” by Stephanie McMahon, left me with mixed feelings. I liked the idea here (especially since it set the tone for Show’s re-emergence later in the evening). Unfortunately, Stephanie and Show both had their best Brendan Frasier acting hat on. There are ways to sell moments as believable without being over the top, but that subtlety was overlooked here.
Dolph Ziggler defeated Damien Sandow in a fairly entertaining rematch from Battleground. Too bad there’s nothing else to say here.
Randy Orton versus Daniel Bryan III was announced, as expected, but with the added bonus of HBK. Smart book on WWE’s part. Presumably, it was a knee-jerk reaction to lackluster ratings, but it paid off in a big way on RAW. I liked the “audience vote” to pick the special guest referee. Bob Backlund even made me crack a smile. This feud picked up a little momentum with the addition of the Hall of Famer, and I hope that creative team leverages Daniel Bryan’s history with Shawn Michaels to make things a little more diverse.
Los Matadores? 3MB? Antonio Cesaro against Great Khali? Yep, these three hour shows are really paying off.
Ryback called out CM Punk last night – or, he said something that resembled a challenge. Listen, Heyman is trying his darndest to make this feud last until Hell in a Cell, but there’s absolutely zero chemistry left in this weird Ryback/CM Punk/Paul Heyman triangle. Brock Lesnar needs to return soon if creative hopes to squeeze a little more money out of this story. And props to R Truth for picking up his first legitimate win on Monday Night Raw since Little Jimmy left his side.
While I hated seeing Kofi Kingston lose again, his match with Randy Orton deserves some praise. These two definitely have chemistry in the ring together. I think there were probably more effective ways to re-establish Randy Orton’s ruthless persona than having him beat up Kofi “awesome tights” Kingston, but an all around fun segment.
Here’s the big news: John Cena is returning at Hell in a Cell. Perhaps even more surprising is the announcement that he’ll be facing Alberto Del Rio at Hell in a Cell for the World Heavyweight Championship. You can listen to last night’s podcast for my full thoughts, but I’ll say this: WWE knows when it needs to grab headlines again, and, more importantly, it knows how to do it.
Everybody seemed to hate Bray Wyatt’s confrontation with The Miz last night, but I didn’t think it was so bad. These two might not deliver a classic match when they eventually meet; however, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to like here. Miz is a decent in-ring worker, and Bray Wyatt could really benefit from working with somebody who isn’t a big man like Kane. Actually, he could just benefit from working with ANYBODY. I also think promos between these two could be fun, assuming The Miz cuts out his cornball routine for a few weeks. We’ll see.
The main event was fun, and Big Show’s re-entrance to K.O. punch Triple H hyped the crowd. Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, and Cody Rhodes should all walk from this feud looking like stars.
Overall show was pretty entertaining. Granted, it was no where near the best RAW this year, and every major angle reeked of upper-management desperation. Plus, I was so happy to see something different that I’m probably grading on a curve. But at least the product caught a litlte momentum last night. Let’s hope it sticks for the next three weeks.
How do you feel about Monday Night’s flagship show? Is WWE desperate to do anything for a quick bounce in ratings? Sound off in the comments below! Also, be sure to follow Between the Ropes on Facebook and Twitter.