WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (July 1, 2013) from the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa, featuring all the latest build to the upcoming Money in the Bank pay-per-view (PPV) in just a couple weeks in Philadelphia.
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.
- I don't know why it has taken this long for someone to shorten Daniel Bryan's name to "Dan" but Randy Orton having started it will probably make for a trend, one I'm not entirely sure how to feel about. I'm leaning towards liking it. That being said, the opening segment was mostly lame, and terribly stale before everyone even made their way out to the ring but it was made very clear that Bryan was being put above the rest if only because the entire crux of the match is now centered on his story. If he doesn't win in a couple weeks, I'll be shocked.
- A bad crowd can kill a wrestling show, but a dumb crowd can be downright funny. How great was it that Dean Ambrose could mock clap to make fun of The Usos and the crowd would actually GO ALONG WITH HIM. Then he gets dropped and The Usos do the clap and the crowd then goes along with them! Amazing.
- Someone GIF Ambrose wiping his hands, dropping, and rolling out of the ring. Best post-match reaction in a long time.
- I don't know how much I like The Usos being equals to The Shield right now. It's necessary, I get that, but it requires The Shield being established, and while I believe they are, I'm not sure it's enough. They went from beating Big Show, Randy Orton, and Sheamus, to losing to and then barely squeaking past the freaking Usos and Christian. I understand that the former is supposed to make the latter look like a bigger deal, in turn elevating The Usos, but it feels more like The Shield is dropping down a level, not like The Usos are going up one.
- You know why it was so good to see Dolph Ziggler beat up on 3MB? Because it means WWE felt the need to build him up by letting him beat up a group of jobbers, the ULTIMATE group of jobbers. How long has it been since that was the case, if ever? Good to see.
- We need some official Daniel Bryan rankings. Bryan, the master of the small package, Bryan, the referee, Bryan, the hot tag house of fire, Bryan, the abusive boyfriend. Someone get on that. And if you think we've gone too far into overkill mode with Bryan, you're right. But this is for the years and years and years he was never appreciated. We've got a lot of time to make up for.
- The idea of a Kane vs. Orton rematch with Bryan as special guest referee was good in theory but mostly lame in practice. The match was garbage until the angle with Bryan trying to give Kane the win before restarting the match. Even after restarting, it wasn't anything special. That includes the high spots, like Orton hitting an awful looking dropkick to the gut that he didn't get full extension on as Kane came off the top rope. The finish was also goofy. Bryan quick counting a victory for Kane was good for the tease of the choke slam but why not go through with it?
- Also, I really like Orton now. This program has made me an Orton fan. That's good booking.
- Curtis Axel already struggles through an extreme lack of charisma. Putting him in pre-tapes next to Paul Heyman and CM Punk just exposing that fact even more. While not exclusively used to determine potential star power, you can always get a better idea of someone's potential simply by seeing whether or not you're drawn to them in a crowd. If you put 20 people in a room and Hulk Hogan was one of them, he's the guy you would be drawn too, every single time. That's part of his monster appeal. Axel would be just another one of those 20 people, someone you probably wouldn't remember after leaving the room. You weren't just drawn to Hogan, he left a lasting memory on you. Now, I realize the crux of this entire bullet point is comparing Curtis Axel to Hulk freaking Hogan, and that's mostly silly, but it's really about judging potential star power. Hogan had it, Axel does not. Period.
- Hey, look who's back? It's Fandango! Oh, he's working with Sheamus. See, I like the idea of WWE holding the guy out for longer than normal to make sure he's fully recovered from his concussion, but if you're going to do that, why bring him back to a match against one of the stiffer workers on the roster? All just so Fandango could do the "heel walks out" finish? These two aren't even in the same Money in the Bank ladder match. This made no sense in any way. Must have been a re-write ordered by Vince McMahon, right?
- If you wonder why people (myself included) despise Miz so much, watch his entrance from this show. I always wish it were possible that Chris Kanyon were still around to randomly run down the ramp while Miz is doing that stupid overexaggerated walk of his and Kanyon Cut the shit out of him.
- That being said, I have to give credit where it's due. Miz was having a fine match with Ryback, of all people, before they did the finish where Ryback looks like the biggest loser in the history of pro wrestling. I cannot believe this is the route they've taken with his character. I don't understand it, really.
- Also, I don't get the point of having Chris Jericho run in and hit the Codebreaker after Ryback stopped his own match. "What?!? He's so hurt, he's calling off his own match? I'm sick of this shit! *Codebreaker*" I don't get it.
- A Mark Henry shoot style promo? I wasn't really a fan of this. Sure, he's got legitimate gripes but I would rather Henry shout people down than complain about being held back. He's a monster; monsters don't complain, they just fuck shit up. Then again, it's clear he cares and monsters aren't supposed to care either. One thing is for certain: When he looked straight into the camera and said he's going to beat John Cena's ass, I believed him beyond a shadow of a doubt.
- Brad Maddox is at his best as the sheepish underling. More of that, please.
- Vince McMahon is definitely shitting on the smark crowd now. That's definitely a real thing that is happening. Funny how Triple H is positioned as the other side of it who sympathizes with that crowd. He's a Daniel Bryan supporter, you see.
- The Punk-Axel stuff was done well but I couldn't really get into it. Nothing else to say about it, really.
- Is it just me or does it look a little too much like Kaitlyn's thighs cannot support the rest of her body? Also, who the hell is Alicia Fox? Also, what in the blue hell was that picture?
- Stephanie McMahon is mad that Vickie Guerrero isn't watching Raw while Raw is on? That's so rich. Like this entire show isn't built on a million issues that could easily be solved if people bothered to watch the video tape.
- So this marriage between Zeb Colter and Antonio Cesaro looks a lot less interesting with Jack Swagger back in the mix. And you know Swags isn't in good with the powers that be when his big return is wasted as a nothing surprise in an awful time slot on a mostly meaningless episode of Raw. Put simply, Cesaro is just better than Swagger in every conceivable way. I don't want him associating with someone who isn't on his level, not even a little bit. A bit like when Ziggler was running with Swagger for all that time.
- I don't like those looks Damien Sandow was giving Cody Rhodes. They might be thinking of having the two feud, and while it would make some sense, I was really hoping they would be friends for the entirety of their run in the company, unlikely as a thought that may be.
- BRAY WYATT NEXT WEEK. REPEAT: BRAY WYATT NEXT WEEK. THEY'RE COMING. RUN.
- I've got my qualms with John Cena as a worker, but he put together one hell of a match with Alberto Del Rio last night. Not a fan of the screwy finish, and completely agreed with JBL when he was admonishing Mark Henry for ruining it, but it was a fun match to close the show, even if it was obviously only a way to further the issues between Henry and Cena and Ziggler and Del Rio.
- I will say, that WWE title design looks made for Henry, doesn't it? When he was holding it, the world felt centered.
- They really chose to go off the air with a Wyatt promo as opposed to Cena celebrating with the title. Think I'm in love.
This really was a mostly average show saved only by the fact that next week is the go home edition to one of the most entertaining PPVs of the year.
That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off in the comments section below with all your thoughts on last night's show.