David Stephens reviews WWE RAW for 8/19/13

Dave’s RAW Thoughts
August 20, 2013
By: David Stephens of Wrestleview.com

The landscape of the WWE greatly changed last night. Cena is gone and is no way apart of the major storylines from this point forward. Monday Night Football is quickly approaching. Fall is always a contentious time in the company. Ratings naturally decline so something bold was needed to hook viewers. There is a palpable difference beaten typical wrestling happenings and a storyline that makes the fans thirst for another episode. The Orton/Bryan/McMahon storyline certainly has that potential.

Let’s start at the top of the show. John Cena hit the ring and it was a moment that caused the audience to hold their collective breath. We have heard time and again that Cena would be taking off for this or that. The entire year following his defeat to The Rock seemed to be a waiting game for a step away from the business. Cena was even so bold as to grab a microphone after defeating Brock Lesnar and announce that he would be taking a break – but he didn’t. Despite the breakdown of a marriage Cena continued to be on television nearly every week. Sure there have been a few weeks over the past several months that Cena missed but the long teased leave of absence seemed more a myth than reality. It’s the old adage that a wrestler can work injured. It is only when a wrestler is truly hurt that he takes time off. Lower card wrestlers know this well as leaving to rehab an injury does not guarantee that your spot will be available when you return to the company. As the face of the company Cena does not have that worry. Instead he has nearly the entire weight of the company on his back. This is arguably due more to design than necessity but his value should not be diminished.

Cena has finally reached the point where he has no choice other than to have surgery and heal himself. If anyone deserves a chance to get healthy it is the work horse of the company. There is not a single wrestler on the active roster who performs more often, with more appearance and community outreach events than the former Champion. Cena has announced that he will be taking 4-6 months off. He is notorious for coming back sooner than expected so a return at the Royal Rumble seems logical. Until then, it is time the company takes a new direction.

Stephanie McMahon was the first to address Daniel Bryan. A lot had been made of the feud between the McMahons but something even more dangerous has resulted. Instead of internal bickering the McMahons have become a united force. At least for the present.

Damien Sandow lost to Cody Rhodes for the second time in two days. The losing streak for a Money in the Bank winner is becoming commonplace. The thinking is that they are going to be a World Champion so in the meantime they should be a work horse and make others appear strong. Randy Orton’s lead up to his own cash in is a prime example. Cody has been shining as of late and the removal of the mustache was a good choice. It’s amusing how wearing and then removing a bit of facial hair can do such wonders for a wrestler, but that’s one of the curiosities of this bizarre business.

Paul Heyman and CM Punk played off each other well tonight. Their angle is being presented in a way that it doesn’t matter who Heyman puts up against Punk. Punk’s first focus will always be on his former friend. The whole love and trust thing can seem a bit odd or soap opera in nature but for this particular angle it works.

The Bella Twins have new shirts which read, “You Can’t Sit With Us”. Here is the thing – these shirts were introduced in a segment with the Funkadactlys. The shirts are designed to invoke images of Lindsay Lohan style Mean Girls. That being said given the nation’s segregation past I question the decision to unveil the shirts in a segment with two African American Divas. Just saying.

Layla and AJ are an interesting team. I like the character and reactions that Layla gave during the match. AJ and Layla don’t really blend together but if they are to be kept together for a few months I wouldn’t be surprised if they find a way to make it work.

Dolph Ziggler got his ass kicked by The Shield. There isn’t any other way to say it. He showed some fight and had a couple of nice sequences but the writing was on the board from the start.

There came a point a few weeks ago when I stated that that The Shield needed to find some direction because they were starting to toil around aimlessly. RAW suggests that their new role will be that of the McMahon’s bodyguards or enforcers. If that proves to be more than just a one night gig it would add a lot of gold to the stable. From day one the team has fought against injustice. It would be easy to point out that what transpired with the McMahon’s was surely an injustice. If this wasn’t a television show that would hold a bit more credence but I’ve got my creative thinking cap on for this one. From nearly day one The Shield has focused a lot of their effort on John Cena. They always felt that his role as the face of the company was an injustice. Vince and company not only oversaw a Cena Title loss, but for the near future he is also gone from the business. From that stance it makes sense that they would unite. It’s a stretch but one that I’m willing to accept as the story goes forward. In addition to the WWE Championship of Orton, the McMahon’s are also seemingly in an alliance with the holders of the United States and Tag Team Championships. Not a bad start.

Sin Cara appeared to break his hand which stopped his match with Alberto Del Rio. It looks now like he dislocated a few fingers. Its legitimacy was obvious from the instant it happened. Most people are jumping on the Cara hate train but I’m going to hold off with my admission ticket. After all I can’t get too mad that he is once again injured considering the fact that I forgot he was healthy in the first place. As far as I’m concerned he just returns back to the oblivion that he lives in. I’m sure the next time a botch is desperately needed he will appear. Oh damn guess I just used my hate train ticket.

Ricardo Rodriguez is finally free from the shackles of managing Alberto Del Rio. Ricardo is probably pretty happy for a couple of reasons. The first is that when Rio is bad he tends to beat up his announcer. The second is that this will give Ricardo an opportunity to flesh out his character. He was constantly serving Rio which meant that everything he did was designed to make Rio look stronger. That is the goal of a manager and a righteous one at that. By working with RVD Ricardo will obviously have that same goal. The difference is that he will learn more about his own abilities so that when the day comes that he and Rio are reunited, Ricardo will be an even stronger manager than in the past. It is a win-win situation.

