WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (Sept. 16, 2013) from the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, featuring the fallout show from the Night of Champions pay-per-view (PPV) this past Sunday night in Detroit.
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.
- Absolutely adored Daniel Bryan opening the show and just going the simplest route possible by saying there was only one thing to say and that was YES! YES! YES!
- I didn't know how they would handle the fast count, but I love a good conspiracy. The referee is probably in cahoots with the evil corporation, and that's why I love the way they tried to throw Bryan under the bus the way they did. Triple H is perfect as the smarmy heel dictator. "Daniel, I'm ashamed of you." How great was that? I can't get over how awesome it is that Triple H took Bryan's title over the fact that he allegedly recruited a referee to help him win the belt when Randy Orton won that very same title thanks to help from Triple H while he was acting as a referee. Just delicious storytelling.
- Oh my god, Stephanie eviscerating a pissed Orton who is trying to figure out why the hell he wasn't given the title back? Good god, this is just getting better. "Who the hell do you think you're talking to? As far as we're concerned, you deserved to lose the title. Maybe we'll find a new face of the WWE." This is just outstanding. It shows the evil corporation was never married to Orton and history wasn't forgotten, it was just conveniently pushed to the side in favor of the lesser of two evils, at least in the minds of the McMahons. That improves the story by leaps and bounds.
- Dolph Ziggler's tan is distracting. He's approaching Hulk Hogan territory. At least he can actually, you know, wrestle.
- Man, this crowd is spectacular. I don't mean just because they were hot for all the right spots, or because they were loud as hell. I mean because not only did they do the old school count along when Ziggler had Dean Ambrose in the corner post landing punches, they adjusted on the fly to Ziggler's speed. He started slow but ended with a flurry and they never missed a beat.
- Oh, did they really just make sure to announce Ambrose as still being the United States champion while Dolph was celebrating with his hometown crowd? This company and those who run it are some of the most petty people in the history of humankind. I don't care what he did, or what he said in some interview weeks ago, this is just silly. We get it, there's heat on him. Fine.
- I don't know about you, but Brad Maddox is still my hero.
- Big Show has worked for WWE since 1999. It's 2013 and apparently he's flat broke, so broke that he can't even get suspended for one night lest he immediately go on a diet of ramen noodles and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The lesson, of course, is that it doesn't pay to work for WWE.
- Dusty Rhodes never looked all that impressive physically. I mean, I couldn't much care for a wrestler's physique unless it's distracting from their ability to perform but that was never an issue for "The Dream". That being said, did anyone else think he looked sickly last night?
- I think I might like Stephanie McMahon as much as I like Vince McMahon, at least as characters on WWE television. So devious for her to give Dusty the option of bringing back Cody or Goldust. If this were real and you were the father who had to choose, you would have to go with Cody, right? I mean, for all the obvious reasons.
- Here's why The Shield are great in this role they've found: Stephanie saying, "I'm sorry you feel that way" after Dusty tells her to go to hell and The Shield's music hitting to signal the significant pain he's about to be subjected to makes them so badass. They are the muscle you instantly recognize and think 'uh-oh, shit's on'. Stephanie is the heartless beauty who will not hesitate to destroy an entire family if she so chooses, and she wears that suit so well.
- Big Show's crying again. Must be that day of the week that ends in "y".
- Two things I love in my pro wrestling: campy and hokie angles. I also like when they get really cheesy, if it's done right. Big Show punching Dusty Rhodes in the face and catching him after he was knocked out to set him down gently while weeping is cheesy done right. I'm guessing this was done because Dusty looks like a cancer patient and seeing him take a legitimate bump would have scarred us all. I can appreciate the stretcher job, too, but I don't remember anyone checking for a pulse. Now I'm really worried about his health and well being.
- I'm an AJ Lee fan, and Natalya is talented enough in the ring but the Divas segments have been awful lately. They've been so bad, in fact, that AJ's pipe bomb from weeks ago feels like it happened years ago. For comparison's sake, it feels like just yesterday when CM Punk dropped his pipe bomb.
- I still just don't understand why Ricardo Rodriguez is hanging out with Rob Van Dam. It just doesn't make sense at all. Some sort of backstory would help. What, does Ricardo just think RVD is a chill guy who he likes to hang around? Does he, too, complain that people don't understand time zones when they make comments like "it's 4:20" somewhere? These are questions we need answered.
- Damien Sandow is jobbing again. Must be that day of the week that ends in "y".
