WWE Week in Review, August 2: Randy Orton Seeks Revenge, Divas Division Shines
WWE has been riding a wave of momentum heading into its SummerSlam pay-per-view, and this week was no different. The card has been shaping up to be a spectacle, and if things can stay the course in the weeks to come, then it could end up being one of the most epic events in ages.
John Cena returned to Raw on Monday, overcoming obstacles against Paul Heyman and Cesaro on the mic and in the ring, respectively. Will he be able to do the same when he clashes with Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at SummerSlam?
The women were in rare form this week, with Stephanie McMahon and Brie Bella closing out Raw and the feud between AJ Lee and Paige getting personal. What's in store for the Divas division in the weeks to come?
Although he was attacked by The Wyatt Family on Raw, Chris Jericho soundly defeated Erick Rowan days later on SmackDown. With Rowan out of the equation for the SummerSlam match between Jericho and Bray Wyatt, will Luke Harper meet in the same fate before long?
I will break down the week in wrestling by analyzing all of WWE's weekly programs and occasional pay-per-views, including each show's highlights, low points and other noteworthy, monumental moments. Also, I will give an award to the show and Superstar who shined the brightest over the course of the week.
Match of the Week: John Cena vs. Cesaro: Raw, July 28
In the absence of Brock Lesnar, Cena opened this week's Raw with a clear message: He may be terrified of The Beast Incarnate, but he doesn't plan to back down from the challenge come SummerSlam. Heyman soon interrupted with a message of his own, claiming that Cena would be "victimized" by Lesnar at the event.
Before things could get out of hand, former "Heyman Guy" Cesaro came to the aid of his former advocate, challenging Cena to an impromptu match on the flagship show. The two last clashed in singles competition back in February, and they managed to top that bout on Monday night.
Cesaro's losing ways meant next to nothing during his strong showing against the Champ. Though Cena ultimately emerged victorious, Cesaro proved to the fans that it won't be long before he'll be holding gold himself. Let's hope a future feud between them is in the cards.
Superstar of the Week: Jack Swagger
It was completely bizarre seeing Jack Swagger and Cesaro clash on this week's SmackDown. Who would have thought before WrestleMania 30 that Swagger would be in the better position all these months later?
He's been flourishing as a fan favorite for the last month and has shown no signs of slowing down anytime soon. That was the case on Raw, when Swagger once again came to the aid of America, clashing with Rusev and Lana in a war of words.
They crossed paths again days later on SmackDown following Swagger's surprising victory over Cesaro. Rusev challenged Swagger to a Flag Match at SummerSlam, which the Real American boldly accepted.
Can Swagger secure a win at the biggest PPV of the summer against Rusev?
Show of the Week: Monday Night Raw, July 28
Monday Night Raw has consistently been WWE's best show in the last month or so, and this week was no exception. There may be less than three weeks until SummerSlam, but this show did a stellar job of building up the card and making almost everything featured mean something.
The verbal exchange between Cena and Heyman was an excellent way to kick off the show, while the match that followed between Cena and Cesaro was fantastic. The fun didn't stop there, though, as Chris Jericho vs. Rollins and even the six-man tag team match pitting Dolph Ziggler and The Usos against The Miz and Rybaxel delivered in terms of excellent in-ring action.
The show closed on a high note with the stellar segment between Stephanie McMahon and Brie Bella. When was the last time two women closed the flagship show by themselves?
I don't know about anyone else, but I am pumped for SummerSlam with what's been confirmed thus far.
This Week's Highlights
Stephanie McMahon and Brie Bella
Stephanie has been the best heel in WWE for quite a while now, but Brie has really come into her own in this storyline with the McMahons these past few months. She's finally getting over as a babyface and is eliciting strong responses from crowds.
Her confrontation with Stephanie at the end of Raw this week was red-hot, and the fans in attendance were anxious to see them go at it. Their brief brawl served as a nice preview of what we can expect come SummerSlam.
AJ Lee and Paige
Stephanie and Brie weren't the only women who highlighted Raw. AJ and Paige had a solid talking segment that furthered their feud.
Paige acting disingenuous might not help her garner heat, but the dynamic these two have on the mic and in the ring is strong. They'd follow it up in an awesome angle on SmackDown, where Paige pushed AJ off the stage. When was the last time you saw that in the Divas division? Great work by both ladies this week.
