Kester's WWE Raw Rundown: John Laurinaitis gives a history lesson, Daniel Bryan gets the better of Punk, Paul Heyman returns, and more
By Ryan Kester
John Cena and John Laurinaitis
John Cena delivered a solid interview segment last night, but he was hindered by appearing via satellite. Cena, love him or hate him, is at his best in front of a live crowd and when he was removed from that element he lost a bit of the reaction he normally receives.
Laurinaitis, on the other hands, did a good job of gathering heat throughout the evening. He took a step back from the intensity he displayed last week and I am still by no means convinced that he is going to go over at Over the Limit, but he is doing enough to ensure that when Cena does get his hands on him at the PPV, Cena's fans will have plenty of cause to rally behind.
CM Punk and Daniel Bryan
I continue to enjoy the way WWE has handles this incarnation of Daniel Bryan. While it was a bit odd to see Tensai go over Punk last night, it was nice to see Bryan end the show in a dominant fashion by locking in multiple Yes! Locks on Punk. WWE is doing a great job of keeping heat on Bryan and making it appear that he can go over Punk at the next PPV.
I didn't care for Punk's exchange with Laurinaitis in the opening segment. It served the purpose of setting up the main event, but it put the WWE Champion's focus on a feud that isn't his own and in the process made his feud with Bryan feel periphery. Granted, that's true, but it doesn’t need to be presented as such by WWE.
Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman
Paul Heyman returning is an absolute godsend for Lesnar. Lesnar is capable of some very solid pretaped segments and his presence is captivating, but that mystique leaves quickly when he is called upon to speak for extended periods of time. Heyman happens to excel in that capacity, so I am thrilled to see his return to WWE television.
What does not thrill me, is the Lesnar quitting storyline. It feels like this is happening way too early, which has been somewhat of a recurring theme of Lesnar's latest run. The follow-up will ultimately determine if this places more heat on Lesnar or not, but Lesnar has a history and a bit of a reputation of taking his ball and running when things don't go his way, as Triple H just foreshadowed last week, and I don't think it's the greatest idea to reinforce that in any way. WWE has a roster full of whiny chickenshit heels, and although Lesnar is far from being another heel clone, he does not need to have any similarities to WWE's current roster of WWE wishes to get all the coin from him that they can.
Sheamus and Randy Orton vs. Chris Jericho and Alberto Del Rio
This was a very solid match that gave each man a chance to look good. Jericho needed the pin to gain a shred of credibility after his less than stellar efforts against Punk. I like the idea of a fatal four-way at this stage of Sheamus' run. There isn't an obviously great pairing for Sheamus for the next PPV, and a four-way gives WWE an extra month's worth of storytelling to make Sheamus' next singles opponent a convincing sell.
On a side note, by the time Sheamus' next feud is set in stone, I hope WWE does something to give his character a bit more depth. He had at least a few layers as a heel, but his babyface character has been disappointingly one-dimensional. The reason why there are no obvious feuds for him is due to the way his opponents have to do the heavy lifting in the storytelling department. Sheamus had that with Daniel Bryan, but if he's going to be carrying the strap for any real length of time, then WWE needs to find a way of making him more than just the guy with crazy stories of his family's shenanigans that occasionally gets angry.
First of all, I am thrilled to see Layla back. It's always sad to see a wrestler sidelined for so long when they are in an industry that is supposed to be all about ensuring that no performer gets hurt. Unfortunately, WWE has quickly presented her as just another cookie-cutter babyface. Layla has shown some personality in the past, but all I know of her current run is that she's Kelly Kelly's latest buddy. I know asking for more from the women's division can be a futile effort, but a Layla vs. Phoenix feud has a potential that WWE simply isn't tapping into.
I like the idea of stables and managers in WWE. They are a set of professional wrestling tools that WWE has simply ignored for too long. The same can easily be said of WWE's tag division. Still, with so many undercarders being involved in this angle, A.W. is going to have to pull on some grade-A mic work to get the crowds that have been conditioned to not give a damn to start caring.
Cody Rhodes and the Big Show
Alright, this just feels like a holding pattern at this point. Rhodes is consistently being inextricably stripped of his heat and there feels like no logical satisfying end to this feud. With Eve beginning to lock horns with Show, I hope that is a means of getting Rhodes and Show apart, but if it is then Rhodes will have left the feud worse than he did when he entered it.
Granted, WWE could just as easily pair Eve with Rhodes for the remainder of this feud in hopes of getting some of Eve's heat to transfer to Rhodes, but it still frustrates me to no end to see another example of a start and stop push in WWE. These antics damage characters that WWE invested resources in, and the mentality behind this booking is mind-numbingly asinine.
Last night's show featured some storyline progression across the board, but it felt more like a transitional week than one where anything of import was actually accomplished. It provided a necessary step for several feuds, but I found myself consistently bored throughout the whole affair.
If you have any questions or comments or just wish to chat with a fellow wrestling fan about whatever, then feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on Twitter at @TheRyanKester.
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