WWE Week in Review, July 27: Big Show No-Shows, Daniel Bryan Impresses
It was another sweltering week in the world of wrestling that featured enjoyable editions of Monday Night Raw as well as Friday Night SmackDown. Both programs did an effective job of building towards SummerSlam, which is shaping up to be one of the best pay-per-views in a long while.
There's no denying that Daniel Bryan was the star of this week's Raw, defeating three of WWE's top prospects in the night's main event. Meanwhile on SmackDown, Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes took control of the blue brand to further their feud going into the biggest blockbuster of the summer.
In other action, Sheamus battled Jack Swagger in a hard-hitting matchup on Wednesday's WWE Main Event. Christian also continued his winning ways, defeating Titus O'Neil and Swagger respectively this past week.
Here, I will break down the week in wrestling by analyzing the Monday Night Raw, Friday Night SmackDown and WWE Main Event broadcasts, including each show's highlights, low points and other noteworthy monumental moments. Also, an award will be given to the show and Superstar that shined the brightest over the course of the week.
Match of the Week: Daniel Bryan Runs the Gauntlet: Raw, July 22
At the start of this week's edition of Raw, the flagship show's General Manager Brad Maddox placed Daniel Bryan in a Gauntlet match in the night's main event. He didn't announce how many people Bryan would ultimately face, and didn't make it clear who he would be facing.
Being the fighting underdog that he is, Bryan accepted the challenge. His first opponent was Jack Swagger, who he forced to tap out within mere minutes.
His second opponent wasn't as easy, though, as Swagger's tag team partner Antonio Cesaro took Bryan to his absolute limit. I've been highly anticipating their eventual encounter for the longest time, and the dream bout surely lived up to expectations on Monday night.
Bryan rolled Cesaro up for the victory, but would then have to face Ryback. Although he didn't pin Ryback, The American Dragon defeated him via disqualification after he was put through a table at the hands of The Human Wrecking Ball.
Superstar of the Week: Alberto Del Rio
Since winning back the World Heavyweight Championship at last month's WWE Payback pay-per-view, Alberto Del Rio has been doing some of the best work of his career. His heel turn was the best thing to ever happen to him, as it has helped rejuvenate his character greatly.
On this week's Raw, Del Rio had a great match with familiar foe Sheamus. However, he capitalized on the injured knee of The Celtic Warrior and surprisingly scored the clean victory.
Four days later on SmackDown, Del Rio was scheduled to go one-on-one with Rob Van Dam. In a shocking turn of events, Del Rio outsmarted the one-of-a-kind competitor by resorting to dirty tactics to pick up the win.
Who will be next to challenge Del Rio for the the world title at SummerSlam?
Show of the Week: Monday Night Raw: July 22, 2013
WWE providing entertaining programming during the summer season should come as a surprise to absolutely no one, as it's been the case for many years now. This year has been no exception. All three of WWE's televised shows were fun to watch this week.
As good as WWE Main Event and Friday Night SmackDown were, nothing stood out about them that made them worth watching again for those viewers that might have missed out on tuning in live. That is what makes Monday Night Raw the latest Show of the Week.
Aside from a few strange segments (more on that in a bit), this was a solid show from start to finish. It was meant to put over Daniel Bryan in a big way, so it certainly succeeded in that aspect.
The rest of the episode wasn't half-bad, either. We witnessed CM Punk once again call out Paul Heyman, The Prime Time Players in action (twice), and more. The road to SummerSlam has been great so far, and I can't wait to see where WWE goes from here.
This Week's Highlights
CM Punk: The on-going feud between CM Punk, Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar continues to be the hottest rivalry in all of wrestling right now. Although Lesnar wasn't in attendance for this week's Raw, Punk and Lesnar had yet another strong verbal exchange that made the match between Punk and Lensar official for SummerSlam. Punk's promo on SmackDown was equally excellent and his GTS to Fandango was simply icing on the cake.
Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes: WWE furthered this feud effectively on both Raw and SmackDown this week. Rhodes tossing the briefcase into the Gulf of Mexico was a bit odd, but I still love the fact that this feud is getting as much attention as it right now. Here's hoping they face off in a match with the world title contract on the line at SummerSlam.
Christian vs. Jack Swagger: A well-wrestled match that was the highlight of a rather forgettable episode of SmackDown. Swagger hasn't meant much as of late, but it was a good win for Christian, nonetheless. Christian has looked great since returning to the ring and I hope to see him finally receive his "one more match" for the World Heavyweight Championship at some point in the near future.
Dolph Ziggler and AJ Lee: I might be in the minority here, but I found their segment on SmackDown to be absolutely hilarious. Ziggler is getting over as a babyface nicely and it seems that he'll be teaming with Kaitlyn at SummerSlam to take on AJ and Big E. Langston in mixed tag team action, which makes perfect sense from a storyline standpoint.
The Wyatt Family: Despite being excluded from this week's Raw, The Wyatt Family made an immediate impact during their SmackDown debut. Luke Harper and Erik Rowan quickly decimated Tons of Funk before Bray Wyatt cut yet another intriguing promo. And so, the brilliant booking of this treacherous trio continues.
This Week's Low Points
Miz TV: This had to be the worst edition of Miz TV in quite some time. I'm not particularly thrilled about seeing the debut of Total Divas, and this segment did nothing to make me want to watch it. WWE is lucky that Brie Bella had a wardrobe malfunction during this segment because it was the only thing that made viewers (mostly male) want to go back and watch it again.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Rob Van Dam: I had higher hopes for this match and was disappointed it was as short as it was. While it continues Del Rio's strong momentum and saves the match for a later date, it doesn't erase the fact that RVD lost his first singles match since returning two weeks ago, and it should have been made out to be a bigger deal than it was.
No Big Show: Don't get me wrong, I'm actually happy that the The Big Show didn't end up returning this past week on Raw. However, why bother advertising his return to Raw if it never ultimately came to fruition? He won't be on Raw next week either, so the video package that aired promoting his return seemed wasteful.
Sin Cara vs. Drew McIntyre: These two work well together and they had a fun match this week on WWE Main Event, but I found it hard to care about the bout when both acts mean so little. Sin Cara has been irrelevant for the longest time while McIntyre desperately needs to distance himself from 3MB.
No Curtis Axel: There were a number of notable names missing from this week's Raw, and Curtis Axel was one of them. Unlike Randy Orton and The Wyatt Family, however, Axel was nowhere to be seen on SmackDown, either. I understand Paul Heyman's full focus is on CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar at the moment, but that shouldn't prevent Axel from getting television time, especially since he's the Intercontinental Champion.
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