Powell's WWE Raw Hit List: Ryback vs. Daniel Bryan, John Cena vs. Curtis Axel, The Shield vs. Randy Orton, Kane, and Daniel Bryan, Paul Heyman and Chris Jericho, Vince McMahon and Stephanie McMahon return
By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw Hits
Ryback vs. Daniel Bryan: I cringed a bit when I saw this match advertised because conventional wisdom suggests that Ryback should be destroying opponents heading into Payback, while Bryan is not a guy who should be on the losing end of such a match. They threw conventional booking aside in favor of giving these two 15 minutes of ring time and it worked to perfection. Ryback came away looking like a badass, while Bryan also came out of this looking like he can hang with the monster heel top contender. This turned out to be the highlight of the night and all signs continue to point to Bryan being on the verge of a huge singles run.
John Cena vs. Curtis Axel: A good television match with Axel showing off his in-ring skills more in this match than he was able to over the last couple weeks. You had to know that Ryback was going to get involved once Vince made this a No DQ match, but the payoff was solid as it put more heat on Ryback heading into his match against Cena, and gave Axel another win he can brag about.
The Shield vs. Randy Orton, Kane, and Daniel Bryan: The match was a little slow early on and some of the longer stretches where they were setting up the hot tags dragged a bit, but this was still a very good match. Orton received a mega pop when he tagged into the match. If you had your eyes closes, you probably thought Bryan tagged into the match since those are the types of pops he's been getting lately. Bryan didn't get that pop when he tagged in here, but the crowd was once again red hot for his offensive flurry.
Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, and Triple H: If nothing else, this storyline brought some star power to Raw on a night when they faced some serious NBA competition. Hunter looked
The Uso's vs. The Prime Time Players: I'm giving this a minor Hit because I like the idea of building up The Uso Brothers. It could take some time or a hot angle to make viewers take them seriously, but I could definitely see them having a good program with The Shield over the tag titles at some point. They may seem beneath The Shield right now, but the right buildup could change that.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Big E Langston: Another minor Hit. I wish WWE would have told us they were going to have a best of something series between these wrestlers instead of just giving us all these rematches. Still, I like the way Del Rio transitioned from the Cross Arm Breaker into the pin.
Overall show: WWE delivered strong segments at the beginning and end of the night. Things were a little slow in between, but the first 30 minutes and the last 30 minute were specially strong. WWE had stiff competition from the NBA last night, but they started strong in the first 30 minutes before the NBA got going. I suppose now they have to hope that viewers lost interest in the NBA game because of the blowout score and came back to see the last 30 minutes of Raw. Once again, high praise to the fan who held up the "We Want Two Hours" sign in the crowd last night.
WWE Raw Misses
The McMahons and The Shield: The shot of The Shield making their entrance while Vince McMahon and Stephanie McMahon were in the ring was a great hook heading into a commercial break. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a bait and switch, as Cole gave a horrible plug for the app by saying fans who watched it saw the McMahons leave the ring without incident. I wasn't sure where they were going when The Shield music hit, but I expected better than this letdown coming out of the break.
Chris Jericho and Paul Heyman at the contract signing: A minor miss in that it didn't live up to the high expectations I have for these two. There was nothing memorable about the segment and the payoff of Jericho shoving the contract down Heyman's pants was more strange than anything. Worst of all, WWE failed to really build up interest in C.M. Punk's return at Payback. I like the idea of keeping him off television until the pay-per-view, but they have to do more on the go-home edition of Raw to make it feel important.
Fandango, Wade Barrett, and The Miz: The Miz came out with the goal of preventing Fandango from heading backstage when he walked out on his match with The Great Khali. So Fandango returns the favor by distracting Barrett, which gave Miz the win in their non-title match. Huh?
Sheamus vs. Cody Rhodes: We get it, Sheamus is better than Rhodes Scholars. He can beat both men in singles matches and I don't need to see a handicap match win from Sheamus to show the world just how dominant he is over them. As much as I enjoy the straight forward ass kicker Sheamus, I cringe the moment I see him with a big smile on his face because I just assume that we are in for the lighthearted comedy that turns me off from the character.
Kaitlyn, Cameron, and Naomi vs. AJ Lee and The Bella Twins: The live crowd couldn't have cared less. I hope the Total Divas show breathes some life into the division from the standpoint that creative starts to care more about the Divas and their storylines.
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