WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (June 10, 2013) from the Richmond, Coliseum in Richmond, Virginia, featuring the go home show to the Payback pay-per-view (PPV) set for this Sunday night at the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois.
And it was a goodie.
Click here for full results and the live blog from the show if you missed it. Let's get right to reactions. Remember, these were written as the show moved along with real time reactions to everything that occurred hour-by-hour.
- They're actually going ahead with this match? That seems odd. Yep, they're really going along with it. Wait, here comes Vince McMahon, strutting and all. Oh, this is phenomenal. Vince tells him to ring the bell and Justin Roberts tell us it's a disqualification in favor of Curtis Axel. Triple H is pissed and this is awesome. Axel and Paul Heyman are literally pointing and laughing at Triple H. He's still undefeated. Oh god, it's gotten better. Trips tries a restart and Vince comes out and says it's over again and "The Game" forfeited. And now it's Triple H tells Roberts to stand up and announce that it's an Iron Man match. Oh my god, this is the best thing ever. I hate that it has to end with Vinny Mac coming back down and just straight up telling Axel and Heyman to leave and then stealing the ring bell.
- That was an A+ opening segment.
- Stephanie crying in the back and begging "Paul" not to hurt Vince because he's an old man who goes off the rails is kind of funny because Steph is a terrible actor and this is supposed to be a storyline but it doesn't even kind of feel like one. These are all legitimate issues with this family. It's great.
- Did anyone else notice her calling him "Paul" and then "Hunter" during all that too? I go by multiple names myself -- Geno is not my real name at all, folks -- but people don't ever mix my stage name with my real name.
- Dean Ambrose is still wearing the white shirt under the vest and I like that choice far more than I should. It's also awesome that WWE made a point of having a referee run a bell out mid-match so they can continue the evening as planned. I'm loving this show so far.
- I could do with less run-ins for "legitimate" matches.
- This storyline with Daniel Bryan hasn't just been great for Bryan, it's been great for Randy Orton. He's actually doing something relatively interesting and he's actually showing some depth of character again. "Hell yeah I RKO'd you, you didn't think I was going to let you dropkick me in the face and get away with it, did you? Pound sand." That's an Orton we can get behind, not the bland babyface who smiles weirdly and beats heels up for no apparent reason. It's amazing what an actual storyline, not just an angle but an actual storyline, can do for a guy.
- Sweaty Kane hugging Vickie Guerrero had to be a rib, right?
- The Miz vs. Cody Rhodes was just downright depressing. Nothing redeeming about the match nor the characters within it. At least Wade Barrett wasn't a complete waste of time on commentary.
- Fandango off the card this weekend? Ugh. Replaced by Curtis Axel? Uhhh ... Yeah, I don't know.
- I'm a mark for the McMahon family. I just enjoy seeing them on my television. They're entertaining, even if it's just because they do things so painfully awkward sometimes.
- Chris Jericho's promo for his match with CM Punk solid if not a little bland. Nothing we haven't really hard before and I'm still not even sure why he wants another match with him. To get another classic out of him? Avenge previous defeats? I guess it's that and that's fine but I'm a bit underwhelmed.
- Not as underwhelmed as Richmond was about Dolph Ziggler's return. I don't think I heard a single cheer. He's either a really good heel or no one gives a shit about him at all. I fear the answer to that. I do like Dolph having Big E. doing his bidding for him. Made him look more like a boss.
- It's really hard to care about Dolph Ziggler vs. Alberto Del Rio when there has been zero build up and we don't know how Ziggler will look in his first match back after that serious concussion.
- With Jack Swagger hurt, we get Zeb Colter commentating a match between Sin Cara and Antonio Cesaro? Colter putting over Cesaro as a great wrestler who came into this country legitimately? Is this leading somewhere? Oh, there it is right there. "Be careful what you say, the government may be monitoring you." That's why Colter was sent out here, to get that line in. Now it's a straight up conversation they're going into and we're actually getting this match/segment just so Vince could send Colter out here to say all this. Sigh.
- The damnedest part of all this? Cesaro vs. Sin Cara was actually a decent match and Cesaro got to actually defeat someone.
