Powell's WWE Raw Hit List: Stephanie McMahon shines, Cody Rhodes loses his match and his job, Big Show blubbers, C.M. Punk cuts to the chase, Rob Van Dam vs. Damien Sandow, Ryback vs. Dolph Ziggler
By Jason Powell
Check back tonight for my live updates from the WWE Smackdown taping in Minneapolis.
WWE Raw Hits
Stephanie McMahon: This was the best performance Stephanie has delivered in some time. Her character was cold and manipulative as she convinced Big Show to carry out the orders that her husband gave him. The emotionless and conniving Stephanie is so much more appropriate than the princess role at this point in her life.
Randy Orton vs. Cody Rhodes: It would have been more effective if viewers had heard about Cody's upcoming wedding prior to Monday night, but it all worked out nicely with Rhodes putting up a good fight before losing the match and his job. I assume Cody is legitimately taking time away for his wedding and will return sooner rather than later as one of the babyfaces who will be liberated by Vince McMahon or someone else to feud against the heel power group. By the way, Cody delivered his best mic work afterward. Here's hoping this is a sign of things to come from Cody.
C.M. Punk promo: Order the pay-per-view and I promise to kick the ass of Paul Heyman. Punk's message could not have been simpler or more effective.
Ryback vs. Dolph Ziggler: Dean Ambrose attacked Ziggler from behind to presumably set up a need for their feud. Ryback taking advantage of the attack further cemented his bully character. Finally, Dolph looked sympathetic, so this worked out well for everyone.
Rob Van Dam vs. Damien Sandow: A good television match that served as solid hype for RVD's match with Alberto Del Rio. I'm still hoping that Ricardo will turn on RVD to get back in Del Rio's good graces. There's no chemistry between RVD and Ricardo, and it would give them an easy pay-per-view finish that would set up the need for a rematch. Of course, the negative of the match is that Sandow lost again. He appears to be playing the role that Dolph Ziggler played after winning the MITB contract last year. That would be great if it had actually worked for Ziggler, but WWE's odd strategy of having Dolph lose while telling themselves they could make it all okay by having him cash in successfully was clearly wrong.
WWE Raw Misses
Overall show: A minor Miss. I'm all for putting heat on the heels, but they continue to make the babyfaces look soft by worrying about their jobs rather than doing what's right. At some point, shouldn't someone in that group figure out that the company couldn't get rid of them all if they agreed to form a united front? Triple H and Randy Orton delivered strong mic work during their in-ring segments, but the show felt too repetitive. I also question the idea of heading into battle with Monday Night Football without building up something other than Edge's one night only return for next week. Don't get me wrong, Edge is great, but it has to be hard for viewers to get excited about watching a show where the babyfaces are beaten down and appear to have no hope.
Big Show blubbers: Show can turn on the water works as well as anyone in the business. He played his part well, but he was put in a tough spot because viewers were suddenly supposed to care about a friendship that they'd never been introduced to and only Show seemed to know about. Hell, Daniel Bryan didn't even acknowledge their friendship and seemed like he had no problem facing Show in the main event. WWE creative pulled a lot of backstories out of their asses on Monday night. I felt like I missed all the shows where the Bryan and Show friendship was developed. I give WWE some credit for at least acknowledging that Show's character was given an ironclad contract, but their excuse for getting around it left a lot to be desired. Worst of all was Stephanie talking about how she knew Show when she was a little girl. Show debuted in WWE in 1999 when Stephanie was roughly 23.
The Prime Time Players vs. Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal: It's hard to care about anything involving 3MB. I always thought there would be more to the act than three guys forming a band even though they can't play instruments. The Players seem to be gaining a little undercard momentum, but the crowd lost interest when the 3MB members went on the offensive.
Naomi vs. Natalya vs. Brie Bella: A weak followup to A.J. Lee's anti Total Divas promo from last week. I continue to wonder why Total Divas can hold my interest for an hour, yet the two-minute weekly Divas segment on Raw is so dull.
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