Breaking Down the Best and Worst of the WWE for Week of Sept. 23
Villains flourished and heroes arose in WWE during the week of Sept. 23.
Stephanie McMahon refuses to let her husband reign as the company's top heel. Her performances on Monday deserved applause. Cody Rhodes and Curtis Axel did their best to grab our attention as well.
Monday's Raw also featured a match that surprised with how entertaining it turned out to be.
The Miz and CM Punk both disappointed, though in very different ways. The best and worst of the week in WWE focuses on those two men, a heartless woman in a suit and the most thrilling moments that the company had to offer.
Best: Goldust and Cody Rhodes Attack The Shield
WWE has made the absolute most out of Cody Rhodes' brief absence.
The Rhodes family saga's newest chapter jumped off the screen on Monday's Raw. Before The Shield members entered the ring for their match, Rhodes and Goldust leaped out of the crowd dressed in hoodies and pounded away on the trio.
Forget the fact that Goldust was somehow able to go incognito with his face paint on, the drama was compelling enough to have us see past that plot hole.
The anger and passion that both Rhodes brothers showed helped increase the temperature of this story. As a bonus, it was a major surprise to many that Rhodes would reinsert himself this way.
This feels as if it's building toward a match at Battleground, but which one? Will Rhodes and Goldust take on Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins or will Big Show join them and take on The Shield as a whole?
Worst: Underselling Miz's Injury
He hurled him into the steel steps and snapped a steel chair around his neck. WWE.com played up the attack, saying that Miz had an "upper thoracic injury" and had signs of a pinched nerve. One week later and The Miz was apparently healthy enough to return.
Sure Miz walked stiffly to sell the injury, but it was far too soon to bring him back. To top that, Miz is scheduled to compete on Friday's SmackDown.
It takes away from the believability of the attack to not put Miz on the shelf longer. Ryback's attack on CM Punk at Night of Champions had Punk miss an episode of Raw, but Orton's mauling apparently wasn't effective enough to have the same impact on Miz.
Best: 11-on-3 Handicap Match
When Triple H announced that The Shield would take on a host of fan favorites in an 11-on-3 handicap match, it sounded like a disaster to happen.
Remember when Kevin Nash once tore through his WCW opponents in a gauntlet match like an action hero through a throng of faceless thugs? That's what this match sounded like it would be.
Instead, WWE composed an exciting bout where a number of guys got to shine. Roman Reigns went on a spear rampage, Dolph Ziggler knocked Dean Ambrose senseless with the Zig Zag and even Zack Ryder looked strong for a moment, getting in some offense.
The odd idea exceeded expectations and made for a refreshing and satisfying main event.
Best: Curtis Axel's Performance
Curtis Axel continues to thrive between the ropes.
On Wednesday's WWE Main Event, Axel defeated Justin Gabriel in a match that showed off his best qualities. He was aggressive and demonstrative in a bout that was believable and well balanced.
Say what you want about his charisma and lack of "it factor," Axel continues to prove his in-ring skills, regardless of his opponent.
This would have been a lot more compelling had the Intercontinental Championship been on the line. That begs the question, why doesn't WWE have him defend the title more? Axel has barely faced a challenger for his belt in his nearly 100 days as champion.
Worst: CM Punk's Homer Promo
For most Superstars, CM Punk's pandering promo on Monday's Raw would have been one of their best. Fans simply have higher expectations for the master of the mic, though.
Dressed in a Chicago Blackhawks jersey, Punk spoke at length about his hometown, his favorite hockey team and the Chicago never-say-die spirit. It felt like something one would hear at a house show as it seemed designed to appeal to the live audience far more than the folks at home.
The fans watching in Qatar aren't interested in the Blackhawks and hockey.
Punk was clearly using the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup win as a metaphor, but he likely lost a few fans' attention the way a wife's eyes glaze over when a husband starts talking about his fantasy football team.
Best: Stephanie McMahon Continues to Thrive
Triple H, CM Punk and Randy Orton have serious competition for heel of the year; Stephanie McMahon is compiling a number of performances that catapult her into that discussion.
On Monday's Raw, she trashed The Miz. Her words cut deep as she spoke about how far he's fallen as a Superstar and about how he peaked too early.
It was the kind of promo that is tinged with enough truth to have fans wondering if they're witnessing a shoot.
McMahon then ordered Big Show to knock Miz out, an increasingly familiar sight. These moments make her such a scary presence, a merciless puppet master with a giant on the end of her strings.
She was just as cold and aggressive with AJ Lee in a backstage segment.
McMahon forced the Divas champ to compete in a tag match, growling at her from an uncomfortably close distance.