David Stephens reviews WWE RAW for 8/12/13

Dave’s RAW Thoughts
August 12, 2013
By: David Stephens of Wrestleview.com

RAW was a mixed bag to say the least. I was perusing through comments on the site and reactions seemed to range from the best RAW in quite some time to a complete hodgepodge of a mess. The truth is somewhere in between.

The first thing to note was the crowd. I’ve pointed out time and again how much weight the crowd carries when it comes to the appeal of the show. Strong crowds such as the one after this past Wrestlemania can help an obscure entrance theme chart around the world. Other shows lack all emotion and leave the fans wondering if the mics are on in the crowd.

For the first hour of the show it really felt like a pre-taped episode. The camera cuts were awkward, the commenters lacked their usual passion and the crowd was all but dead. Randy Orton received a big reaction from the crowd, which seemed to wake them up for the rest of the show.

The purpose of RAW on Monday night was to sell the Summerslam PPV. It succeeded and failed on a few levels. I would wager a guess that there were not too many fans undecided in regards to purchasing the PPV that had their decision changed after watching this episode of RAW. I’ll be putting out a Summerslam preview column on Sunday so I’m going to avoid projecting out the PPV till then.

Brad Maddox played his role well this week. He pulled the quick three count to try and keep things under control. Bryan does like to get amped up and fly around the ring. This seemed less a move to appease Vince than to setup HHH as the guest referee for the PPV. Sure it was contrived, but it worked.

I’m a bit confused as to my feelings about HHH as a guest referee. The wrestling fan in me wants to see Bryan and Cena slug it out in a clean match. But, this is sports entertainment so the addition of HHH could add more to the story. I worry about the Evolution history between HHH and Randy Orton. The whole WWE Championship bout screams screw-job, we’re just waiting to see how it goes down.

One of things that I like about Damien Sandow is his banter in the ring. When he is wrestling his opponents he does not just apply a move. He screams and taunts and yells at his opponent. As Sandow cinched on a headlock he kept shouting to Orton that he wasn’t going to let go. It adds just a bit of something extra. Sandow bringing out the new leather case and handcuffing it to the ring post caused some chuckles. I doubt that the prop department would do the leather work to have him cash the case in right away so I wouldn’t expect him to get involved in the World Title match this Sunday.

Dean Ambrose cut a hell of a promo with The Shield. Every time that he gets on a mic he leaves me craving more. In his short promo he threw out a line towards the ghost of Andre the Giant that seemed to add a sense of ruthlessness to his character.

The Battle Royal itself was pretty straightforward. Poor Justin Gabriel barely threw any punches before Ryback tossed him out. Better luck next time. Kofi Kingston did a very nice sunset flip to the outside while holding on to his opponent. It was a nice moment and an impressive display of athleticism. My problem with the maneuver is that once he avoided hitting the ground it was obvious that he was not winning the match. There is no way the WWE would allow such a risky near elimination if Kofi was going on to challenge for the Title at the second largest event of the year. It was nifty but as soon as it happened Kofi was a dead man in the match.

I don’t have much to add to the conversation in regards to the Great Khali and Natalya debacle. Natalya let go of the Sharpshooter before AJ could tap. The referee, who has ignited a firestorm with his comments regarding the botch on Twitter, decided not to call for the bell when AJ began to tap. I’m not positive but it is my understanding of the rules that a submission does not necessarily need to be applied for an opponent to tap. I wrestler could be on the ground in pain and tap his way out of a match. Think of it as the wrestler equivalent of his manager throwing in a towel. The ref still should have called for the bell because AJ did tap, whether a submission was applied or not. The awkwardness that followed, as they had to re-run the finish, was evident. The commentators even failed to cover up the event. Instead they either sat in silence or JBL complained that he had no idea what was going on. Clearly.

After the match Langston and AJ tried to attack Khali and Natalya but were tossed back out of the ring. They are fighting Ziggler and Kaitlyn on Sunday but came out on the weak end against Khali. I’m not sure what the exact thinking was with the segment. The good news is that Hornswoggle was raising his arms to celebrate at the close. As long as that little guy is happy, so am I.

Titus has been looking strong over the past couple months but that took a backseat to Kane’s storyline this week. No one will remember Titus for losing in a quick match once some time goes by so I do not buy into the belief that this will hurt his character.

Kane and Bray could have a decent bout on Sunday. Kane is a necessary ingredient to sell Bray’s spiritual warfare. Wyatt has been growing on me, as there is a certain creep factor as he makes his way down to the ring. His laugh when Kane’s fire hits is also a nice touch but there is still a lot left to be desired at this point. The foundation is evident so if Bray can continue to grow and fit into this role he could have long-term success. A lot of his future will be decided in this bout against Kane.

The Usos did a nice job of putting away The Real Americans. Seems the exposure on Total Divas will continue to keep them in the spotlight. Which reminds me of something I forgot to share during the Natalya and Khali segment. If Natalya’s real life romance is being presented on Total Divas and they want to bring in new viewers why is that she is with Khali as his girlfriend on the show? WWE is trying hard to blur the lines between fake and reality but there are some consistencies that need to be worked out.

Cena did have a good point during MizTV – it was one of the few MizTV segments that did not bore me to tears. Cena and Bryan put in a nice back and forth. Cena compared his shirt to the American flag to sell a message of loyalty. Cena also used the Make-a-Wish Foundation in his promo to garner some sympathy and passion from the fans. It was well worked and got his message across. Daniel Bryan is presenting a nice stance in this feud but there has not been enough time for it to get over. Bryan is trying to paint himself as a real wrestler while Cena is not. There is a lot of backstory that they could have gotten into between the two men and their parallel lives. Total Divas certainly added some interesting insight. Two more weeks of this feud could have made it a bit stronger. Instead the focus seems to be on what the McMahons are going to do with the fallout of the match more than the match itself.

CM Punk outsmarted Heyman and his trap this week. Punk chose to grab a camera and smash the beast. The follow up with a steel chair did the job. He fought off Curtis as well and stood tall as RAW went off the air. I enjoyed Lesnar’s promo as he basically said look at CM Punk and look at me; the guy is a tiny joke. Given Lesnar’s brutal and vicious past it’s quite a fair point.

David Stephens

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