Pruett's Pause: WWE Raw - Damien Sandow cashes in, competes, and loses (and why it's the best thing for his career), The Wyatt Family breaks out, Big Show bores me, and more!
By Will Pruett
I know I'm supposed to be outraged, but I'm not. I can't muster the passion to be angry today. Honestly, I can't even muster the passion to care. Damien Sandow cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase and lost, in the first unexpected cash in to not result in a title change. Sandow ambushed John Cena, attacked his arm, and had him reeling. Then, a competitive match broke out (thus breaking the Money in the Bank cliche in the best way) and Cena overcame the odds and won. This was the best possible thing for Damien Sandow.
The Money in the Bank cash in is boring. It's become a cliche. The first one happened in January of 2006 and it was the most exciting event of 2006. Since then, the cash ins have been very similar (with only Rob Van Dam and John Cena deviating from the formula). Live crowds pop for them. In the arena, there is an excitement about them. On television, they are basically the same thing over and over.
Look at the champions who have won in the surprise cash ins. Some of them have overperfromed (Edge, RVD), but there are more who have disappointed. Kane, The Miz, and Jack Swagger have all won the title and had bad reigns. Even Daniel Bryan and Alberto Del Rio didn't impress with their title reigns after winning with the briefcase. There have been too many successful heel-style cash ins for it to be compelling.
Damien Sandow was able to show a mean streak above what he has shown before in his beat down of John Cena. His competitive effort against Cena was easily the match of Sandow's career. A competitive loss can mean more for a wrestler than an easy win. Had Damien Sandow won, we would be sitting around wondering when his easy loss would occur.
A loss, for the wrestler cashing in, is a better story than a win. WWE has told story after story about an undeserving wrestler winning a title, then eventually losing it. It's not interesting. It's not fun. Damien Sandow was the undeserving wrestler and his win would have meant nothing. This way, he can actually tell a story we haven't seen.
And now for some random thoughts...
- John Cena was a little more street than usual in his opening Raw promo. He was also more passionate than usual. I was happy to see Cena show the fire and passion he did. I know his "The champ is here" promos annoy some people, but I enjoy them every once in a while.
- Why would WWE production put a commercial break in right as Sandow was cashing in? This made the cash in feel much less important. I know there isn't an option sometimes, as commercials are a part of life on television, but this was exceptionally poor placement. Would the NFL go to commercial right as a play starts from the red zone?
- Speaking of showing fire, there was fire in the Cena vs. Sandow match. Sandow looked great and Cena, although he annoys some with the come from behind wins, looked really good as well.
- My fellow Dot Net Staffer, Jake Barnett rightly pointed out one thing this match was missing: compelling near falls on Cena. The arena would have gone crazy for just one 2.9 count. Cena kicked out right at 2 a couple times and took some drama away from the match.
- Taking the briefcase out of play at this point in the year from WWE. For the last two years, it has stuck around until at least December.
- I am enjoying The Shield's backstage promo style. It has evolved from their "found camera" days to being a set camera in a random hallway. The Shield is working pretty well at this moment.
- Big E Langston vs. Dean Ambrose being used as a setup for a six man tag featuring the rest of The Shield and The Uso's was fun. This whole segment was fast-paced and engaging television. It was like WWE was mildly worried about the World Series and Monday Night Football. I was engaged with Raw through the entire first hour.
- The Uso's are quite over right now. Good for them and good for tag teams.
- The Shawn Michaels and Daniel Bryan segment was fantastic. Michaels does really well when acting like a justified pseudo-jerk. He had his reasons, but he didn't steal cheers from Bryan in expressing them.
- This serious version of Bryan is exactly what I wanted to see from him during the entire feud with Orton and Triple H. Bryan wasn't "Yes"ing and cheerleading. He was real and he was frustrated. This is a good character move.
- No matter how much I complain about wrestling and criticize creative efforts, sometimes wrestling gives me something surreal and amazing. Michaels and Bryan was one of those moments.
