WWE Raw Rundown – 7/29/2013

Raw SidewaysWhile there was nothing particularly wrong with tonight’s WWE Raw, the show seemed lacking in a few areas.  I really enjoyed the focus on in-ring action.  However, the show suffered from too many non-finishes, and didn’t offer any “must-see” segments. Here’s the rundown: [Read more...]

Between The Ropes | David Shoemaker – July 24, 2013

David Shoemaker (AKA The Masked Man) of Grantland.com talks about his latest column “Hipster Wrestling“, if wrestling is cool again, the new type of wrestler and connected with today’s society, the rise of Daniel Bryan in the WWE and whether or not he can be the face of the company, having the McMahons on television, WWE being PG television these days and making that work, what he thinks will happen at SummerSlam between Bryan and John Cena and more.

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Between The Ropes Wrestling Podcast – July 23, 2013

Brian and Steve look back at Raw from Monday night including the final segments with Daniel Bryan, the great CM Punk – Paul Heyman segment, the train wreck involving the Total Divas segment as well as a little accident, Ryback, Brad Maddox, could Rob Van Dam even be a world champion again in WWE, how important ratings are for this show and more.

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‘Monday Night Raw’ Reaction and Review – 7/22/2013

For complete coverage of everything that happened on Monday Night Raw, be sure to check out last night’s WWE Raw Rundown.

Bryan Maddox Cena contract signingThe contract signing between John Cena and Daniel Bryan was a good way to start the show. I liked how it picked up immediately where Raw left off last week, and it seemed to have a specific purpose in promoting the WWE Title picture. The contract signing made sense (instead of just an announcement for a contract signing later in the night), because it felt like a logical part of the story.

Let me also praise John Cena for his effective mic work. I’m one of Cena’s most vocal critics, but think he did wonders in putting over Bryan as a legitimate contender in this opening segment. He cut out the “funnyman” garbage for once, and his intensity took this feud up a notch. While we can all agree here on the internet that Daniel Bryan deserves a WWE Championship match, hearing it straight from the biggest star in the company means a lot to the casual fan.

Speaking of, Daniel Bryan is on fire. Is there anybody else in all of professional wrestling that’s hotter right now? He had an instant classic with Antonio Cesaro AFTER already being in the ring with Swagger for 10 minutes already. And the fans can’t seem to get enough of him.

The CM Punk segment just went a little too long last night. I thought Punk cut another incredible, believable promo, and climaxing with his challenge to Brock Lesnar was a perfect way to end it. Unfortunately, WWE delivered Paul Heyman “live via satellite,” and while Heyman is good, his part took all the wind out of what Punk had just accomplished. Less is more in this case. Let Paul Heyman trot out next week and accept the challenge, and blab on about his new best friend. But it wasn’t needed last night. Also, I hate that he kept talking to “Brock Lesnar” who happened to be just right off the screen. Nobody’s buying that.

That “Total Divas” stuff was terrible. Grumble, grumble, grumble….

Brad Maddox continues to fill out his role as new GM of Raw in a surprising fashion. I really like him as the mouthpiece for Vince, and he plays the “caught between the bosses” role better than Vickie (mostly because Vickie was a veteran, and Maddox can act like he has a lot to prove). I also appreciate that they’re using Vince’s classic disdain for the “small guys” as fodder for this storyline, because it gives Vince a real purpose for being around.

The overall show, on the other hand, felt like it had too much padding last night. I’ve argued on numerous occasions that three hours is too much for a weekly wrestling event. I think a longer Raw has its place – just look to last week’s packed show as evidence. But last night would have been much better served as a two hour event, highlighting specific feuds, while giving other storylines time to rest. Maybe WWE should only make every Monday Night Raw after a Pay-Per-View a three hour special? That way, the creative team gets a little more time to play around, and it serves as a good kick-start towards the next major event.

