FEATURE: David Stephens reviews 7/15 WWE RAW

David Stephens reviews WWE RAW for 7/15/13

Dave’s RAW Thoughts
July 16, 2013
By: David Stephens of Wrestleview.com

The segment between CM Punk, Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar was RAW at its finest. It was genuine, it was guttural and it was vicious. The verbal exchange between Punk and Heyman pulled in the audience as the jabs and spars hit close on a personal level. Superstars who work so closely together can often produce great rivalries based on their knowledge of each other. While Heyman won’t be in action against Punk, he does know every move that Punk has in his arsenal. He can prepare Lesnar for every counter and offensive ploy in Punk’s playbook. That is if the monster of destruction that is Lesnar even needs a game plan to combat an opponent half of his size. The diatribe between Heyman and Punk was incredibly tumultuous and powerful. Lesnar’s appearance was the perfect culmination of the segment. Heyman’s cheap shot illustrates that this is not going to be a clean feud – as personal vendettas rarely are. I’m eager to see how this plays out over the next month leading into Summerslam because just like the rest of the audience I was captivated by the drama.

Brad Maddox opened RAW in dramatic fashion. I love this character. He plays the goof ball puppet to perfection. His facial expressions and little comments are chuckle worthy and add a fun flair to the GM/McMahon storyline.

Cena’s Choice, as the episode was affectionately called by the powers that be, is an interesting concept. Sure it makes Maddox look the fool but he is just a scapegoat for the bigger storyline. The real goat is Goat-face Daniel Bryan. It should come as no surprise that Bryan was ultimately chosen. It was an intriguing decision for Cena to choose his own opponent, though if I were him I would have chosen Hornswoggle. There was a lot of pandering from Cena in the final segment as he put over a slew of Superstars and tried to win over the crowd. It’s an interesting position as there is no doubt that Bryan will be the won cheered in this match up. The WWE is so used to the Cena detractors that they have actively been having him feud against either faces or fan favorites. That may not seem like a big deal but it is powerful when a company can successfully pit two faces against each other. From a storytelling perspective it is difficult to place two good guys or two bad guys in a match against each other. The logic of old would suggest that such matches rarely make money due to the lack of conflict. Cena’s role as the hero of half the fans and the devil to the other half creates a fascinating atmosphere.

I am excited for the Bryan/Cena match, but I am also very nervous. Yes, this match will play into the Total Divas show but I’m not too concerned about that aspect. It would be silly for the WWE not to tie into their new show. As a quick aside I will point out that Total Divas is not made for the male wrestling fan. So before I receive a bunch of emails telling me why the show is stupid, please don’t. The show isn’t made for you. It’s made for the female viewer of E in the hopes that maybe a little cross promotion can either expand the WWE fan base or in the very least encourage some mothers to let their children watch the WWE product. After all if the woman are presented in the right light it could help downplay the ever-present social stigma.

The reason I say I am nervous is not because of that show, it is because of Money in the Bank. Randy Orton has spent the past year if not more stating that he wants to go back to playing the bad guy. Yet time after time the company has delayed the inevitable turn. The quick realization I reached after watching the PPV is that Orton is on the precipice of his turn.

The WWE Universe is absolutely on fire for Daniel Bryan. While not winning the Money in the Bank PPV it has been Bryan who has been standing tall at the end of three of the last four Monday Night RAWs. Last night was no exception. I’ve been going over possibilities in my mind and I can’t come up with a stronger heel turn for Randy Orton than what seems so obvious. Bryan and Cena may have an excellent match at Summerslam, but it is what is going to happen after the match that will drive the audience nuts. I see no better way for Orton to embark on a massive heel run with the Title than to cash in at Summerslam. Not against John Cena, but against Daniel Bryan. With tens of thousands of people on their feet shouting and pointing their fingers into the air celebrating the long awaited WWE Championship victory for Daniel Bryan, the Viper’s music will hit. I’m not saying that this is what I want to happen; I’m saying that from a storyline standpoint it just seems to be so obvious. Orton has come out on the losing end to Bryan as of late and such animosity will play right into the angle. Nothing will suck out the soul of that crowd more than to see their darling lose the Title moments after finally vanquishing Cena. So shall begin the Autumn of Orton’s rebirth. The heat may just melt the arena.

Fandango has been impressive in his last couple of matches. He looked strong at the PPV and put up a nice fight against Orton on RAW. The Brooklyn crowd is one of his strongest supporters so it was a treat to see the crowd dancing along with him. Summer Rae is doing some good things outside the ring while her man is wrestling. Her reactions are getting better with each match.

