10 Thoughts: WWE Raw 7.1.13 (CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, The Wyatt Family)

Raw (Hartford 2013)

{Ed. Note: Just a quick note – I watched this week’s Raw without access to the internet so I basically jotted down quick thoughts as the night progressed. I’m still going to be writing out the full “10 Thoughts” but I thought it would be a little different if I left my notes down at the bottom of the article as well if there was something I noticed during the show that I couldn’t work into the column. As always, have at it in the comments! – MJH}

1. I heard about Vickie Guerrero’s “announcement” earlier in the day as it was on WWE.com (and everywhere else). What was interesting and a little baffling to me was that Raw opened with the one shot of Vickie when the McMahons are back on television. You can tell by the crowd reaction that she is not nearly as over as a heel as she once was and now she’s being overshadowed by three other authority figures. I know this is all a part of the “McMahon Power Struggle” soap opera but you didn’t need to open Raw with the one person involved in this “struggle” that really has no power. Combine that with the flat announcement of John Cena vs Alberto Del Rio and the crowd just wasn’t buying it. There’s a reason the WWE discontinued their Night of Champions PPV so I’m clueless as to why they thought doing a similarly themed show tonight would work.

2. Why the need to call the WWE Championship “Money In The Bank Ladder Match” the “All-Stars” match? Baseball fans couldn’t care less about their All-Star Game so why is the WWE trying to capitalize on something that isn’t working in the first place? The fact that it features all former World champions, all babyfaces and all upper-card to main-eventers should more than enough to sell this match! This was the stereotypical promo we get before any Money In The Bank match (thank you, CM Punk for once again pointing out the redundancy) but it worked for what it was supposed to accomplish. It gave Daniel Bryan the opening spotlight, especially to highlight his fantastic new t-shirt. It gave Team Hell No more reason not to be on the same page. It gave Randy Orton that little bit of an edge he’d been missing since the beginning of his babyface turn. It allowed Christian to rub elbows with other main-eventers he hasn’t been in the ring with since his return. And it allow CM Punk to re-position himself on the “good guy” side while also being able to speak for the absent Rob Van Dam. ALL of that being said, the segment was formulaic, plodding & predictable but it did its job.

3. So Dolph Ziggler is about to have his first match back since losing the World Heavyweight Championship and there’s absolutely no sign of AJ or Big E Langston. Not only that but the announcers don’t even mention the fact that they’re absent, not even after the match when Ziggler is being triple teamed! Tremendously lazy writing. As for the match with Jinder Mahal, Mahal was given FAR too much offense against a guy the WWE is positioning as their next big babyface. I know Ziggler’s strength is selling, there’s no doubt about it and you can be a fantastic babyface by over-selling for your opponent but you also need to get in some great offense of your own. Shawn Michaels is the perfect example of this, especially during his first WWF Championship run. He ran through feuds with Diesel, Vader & Mankind in which he was the underdog in all of them, took hellacious beatings but was still able to show a lot of his own endurance and athleticism in his hope spots. Ziggler had VERY little offense and it wasn’t until after the match did we get to see how good he can be. While the match was definitely a miss, the post-match antics I think made up for it.

4. Unlike the last two weeks, we really didn’t get any great in-ring action tonight. I wrote in my notes that it felt it was “Rest Hold Raw”. I know the guys are off to Japan and this show was just one to bridge the gap into the go-home show next week but no one seemed inspired to perform tonight at all.

5. It was pretty ironic of CM Punk to say he didn’t trust Curtis Axel when it was Axel who was only one of 3 to agree to pass an initiation in order to be a part of CM Punk’s New Nexus in 2011.

6. What the hell are they doing with Ryback!? Chris Jericho has publicly stated a few times that the original plan upon his return at the Royal Rumble was to turn heel and start a program with Ryback, culminating in a WrestleMania match between the two. Well obviously that never happened and now it seems as if no one knows what to do. The start of Ryback’s heel run was great and then he was exposed for what he is: a big, 80s-style wrestler who needs a workhorse to carry matches for him. Had the original WrestleMania plans stayed the same, Jericho would have been that workhorse and probably would have pulled a good to very good match out of the big guy. But that didn’t happen and Ryback’s been stuck in a string of bad main event matches that quickly destroyed any mystique he still had. Now he’s telling the referee to stop the match because he knee hurts? Not only that but he was wrestling The Miz. In the “record books”, The Miz now holds a TKO victory over Ryback. Unless he has a Mark Henry-like resurgence somewhere in him, this could very well be the death knell for Ryback.

