David Stephens reviews WWE RAW for 9/30/13

Dave’s RAW Thoughts
October 1, 2013
By: David Stephens of Wrestleview.com

CM Punk opened in an attempt to get the crowd hot for the show. He did not offer up much new information by way of his promo. He claimed to strive for unpredictability. Yet, it has felt as of late that his character has fit into the standard WWE mold. It’s an interesting side effect that trying to be unpredictable can make you quite the opposite. It was a bizarre struggle between Punk knowing that he has been predictable as of late and wanting the fans to know that he is trying not to be predictable. Punk is usually a consistent player but this segment came off a bit awkward. By the time Brad Maddox hit the ring any semblance of reason was lost. I’m usually a supporter of Maddox’s but he was sloppy at best in his promo. He stumbled over multiple lines. His delivery is simply leaps and bounds behind Punk’s. Maddox has grown in popularity but he was very exposed in the segment.

If Punk was striving for unpredictability then the emergence of Big E. Langston certainly fit. His arrival was unexpected, though the crowd was not very interested in this development. Punk suffered a cheap shot before the match started. By the time Punk had recovered from the attack any chance that Langston had for victory vanished. So that happened.

Kofi Kingston went over Fandango in a bid that was intended to involve Bray Wyatt. I’m not completely sure of the backstory that is going to be built for this feud so I’ll have to see it play out. I’m not convinced that Kofi Kingston is the right foil for the Mason gimmick at this point. Kofi is talented but his style does not lend itself well to selling for the likes of Bray. Kofi lacks the psychological elements that are necessary to make this particular opponent succeed.

Randy Orton has been going into full creep mode in order to get into the head of Daniel Bryan. He has spent a few weeks picking on The Bella Twins and last night took it to another level. The WWE has been all about blending the lines between fantasy and reality during this Triple H and Stephanie era. I was left wondering if perhaps Randy had a relationship with Brie in the past. Orton’s promo at the end of the show seemed to hint at something of the like. Either way there is no question that he has found his way into the mind of his opponent. It wouldn’t be the first time that Bryan was affected in a Title match by his involvement with a Diva.

Los Matadores finally made their grand debut. I was completely taken aback by their entrance. I half hated it and half enjoyed it. The slow moving cape twirls were painful to say the least. The performance was a demonstration in stiff acting. But then out came a midget dressed as a bull. The whole entrance was so stupid that it was amusing. I would like the fanfare to last for a shorter duration and have them drop the dance beat a bit sooner. This could be a agonizing team to watch enter every week, especially if the company is adamant on the full entrance. Don’t get me wrong there are some elements that I enjoyed; I would just like to see it shortened. I did get a nice chuckle out of the mock bull fighting and smoke show.

As for the match itself I thought that Los Matadores were far more exciting and interesting than their previous incarnation as Primo & Epico. Their focus on a luchadore style was in full force, if wildly out of place in the WWE. That’s not a knock on the style, just an observation. I know it seems like I’m being harsh but I actually did enjoy this debut. I’d like to see if they can continue to get a reaction from the crowd as the next few months pass. Most WWE fans are not familiar with this style of a Tag Team. If they can dig in with a niche and sink their teeth into the Universe then hopefully this time around fans will remember that they are employed by the company.

The Triple H/Stephanie/Rhodes Family segment told a nice story. The character of Triple H has become confusing. At first I enjoyed the confusion because I believed I saw an end game. At this point I am not so certain. I’m all for open ended stories but it is becoming difficult to get invested in a storyline that gets more disjointed by the week. The promo back and forth set up a PPV match that will either end with new jobs or an employment ban for the Rhodes family. While I did appreciate some of the insider jargon about the NWA it was clear that by and large the fans in attendance were baffled by that dialogue. Truth is a lot of fans that are currently watching the program were born after WCW was out of business. For them to even wrap their little minds around the concept of territories is a moot point. I appreciated the reference but it seemed to pull a lot of fans out of the moment as they were lost in confusion. Also Dusty Rhodes saying that he would be Triple H’s “huckleberry” may just have been the most confusing end of a promo in recent memory. I’m tossing R-Truth and Little Jimmy into that competition.

Speaking of which, Truth actually picked up a victory this week. Sure, it was at the benefit of CM Punk, but a win is a win. Truth is still a lost character caught in midcard hell. He’s not really involved in any storylines nor has he been for the past few months. At the same time he always seems to be used whether by the Wyatts or in this case Axel. At some point I would presume that the guy is simply happy to be employed.

Alicia Fox dominated in her match against Brie Bella until the very end. Fox actually looked pretty solid in this bout. I appreciated her spunk and attitude. See, RAW must have been weak because I’m pretty sure this is only the second time in my wrestling writing career that I have tossed her a compliment. This RAW was so awful that the fact that Alicia was trying actually made her stand out. Having a one-on-one match was far more beneficial to the Diva division than having the whole locker room come down for a slumber party during a three minute match.

Zack Ryder also looked strong. He has been trying to add some muscle mass and it showed last night. He was able to get in a fair amount of offense. For once, Zack Ryder did not seem like a joke.

Paul Heyman and Ryback took their relationship to the next level. I don’t think I need to make any jokes about the homosexual premise because it is all so obvious. Heyman wanted to play up that gimmick in order to twist it at the end and have it really be about a professional relationship. I understand what he was trying to do; it just didn’t seem to play off that well. For some reason the crowd was not as uproarious as you would expect in such a segment. It is as though the fans could all sense the mocking that they would inevitably receive because of this segment. It’s difficult enough for a fan to dispel the swipes of peers who refer to wrestling as a gay sport where guys roll around in underwear. This segment certainly did not help that perception. Or maybe, as Heyman alluded to, the fans didn’t react that well because it is 2013. Maybe we just don’t care anymore. It was a forced metaphor that Heyman revealed as nothing but a show. Punk charged in for a sneak attack that put him on top heading into the PPV. This whole Battleground show seems really rushed and forced.

The Shield survived another Six Man Tag Match as they have on nearly every occasion. Still there were enough close calls in the match that Ambrose and the Tag Champions were each opened up to provide reasonable doubt going into the PPV.

Big Show was all sorts of confusing on last night’s show. He is clearly suffering a breakdown. Stephanie continues to mess with his head as does Triple H. They will mock him and force him to commit heinous acts while at the same time pretending to help him. They care for his financial security, even if they are manipulating that security into garnering a giant for their own bidding. Say what you will about the crying and over the top drama – Big Show is playing this character well. He genuinely seems at a loss as he shoulders the burden of providing for his family while maintaining a sense of morality.

Santino rolled up Antonio Cesaro for the win. They are trying hard to sell Cesaro’s spin as the must see move in his arsenal. I’m okay with this as he is using it against lower tier opponents. It might not be the most serious or devastating of moves, but it adds some dimension to his character.

The end of the show capped off a weak night for RAW. I liked the psychology employed by Randy Orton. He is attacking his opponents in front of their loved ones. This added emphasis makes sense. Stephanie called for Orton to return to his devilish ways of old. In fact she basically told him to attack men in front of their loved ones. Orton came out on top in the final segment which gives him the momentum heading into the PPV. The involvement of Brie was a nice addition as it gives more depth to Bryan.

I can’t imagine that Battleground will have a strong buyrate. The build has been rushed and some of the stories are quite bizarre. When I finished recapping the show last night I had no passion towards purchasing this PPV. Depending on how the buyrate plays out the WWE may be forced to consider dropping this show from next year’s schedule.

David Stephens

Follow me on Twitter! @TheDaveStephens