- The Wyatt Family stepped from the sidelines of WWE to the forefront on this show. Their attack on Daniel Bryan feels like a move down the card for Bryan, but also a move up the card for the Wyatt's. Add C.M. Punk's involvement in this story as well, and The Wyatt Family is poised for a big run.
- I enjoyed the entire Los Matadores act when they debuted, but now I'm only enjoying El Torito. This act is not fun.
- One of these days, I'll actually learn to download an app. Keep trying, Michael Cole. Keep trying.
- The Bella Twins vs. A.J. Lee and Tamina had its awkward moments. Why wasn't Nikki acting concerned for Daniel Bryan? I know she isn't engaged to him, but they are friends, right? Aside from this, I enjoyed the match.
- How right does it feel to see Miz get squashed?
- Kane and Stephanie McMahon had an odd exchange which ended with a really cool visual. I don't know what this means for Kane's visual appearance in the future, but it does fill his contractual obligation to have a heel/babyface turn once per year.
- The Primetime Players did not impress me as pitchmen the way R-Truth did.
- The impressive portion of this Raw was the way it brought something new. Nothing new has happened since the Raw after SummerSlam and it has been a frustrating three pay-per-view stretch.
- C.M. Punk delivered some nice passion in his promo about Ryback and the fan's choices. Punk is a good professional wrestler on every level. This promo, basically rehashing a feud and celebrating, was good.
- The actual match between Ryback and Punk was more of the same from them. After watching Punk vs. Ryabck in the Cell and here, I am ready for this feud to end. Luckily, the post-match beating indicated that it would.
- The Wyatt Family vs. Daniel Bryan and C.M. Punk is a mighty sexy looking feud on paper.
- If the broad plan was to take The Real Americans into a tag title feud after Sunday, why did they lose to Los Matadores? Creating parity in the tag division is not necessary. I was very surprised to see The Real Americans win this.
- Alberto Del Rio's promo with the Mexican flag was short, sweet, and effective. John Cena can sell an arm injury even more after his beating from Sandow, so Del Rio should have plenty to go after.
- Another quick Money in the Bank thought: my ideal heel cash in would be after a long match with a babyface title defense. The heel would cash in and the babyface would wrestle valiantly for a long time (20+ minutes). Whatever the ending is, the match would be legendary.
- Summer Rae's character seems bipolar. One moment she is dancing and taunting, the next she is viciously yelling. It's like someone fed a Gremlin after dark.
- I was disappointed to see the "whole roster on the stage" thing return. I was also disappointed when they saw something major happening in the ring and left. What is going on in WWE? Neither of these details make the show look good. Is anyone thinking of presentation?
- The Big Show is not a WWE employee, but he does have new WWE sponsored merchandise and he still has his WWE theme song and video wall. This is completely illogical. It's the kind of detail an eight-year-old would notice.
- Live crowds do pop for Big Show, but this does not mean they should continue with this story. It is not compelling, logical, or enjoyable. Remember, Big Show vs. Triple H wasn't good enough to main event WrestleMania 2000. It's 13 years later. They haven't improved.
- The end of Raw was the most disappointing part of a pretty good show. Randy Orton, new WWE Champion, is an afterthought. He is playing second fiddle to the authority figure, Triple H. This is just as bad as when Hulk Hogan was the lead babyface for TNA. The authority figure position seems like the new World Championship in some ways.
A very good show, with a lot of new stories being told and a breath of fresh air flowing through it, was brought down by a stale closing segment featuring characters I have no reason to like or care about. This is the sad truth about WWE right now. Even with new and exciting things happening in the undercard, the top program is Triple H vs. Big Show. This matchup is not compelling. This feud is boring. I don't see my opinion of it changing and I don't see the direction changing.
So, what did you think of the show? Agree? Disagree? Either way, feel free to email me at email@example.com or to follow me and interact on twitter at twitter.com/itswilltime.
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