The show opened with John Cena in a steel cage, and while the visual was impressive, it’s the exact same thing we’ve seen for weeks. Cena’s promo was decent. And Bray Wyatt’s entertaining ‘Children of the Corn’ serenade was probably the creepiest thing that’s happened on Raw since The Undertaker sacrificed Stone Cold Steve Austin on his big pentagram-icon thingy. I do think using children who looked happy just to be on tv took me out of the moment a little. Still, hats off to the creative team for making this feud stick, even after the babyface Cena picked up his revenge victory at WrestleMania.
It was nice to see the WWE Tag Team Championship defended on RAW. The Usos are one of the hardest working (and most entertaining) tag-teams in all of professional wrestling today. I just wish I could say the same for Ryback and Curtis Axel.
Let’s get this out of the way – yes, there was a guest host on RAW. And yes, the segment was booked to make one of WWE’s best archetypal-villain characters in Damien Sandow look like a complete buffoon. Hugh Jackman is entertaining because he’s willing to get in the ring and do something fun, and he honestly looks like he enjoys the experience (unlike certain other guest hosts). But I think this could’ve been better had Dolph turned on Jackman and switched back to full-on @HeelZiggler mode.
Hour two of RAW left me in a lurch. Alberto Del Rio wrestled Cody Rhodes, and it was just okay. Russev against Xavier Woods was anything but “must-watch tv.” There was a lot of wasted time in here, and unfortunately, it took the whole show down with it. Let’s not even talk about 3MB against Los Matadores….
So, with all that wasted time, is the classic build towards a monthly Pay-Per-View dead? If you had watched last-night’s show, you’d know that Extreme Rules will NOT be on DirectTV or Dish (makes sense), but probably not much else. Many people have been concerned that WWE will use the network as an excuse to get lazy about booking tv. Turns out, those concerns might not be too far from the truth.
I’m guessing WWE has big plans for Cesaro with Heyman/Swagger/RVD/The Pillsbury Doughboy. But a pairing with Paul Heyman only makes sense in the short-term. Cesaro was about to get over as a babyface right before being labeled a “Paul Heyman guy,” and if this kills his momentum, I will be one ticked-off fan. Besides, it seems like WWE is more focused on the slapstick comedy between Heyman and Coulter.
Some people were down on the Daniel Bryan and Stephanie McMahon segment; I personally thought it was a great effort by all parties involved. I don’t always like real life marriages being used for storyline fodder, and Brie looked like a complete idiot for going back into the ring AFTER she had escaped. But the whole segment solidified Stephanie as a monster heel, and it gave fans a reason to want Daniel Bryan to knock down the Big Red Machine. Was it perfect? Absolutely not. But the heels got heat, and that’s what makes fiscal sense.
Wade Barrett was the obvious choice to win the Intercontinental Championship tournament. Props to WWE for making the right call here.
The closing segment was weird. While it was great to see Ric Flair on television again, his “not-really-a-turn” against Evolution was handled poorly. I don’t know if Flair was to blame for botching his lines, or if the guys in Evolution just did a terrible job selling the moment. But just to see Flair scurry off like a scared puppy dog right when the match was getting ready to begin made his whole appearance a waste. I think The Shield against Evolution is going to steal the show on Sunday, but this segment didn’t do much for the cause.
Overall Show was up, down, and somewhere in-between. A few good matches were balanced out by a few sleeper (like, literally, me snoozing) matches. Plus, a lot of the show felt aimless. I’m hoping it’s not indicative of the effort we’re going to see come Sunday.