Powell's WWE Raw Hit List: Brock Lesnar, C.M. Punk, and Paul Heyman, Mark Henry delivers the best performance of his career, Alberto Del Rio's logic, The McMahon Family, The Shield, Christian returns
By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw Hits
Mark Henry and John Cena angle: Henry delivered the best performance of his career. He had the retirement speech down perfectly with a good mix of tears and light humor mixed in. The live crowd bought in better than anyone could have expected. I loved the way Cena stayed on the ring apron throughout most of this promo because allowed viewers to keep their guard down rather than wondering all along whether Henry was going to strike. The World's Strongest Slam was a great moment whether you saw it coming or not. An excellent angle that left me more excited about Cena vs. Henry than I ever thought I would be.
Brock Lesnar attacks C.M. Punk: Another gem. I love the way Heyman didn't hesitate to strike. I thought they might drag that out a bit, but it really makes Heyman seem vindictive to orchestrate this so quickly and just moments after telling Punk that he loved him. Heyman's character will probably claim that he had no idea that Lesnar was going to attack, and it will be fun to watch Heyman deliver his spin to Punk. Lesnar vs. Punk feels like more of a dream match than Triple H vs. Lesnar ever did. We haven't seen it before and it's great to see Lesnar work with someone who feels as relevant and now as Punk.
Alberto Del Rio promo: I'm struggling to think of a promo from Del Rio that I've enjoyed more. His character used good heel logic to justify the way he callously targeted the head of Dolph Ziggler at Payback by reminding viewers that Ziggler cashed in his Money in the Bank contract on him only after he was injured. I had actually forgotten that so I found it especially clever that they tied it all together like that. Dolph's intense attack on Del Rio late in the show was overshadowed by Brock Lesnar showing up just moments later, but I liked the intensity he showed and I'm looking forward to watching this feud play out and to see how Ziggler performs as a babyface.
Christian's return: A nice surprise that kept the momentum going from the C.M. Punk and Alberto Del Rio exchange that opened the show. I don't want to read too much into one appearance, but I wonder if they are adding him to the Intercontinental Title mix since he beat the former champion. It also wouldn't be surprising to see him end up in one of the Money in the Bank matches.
Overall show: A strong show with two huge Hits listed above. WWE had a really good couple of nights with Payback and last night's Raw. There's a lot going on in WWE right now with C.M. Punk, Rob Van Dam, and Christian returning. The booking has been especially strong in the case of the double turn at Payback, the Punk and Paul Heyman breakup, and the awesome Mark Henry segment. There didn't seem to be any mindless filler on the show, as even the matches that didn't make the list felt like they served some purpose.
WWE Raw Misses
The McMahon Family: Is this going somewhere or are they just amusing themselves with their lighthearted three-way power struggle? Did Stephanie McMahon's appearances with the Divas bring more attention to the A.J. and Kaitlyn feud or overshadow it? I'm not a hater of the McMahon family playing on-air characters. I simply want them to be selective so that it really packs a punch when they do appear.
Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan: They work well together, but I'm still not sure why they were set up to have a No DQ match when both men are babyfaces. As if that wasn't awkward enough, we had the awkward ref stoppage. Everything about this was confusing.
1-800-Fella: What the hell was that? My best guess is that it's the first of an oddball series of videos that will lead up to SummerSlam, but that's just a guess.
The Shield: A minor Miss. Their stock is down slightly and it really doesn't have anything to do with their loss on Smackdown. They need something new to do. I hope they're not in limbo mode until the Wyatt Family arrives, because that would likely mean a babyface turn for The Shield. It's bound to happen someday, but there's still so much left for the heel trio to do. I never want to see another Dean Ambrose vs. Kane match again, though I get that it set up the backstage exchanges with Vickie Guerrero and Vince McMahon. WWE hasn't damaged The Shield (though they did leave some money on the table by giving away the loss out of nowhere), but they need to give them some fresh opponents and a real purpose again quickly.
Rob Van Dam videos: Just a minor Miss, but I found it odd that WWE opted to play these videos heading into commercial breaks without any audio from inside the arena to pick up the live crowd's reaction. The videos are great, but the live crowd's huge reaction at WWE Payback was what really made the moment. Did WWE really think that playing an RVD video in his home state of Michigan wouldn't get a huge reaction even though they let the word out the night before?
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