The Primetime Players picked up a nice win over the Real Americans. I’ve been saying for months that they have been growing on me and tonight was another feather in their cap. I used to hate their stupid theme and saunter but now I chuckle. At some point I started to view heels less as bad guys and more as douchebag trolls. I am amused by douchebag trolls so it works. I think they will find greater success as singles competitors, especially Titus O’Neill. From a strength and power perspective he is a great talent. Titus is also far more agile than I first realized.

Ryback was not being a star this week. Lawler even made note of that fact as he bullied a young talent in the shower. I like this approach. Instead of just telling people not to be bullies the WWE is starting to flesh out that angle. Ryback will be a bully which will lead to someone coming along and putting him in his place. The WWE can paint a sunshine picture of bullies never winning in the end. I would much rather have this segment and storyline than having to watch David Otunga speak at an anti-bullying rally.

The Big Show performed a bit better than Ziggler against The Shield but in the end the result was the same. He will be teaming with Mark Henry in the future which will be interesting to watch play out. I would think that knocking one of them out of the ring and pinning the other would be the logical goal. The Shield should have no problem setting up that situation. Given that it takes either of the big men an eternity to reenter the ring their success will be limited by their agility. Tag matches are different beasts than singles matches. Strengths and weaknesses change based on the match type.

CM Punk cut a hell of promo once again tonight, the viciousness that he has been utilizing as of late is refreshing for his character. The brawl with Axel was hard hitting and goes to expound upon what I said earlier about Heyman and Punk. Curtis was demolished in this segment.

As a side note I heard rumblings that Heyman has already chosen his next client – and it’s a girl. It will be interesting to see if they hold off on her debut until after this storyline is resolved. If Punk is true to his word that he will go after Heyman at every opportunity it would be odd to watch him rundown and attack Heyman during a Diva segment.

The Wyatt Family made quick work of R-Truth. Bray had no difficulty pinning his opponent. At some point Truth should really stop fighting these guys because he comes out on the losing end every single time. Maybe a little less talking to himself and a little more acknowledging that this is the wrong fight to pick would be a good approach. Or at least while talking to himself and Little Jimmy he should realize that he is never going to win, ever.

The Usos defeated 3MB. Usos have been getting better and better reactions as each week passes. Still, I cannot tell apart the twins to save my life. When recapping their matches I find myself fully relying on the commentators to tell me who is in the ring. Unfortunately much like they don’t like to call move names, they also avoid identifying which brother is in the ring from time to time. I used to have this problem with The Bella Twins as well. I would like to humbly suggest that one of the Usos gets breast implants. It solved my identification problem with the Bellas so it seems the only logical and rational solution. Oh sure I could take the time and study the differences between the two brothers and actually be able to tell them apart. But I’m too pro-boob for that solution.

Wade Barrett and Miz had a match that screamed of hodgepodge. Fandango leaped in at the end with a well placed leg drop. Miz will go off to feud leaving Wade to wonder why he can’t get an actual long term storyline of his own. It’s because they have no idea what to do with him despite his talents. There are a lot of guys on the roster so not everyone can be active all of the time. Be patient because his day will come.

The show closed in grand fashion this week. Orton received a coronation as Champion, but this segment was really all about the McMahons. I see no point in invoking Triple H’s last name this go around. Last time he was his own character and was being integrated into the McMahon dynasty. As far as I’m concerned those days are gone. HHH has provided several McMahon grandchildren at this point. He is now fully apart of the dynasty.

The fans have a heel force to actively despise. Not the tweener nonsense of Punk or Cena but real true hatred. I said leading up to the PPV that there was no bigger way to make Orton heel than to snag the Title from Daniel Bryan. Even though going into the PPV I was confident with how things would play out that didn’t take away from the angle’s impact. I was still ticked off. Oh sure it makes for a great story but there’s a part of me that still hurt for Bryan. After all I can still recall the first time I met him.

It was nearly eight years ago and the exchange was quick. Bryan had just wrestled a hell of a match in front of perhaps a hundred people. I thanked him for his dedication and performance and walked out wishing that there was a way someone like him could make it to the top. Having seen him perform live this past Wrestlemania in front of a crowd 800 times greater than the one I had first seen him at, I felt a sense of pride. There is something intangible about watching a person you like and enjoy as they reach the top of their industry.

The sadness that I felt when Orton cashed in was a good thing. It proved that the angle was working. As fans we tend to get clouded in either our own biases or in the belief that this is somehow a real sport. In today’s day and age it is so much more. It is a television show that needs to find a way to captivate an audience every single week. It was time for the character of Orton to reach further development. He had toiled away long enough. He was hungry for a turn to the dark side and no doubt the writers had a full back catalogue of ideas that they wanted to use. It was all about timing.

Sure Daniel Bryan could have walked out with the belt and I could be picking daffodils right now, but there was so much more story to be told. I would rather that Bryan embarks on a strong storyline for the fall. He is better as the underdog, as the man chasing the Title. It’s fascinating that fans started to view the WWE from Bryan’s perspectives. I would argue that that’s one of the hallmarks of a truly great face. The fans didn’t want to believe that Orton was every bit as hungry and desperate for the Title. In the eyes of the fans Bryan was hungrier and more deserving.

We knew what would happen at Summerslam, we just didn’t want to see it happen. That’s why it worked. For every fan that threw their hands up in the air and sent their popcorn and soda flying out of disbelief – Bryan and Orton alike became that much stronger. Bryan lost in 18 seconds and found his character elevated to heights that neither he nor the company saw coming. I’d like to believe that lightning will strike for a second time.

David Stephens

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