- Triple H fires Scott Armstrong and never gives him a chance to speak his peace before sending him out the door with a promise that he's "going to take care of" him? God, this is great. Trips is like the fucking godfather anymore. "Hey, I gotta keep up appearances, so you're fired, but I'm going to take care of you with a not so subtle nod that it would be a good idea to keep your mouth shut about this."
- Lots of great heat for this show. The Miz in his hometown wants a match with Randy Orton, who just lost the WWE championship. His reasoning not that he needs any, is sound because his family is in attendance, sitting ringside, and he wants to do well for them. Orton, meanwhile, was told by his evil overlord bosses that he needs to find the ruthless aggression and absolute madness that made him a psychotic piece of wacko when he was feuding with Triple H and family. So what do they do? Get a shit ton of sympathy for Miz by having him battle through adversity like a true babyface who was the victim of a sneak attack -- while he was visiting with his family, no less -- and get Orton a ton of heel heat by having him utterly decimate Miz -- right in front of his family, no less. This was outstanding in every single way.
- Right when the heat feels like it couldn't be any hotter, here comes Paul Heyman with his newest toy, Ryback. And oh boy is he good at his job. "I can now say something none of you can, and that's that I have pinned CM Punk." Can't even argue with that. And, yes, he is indeed backing Ryback who he now "owes his life" to. His explanation? "If there's one thing I can't stand, it's a bully. Punk bullied Heyman last night. Do you think he deserved that? You're a human being, Paul." If you're not in love with Ryback right now, you're not watching pro wrestling the right way. Oh my god, Ryback just put his arm around Heyman and promised "you never have to worry again because as long as I'm around, Punk will never put his hands on you." And Heyman, who is in a wheelchair, in case I hadn't mentioned that, kissed "Big Hungry" on the cheek, which he responded to with the biggest grin you'll ever see. I thought I was done with Punk and Heyman but I spoke too soon. Who would have thought we just needed some Ryback in there to keep it fresh? This is phenomenal.
- Tons of Funk are now lesser than the Real Americans. Think about that. But hey, TAG TEAMS!
- I quite like the idea of babyface wrestlers getting behind Bryan and even having backstage segments that see said babyface wrestlers openly voice their support of him. Somehow, WWE has found a way to make his star rise just a little bit more each and every week. We may not always like seeing it and, in fact, that's integral to the process, but there's little doubting how high up the ladder he's managed to climb. There's nothing quite like Bryan standing on the corner posts and leading a crowd of some 10,000 people in "YES" chants with arms pumping in unison.
- Maybe it's just me but I've gone from thinking The Shield coming in was great because of Dean Ambrose to falling in love with Seth Rollins to now thinking Roman Reigns has the most potential of any of the three. He somehow managed to have a better match with Bryan than the other two. If that guy turns out to be a good promo, he's going to be a huge star someday. He's freaky athletic for his size and can work with a smaller guy like Bryan without losing out on match quality while standing up just fine against guys like Ryback and Big Show. He's got an awful lot going for him.
- THAT DAMN NUMBERS GAME.
- THAT DAMN NUMBERS GAME AGAIN.
- I love how the babyface locker room had The Shield outnumbered like 15 to 3 and Kofi Kingston STILL ate a Spear from Reigns. I just love how that worked out.
- Absolutely adored the way this show ended, like I adored the way it began. The locker room, which had stood back and watched as Bryan was put through hell weeks ago, decided enough was enough (and it's time for a change) and hit the ring to really show their support for him. Having that many guys in there holding him up on their shoulders while he led the "YES" chant with the amazing Cleveland crowd was a really fun, cool way to go off the air. Daniel Bryan is our hero, motherfuckers, and you can take his WWE title, but you can't take him away from us.
This was an AWESOME show, right on par with that episode of SmackDown a few weeks back that featured, hell, I can just reprint: "pacing was good, storytelling great, angles were fantastic, and the matches ranged from solid if unspectacular to downright awesome. Even the commentary was good. Everything I like about pro wrestling was featured here in some way or another."
And I didn't even mention another cool Bray Wyatt promo! Or the fact that Fandango didn't actually walk out of his match, he picked up a clean victory!
Perhaps the most amazing aspect of this show wasn't who was there and what happened during it, it was who wasn't there and what didn't happen during it. John Cena, Sheamus, CM Punk, and Alberto Del Rio all missed the show. And it was still the best Raw I can remember. In fact, it may be the only Raw I've ever given the following grade to.
It was that damn good. That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off with all your thoughts on last night's show in the comments section below. Did you like it as much as I did?