Powell's WWE Raw Hitlist: C.M. Punk and Paul Heyman, Sheamus stands his ground against Punk in Chicago, John Cena vs. Alberto Del Rio, Daniel Bryan and Kane hug, Dolph Ziggler pins Randy Orton, A.J. and Vickie Guerrero
By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw Hits
C.M. Punk and Paul Heyman: Punk was awesome throughout the show. His monotone delivery was a cool change and his overall antics in front of his hometown fans was unexpected fun. I assumed WWE would embrace the fact that it was Punk's hometown and treat it like Bizarro World South, yet they actually went against the grain by having Punk attempt to generate heat with his loyal Chicago fan base. The Heyman twist at the end of the night was more unexpected fun. Punk doesn't need a mouthpiece, but that doesn't mean he and Heyman can't form a compelling heel alliance (yes, even a Dangerous Alliance). The timing is great in that it gives viewers who intend to watch the NFL doubleheader next Monday night incentive to flip over to Raw or to record the show.
John Cena vs. Alberto Del Rio: The match didn't jump out at me on paper, but both men worked really hard to make this a strong television main event. It's encouraging to see Del Rio getting wins. Granted, he didn't win this match clean, but the fact that they didn't have him lose to Cena like everyone else is a positive. It feels like they're going back to the formula that worked best with Del Rio. He was built up as a dominant in-ring heel until about a month before WrestleMania 27. For reasons I still don't understand, they decided it would be best to have the challenger for the World Hvt. Championship lose matches to Christian going into the big show. He lost the match to Edge at WrestleMania 27 and WWE never got back to that original formula that worked so well until now.
Sheamus: He was put in a tough spot of being the guy who had to have a verbal exchange with C.M. Punk in Chicago. Sheamus was booed, yet he handled it well by pointing out the facts of why Punk's actions were disrespectful to Chicago and all WWE fans. I hope they eventually build up to a champion vs. champion match between the two even if it is a non-title affair. If they take their time with it, they could restore some of the lost value of the champion vs. champion matches by making this one feel like a showdown match rather than just another television main event.
Daniel Bryan and Kane hug: I know there are fans and certainly wrestlers who despised this segment, but the live crowd enjoyed the hell out of it. This was one of those bizarre Raw moments that is sure to pop up in highlight videos for years to come. The Bryan character continues to be among the most consistently entertaining in the company. And let's face it, you can't kill Kane. We've seen him involved in some of the most ridiculous angles and skits ever, and yet the crowd still embraces him as an upper mid-card act and occasional main eventer even when they drop the comedy and push him as a monster.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Randy Orton: I love the old school vibe that was created when Michael Cole flew solo while calling this match. This was a huge win for Ziggler. Sure, he's lost his share of matches to Orton lately, but getting a win over Orton on Raw is something that WWE can build on. I just hope they don't devalue the win by having Ziggler lose on Smackdown or next week's Raw.
Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara vs. Cody Rhodes and Tensai: Okay, so not having Tensai beat the hell out of Sakamoto after his team loss is a huge Miss with me, but I like the Mysterio and Sin Cara pairing. I'd like to see them work with Kofi Kingston and R-Truth, and even more so the team of Justin Gabriel and Tyson Kidd. The problem with the tag division right now is that the heel teams are so weak. It's a shame there's not an established heel act capable of having strong matches because the babyface side of things looks promising.
WWE Raw Misses
Big match feel missing from Night of Champions main event: As much as I'm enjoying the antics of C.M. Punk and the addition of Paul Heyman to his act, I am underwhelmed when it comes to the way WWE is portraying the Punk vs. Cena match at Night of Champions. We've waited over a year for this match and it feels like they've run out of time to make it feel like its something truly special heading into the pay-per-view. Cena isn't talking about winning the championship and there hasn't been any focus on their history.
Vickie Guerrero and A.J.: The women both played their roles well and did the best they could with this, but it just felt flat. It still feels like creative doesn't know where to go with A.J. in terms of whether she's a heel or a babyface. She's lost something since she became general manager, and this segment made it seem like she's a babyface, yet the fans don't seem to know what to make of her. Perhaps the idea is to have her feud with a definitive heel in Vickie so that she's clearly defined as a babyface. However, my new hope is that this somehow leads to A.J. being paired with Dolph Ziggler as a heel duo.
Eve vs. Kaitlyn: The positive is that Eve has a character that's worth watching. The negative is that Kaitlyn continues to blow spots to the point that this match was downright painful to watch.
Zack Ryder vs. Heath Slater: I enjoy the work of both wrestlers, but the presentation of this match made it and both wrestlers feel completely worthless. They just threw them out there with no build aside from a Twitter exchange. It was nice to see Ryder get a win on television. Hell, it was nice to see Ryder on television, but this felt like total filler.
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