Chris Jericho vs. Seth Rollins
With this match marking the first time these two have faced off in singles competition, it felt fresh, and the two delivered a great bout. They held back a bit, but I'm glad they did, as they can save it for a future feud down the line.
The non-finish was logical in that The Wyatt Family's predictable interference built toward Bray's match with Jericho at SummerSlam. Bonus points to Jericho for engaging in an entertaining segment with The Authority earlier on in the night as well.
When was the last time Orton truly looked this vicious? I was as happy as anyone when he finally turned heel last summer, but he's been poorly booked ever since due to being portrayed as The Authority's lapdog.
He showed a mean streak on Raw that we haven't seen from him in a long time, and his attack on Roman Reigns was brutal. He cut a good promo on SmackDown that did more to get me excited for their SummerSlam match than anything else they did before this week.
Dolph Ziggler and The Usos vs. The Miz and Rybaxel
This was a fast-paced six-man tag team match filled with enjoyable action and fun chemistry between all six competitors. The Miz's Hollywood antics were hilarious, The Usos and Ziggler were their usual great selves, and Rybaxel held its own against the fan favorites. It was also a good length, which is rare for midcard matches.
Chris Jericho vs. Erick Rowan
Rowan isn't a terrible worker, but he certainly isn't as strong in the ring as his stablemates Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper. With that said, he had an impressive outing against Jericho in the main event of this week's SmackDown.
The two contested a very solid matchup, with both guys coming out of it looking good. The stipulation of Rowan being banned from ringside during the Wyatt vs. Jericho match at SummerSlam was interesting and should have been advertised in advance.
This Week's Low Points
Bo Dallas vs. R-Truth
Say it ain't so, Bo! I figured the undefeated streak of Bo Dallas was going to end eventually...but to Truth? Really? It wouldn't have been as bad if it was someone whom Dallas hasn't already beaten before. It wasn't even like the live crowd desperately wanted to see Dallas lose.
If anything, the fans liked him more than they did Truth. Therein lies the problem. At least it served the purpose of establishing a new aggressive side of Dallas that got him good heat following his attack on Truth on SmackDown.
Fandango vs. Diego
For anyone who thought Zack Ryder was going to get pushed after winning on Raw last week, well, there's your answer. Diego is a joke of a competitor and seeing him beat Fandango with the help of Summer Rae and Layla at ringside did nothing for me as a viewer. What was worse was that they did the same exact thing days later on SmackDown. Do they really think we're that stupid or something?
Naomi and Natalya vs. Cameron and Alicia Fox
This match wasn't terrible, but it simply paled in comparison to what else was done by the other women on Raw. The crowd couldn't have cared less for the in-ring action, and it felt too soon for Naomi to be getting her revenge on Cameron, especially via submission. It was nice seeing Natalya winning on Raw, but it's mind-boggling to me that WWE doesn't have anything of note for her to do at the moment.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Alberto Del Rio
Ziggler and Del Rio always have good matches, but there's only so much you can do within a short period of time. Not only that, but it's also the same result every single time they clash. A win for Del Rio at this point virtually means nothing because he hasn't been relevant in ages.
On the bright side, I'm glad to see a feud actually occurring in the midcard between The Miz and Ziggler over the Intercontinental Championship. It helps make the belt mean more in the process.
Let me start off by saying Slator-Gator had a pretty fun matchup against Zack Ryder and Sin Cara (of all people) on Superstars this week that's worth a worth. That said, I absolutely hate this pairing. The tag team has zero chemistry together, and it feels like a desperate way to add a new team to the depleted tag division.
I'm glad WWE is finally giving Titus O'Neil something to do, but why not have him join the new Xavier Woods stable? Honestly, anything is better than this.
The Ascension vs. Steve Cutler and Mac Miles
If you've seen one match involving The Ascension, you've seen them all. How has this been going on for two years straight? It hasn't even been made clear whether they're supposed to be babyfaces or heels due to the fact they played to the crowd during their post-match promo. The tag team tournament crowning No. 1 contenders to the belts couldn't be happening at a better time.
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Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is a journalism major at Endicott College. Visit his website at Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.