Pruett's Pause: WWE Raw - The Shield stay strong, even against The Undertaker, John Cena takes out Ryback, Dolph Ziggler and Chris Jericho put on a show-stealer, Raw from the U.K., and more!
By Will Pruett
It's a challenge to make a star in wrestling. It's been the greatest challenge in the history of most wrestling promotions. The greatest struggle in WWE is creating a new main event star, or many of them. There are a lot of former World Champions (remember, every match at WrestleMania contained one). There are a lot of guys who have received the opportunity. There are very few stars.
WWE is doing a lot of work towards creating stars. It ranges from introductory squash matches (Big E Langston) to competitive and entertaining matches (Dolph Ziggler) to allowing a man or group to get a victory over one of WWE's biggest and most precious entities (The Shield). Creating stars has not been in priority in recent years. One could even argue it has not been a major priority since the early 2000's. It is now. The results are evident and pretty exciting.
The Undertaker wrestled on Raw for the first time since 2010. His opponents, and even one of his partners, were not established veterans from the late 90's. They were not struggling mid-card acts that have been around for years. They weren't even stars past the first act of their careers. They were The Shield, WWE's newest dominant force. They have only been around since November. In that time, they have beat John Cena, Kane, Ryback, The Undertaker, Sheamus, Randy Orton, Big Show, Chris Jericho, and Daniel Bryan. This is a pretty impressive list. This is how a star is born.
Veterans, while it can be frustrating at times to see them return, are a precious resource. Look at Chris Jericho. He returned with the sole purpose to elevate young talent. He succeeded on this show in elevating Dolph Ziggler, by having a very entertaining match with him. He also succeeded in elevating the recently debuted Fandango. After last week, many were ready to write Fandango off, but after a great performance here (and with the reassurance of a continuing program with Jericho), I'm convinced Fandango will be a star.
Finally, as star is created, in the most basic way, with wins. Big E Langston is beginning what will be a long and arduous process of squashing lesser wrestlers. It will probably take two months longer than we want it to, but it will be important. Remember, when Ryback finally stepped out of his very long series of squash matches, it was into a WWE Championship feud. Langston could follow in his footsteps.
Creatives in wrestling should be concerned with making stars. They should also be watching WWE each week to see how it is done.
- Kicking the show off without pyro or the standard musical opening is starting to be a regular thing for WWE. I don't hate the new theme song, so I'm actually sad sometimes when I don't hear it. Why did they play Nickelback so much more?
- I'm surprised Paul Heyman doesn't own an iPhone 5.
- The tease of Triple H not being in the arena was a good one. It let the crowd down a little bit, before allowing them to completely go crazy for Triple H. It also assured a bigger pop for Triple H, which is never a bad thing for a lead babyface.
- I enjoyed the short simplicity of the opening. Triple H entered, answered the challenge, and got violent. It was short and sweet. On a three hour show, we see a lot of segments like this stretched out. I'm happy this one wasn't.
- What exactly did Paul Heyman do to Triple H to deserve a Pedigree? I know Heyman is supposed to be an awful person in WWE's stories, but is he bad enough to deserve this? I would have liked for this to be a more motivated attack. It made Triple H seem like a bit of a bully.
- Yodeling is annoying, but it isn't going to kill Antonio Cesaro. This is his "King Sheamus" phase. He is going to play for laughs, show that he is a good sport, and come out better for it on the other side.
- R-Truth bores me. Heck, K-Qwik bored me.
- Apparently The Shield stole Evolution's helicopter.
- The Rhodes Scholars vs. Tons of Funk matchups on this show were basic filler. They split victories. The heels cheated. Everything is reset to be the same next week. This is what a holding pattern feels like.
- A.J. Lee as Diva's Champion would return some focus to the title, and it really could use it. Remember how prominent the Women's Championship was when Stephanie McMahon held it while accompanying WWE Champion Triple H to the ring.
- Why is John Cena matching air miles instead of just giving all of his and encouraging others to do so?
- WWE was intent on focussing on The Shield for the entire night. They had a helicopter, a backstage promo, a backstage attack, a match, and an attack to close the show. This was great focus.
- Dolph Ziggler and Chris Jericho should teach classes in near-falls down at WWE's fancy new developmental facility. This match had many masterful ones. Ziggler is a prototypical vulnerable champion. Jericho is a well established wrestler that has learned to lose without losing anything. Their chemistry is great.
- Ziggler vs. Jericho should happen at least once on pay-per-view this year. Give them 30 minutes and let it ride. No one will be disappointed.
