David Stephens reviews the 5/27 WWE RAW

Dave’s RAW Thoughts
May 28, 2013
By: David Stephens of Wrestleview.com

Memorial Day RAWs have been hit or miss over the past several years. There are a lot of factors to consider but often viewership will be down. Families are closing out their holiday weekend with barbeques. The often desired teen element is scrambling to finish the homework that they put off until the last moment. These types of RAWs have grown to feel much like a soap opera on a Tuesday or Thursday, nothing important happens.

However, this episode of RAW went against that grain. Though admittedly there were segments that had no purpose other than to time kill and humiliate people.

Let’s look at Natalya for example. The girl is in her hometown on her birthday and she was slated to lose her match. This comes as no surprise considering that the WWE loves to make people lose in their hometown. It’s not so much about trying to mix up the results so that fans won’t know the winner based on the town as it is about degradation. There are members of the creative board who just love to embarrass the superstars. I can only imagine that they were ribbed in their own day and are taking out that aggression on the current crop of stars. It is a fair point that Natalya rarely gets ring time let alone her own segments, but it could have been handled with a bit more tact. I only say that because it doesn’t’ appear that the humiliation is going to drive a storyline, it was simply a rib. For most superstars I wouldn’t care but Natalya always seems to come up with the wrong end of the stick. The company had a flatulence storyline about her for crying out loud. Normally I’d say that at least she got ring time, but I did feel a bit of shame for the talented star.

Cena opened the show to sell his upcoming PPV match with Ryback. The fans were not hyped for the beginning of the segment and some of Cena’s delivery was forced. It’s one thing to playfully pander, it is quite another to shill with a boring ten minute monologue. Only a handful of three stages of hell matches have occurred in the history of the company. I swore there were a lot more until I realized that I just used to play that match type on old wrestling video games. Sometimes my augmented reality memories over take those of happenstance.

Big E. Langston continues to be the Arsenio Hall of the WWE. Yeah he has a spot on the roster and goes out to perform, but there is just something off about the guy. He is like a big muscular mix of Carlton from Fresh Prince and Arsenio. I’m not sure if this was a good match because all I can do when Langston wrestles is stare at his bizarre childish face.

As for Dolph Ziggler I understand that he can’t travel at the moment and they are keeping him off TV for safety reasons, but they need to include him in more segments or at least give him a legitimate promo opportunity. Flashing up in a box on the screen or appearing on the WWE App isn’t cutting it. The Rock tore the muscle off his pelvis and fans were furious he didn’t appear on RAW the next night. Dolph gets a concussion and disappears for weeks and the fans are sitting on their hands. Hypocrisy runs rampant on the internet these days.

Another comparison worth making is a tricky one. HHH did not actually suffer a concussion but they are playing up that storyline. From the fans perspective the injuries of both Dolph and HHH are both presented as real. It is in bad form to have Triple return next week as teased if Dolph is not brought back into the fold. Yes obviously there is a difference between real and fake but this product is presented in all of its kayfabe glory. Keeping with that tradition I don’t understand how HHH can return from a concussion caused from a sledgehammer after only two weeks while Dolph is still laid up at home. If the WWE was serious about this HHH storyline, which a million dollar donation to head trauma research would suggest, then they should at least keep it consistent with the legitimate head injury on the roster.

I feel like I’m beating a dead horse as I praise Dean Ambrose for his performances every week but he is an extraordinary performer. He is a joy to watch in the ring as every movement he makes is carefully acted out. From the way he runs the ropes to his covers and even his punching style, Ambrose is making his mark on the company. I don’t have a crystal ball so I can’t say what is going to happen down the line, but from this vantage it seems that good times will be rolling for Ambrose.

The Shield defeated Team Hell No to put an exclamation on their Title victory. Similar to their last bout the stand out star was no doubt Daniel Bryan. Of the two members of the team Bryan is the right choice to propel forward at this point. The contributions of Kane to what will be Bryan’s long term success heading forward should not be dismissed. It’s cliché to talk of older talents mentoring younger stars but that is exactly why this team has been so successful. Kane is played by one of the most experienced, articulate and knowledgeable performers in the company. Kane is also well aware of his role in the company and has fought hard to ensure that Bryan will be catapulted high after the team’s pending dissolution.

Miz was acting very bizarre on the show. I have gone to bat for Miz as a viable superstar in the past but I would have headed straight into the dugout if I was asked to defend him last night. He was sauntering around and moving his body in nauseating fashion. I have no idea why the crowd would cheer for someone that was acting like such a douche. Sometimes Miz just can’t fully escape his frat boy past. (Anyone who watched Miz’s season of The Real World will understand)

Shawn Michaels appeared with Cena in a backstage segment out of the blue which no doubt was due to the show’s location. It was Bret Hart appreciation night so Vince decided to twist the knife a bit and have Michaels appear. At this point I just shrug and let the nearly 70 year old Chairman and CEO of the company enjoy his ribs.

Bret Hart was more effective in his backstage vignettes than he would have been in the ring.

I’m baffled as to the decision to schedule the Memorial Day episode of RAW in a different country.

Tons of Funk & Great Khali targeted the middle school demographic with their victory over 3MB. It was filler and a chance for Natalya to get more air time, tis all.

Heyman and Jericho started the build for Jericho against Punk at Payback. It has long been rumored that Punk would be back for that PPV at the earliest and it seems the dominoes have fallen into place. Heyman’s reminder that Jericho was originally a Heyman guy was a nice touch. As was Jericho’s retort that Heyman may have given him his first big break but he also still owes him money. Given the net worth of Heyman at this point you’d think he would have balanced his ledger from the ECW days.

Sheamus and Orton defeated Team Rhodes Scholars which was an obvious expectation going into this match. Rhodes has been working with Orton a lot in the past couple months which has been a nice reminder of their Legacy days. Rhodes has always meshed well with his former mentor. Orton is testing the waters for different fan reactions as he develops his upcoming summer character. Sheamus was the standout star in this match as he really does seem to have a fire lit under his feet as of late. Or a fire lit on his head. Yeah that will work better for the whole ginger gimmick.

Curtis Axel remains undefeated on RAW television as he took down John Cena just one week after defeating HHH. It’s a classic heel building tactic. Heyman and Axel can claim that they’ve defeated two of the biggest names in the business all whilst not having to face retaliation as their opponents have been far more consumed by their ongoing storylines. Heyman is cultivating this talent, who I must admit did look impressive in the ring this week.

For those who claim that Heyman is not a good manager I think the success thus far of Axel would speak differently. The vast majority of fans, myself included, were so unimpressed with Michael McGillicutty that they fully expected him to be cut or fired from the roster. Instead Heyman has helped repackage the legacy talent in a way that is connecting with the fans. This isn’t to dismiss the hard work of Axel. Think of it like a cake. Axel can bake the most delicious and decadent cake in existence, but if just the batter was cooked and served most fans would avoid a taste. Heyman is the icing and frosting that takes a delicious but boring cake and makes it pop.

Ryback’s attack on Cena at the end of the show was to be expected. I wonder how much it costs the WWE to rent a non-emergency serving ambulance for these spots. Is it similar to vehicles used on movie sets or is it a rent out agreement from a local company? These are the ponderings of a RAW Recapper three hours into a holiday show.

David Stephens

Follow me on Twitter! @TheDaveStephens