Complete Report Card and Analysis Following WWE Raw for Aug. 5
The Superstars returned to their normal schedule, starting the week off with a hit-and-miss episode of WWE Raw.
Daniel Bryan underwent a corporate makeover. Alberto Del Rio ended a longstanding relationship.
The fans in Green Bay, Wis. didn't respond to some of the better moments of the show, giving off a listless vibe. Kofi Kingston's return didn't get them charged up, nor did the most recent clash between Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes.
From the flops to the successes, here is the report card for the segments, matches and stories on Monday's WWE Raw.
Daniel Bryan's Makeover
Stephanie McMahon had Daniel Bryan change his appearance to have more of a polished look.
A montage showed Bryan eating steak and getting tailored for a suit. It was a fine idea, but not all that effective. William Regal's makeover of Bobby Eaton was a comedic masterpiece; Bryan's makeover was mildly amusing.
Bryan came out to the ring in a suit and mocked Cena for being on cereal boxes and wearing cargo shorts. He said "John Cena is an entertainer. I'm a wrestler." Bryan delivered a powerful performance in which he brought up his indy background and promised to make Cena tap out.
It was a straight-forward, attention-grabbing promo that borrowed heavily from the truth.
Vince McMahon then came out and compared him to a gargoyle, a miniature Mick Foley and a toothpick. McMahon wanted to complete the makeover—and that meant shaving the beard.
Brutus Beefcake was apparently not available, so McMahon asked Wade Barrett to do the trimming.
Bryan fought Barrett off and shaved half of Barrett's beard. This portion of the segment was somewhat funny, but like with the makeover part, it felt like a missed opportunity.
While the bits surrounding it weren't as dramatic or funny as they could have been, Bryan's great mic work powered this opening segment.
Rob Van Dam vs. Alberto Del Rio
Ricardo Rodriguez returned from his suspension, and Alberto Del Rio made him wish he hadn't.
Rob Van Dam took on Del Rio to avenge his loss on SmackDown to the world champ two weeks ago.
Van Dam went on the attack early, hitting a monkey flip, a standing moonsault and the kind of exciting kicks we're used to seeing from him. He appeared on his way to victory until Rodriguez tried to intervene.
Rodriguez wedged a bucket into the corner, but it was Del Rio who cracked his head on it. Van Dam rolled up the world champ for the assisted win.
While it's interesting that Del Rio loses this close to his world title match with Christian at SummerSlam, the bigger story is his reaction to the loss. Del Rio superkicked his valet, bashed him with the bucket and crushed his head with the ring steps.
Del Rio came out of the segment looking vicious and heartless.
He now ventures solo as Rodriguez is likely to leave him or take another leave of absence.
Van Dam gets the win. Rodriguez gets the beating.
The match was decent, but the emotional weight of Del Rio's attack on Rodriguez made this a memorable, moving scene.
I think Del Rio just killed Ricardo #RAW— WrestleEnigma.com (@WrestleEnigma) August 6, 2013
Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow
The two former Rhodes Scholars continued their compelling feud. Their newest segment was nothing creative, but the amount of airtime that Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow are getting is making this buildup excellent.
Rhodes retrieved Sandow's Money in the Bank briefcase from the Gulf of Mexico.
He pulled it out of a box in front of the Green Bay fans dented, blackened and soggy. Sandow came down to take back his briefcase and the two former friends brawled.
The recaps of their feud were better than what we saw on Monday, but their story so far has been intriguing.
Sandow and Rhodes is looking like it will be the show-stealing match at SummerSlam. WWE continues building toward this battle between old friends.
Sad to see that died in front of the live crowd. Sandow and Rhodes have something here with this storyline. #RAW— Greg Parks (@gregmparks) August 6, 2013
Mark Henry Gets a Cheap Win
The two powerhouses got a rematch of their disappointing WrestleMania 29 clash. Too bad it was over before fans could put straws in their Sonic shakes.
Mark Henry knocked Ryback around with his girth, and Ryback soon slipped out the ring. He then walked backward away from the ring, essentially forfeiting his match.
WWE doesn't seem to know what to do with Ryback. Is he a monster or a sniveling coward? Is he a jackal or a lion?
Ryback gets counted out on purpose.
WWE squanders another shot at this behemoth vs. behemoth match. Having Ryback play the cowardly heel doesn't fit him at all, and this result does nothing for either man.
I guess there is no Fandango match tonight....Ryback stole his finish.— Lance Storm (@LanceStorm) August 6, 2013
Total Divas on Raw
WWE continued to blend the world of Raw and Total Divas. The Bella Twins starred in a short backstage segment that referenced storylines from that reality show.
