WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (Aug. 26, 2013) from the US Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona, featuring the latest build to the upcoming Night of Champions pay-per-view (PPV) on Sept. 15 in Detroit, Michigan.
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'm absolutely on board starting Raw with The Shield holding ALL OF THE GOLD and just hanging out near the ring like three hounds protecting the yard.
- Why is Triple H still getting huge babyface pops? Maybe he's not such a great heel after all, even if he's really good at cutting those smarmy promos where he not so subtlely puts himself over as being so much better than everyone else around him. Like you're a piss ant for ever thinking you can even share the same space as him. Like he still thinks he has to prove the doubters wrong, even though his career reached its apex a full fucking decade ago. He's good, but the crowd isn't booing him, and that means he's not great. Because if I kind of want to be behind Triple H, I can't fully be behind Daniel Bryan, and that's the point of all this, isn't it? That's why they robbed Bryan of his title reign right?
- Mark bullet point: DAMN YOU, TRIPLE H. YOU TOOK IT ALL AWAY. HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO US? HOW?!? WHY?!?!? DAMN YOU TO HELL.
- Here's the thing: If you honest to goodness had to choose one wrestler on the WWE roster right here and right now to start your own wrestling company with, you would have to at least consider Randy Orton, right?
- I'm starting to wonder if Daniel Bryan isn't too nice for this role. He shouldn't be smiling on WWE television right now, not after all that's happened to him. He should be so pissed off that instead of walking out and laughing over Orton getting a brand new car from Triple H, he should have come out and took a baseball bat to the damn thing. It's a preference thing, sure, but I can get behind a pissed off killer more than I can a guy who seems entirely too happy about the fact that he's been getting fucked over at every turn. Being laid back is one thing, but pissed off Daniel Bryan is the best Daniel Bryan, and I wish he would just make up his mind and get pissed off already.
- I'm ready for Bryan to stop publicly thanking John Cena in every promo, by the way. Again, stop being so nice about every damn thing.
- BUSINESS-AH. THIS BUSINESS-AH. I LOVE THIS BUSINESS-AH. BEST FOR BUSINESS-AH.
- What are the chances the order of The Shield opponents booked to take on Bryan (Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns) doubled as a sort of power ranking, from worst to first? Yeah, I doubt it, but it's obvious how much potential Reigns has, maybe more than either of the others. Ambrose could eventually grow into a CM Punk type of role. As for Rollins, well, I can see mid-card hell in his future, something like Dolph Ziggler. He'll work his ass off but somehow never get that run in the main event.
- Cody Rhodes vs. Fandango was well on its way to losing a half million viewers before The Miz interrupted by impersonating Fandango and dancing like an idiot. Actually, Damien Sandow, who was on commentary, saying Miz was "renewing his idiot license" was the only entertaining thing about this. Brad Maddox promptly booking a tag team match was the worst possible thing because it meant taking Sandow off commentary. So, really, this ended up being awful in nearly every way.
- DJ Maestro Maddox is great, though, so I guess it wasn't complete shit.
- I'm not saying Rose Mendes was on a shitload of cocaine last night. I'm not saying that. You shouldn't say it either. She was obviously just really excited about being hooked up with a wrestler who actually gets television time every now and again.
- Christian's line on Orton -- "I know Triple H likes to play with sledgehammers but it looks like he's found himself a new tool" -- made me pop. Just a little.
- Curtis Axel is the worst talker in WWE right now. I don't want to hear about his "needing time to grow" and how he needs to do it hear and now and it has to happen sometime. No. He's awful. Some guys are great promos, some guys aren't, and some guys should never ever open their mouth while a camera is on them. Axel is one of those guys.
- Some nights, like tonight based on how everything is going, it's all the little things that make the difference in a show being entertaining or not. Nothing is going well in that regard tonight. The WWE App poll was embarrassingly silly thanks to the options presented giving away the end result, making it feel like a monumental waste of time. Then, in the match, Paul Heyman walks out to the ramp just so they can set up a spot where Punk completely ignores Axel, who wasn't even incapacitated at the time, and totally choreographs running up the ramp after Heyman only to be stopped by the not incapacitated Axel. Still later, Punk actually does incapacitate Axel but doesn't bother to run after Heyman, who was back out on the ramp. I just can't handle this shit tonight.
- God, even Axel's big finish is bullshit. It's a neckbreaker that he executes faster than everyone else. That's a real thing this guy does. His idea for a finish was to pick a really common move and speed it up. Axel was awful in ring last night too, and that's supposed to be his strength. The fact that Punk got a decent match out of him says quite a bit.
- Of course Axel broke up Punk beating up Heyman. Of course he did. This all but guarantees Axel and Heyman are teaming at Night of Champions to take on Punk in a 2-on-1 handicap match. (Editor's Note: That match was indeed made official later in the evening.) You build toward us wanting Punk to kill Heyman then make us pay for it. Just good BUSINESS-AH. I love that Punk is dedicated enough to let Heyman really slap him around in the ring in the most degrading way possible just to get the angle over. These guys are exceedingly good at making it feel really personal. Not kayfabe, like 'oh this is the story and that's all' but like they're really holding a grudge against each other.
- That Kendo stick beatdown, for some reason, made me think of the He-Man: Masters of the Universe movie starring Dolph Lundgren that came out all the way back in 1987. That whipping scene. Man, that movie was a piece of shit, wasn't it? This angle was great, though. Heyman and Punk are gold like this. Good friends, better enemies.
