Powell's WWE Raw Hit List: John Cena vs. Antonio Cesaro, Daniel Bryan vs. Christian (and Kane), Randy Orton vs. Sheamus, The Shield and The Wyatt Family, Batista and Alberto Del Rio
By Jason Powell
Check out the Prowrestling.net Live audio show that Zack Zimmerman and I hosted after Raw (airs live every Monday at 10:30 p.m. CT) at Blogtalkradio.com/prowrestlingdotnet.
WWE Raw Hits
John Cena vs. Antonio Cesaro: Another excellent television match from Cesaro. He followed up last week's match against Randy Orton with another hot match with Cena. I hope this match pops into the minds of fans the next time they are tempted to start a "You Can't Wrestle" chant directed at Cena, who worked very hard and had a couple of moments where he broke away from his usual in-ring move set. It would have been nice if Cena could have endorsed the performance of Cesaro after the match, especially since he said that Cesaro's win over Orton was more a case of Orton being on a losing streak than Cesaro being on a winning streak. Cesaro is making the most of the opportunity he's getting and I'm anxious to see how he is booked in the Elimination Chamber match.
Daniel Bryan vs. Christian followed by Kane: The first 45 minutes of the show were strong starting with the opening segment that focussed on the Elimination Chamber match and then set up these matches. WWE did a great job of establishing that Bryan is nursing an injured shoulder heading into the Elimination Chamber. They are either creating an excuse for him to be eliminated or setting up a huge underdog wins it all moment. Either way, it made for really good television. Bryan and Christian worked really well together and I like the character shift for Christian, who was definitely heelish and opportunistic.
Randy Orton vs. Sheamus: I was surprised to see this match close the show simply because Sheamus hasn't clicked with the fans in a major way since he returned. However, these guys work well together and have good, physical matches. The finish was odd as I'm not sure why The Shield would interfere aside from their on again/off again relationship with The Authority, but it set up a hot closing segment with the major players from the top Elimination Chamber matches brawling to close the show.
The Shield and The Wyatt Family: The build for their match has been simple and effective. The teases of the teams coming to blows only to have Bray Wyatt back off and lead his troops away left the fans anxious to see more. The fans popped big at the end of the show when the pair of trios traded punches. I'm looking forward to this match more than anything else on the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, including the actual Elimination Chamber match.
Santino Marella and Emma: A minor Hit. The romance angle doesn't do much for me, but I think there's a chance they could have some fun with this if they tease their first kiss long enough that fans want to see it. If nothing else, it was nice to see a video package on Emma even if it should have aired when she first started appearing on Raw and Smackdown.
WWE Raw Misses
Batista and Alberto Del Rio: I assumed this would be the week that Del Rio would finally get some heat on Batista, but instead he showed up wearing a neck brace and was tossed around like a rag doll. The only hook for their Elimination Chamber match is that it will be Batista's first televised singles match since he returned. I never expected this to feel like a showdown match, but I assumed some effort would be made to make it seem like more than a squash going in.
Big E Langston vs. Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal: A sloppy match. As much as I enjoy the humor of Zeb Colter, it just wasn't working here. The fans were bored by the match and it somehow managed to overstay its welcome even though it didn't even last five minutes. The match was draining enough that I cringed when I heard The Real Americans music again when Cesaro made his entrance. Zeb is great, but I still fear that his comedic heel approach and the overall Real Americans gimmick isn't a good fit for Cesaro even if he ends up feuding with Swagger and Colter.
Jack Swagger vs. Kofi Kingston: The match was meant to showcase Swagger heading into his Intercontinental Title match on Sunday, but it just felt flat.
Billy Gunn vs. Jimmy Uso: Another flat match that continued the long mid-show lull where it felt like things were just dragging and little was being accomplished. Granted, the matches had purpose in terms of focussing on several acts that and their roles at the pay-per-view, but it was just plain draining.
The Wyatt Family vs. Sin Cara and Los Matadores: A minor Miss. The Wyatts were showcased heading into their six-man tag match at Elimination Chamber, but it's hard to take any match seriously that involved Los Matadores. I was surprised to see Sin Cara get as much offense as he did in this match, as this seemed to be the spot for an all out squash for The Wyatts.
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