Powell's WWE Raw Hit List: Evolution reunites to face The Shield, Bray Wyatt and John Cena, Intercontinental Title tournament, Paige vs. Alicia Fox, The Uso Brothers, Big Show and Damien Sandow, Fandango and Layla
By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw Hits
Bray Wyatt and John Cena: The Hit goes to Wyatt for being so good on the mic that he was able to salvage the segment despite some awful Cena humor. Obviously, the idea was that Cena would take the comedic approach so that Wyatt could call him on it, but did it really need to be that corny? As much as Cena's character caters to children, it doesn't have to alienate adults. Still, I like the way they played on a criticism of Cena laughing off his opponents and made the Wyatt character seem wise by calling him on it. Cena showed good fire in his response and they left me looking forward to the cage match.
Rob Van Dam vs. Alberto Del Rio: A lengthy hard fought match was a great way to get the tournament started. I rolled my eyes when they announced that a tournament would be held to become No. 1 contender to the Intercontinental Title. After all, IC Title matches have been randomly dished out for so long that the idea that a tournament was required to determine the No. 1 contender seemed foreign. However, the talent advertised for the tournament combined with the work in this match drew me in.
Bad News Barrett vs. Dolph Ziggler: The hardest work of the night came from these two. I appreciate the effort, but I never bought into any of Ziggler's near falls. Regardless of how hard he works, WWE hasn't given us any reason to see him as an in-ring threat lately. It also didn't help the cause that viewers knew the winner would advance to face Sheamus.
Paige vs. Alicia Fox: A good match with a good story told by the broadcast team. They did a nice job of questioning whether Paige was a flash in the pan as she was getting roughed up early to then being impressed when she fought back and got the win. I really like the finishing hold a lot more than the Paige Turner.
Big Show and Damien Sandow: A simple yet effective skit in which Sandow's mic work made the fans want to see Show punch him out.
Alexander Rusev vs. Xavier Woods: A simple squash match win that actually went a long way to making me feel like Rusev can be a player. He felt like a throwback throughout his run in NXT and I feared that he would burn hot early and then fade out. I'm starting to see him as more of a modern act. He's not the foreign monster of the month opponent for Hulk Hogan, he's a modern day badass MMA fighting machine. It doesn't mean he's going to be a major player for years to come, but I do believe he's positioned well enough that he has a chance to do so.
Cesaro vs. Mark Henry: A minor Hit. I love the Cesaro and Paul Heyman pairing. I'd love to think that he's going to win the tournament and the Intercontinental Title and WWE is suddenly going to change the way they use the secondary title. Of course, I've had similar hopes for the last ten Intercontinental Champions and they all end up losing throwaway non-title matches and come away from their title reign worse than they were going into it.
WWE Raw Misses
Evolution reunion: The live crowd's reaction to the Evolution music, reunion, and beatdown of The Shield was flatter than I would have imagined. I've always felt that Evolution's place in pro wrestling history has been overstated. It was a nice launch pad for Batista and Randy Orton, but while the names look great in retrospect, they just didn't burn all that hot. Still, I thought the big names reuniting to go against The Shield would have generated more buzz. The one bright spot was Roman Reigns firing up, and the reaction to Triple H performing the Pedigree on him. One can only assume that we'll be seeing a Hunter vs. Reigns singles match somewhere down the road. I like the idea of Evolution having a short reunion and putting over The Shield, yet I fear where that leaves Daniel Bryan at Extreme Rules.
Kane and Daniel Bryan: I like the idea of hitting the reset button on the Kane character. I also liked the idea of Kane teaming with Randy Orton and Batista to face The Shield at Extreme Rules. At this point, I'm hopeful that it will end up being an eight-man tag match rather than a six-man tag between Evolution and The Shield, and Bryan defending against Kane. I realize there's history between Bryan and Kane, but this does not feel pay-per-view main event worthy. It's already led to fan speculation begin that Evolution vs. Kane is the real main event of the show and that this is a sign that Bryan will be the new C.M. Punk in that he may be the champion, but he is not the man in WWE.
The Shield handicap match: It was obviously a setup for the Evolution attack, but it just didn't work. The fans sat on their hands when the eleven heels were introduced and the match got underway. I was surprised to see Alexander Rusev on the heel team and I thought he was going to have a real moment in the match, but he was just there along with everyone else. Instead of going with numbers, next time leave 3MB backstage and maybe people will take the heel team a little more seriously.
The Uso Brothers: I really liked the way their characters didn't just take last week's beating from Randy Orton and Batista and just move on. They went right back after them on Smackdown and again on Raw. That's a positive. The real negative continues to be that they never get mic time to establish their personas. Jimmy Uso comes off well on the Total Divas show. I know there's a difference between reality show acting and delivering a promo, but I'd at least like to see him and Jey get a chance to establish individual personalities. Giving them a "Miss" is a bit extreme given that they are over, but I continue to fear that there is a limit to how over they can be without mic time.
Jack Swagger vs. Sheamus: A minor Miss if only because I expected more from these two. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't as good as it could have been.
Ryback and Curtis Axel vs. Cody Rhodes and Goldust: The Rhodes and Goldust free fall continues. I may change my tune on this if they are actually going to do something of substance with Ryback and Axel, but I suspect they are merely setting them up as the tag title challengers of the month. If nothing else, the Ryback clothesline that ended the match looked great.
Fandango and Layla: It was only their second appearance together, but I didn't feel like there was any immediate chemistry there.
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