- I love the idea of AJ Lee coming out and just destroying the entire cast of Total Divas. She was awesome, although I think the fact that it represented a bit of a babyface turn for her and got her cheered and chanted for in Phoenix says quite a bit about the popular opinion of that show. How adorable was Brie Bella shouting "say it to our face" when AJ was kind of already doing that? "We're standing right here," she shouts with her sister and Eva Marie. Yeah? You can't walk up a ramp? There are three of you and one of her, and that's not including the other three AJ was throwing shade at. Essentially, they completely proved AJ's point, which made it that much better. How did none of them have it in them to go do something about what AJ was saying? Again, the little things. Killing me, ladies.
- Yes, I realize this is all fodder for Total Divas, so AJ shitting on the show was done for the benefit of the show but it was still great.
- Oh my fucking god, I can't. I'm about done with this show, ready to shut it off and cut the reactions off right here. We're getting Alberto Del Rio vs. Rob Van Dam in a non-title match that Michael Cole tells us could result in "RVD getting right in the world title hunt". Oh, why is that? BECAUSE HE BEAT THE FUCKING CHAMPION? BECAUSE HE WENT OVER THE GUY HOLDING THE FUCKING TITLE THEY'RE ALL HUNTING FOR? FUCK YOU.
- Really, this is the laziest creative. Cole might as well have said "the writers couldn't find an idea Vince McMahon liked enough, so they rewrote until the last minute when he finally passed off on just having the two have a non-title match together." Right after writing this, Cole confirms on commentary that an RVD win would earn him a title shot at Night of Champions. They're now booking Del Rio as a guy who never wins Raw matches against those he's feuding over the belt with but always comes through on PPV, which is a great way to get everyone to give zero shits about him.
- Oh come on, WWE. Editing out those cheers in the replay of John Cena announcing he would be leaving for four-to-six months. Tsk tsk.
- THE BIG GUY.
- I like the general idea behind booking Randy Orton vs. Christian. It's a tough match-up for the new WWE champion against a guy who gave him plenty of trouble back in 2011 and a victory would be a great way to get his title reign started off the right foot. He needs to be strong and ready for his match against Daniel Bryan at Night of Champions. There's only one way to do that and that's put him in there against tough opposition. That's good little stuff. The fact that the two so consistently put on good matches is a very nice bonus. Oh, and the eye poke? That's just good heeling.
- Okay, so I liked the "YES" spray painted all over Orton's new car, although it was completely ruined when Cole rushed right into saying Orton now drives a "Cadillac Yes-calade". I just can't with this show. Right when they're getting it right, they get it wrong.
- Holy shit. Triple H literally just said this, verbatim: "You see that WWE championship? I consider it my property. Randy Orton just carries it for me." I'm now full of mark rage, smark rage, and legitimate annoyance. That's impressive, so maybe Triple H is a better heel than I wanted to give him credit for earlier. Still, the unreality era or reality era or whatever the fuck you want to call it has been so awful. I mean, we've gotten like 6 really great moments and everything else has been shit. I think we've reached that point, or at least it's now outwardly obvious, that Triple H's thought process is "fuck it, they think it anyway, I'll just be that guy." You're so that guy, Triple H. That guy. Not THIS BUSINESS-AH. THAT GUY-AH.
- It brings up the line in pro wrestling these heels have to straddle. You have to make me hate you, but not so much that I just want to go away from you. I have to hate you in a very particular way and that's a difficult task, admittedly enough. I'm teetering on that line where I'm starting to care less about Daniel Bryan going over on the machine -- and remember, there's already huge doubt it ever happens even under the best conditions -- and more about just avoiding all this unreality reality bullshit where Triple H actually is THAT GUY-AH, who will all really despise and want nothing to do with. I don't know, I'm flip flopping over it. I recognize how good it can be but still can't be sure I want to put up with it as an actual storyline plot point. Because fuck, I hate that Triple H. And not in a "put him in a match with Bryan and hope he taps to the Yes! Lock" kind of way but in a "yeah, I'd rather watch Monday Night Football" kind of way.
- Big Show's contract isn't as iron clad as we thought, I guess. No contract is, though, so that's nothing new, right?
- I'm partial to Seth Rollins because he's a local. That said, he's a fine worker with the right grasp of the story to tell the tale the way it should be told. Audibly shouting at Bryan that it's easy to just give up while he had him in the corner was just right considering the circumstances. Give him the easy out and beat on him until we wonder why he doesn't take it and it's then and only then that he makes the comeback to blow us all away. Tried and true.
- I'm not sure WWE has ever had a production gaffe as bad as missing the flying knee that wasthe finish on Rollins. All just so we could see the crowd do the "YES" chant. All the little things tonight.
- Okay. To hell with Triple H and all that, but the head nod for The Shield to hit Bryan with the Triple Powerbomb before looking around at the assembled group of wrestlers on the ramp with a smile to say "you wanna do it?" was absolutely money. Even the tap on Orton's shoulder to unleash him on Bryan was boss. Just good stuff all around here.
- Shit, I think I already flipped on hating Triple H in the wrong way.
There was way too much to hate about this show. So many little things were wrong, or poorly executed, or just downright atrocious. But that ending pulled me back from the brink. Isn't it always that way?
Still too much wrong to give it a better grade than that. And that D+ is almost all credit to the Heyman-Punk angle once it reached a certain point.
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. What did you think about it?