FEATURE: David Stephens reviews 7/29 WWE RAW

Dave’s RAW Thoughts
July 30, 2013
By: David Stephens of Wrestleview.com

The storyline with Daniel Bryan/McMahon/Cena is coming from a lot of different angles at once. It is nice to hear Vince repeat the antiquated ramblings that so many feel that he holds. Bryan is too small, not ruthless enough, and so on. It works because it plays into the audience’s presumed notions of the company’s inner workings. It seemed last week as though Vince was moving towards a Cena win but this week a different approach was taken. Vince appears to be trying to rekindle the fire that made his feud with Stone Cold and others so effective. Cena is the company guy and has become too big for his britches so he needs to be put in his place. This works and fails for similar reasons.

It’s difficult in today’s age for the viewer to really take Vince at his word. Look we all know that this is a television show and the only reason that Cena is the Champion is because Vince wants him to be. The realism and kayfabe of the past has been torpedoed to the point of confusion. Vince has on countless occasions stripped people of the belt in the past. Why should this situation be any different? Vince is trying to paint inside the lines of a drawing that he himself sketched. For crying out loud if you don’t want Cena to be Champion just take the belt from him. It wouldn’t be the first time a Champion was unfairly relieved of his Title.

Instead the storyline looks to be pointing towards a Randy Orton cash-in at the PPV. The only real mystery at this point is whether or not the cash-in will be successful. Is Bryan going to win the match only to have Orton steal the Title? Might he be able to fend off the Apex Predator and retain? Would Cena perhaps come to the defense of Bryan much like he did last week with Ryback? Maybe Cena will feel that Bryan deserves the win and fights Orton off from being able to cash-in? There are a lot of variables so this one will need to play out over time. The one thing I do know is that no matter how mean Vince McMahon is towards John Cena – the boo birds are never going to cheer for the Champion. The viewer has a difficult time believing in this storyline when the rest of the show is peppered with charity shots of Cena and the company. It makes no sense.

RAW was mostly matches this week. There were around ten matches and it was a nice departure from the weekly fanfare. RAW being pre-taped played a huge role in this ratio. Usually pre-taped RAWs can run a bit stale but this one remained mostly entertaining. My only complaint about the pre-tape is that there were a few awkward cuts to commercials that didn’t have the proper setup. Or a camera would just cut away mid-senten…

There’s not much to say about the matches that I haven’t said in the past. The people you would expect to have great matches went out and worked their tails and tales off. The six-man tag is worth a mention as are Langston/Ziggler, AJ/Kaitlyn.

You can thank Total Divas for the extra Diva matches on RAW this week. I actually caught the first episode and it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. I’m not big into the super staged reality shows of the Kardashian clan that dominate E, but this was right in with that vein. From that perspective it worked well and did bring in decent ratings for the network. To those that are annoyed by the fakeness of the show – you must not have been forced to watch the Hills and the like. Look, they do multiple takes and they follow a script. This isn’t a shocker. The fact that wrestling fans would be caught off guard by this technique is actually pretty amusing.

I don’t want to harp too much on Rob Van Dam because my thoughts are akin to what they have been since his return. I’m a fan of Rob and his moveset, but thus far in his return I haven’t seen him tell a story. It feels like he is going through a dozen moves and that’s that. The drama that makes a match like Bryan/Kane or Ryback/Cena entertaining is missing. That being said this should benefit Fandango, as he is involved in a feud with another veteran. At the end of the day that’s what really matters.

Christian picked up a surprising win up over Alberto Del Rio. Christian is a fan favorite of mine and I love the guy’s theme song, but I can’t bring myself to believe that he is the best candidate for a World Heavyweight Title shot. Christian’s fan reactions have been less than expected and if this business is all about crowd reactions he needs to find a way to further revitalize his character.

Daniel Bryan and Kane had a much-anticipated match up that left me wanting more. I’ve become so used to those two competitors having memorable encounters that I was a bit disappointed with this showing. The drama that Bryan usually brings was a bit lacking. I’m not sure if it was because of the lack of a live show but the normal electricity was missing. The ending was also a bit jumbled and the roll up just did not play well in this instance. Hopefully they will have another opportunity to square off because there is a lot that they left in the tank.

Heyman was asking for an attack as he called out Punk during Axel’s entrance so it is not a shock that the Straight Edge Superstar made an appearance. They are going for a raw and bare feeling to the feud and it’s working. There is a certain genuineness that they bring as friends. Punk’s vitriolic hatred for his former associate is a decent way to keep the Lesnar feud going when the monster cannot be present.

I was not looking forward to the Cena and Ryback Tables match coming into the show but I was pleasantly surprised. It was carefully worked and the spots all seemed to make sense. I even got a chuckle out of the throwing of the steel steps. My first thought was not into the crowd, so luckily the children were spared. It wouldn’t be the first time that a foreign object has flown into the crowd. I once witnessed a thrown bowling ball fly right by someone’s face during a Deathmatch, but that’s a story for another day. Fortunately they chose a spot at ringside with minimal risk. Cena put his opponent away and stood victorious at the end of RAW.

Daniel Bryan made the point to run down at the end and remind Cena that his biggest challenge is in the future. Once again RAW ended with Daniel Bryan chanting with the crowd. I’d actually love if any wrestling historians could point to a time when one person ended RAW with the same chant at the same frequency in the past. We are a going on a good 5 out of the past 6 weeks at this point. It’s amazing to have a guy that hot on the roster. The company can bank on the immense crowd reaction so much that they are relying on it at this point. It’s fascinating to watch.

David Stephens

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