Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Raw Review: Last Stop Before Payback

Monday's Raw was pretty solid as we headed into Payback.  A hot Cincinnati crowd certainly helped as did my interest in the Payback main event.  There was a touch of paint-by-numbers WWE booking of course, but in this case I thought the show was still a success.

For an alternate take on Raw, here is Jason Powell's WWE Raw Live TV Review.  All that said, on with the review...
  •  The Authority tension continued even with Triple H's return.  Kane and Seth Rollins continued to bicker which was fine, but the shining moment of the opening segment was Jamie of J&J Security bowing up on the COO.  That was some solid rednecking on his part and I loved it.  Anyhow the main thrust of this was we got our big matches for the night (hometown kid Dean Ambrose vs J&J Security, Roman Reigns vs Kane, and Seth Rollins vs Randy Orton) and we also got a stipulation for the Payback main event as Kane will be let go if he doesn't make sure Rollins retains. 
  • As for those three matches they were all fine, but Kane/Reigns and Orton/Rollins are all played out.  Ambrose/J&J Security was the most fun in large part due to the stooging by J&J Security and because we got to see Ambrose do his thing in front of his hometown crowd.  The final angle wasn't nearly as chaotic as I would have hoped and I really, really don't like Reigns and Ambrose being at odds even in this context.   
  • Daniel Bryan is forced to relinquish his IC Title due to the uncertainty surrounding his health.  It really feels like he could be done.  He was amazing there for a while and it's a shame to see it possibly end so soon, but WrestleMania XXX is something that will stand the test of time as far as great wrestling moments go I believe.  Whatever happens next, I hope Bryan is at peace with it.
  • John Cena's US Open Challenge was excellent as usual with Neville getting the shot.  The problem with this of course is that you've got some undesired outcomes here.  Either you get a) Neville losing to Cena which isn't the end of the world so long as he looks like a million bucks doing it or b) a non-finish.  They went with the latter option and Rusev's attack was a nice way to sell the Cena/Rusev match at Payback.  Unfortunately, that match seems to be hurtling toward an undesirable outcome as well with Rusev most likely losing yet again to John Cena.  His win at Fastlane was great, but his momentum has been heading the wrong way since then.  
  • Sheamus came out for commentary on King Barrett's match against Dolph Ziggler.  This whole deal delivered as all three men played their parts well.  Sheamus and Barrett looked like their typical scumbag selves as usual with Barrett hitting the Bull Hammer on a distracted Ziggler and then Sheamus destroying Ziggler after the bell.  The midcard centered around these guys is very entertaining.
  • The Divas segment with Tamina taking on Brie was fine.  Tamina's interesting because it seems like she's in a constant cycle of "push and disappear."  I like her though and hope she's around for a while this time. Nikki is still the shining star of this division in my mind.  Naomi as a heel has been pretty good especially with her new muscle.
  • Axelmania and Macho Mandow agreeing to join forces to take down The Ascension was fine for what it was and I'm not nearly as bothered by comedy gimmicks like this as many are.  My issue is that I feel Sandow is being wasted in this mimic role now that he's gotten away from The Miz.  Axel is hilarious and The Ascension is useless.
  • New Day is a great heel team.  Cesaro & Kidd have turned out to be a really good face tandem.  Cesaro as a face really is quite amazing and people just want to get behind the guy.  I didn't notice any great yacking from Woods this week unfortunately.  This one should be really good at Payback. 
  • Elimination Chamber being announced as a WWE Network exclusive show a couple of weeks after Payback was welcome news for this Network subscriber.
  • Luke Harper and Erick Rowan joining forces again is even more welcome news.  I think Harper deserves better, but this should be a big improvement over how he's been used since his IC Title reign ended. 
  • Speaking of them, I liked Bray Wyatt's promo on Ryback.  When I see Bray cut a good promo though I can't help but to think, "How much better would this be if they actually let him win some big matches?" The highlight of this one for me was the phrase "Mr. Ryback sir."  Ryback's answer was perfect because it clearly highlighted the difference between the two.
Like I said earlier, this was a decent go-home show for Payback.  I am looking forward to that show.  The main event is especially interesting although I'm 99.9% sure which direction they will go with it.  While I am a huge Roman Reigns fan I hope they are saving his coronation for down the road.  It's still too early.  I expect another sneaky good show as the expectations for these B shows are so low.  We will see how it goes this Sunday.

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