Powell's WWE Raw Hit List: Curtis Axel introduced as Paul Heyman's newest client, Triple H catches Dolph Ziggler's head trauma, The Shield vs. Team Hell No and Kofi Kingston, Ryback should cut all of his promos while on top of an ambulance
By Jason Powell
Dot Net Members are listening to my 48-minute audio review of WWE Raw, and the 76-minute audio review of the WWE Extreme Rules event that Chris Shore and I recorded on Sunday. Join us on the ad-free version of the website by signing up for membership now via the Dot Net Members' Signup Page.
WWE Raw Hits
The Shield vs. Kane, Daniel Bryan, and Kofi Kingston: The show stealing match of the night. The live crowd was hot for all of the near falls and counted along with the referee's count for near falls when The Shield members were covered. Bryan's offensive flurry continues to get one of the biggest reactions of the night and I hope his outburst on Kane is not setting up a heel turn. Bryan can make the company a lot of money with a strong singles babyface push, but they could really cool him off by turning him for a feud with Kane.
Ryback promo: The best promo Ryback has delivered to date. He's not Ric Flair or Terry Funk, but he showed real improvement here and his confidence seems to be growing. I loved the way Raw opened with the unexpected shot of the ambulance pulling into the arena. Ryback delivering the promo on top of the ambulance was a great touch. I was a little disappointed that he didn't put up more of a fuss over the finish of the Last Man Standing match, but he came off better in this promo than he did at any point during the build to Extreme Rules. It was good to hear Ryback tear into the fans to generate heat for a change, and I also liked the brutality how showed during his attack on Zack Ryder.
Randy Orton vs. Jack Swagger: A good television match. It started slow and built nicely to the finish. While the match felt long, I think it was important to go this length to protect Swagger to some extent. Honestly, I wouldn't have booked Swagger to lose one night after he lost the No. 1 contenders match at the pay-per-view, but it did make for good television. Speaking of Swagger, I thought we would hear a lot more from Zeb Colter about the use of replay in that No. 1 contenders match.
Overall show: A solid night for WWE. The followup to Extreme Rules was awkward in that they didn't focus on some of the issues I felt were the most relevant (no finish to the Last Man Standing match, the use of instant replay), but there was quality wrestling and they went light on sports entertainment comedy silliness. Even some of the segments listed below were newsworthy talkers that should keep viewers watching to see where things go from here.
WWE Raw Misses
Curtis Axel: I came away from the show wondering how serious WWE is about this push. Paul Heyman gave him the big buildup and had a good comeback for the cricket sounds that followed, but there was nothing else about this that made Axel look like a future star. Triple H basically blew him off by saying the adults were having a conversation. He got in Triple H's face only to be knocked down from a slap. His debut match as a repackaged performer was forgettable as all the focus was on Triple H.
WWE could have made Axel look sadistic by having him attack Triple H while he was down, but they were more concerned with trying to convince viewers that Hunter's injury was a shoot situation, leaving Axel had to stand there with his dick in his hand while Hunter stumbled around at ringside. I've heard nothing but good things from fellow wrestlers about Axel's in-ring ability. The big question is whether he has the charisma to pull this off. Heyman can more than cover for any lack of promo skills, but I haven't seen enough from Axel to convince me that he has the it factor to be a breakout star. Here's hoping the second week of his push goes better than night one, as the Mr. Perfect fan in me has always had high hopes for his son. On a positive note, the new entrance music is awesome.
Triple H angle: It was a hell of a lot more effective when Shawn Michaels did something similar nearly 20 years ago. Did Hunter somehow manage catch Dolph Ziggler's head trauma? Injury infringement! I hope this means they are confident that Dolph will be returning sooner rather than later, as one would think that Ziggler would become a babyface with similar issues as Hunter if he's out long enough that they feel the need to strip him of the championship. This wasn't a horrible angle, but it was very odd to do it while Hunter was facing the repackaged Curtis Axel when it wasn't designed to benefit Paul Heyman's newest client in any way. It didn't feel like a hot cliffhanger and therefore ended the night on a flat note.
Big E Langston vs. Alberto Del Rio: I may need to seek professional help for my massive hatred of the stupid bucket that Ricardo Rodriguez carries around with him for no reason. Watching that stupid bucket play into the finish of this match killed it for me. Do all WWE referees have an obsessive compulsive disorder? Is there a reason they all feel the need to immediately become 100 percent focussed on clearing any object from the ring? If instant replay was used in Del Rio's match last night, why wasn't it used here? Believe me, I'm not suggesting that WWE should use instant replay, but that pay-per-view finish will have viewers asking that same question about other matches that end because of a heel cheating. It was also very odd to see Del Rio become No. 1 contender on Sunday only to lose a match to the champion's heavy on Monday. I assume he just gets his win back on Friday's Smackdown television show. I hope not because I feel it's too early for Langston to start trading forgettable wins and losses.
WWE App hype: It's the new Twitter. I'm all for pushing apps (download the free Prowrestling.net App for your phone!), but WWE is obsessed with this. They encourage viewers to go to the apps for interviews that are taking place while matches are happening simultaneously on Raw. Worse yet, they actually encouraged viewers to go to the app to watch a silent Ryback watch the same match that viewers were watching at home. Again, push the app, but don't do it so aggressively that you push viewers away from the overall product.
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