David Stephens reviews WWE RAW for 8/26/13

Dave’s RAW Thoughts
August 27, 2013
By: David Stephens of Wrestleview.com

The paradigm shift between the forces of good and evil continued this week on RAW. In recent memory the WWE has been a pretty happy-go-lucky company. John Cena stood as the face of the company and brought with him colorful shirts, cereal endorsements and more Make-A-Wish moments that anyone in history. Those days are over. Cena is gone.

Triple H and the McMahons have forged what could possibly be an even stronger relationship than they displayed in the Attitude Era. The roster is being held hostage. No matter what happens to Daniel Bryan they are powerless to help. Friend or foe, the locker room felt a connection to the heart and spirit of the short-lived WWE Champion. Big Show may have an ironclad contract, but even he did not risk incurring the wrath of Triple H. While logistically he could have intervened without being released, that does not mean that he would not be punished. Had Show come to the rescue of Bryan there is very little doubt that Helmsley would have him severely beaten. Show could have well been subjected to a three hour gauntlet match in which win or lose he had to keep fighting on.

Could Big Show have interfered without being fired thanks to his contract? Yes, I believe so. Would he have been severely beaten, humiliated and pushed to the bottom of the card? Almost certainly. Despite the contract there are no incentives that force Show to be used on the broadcast. Any Title opportunities would disappear. Not to mention that the rest of the roster does not have such a splendid deal. Show would meet his demise.

Since when does John Cena speak Chinese??? Sorry I’m watching Total Divas in the background and Cena is teaching Nikki some Chinese. How have I missed this for the past decade?

Anyway – so yeah Show could have helped but he is the only one with such a contract. His rescue of Bryan would be short lived as the numbers game and lack of other stars being able to help would lead to their destruction.

Ah, I just did a Google search. Turns out he has been learning Chinese for a good while now. Seems he has pulled it out a few times in recent memory. I’ll be damned.

Bryan came off well in the opening segment. Triple H’s hypocrisy of going from a rebel to the corporate leader was well voiced. Orton is playing into this storyline as though the chemistry between himself and Triple has not been on hold for the last few years. The heel characters that we have seen in recent memory have had a different vibe than this one. The power that comes from the corporate alliance adds a sense of untouchable credibility. Not only can Orton run around and do whatever he wants, often in cahoots with Trips, but also he knows that he won’t be punished for his actions. It’s a gangland mentality in many ways. The protection that Orton is awarded from his powerful connection to the hierarchy of the company puts him in a different stratosphere from the rest of the roster.

Triple H should sing Disney songs every week from here on out. “When You Wish Upon a Star” was a great start. Grating on the fans nerves with the mockery of childhood memories always gets the job done. I’m hoping he busts out “Part of Your World” on next week’s broadcast.

Fandango and Rhodes had a short match. Miz stole the segment. Coming out in Fandango’s gear was pretty fantastic. I particularly enjoyed that he stayed in that gear for the tag team match. Plus, this segment even brought Rosa Mendes back from obscurity. Or punishment for getting plastered time and again, something like that.

Brad Maddox continues to amuse. As his confident grows he is settling in nicely to this character. His reactions and facial expressions just add a bit of something extra. He has a unique delivery that sets him apart from the other mouthpieces. I look forward to his further development.

The drama between Punk and Heyman is really something magical to watch. Granted if you had turned the television to RAW as the Heyman beat down commenced you might be a bit confused. After all there was some walrus-looking dude in a suit relentlessly beating a tattooed hobo relentlessly with a kendo stick. All the while screaming that he loved said hobo and trusted him. Sometimes the most powerful segments are the ones that come off as completely and utterly ridiculous to an outsider. That’s why I loved it. Very well done from an emotional standpoint.

Axel is really benefitting from the feud with Punk. Heyman as the mouthpiece allows Curtis to be featured without actually standing on his own merits. Not that Axel doesn’t deserve to be in this position, but that he is merely a pawn in the war between Heyman and Punk.

The Divas barely had a match this week. But, the lack of match time was made up for by a brilliant promo from AJ Lee. It was as close to a Punk pipebomb that could be expected from the Divas division. AJ is an incredible talent and she is hungry for even greater success. For the first time in a great while I find myself actively engaged with the Diva storylines. For the past six months they have been getting better and better. The exposure from Total Divas and the great character work from AJ and others has elevated the division back to relevance. My grievance with the Divas division was often that I did not have a reason to care. Finally we have storylines that are interesting and engaging.

Ricardo Rodriguez seems to really be enjoying his relationship with RVD. The match itself was short, but granted RVD a Title shot. He won’t win, however it’s a nice use of his talents.

Ryback beat up Josh Mathews. Poor Josh, whether it’s Ryback, Brock or others, he always seems to come out on the short end. Ryback’s current character seems to be one of – “well if they don’t want to book me in matches I’ll just beat anyone up that I feel like”. Works for me.

The Primetime Players and The Real Americans continued their feud. Zeb is shifting his character from pseudo xenophobia to pseudo racism. He is turning his stance to focus on the new opponents and a couple of his lines struck the audience. Zeb continues to be a manager that can generate heat and elevate his clients.

Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins brought the house down. They flat out had an amazing RAW bout. Rollins looked better than he ever has in this company. Bryan is just on a different level. Often we talk about guys who can have a good match with almost anyone, though often that is an exaggerated claim. With Bryan I think a real case can be made that he is the most versatile talent on the roster. The crowd was on their feet several times during the match. The release German Suplex that flipped Rollins over really blew the roof off. It is so rare to see that sort of high spot in this company. The fans had their minds blown. The success of organizations like Ring of Honor thrived on those spots. But there is a difference. Bryan used the move as a sparingly high moment during the match. Instead of just doing a move to do a move, they carefully crafted the moment and tension. Seeing similar moves happen ten times during an Indy match comes nowhere near the drama of it being executed once as a turning point in a match. It’s all about the story.

I enjoyed the interview piece by Renee Young leading in to the final segment. It had a similar feel to a sideline interview. The camera shots and presentation were really unique and different from what we usually see. That was well executed.

Randy Orton stood tall as RAW went off the air. I appreciated the maniacal grin on his face as he walked down to the ring. He hit an RKO on the broken Bryan and then quickly slithered around. It was a moment that absolutely grated on the audience. Bryan is so popular right now that anyone that lays a finger on him is instantly hated. Bryan’s biggest reactions come when he seems victorious only to quickly be torn down. Case in point was the Ambrose attack after the Rollins match. The fans barely had time to catch their breath from the spectacle they had witnessed before Ambrose sucked the joy out of the arena. There is a level of story telling in the feud that takes it even higher. Whether it is the corporate power of Triple H, the ruthlessness of The Shield, or the Viper that is Randy Orton – WWE RAW is becoming very compelling television.

David Stephens

Follow me on Twitter! @TheDaveStephens