Pruett's Pause: WWE Raw - Triple H's concussion story, Curtis Axel is a Paul Heyman guy, Ryback gets stuck in another awful gimmick match, The Shield vs. Kane, Bryan, and Kingston steals the show

Posted in: Pruett Editorials, MUST-READ LISTING
May 21, 2013 - 02:00 PM

By Will Pruett

Dot Net Members are listening to Jason Powell 48-minute audio review of WWE Raw, and the 76-minute audio review of the WWE Extreme Rules event that he and Chris Shore recorded on Sunday. Join us on the ad-free version of the website by signing up for membership now via the Dot Net Members' Signup Page.

A few weeks ago, I discussed the ways to introduce and establish a new star, and we saw another one on this show. We were reintroduced to NXT season two competitor Michael McGuillicutty, who's actual name is Joe Hennig, and who has been rechristened as Curtis Axel (named Curtis for his father, and Axel, after his grandfather Larry "The Ax" Hennig).

The reintroduction was both very effective and very odd. It was built up all day on social media ("Will Paul Heyman add a third Paul Heyman guy?"), and throughout the entire show. WWE really wanted people to think the world was about to change. This was built up as well as a major moment could be.

Then the moment actually happened. Paul Heyman introduced Curtis Axel to a subpar reaction from the crowd, who seemed to be hoping for a larger star to appear. It was weird, but not necessarily in a bad way. The reintroduction was memorable.

I was happy to see Rob Van Dam was not the Heyman guy being introduced. Instead, Heyman added to his sable of established main eventers with a young act. Heyman is now tasked with establishing a star, instead of helping to bolster an established star. The youth movement in WWE is continuing with this new addition to Heyman's act.

As the segment went on, Axel and Heyman were joined by Triple H. A match was made for later in the night with Triple H taking on Axel (Who would have called Mike McGuillicutty main eventing Raw?). This contest didn't do quite enough for Axel for my tastes. Instead it featured Axel holding his own, but Triple H succumbing to concussion-like symptoms. As the show ended, Axel was nowhere to be seen.

Now, there are ways to twist this around. Axel can come out next Monday and claim to be the man responsible for taking Triple H out. Sheamus built the early portion of his career off of this, and Axel could do the same. Hopefully it will turn out better for Axel than it did for Sheamus (who ate a random Pedigree during a period of extended burial).

- I enjoy the way WWE disperses pay-per-view results throughout an episode of Raw, instead of revealing them all at the beginning. I'm sure most people know the results and have seen pictures or the actual show, but it is still a nice little touch.

- Ryback and John Cena seem to be drawing the short straws as far as gimmick matches go. First, they had the Last Man Standing match, which is quite the awful concept. Now, they are being cursed with the Ambulance Match, which is also not the most interesting concept.

- Ryback's opening ambulance ride and promo on top of the ambulance was actually pretty good. He hasn't been the most consistent on the mic, but this was a decent promo. My biggest qualm: he was discussing actually killing John Cena, which we all know will not happen. This probably shouldn't happen in wrestling.

- Did the ringside fans actually receive milkshakes from Sonic? It would be a classy move if they did.

- This may seem weird, but I have no desire to watch an interview while I also watch wrestling. If I'm that bored, I'm going to fast-forward through the match or change he channel. Could you imagine Mad Men suggesting you watch an segment with Pete while an important Don scene is happening? This is not the way to draw people into a show. Most fans probably want less distraction, not more.

- What exactly is Summer Rae's deal? One night, she seems to be completely all about helping Fandango. The next, she is flirting with Chris Jericho, but leaving him just short of a kiss. I'm intrigued.

- When Wade Barrett won his theme music in a competition during NXT Season One, his theme music became permanently cursed. He will never have a good theme.

- Fandango walking out on the match furthered his story, but it wasn't a good way to do so.

- I would have loved every app voter if Great Khali would have faced Jack Swagger instead of Randy Orton.

- Random App thought: this really doesn't play well for those of us on the West Coast. I cannot watch Raw until 8:00pm Pacific Time, which means I cannot be a part of the interactivity on their app. I don't mind not being able to watch interviews while I watch wrestling, but it is a turn off.

- Titus O'Neal was surprising in his match with Sheamus, mostly because he lasted more than two minutes. O'Neal has something compelling about him. I'm interested to see where he ends up in about two years.

- How killer is the dance remix of the Mr. Perfect theme Curtis Axel is entering to? Someone get me some perfect glowsticks to dance with!

- I was surprised and delighted by Big E Langston vs. Alberto Del Rio. The action was solid and the finish actually told a nice story, with the stupid bucket distracting Del Rio and E taking advantage.

- How terrible did it look to run last week's Smackdown ad (which was already outdated last week) this week? How hard is it to run something generic?

- I'm enjoying the build up A.J. Lee is getting as a number one contender for the Diva's Championship. She is definitely in a good position to win it and rock the "power couple" gimmick with Dolph Ziggler.

- Speaking of Dolph Ziggler, he was not on this show. John Cena was not on this show (I believe he was selling injuries from the giant bump through the stage). When was the last time a Raw went by without either World Champion appearing?

- It might have been better for Zack Ryder's career if he had been released this past week in the NXT talent cuts.

- Then again, seeing Ryder get beat up by Ryback is kind of entertaining.

- It's weird to see John Cena's opponent build up to an ambulance match with him by beating up Zack Ryder. I'm pretty sure I've seen this before.

- Watch the WWE App to see another person watch the match you're not watching.

- The Shield vs. Daniel Bryan, Kane, and Kofi Kingston was just awesome. This is a match I'll keep on my DVR for at least a couple weeks to watch a couple more times. Ambrose, Rollins, and Reigns are revolutionizing six-man tags and really boosting Raw.

- Daniel Bryan has the best babyface comeback/fired up moments in the world today.

- How great is Kane? Very.

- I know why Triple H had the segment backstage with the doctor telling him not to wrestle, but it probably should have been written a little better, so Triple H wouldn't have been exactly ignoring doctor's wishes.

- While Jack Swagger and Randy Orton had a decent match, the end never seemed to be in question. This could have been a great opportunity for Swagger to get elevated, but instead Randy Orton continued to win. Where is Orton even heading at this point?

- Curtis Axel was able to stand his ground against Triple H in a way I would have never expected Mike McGuillicutty to prior to this show.

- I can understand why some people were not fans of the Triple H concussion story, but I want to wait and see where it goes. It gives Axel the opportunity to claim to be the man who ended Triple H. It gives WWE a way to draw some attention to concussion issues. It also allows for Triple H to disappear.

- Isn't it weird that both Triple H and Shawn Michaels have closed Raw with concussion storylines? How does this one rank against the Shawn Michaels and Owen Hart angle?

This show had a very clear through-line with Paul Heyman, Triple H, and Curtis Axel. It may have turned Axel into a star. It featured solid work from Heyman and Triple H. I was happy with this show, even if some of it was skippable. The highlight was easily the six man tag, which stole the focus in a great way. This episode was definitely worth watching.

So, what did you think of the show? Agree? Disagree? Either way, feel free to email me at or to follow me and interact on twitter at

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