1. Surprisingly good opening segment between Daniel Bryan and Vince McMahon. Bryan got to show his true personality and not the caricature he’s been for a while now. It was interesting that Bryan had as much back and forth with McMahon as he did. Also to see Vince completely back pedal on his support for John Cena was extremely weird. Cena and Vince have never really had too much tension between one another except for when Cena wanted to face CM Punk & Vince didn’t want to give into Punk’s demands. There’s never been a HINT that Vince is unhappy with Cena as his WWE Champion & that’s probably because it’s damn hard to believe. Besides that, by McMahon bringing up his “ruthless aggression” idea again, its pretty obvious they are setting up the heel Randy Orton as Vince’s proxy for WWE Champion. Yup, the same guy who terrorized the McMahon family the last time he was a heel will now be welcomed into the open arms of Vince McMahon.
2. Be a star, Ryback. Don’t be a bully. Especially when lunch meat is involved.
3. I was speaking with a co-worker the other day who doesn’t watch wrestling. At least not anymore. He was a fan when he was a kid and then he was in the “Attitude Era” before tuning out around 2000. He hasn’t watched since but was channel surfing last Monday and stopped on USA when they were airing a new Wyatt Family video package. He stayed to watch the video and continued to watch through the Daniel Bryan gauntlet before tuning out when John Cena made the save. Not only was he impressed with what he saw, he asked me where to find more things from Bryan & the Wyatt Family because they reminded him of a “nice mix of characters like when [he] was growing up & action of the Attitude Era”. This was the first time I have had a conversation with a non-wrestling fan about the Wyatt Family and it surprised me somewhat. Not the fact that he liked the promo (we are editors after all & those packages are superb) but that those promos roped a non-wrestling fan in long enough to stick around throughout the entire Raw main event. This is a very small sample but it may have shown the type of things that will bring casual fans back into wrestling. One way or another, it was nice to hear an outsider’s opinion of two of the biggest angles right now.
4. Having Dolph Ziggler be Big E Langston’s first real one-on-one challenge was a great choice. The thing that always impressed me about Langston when he was in NXT wasn’t his strength but his agility. A man close to 300 pounds should not be able to move around the ring that quickly or jump that high. This obviously wasn’t the blow off of their feud and Langston is going to benefit immensely from being in the ring with a guy who can sell like Ziggler. I just hope it doesn’t hurt “The Show Off” in the long run.
5. Imagine the pop Richardo Rodriguez is going to get once he returns to introduce Alberto Del Rio? That’s just one of the best reasons why Rodriguez SHOULDN’T return with Del Rio. ADR is finally getting over as a vicious heel that will do anything to hold onto the World Heavyweight Championship. Richardo Rodriguez is the lovable loser who competed in the Royal Rumble match in his underwear. There’s just no way to have those two types of characters paired together and have them get over as main event heels. Del Rio needs to keep riding solo and Rodriguez needs to find a new (babyface) horse to hitch his carriage to.
6. Most people probably didn’t notice this or didn’t give it a second thought but I LOVED the fact that once the lights came up Kane took off out of the ring and after Bray Wyatt. With all the group attacks we’ve seen over the last few years (The Nexus, The Corre, The Shield), one would think the best idea was to escape from being surrounded and attack the guy that wasn’t expecting it. Kane’s never been the smartest of characters but this was a pretty slick move.
7. Oh God it’s “Piggy James” 2.0. Ugh.
8. I would have loved for Vince to have dropped a reference to his attempt of a “corporate makeover” on Stone Cold Steve Austin. That segment is still one of the most played and memorable moments from the Austin/McMahon rivalry and it would have been a subtle little nod to us longtime fans as well as giving Daniel Bryan a small rub by having him go through the same thing a legend like Austin did. However it plays out, I think it’s pretty safe to say that Bryan isn’t losing his beard. They just made all those new t-shirts!
9. Remember when the “steel” steps were SO HEAVY it was extraordinary when a superstar was lift them off the ground, let alone throw them? The showdown of dueling stairs was just another piece of wrestling mystique broken.
10. As much as we all love Daniel Bryan (well, most people who will read this article), I would have preferred a more intense standoff between him and Cena to close the show. Sure, it’s not the go-home show and they have a few weeks to make this match a bit more intense but right now, with the whole “corporate makeover” angle plus the troll & small jokes, Daniel Bryan standing face-to-face with Cena jumping up and down while shouting “Yes!” is more comical than it is exciting. Daniel Bryan is damn exciting in the ring, that’s part of the reason for this renewed popularity. And I know a lot of WWE fans won’t care about this, in fact it probably won’t even cross their minds but I truly believe they have some work to do in order to make Bryan seem like a legitimate threat to Cena. I’m not talking about him winning and overcoming the odds. I’m talking about standing in the ring, man to man and being able to show that he could carry the company as the WWE Champion.