Pruett's Pause: WWE Raw - Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman prove breaking The Streak was the right move, Stephanie McMahon and Brie Bella put together a fantastic angle, SummerSlam hype begins!
By Will Pruett
Brock Lesnar looks like an absolute beast. Actually, he looks like more than a beast. He looks like a destroyer of mortal men. Brock Lesnar, in his first appearance since the night after he ended Undertaker's undefeated streak at WrestleMania, suddenly seems like the most frightening man in the world.
This show built up perfectly to the Brock Lesnar appearance. He wasn't mentioned. He wasn't hinted at. Everyone knew. It was all about getting to the moment when Paul Heyman pitched his "Plan C" to Triple H. Once Heyman came through the curtain, he was transcendent. Heyman delivered yet another amazing promo. It's funny to think of how often he repeated his lines about Lensar ending The Streak and how little they mattered up to a certain point, because now, it's suddenly the best possible promo in WWE.
There is something about the mystique of a wrestler presented the way Brock Lesnar is. He's more than just a "talent" in a t-shirt and workout pants. From the way the announcers talk about him, the way Triple H approached him, and all the way down to Paul Heyman's promo about him, Lesnar was presented as the kind of monster who should frighten grown men.
Listen to the reaction Lesnar received when his music hit and he finally came to the ring after months away. This wasn't the reaction he received before WrestleMania. This was only comparable to the reaction he received the night after WrestleMania XXVIII in Miami, before he was defeated by John Cena and Triple H. Breaking The Streak helped Lesnar regain his monster status. Breaking The Streak added the mystique Lesnar never should have lost. Breaking The Streak helped Lesnar become more than he would have been without it.
I don't see how anyone can see the reaction Lesnar received, listen to Paul Heyman's promo, and look at how over Brock is, and not believe he gained quite a bit by beating Undertaker. Lesnar was the right guy and WrestleMania XXX was the right time. The Streak was broken, Lesnar's mystique was restored, and John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar is going to be spectacular at SummerSlam.
And now for some random thoughts:
- The angle between Stephanie McMahon and Brie Bella was simply fantastic. Brie played her role really well (and even slipped in her new catchphrase, "bitch"). Stephanie was even better. She played the arrogant boss lording her power over Nikki Bella and shifted to frightened, but still maniacal, when getting arrested. The angle played out perfectly and set up what will likely be Stephanie vs. Brie at SummerSlam beautifully.
- Triple H's choice to stay at the arena was equally as good as Stephanie's arrest. These two make pretty fantastic heels. Imagine how effective they'd be as authority figures if the evil authority figure trope had been abandoned when Eric Bischoff was written out in 2005 and only brought back for Triple H after SummerSlam last year?
- Paige's heel turn was another excellently put together moment. I would have done it a few weeks ago and given Paige vs. A.J. a more compelling dynamic going into Battleground, but this worked well. Paige and A.J. Lee isn't the feud I really want to see, but at least we will have better defined roles for both women now.
- Roman Reigns taking on Randy Orton and Kane was not an exciting matchup, but it did continue the push of Reigns. Reigns isn't great at selling, so the dynamic with him having to sell for two opponents until his comeback didn't quite work. In the end, the goal was to build Orton vs. Reigns and this match (and the small angle in the closing segment) did this well.
- There were two handicap matches in a row on this show. I was hoping for a third. The weird WWE booking Raw trifecta would have been complete.
- Does this make Bo Dallas a babyface now that he defeated Damien Sandow while Sandow was dressed as LeBron in Miami? I'm not sure, but I do know Dallas is getting really close to 20 and Bo.
- Bray Wyatt set up his rematch with Chris Jericho nicely. Their face-to-face verbal exchanges haven't been great, so I'm glad Wyatt was able to eliminate Jericho prior to the Highlight Reel. I'd like to see them get on the same page going into SummerSlam.
- The Miz is not an important secondary champion. We knew this when he won the title, but it was reinforced just one night later when he lost a non-title match to Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler vs. Miz has potential to be a fun feud, but Miz isn't going to come out looking good whether he wins or loses.
- Zack Ryder was somehow more buried by winning his match than he would have been losing it. Can we take a break from Fandango, Layla, and Summer Rae for a little while?
- I sped through anything involving Flo Rida. I can't accurately describe how little I wanted to see his performance.
- Is the plan to form a new version of the Nation of Domination with Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston, and Big E? I'm chill with these wrestlers being heel, but I worry about the heavy racial overtones from the early days of The Nation challenging them. Hopefully this doesn't end up being horrible.
- Rusev vs. Great Khali was the opposite of enjoyable. At least Lana didn't say anything controversial.
- Cesaro vs. Dean Ambrose was a glimpse into the future of WWE and the future looks pretty good. Ambrose's current "loose cannon" persona continues to develop nicely. Hopefully he will get over not wanting to win matches, because I'm sure fans want him to win some matches.
This was a really good episode of Raw that set up SummerSlam perfectly. It was one of those shows where they put all the pieces in line in mildly obvious, but completely compelling ways. This is what Battleground was leading to. I would have preferred seeing a better special event leading into this show, but I can't complain about this Raw at all.
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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