WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (July 29, 2013) from the Laredo Energy Arena in Laredo Texas, featuring all the latest build up to the SummerSlam pay-per-view (PPV) on Aug. 18 in Los Angeles, California.
Because last night's show was taped last week, the reactions are going old school. That's because I watched without all the fluff and nonsense via replay on YouTube and, really, it was nice. So let's get right to the bullet points, sans hourly breakdowns with a quick hitter on each segment:
- Why would Daniel Bryan and John Cena spontaneously combusting at SummerSlam make Vince McMahon the winner? There's a certain twisted logic you could carve out of that if you're trying to find McMahon's point of view but it's just that, twisted. Maybe that's the point, though. Maybe we're back to Vince being a crazy person and that slowly becoming the focus of the story. And because he's always trolling all of us, maybe that was the plan all along and he's letting one of our darlings, Bryan, get over for it. After all, he did teach D-Bry how to be a star and all that, right? But if Vince is going crazy, that means he's going to do something really crazy around January to build towards the WrestleMania XXX main event, and maybe the crazy thing he does is bring back Stone Cold Steve Austin in an attempt to keep his company, in which case I'm on board with that story. I'm on board anyway, because Mr. McMahon is the best character WWE has ever seen.
- The Shield still haven't had a bad match, and I'm wondering if they're ever going to. The better thing to ponder might be how it is they can continue to have great matches when they're working opposite The Usos and Mark Henry. I'm working on a theory that centers on effective use of chaos in larger matches and how that may or may not influence opinion on the overall quality of the match itself. We'll come back to that another time when it's more fleshed out.
- Ryback is a bully again, just randomly beating up poor guys in catering? Just when his character was getting some real depth. Poor guy in catering took a hell of a bump through the table, though, we gotta give him that much.
- It's still too early to say much about Rob Van Dam's return to WWE but he's been extremely impressive in his short time since his return. Whether I want to admit to it or not, he's still got plenty of name value and when he wants to, he can work a good match against the right opponents. As it turns out, Fandango is one of those opponents. I will say, though, that WWE really has to knock it off with the "heel walks out" finish. It does nothing for anyone. Am I supposed to pay to see his next match? Why would I do that, he's just going to walk out of it. It's beyond stupid, even in kayfabe land.
- Kaitlyn pinned AJ Lee and I'm supposed to care but I just don't. I also found it hard to get into Dolph Ziggler vs. Big E. Langston, though I do think Big E. is a hell of a talent, if they would let his character shine through a bit more. Oh and if they made him wear a singlet that actually covered his ass. That would be nice. I think my issue with this program at this point is that, well, I'm kind of tired of AJ's crazy chick gimmick. I get it, and it's going to lead to Langston breaking away too, but where does it end? And how? Let's hope they're some sort of plan in place.
- Being fully aware of what's going to happen on this week's episode of SmackDown before this show aired made Christian vs. Alberto Del Rio a little less special. Then again, I'm not a Peep, nor do I believe in The Rio Deal. I'm not sure there's anything else to say about it. The match was fine and I'm sure they'll have a decent little program, but I don't expect anything truly memorable.
- Man, Wade Barrett is a straight up jobber now, everybody. I'm not sad about it, not in the slightest, but it's been quite the fall for him, hasn't it? At one point, he was penciled in to win a Money in the Bank briefcase to go on to become a world champion. Now he's jobbing to Cody freaking Rhodes, of all people. Speaking of Rhodes, it's good to hear Damien Sandow speak of his history and background in his promo last night because I'm dying to get Dusty Rhodes back on TV in some capacity for some sort of motivational speech. Or something, anything.
- I don't know why, but I expected more out of Daniel Bryan vs. Kane. Don't get me wrong, it was good, but I was hoping they would go out and tear the house down, what with Bryan being on such a roll and this being Kane's return. They essentially traded all their big spots in a stock match that worked but could have been much better. Good to see Kane do the job, though.
- Am I the only one who wishes Bryan would stop doing that missile dropkick off the top rope? He goes flat back and always ALWAYS looks like he's about to paralyze himself, something that actually happened on Raw not long ago in that infamous match with Randy Orton. It's not worth it. The spot looks good, but not that good.
- I still don't know what the hell Bray Wyatt is talking about, and I still don't care what the hell Bray Wyatt is talking about, Bray Wyatt is still ridiculously awesome. Props to Kane for coming up with an actual strategy for dealing with the Wyatt Family attack, although you would think it would work better to just bail out of the ring and leave the arena while the lights are out. I guess the logic is that he can't see while the lights are down and the Wyatt's can because they have the lantern. Then again, Kane can summon fire through the fucking ring posts, right? Light the way. ....... Why am I doing this to myself? I'll stop.
- Natalya is above Total Divas, she's above the Bella Twins, really, she's above the entire WWE Divas division. She's above having to work for a company that so despises women, actually. But she's making the choice, I guess, so whatever.
- That CM Punk run-in for the Curtis Axel match had to be the laziest run-in I've ever seen. It wasn't even a run-in, it was more like a jog-in, or a walk-at-a-brisk-pace-in. It was worth it, though, if only for that one awesome bit of production from WWE switching from Paul Heyman's terrified face on one side of the ring, to Punk's shit eating grin on the other side of it. That was downright devilish, and worth the other nonsense.
- I'm so excited for the Daniel Bryan corporate makeover. Unreasonably excited.
- Cena vs. Ryback was a good TV main event match. Nothing great, but it wasn't altogether boring and Ryback has really been working hard in all of his matches lately. He's getting better, that's for sure. Even if they book his character like absolute shit, his work in the ring has improved a great deal in a relatively short period of time. Cena overcoming to win in the end is a tried and true formula that a large segment of the fan base is going to eat up and that's just all there is to it.
- I loved Bryan YES'ing to the ring while Cena's music was still playing. I also love that they're finally teasing some dissension between the two. I like some tension in my feuds, even if it's borne from respect.
This was your typical episode of Raw, though I gotta say it was nice to watch it without all the fluff and bullshit like replays and plugs for the App and all the various other nonsense they throw into the USA broadcast. Still just an average outing, though.
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.