7. What happened in 2 weeks??? Only two weeks ago Mark Henry delivered the promo of his life! And tonight, crap. Utter and total horse manure. That was “Monster Villain Promo 101” & I would have probably only given him a C for effort. I don’t know if he went back to reciting exactly what the creative team wrote for him or he used up all his mojo on his swerve but that was bad.

8. I know there are a TON of “haters” out there (they’re very vocal) but what Paul Heyman & CM Punk are doing for Curtis Axel is phenomenal. Getting past my basis for his father and how much potential I believe Axel has, the way he is being positioned as Heyman’s “new CM Punk” is perfect. Because he’s NOT CM Punk. He never will be. But they are trying damn hard to make him into SOMETHING instead of letting him fall by the wayside. And it’s simple things too – the new blue lighting for his entrance that he seems to have won from Sin Cara during one of their dozen matches to the fact that he’s a champion and Punk is not & how Heyman clutches or raises the Intercontinental title in the exact same way he used to raise Punk’s WWE Championship. Joe Hennig must feel like the luckiest person in the WWE locker room right now and whether you believe it or not, whether you like it or not, the guy has paid his dues & deserved a shot. If he succeeds or fails is up to him but he’s certainly surrounded by the right people, including his “training partner”, The Rock (If you didn’t know, it was Hennig and Curt Hawkins who helped The Rock train for Survivor Series and WrestleMania during his film schedule).

Curtis Axel and The Rock

9. Yes, that was just Sting on Monday Night Raw. Sure it was in a video package and they only showed “flat-top” Sting and nothing what he looks like now but it’s still pretty big since he has NEVER worked for the WWE. Of course now there are rumors galore about him thinking about signing with the WWE but haven’t we heard that all before? I think the main difference here is that it was the WWE that took that first step to showcase him just a little bit on their flagship show, even if it was just to see if they would get a call from him after. Either way, I firmly believe Sting should be in the Hall Of Fame (WWE’s, not TNA’s) whether he ever works for the company or not. There’s a lot to be said for loyalty, especially in wrestling. WWF/E had their franchise in Shawn Michaels and NWA/WCW had Sting. I wouldn’t even care if we got to see him wrestle in a WWE ring.

10. The WWE did shock me once tonight though, they closed the show with a Wyatt Family promo! This entire show felt like it was a battle between hardcore fans and the WWE machine as to what was going to make air and although the machine seemingly got the win, the fans were given the last word. The Wyatt Family & especially Bray Wyatt SHOULD inject some new life into the WWE this summer. It’s been a while since we’ve seen something this unique on Raw & it’s very cool to see something different getting the recognition it deserves.

Notes:
– Vickie Guerrero’s main event announcement. How the World title is the new IC belt.

– DB’s new t-shirt.

– MitB “All-Stars” match?

– One of Orton’s better recent promos

– What’s with the “night of champions” theme?

– The Usos vs the Shield on the YouTube preshow?!

– Ambrose’s selling, Reigns offense and Shield back to winning.

– Ziggler enters without Big E and AJ, plus no mention of them.

– Crowd’s trying SO HARD to be NJ.

– I know Ziggler’s strength is his selling but that was too much defense and not enough offense. He could have showed off a helluva lot more than he did. And why didn’t the announcers at least mention the absence of Ziggler’s “heavy” Big E when he was being triple teamed.

– Daniel Bryan might be the first referee that the WWE didn’t need to special order a referee’s shirt for.

– Surprised that they are truly building stories for the WWE MitB all-star match. Except for Christian and somewhat RVD of course.

– Pretty ironic that Punk doesn’t trust Axel when he was one of the few that took Punk’s Nexus initiations years ago.

– This has felt like “Rest Hold Raw”

– The Ryback/Jericho feud holds a lot less intrigue now than when it was supposed to happen when Jericho first returned. Now Jericho’s been back for a while and we’ve seen Ryback fail so many times in the main event. And now The Miz beat Ryback by TKO. Enough said.

– I really hope they have something big planned for next week because this week’s promo from Mark Henry was just flat-out bad.

– Paul Heyman using the same mannerisms with Axel’s IC title as he did with Punk’s WWE title is pure perfection.

– Did I just see Sting featured on WWE Raw?! Gotta love how WWE is just slapping TNA in the face now.

– Swagger and Cesaro are freaking imposing together.

– If that segment was supposed to make people WANT to watch the Total Divas show and I REALLY hate to say this but… they should be fired.

– Whereas whoever has been cutting the Wyatt promos must be having time of their lives. Trust me as an editor (not a writer) but those types of vignettes/montages are what you would love to cut every day of your life.

– Champion vs Champion meant squat.

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