Agree? Disagree? Sound off in the comments below!  Or follow me on Twitter @therealwiseman

Between The Ropes Wrestling Podcast – July 22, 2013

Brian and Steve talk about the current cuts in TNA Wrestling including both Bruce Pritchard and D’Lo Brown being let go, the current position of TNA, the issues with the house show over the weekend, a preview of tonight’s edition of WWE Raw, talk of Steve Austin returning at WrestleMania 30, the role of WrestleMania for the company and more.

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CM Punk and Paul Heyman Bring Back Attitude

This past Monday night, wrestling found it’s spark again. Check out your favorite blog, or take a look at Twitter. CM Punk and Paul Heyman absolutely stole the show. [Read more...]

Video: Brock Lesnar Attacks CM Punk on Raw

In case you missed it or want to re-live the fantastic segment from this past Monday edition of Raw, WWE has posted the segment which included the interaction between CM Punk and Paul Heyman before Brock Lesnar cam out and wreaked havoc and assaulting Punk including an F5 on the announcer’s table.

WWE.com is also reporting — although this is likely just more part of the storyline — that Punk was injured during the attack.

In what sounds more like an injury report from a car crash than a fistfight, medical officials have told WWE.com that Punk suffered whiplash and strained ligaments in his left knee and right ankle. Punk’s ribs are also bruised, potentially broken, as a result of the attack.

Below is a picture that WWE included on their Instagram account of CM Punk being looked at by WWE doctors after his beating from Lesnar.

punkhurt

Between The Ropes Wrestling Podcast – July 16, 2013

Brian and Steve talk about last night’s edition of Raw including the incredible angle between Paul Heyman, CM Punk and Brock Lesnar, Daniel Bryan being selected by John Cena for his SummerSlam opponent for the WWE Championship, several very good matches on the show, putting together a possible lineup for SummerSlam and more.

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Monday Night Raw Reaction and Review – 7/15/2013

Be sure to check out the Raw Rundown for complete coverage of last night’s show!

Cena vs BryanBrad Maddox kicked things off on Raw, and what an impressive way to promote his first official night as General Manager. I was worried creative was going to make him look like the weak authority figure. Instead, they put him in the ring with John Cena, Randy Orton, and Fandango. Triple H and Stephanie even put over his “pick your own opponent for SummerSlam” as a good idea. Maddox has a lot of charisma, and I hope he continues to be used effectively.

Two surprise attacks last night also made things interesting. Seeing The Shield tear apart a beast like Mark Henry was fun and unexpected. Does this mean Henry is turning face? If so, he seems like the perfect foe for this powerhouse trio. For some reason, their segment didn’t feel like “just another Shield attack” for once. If they do beat the big man, this could be their shot at redemption. Likewise, The Wyatt Family surprised us with their attack on a returning R-Truth. Bray Wyatt cut an amazing promo here. Something about eater of worlds, the creator being a liar, etc. This character is something different and refreshing, and his lackeys are simply terrifying. Plus, his challenge to Kane should make for some interesting fodder between now and SummerSlam.

We all know CM Punk and Paul Heyman are really, really good. But sometimes the WWE product can skew our expectations. Let me say this: that segment last night was one of the best I’ve ever seen in professional wrestling. Not only did Punk and Heyman put together some of the most effective mic work that WWE’s seen in months (years?), Brock Lesnar was to perfection as the muscle. This feud feels personal only because of the way Heyman and Punk sold it. I have so much more I want to say about this, so maybe I’ll put together a full column on it at some point down the road. For now, just know that this was a must-see moment.

I was worried that Rob Van Dam would be lost in the shuffle last night. With so much else going on, there was no way WWE had time to really promote his homecoming, right? Wrong. Instead of putting together an artificial promo, or hotshotting a feud, they simply put him in the ring with another veteran and let him work. The message is clear – why should people care about RVD? Because he’s an exciting wrestler. His ring work is unique. The “you-still-got-it” chants were completely wrong, because RVD never lost it. This was an incredible, Pay-Per-View worthy match. Check it out.

