Previously on Monday Night Raw
The Bryan - Orton show took us into and out of our latest three hour Raw-straveganza. In the first segment, Randy forgot his lines, then he and Daniel had to be pulled apart as their latest attempt at finishing a match ended in a no contest.
The American Dragon demanded another shot at the Legend Killer, and it would take the involvement of Vickie Guerrero, Brad Maddox, Vince McMahon, HHH and the WWE Universe before the rematch was booked as street fight in the main event slot.
CM Punk spent most of the night looking for Paul Heyman or Brock Lesnar. He would eventually find Heyman in the ring and accept the admitted liar's claim that he had nothing to do with Lesnar's attack the week before. But when Curtis Axel ran in to "save" the straight-edger from a beatdown at the hands of the Primetime Players, the best friends would leave the night with their relationship almost as fractured as it has been at the outset.
Dolph Ziggler continued to stay away from his girlfriend and bodyguard, and to maniacally chase after World Heavyweight Champion (WHC) Alberto Del Rio. He zig zag-ed everyone he could get his hands on after Chris Jericho's match with the champ.
Jericho looked like he might be sticking around the WHC scene, but a backstage run-in with Ryback returned him to a long-rumored collision course with Mr. Back.
John Cena was righteous in his indignation for a change, saying that Mark Henry has used his family and disrespected his co-workers with his retirement ruse. The world's strongest man doesn't give a good gosh darn, and he's coming for the WWE title - no matter what Cena thinks of him or how little any self-respecting fan is looking forward to that match.
In the overrun, the Viper tapped out to a no-lock and shook hands with DB in a big moment that looked like a rub from the boys, but might have ended up a kiss of death in the eyes of management.
Live from Sioux City, IA!
Can a tag team win for Heyman guys Punk and Axel over Darren Young and Titus O'Neil smooth the waters for Paul's clientele? Either way, it's quite a rise in stature for the Primetime Players, who look to build on Young's strong showing against the Best in the World from last week.
The WWE championship feud is quickly turning into a bitter rivalry, but Mark Henry's feuds of late have been built on non-match elements like tugs of war. What will come next in the build to Money in the Bank? And if Bryan vs. Cena (featuring E!'s Total Divas!) is a lock for SummerSlam - where's the suspense?
Their website is hyping a bleed over from Smackdown for the WHC program. Have Ziggler's head trauma issues made him think that he's still the champ, or can ADR and his little buddy get a moment to have a proper fiesta?
They've both done pretty great impersonations of the other - what's next for Kaitlyn, AJ and the best Divas feud in recent memory?
Kane rejoined the Bryan - Orton drama last Friday night. Was the Yes Man forcing Kane back into his match against Randy an example of tough love or the continuation of a heel turn? It definitely lead to a RKO loss, so we can certainly expect a pissed off Big Red Machine tonight.
McMahons will circle one another and jockey for position. Will Iowa care more than South Carolina did? I know I won't.
I also imagine the United States champion and Tag Team champions will appear in some fashion, but, man...The Shield sure have slipped off the radar since Extreme Rules, haven't they?
Expect to pop for:
John Cena. I really, really liked his promo from last week. Being as it was "intense Cena promo 1.0", I find myself wondering why. Here's what I've come up with.
The obvious answer is, he was right for a change. Geno talked about it in his reactions from last week - Henry's swerve was magnificent because it was surprising, but even moreso because it was despicable. There's that core of an understandable motivation - that he wants the only title in the company that he has never held - but the way he went about it is deserving of an asskicking.
For the first time in a long time, the champ was able to meld a little of his (attempted) humor into an "I'm coming for you, sucka" speech. The reason why it worked this time - rather than coming off as a someone suffering from anger issues and delirium - was that he used doctor of thuganomics swag to weave the two together. It makes sense for a G to cleverly drop some insults into a threat. When Capt. Cargo Shorts calls you a poop head...not so much. So when he put over the belt, ran down why Mizark was in the wrong, and then stopped for "that's where I come in...allow me to introduce myself", I smiled.
When you put those things together - the villain you want to see thwarted and a hero who doesn't embarrass you - I'm game for whatever comes next.
We make fun of and groan about "Super Cena" but, like superhero fiction, pro wrestling is a genre built for that kind of character. It's really hard to do right, though. Partially because it's hard to continually produce believable threats and partially because we're all so jaded by the time we hit puberty that the slightest hint of cheese causes us to roll our eyes. Since WrestleMania 29, the head of the Cenation has been quietly putting together a nice run as champ that can please his fans without offending his detractors. If he can keep it up through the next pay-per-view (PPV) and head into the rumored SummerSlam program with (ratings be damned) one of the hottest stars in the game right now, John Cena might be starting the third act of his career not just as a solid hand and loyal company man with a passionate fan base, but as a truly compelling character.
The heat is on:
The vertically challenged. I'll be honest. Some of this is just a Cena-esque attempt to steal some of the Reaction post's heat. It seems like for the last few weeks, about 50 comments have been devoted to debating wrestlers' heights and the effect it can have on their success in the business.
Obviously, this has become the topic du jour due to Daniel Bryan's rise to prominence and speculation about Vince McMahon's opinion of his ability to draw. WWE lists DB at 5'10". Anyone with experience in college sports information or professional athletics media departments can tell you that it's common practice to "round up" or exaggerate athlete's weight and height for marketing and/or gamesmanship purposes. It's also commonly accepted that McMahon believes that big, sculpted guys are more successful at getting fans to part with their money.
I can't tell you for sure that short guys, or fat guys, don't sell. I do think that "look" is an underestimated factor in how popular a pro wrestler becomes. And in our politically correct age of not wanting to judge (or talk about how we judge) based on appearance, we want to believe that ability and desire should determine who's at the top of the game, not height or percentage of body fat.
But this is a form of entertainment where exaggerated selling is born of making sure that fans in the cheap seats know what's going on, and where smaller young workers end up becoming referees because shorter officials make the competitors look bigger. As an athletic exhibition, it sets itself in comparison to combat sports, which would never allow guys with even 20 pound weight differences in the ring together.
Whether we like it or not, because of his size, our boi D-Bry has a mountain to climb to become a mega-star main eventer. And Vince McMahon might end up being the target of our rage because of that, but he's certainly not the only one questioning the believability of a guy of his stature convincingly conquering the giants of WWE.
Can a multitude of interesting stories, and the lack of playoff action in other sports, get Raw a ratings rise that will save Bryan's push? Or will we soon be seeing if Cena can stay palatable if he goes back to being on the show for multiple segments?
Get ready for tonight's live blog by telling me I'm wrong about the champ, or height's role in a wrestler's popularity, or anything else that I'm probably wrong about. Then stick around for all the latest from WWE and the pro wrestling world at large - right here at Cageside Seats.