5 Things I Liked About WWE Monday Night Raw on Aug. 13
Photo courtesy WWE
I would consider myself the kind of wrestling (or sports entertainment) fan that looks at the business with a positive outlook. It's not my way to watch Raw, Smackdown, Impact and whatever else I have time for just to complain about it. To me, being negative is a waste of time.
With that in mind, I've decided to start a new post-Raw column on a weekly basis where I look at five things I liked from the previous Monday's episode of Raw.
I already write about the show in full-length detail on a weekly basis, so this is my way of stepping back a bit the next day and look at things from another perspective.
There will be some weeks when finding five positive things may be difficult while other weeks will be much easier. I thought it was a below average Raw this week, so finding the positive aspects was a bit difficult.
The five things I like countdown will go in the order from the fifth best thing to the No. 1 best thing.
5. Damien Sandow Has a Very Bright Future
Photo courtesy WWE
I think it's quite obvious that WWE management is very high on the talents of the intellectual savior known as Damien Sandow. This week on Raw he was featured in a match against former World Champion Christian.
During the matchup, the music of Brodus Clay started up as the Funkasaurus made his way to distract his newest rival, Sandow.
Instead of letting the appearance distract him, Sandow was able to counter the offense of Christian and finish him off with his neckbreaker. Apparently that move is named "The Illumination" although I haven't heard it pushed on television all that match.
The two-minute win was a dominant one for the 30-year-old performer who first signed with WWE a decade ago. He has shown a lot as a talker, and his gimmick makes him stand out from the pack.
You can tell a lot about how a wrestler is presented to the audience. Things like the ring entrance, the way the announcers talk about them and obviously the crowd reaction are all things to closely pay attention to it. Clearly, Sandow has all of those things going for him.
This win over Christian may come off as just another television match, but in the very near future, I think of Sandow as somebody that WWE will look to build around.
4. Daniel Bryan Is Doing Just Fine Despite the Losses
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Even though he's lost more matches than he's won of late, Daniel Bryan continues to garner as much of a reaction as anybody in the company.
I like what WWE's done with his character by giving him the "no - no - no" shirt and being angry when the fans chant "yes" at him. It's a simple strategy that works.
Hopefully Bryan can get back on the winning track this Sunday at Summerslam when he goes up against Kane. I'm not sure if it will happen especially if Charlie Sheen is at ringside in Los Angeles, but a win for Bryan would definitely be a good thing for his character going forward.
I realize that some Bryan fans (myself included) are growing impatient with all of the losses he's accumulated of late. That's just the WWE way.
The babyfaces at the top of the card are booked so strongly while the heels are there to get beat. They'll give us entertaining matches along the way, but chances are the heel is going to lose.
Despite another clean loss at the hands of Cena, I have no worries about his placement on the card. Bryan remains a major player in WWE.
3. Brock Lesnar Is a Badass Again. Right?
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I'm not sure if the goal of the 20-minute contract signing and post-signing attack was a way to make Brock Lesnar into more of a monster or make him a cowardly heel.
What Lesnar did to Shawn Michaels is what he should have done every week since he returned on July 23. I wish they would have put him in matches where he hurt people randomly. That's how you build him up. Having all of these face-to-face confrontations doesn't draw as much interest as physically seeing him destroy people.
If they booked him in one-on-one or even one-on-two handicap matches that he won easily it would make people more inclined to pay their money to see him against Triple H on Sunday. Instead, he did nothing physical until the end of Raw.
Lesnar's not a full timer in WWE. He's only appearing on a set number of shows in the year. We don't know the exact number, but it's somewhere between 20-30 appearances. It's important to utilize him while he's there, because it's better than seeing him in the same video package three times in a show.
I thought Paul Heyman did a phenomenal job of selling the attack by yelling: "Oh my God, you broke his arm!" He said it twice for effect. That comment put over the idea that Heyman didn't support what Lesnar was doing. It added to the drama very well.
