Dave's RAW Thoughts
September 10, 2013
By: David Stephens of Wrestleview.com
The land of maple is often referred to as 'Bizarro World' in the WWE Universe. But last night, save a few errant chants and cheers, it was business as usual. The faces got the face reactions and everything seemed fine and dandy. It goes to show that the character of Triple H is really sinking in with the audience. They despise HHH and Orton in an almost magical way. Not even Canada was willing to cheer the corporate stooge. More on that later.
There were a few guys who received monstrous ovations because of the location. The returning Edge certainly benefitted. Edge is a curious star in that his success really depends on the mood of the crowd. There aren't many people with a grayish stance on the Rated R Superstar. For every fan that cheered when he lobbed the Hall of Fame line back to Hunter, there were fans smirking as Triple H claimed that Edge has never drawn a dime. I'm not exactly sure what it is about Edge that causes such division. Perhaps it is his Attidue Era TLC success juxtaposed with his scumbag sexcapades with Lita.
Santino received a huge ovation. JBL echoed the confusion of a standard wrestling fan - are we in Italy? It's one of those bizarre line blurs that happen between reality and storyline. Many fans know that he is Canadian and thus cheered his return, but watching the product might make that seem confusing. Forgetting that nuance, Santino had a strong return match.
Antonio Cesaro is a beast. Browsing through YouTube after RAW I came across one of his strength training videos put out by the company. His work ethic and conditioning are flat out absurd. It is almost hard to believe that he could lose to anyone, let alone Santino, but that's the beauty of the business. No need to whine that Cesaro looks weak because he is going to be a Champion many times over. It was fun and entertaining television to watch Santino return and pull out a sneaky victory.
I am a fan of Curtis Axel's lighting during his entrance. I had not noticed it as much in the past as I did last night. The way the blue lighting cascaded over the audience really built up the atmosphere in the arena.
That being said there were a bizarre number of wide crowd shots for no apparent reason. Like the kinds of shots that they cut to when a Diva has a wardrobe malfunction. I got pulled out of a couple dramatic moments during the night due to the abrupt cuts.
Paul Heyman yelling at Curtis Axel after the disqualification was powerful character work. It was a very realistic portrayal of the situation. Heyman has faith in Axel, but knows that Punk and Brock Lesnar are on a completely different level. Heyman has to caution the young talent that the slightest slip of unchecked aggression at the PPV will not only result in a loss - it will also result in real bodily harm for Paul Heyman.
The biggest thing to come out of the Bray Wyatt and Dolph Ziggler match was the naming of Wyatt's finisher for the first time on a RAW broadcast. Sister Abigail meshes well with the whole Manson stylized character. I like Wyatt's character work far more than I do his wrestling ability. I'm giving him more time to win me over than I would for most if for nothing other than his hysterical laughing when Kane's pyro would go off. That is still the most powerful thing he has done to date.
It was a nice gesture to include Doc Sampson on the broadcast nearly a year to the day of Jerry Lawler's near death experience. It worked for the Heyman storyline and was a nice nod to the nearly tragic event. Heyman's fake injury was well worked and played into his whole trust storyline. It's at a point where absolutely nothing that he says should be believed. It makes him come off so slimy and greasy.
Brad Maddox had a solid appearance on the show in this segment. Instead of Punk coming out right away, Maddox was able to get himself over as the GM and elevated the segment to a higher level. It was funny, compelling and entertaining - I have no complaints about the segment. Oh, other than Punk hitting Heyman's doctor. Sure I enjoyed it, but how could that not invoke a lawsuit? Especially when Heyman had only moments prior threatened Sampson with a lawsuit of his own. I'm nitpicking though because it was a strong segment that elevated the feud.
The Divas match was a straight up mess. I will give them credit for the fact that they actually managed to get in a few tags and a couple of interesting moves. Natalya hitting the Sharpshooter evoked a nice reaction from the crowd. I'm completely baffled as to why Brie would appear on a team with Natalya and Naomi given that they are supposed to despise each other. Maybe I'm thinking too much of Total Divas because it is making me actually allocate thought to the Diva storylines and matches. It is as though the more I pay attention the more I notice the nonsensical tendencies of the division that cause most fans to take a bathroom break.
AJ did a decent job on commentary but was really getting the raw end from the others calling the match. JBL, Cole and King mocked her so much that she came across as one of those awkwardly defensive girls that everyone hates when they answer questions in class. Man, just had a flood of obnoxious memories. It makes sense that JBL would be harsh on her given his character, but the rest of the crew was right on board. A casual fan who had tuned into the show after watching the E reality show would be done no favors by the way that the Champion was featured.
It was nice to see R-Truth make it across the border for the show, that has not always been the case in the past. Alberto Del Rio made quick work of an opponent who has really stagnated since abandoning Little Jimmy.
Jack Swagger, on the other hand, did not make it across the border for the show.
Damien Sandow versus The Miz is a match that I completely forgot about until going back to write these thoughts. I really have nothing to add about Miz after my comments last week. Sandow does not seemed poised to cash in this weekend which leaves him mostly irrelevant for the time being. Andddddd now that I said that he will probably cash in on Sunday. That's how awesome I am at incorrectly predicting Money in the Bank cash ins.
Fandango cracked me up last night. He is like the world's biggest troll at times. He shows up, dances a bit to screw someone up, says his name, and dances off. Genius.
Where to start with Goldust? For an aging Superstar out of his prime he put on a great show. Let me correct that - for any wrestler he told a compelling story. The cheap shot at his age is not warranted. If he was on the show every week I would certainly feel differently, but for last night's show it worked perfectly. It is funny how short the memory is for wrestling fans. His ovation reminded me of the one that Mark Henry received a few months back when it seemed he was going to retire. Fans sure do love to root for someone on their last stint, even if they honestly have been bored by the vast body of work of a star. A few promo spots and decent drama made this match a success for a guy that most fans wanted released just a few years ago. Funny thing, wrestling fans. Oh, and don't think that this match was just about the Cody and Triple H storyline. That angle is great, but it wasn't the only thing on Dustin's mind last night. It is no secret that the Rhodes brothers have wanted a WrestleMania match against each other for years. In many ways this was Goldust's chance to show that he could still go and try and sell the company on that potential match.
Ricardo Rodriguez works great as the mouthpiece for Rob Van Dam. I wonder if he will stay in that position after Sunday. It would seem that Ricardo is to act as a foil to Alberto and thus should announce for whoever the Mexican star is defending his Title against. That being said I love the rolling 'r'.
Daniel Bryan and Dean Ambrose put on a decent match, but not as dynamic of a bout that I would have expected. The Seth Rollins match was so crazy stupid good that it would be quite difficult to top. Not to dismiss the caliber of last night's main event - it was still solid. The back slam from the top rope was nuts and so much more dangerous than most fans realize as it occurs.
The Daniel Bryan segment was fueled by the Triple H controversy. The corporate leader is settling in well and really is starting to annoy fans. When a hardcore fan starts to whine to me that Triple H is taking up too much time and is keeping younger guys from getting over - I know his character is working. A year ago people where on their feet praising him like a god. Guess what - it is still the same guy, he is just playing a different character. I hate to harp on this one point but it is a television show. Triple H is coming across as a very divisive villain. The more fans turn on him, the more success his character will have. Ultimately that leads to more success and passion for guys like Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan. There is a big picture at work. Don't dismiss it because of personal bias.
The Big Show did not fully weep this week, but no worries. If you still needed to see a grown man crying in spandex - Goldust saw that challenge and raised it a drag queen.
Check back on Sunday for my Night of Champions preview.
Follow me on Twitter! @TheDaveStephens