Eva Marie inserted herself into the conversation. WWE is clearly pushing her over Jo-Jo Offerman out of the two Diva newbies.
Brie and Nikki did their grating Kardashian routine, and when Natalya came out, they insulted her. They said that Natalya being on the show was a slap in the face. Natalya demonstrated a literal slap in the face.
As annoying as this infiltration of Total Divas on WWE Raw is, watching Natalya slap Brie was mighty satisfying.
John Cena Retorts
John Cena showed why he's one of the best talkers in the business when he takes things seriously.
He responded to Daniel Bryan's promo and said that judging him by his clothes and his look makes him "exactly like The Rock and CM Punk." Cena was in control here, being himself and exuding attitude.
Even when the crowd chanted "Boring!" Cena turned the moment in his favor.
Cena was powerful, forceful and smooth. He delivered a number of memorable lines, including "My elbow looks like a football" and "You don't get lucky 11 times."
Randy Orton soon came in to tell Cena that he could cash in at any time. He teased that he might do it at that exact moment, but The Shield came stomping at them.
Brad Maddox called on his inner Teddy Long and booked a six-man tag match for the main event.
Cena did a fantastic job in moving the Bryan feud along by contrasting himself opposite his SummerSlam opponent.
A standoff with The Shield followed a fantastic promo from Cena.
Also, Cena Said He'd Never Wrestle Again if He Left The WWE but He Didn't Say Anything About Autograph Sessions! $100 a Signature!— ThreeManBooth (@3ManBooth) August 6, 2013
The Wyatt Family Dominates
Erick Rowan began the match against Tons of Funk wearing his disturbing mask while waiting on the apron. Luke Harper wielded his big boot like a sledgehammer.
Both Rowan and Harper came off as powerful, dangerous men. Tons of Funk got in a few offensive moves, but the two big bears mauled them in a squash match.
Bray Wyatt joined in the attack once the bell rang. He called Kane an illusion, a lie and a fairy tale and called himself "a man of a 1,000 truths." If Chris Jericho were still around, he'd likely tell us that he is the man of the 1,004 truths.
Kane responded to the bearded cult for the first time. He had a great dark, poetic speech, but he delivered it a bit stiffly. Still, this horror vs. horror feud took a major turn.
The Big Red Machine mentioned a "ring of fire" perhaps implying that he and Wyatt will battle in an Inferno Match.
Rowan pins Sweet T for the quick win.
A match that Jerry Lawler called a "dismantling" did its job to make the Wyatt Family look dominant and gave Bray another chance to creep us out. The feud with Kane got a major boost.
Dr. Shelby must be thrilled that Kane plucks the wings of buzzards for fun. #RAW— Arda Ocal (@arda_ocal) August 6, 2013
Layla vs. Kaitlyn
Layla mocked Kaitlyn and received a clothesline and series of right hands as payback.
After turning on Kaitlyn on Friday's SmackDown, Layla slipped on a heel's aura rather quickly. She was smug and callous, took cheap shots and ground her knee into the back of Kaitlyn's head.
AJ Lee came down to ringside to distract Kaitlyn and have the match end prematurely.
It's unclear where WWE is going with these three women. Is Layla set to turn on AJ to set up a Triple Threat or is she just an obstacle for Kaitlyn to overcome on her way back to the Divas title?
Layla earned a pinfall victory off of AJ's distraction.
A solid match kept the Divas in the spotlight, even if the narrative is uncertain.
Christian Tops Heath Slater
Heath Slater fought hard, 3MB lurked, but in the end Christian built momentum for his world title match against Alberto Del Rio.
Slater managed to rock Christian a few times. He had Christian hurting in the corner. His desire to play air guitar took over his desire to finish the deal.
Christian took advantage and hit the spear for the win.
This was an okay filler match designed to push Christian forward. Fans are more likely to remember the result than what led up to it.
Christian wins via pinfall.
The short match did its job but didn't much offer much entertainment along the way.
I think Christian would make a excellent addition to 3MB. He's great on the kazoo. #RAW— Pᴜɴᴋ. (@BigEvil93) August 6, 2013
Best vs. the Beast Pre-Match Scuffle
Curtis Axel and CM Punk fought, but Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar played major parts in this drama.
In an interview with Josh Mathews, CM Punk said that SummerSlam would be "the night the beast got neutered."
He and Axel brawled on the outside before the bell rang.
Axel chopped and slapped his foe, but an enraged Punk soon took over. He mocked Curt Hennig's gum-spitting routine and threw Axel into the barricade.
Only after Axel turned things in his favor did Heyman slither back out and prowl around the ring. Axel and Punk had good chemistry, and their match had some of the best in-ring action of the night.
