Powell's WWE Raw Hit List: John Cena vs. Alberto Del Rio, The Wyatt Family is coming, C.M. Punk and Curtis Axel vs. The Prime Time Players, Ryback quits, Kane, Randy Orton, and Daniel Bryan

Posted in: Powell Editorials, MUST-READ LISTING
Jul 2, 2013 - 01:45 PM

By Jason Powell

Dot Net Members are listening to my 51-minute audio review of WWE Raw, and the 53-minute Q&A audio show that I recorded on Friday. If you enjoy our All Access audio, help support Dot Net by signing up for membership to the ad-free version of the website via the Dot Net Members' Signup Page.

WWE Raw Hits

John Cena vs. Alberto Del Rio: The video pieces on the former World Champions was a really nice touch that helped make this feel like something special rather than just another throwaway non-title champion vs. champion match. The work of Cena and Del Rio lived up to the hype they gave the match. Sure, you knew there would be a cheap finish, but it was a logical one that put some focus on Del Rio's match with Dolph Ziggler. The post-match angle with Mark Henry was also very good (more on that in a moment).

The Wyatt Family is coming: WWE gave this a big buildup by hyping it to close the show. I can't remember a debuting developmental act receiving this type of attention. WWE is doing a better job of giving viewers hooks for their television shows and this one is especially strong after weeks of video packages teasing their arrivals. Here's hoping creative has something special planned for their debut that makes viewers take notice.

Mark Henry: Henry delivered a strong promo that would have been so much better if it wasn't for the idiotic What? chants. The Henry video package was also very good. The highlight of Henry's night was when Cena showed fear. Forget about Michael Cole's awkward "or is it respect" line, I like the idea that Cena is showing some vulnerability heading into a match with the heel monster. I wasn't excited about the Cena vs. Henry matchup when it looked like they were setting it up right after WrestleMania, but the build to their Money in the Bank match has been strong enough that this feels like a real showdown match.

C.M. Punk and Curtis Axel vs. The Prime Time Players: This was laid out nicely with Axel tagging himself in early in the match and then stealing Punk's pin late. Heyman acting like nothing was wrong and wanting Punk to celebrate the win with Axel was a riot.

Kane vs. Randy Orton with Daniel Bryan as special referee: The match quality was nothing to write home about, but they did a good job of storytelling with Bryan as the referee. And that's coming from someone who is hoping that they will shift Bryan away from the comedy silliness and into a more serious role. If nothing else, the match reenforced the dynamic between the trio and showed the growing tension between Kane and Bryan. That said, do they really want fans to cheer in anticipation of Bryan taking a chokeslam?

Ryback vs. The Miz: Call me crazy, but I am giving the apparent new direction of Ryback a chance. If it turns out that this was a one week deal and he's back to being a monster next week, then I will join most viewers in shaking my head at this. However, I wonder if Ryback is shifting away from being the one dimensional monster character in favor of playing a crybaby role. I could see that generating heat. The finish was awkward, but I want to see where this goes.

The Shield vs. Christian and The Uso Brothers: A minor Hit for simply being an entertaining match. The logic of having Christian and Dean Ambrose be involved in the finishes of their last two matches is lost on me. They may end up feuding over the U.S. Title at some point, but this month they are in opposite Money in the Bank matches. Meanwhile, The Uso's are challenging Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns for the WWE Tag Titles at the MITB pay-per-view. I'm not advocating the idea of The Shield losing as they did on Smackdown, but if WWE wanted to have them lose, wouldn't it have made more sense to have the Uso's pin one of the tag champions?

WWE Raw Misses

Total Divas segment: I can't say that I was ever truly excited about the Total Divas, but this segment was so bad that it made me dread the idea of watching the reality show. Here's hoping the show is more than just The Bella Twins acting catty for a full hour every week.

A.J. Lee and Kaitlyn: The positive about the Total Divas show is that I assumed the company would start to place more emphasis on the underutilized Divas division. And they have, but things have really fallen apart with this spotlighted feud. The bad impersonation segments last week were bad enough, but the silly photoshopping used last night was as lame as it gets. I am happy that Kaitlyn didn't break down and cry or overreact in some other way as her character has done in response to all of Lee's head games.

Antonio Cesaro vs. Cody Rhodes: The awkward all heel approach may work for the actual World Hvt. Championship version of Money in the Bank match, but it made for a really awkward setup match. I don't know what fans were supposed to feel as two heels faced off in a match apparently designed to show viewers that there could be alliances during the MITB match due to the relationships between Cesaro and Jack Swagger, and Rhodes and Damien Sandow.

The McMahon Family and Vickie Guerrero: The good news is we are finally getting a payoff to whatever the last few weeks of nonsense has been. I'm not looking forward to Vickie's job evaluation, but I am thankful that whatever this has been will be over.

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