Powell's WWE Raw Hitlist: The Shield speak and attack Ryback, Kane, and Daniel Bryan, Sheamus vs. Antonio Cesaro, Dolph Ziggler vs. John Cena, Intercontinental Title feud, Ryback vs. Titus O'Neil, Alberto Del Rio, Great Khali, and Hornswoggle
By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw Hits
The Shield sit-down interview: This was the highlight of the show. I like the sit-down approach because it was such an important interview. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins came off very well, and I was impressed by the way Roman Reigns played the silent role, yet came across like a leader by calling off the interview. I found it interesting that they denied working with C.M. Punk, yet Michael Cole never asked about Paul Heyman or Brad Maddox.
The Shield attack Ryback, Kane, and Daniel Bryan: Another strong showing for the newcomers. WWE is also doing a good job of making Ryback look good. For instance, he did the big power spot by throwing them all off at once before eventually taking the beatdown. WWE should do a better job of explaining to casual viewers what NXT is rather than just assuming casual viewers know it's more than just a bad television show that once aired on Syfy. Overall, though, I've enjoyed The Shield thus far and I like the way they forwarded the story in a way that left viewers wanting more.
Sheamus vs. Antonio Cesaro: A hell of a match. It was encouraging to see the way they protected Cesaro by having him lose by countout rather than by pinfall. He's not Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, or any of the other secondary heel champions that have lost to one of the World Champions in televised matches for no good reason. These two worked very well together and the late near fall that saw Sheamus kick out at the last possible moment fooled me. Sheamus should have a full plate with guys like Cesaro and Wade Barrett to work with in the months and years ahead.
Kofi Kingston and Wade Barrett: The Kingston match with Tensai was fine for a television match. The brief post match angle with the cocky Barrett handing Kingston the Intercontinental Title was nicely done. Barrett has raised the prestige of the Intercontinental Title and he hasn't even challenged Kingston for it in a pay-per-view match yet. This has the potential to be a very good feud. Here's hoping it leads to Kingston finally showing a real personality that is more than just big smiles and boom, boom, boom cheerleading.
Daniel Bryan vs. Rey Mysterio: The match felt like a bit of a letdown considering that Bryan inexplicably lost the fan voting to Kane. Still, it was a good television match between the two. The announcers didn't do anything to help it, as they were busy figuring out the meaning of Mysterio's name ten years into his run with the company.
Ryback promo: This was his best mic performance to date. He dropped the Ultimate Warrior cadence and the bad food references and the crowd was more responsive. I could have done without him telling Vickie Guerrero to shut up for no reason. It takes a lot to make the Vickie character look sympathetic, but WWE actually pulled it off unintentionally by having Ryback tell her to shut up repeatedly even though she was giving him everything he wanted and by having C.M. Punk and Paul Heyman get in her face.
Overall show: If you take all of the good from last night's show and weed out the filler, you'd be left with a hot two-hour show. The third hour still drags things down and leads to some dull moments, but that's not going to change. This episode had a good mix of quality in-ring action combined with good development in the The Shield's story. The ongoing story involving John Cena, A.J., Vickie Guerrero, and Dolph Ziggler isn't doing anything for me, but I am hopeful that somehow crazy A.J. ends up turning against Cena once he rejects her.
WWE Raw Misses
John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler: The match quality was a Hit, but the outcome left me shaking my head in disbelief. It looked like Cena had countless outs for losing. He tweaked his injured knee, A.J.'s interference could have backfired, and Vickie Guerrero was at ringside and could have served as a distraction. So why on earth did Ziggler lose clean? I hope there's a good explanation that will play itself out next week. As it stands, they put Ziggler over Randy Orton at Survivor Series and on Friday's Smackdown just to knock him back down the ladder by having him lose clean to Cena. This isn't a case of me disliking Cena or expecting Ziggler to become a dominant ass kicker. I'm just not sure how they can expect fans to take Dolph seriously in a feud with Cena if it's already been established that he can't hang with him when he's injured.
Ryback vs. Titus O'Neil: A weak followup for Titus following his impressive personality display on last week's Raw. It's not a killer for Titus, but I know many of us were hoping that his entertaining commentary with Jerry Lawler would lead to bigger and better things. I didn't expect Titus to beat Ryback, but I don't see why the match had to take place. They could have fed undercard wrestler to Ryback and the effect would have been the same.
Alberto Del Rio, The Great Khali, and Hornswoggle: It feels like someone handed down the edict that the writers must find something for Hornswoggle, so they are forcing him into a story with Del Rio and Rosa Mendes. Here's hoping it was a one and done for the Del Rio vs. Khali matches.
Michael Cole: Cole took some jabs at Jerry Lawler and then went into his old heel mode by mocking Zack Ryder during his match with Damien Sandow. I assume this was just Cole messing around, but I really don't want any reminders of that persona. Cole was doing such a good job with Jim Ross and JBL. They all brought a sports-like realistic feel to the commentary. I hope Cole will maintain that even though he's back with Lawler rather than dive deep into the usual silliness that ensues when The King is on commentary.
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