Kester's WWE Raw Rundown: Ryback tries to find his heel footing, Jack Swagger goes on the warpath, Brock Lesnar breaks some things, and more
By Ryan Kester
John Cena and Ryback
WWE is doing their damnedest to find a way for Ryback to generate heat, but something isn't clicking. A lot of that is owed to the fact that WWE is trying to put him over as a monster but he runs from fights. Now, like The Shield, this could be put over as Ryback being intelligent and tactical, but that flies in the face of every established aspect of Ryback's character to date. It can still be done, but it makes the transition clunky and cumbersome when Ryback is being called upon to help sell the main event of a PPV.
Worse yet, John Cena is treating Ryback as the same joke that he does every opponent, outside of returning legends, when he is holding the WWE Championship. Ryback is needing to be built up, and no matter what WWE attempts to do, it will not help with Cena undermining their efforts and showing his fans that there is nothing to fret over.
With how things have played out over the past few weeks, it's becoming worrisome that WWE aren't thinking long term with Ryback. His new generic catch phrase, shifting character, and undermining from Cena will compound and damage him considerably if WWE doesn't have a proper exit strategy for Ryback from this feud. Even if they do, they've utilized so many similar strategies with him before that it will require either something rather creative or a clean, dominant win to prevent him from completely losing steam at Extreme Rules.
Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, and Alberto Del Rio
The build for this angle has been a bit hit or miss, with more misses sticking out than hits. This week, however, WWE kept things simple and focused on elevating one man and they did so in a convincing fashion. Jack Swagger looked like the powerhouse that a man of his size should, and his systematic assault of his future opponents and their corner men made for a strong visual.
With Zeb Colter altering his act to be more of a generic nuisance manager and Swagger remaining relatively silent and brutal during his assault, I think the overall act has found its sweet spot. Swagger simply doesn't have the voice to match what he displayed last night and Colter's xenophobia was one-dimensional. If they keep this up, then Swagger will be a more versatile tool for WWE Creative and he won't run into the issue he did when they were trying to find a way out of his feud with Alberto Del Rio.
Triple H and Brock Lesnar
While the narration from Heyman began to grate after a bit and Triple H's extremely cheap-looking office was comical, the site of Brock Lesnar tearing the mock office apart was entertaining and impressive. It did little to get me more excited about Lesnar and Triple H's Extreme Rules showdown, but it was enjoyable nonetheless.
What followed was disappointing. Triple H can easily be a strong act on the mic when he's fired up and concise, but he should save his attempts at comedy segments for his spots with Shawn Michaels. His promo simply didn't strike a chord, and it was collectively a bit too much story with no actual progression.
This is a minor note considering The Shield were playing a supporting role on this show, but I like the simple tag match they were in this evening. Simple matches like this not only give fans a small taste of The Shield in the ring, but it allows the group to establish their individual finishers so they carry an impact when they're called upon to end PPV matches. Again, it's a minor thing, but it can help The Shield and their matches in the long term.
Last night's show was solid enough. It wasn't as exhausting as the usual Raw, especially after the filler-centric show from last week. Overall, I left the show feeling about as excited for Extreme Rules as I did going in, so WWE didn't do enough to heat up their main stories.
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.
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