Mark Henry cut a surprisingly candid promo on the show. His presentation as the guy who has never quite won but is right on cusp works well for an audience that wants to see the Title off of the Champion. However, Henry just had his Title shot so the Shield saw an injustice that needed fixing. I wish they would also see the injustice where I did not receive my free gift for tweeting #TotalDivas my picture from Money in the Bank, but no dice so far.

Speaking of the PPV it was one of the must active and fun crowds that I’ve ever been apart of. Aside from a swell of monotony after the first Ladder Match, the crowd was alive for the entire PPV. Philly can be hit and miss as they have nights where they seem to not care, but the return of RVD and the likes of Punk and Bryan kept them actively involved in the show. A strong preshow match between The Usos and The Shield really helped the momentum going into the PPV. If you missed the pre-show it is worth a watch. The Usos looked very strong and really are emerging as a force of nature. I did not anticipate the revival of the team, but they are fortunate to be involved in the Total Divas show. That being said I’m not downplaying the hard work that has brought about their success. Being given a slot on a show does not guarantee success. They were finally given their 15 minutes and thus far have made the absolute most of their run. If they can keep the energy and passion up at such a high level they may just win the belts.

Alberto and Ziggler had a nice little match on the show. Ziggler took a hell of a bump when he flew to the outside of the ring. Face and chest first is not a fun way to take a seven-foot drop. Those two-inch pads on the outside do not provide much cushion to the body of a falling star.

R-Truth had a rare opportunity to appear on RAW, but it was quickly over. The Wyatt Family made their second live appearance and demolished the star. They called out Kane and told him to follow the buzzards. I’m not quite sure how Kane will tell the difference between normal buzzards and the ones of the Wyatt Family, but hopefully they’ll all be eating the same carcass. Speaking of eating, I’ve not quite wrapped my head around the whole “eater of worlds” thing from Bray. Maybe he is just a big Terraria or Galactus fan.

The tag match of Real Americans/Usos and the match of Sandow/Christian were both swift and ended with roll ups. It’s very possible that the show was running a bit late, or the participants were too banged up from the PPV to do much more. I’m leaning towards the former.

Sandow and Rhodes will have a fun feud as they have learned a lot about each other during their time tagging together. Sandow’s win was unexpected and will be interesting to watch play out.

The Divas have been getting more and more screen time, which will probably continue as the show airs. It would seem counterproductive to have people watching a show about the Divas to see that they only get two minutes on a three hour RAW.

Rob Van Dam came back to a fun ovation on the PPV. It was a curious decision to have him enter first because as we were in the crowd it was a bit unexpected. The video lead in for the match was a Wyatt family promo instead of a promo for the ladder match for those of us in attendance. Had he been introduced in a different position his reaction would have been stronger. The WWE is usually pretty solid at building anticipation but for whatever reason they forgot their usual methods of build for the live crowd.

RVD and Jericho had many fans in fits of nostalgia during their match up. It was full of the signature maneuvers that have defined both of their legacies. Fans of these competitors no doubt loved the match. It was fun though maybe not quite the gem that Twitter seemed to think. Truth is that RVD is just getting up there in age. His style of wrestling is so physically demanding that the wear and tear has proved monumental. I don’t want to venture too far into the quagmire of discussing RVD because fans seem to feel very strongly about whichever their given opinion might be. What I will say is that RVD v. Cena from One Night Stand is a match that I will never forget. Rob has been involved in some moments that vividly stick with my wrestling fandom experience. I think that he and Jericho put on the best match that they could on RAW, but there was a hop in their step that was missing. Particularly in the case of RVD he was missing so much of his speed and flair that had brought him so much success. When he was in TNA it seemed like he did not care once he was out of contention for the Title. While Rob did seem to be very motivated with his two WWE matches this weekend and overcame that “I don’t give a crap” mentality he employed in TNA, his age is just catching up to him. His Rolling Thunder is missing height and there were several times in his match against Jericho were he supposedly rolled out of the way but he barely moved and from the audiences perspective it created slow and awkward moments. I don’t mean to detract from Rob because I am a fan, but I’m attempting to be a bit objective. It is great to see RVD back, and it will be fun to watch some “dream matches” against current stars, but I’m not clamoring for a Title run. Who knows, maybe he will find himself back with Kane since Bryan has left the Big Red Machine. After all, Kane and RVD were a very effective tag team.

RAW did not disappoint this week. The build is starting for Summerslam and if the action keeps playing out this strong it could be a PPV to remember.

David Stephens

Follow me on Twitter! @TheDaveStephens