Powell's WWE Raw Hit List: C.M. Punk, Paul Heyman, and Brock Lesnar, The Wyatt Family week two, John Cena picks Daniel Bryan, Rob Van Dam vs. Chris Jericho, Dolph Ziggler dumps A.J. Lee, The Shield attack Mark Henry
By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw Hits
C.M. Punk, Paul Heyman, and Brock Lesnar: I loved the intensity of the verbal exchange between Punk and Heyman. I felt like I was watching a good revenge movie when Punk spoke about going through all of Heyman's men and saving him for last. It was the best mic work I've heard from Punk and Heyman together. Lesnar was his usual believable badass bully self, and Punk looked valiant as he kept fighting back until he physically could not. The announcers also did a really good job during this segment. I loved the way Michael Cole pleaded with Heyman to call Lesnar off, and the convincing job that Jerry Lawler did while showing concern for Punk, and I really liked the way JBL spoke about Lesnar lacking a conscience. This was the highlight of the show and it set the stage for what promises to be a memorable program.
Rob Van Dam vs. Chris Jericho: A lengthy and thoroughly entertaining match between the veteran stars. A good portion of the live crowd was standing after the second commercial break and it was obvious they felt like they were seeing something special. The right guy went over since RVD just returned and Jericho is heading out on tour with Fozzy. RVD is known for stiff kicks, but this might be a rare case of RVD's opponent's kick looking stiffer. That shot that Jericho delivered to the back of Van Dam's head early in the match looked vicious.
John Cena names Daniel Bryan his challenger for SummerSlam: I like the end result more than the way they got to this. It was odd to see WWE set up so many of their top acts to be booed or receive half-assed reactions from the live crowd. I was also hoping that Bryan would have looked like a real threat to Cena going into the match. Perhaps he will by the time SummerSlam roles around, but at this point he looks like a popular comedic character who was given a title shot by way of a popularity contest.
The Wyatt Family: Bray Wyatt has this character down. His mic work was off the charts good. Granted, you may have no clue what he is talking about, but his words sound crazed yet like they have real meaning to his character. He's totally believable as the cult leader and he struck me as being every bit as locked in and intense as Paul Heyman and C.M. Punk were during their verbal exchange. Was he calling out Kane after the R-Truth beatdown or will he end up leading a brainwashed Kane? Either way, I assume we'll be seeing something involving the Wyatt Family and Kane at SummerSlam.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Dolph Ziggler: This wasn't as hot as their pay-per-view match the night before despite Ziggler bumping all over the place. The real story of the match was the breakup of Ziggler and A.J. Lee beforehand, and the attack by Lee and Big E Langston afterward. This was booked exactly the way it needed to be. Ziggler needed to break up with Lee rather than accepting another apology. Now that pieces are place, it's time for Ziggler to deliver the type of mic work that will rally the fans behind him. I'm not talking about the adult male fans who were already cheering him when he was a heel, I'm talking about the casual fans who haven't been given enough incentive to rally behind him. It looks like Ziggler is moving into a program with Langston, so I'm curious to see who Del Rio works with at SummerSlam.
Mark Henry and The Shield: Henry was a month removed from the retirement hoax promo, yet it appears he's already turning babyface. The cool thing about that is it looks like it's going to work. It's a testament to his ability as a performer. The fans got caught up in Henry fighting off The Shield briefly and I have no doubt that they will get behind him if he plays a babyface badass going forward.
Brad Maddox: Okay, the backstage schtick with Triple H and Stephanie was more of the same only with Maddox being manipulated instead of Vickie Guerrero. I was encouraged that Maddox wasn't heelish in his first night on the job. His character seemed focussed on delivering a good show rather than abusing his power. The babyfaces went from initially mocking him to praising him by the end of their exchanges. Maddox has the ability to be a good heel, but Raw could really use a break from the tired heel authority figure routine.
WWE Raw Misses
Randy Orton vs. Fandango: A minor Miss. Good work from both men, but the circumstances that led to this match felt awkward. I was expecting this to be a big night for Orton. I loved the way he told Cena that he won't see it coming when he cashes in. The intensity of that moment was cut short in favor of Fandango's entrance music and the silliness of his character, which the announcers were outright laughing at. Instead of this being a good night for Orton, they shifted it into a match designed to give Fandango some in-ring credibility in a lengthy loss to Orton. I'm fine with the idea of Fandango getting some in-ring mojo back most weeks, but it felt anticlimactic for the Money in the Bank winner.
Christian vs. Damien Sandow: I was also hoping it would be a big night for the other Money in the Bank contract winner. Instead, he lost quickly to Christian and was attacked by Cody Rhodes. I certainly expected followup to the Cody drama from the pay-per-view, but I hated the way Sandow was booked and how quickly this all played out. I hope we're not going to see months of Sandow losing matches the way Dolph Ziggler did last year when he held the MITB contract.
The Uso Brothers vs. The Real Americans: A minor miss. I like the idea of the Uso Brothers continuing to build momentum, but I don't think they gained much here by defeating a newly formed team so quickly. I wish they could have kept these teams apart so that a win over Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro meant more.
Brie Bella vs. Naomi: A poor match. Naomi showed athletic ability, but the actual wrestling from the two was really weak.
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