- This crowd was super into singing Fandango's theme music. I liked that. They also did the wave for no reason. That was silly.
- The set up for Mick Foley to confront Ryback later in the show was a little contrived.
- Tensai reminded me in his match that an in-shape, motivated, babyface Albert would have probably been great in 2012. He can wrestle, it's just the other stuff he is lacking.
- Daniel Bryan should come out with an "I brought diagrams" t-shirt. It should have diagrams on it.
- Kane forcing Bryan to promise not to hug Undertaker made my heart hurt a little.
- Kane played the little brother worried that his friend would embarrass him in front of the big brother really well. This was more nuanced than I expect wrestling to be.
- Ryback continued his offense at John Cena not answering his phone call or not running down to save him or something. It was an okay backstage promo.
- Every time Zack Ryder gets squashed, an angel gets its wings. You're welcome, Clarence.
- The Undertaker's entrance is a triumph of production and presence. Even the basic version used on Raw is amazing.
- The Shield entering with just Undertaker in the ring was fantastic. The threat of The Shield and the bravery of The Undertaker were reinforced. The pop once Kane's pyro and music hit were the results of this great little angle.
- The match between The Shield, Kane, Daniel Bryan, and The Undertaker was a very exciting effort. It had two long heat-getting stretches from the heels, but it also had plenty of babyface hope spots and some great offense from The Undertaker. The show climaxed with this match and it was great.
- Seth Rollins taunting The Undertaker had to be an amazing career moment for him. Any guy with the opportunity to wrestle Undertaker now is extremely lucky and, I assume, in some way living out a dream.
- Daniel Bryan lost the fall in a slightly flukey, slip on a banana peel way. This definitely fuels the fire behind this feud and should make for some form of this match (with or without Undertaker) at Extreme Rules.
- Good can only come of The Shield winning the WWE Tag Team Championships.
- The Rock's tweets should be read on every WWE broadcast. I'm not just talking about the relevant ones. I want every one of his tweets read by an announcer, a mid card wrestler, a fan, or even a diva. It could be a weekly honor to read The Rock's tweets.
- John Cena gave Mick Foley a chair, which is obviously the weapon one is most likely to grab to protect themselves.
- William Regal was the perfect opponent to put in the ring with Fandango in the U.K. Fandango was able to remain a heel, even with the crowd eager to sing his music. Regal was able to give Fandango a good, short match.
- On Smackdown, Alberto Del Rio and Jack Swagger found their stride. Their match was surprisingly great. I'm happy to see them getting another opportunity in a No Disqualification match on Friday night.
- The Divas seem to have horrid luck with Battle Royals. I'm not sure if it is the extremely low number of women in the division, or that the matches just aren't being put together well, but something is off whenever three or more Divas are against each other.
- I'm happy to see A.J. Lee getting a shot at the Diva's Championship.
- Does Brodus Clay kill people, then dance like he was born to do in his new movie?
- The final segment of the show, with John Cena, Mick Foley, and Ryback fell flat. Terribly flat.
- Mick Foley's serious promos can occasionally become parodies of themselves. When Foley is really on, he is great. When Foley is just halfway there, it's noticeable. On this show, Foley was a little off.
- Ryback was more than a little off. He apparently cannot cut a promo without pacing in front of his subject, has to pause awkwardly, and is always breathing that hard. Ryback did not come off well in this in-ring segment. If the expectation was for Foley to carry Ryback, they were not met.
- John Cena almost walking out on Ryback getting attacked by The Shield worked for me. Everything after Cena ran back out didn't. His chair wielding antics were silly and often seemed unsafe. His beating of The Shield, even with a weapon, did them no good.
- Ryback being Attitude Adjusted by Cena to close the show was a less than ideal scenario. I realize that Cena cannot lose every week, but this was a week he could have afforded to lose.
While The Shield didn't leave this show on top, I truly believe they will benefit the most from it. They were the new stars made, more than Ziggler, Fandango, or Ryback. They were given a win over WWE's most tenured and respected wrestler. Even being in the ring with The Undertaker is a star-making opportunity.
The rest of the show was fun to watch. I filled out my "Raw in the U.K." Bingo card with phone booth, Union Jack, long match with quality wrestlers, silly car, and the London Eye. How can I complain about a night when I won at Bingo? This show was good and had a very nice flow up until a lackluster final segment. Ultimately, this was a broadcast with an eye on the future, and I love to see that.
So, what did you think of the show? Agree? Disagree? Either way, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or to follow me and interact on twitter at twitter.com/itswilltime.
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