Pruett's Pause: WWE Raw - How to over-complicate a feud in 2,173 easy steps featuring Triple H, Big Show, Stephanie McMahon, Shawn Michaels, Randy Orton, and Daniel Bryan!
By Will Pruett
You know that one friend who tells stories and gives you every detail, whether necessary or not? They tell you what they were having for lunch, and for some reason they have to mention the height of their server. They like to tell you what everyone sitting around them was having as well. They include all sorts of unnecessary detail and none of it pertains to the main story they are telling.
Apparently, this friend wrote Monday Night Raw's closing segment. They decided Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, and Hell in a Cell weren't enough to give this match the final push towards Sunday. It needed more detail and it needed to be a longer story, so this friend added the special referee, Shawn Michaels. Hey, I'm always up for a little Shawn Michaels. Of course, "The Heartbreak Kid" was not enough for this friend either. The show needed a little more, so they tossed in Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. Now, all the drama also includes the former D-Generation X. Finally, like dessert, the story had its final touch, when Big Show and a big rig were thrown in.
All of this happened for just one match on Sunday. There were six people involved in promoting one big match. It was all too much. Lost in this promotion is the quest for vengeance of Daniel Bryan. Lost in this mess is the arrogance and over-confidence of Randy Orton, even though he hasn't beat Bryan. Lost in this story is the key story WWE seemed to want to tell six weeks ago. It's been replaced by a giant and a big rig.
Looking at the Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton Hell in a Cell Match, with Shawn Michaels as referee, what did Show have to do with what this match will likely be on Sunday? I don't see him interfering and compromising the Cell. If he appears, it will be in a segment with Triple H, not the main event.
I would have rather focused on the actual main event of Sunday's show, not the ancillary players. Much like I wrote about TNA's Bound for Glory show, the simplest story is often the most compelling. Adding Big Show, a big truck, and "The Authority," didn't make this story more compelling. It caused me to invest in men outside the cell and not the ones fighting in it.
And now for some random thoughts...
- The opening segment of Raw was more of a prelude than a really import piece of the story. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, despite me not enjoying their involvement later in the show, are playing their roles really well. I enjoy their full-heel promos quite a bit.
- Daniel Bryan vs. Dean Ambrose was fantastic. Daniel Bryan didn't rely on the WWE style of match and allowed this match to feel different than everything else he has been doing. Ambrose, despite losing, looked really good. I'm not always a fan of a mid-card champion losing, but in a long, competitive match, the loss may have done more to legitimize Ambrose than a win agains lesser competition would.
- Honestly, Bryan vs. Ambrose was better than anything on Bound for Glory on Sunday. I felt rewarded for tuning into Raw this week.
- Are the longer Bryan matches on Raw supposed to take the place of a promo from him? WWE seems keen on allowing him to do what he does best for long periods of time, but not so keen on allowing him to talk much. WWE may think fans will rally behind Bryan when they see him in the ring, but may doubt him for some reason on the mic.
- C.M. Punk's short promo on Raw was a nice illustration of how his program with Paul Heyman is running out of steam. It feels fitting for it to end soon. A new opponent to stand between Heyman and Punk would be ridiculous at this point. Curtis Axel and Ryback aren't too hot as Heyman guys and this program has them in a must-lose situation.
- This week's must fast-forward segment was the Elvis tribute with Santino. It made me chuckle for a moment, but like most jokes in wrestling, went on longer than it needed to.
- Randy Orton vs. Dolph Ziggler was a good match and a nice effort, especially from the slumping Ziggler. It was another tune up match for Hell in a Cell and Orton looked strong. Orton and Bryan both looked good in their tune-ups. Maybe Shawn Michaels should have refereed a match just to get ready as well.
- Alberto Del Rio planning to attack John Cena's injured arm is the best story for WWE to tell going into Sunday. It'll be interesting to see what Del Rio is actually able to do in the match and if Cena will be 100% and able to sell. Cena and Del Rio interests me for Sunday.
- A.J. Lee and Tamina vs. The Bella Twins was surprisingly good. Three of the four women aren't renowned workers and I expected some clunky moments, but Brie Bella carried more than her fair share and Tamina was well used. This was a tag tandem I would not mind seeing again.
- I hope A.J. and Brie are able to have a better match than they did at Battleground this Sunday. Brie Bella is working very hard to get over.
- The placement of Big E Langston as a babyface works for me. Joining C.M. Punk in the fight against Heyman's guys is a serious upgrade from R-Truth. Langston could even win the Intercontinental Championship on Sunday and I would be happy about it.
- The video package about Shawn Michaels training Daniel Bryan would have been pretty cool back in 2010 when Bryan was on NXT. It was cool here and definitely applicable.
- Tonight was tag match night on Raw. Most of the action was in the solid-to-good range, even though it got a little repetitive.
- The issue with The Wyatt Family is not the act they are doing. The act is great. They just don't have a story or a goal. When they debuted, they were interesting, but they haven't been in a story since the short Kane program. Bray Wyatt's character hasn't been fleshed out and his minions are just that, minions. The act is unique enough to mean more.
- It'll be fun to see fans rally behind Big E Langston. It'll be interesting to see if he starts doing his five count gimmick from his NXT days. He was mega-over in developmental and WWE could build him to that level again.
- Why was R-Truth selling merchandise? Why was I oddly entertained by it? Why did I break my R-Truth fast forward rule. Nothing makes sense anymore.
- The Real Americans have been in an odd squash match holding pattern as WWE introduces Los Matadores and gets them ready. This is a little disappointing. Sure, it gets the Giant Swing over, but it may lead to Cesaro and Swagger being cheered over Los Matadores, which WWE likely doesn't want.
- The John Cena video packages feel like a little much for a guy who hasn't been gone too long. I also understand the importance of hyping the return of your biggest star. They worked for me, but if could understand fans rebelling against him.
- The music mash up of Cody Rhodes and Goldust's entrance music is not one of WWE's best. Hopefully they'll go back to the drawing/composing board with this one.
- Goldust going into weird Goldie mode on commentary was awkward. Cody Rhodes on commentary was awkward. They should probably be kept away from the ringside table.
- The Uso's vs. The Shield was very entertaining, even though we have seen the match any times before. I'm pleasantly surprised by how over The Shield is at the moment.
- Shield vs. Uso's vs. Rhodes could steal the show on Sunday. Hopefully WWE will give them ample time to do so.
- The final segment was too complicated and overwrought with faux-drama and vehicular silliness.
- The positive of the final segment was the speech Michaels gave in support of Bryan. This was another absolutely necessary piece of the build.
Raw was good, but not great. I enjoyed the bulk of the in-ring action, but it became repetitive. I enjoyed some of the build to Sunday, but I'm not rushing to order it (and why would I, with The Packers on Sunday Night Football?). WWE gave us an odd build to the main event, but hopefully the odd build doesn't amount to an over-thought and odd match.
This stretch of three pay-per-views (which Hell in a Cell is the last of) can't end soon enough. WWE needs to tell some fresh stories soon. I'm looking forward to Survivor Series more than anything else right now, because it should feel fresh.
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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