WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (Aug. 5, 2013) from the Resch Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin, featuring all the latest build up to the SummerSlam pay-per-view (PPV) on Aug. 18 in Los Angeles, California.
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.
- Oh joy, Stephanie McMahon to start us off. Oh no, that intro to Monday Night Raw wasn't anything close to how good her dad is in the same spot. What in the fuck is this video playing right now? The Daniel Bryan corporate makeover already happened, apparently, and it involved Bryan getting groomed, being forced to eat a steak (he's a vegan, or at least was), and sadly conforming to the machine. He also wears a suit now, ties his hair back into a ponytail, and carries himself like a true champion does. Really, he just looks like a shorter version of Damien Sandow with a longer beard. Bryan's attack against this is to call out John Cena for being an entertainer, a goofball created by those in power to lead the company. But Bryan is a WRESTLER. Cena has no idea what kind of holes Bryan has climbed out of and he'll be wrestling even if he works for someone other than WWE because again, he's a WRESTLER. Cena would just go home to his mansion, his many cars, and forget about everyone else. The gist of it? Bryan is going to make Cena tap out at SummerSlam.
- Strong opening promo, even if the segment felt like it moved too slow and Bryan doesn't project very well when he talks.
- Vince McMahon is still awesome. He's the ultimate troll, and I'm sorry for ever going against this storyline. Bryan has the muscularture of a toothpick, he's a dwarf, his beard smell's like a composte pile, and he looks like a miniature Mick Foley. Don't cross the boss, y'all.
- That segment, with Bryan ultimately sitting in the chair to get his beard shaved by Wade Barrett but beating him up and shaving his beard instead, didn't exactly blow the roof off the arena but we have to remember this isn't the Attitude Era anymore. And I don't mean that in terms of the storylines, I mean that in terms of the crowd's reaction to them. Stone Cold Steve Austin could do no wrong back then, but his biggest claim can always be that no crowds popped louder for anyone than they did for Austin. He could have taken a shit in the center of the ring and every city the WWF invaded would have made it sound like he just won the title. It's just not that way anymore. That doesn't mean it wasn't good TV, just that the live reaction to it makes it seem worse than it actually was. The segment was okay, but it did run a bit long.
- They really felt the need to point out explicitly that Ricardo Rodriguez was returning from "a severe injury"? If they want to live in the reality era and run storylines involving fans smartening up, don't expect us to buy into this kind of nonsense.
- Rob Van Dam vs. Alberto Del Rio was a surprisingly good match, considering it only got about four minutes of time. Van Dam is as over as he's been in a very long time, and for my money, I'm hoping his scoring a non-title win means they're going to make the SummerSlam world title match a triple threat.
- Del Rio turning on Rodriguez got him more heat than anything he's ever done, ever. He went so far, in fact, that I can't help but wonder if they were writing Rodriguez off television and we're going to end up reporting on his being future endeavored here soon. I mean, it was one hell of a beatdown. Points to JBL on commentary for saying "he messed up, this is how you're supposed to treat an employee who messes up."
- Loved the segment between Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow if only because it got us a replay of Sandow's Oscar worthy performance on SmackDown a couple weeks back when Rhodes threw the blue briefcase into the Gulf of Mexico. Bringing it back now with seaweed coming out of it was great. Question, though: Is this the first time they ever opened the briefcase on TV? I love how they actually had a piece of paper in it like it was the actual contract.
- Oh, another heel walks out finish, this time Ryback doing it to Mark Henry. The crowd in Green Bay was absolutely right not to give a single fuck about this match. It was awful in every way. And I will continue to complain openly about this finish until someone in WWE notices (and I know they're reading) and some sort of change is effected. Yes, I have that kind of pull. ..... Okay, I don't, but at least we can complain long enough and loud enough, as a collective, that someone might notice. Right? Right.
- Let's be real: John Cena's response to Bryan was about as good as it could get. To take it one step further, because again, we're being real here, Cena destroyed Bryan. He was right in every way he could be. "I am who I am, sorry if you don't like it, but it's what I am and I won't change for any of you. I'm the WWE champion and you can go ahead and glorify your indie cred, but that's like saying you're an Arena League Hall of Famer." This was phenomenal. Cena is the best on the biggest stage possible, and he's the type of champion who will continue to prove as much each and every night, no matter the challenge. Oh, and you want to bring up his track record as an actual wrestler? Yeah, let's just ignore his outstanding big money matches at WrestleMania against the likes of Shawn Michaels or Triple H. Or the work he's done against the likes of Umaga and even Batista. He's been beating down everybody and now Bryan is next and that's that.
- Really, this was awesome.
- Hey, it's Randy Orton. Remember he's got that contract that guarantees him a shot at the WWE title whenever he wants it, and hey, there's no telling when that might be. I did like Orton's line saying "the champ is here" while holding up the briefcase. Because he's right, and we all need to prepare for as much.
- I need an explanation for The Shield's actions. I really do. I love what they do, I love that they have great matches with everyone they face, and I love that they all have the potential to be big time singles stars. It's all been good, really, except for the stunning lack of storyline direction since they broke on the scene. Just give me something to work with here, anything at all.
