Powell's WWE Raw Hitlist: Ryback gets star reaction, The Shield attack several times, Dolph Ziggler's Money in the Bank contract put on the line, Antonio Cesaro vs. Kofi Kingston vs. R-Truth vs. Wade Barrett
By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw Hits
Ryback saved for the end of the show: Ryback came off like a huge star when he came out and fought C.M. Punk and The Shield. This was so much more effective than it would have been had they followed the usual formula of Ryback squashing someone earlier in the show. They left the live crowd waiting to see the first Ryback appearance of the night and it paid off in the form of their biggest reaction of the night.
The Shield lurk during the opening match: A strong opening to Raw. They didn't have the trio show up at the end of a throwaway match. Rather, The Shield were present before the match and inched closer to ringside as the match played out. The slow build to the trio getting involved and Seth Rollins disappearing act made for compelling television. It's a shame the Prime Time Players were put in this role as non-factors, but the Shield obviously take precedence right now.
Sheamus and John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler and Big Show: I wasn't crazy about seeing Dolph lose clean again, though his losses to Cena make a lot more sense now that they are putting the MITB contract on the line. It gives Cena fans incentive to order the pay-per-view, as they think their guy will win the contract. I hate the idea of putting the contract on the line, but more on that in Misses section. The match gets a hit for the crowd pleasing finish with Sheamus and Cena hitting finishers simultaneously. It was one of the bigger pops of the night from a good live crowd.
Antonio Cesaro vs. Kofi Kingston vs. R-Truth vs. Wade Barrett: The setup with Teddy Long felt unnecessary beyond WWE's odd desire to hold social media polls. This match was appealing enough that they could have advertised it early on with the goal of retaining viewers. The match was especially good down the stretch and I really liked the unexpected finish with Cesaro showing some serious strength by lifting up Kofi and hitting his finisher. The match also plays into the champion vs. champion match that Cesaro and Kingston are scheduled for on this week's WWE Main Event show.
Damien Sandow: Santino is a big Miss right now because his comedy just doesn't click the way it once did. However, I like the throwback gimmick of Sandow bringing fans in the ring while searching for an apprentice. It reminds me of The Million Dollar Man's classic bits in which he set out to prove that people will do anything for money. Sandow is money. I'm not sure whether this incarnation of his character has long term main event potential, but he has the look and mic ability to be a real player for WWE.
Randy Orton vs. Brad Maddox: Maddox was better on the mic and more charismatic this time around. I hope they have a plan to make him more than the butt of the joke. The post match angle with The Shield attacking Orton was well done and left me wondering whether they will face Orton, Kane, and Bryan in a six-man tag at TLC. I also liked Orton's comments on the Backstage Fallout show. He acknowledged his own history and thus didn't come across like a hypocrite for complaining about a faction attacking him.
WWE Raw Misses
Dolph Ziggler's MITB contract on the line: I despise this. It's happened several times before and I've hated it aside from the one time that multiple injuries forced them to move the contract from Mr. Anderson to Edge. I don't want to watch the Money in the Bank pay-per-view wondering whether the winners of the contract matches will ever cash in. This makes the Ziggler vs. John Cena match more intriguing, yet I don't think the short term benefits are worth the long term damage that's being done to the MITB concept.
Vince McMahon and Vickie Guerrero: Did Michael Cole really say this was a rare public appearance for Vince? Anyway, this appearance was the same as the last Vince appearance. Apparently, no one wanted to tell Vince that bullying Vickie into doing what he wants doesn't make for good television. One of Vince's strengths is delivering the big announcement and making a match seem important. Nudging Vickie into make the announcement is anticlimactic in the sense that it does not pack a punch. Vince's appearances should be limited to truly big or important moments, not messing with Vickie.
The Miz: I'm turned off by his babyface persona. I enjoyed The Miz's heel run as champion, but I was totally burned out on the heel character thanks in part to the way he was booked after he dropped the title. His babyface character is too cocky to embrace. That works for the ultra charismatic Rock, but it's not working for Miz. He has the gift of gab and I really believe the fans would take to him if he showed even a temporary sense of humility. I also felt like he was being shoved down the throats of viewers when they showed his Miz TV intro repeatedly. Anyone interested in that segment was focussed on Punk taking the lie detector, not the person hosting the segment.
A.J. Lee vs. Tamina: The build was all about A.J. even though they've actually established an issue between the two. A.J. may as well have been working with a local wrestler given the buildup. I was also disappointed to see A.J. beat the new dominant Diva, as it brought back bad memories of the way they booked Beth Phoenix in the same role. The good news is that Tamina's new look and gear is a big improvement.
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