Powell's WWE Raw Hit List: The Shield and The Wyatt Family, John Cena establishes himself as the man to beat, Sheamus and Christian vs. The Real Americans, Dean Ambrose finally defends the U.S. Title
By Jason Powell
Check out the Prowrestling.net Live audio show that Chris Shore and I hosted after Raw (airs live every Monday at 10:30 p.m. CT) at Blogtalkradio.com/prowrestlingdotnet.
WWE Raw Hits
The Shield and The Wyatt Family showdown: I loved the way Roman Reigns was cast as the leader, especially coming off the way he was showcased in the video package and spoke out about Dean Ambrose's lack of U.S. Title defenses. Reigns took the first steps and Ambrose and Seth Rollins followed, just as Bray Wyatt took the first step and his family members followed. The slow build to Reigns breaking out as a singles act is gaining steam and it's a lot of fun to watch it develop.
Christian and Sheamus vs. The Real Americans: A very good, physical match. All signs point to Antonio Cesaro becoming a singles act. As much as I am looking forward to that, I can't help but feel that he and Jack Swagger are starting to click as a badass tag team. However, I don't know if they can get over in that manner with the mid-card Real Americans gimmick. I am curious to see if Cesaro turns babyface since the support for him is growing and the fans love the Cesaro Swing.
John Cena promo: I loved the acknowledgement of the change that is taking place in WWE. It shows that Cena (and thus presumably the rest of the company) doesn't intend to stubbornly ignore the fans as they did at the Royal Rumble. I also like the way Cena established himself as the measuring stick for the younger talent. This should give him plenty of fresh opponents to work with in what should feel like meaningful matches. I just fear that the rumored plan for WrestleMania 30 won't feel meaningful enough. More on that below.
The Wyatt Family vs. Goldust, Cody Rhodes, and Rey Mysterio: A good high energy opening match with Mysterio delivering a lot of crowd pleasing offense. The right team went over since the Wyatts will be facing The Shield in the big showdown match at Extreme Rules. I'm still not sure how they go from that program into the rumored John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt match at WrestleMania 30. It's not that they can't followup on the Royal Rumble drama and build a match between the two after Elimination Chamber, but I fail to see how they can get it hot enough to feel big enough for Cena at WrestleMania.
Dean Ambrose vs. Mark Henry: A Hit simply because Ambrose finally defended the strap and they actually acknowledged how long it has been since he did so. Plus, the big spear from Reigns on Henry at ringside was a cool touch. It will be interesting to see whether Ambrose continues to issue open challenges, which would likely be a setup for Reigns and/or Seth Rollins taking him up on that offer.
Alberto Del Rio: He continues to show more intensity and aggressiveness during his recent matches. I'm not a fan of the ongoing meaningless Dolph Ziggler losses, but Del Rio is doing a better job. Unfortunately, whatever Del Rio gained during his performance was quickly wiped away when Batista destroyed him. One can only assume that Del Rio will get the better of Batista next week so he has some semblance of heat going into their pay-per-view match, but it seems like it will be too little, too late to matter.
Randy Orton vs. John Cena: Good effort from both men in what was established as the end of the rivalry even though they will be in the same Elimination Chamber match. This feud desperately needs to end. Orton had his legs cut out from under him by The Authority and doesn't feel like a hot opponent for anyone right now, especially a guy he's faced so many times over the years.
WWE Raw Misses
WWE Network hype: They established some of the platforms that the service will be available on, but I am surprised by the lack of hype they have given it thus far. WWE did more to promote Tout than they have their own network. The Bellas as flight attendants was cute, but WWE needs more than cute to sell fans on this network.
The Authority and Randy Orton: Much like when Carl was backing up while luring the walkers toward him on The Walking Dead this week, I felt like I'd seen this segment before. Orton has been apologetic for his behavior in the past and nothing changed. This just felt like more of the same.
Betty White and the New Age Outlaws: Betty White was her usual awesome self, but the skits with the Outlaws were just awful. These guys are struggling to generate anything beyond the crowd chanting with their entrance schtick, and somehow I don't think Billy Gunn nearly shitting himself is going to help their cause. I can't even label it harmless fun because there was nothing fun about it aside from Betty White.
Cameron and The Bella Twins vs. A.J. Lee, Alicia Fox, and Aksana. The latest in the ongoing series of multi-Diva tag matches. Brie Bella had a rough outing as she misstepped as she attempted to springboard off her sister's back and fell face first into Aksana. It's just a shame the Divas division is treated as filler on Raw, and that there are talented female wrestlers in developmental having better matches than some of the main roster Divas are capable of having. It would be one thing if the main roster Divas were over despite their in-ring shortcomings, but that's just not the case in most cases.
Emma: Sadly, Emma is one of those talented developmental female wrestlers, but she's off to a horrible start on the main roster. The quirky dance could have gotten over if it had been presented in a better way, and now she seems to be destined to work a series of throwaway comedy mixed tag matches.
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