By Ryan Kester
Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton
Like many others, I left Night of Champions with a bad taste in my mouth. WWE delivered on a title change when they gave no indication that Bryan going over was even possible, and they did so with a fast count that made the ensuing celebration from Bryan hollow. The next night on Raw, it quickly became clear why that fast count existed, and Bryan was set back on another chase mode, this time with no clear opposition established. For most nights and most babyfaces, this could have been a moment of departure for fans, but last night's crowd was so hot for the title strip moment that it worked.
That's not to say that the booking utilized was a smart move; WWE made an already lackluster PPV end with a fart with that hollow celebration and all three announcers acting clueless to a fast count that was so integral to the story on the following Raw. WWE managed to keep it together because of Bryan and Triple H's performance in the opening segment and the crowd that was willing to indulge in the product they were given, but I wouldn't blame anyone that ordered Night of Champions for not ordering Battlegrounds in a few weeks based on the show they were given for their money.
On a better note, Randy Orton needed a showing like he had on Raw. The past month, he's very much come off as a lackey for the McMahons and his heel persona didn't click. Sure, he assaulted Bryan on several occasions, but his cash in at SummerSlam fell in line with every other cash in on a down opponent, and he didn't have enough moments to produce his own heat. Orton's assault on The Miz, however, was particularly viscous and it established Orton as an evil, vindictive man outside of his association with the McMahons. Better yet, the fact that he doesn't have the championship because of a perceived conspiracy makes Orton's feud with Bryan personal, rather than Bryan simply being the guy he cashed in his briefcase against.
The McMahons and the Rhodes
Stephanie McMahon was great last night. She was outright sadistic and played well into the family feud that WWE has been playing up between the McMahons and the Rhodes the past few weeks. Dusty Rhodes did his thing and managed to come off as a sympathetic character, but he did lose a few steps when mentioning luxuries in his usually sound everyman spiel.
Big Show's eventual involvement in an otherwise solid segment left a lot to be desired. I've defended the use of Big Show in segments like this in the previous weeks, but his crying act has reached such marginal returns that it is simply annoying to watch. I'm not sure what WWE's plans are with his character as he's not drawing sympathy by constantly giving into his need for money over any sense of honor or dignity, and a heel turn at this point would just fall flat.
Paul Heyman and Ryback
Ryback's attack on Punk at Night of Champions was a surprise, bit it was a move I found exciting. Ryback is a solid big man act with more agility than a man with his muscle mass has any right possessing, but WWE has consistently mismanaged his heel run and has been searching for a believable character for him to work with. A credible mouthpiece is exactly that the big guy needs.
Heyman, despite his best efforts, hasn't managed to get Curtis Axel over. WWE booked the man to be an undercard henchman, so his matches against Punk just never gave the impression that Punk was in peril. Worse yet, despite his ability to work well in the ring, Axel lacks a lot of the charisma needed to work with the story WWE is trying to tell, and he has never appeared to be comfortable with the character he is portraying. Ryback, on the other hand, is able to carry his act with more confidence and WWE is more apt to treat him like a credible in-ring threat.
Now, I'm not going to get ahead of myself and declare this as a match made completely in heaven. Ryback's character is going toned to take a turn for the serious rather than the cartoonish bully he's been in recent months, but I am confident that Heyman's association with the act will be able to get the man out of his midcard holding pattern. Even if Ryback is elevated just enough to feud with punk for a month or two, it would be enough to get him away from the trial and error character runs and back into a more meaningful spot on the card.
WWE bounced back well after a real dud of a PPV. Night of Champions suffered from a lack of compelling stories outside of the two main events, which hit home more than usual with every championship requiring to be defended with absolutely no storytelling to back up the matches. Raw, thankfully, was a more focused effort and managed to further stories in a meaningful way.
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Kester's WWE Raw Rundown: The fallout from Night of Champions featuring Daniel Bryan being stripped of the WWE Championship, Paul Heyman showcasing Ryback, and Big Show finding another reason to cry
Sep 18, 2013 - 11:05 AM
Sep 18, 2013 - 11:05 AM
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