- Everything all around you is a riddle. Thus is the mystery of me, open to the world's interpretation.
- Product placement: Vickie Guerrero eating Hardees and bogarting it from Brad Maddox. I don't understand why she was supposed to feel bad about Vince McMahon walking up on her eating it, though. Can anyone help? Or was this just another rib like the sweaty Kane hug.
- Always hated when Vince would show up and everyone talks openly about booking segments like it's a job interview on live television. Or like we're being let behind the curtain to see a creative meeting. While that would be infinitely interesting to see, this is a watered down lame version of that and it has no place on a show like this. Like a drama show suddenly cutting to a scene of producers and directors talking about where to put the cameras to get maximum effect on an upcoming shot. It's terrible.
- This may have been the only episode of Raw to feature the App that didn't make me want to shoot myself for hearing about it. So there's that.
- Randy Orton vs. Roman Reigns wasn't bad, but it wasn't very good either. It was saved by Daniel Bryan's interference with another beautiful suicide dive before leading the crowd along with him in a "YES" chant. He's the perfect package: A great wrestler who does everything in the ring very well, he's got a unique look that you won't soon forget, he's got an awesome but incredibly simple catchphrase that will sell merchandise, and he's the very best in a live show type of environment. No one goes to a WWE show with Bryan on it doing those "YES" chants and leaves without having had a good time.
- When Bryan gets to stretching an opponent you just get the feeling he could tear a limb off if he really wanted.
- By the way, Bryan vs. Seth Rollins is a match that should be main eventing PPV shows, not being given away for free in a prime time slot on Raw, at least not one of this quality. Then again, Bryan is just in the zone right now. Everything he's touching is turning to gold and it helps a great deal that he's got a worker like Rollins in there with him. Everything about all of this has been fantastic, literally carrying entire three hour episodes of Raw and once again making Orton interesting.
- Big E. Langston cares about more than just beating people up, you guys. He cares about Kaitlyn. Ever since he first laid eyes on her, she was it. She was all he could think of and he didn't know how to tell her until last night, you guys.
- Man, Kaitlyn looked like she would rather have been getting a blood transfusion with an AIDS patient, didn't she? That dip from Big E had me hooked and when he pushed her down I marked out. Of course this was what would happen. AJ Lee coming out to explain the situation made it even better. She's super pissed that she was going through a really hard time over the past year and a half or so and Kaitlyn was nowhere to be found, too busy chasing the Diva's title. The heel promo AJ cut on her after revealing as much was also amazing.
- Holy shit, am I actually looking forward to a Diva's match? Yep, I sure am.
- EATER OF WORLDS. RUN. THEY'RE COMING.
- First they had Vickie in the Hardee's product placement segment, then they used Jerry Lawler for the second one? Seriously?
- R-Truth still works for WWE? In all seriousness, though, good on the bookers for giving Damien Sandow a victory heading into the PPV. Bad on the bookers for letting Sheamus come out with that cheesy promo.
- Oh, of course Vince would shit on Curtis Axel, who they're in the midst of pushing. At least he bothered to tell us "he's good" in the midst of doing so. I also greatly enjoyed Vince and Triple H geting into over wanting and not wanting the match with Axel, then whether or not to actually hug each other. Stephanie's primal howl to shut the two of them up was pitch perfect.
- John Cena ethered Ryback in that main event segment. That's the Cena I like, the one who doesn't give a shit anymore and is sick and tired of hearing Ryback whining and tells him to shut his big fat fucking trap and get his ass to the ring so they can get this thing going. No pandering, no nonsense, just ruthless aggression like it's 2002 and shit.
- For his part, Ryback has greatly improved in his delivery and while he got tossed by Cena last night, he more than held his own. He didn't look lost, he never got too far behind, and I always believed he should be there. He's still an awful worker, sure, and the match will probably suck something fierce, but at least he's improving, and that showed last night.
This was actually a damn good go home show. Plenty of build for the PPV, good character progression and storyline advancement, a few laughs, and another Bray Wyatt promo.
That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off in the comments section below with all your thoughts on the show.