The build for the Triple H/Brock Lesnar Summerslam match hasn't been perfect. However, they took a step in the right direction when Lesnar "broke the arm" of Michaels. That's the Lesnar people will pay to see. Will he win on Sunday? I sure hope so.
2. Chris Jericho and Dolph Ziggler Have Great Chemistry
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The best match on Raw was unquestionably the triple threat match involving Chris Jericho, Dolph Ziggler and The Miz. While the Piper's Pit segment could be considered a disappointment, which was a surprise considering the participants, the match that followed was not.
The match was slow at the beginning, but the the last five minutes were very entertaining. They did an excellent job of building up the near-falls. Each guy got a chance to shine with the spotlight on them. Miz was just kind of there, but he was fine in his role. The match was more about the Jericho/Ziggler story obviously.
Did you notice that Jericho actually hit the Lionsault? As a face, he can hit a Lionsault. Not as a heel. That's the unwritten rule.
I didn't think Ziggler would get the win because I expected him to win on Sunday, which usually means a loss on TV. Announcer Michael Cole did a good job (it's very rare for me to say that) of putting over the idea that Ziggler beat Jericho in a big match and questioned if Jericho can win on Sunday.
The story heading into their match is a basic one that works very well. Jericho's the veteran babyface that has won every title there is to win. Ziggler's on the cusp of winning one of the two major championships, so for him to prove that he's worthy he has to get by a legend like Jericho.
Their promos have been strong. Their interaction in the ring has been above average. It's time for the showdown.
What will happen on Sunday in the Jericho/Ziggler match? A few days ago, I was convinced that Ziggler was going over clean. Now I'm not so sure. Jericho's leaving post Summerslam. He's off to join his band, Fozzy.
Do they send him away with a victory followed by an attack on Raw to injure him or does Ziggler get the win over the veteran?
The best wrestling matches are the ones where you don't know what's going to happen. Add the fact that it's pretty much a sure thing that the match quality will be excellent and it only adds to the excitement.
The build on Raw was really well done. As a result of that, I'm very excited to watch Jericho vs. Ziggler at Summerslam.
1. CM Punk's Behavior Leads to More Questions. What's Next?
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Following the 1000th episode of Raw on July 23, I thought CM Punk was going to be a heel full time. It hasn't happened…at least not yet. Could it happen on Sunday? Perhaps.
This week on Raw, CM Punk was once again the most intriguing performer. During his tag match, he was upset when John Cena wasn't on the apron to accept the tag. Cena was on the floor after taking a beating, but all Punk could do was be angry about it.
Later in the match, Punk left Cena to fend for himself against Daniel Bryan. Of course Cena did fine as he hit Bryan with the Attitude Adjustment for the win for his team. Post match, Punk wanted Cena to shake his hand. Cena refused to do it. Punk left angrily.
Following the match, Josh Mathews interviewed Punk. We found out that Punk was mad about Cena refusing to shake his hand. He felt disrespected. He said that at Summerslam he's going to teach Cena and everybody about respect.
To me that screams "HEEL" in big capital letters. I think the July 23rd Raw was just the setup for something bigger that's going to happen at Summerslam in terms of the behavior of CM Punk.
I'm not sure exactly what he can do to Cena to force fans to hate Punk more than they already hate Cena, but I think the Creative Team will try their best to make it happen.
My feeling is that by the end of the night at Summerslam the person people will most be talking about is the CM Punk. That doesn't mean he's going to retain his title. It just means he's going to do something either during the match or after it that will make us talk about Punk like we did a year ago.
His words on Raw, though brief, intrigued me. I want to see what's next. I want to see what will happen at Summerslam.
Congratulations, CM Punk, you have my attention once again. What do you have in store for us this time? Bring on Summerslam. Let's find out.
John Canton is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report. He'll be writing a detailed preview of Summerslam after Smackdown airs on Friday. You can read more of his work at his website TJRWrestling.com and follow him on Twitter @johnreport too.