- Good to see the Wyatt Family destroying Tons of Funk. Brodus Clay and Sweet T haven't been interesting in a long, long time and Bray Wyatt and his crew are full of intrigue and promise.
- I adore the fact that the Wyatt Family has somehow turned Monster Kane into a babyface. Green Bay actually popped for him when he said he maims and mutilates people for his own amusement. That's how utterly fucked up the Wyatt Family message is and has been. Still, Bray's reaction to the pyro in the ring was delicious. This feud is heating up. I do wonder, though, why there hasn't been any explanation for Kane having this quickly turned back to the darkside. Didn't he just spend the past year in anger management? And wasn't the story that it actually worked?
- Why did it look like CM Punk had a 50 cent piece in his head near his temple? His promo, by the way, was underwhelming.
- The explanation they gave for Layla turning on Kaitlyn was she wants attention? I mean ... okay. The ensuing match was okay, nothing worth remembering or going out of your way to see if you missed it.
- Heath Slater is still great at doing the job. Good for him.
- I love watching CM Punk have so little respect for Curtis Axel that he just walks past him on his way to getting to Paul Heyman. Even after Axel attacks, he punches him like twice and then goes right back to going after Heyman. It's wonderful. Axel had a real shot at being somebody with the way they brought him in and everything that has happened since then, other than his winning the Intercontinental title in a great triple threat match at Payback, has shown otherwise.
- I really like the story they told with Punk being so overcome with anger and hatred towards Heyman that he's leaving himself vulnerable to attack from the likes of Axel and, ultimately, Brock Lesnar.
- Michael Cole's commentary during the brawl between Punk and Lesnar was really, really overblown but somehow managed to compliment the proceedings rather nicely. He's no Jim Ross but this may be as close as he's ever come. He put over Lesnar as a monster, Punk as a valiant hero rising against him and somehow getting some good licks in, and ultimately objectively explaining why Punk failed, the fact that he was too caught up on Heyman. That's called foreshadowing, and it works perfectly here. This program has been outstanding.
- "Paul ... say something stupid."
- Kofi Kingston is back! I'm so ... yeah, I got nothing. OH, I KNOW! He's got new ring gear. That's cool, I guess. Too bad about Fandango, though, huh? He's taken quite the tumble, apparently facing punishment in the form of glorified jobbing just because of that concussion.
- Can we never get another segment with Stephanie McMahon fake crying? I am, however, totally on board with Triple H vs. Vince McMahon in a struggle for power, mostly because I can buy into it both on-screen and backstage. I've never wanted Triple H to go over so much in my life.
- Huge pop for Zeb Colter shitting on the Green Bay Packers.
- Dolph Ziggler vs. Big E. Langston being given away for free? Hey, I can get into that. Then again, they were underwhelming and Kaitlyn is quite possibly the worst performer in the history of the Diva's division who has gotten a sustained push. And that's really saying something. Sticking her nose in all this really drags it down, even with the connection to AJ Lee, who continues to be charming thanks to the smaller doses we've been exposed to of late. Need more Big E., though.
- Hey everyone who wrestles Daniel Bryan: Take note of Dean Ambrose properly protecting him on the suicide dive while also selling its effects to get it over. That's pro wrestling done right, ladies and sirs.
- God, I despise WWE booking sometimes. The concept of the six-man tag match was fine. I can dig having The Shield give a good match to a mismatched team of Bryan, Cena, and Orton, plus it gives the obvious opportunity for chaos. But I don't get the idea behind having everything break into chaos and there not being a disqualification called until the precise moment when it suited things best and the referee calling for one on a simple tag match pinfall break up. Why does that get a DQ at one point in the match and not another? Why does everyone always have to be protected in every scenario? Why is simple winning and losing the fucking devil to WWE creative?
- So we end up with Orton, who was actually booked to look pretty strong, definitely stronger than anyone else out there, RKO Bryan for bumping him out of action towards the finish. Then, he waits for the opportune moment and does the same to Cena, right after they laid waste to The Shield, forcing them into retreat. This leaves both Bryan and Cena laid out with a great visual of Orton surveying the destruction he's responsible for, connecting the dots, and realizing he should be cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase to win the WWE title. There's literally nothing to stop him. So he signals for as much and then takes TWO FUCKING HOURS to get the contract to the referee to start it up. The reason? To give The Shield time to run back out to prevent him from cashing in. Seriously. WHY ARE THEY MAKING SURE HE DOESN'T CASH IN? To top it off, The Shield proceed to spear Cena and destroy Bryan one more time before the show fades to black with the hounds of justice combining three fists in the middle of the ring and Orton looking on from the top of the ramp, where he retreated after they returned to run him off for reasons no one knows.
Seriously, what in the fuck kind of booking was this just two weeks away from SummerSlam? With no Big Show, we know that means The Shield are floating out there right now, but why, then, was Mark Henry left looking like shit against Ryback in a meaningless match with a walkout finish while The Shield were just doing things because things? Orton looked strong but stupid, and both Cena and Bryan were destroyed and made to look like shit.
The booking was so awful, I'm tempted to rate this show even lower. It sucks too because Cena's promo at the top of the second hour was phenomenal and everything involving Punk, Lesnar, and Heyman was great.
But 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. How did you feel about it?