However, the highlight was Lesnar's appearance.
Punk attacked Lesnar with a chair, knocked him into the ring steps and had him down long enough to lunge at Heyman. Heyman told Lesnar to hurt Punk, and The Beast Incarnate obliged.
He whacked him with the chair and left Punk writhing in the ring with blood sliding down his chin.
Heyman then told Renee Young to deliver a message that "he may not make it to SummerSlam," challenging him to a one-on-one battle on next week's Raw.
After a no-contest, Lesnar and Punk brawl in a SummerSlam preview.
Punk and Axel delivered a compelling match, and Lesnar marched in for a hard-fought fight with his SummerSlam opponent.
Another outstanding Lesnar/Punk/Heyman segment. Lesnar won this battle too. All of them did great. So ready for this at SummerSlam #Raw— John Canton (@johnreport) August 6, 2013
Kofi Kingston Returns
Fandango faced a returning Kofi Kingston and found himself playing the part of stepping stone.
Kingston, sporting long tights and showing off his trademark athleticism, dominated the match. He hit Fandango with a beautiful crossbody and eventually a Trouble in Paradise.
The short match welcomed Kingston back and gives him some initial momentum to work with upon his return. Fandango on the other hand, adds another loss to his record and looks to be without direction for the moment.
Kingston nails Fandango with his finisher for the win.
In a short match, Kingston and Fandango offered some fun moments.
McMahon Family Drama
Stephanie McMahon is no Meryl Streep, but this segment was still strong.
McMahon cried to her husband, saying how her father berated her. Triple H dished out a speech that bordered on a shoot. He talked about how Vince McMahon is a tyrant who has lost his mind and is no longer the creative genius he once was.
Triple H promised to stop him.
For better or worse, WWE is committed to playing out this family drama storyline. Triple H's performance was one of the highlights of that story so far. The next few steps appear to be stirring as well.
Stephanie's acting takes this down some, but Triple H delivered the goods and this saga got a boost of excitement.
The Real Americans vs. The Usos
The Real Americans took on The Usos and remained in control en route to victory.
Antonio Cesaro landed a few of his impressive uppercuts. He and Jack Swagger worked smoothly together, double-teaming their foe in the corner and coming up with creative cooperative attacks.
Once The Usos got going, the action sped up and the excitement picked up.
A bit of chaos aided Cesaro and Swagger in the end, Swagger landing a cheap shot before Cesaro hit the Neutralizer.
There is a potentially great tag team rivalry in the works here should WWE choose to run with it. If The Usos aren't getting any more title shots in the immediate future, The Real Americans offers a team capable of giving them some thrilling matches.
Cesaro gets the win for his team via pinfall.
The last third of the match was the most fun, showing a glimpse of the kind of action these two teams could produce.
Kaitlyn Costs Dolph Ziggler a Win
Dolph Ziggler battled his former ally Big E Langston, and the two rivals showed off sizzling intensity.
Ziggler screamed during Langston's abdominal stretch. Langston's power meshed perfectly with Ziggler's speed. Their chemistry was top-notch, but the match ended early when Kaitlyn got involved.
She ran in trying to smash AJ Lee but instead distracted Ziggler, who fell victim to Langston's finisher. This smells like a mixed-tag match, which is significantly less appealing than Langston against Ziggler one-on-one.
Langston hit his Big Ending for the win.
A good match could have been great with more time. Perhaps WWE will let us see a longer match between them at SummerSlam, but it's looking more like a mixed-tag match involving Kaitlyn.
Dolph Ziggler is Bart Simpson! Big E Langston is Nelson!!— Alexander N. Miller (@dontbackdownANM) August 6, 2013
The Shield vs. John Cena, Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan
Monday's main event initially rode the kind of chaotic and compelling energy that made The Shield's early matches so great, but the battle ended too quickly.
Daniel Bryan flew out of the ring. The Shield swarmed and attacked their foes from every angle. Reigns barked at Bryan to stay down.
In the end, The Shield abandoned the rules and earned a loss by disqualification. Randy Orton followed the match by hitting RKOs on both Bryan and John Cena. He considered cashing in on a fallen Cena, but The Shield stood in his way.
The Shield lost by disqualification but ended the night towering over a beat-up Bryan.
The six-man match didn't reach its full potential, and it ended with a muddled story. What's The Shield's motivation? What does this do for the Cena and Bryan SummerSlam match?
Here's your main event: Shield vs. Orton, Cena, and Bryan. Where does Mark Henry and the Usos fit into this? Is that still a thing? #raw— FTW Podcast (@ftwpodcast) August 6, 2013