Pruett's Pause: WWE Raw - What can Voldemort and Harry Potter teach us about Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton,and Triple H, how often will Big Show have to cry, Cody Rhodes has a breakout night, and more!
By Will Pruett
We are in chapter one. It's really important to remember this. We are in chapter one of what most of us believe/hope/pretend to know will be a very long book. This is the beginning. In the beginning, we see the set up. Characters have to be defined, first with broad strokes, then with more detail. Situations meant to pay themselves off down the line will be slipped in, in a seemingly random way. This is chapter one.
WWE is facing a tough task with this first chapter. Usually, they have an already established world to draw from. The heroes and villains are already in their roles and in their fans' minds. The normal changes are merely setting up the characters in new, compelling, and interesting situations. This is not the chapter one we are looking at.
This beginning is a complete reshuffling of WWE's roster. John Cena is gone. Sheamus is gone. Randy Orton has turned from babyface to heel. Daniel Bryan stands alone as a babyface against the regime of Triple H, Orton, and the McMahons. This is the new core story and it is so different from the last five years that WWE must reset itself a little.
This week, we saw a little more of the reset. Daniel Bryan, while formally alone, seems to have some friends stepping up. Sure, most of them still watch him from the stage and he is pummeled, but men like Cody Rhodes are stepping up. Even while this uprising is being quelled, it still exists.
Why am I pointing out how this is just chapter one? It comes in response to those saying WWE is putting too much heat on Triple H, Randy Orton, and the others. This isn't too much heat, it's the beginning of an entirely new story. Both Triple H and Orton were receiving some of the strongest babyface reactions on the show before they turned. This whole month has been all about reestablishing and reconditioning the emotional responses of fans.
Triple H and Orton are the incarnation of evil. Look at what Harry Potter ran up against when he faced off with Voldemort. Other people became casualties (never forget Fred Weasley). An entire world was torn in two. A giant even had to cry. Sure, there were some bright moments, but even after them, Harry had to march to his certain death in the Forbidden Forest. This is how stories like this work. It's supposed to be bleak and you're supposed to want the good guys to break free.
Isn't it interesting how the responses to this angle tend to line up with the exact reactions WWE would want their casual fans suspending disbelief to have? This is chapter one of a story of good vs. evil. WWE is setting up evil for a fall, but it's not time for it yet. Daniel Bryan will continue to channel Harry Potter and bravely march to his death.
And now for some random thoughts...
- For me, the star of this show was actually Cody Rhodes. He turned a nice moment backstage, into a very good showing in a match against Randy Orton, into a great moment and promo as he left the building. If WWE does well with Cody for the next few weeks, they could have another major star on their hands.
- Dolph Ziggler's beatdown from Dean Ambrose and loss to Ryback worked for me. One real benefit to this new story at the top of the card is the way it trickles down to the undercard. While it could get tiring or redundant, right now it is fresh to see the whole show revolve around one story.
- Stephanie McMahon was fantastic in her role on this show.
- Really though, did Big Show need to cry this much? Also, did he need the Shawn Michaels and JBL story from late '08 and early '09 tacked onto him? I'm not saying it's awful, but it does violate the seven year rule.
- Triple H, while attempting to be evil, probably shouldn't be snarky towards Paul Heyman. Maybe they should have buried a hatchet of some sort.
- What is there to say about C.M. Punk's performances on the mic in the last couple months? I feel like I'm venturing into hyperbole, but he is truly showing how amazing he can be. Punk is rocking this current feud with Heyman and his mic work has been off the charts.
- While I enjoyed last week's A.J. Lee promo, I worry that the Diva's division is still going to lack direction.
- I enjoyed what Rob Van Dam did upon first returning, but his pairing with Ricardo Rodriguez is causing me too rapidly lose interest.
- The last segment of Raw went on a little too long for my tastes. I felt like I already knew where it was going, but it took thirteen times longer than it should have to get there. This isn't an inditement on the performances, just an observation.
Raw continues to be an exciting show to watch with the new story WWE is telling. I'm unsure of where exactly it goes next week and how Night of Champions will play out, but I'm excited to see it pay out. I love it when something new is happening.
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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