David Stephens reviews WWE RAW for 9/16/13

Dave’s RAW Thoughts
September 17, 2013
By: David Stephens of Wrestleview.com

Forget whether or not this is a good wrestling show – RAW has surpassed that limitation and has become an intriguing and compelling television show.

Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler had a bout that was far stronger than their showing at Night of Champions. Whether it was due to a rush of timing or just a tease of a match the bout was missing the nuances that were evident on last night’s show. The character of Ambrose is slowly but surely connecting with the audience. For the first several months of their tenure the individual members of The Shield did not have a chance to shine. As they have been featured in isolation the audience has begun to grow accustomed to their stances. Ambrose clicked last night. Every jab, stomp and grip exhibits his unique style. This is feud that I am pleased to see continue. The in ring action is intriguing and was hands down the best match on last night’s broadcast.

R-Truth was flashier than he has been as of late. Sometimes he can get lost in the show. His constant beat downs at the hands of the Wyatt Family had almost hit the point of pure silliness. It seems Truth has learned not to go against that team and instead was able to put together a good fight. Fandango pulled off the victory with a devastating top rope leg drop. It goes without saying but Summer Rae was stunning as always. I’m not in a hurry for it to happen, because anticipation is key, but it will be interesting when she splits from her dance partner and emerges as a fighter in her own right. I’ve seen some of her developmental work so it should be a treat when that day does arrive.

The American Dream agreed to appear on RAW to hear the business proposition from Stephanie McMahon. Coming in I thought that perhaps he would have to forfeit his Hall of Fame ring in order to save Cody’s job. The actual proposal was even more brilliant. WWE presented its own version of Sophie’s choice. If nothing else it planted the seeds for the seemingly inevitable Goldust versus Cody clash. It’s interesting that Rhodes would have such a difficult time with the decision. By all accounts Goldust is not disgruntled by his de facto retirement. Stephanie brought in the issues of childhood and Rhodes’ failings when it came to Dustin’s upbringing. The blurring of the lines between storyline and reality is fascinating. The fans are constantly left to question just how much of the animosity is real. This is the first time, pretty much ever, that I have found myself caring about Cody Rhodes or even Goldust for that matter. I congratulate the WWE because I had given up hope that such a thing was even possible.

I want to pause for a moment and drop some kudos to Stephanie McMahon. Her character is solid. When she walked out smiling and clapping at the beginning of the segment I knew that it would be golden. She excels at the bitchy heel and yet every time she walks out smiling there is a dropped guard effect. I think to myself, maybe she will come out as an understanding parent and sympathize with Dusty’s dilemma. Of course she won’t, but just that moment of questionable hesitation in my mind sells her character work.

The Big Show has perfected weeping. Factoring the others who have cried as of late including Goldust and Paul Heyman, the company must be going for some kind of a record. I’d really like to know how many more weeks they would have to go before being able to claim the longest consecutive weeks in which grown men were featured crying on the RAW broadcast. It is so spectacular. I often view RAW as my soap opera. A non-wrestling fan might view such segments with disdain, but I’m all over it like whatever cliché analogy you could throw out there. There was power in Big Show having to make the choice between watching Dusty be beaten to a pulp with steel chairs or have to knock him out himself. By chance I saw a security cam video from I believe 1998 in which The Giant, as he was known at the time, unloaded on an unruly gentleman at a bar. Now that was the kind of knockout blow that could make anyone quake in his boots. Sometimes it is hard to fully grasp the agility or power of Show when he is throwing down in the ring. No matter how strong or weak his punch looked on Monday the one thing I know for certain is that if I ever find myself in an alley with Big Show my lexicon will mostly consist of the word, “sir”.

The Divas locker-room took over the show for a few minutes. It was another classic and disjointed showing from an ever-expanding litany of woman. I love how they just toss Jojo out there with some pom poms to cheer on the Funkadactyls. There was no purpose; she was effectively an entourage member. If I understand the segment correctly than it had nothing to do with the match in the ring. It was designed to continue the Natalya and AJ Lee feud. The problem of course being that Natalya’s mic didn’t work for most of the time. It just compounded and added to the absurd terribleness of whatever the hell was happening in the ring.

RVD and Sandow barely had enough time in the ring to let it sink in that they were having a match. RVD is obviously not finished with Alberto Del Rio, which will allow some more time for Ricardo Rodriguez to introduce his name. As a side note I found it hilarious that Damien Sandow was acting as the MC during Natalya and Tyson Kidd’s wedding on Total Divas.

The Miz got his ass kicked. There is no way around that conclusion. He did lob a few decent volleys but they were quickly dismissed. The cracking of Miz’s vertebrae helped sell what would be the culmination of the show during the overrun. It was a bit of continuity that I appreciated. The Miz’s father needs a stern talking to after his emotional dry spell. It was so ridiculous that the camera eventually started cutting him out of the shots and just showing Miz’s mom. She got the memo that she should cry and help sell the segment. His dad merely looked on with a not amused squint through his glasses.

Ryback makes perfect sense as Heyman’s new client. He has the musculature of Lesnar and is far more imposing than Curtis Axel. Punk was able to run through the IC Champion, which left Heyman seeking protection. The feud was never really about Axel in the first place. I appreciated the peck on the cheek that Heyman planted on Ryback. It’s so demented, I love it.

Antonio Cesaro shined once again. Jack Swagger is quickly becoming an afterthought to the very European star. The Usos picked up the victory, which will allow them to challenge The Shield for the Tag Team Championships. They had an amazing bout during the pre-show for Money in the Bank. If they can add to that match then I’m looking forward to it greatly. The Usos have found a fire and passion in the past four months that has elevated them to new heights. Sometimes it takes a bit of success for a talent to realize their potential and sink their teeth into a role.

And so we come to Daniel Bryan. His match against Roman Reigns was akin to what we have come to expect from the now 2-time WWE Champion. However that match is really nothing compared to the real story.

I am almost giddy. There are few things in professional wrestling that I enjoy more than being blindsided. I can convince myself thoroughly that an outcome is inevitable. The most exciting times for me, as a fan, is when the show swerves in a completely different direction. It has been quite some time since the WWE Championship has been stripped from a star. The last controversy I can remember over the Title was back in 2011 as Punk walked out with one Title and Cena won a tournament to be crowned with a replacement strap. But it has been years since it has been legitimately stripped. I find this story exciting on so many levels. It’s easy to get caught up in the mystique of the Title and wanting to bring t glory and blah blah blah. I get all of that, I just don’t care. I am far more concerned with enjoying the angles and arcs of the drama. Involving Scott Armstrong and having him fired sold both the ruthlessness and yet heart of Triple H at the same time.

I am vastly entertained with the current Triple H and Daniel Bryan storyline because I never quite know where it is going to go. Triple H seems to switch allegiance from show to show. It has gotten to the point where the COO has become so temperamental that dammit he might just be doing what he thinks is best for business. Of course what Triple H feels is best for business might not be what the Board or the fans feel is best for business. He is lost on a power trip in which only one thing is certain – Triple H is going to get what Triple H wants. Flanked by his wife they are becoming an unstoppable duo. For the time being even Vince has been relegated to the sidelines. Instead of playing a straight good or bad guy, HHH simply gets sucked up into his own head. This is perfect.

Next week should feature the fallout from the locker room coming to the rescue. There is an ever-increasing faction standing behind Bryan. This is war.

David Stephens

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