Powell's WWE Raw Hit List: SummerSlam go-home hype for John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan with Triple H added as special referee, C.M. Punk vs. Brock Lesnar, and RVD earns a U.S. Title match
By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw Hits
C.M. Punk, Brock Lesnar, and Paul Heyman angle: Punk busted out an Omar reference, as Dot Net reader Brian Herrin pointed out last night. Any tribute to "The Wire" is a good one in my book. Heyman's mic work was once again stellar. Punk spotting the trap that everyone saw coming was a nice touch. It seems so simple, but how many times have we seen babyfaces and the broadcast team be the only people in the world be the only people who didn't see something like this coming? Lesnar did a hell of a job selling the camera shot at ringside and this was great final segment of the go-home show hype for Sunday.
John Cena and Daniel Bryan: The build for this match has been good whenever the actual wrestlers are in the spotlight rather than the McMahon family drama. The differences between the (mostly) popular characters was summed up nicely during this exchange with Bryan established as the wrestling purist underdog who would do anything to win the WWE Championship just once because it would give him the respect he so desperately craves, whereas Cena was the defensive longtime champion who feels he has earned the respect that he's not getting from Bryan and fans. I can't say I care for positioning Bryan as the big underdog, but that was previously established and they made it work here. The Miz was solid during the segment in that he mostly asked the key questions and stayed out of the way otherwise. Triple H coming out for the big shot of the wrestlers and the referee was a little flat, but Randy Orton coming out with the Money in the Bank briefcase at the end was a nice touch.
Rob Van Dam wins the battle royal: WWE should attract more viewers than usual to their free preview show on Sunday now that the ultra popular RVD is challenging Dean Ambrose for the U.S. Title. The match is certainly big enough to belong on the actual pay-per-view, yet positioning it on the free preview could lead to extra impulse buys.
The Shield: Their backstage promo was some of the better mic work we've heard from the trio. I assume the open challenge for a tag title match will be accepted by Big Show and Mark Henry. By the way, Big Show appeared to have dropped a lot of weight since we last saw him. Did they set up an RVD, Big Show, and Mark Henry vs. The Shield match for Smackdown? If so, why not advertise it?
Alberto Del Rio vs. Kofi Kingston: The champion actually won a non-title match. A good television match with Del Rio getting a needed win.
Overall show: A decent go-home edition. WWE clearly placed the emphasis on pushing the WWE Championship match, C.M. Punk vs. Brock Lesnar, and establishing the U.S. Title match for SummerSlam. They succeeded in all three cases. The rest of the matches were given a little something on the show at best. It was a little slow when they got away from those top three matches, but the hype for those key matches was strong enough to get a thumbs up from me.
WWE Raw Misses
The Great Khali and Natalya vs. Big E Langston and AJ Lee: A Wrestle Crap moment for the ages. I still have no idea what happened with that abomination of a finish, but it had to be embarrassing for both Divas and the referee. If you really think about it, it also made Big E Langston look foolish for not trying to break up the Sharpshooter not once but twice, though I do suspect the average viewer was too consumed with making sense of what happened to think about Langston.
Cody Rhodes on commentary: There was nothing beautiful about this disaster. Cody basically told viewers that he has no reason to be angry with Damien Sandow when he admitted that he would have done the same thing to him had their roles been reversed during the Money in the Bank match. If that's the case, then why should viewers feel any sympathy for what happened to Rhodes? I never cared for the way this was written because it is positioned as every man for himself, but I thought Rhodes could have saved it by coming up with his own backstory that would make it seem like he was somehow wronged by Sandow. Instead, he actually found a way to make the sketchy storyline even worse. I assume they were just following orders, but I also have no idea why all three announcers kept pushing Rhodes, which only made him dig the hole he was in even deeper.
Daniel Bryan vs. Wade Barrett: A minor miss. I realize the outcome of the match was all about setting up Brad Maddox as the potential referee only to have Triple H take that role for himself. Even so, I wasn't a fan of seeing the WWE Championship challenger lose even under these circumstances just six days prior to the pay-per-view. I always prefer to see the challenger heading into a title match with momentum.
Kane and Wyatt Family angle: I'm anxious to get past the John Cash Memorial Ring of Fire match so that we can get to the next chapter with the Wyatt Family.
Fandango and R-Truth dance contest: Why?
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