John Cena finally picked Daniel Bryan as his SummerSlam opponent, and internet marks everywhere let out a collective sigh. This was expected, but it was the right call. John Cena always does better when he has a skilled mat technician to work with (just look at his epic feud with Punk), so these two should tear down the house at SummerSlam. Question: Does this mean Daniel Bryan has finally arrived?

Overall show was one of the best episodes of Monday Night Raw I’ve seen in months, maybe years. The crowd was hot, the show felt fresh, and everything delivered. I said on Facebook that this felt like a “post-Wrestlemania Raw,” but I was wrong. It was better.

Between The Ropes | Arda Ocal – July 15, 2013

Brian talk with Arda Ocal about the grand opening of the WWE Performance Center which he was  at last week, the Money in the Bank PPV and looking ahead to SummerSlam, Triple H’s role with WWE, Orlando becoming such an important city for WWE, the Hall of Fame, WrestleMania host cities going forward and more.

Follow Arda on Twitter @arda_ocal

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Between The Ropes Wrestling Podcast – July 15, 2013

Brian and Steve talk about Sunday’s Money in the Bank PPV including Damien Sandow and Randy Orton each winning the ladder matches, the physicality of the All-Stars ladder match, a really good John Cena vs. Mark Henry match, possibilities now for SummerSlam, the Ultimate Warrior working with the WWE for the new 2K14 video game, last week’s grand opening of the WWE Performance Center and more.

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Mark Henry Talks WWE Performance Center, Money in the Bank

WWE superstar Mark Henry talks about the new Performance Center and his current run in the WWE including his upcoming match against John Cena at the Money in the Bank PPV.

Between The Ropes Wrestling Podcast – July 10, 2013

Better late than never – Brian and Steve talk about Raw from Monday night including the debut of the Wyatt Family, Daniel Bryan’s role this week and if he is being used too much, the lead up to the Money in the Bank PPV, Vickie Guerrero out as the Raw GM as well as Matt Morgan getting his release from TNA Wrestling.

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‘Monday Night Raw’ Reaction and Review – 7/8/2013

Be sure to check out the Raw Rundown for complete coverage of last night’s show!

henry tops cenaMark Henry and John Cena faced off last night, in a take-it or leave-it segment. This feud kicked off hot a few weeks ago with Henry’s faux retirement speech. Unfortunately, things died off for the last two weeks, and this segment only managed to muster up a little more momentum heading towards Sunday. The face-off at the end gave Cena fans a reason to worry. But, it also reminded the rest of us that Henry’s chances at Money in the Bank are slim indeed.

Rob Van Dam was featured prominently on last nights show through a series of classic ladder match clips. This was a smart move by WWE. It reminded fans why they should care about Rob Van Dam returning to the company after so many years, and also highlighted his chances at winning the match this coming Sunday. For those of you that don’t like RVD, this probably didn’t do much to change your mind. But it should at least help sell a few more Pay Per Views to the casual fans.

The Wyatt Family finally debuted, and ended up deliver a Shield-esque beatdown. I’m not saying their overall persona reminded me of The Shield, or that just because they’re both three-man groups they act the same. But WWE creative has to give these guys more than just “we attack random people.” The videos hype last night climaxed in an eerie way. Let’s hope that trend continues, and these three men (especially Bray Wyatt) are treated like something special. These guys definitely have the potential to become the “creepy presence” of the next decade, and fill the void left by The Undertaker and Kane. Speaking of which, do I smell a possible SummerSlam feud?

Vickie Guerrero, love her or hate her, delivers in segments like last night’s job performance evaluation. I question her replacement (Brad Maddox? Really? Isn’t he a wrestler?), but considering he’s probably a spot-filler, I can handle it. What left me most disappointed was the McMahon family feud (again!). Just when it seemed like Vince and Triple H were taking their disagreements to a more personal level, they simply deferred to Stephanie, who settled things with the biggest non-commitment anybody could ask for. This constant bickering is leaving me indifferent. Come on, WWE, let’s kick things up a notch.

