David Stephens reviews WWE RAW for 8/5/13

Dave’s RAW Thoughts
August 6, 2013
By: David Stephens of Wrestleview.com

I hope Brad Maddox is to Six-Man Tag matches as Teddy Long is to Tag Team matches.

Stephanie McMahon played an odd role tonight on the show. It’s tough to juxtapose her current role in the company to her role as a daughter and husband. This isn’t 1999-2001. I have been so indoctrinated over the past decade to accept Stephanie as a ruthless leader in the office that I simply can’t buy her sobs. It doesn’t make sense to me. Stephanie is so strong. She screwed her family over time and again to the point that a little disagreement wouldn’t get this blown out of proportion from her viewpoint. The situation is never out of Stephanie’s control. As a woman she can approach the business without being blinded by some silly bro code. I believe that Stephanie would more often and not have a decisive say. The Stephanie I’ve been taught to know should be three steps ahead of her husband and father. She should be manipulating the situation not be portrayed as helpless. The only conclusion I can draw is that at the end of this feud it will be neither Vince nor HHH in control of the company from a storyline perspective – it will be Stephanie.

Daniel Bryan was hot this week, though the crowd was a little reluctant at the start of the show. I’m not sure if they were unenergetic or just confused at first. Once the segment got rolling the fans became more involved. I think there was a bit of hesitation along the lines that for all the fans knew Vince might really shave the damn beard. Crazier and more stupefying things have happened. Once the fans were completely confident that Vince wasn’t swerving everyone and actually chopping off the beard they became more vocal and got involved in the segment.

That’s a curious sensation that we have as wrestling fans. We confidently went into RAW last night knowing that there was no way the beard was coming off. There is too much marketing riding of the facial piece. Still, we’ve seen some messed up stuff over the years so there is always a small nugget of doubt. Cena losing to Rock and then beating Lesnar soon after were two of the most mis-predicted match outcomes of that year. It’s why for a few years after Wrestlemania 20 it was still conceivable that Undertaker could lose at Wrestlemania despite overwhelming belief in the opposite.

Wrestling is after all a television show. Twists sometimes exist simply to exist. It’s a nice sigh of relief when we feel secure that Vince isn’t going to screw with us. God forbid if J.J. Abrams is ever brought in to write a wrestling show. Though he does like to utilize time travel in nearly everything he does so maybe we can go back in time. I’ll take John Cena back to George “The Animal” Steel in his prime and watch him rip his head off. I’d take the doctor of thuganomics version of Cena so that Steele can eat Cena’s lock and chain as well. Aliens. Somehow we need to get some aliens on this show. Maybe not extraterrestrials but we need a war. It’s been quite some time since we had two large factions facing off. Not short feuds but the kind of feud that sucks you in and makes it feel like the world is at stake. Okay I’m convinced. J.J. Abrams would actually be a good choice.

Right, so back to Daniel Bryan. I thought his promo was well executed. He conveyed the differences between himself and Cena even if several were based on last night’s episode of Total Divas. I have to admit that the tie in was pretty clever. It was a nice nod to the viewer. For those that don’t have girlfriends that made them watch the show, let me explain. Sunday’s episode showed Cena and Bryan taking each other to their respective homes and spending time with the Bella Twins. Cena has a ridiculously lavish mansion and Bryan lives up in the mountains in the home he lived in while young. I see nothing wrong with this integration. Perhaps just one none WWE fan that saw Total Divas was watching RAW because she saw Bryan and Cena in the ring. Hearing Bryan mentions Cena’s mansion and cars adds a sense of connection for a new viewer that knows nothing about the angle. For those who think it is stupid to reference a Diva reality show in a major storyline I would counter that the mention is not to get WWE fans to watch Total Divas. The WWE fans interested are already watching it. It is designed to bring in a few viewers from the E channel that would normally not watch RAW. It’s a business and it is all about expanding the WWE Universe. A regular wrestling fan that hadn’t watched the reality show still would have been affected in the same way by Bryan’s comments. It’s no secret that Cena is wealthy and collects cars. It was a win-win situation.

Bryan’s new T-shirt is some nifty marketing. The WWE has been drifting towards marketing shirts that highlight specific feuds. CM Punk’s ‘Knees to Faces’ shirt is in this same vein. It’s a clever way to encourage the sale of a new shirt for Summerslam. A fan buys the ‘Respect the Beard’ shirt because they like Bryan, and then they buy ‘The Beard is Here’ because they don’t like Cena. In the wise words of the Wu Tang Clan, “dollar dollar bill y’all”.

Vince came down to the ring and really played the part of the old man going senile. He did a haphazard imitation of his strut and seemed to be flourishing all of his actions. As if to convey a bit of nuttiness that leads the audience to accept the argument that Triple H is bringing forth. The storyline is well thought out from that perspective.

Alberto Del Rio is going through a bit of a rough streak. He’s lost to Christian and now Rob Van Dam. Ricardo was punished for his loss, which is a reminder of the Alberto of old. Ricardo is back to being the whipping boy. Welcome back Ricardo.

Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes continued their storyline on RAW. It’s been this case for a while but Smackdown just seems to be becoming more and more irrelevant. If anything crucial does occur on Smackdown it will be heavily covered on RAW. Smackdown is a great place to catch up some unique matches. There are some great bouts over on Friday nights. But the World Title picture more often than not plays out heavily on RAW as well. The problem is that the more the World Title is featured on RAW the more it appears second-tier compared to the WWE Championship. Instead of a distinguished Title with a Champion on the same level as the WWE Champion, it comes across as a clear second fiddle. It’s a bizarre consequence that trying to bring more exposure to the belt is also devaluing the belt from a wrestling perspective. Yet, the belt is also a prop. Sacrificing some value in the minds of hardcore wrestling fans is well worth the financial gain of greater exposure and more merchandise sold as a result.

I can appreciate the match between Mark Henry and Ryback. The random Wrestlemania rematch came about as neither man really had anybody else to fight and they figured they could suck out a few matches between the two. Ryback walking out of the match was when the fans realized this little feud was going to drag out for a bit.

Eva Marie was featured on RAW this week so don’t worry she makes it to the main roster despite supposedly lying about knowing how to dance. Or something. The Bellas and Natalya were there as well. So that happened.

Cena’s promo was a fairly typical Cena promo. He got his message across effectively. He worked the crowd and received nice reactions while hyping his match with Bryan. It might be the same cookie cutter but at least the chocolate chips still melt in your mouth.

Randy Orton decided to show up on RAW this week and remind the WWE Universe that he still holds the MitB briefcase. I think it’s amusing that Orton does not always come down to the ring with the case. My little brother called me the other day because he was very upset and wanted to know why Orton came down to the ring without his case. Cause Randy Orton is a boss, that’s why. If he doesn’t want to carry the case constantly then he won’t.

The Shield showed up and ran amuck. Do we have a timer for how long this team lasts? They don’t seem to be serving a clear agenda at the moment. I like all of the members, but I’m craving a bit of direction.

The Wyatt Family was not impressive in their bout on RAW this week. I’m a fan of Luke Harper but this was not a memorable showing from neither he nor Erick Rowan. Then after the match Bray makes his way into the ring and seems winded after hitting one move. This was a mess tonight. Thus far the vignettes for this group were far more entertaining than what they have done in the ring. Kane is a great first opponent for Bray because without a powerful and spiritual battle I’m not sure that these characters would last long enough to gain momentum. Bray’s finisher isn’t dynamic enough. There’s not enough oomph to it. The attacks have been messy and don’t capitalize on the fan reactions in the way that a group like the Shield managed.

The match between Kaitlyn and Layla had a few nice moments but was also very cluttered with awkward movements. The finish was sloppy and the camera crew couldn’t even find a shot that covered up the botch enough to show a replay.

Punk told a story in his match against Curtis Axel. He never cared about his opponent as he went after Heyman from the start. Heyman knows Punk well and suckered him in to be overly aggressive. As Punk looked to finally bowl through Axel and get to Heyman it was time for the beast to appear. The uncertainty that surrounds whether or not Lesnar will be used for a RAW always makes it more exciting when he comes out. The slight surprise factor adds a bit to the reaction.

Brock Lesnar is a true monster. Joe Rogan did a nice bit on Lesnar is his ‘Live from the Tabernacle’ performance. Brock manages to draw blood from either his opponents or himself during most of his attacks. Punk’s chin fell victim and had to receive stitches. I’m optimistic about their matchup at Summerslam. The meld of styles and intensity could produce one of Lesnar’s best matches since his return.

Fandango fell victim to Kofi Kingston. Boom Boom Boom.

Antonio Cesaro and Jack Swagger are becoming a formidable team. Cesaro has a wide breadth of tag experience and is teaching some double team moves to his partner. They are starting to work well together. During the Zeb promo it was clear as to who was the more relaxed and comfortable Superstar. Swagger seemed to be running through things for the upcoming match in his head. Cesaro on the other hand looked confident and was playing his character. Swagger needs to loosen up and focus more on playing a character like it is actually his life. Cesaro is a natural but Swagger is clearly trying to act.

Langston picked up a nice little win over Dolph Ziggler. This match was more about the AJ and Kaitlyn storyline.

The final match of the night did its job. The ending of Orton coming out on top was needed. The week before Summerslam is no doubt going to be all about Cena and Daniel Bryan at the close of the show. Randy Orton needs to push his way into the feud to add the extra shadow of doubt. Just because a cash-in seems obvious doesn’t mean that it isn’t going to happen. Orton reminds us that anything is possible. There is a lot of money to be made out of Cena/Bryan/Orton. I’m buckled in because the best storylines wrap their lines through the emotions of the audience. Evil and good are not always clear forces. Orton is a slithering demon underlying the entire feud. Never underestimate Vince McMahon.

David Stephens

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