Powell's WWE Raw Hitlist: New WWE Championship, John Cena putting his WWE Championship on the line against C.M. Punk, The Shield vs. Chris Jericho, Sheamus, and Ryback, Alberto Del Rio vs. Dolph Ziggler
By Jason Powell
WWE Raw Hits
New WWE Championship: I fall into the "Like It" category of our latest poll regarding the new title belt. It's a nice step up from the tired spinner belt and the best new belt WWE has created in many years. My only issue with the title is the side plates with the bulls. Yes, I know those plates can be changed and there is a version with WWE logos on the side. It's a personal preference, but I prefer one standard title belt rather than the personalized approach that WWE has taken in recent years. I got a big kick out of C.M. Punk's simple "I want that one" line as he pointed at the belt last night. Speaking of Punk, this could serve as great promo fodder since he held the belt for 434 days only to see The Rock get a new belt less than a month into his title reign.
John Cena and C.M. Punk: I usually despise it when someone is gullible enough to put a Money in the Bank contract or another title shot on the line. However, there's something about Cena's character that actually made this work. He wants to do the right thing, he wants to silence Punk, and he's very confident he can do it. I also liked the way Punk and the announcers mocked Cena's decision rather than just treat it like a logical move. Jerry Lawler event asked if Cena had lost his marbles. The big negative here is that it cheapens the Royal Rumble to have the winner put the shot he earned on the line. I would be bothered by this much more if this was not positioned as a personal decision by Cena and especially I thought there was any chance of Cena losing next week.
The Shield vs. Chris Jericho, Sheamus, and Ryback: A strong Raw in-ring debut for The Shield. This was actually the least memorable of their three televised matches, but first-time viewers got a taste of what their matches are like and saw them beat another all-star team. I am still concerned that no one has bothered to figure out what the group's goals are. They talk about justice, but they've never really established whether they want title belts or what their actual purpose is. More than anything, I'm happy to see The Shield looking like major players again. They faded to the background a bit once the road to WrestleMania started, but that has been quickly rectified.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Dolph Ziggler: A minor hit for the match quality and the MITB tease. However, I am bored with watching Ziggler always come up short. It's just tired and predictable at this point. It's also amazing how little A.J. means at this point considering how big of a role she played in 2012. The MITB tease had me thinking there was a better chance of Ziggler being unsuccessful in his cash-in attempt than there was of him cashing in successfully. I really though there was a chance that WWE was going to blow it off and move on. I'm happy that was not the case.
Jack Swagger vs. Daniel Bryan: A minor hit. The length of the match was surprising. The in-ring action was strong, but I never thought for a second that Bryan would win considering the way they are pushing Swagger. Thus, they may have been better off having Swagger win a glorified squash match over someone else. The Zeb Colter character already feels a bit repetitive. I hope it's just a case of creative cementing what he's about rather than the character being one dimensional.
WWE Raw Misses
Overall show: A minor Miss. Fans had high expectations for this being a loaded show that would kick off the major hype for WrestleMania 29. I suspect the reason they didn't take that approach because there are still six editions of Raw between now and WrestleMania. There have been years where it's felt like they ran out of gas before reaching the WrestleMania finish line. Thus, I'm fine with the decision they made to make this more of an Elimination Chamber fallout edition. Still, many viewers were left feeling underwhelmed by the mostly forgettable episode. There were not a lot of major misses, but an awful lot of in between that took its toll over the course of three hours. On a positive note, it was good to see WWE take the time to set up and advertise matches for next week's show. Will that be the kickoff of the major WrestleMania hype?
Vince McMahon, Paul Heyman, Vickie Guerrero, and Brad Maddox: The announcement of the Vince vs. Heyman fight for next week was greeted by the sound of crickets. I couldn't believe how flat the live crowd was for that segment. It's hard to get excited about WWE announcing how great the show that you are not attending will be. I'm all for WWE advertising a week out, but they have to be more creative in how they do it or run the risk of getting these reactions. I am happy to see Maddox get a regular role on television. However, I hope they take the time to explain why a guy who was on the take as a referee would be hired by Vince McMahon and Vickie Guerrero. I did get a kick out of Maddox saying he's the assistant managing supervisor rather than the "assistant to" Vickie Guerrero.
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