The overall show was solid. While not every match was entertaining, and not every segment lived up to the lofty expectations in place, I felt consistently entertained for three hours. A few standout matches including Daniel Bryan vs Sheamus (these guys could have stolen the show last year at Wrestlemania), without a lot of filler, made this seem like a well-booked show. This was the first night in a while where advertised segments, such as the Wyatt Family and Vickie Guerrero, kept me from changing the channel. And while I still think the WWE product (obviousy) has room for growth, it feels like creative is finally taking the charge of putting together a full three-hour show more seriously. Hopefully this is indicative of a good SummerSlam build… but only time will tell.

Video: Wyatt Family Debut

Michael Cole kicked the show off last night announcing that a WWE.COM reporter had been sent earlier in the week to track down the Wyatt Family.  What followed was a series of three POV, horror-style videos. [Read more...]

WWE Raw Rundown – July 8th, 2013

Raw SidewaysEntertaining Monday Night Raw tonight. While three hours still feels too long for a weekly wrestling show, the show had a number of great hooks, and a solid final build towards Money in the Bank that made it worth watching. Let’s take a look: [Read more...]

Between The Ropes Wrestling Podcast – July 2, 2013

stingBrian and Steve are back to talk about Raw from last night including the direction for Daniel Bryan, divas, the world champions vignettes, rumors of a possible world champ joining the WWE, the Wyatt Family debut next week, Ricardo Rodriguez suspension and more.

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‘Monday Night Raw’ Reaction and Review – 7/1/2013

Be sure to check out the Raw Rundown for complete coverage of last night’s show.

MITB ParticipantsMoney in the Bank All-Stars was highlighted in a very effective way last night. The show’s opening managed to get a bunch of stars in the ring together at the same time, for a very specific purpose, without feeling over-booked.I also thought each wrestler did a great job of selling why they were going to win the match. And while the “I just happened to be right behind the curtain when you happened to say this specific thing to make me come out here” bit was overplayed, it served as a great catalyst for getting everybody in the ring. Plus, the visual of seeing all six competitors in front of the ladder, under the briefcase, definitely sold a few more Pay-Per-Views. Good stuff.

I’m also really starting to dig the “All-Stars” idea. WWE has tried to promote the Royal Rumble as its own “All Star” game for a few years now, but the concept there just doesn’t work (what other sport has an All-Star game with bottom-tiered players involved?). This, on the other hand, actually makes a lot of sense. I’d even like to see the company take it a step further, and pick 14 All-Stars who have matches together to qualify for Money in the Bank.

The McMahons, on the other hand, were not handled well last night. It just felt like the EXACT SAME THING that happened last week – they all come in and give Vickie their opinion, and she’s stuck in the middle, unsure of what to do. Knowing that this is all going somewhere with Vickie’s Job Evaluation next week makes me feel a little better. I’m just not feeling the “hurry up and wait” storyline deliver of these past two Raw episodes.

The audience also played a huge role last night, just not in the crazy/unpredictable ‘night after Wrestlemania’ way. Instead, they sat on their hands and as little emotion as possible. And I’m not blaming them at all. Almost every match seemed to drag on, and without the audience to liven things up, the show felt like a total snoozefest. I blame a lot of this on WWE booking decisions – creative simply isn’t giving viewers enough reasons to be invested in the product. Last Friday’s Smackdown was great – purposeful segments, fun matches, and a brisk pace. This was the exact opposite of that.

The divas reality show is going to probably suck. Like the segment on Raw. And I hate the Bellas. Enough said.

Champion vs. Champion was great, though. They hyped it throughout the night, Vince McMahon himself even put it over as a big deal, and the show effectively used history to spotlight both World Championships. My only complaint is that I wish WWE would have advertised this earlier, and treated this like a “themed show” coming in. But that’s just me being petty. I think WWE was wise to make this feel like a big deal, and I’m glad John Cena and Del Rio delivered with an exciting match. The World Heavyweight Championship earned a little more respect last night. Kudos, WWE.