Pruett's Pause: WWE Raw - The returns of Miz, Chris Jericho, and A.J. Lee, John Cena's first night as a 15 time champion, SummerSlam begins taking shape, and more!
By Will Pruett
It's not often we see an episode of Raw as action packed with returns and surprises as this one was. WWE pulled out all the stops and it felt like a Raw early in WrestleMania season where the puzzle pieces are starting to fit together. The biggest stories were the returns, so let's focus on those.
A.J. Lee made potentially the biggest impact by coming back and proving the ridiculous pregnancy rumors (started by some random guy on Reddit) wrong. A.J. not only returned, but she turned babyface by challenging Paige, who after a very poor verbal performance turned into a cowardly heel. This was a fun segment paralleling the debut of Paige and it should set up a feud between them. My hope would be that working with A.J. prevents Paige from having another sub-par verbal performance like she did just before A.J. entered.
A.J.'s return breathes new life into WWE's women's division and it will, hopefully, be successful. There is always a temptation to drag the entire division into Total Divas storylines, but there's definitely room for a serious women's division and a Total Divas match.
The Miz made his long-dreaded return to Raw and actually did a nice job with his promo. Miz was just as delusional and dislikable as he was supposed to be. This wasn't Miz pandering for crowd chants with "Really" and the Figure Four. This was heel Miz being a heel. I like this version of heel Miz. The all-white suit was a really entertaining additional touch.
Miz's return was a nice form of misdirection for the return of Chris Jericho. Jericho's return felt like his last two or three returns have. They've been random and they launched into a story almost immediately. Jericho is a utility player for WWE and when they're on the same page, he can really enhance the show.
Jericho was able to attack Miz right away and lay him out. This lead to The Wyatt Family hitting the ring and laying out Jericho in a major attack. Jericho's return lead straight into a big feud for him with a young star. This is the Jericho way of doing things and it works for him. Jericho's isn't going to main event, but he's going to be close to that scene. Jericho isn't going to be a top guy, but he can't help get top guys ready and lend them credibility. A Jericho vs. Wyatt program is creatively exciting for the wrestlers and the fans alike.
This episode of Raw was all about returns, and it delivered.
And now for some random thoughts:
- The entire story with Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose strung throughout the show was terrific. Ambrose making the big save at the end of the show to prevent a Money in the Bank cash in was great storytelling. I'm still rather enamored with the Kane-assisted finish from Money in the Bank and this played upon it perfectly.
- How great of a story idea is Ambrose actively working to stop a Rollins cash-in. It's a brand new spin on the tired and true Money in the Bank formula.
- C.M. Punk chant pro-tip: Don't stop and let them chant it louder (this is for Paige).
- C.M. Punk chant pro-tip: Don't chant C.M. Punk (this is for everyone else).
- The main event of Battleground doesn't leave me excited and it's hard to ignore the logical gap of Roman Reigns being placed in the match by The Authority. Just as a pure booking decision, I don't like seeing Reigns in this spot. Reigns shouldn't be in title matches yet, because it implies that he is failing when he doesn't win them. WWE doesn't want to peak crowd interest in a Reigns title win and have it dwindle before WrestleMania.
- There's something funny and downright charming about Zeb Colter as your babyface racist uncle. You don't agree with all of his opinions, but he's a good guy at heart.
- It took a while, but Nikki Bella is back to getting tortured. Maybe this means Stephanie McMahon vs. Brie Bella is soon. I'm psyched for this potential match of the year.
- I would have been okay with Cesaro challenging Cena for the WWE Championship at Battleground. The result would be obvious, but it would kick off the Paul Heyman vs. Cena story they'll need for SummerSlam and it would elevate Cesaro to be in a main event with Cena, even in loss.
- I'm not excited about having another battle royal on a special event. WWE is into the whole battle royal thing lately and it's just not exciting. I would have rather seen a one night four or eight man tournament at Battleground, but WWE seems to like throwing people over the top rope.
- A match ending during the break was bound to happen. I didn't think is would be quite as inconsequential as it was.
- Damien Sandow as Vince McMahon is at the top of the televised impressions of Vince McMahon. Well, it was until Stephanie (I want to say this was intentional) did her Vince impression back to Sandow.
- The Summer Rae and Dolph Ziggler pairing has a ton of potential. I'd like to see it grow and evolve, even though I didn't appreciate the way it was executed. I'm excited about it.
- Stardust and Goldust keep having the exact same match with Ryback and Axel. Thank goodness for fast forward.
This was an action packed and very fun episode of Raw. WWE can't break out a ton of surprises every week, but they were able to break out some awesome ones for a momentum boost going into these pivotal Summer months. Battleground, SummerSlam, and Night of Champions seem to be shaping up nicely. WWE can capitalize on this momentum and hopefully they will.
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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