Pruett's Pause: WWE Raw - Daniel Bryan and The Rhodes Boys show WWE's lack of commitment to creating solid babyfaces, "The Authority" gets angry, Punk beats the clock, and more!
By Will Pruett
Dot Net Members are listening to the 48-minute WWE Raw audio review Jason Powell recorded on Monday night. They will also be listening to the TNA Bound For Glory audio review on Sunday night. If you enjoy our All Access audio, help support Dot Net by signing up for membership to the ad-free version of the website via the Dot Net Members' Signup Page.
It seems like "The Authority" (which is the legitimate name WWE is giving Stephanie McMahon, Triple H, and quite possibly their group of people) is beginning to show some cracks. Now, from a storytelling standpoint, I don't view this as the beginning of the end, but rather the beginning of a next chapter. "The Authority" has pushed the wrestlers on the roster around, and now is their time to push back. Sadly, this push back is not as good as it could and should be.
Look at Daniel Bryan. When was the last time he had the opportunity to deliver an impassioned speech on Raw? I cannot recall one since the Raw before SummerSlam. Where have the moments where he rallies the crowd around him been? His character has been turned from a hero fighting for a cause we can believe in to a nice guy spouting off a one syllable catch phrase. I still believe in Bryan, his appeal, and his talent. I still believe his story is salvageable. What I don't believe in is the approach WWE has taken with his character.
Again on this show we had another big babyface act presented without a promo segment. In this case, it was Cody Rhodes and Goldust. The Rhodes Boys were granted a shot at the WWE Tag Team Championships against The Shield. Were the Rohdes' given a chance to tell us what it would mean to win the titles? No. They were not. They were not even seen or heard from until their match began. At the moment their match began, they were presented as legitimate threats, but up until then, they were hardly mentioned.
Even in changing the WWE Tag Team Championship for the first time since May, WWE did not do enough. Will this be the approach with Daniel Bryan's crowning achievement as well? In the wake of the quickly-ending John Cena absence, WWE has had the chance to make new stars and change the way they told stories. For the first time in many years, the top of the card looked even, without one wrestler towering above the rest.
"The Authority" is showing anger (especially Triple H) and they are not coming out on top of every situation. In one way, we could say WWE is dedicating themselves to making new stars, but when looking at the actual delivery of these pushes, WWE is proving to be lacking something. The time is now to turn it around.
And now for some random thoughts...
- A perfect example of not giving Daniel Bryan proper promo time was the opening segment of Raw. Randy Orton and Shawn Michaels had a good segment together, but they aren't the ones fighting in two weeks and Michaels hasn't been screwed out of the title three times by Orton. Bryan has a natural grudge, but isn't being given time to express it.
- Shawn Michaels' opening promo for Raw was good. He established his history with Hell in a Cell and made the match feel important. I enjoy the involvement from Michaels and am looking forward to what he does in two weeks.
- The Miz attacking Randy Orton worked for me. Miz has moments where he shows some true babyface fire and almost seems worth cheering. Of course, he then has moments where he is almost absurdly unlikable.
- The end of Miz vs. Orton worked in every way. Bray Wyatt distracting Miz worked perfectly within Miz's story and the promo from Wyatt showed why his character would go after Miz in general. This was solid storytelling.
- Shouldn't there be rules about what can be shown on the Titantron during matches? One would think wrestlers wouldn't be allowed to just take it over because it creates an unfair working situation for the wrestlers in the ring.
- Santino and Fandango had a match. I can't help but think about how great a Rhodes Boys promo would have been in this slot.
- The Beat the Clock concept is inherently flawed. If both wrestlers in each match are not competing for something, then why wouldn't the wrestler with nothing to gain from winning just milk the clock? WWE tried to cover for this with Curtis Axel going against orders and trying to win, but the concept still doesn't work for me.
- If an online petition is the plan for debuting Xavier Woods, I can honestly say I've heard worse. I hope it works out, since Woods is a really great talent and has been since his days in the X Division.
- The two John Cena video packages worked for me. I don't think anyone watching doesn't know who he is, but it's always nice to see a returning star given this treatment.
- I'm guessing the Los Matadores and 3MB program eventually leads to El Torito actually being in a six man match. Will Los Matadores even lose to 3MB to set this up?
- El Torito is still entertaining me. The athleticism he shows is spectacular. Now, all I really want to see from him is an actual match against Sin Cara, which could be amazing.
- The promo segment with "The Authority" addressing what Big Show and Daniel Bryan did last week was good. Triple H finally cut the heel promo he needed to months ago. Stephanie McMahon continues to give inspiring promos. These two are doing good work. I don't love the writing, but their performances, especially here, were great.
- Daniel Bryan looked like he was going to have his chance to address Triple H and Stephanie, but was stopped. Once again, why not let Bryan address the heels and address the fans? Support from Bryan is begin to wain, not because of Bryan himself, but because of how he is presented.
- Ryback vs. R-Truth gave me time to catch up on the Monday Night Football game. I could get used to R-Truth matches in the fall.
- Stephanie McMahon and Brie Bella could have a nice promo together. I would love to see some fire from Brie in segments like this.
- Antonio Cesaro is freakishly strong. He's going to be a babyface for these feats of strength very soon.
- Brie Bella isn't gaining the support of the crowd the way she could. Why not give her a little more time with Daniel Bryan and allow her to use some of his mannerisms in the ring? It would be a far better babyface comeback than "Where you at (name of city)?" I'm not saying she should do a bad Bryan impression, but she could definitely incorporate some of what he does.
- Tamina looks like an absolute beast in the ring. This is a fine way for her to be pushed. Her beating of Bella lacked heat, but both women (and more appropriately their pushes) can be blamed.
- Daniel Bryan should have had a comeback of some sort when Stephanie McMahon asked if he had a fiancé to attend to. Sadly, he just backed down like he wasn't smart enough to think of a comeback.
- C.M. Punk vs. Curtis Axel was good. The conclusion was easy to figure out and the clock added a little bit of drama. The Punk and Heyman program has dragged since Night of Champions and these segments have suffered for it.
- Punk picking a handicap match with Ryback and Heyman inside of Hell in a Cell caught me off guard. I didn't expect to see the cell used twice this year and I definitely didn't expect to see Punk inside of it. It works for the feud, but this must be the end, even though a Punk and Lesnar rematch has to be on the horizon.
- Punk and Ryback will be the first men to ever step back into the Hell in a Cell together. This time, it involves Heyman, which is interesting.
- Alberto Del Rio vs. Daniel Bryan was fun to watch. Del Rio got himself some heat going into his match with John Cena. Daniel Bryan looked stupid for running from the ring to save Brie Bella when there was a whole locker room full of people who probably didn't want Orton to assault Brie.
- I'm all for putting heat on Orton and Bryan's feud, but there are smarter ways to do so, even by doing almost the exact same things.
- The Shield vs. The Rhodes Boys was a nice Raw main event, but it didn't match the drama of the Battleground tag team match. There was a lack of logic with the tags occurring in the No Disqualification format. There was also a lack of connection between the crowd and Cody and Goldust.
- Big Show having to help the Rhodes brothers win the titles didn't help matters either. Show interfering made sense and was almost fair (due to Dean Ambrose's interference). The big victory felt a little hollow coming off of interference instead of an earned victory. WWE knows how to present stars, but they are doing so in a half-assed way for some reason.
Not everything happening on Raw is bad and not everything doesn't work. The main story can work really well and be easily redeemed, but WWE needs to focus on the basics of making stars and not needlessly over complicating things. With only one Raw episode before Hell in a Cell, WWE needs to step up their storytelling. There is a lot of work to be done next week.
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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