Powell's WWE Raw Hitlist: Story time with The Rock, The Shield talk, Paul Heyman owes Vince McMahon, Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter, Chris Jericho vs. Daniel Bryan, Mark Henry destroys Hornswoggle
By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw Hits
Chris Jericho vs. Daniel Bryan: A hell of a match. It was cool to see Bryan show more of an edge during the match. He worked in his No! schtick at times, but there was far less comedy than we've seen from him lately. That comedy elevated him in the eyes of the WWE fans, but it is starting to run its course and it was cool to see him flip the switch and go back to working this aggressive style. Bryan seemed darker than he has been lately and it left me wondering if his character is headed in a new direction. Meanwhile, I am blown away by how quickly Jericho has managed to get himself back in the in-ring groove. This was a hell of a match and I hope we see more from these two during Jericho's run.
Paul Heyman, C.M. Punk, and Vince McMahon: The opening segment killed 15 minutes of television time while putting more heat on Heyman and Punk. Heyman also established that the McMahon family is out to get him and Punk. He later agreed to put in writing that he would do anything in exchange for Vince McMahon agreeing to add the stipulation that The Rock will lose the WWE Championship if he is disqualified or counted out at Elimination Chamber. That stipulation makes it seem like Rock is more at risk of losing the title on Sunday. Heyman agreeing to do whatever Vince may open the door for Vince booking Punk in a WrestleMania match against Undertaker.
Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter: It appears they are setting up a program between Swagger and Alberto Del Rio. My guess remains that Mark Henry gets the title shot at WrestleMania, while Swagger is positioned as Del Rio's post WrestleMania opponent. The new Swagger and Colter act is a bit much for kid friendly WWE. I must admit that I enjoy when WWE pushes the envelope, though I do not have great confidence in their ability to show the restraint and awareness to walk the line without crossing into tasteless territory. I like the way they acknowledged Zeb's past with WWE. A good portion of the audience won't remember it or wasn't around to see it, but it's a nice nod to those of us who were.
Antonio Cesaro attacks The Miz: The ring post shot and the swinging of Miz into the barricade repeatedly were really intense. Even though it was just a simple heel beatdown, it was actually more effective than some injury angles are these days.
Wade Barrett vs. Kofi Kingston: The live crowd was flat throughout this match, but it seemed like that was because the three-hour show fatigue kicked in. More than anything, I liked the finish with Barrett pulling the apron over Kingston's head and then tagging him with the Bull Hammer. Kingston is back in no man's land, whereas Barrett still has future World Champion written all over him.
Kane vs. Dolph Ziggler: The live crowd was still flat going into this match, but Ziggler woke them up and had them gasping as he bumped all over for Kane. The setup for the Elimination Chamber match was chaotic to say the least, but I like end result and the six wrestlers they went with.
Mark Henry kills Hornswoggle: Kids cringed, adults cheered. This should spare us from Hornswoggle skits for at least a month.
Overall show: Another straight forward wrestling show. We saw more silly comedy segments on the last Raw in January than we've seen in the first two shows in February combined. I don't mind the occasional comedy skit, but I love when WWE takes itself seriously. Raw succeeded as a go-home show for me. They took the time to spotlight the four pay-per-view matches. I may not have enjoyed the final hype for each of those matches, but they did a much better job of focussing on those matches than they have done on other go-home editions in the past.
WWE Raw Misses
Story Time with The Rock: I get a big kick out of a lot of Rock's comedic promos. This one felt like something that could have been saved for after the show went off the air. Rock's story was entertaining and it was probably a a ratings success, but it felt out of place on the go-home show. Rock and Punk had a great in-ring verbal exchange to kick off the build for their Royal Rumble match. Why haven't we seen another one of those exchanges? The final angle of Punk leaving Rock lying and taking the WWE Championship was good, but I wish it had come after a promo or a verbal exchange that focussed on the match rather than 15 year-old Rock.
The Shield promo: I was really looking forward to this segment, yet I was left feeling deflated by the lack of substance in what the trio actually said. I like the way they come across like they truly believe every word they say. The problem was that I didn't really know what they were saying when it came to John Cena and the system. There was a lot of talk about injustice, no consequences, and how they are the solution, yet none of it was thought provoking. I hoped to come away from this with a better understanding of what makes The Shield tick. Instead, I left feeling like creative isn't really sure what makes these characters tick.
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