Pruett's Pause: WWE Raw - Brie Bella and Stephanie McMahon set up SummerSlam's real main event, John Cena brilliantly responds to Brock Lesnar, Chris Jericho delivers a terrible promo, and more!
By Will Pruett
Raw is usually a journey to get to the biggest development at the very end of the show. It's been like this since 1998(ish) when the overrun became a major thing for wrestling companies to do. People tuning in for whatever garbage the USA Network might be playing after after Raw are treated to some of the best action possible from WWE. Imagine my surprise and delight when the closing segment rolled around and I realized we had yet to see Stephanie McMahon's advertised confrontation with Brie Bella.
Stephanie has become one of the best heels in wrestling in the past year. Since her return to television as a member of The Authority, she has improved on a weekly basis. She started out lacking a little bit last Summer, but as time has gone on, she has grown into being amazing. Her expressions, delivery, scripting, and everything about her character have combined to make her an amazing antagonist. Stephanie has grown into a performer almost at the level of her father, which is quite stunning.
Brie Bella capture the hearts and minds of America (well, at least of me) on Total Divas, where she was shown to be the only relatable and logical person in all of WWE. Brie is presented as a very nice and very normal person. It's easy, when watching the reality show, to become at least minority smitten with her (it's cool everyone, my wife is okay with it). On WWE's main television shows, she was the wife willing to sacrifice her job so her husband could keep his WWE Championship. This would have played out pretty well if it wasn't for "Daniel" Bryan Danielson needing more time off than expected with his injured neck. Plan B was enacted and Brie had this amazing confrontation with Stephanie.
One of the most surprising parts of this was the way WWE presented two strong, non-stereotypical women who were not being objectified for their bodies or discussing men in a closing segment. They showed an amazing amount of faith in Stephanie and Brie to hold the interest of an audience normally taught to run to the concessions stand every time a woman appears. Brie and Stephanie were up for the task and they created a segment and a moment to be remembered.
When was the last time two women were able to close out Raw building up a match between them? This is more than even Trish and Lita main eventing Raw with a match. This was the build up for a match. This was a major moment in Raw history and a really awesome moment for everyone involved.
I've praised this segment quite a bit, both here and on Twitter last night. It's part of a bigger picture of WWE slowly changing the way they see and book women. The A.J. Lee and Paige segment is another example of WWE's thought process around women potentially shifting. The A.J. character may still be presented as crazy, but she was also presented as strong and confident as she stood with her title in front of her. Paige is being booked like a traditional wrestling heel. It works because it's simple and it works for the two of them because they're portraying they know how to play.
Elsewhere in the presentation of women, you had a horrid performance from Cameron. Well, we can't win them all. I'll just hang out and bask in the glow of Stephanie McMahon's exchange with Brie Bella for a while.
And now for some random thoughts:
- I fully expect Brie Bella vs. Stephanie McMahon to be better than Paige vs. A.J. Lee.
- John Cena's opening promo was pretty amazing. I love the way he discussed Brock Lesnar as a beast he plans to beat again. He showed some dread and trepidation going into the match and knowing Brock was going to do some real damage to him. This was excellent. Cena's work in the opening segment was the exact type of promo I'd like to hear from him more. He not only showed respect and fear concerning Lesnar, but he also rallied his fans behind him. This was an A+ promo.
- Cesaro vs. Cena was mildly clunky, but it was well-constructed. It didn't match their prior encounter. I was happy to see Cesaro looking like a real threat in the match, as opposed to a random jobber.
- The work Randy Orton did throughout this show was terrific. Orton, in his backstage segment and ensuing attack on Roman Reigns, felt like a man who finally found himself. This was necessary. Orton can be a great vicious heel when he is given the chance. This was one of June first times since his turn last Summer that he clicked as a heel.
- The Orton vs. Announce Table feud continued tonight. Why do those things hate Orton so much?
- Triple H and Chris Jericho had an okay segment. It didn't excite me, especially Jericho's callback to his slut-shaming promos against Stephanie from 2000.
- The Uso's continue to get good crowd reactions, but it would be awesome to see them get a little more promo time.
- R-Truth is an awful professional wrestler.
- Why not have someone worth their roster spot beat Bo Dallas?
- Zeb Colter loves defending the United States flag. It stands for pickup trucks and beer, damn it.
- Alexander Rusev and Jack Swagger have great brawling chemistry, but terrible wrestling chemistry. That confuses me.
- Roman Reigns took such a horrid beating that he fell asleep.
- How good was the Raw closing segment? Seriously. Brie Bella vs. Stephanie McMahon is the true SummerSlam main event.
This was a really fun episode of Raw to sit through. The opening and closing promos got down to business about SummerSlam and they made me need to see it. The rest was fairly inoffensive. WWE is doing a great job in building up SummerSlam.
So, what did you think of the show? Agree? Disagree? Either way, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or to follow me and interact on twitter @itswilltime.
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