David Stephens reviews WWE RAW for 6/3/13

Dave’s RAW Thoughts
June 4, 2013
By: David Stephens of Wrestleview.com

Ah, June. It is about this time each year when most schools hit their summer break, and it is the season when the WWE likes to chuck an experimental storyline or two at the fans and see if anything can stick. In recent years we have seen bold storylines change the face of the company such as the debut of The Nexus, or a very ambitious CM Punk “pipe bomb”. Ratings often decline slightly in the summer months and away from the hustle and bustle of primetime sweeps in May, the company likes to take a couple risks. If it fails, they can chalk it up to a summer slump, but if the experimentation succeeds it could very well once again change the face of the company. As for what this year’s bold initiative will be, we have yet to uncover. Maybe the seeds have already been planted.

For now the company is set on a couple of different directions that could hold water into the fall. Curtis Axel is being propelled to a height that not many new stars immediately reach. The new talent initiative of HHH and family seems to be following this path as of late as stars such as Fandango and The Shield members have immediately found themselves featured. Ryback certainly appreciates this policy. It may be too soon to pinpoint this summer’s success stories, but the rebirth of The Usos certainly has a case to make.

Just kidding, I don’t think even the Usos believe that they are going to get a monumental push, though the new face paint was a nice touch.

Daniel Bryan is about to explode as a singles star. While he has certainly had World Title success in the past his next push will be the one that defines his legacy. He has been working hand in hand with one of the most intelligent and charismatic veterans on the current roster. Bryan has escaped the ire of his NXT debut when many regarded him as a fine wrestler but lacking a character or ability to connect with the audience. Now the bearded star has achieved multiple top selling merchandise items and clearly has the crowd in the palm of his hands. His match against Ryback was nothing to shake a finger at. Considering the fact that Bryan had competed earlier in the night, his domination of Ryback through the use of submissions was just that much more impressive. While it is a shame to watch the breakup of a great tag team, I have no doubt that Bryan is going to be catapulted to the top of many cards as a result of grinding it out and developing a passionate fan base over the past several years. The fact that he happens to date a Bella Twin, who will receiving a Divas show on E this summer, is no small foot note. Nor is the fact that the other Bella is dating John Cena and the four of them have spent holidays such as Christmas together in recent memory. Many have attacked WWE for having an “old boys club” type mentality, but at least Daniel Bryan is a talent that many feel at least deserve the benefits of that relationship.

As for the rest of the competitors in the match, it was a solid bout. The Shield continues to be a dominating force as a threesome. I’d have to go back into the historical record but I would certainly argue that they are one of the most dominating three men forces thus far into their career. While others have been more commanding (Hogan, Hall & Nash), The Shield’s undefeated streak and ability to come out on top of any high caliber match on top is impressive. No matter how many former or current Champions are stacked in their way, The Shield has bowled them over. The likes of Cena, Orton, Sheamus, Kane & Daniel Bryan have been vanquished. As long as The Shield remains in six man tag action they seemingly cannot be defeated.

RAW opened with the return of Stephanie McMahon. She noted that she has not appeared on WWE Television in this sort of capacity in over a year. Pregnancy has no doubt played a role in keeping her off of television. We’ve seen glimpses of her involvement in some HHH storylines, but the billionaire princess just might be about to make a return to the small screen. Though in the days in which everyone seems to have a 42” television, “small screen” might be an antiquated term.

I did warn a few weeks ago that I was nervous that the HHH concussion storyline would lead to involvement from the McMahon family. After tonight’s segment I can’t say that I understand my hesitation. My fret was unfounded. As Vince and Stephanie took to the microphones my fear was abated and I found myself flashing back to some of the great moment that they have created together in that ring. There was a sort of freedom that they were expressing that has not been felt in the past several years as Linda was running for Senate. Keeping the family out of major and controversial storylines helped draw a distance between Linda’s politics and the company. With that seemingly in the past at least for the time being, the McMahon family can go back to doing what they do best – keeping the fans sports-entertained.

