Kester's WWE Raw Rundown: John Cena returns with a vengeance and Nikki Bella rebuffs Brie Bella's attempt at reconciliation
By Ryan Kester
The story WWE chose to tell with John Cena's first appearance since SummerSlam was completely disjointed with the story they told on the big event. Cena returned no worse for wear, in fact he was in better shape than ever and was aggressively ready to chase Lesnar. While Cena being in that mindset could eventually work for this storyline, it came so quickly that it undermined any sort of arc Cena could have had to rally his fans behind him for the chase. WWE sent the message loud and clear on Raw: your man is good to go. What's the point of a chase if the fans aren't needed to motivate their babyface?
Cena's in-ring demeanor only added to the disjointed storytelling. Cena, or anyone for that matter, trying to mimic Brock Lesnar's in-ring persona is doomed to come off as cartoonish. There's a reason why the bouncing with anticipation and the repeated German suplexes works for Lesnar; he is a man with a unique and domineering build that is inherently threatening. Lesnar has to do very little to get the desired effects of his character across. Seeing Cena perform the same actions and mannerisms does more to highlight his shortcomings than it does to tell the story of a man hell bent on getting his win back.
Now, Cena's dominance over Bray Wyatt didn't disturb me as much as it has others; Wyatt is more than capable of getting his heat back, as he's proven time and time again, and a heel taking a beating in a match where's he's not even the focus of the story is not the end of the world. Cena's subsequent dismantling of the entire Wyatt Family faction was far more troublesome. Having a heel show some ass is one thing, undermining a faction's threat is another. WWE just can't help themselves some times. They have to be so ham fisted with the point they are trying to make and the problem is only ever magnified when it's an attempt to have Cena recover from a loss.
Brie and Nikki Bella
This week was an improvement over last week's offering, but the two women involved still have a long way to go. Nikki is showing a greater deal of comfort with her character, and by the end of the segment she came off as downright despicable. Brie, on the other hand, still isn't making a connection. You can practically hear the rehearsal in her delivery, and it makes almost everything she says and does stiff and foreign.
If nothing else, this feud has made me interested in seeing the direction these two women will take once their feud concludes. While WWE could always go for the reconciliation angle and undo whatever they do until that point, but if they decide to keep the ladies separate, they could finally see some growth. Brie can be transitioned to a character that may fit her personality better and require less acting, and Nikki would make one hell of a valet for a heel if she's kept to body language and attitude. There's potential in both women, but it's up to WWE to utilize their strengths rather than continue trying to force a story that requires skillsets they simple don't have.
This is a minor note, but every time WWE sends Brie to the ring for one of these talking segments with "Brie Mode" on her blouse in giant letters, it makes me cringe. There's a time to work in a catch phrase or a gimmick for Brie and there's a time to tell a sibling rivalry story. Trying to do both at the same time just simply does not work.
This week's Raw was weak. Most of the show consisted of filler and angles treading water, and the two stories given attention and actual progression on the show were riddled with problems. It's amazing how quickly the momentum gained from a white hot SummerSlam has completely dissipated.
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