Kester's WWE Raw Rundown: John Cena calls for Three Stages of Hell, Curtis Axel continues as a background player, and Chris Jericho challenges CM Punk
By Ryan Kester
John Cena and Ryback
It seems like WWE is simply throwing things at a wall with Cena and Ryback and seeing what sticks. The extra stipulations for their match at Payback does nothing to add to the match. This feud could really use a straight-up wrestling match rather than a pile of gimmicks.
The promo exchange and show-closing brawl between Cena and Ryback did nothing to get me more excited for their showdown at Payback. If anything, it left me with more of a bad taste in my mouth, as the odds of Ryback leaving this match without serious damage to his character are low.
Even without the added stipulations, the extensive time Ryback has had on the mic hasn’t helped him in recent weeks. WWE is still trying to find their rhythm with the character. I'd normally be rather forgiving of some experimentation, but not when the same act they're testing is also supposed to sell a PPV main event.
Axel has had an odd first few weeks. WWE is operating with the logic that simply being in the vicinity of big names is going to help get Axel over, but it doesn't seem to be having the desired effect. He isn't losing, but he isn't the focus, either. Heck, last night Michael Cole flat out said Axel and his win had been forgotten while Ryback and Cena were fighting.
WWE tends to do this with new acts; a similar occurrence took place with with The Shield during the build for WrestleMania. They have a new act present during someone else's story but treat them as an afterthought. That simply doesn't work. Sure, the act is getting some amount of exposure, but crowds don't start rallying or resenting a new guy until WWE builds a feud around them.
That's what WWE needs to do for Curtis Axel. They needs to find an act to pair him with that involves a story that will properly portray his new persona. Being a background figure for and extended time will simply make him an afterthought for WWE's viewers.
Chris Jericho and Paul Heyman
This was a great segment. While Jericho's return to the Y2J promos can be grating at points, he managed to reign in the act enough to make his challenge to Paul Heyman feel like the big deal that it should. Despite Punk and Jericho's history, enough has changed with their two acts that the idea feels fresh again.
I hope WWE shows restraint and keeps Punk off of TV during the remainder of the build for Payback. Heyman can easily serve as Jericho's promo counterweight during the build, and WWE would be foolish to waste the hot return of Punk on free television.
Just a minor note, but The Shield continue to shine in every moment WWE gives them. They're easily one of the biggest draws to the show week after week, and the quality of matches they have coupled with the focus WWE is giving them is helping to elevate the belts around their waists.
Last night's show was the usual mixed bag. There was some very solid wrestling, but there was also a load of filler for the evening. It's forgivable considering it was a holiday edition of the show. If only that amount of filler was unique to their holiday efforts.
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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