Vince dropped a line during the promo in which he said that the WWE was family entertainment and not a “blood sport”. He paused to let that line sink in for a moment. That might be the most important moment to come out of that segment. As this storyline continues to build the company may be about to embark on the type of angle that many have been clamoring for over the past several years. Vince is out to defend the company as family entertainment; HHH has gone through hell with Brock Lesnar and knows that the only road to success is through brute physicality. The old gladiator blood drive if you will. Maybe it was a tease for the pending angle, maybe I’m grasping at straws and it was a simple line that I’m twisting out of context, only time will tell.

Alberto Del Rio took on Big E. Langston in a match that feels like the fifth encounter between the two men in recent weekends. Langston is essentially a place holder for Ziggler until his return. Reports stated that Ziggler would be making a non in-ring return this week but fortune unfolded a bit differently. As for Alberto Del Rio he was forced to face Langston a few extra times due to the fact that Jack Swagger could not travel to Canada last week amidst his marijuana legal troubles.

I still don’t understand how HHH can return from a concussion caused by a sledgehammer weeks before Ziggler even cuts a promo, but asking for consistency in wrestling is like trying to blend curds of cheese.

Damien Sandow was on commentary for the match between Sheamus and Rhodes. I mention this because I was amused that Sandow was plugging the new book of JBL’s wife. As for the match, it accomplished what would be expected. Has anyone else noticed the crazed look that Sheamus gets in his eyes at times? He was celebrating his victory near the barricade and he looked like he was about to evolve into his next state or something. It was the kind of primal yell and arm thrust that left me momentarily concerned for the safety of the fans at ringside. Here’s hoping Sheamus doesn’t pull a Miguel on accident.

Orton also has that same crazed look in eyes at time. It’s half a psychotic war cry and half exasperation that he is not being granted his desired heel change. It’s always amusing to watch the internal struggle of a character as it plays out on television.

A lot of the other elements on the show were of little interest.

Fandango defeated The Great Khali in a match that the commentators paid little or no attention to. I’d contend that as much time was spent trying to figure out the bizarre grouping of Khali, Natalya & Hornswoggle as naming the moves in the match. Though to be fair Khali only has about three moves so outside distractions were probably necessary to keep the audience entertained.

Barrett and The Miz are continuing a feud that I’ve yet to pay any attention to and don’t really see the point in becoming invested. Any interest I had in Miz was lost when he attempted to utilize the Figure Four as his finisher. I was a long time defendant of Miz but as of late he is clearly a man faltering. To Miz’s credit he is coming off of a movie production and has a gorgeous wife, but as for wrestling entertainment he has been leaving a lot to be desired as of late.

As for Wade he seems to be a man lost in midcard hell. He has glimpses of success but carrying the IC Title or appreciable contemporaries will probably be the extent of his success over the next few years. There are too many exciting guys on the roster and Wade has failed to make a strong connection outside of his home island and the Internet Wrestling Community.

The contract signing between Heyman and Jericho was swift and painless. Ever since CM Punk pointed out years ago that he was tired of contract signings that end in a brawl, his have been a bit more empowered. Jericho and Heyman have for the second week put together an intriguing program. It is not often that the two of them are able to spar, and the audience feels the delight of their encounters. The real question going forward is whether or not CM Punk is going to appear at the PPV. They will hold him off of television until the big Chicago reveal. Perhaps nothing would shock the crowd more than if their hometown hero the man that Heyman aptly stated can do no wrong in Chicago, was to no show the event. It is a risky proposition, but something bold will come out of whatever direction they take with Punk’s return.

The show ended with an absolutely infuriating conclusion once again. In recent weeks the WWE has been screwing around with finishes including not counting HHH out when he should have been (only to retroactively state that he was counted out). This week they went in the other direction. John Cena was taking on Curtis Axel in a no disqualification match. No disqualification match. I just want that to sink in for a moment because apparently the WWE has misplaced their own rule book. The last time I checked someone could not be disqualified in a no disqualification match. But, just like blending the cheese curds, consistency is nowhere to be found. The match ended by disqualifying Cena via a Count Out. So there you have it folks.

As for the Cena / Ryback storyline – I really have no interest at this point. Why should I? Cena is clearly going to win. There is no suspense going into this match. Obviously the match will reach the third fall, no suspense there, and Cena will walk out with the Title. No suspense there either. So again I ask, why should I care?

David Stephens

Follow me on Twitter! @TheDaveStephens