Pruett's Pause: WWE Raw - Triple H and Stephanie McMahon strip Daniel Bryan of the WWE Championship, Seth Rollins offers his explanation, Ambrose and Reigns respond, and more!
By Will Pruett
When you think about the last month of WWE television, it's all very weird. Daniel Bryan came out to the ring to deliver an emotional speech. This speech was about getting neck surgery. He promised to return quickly and nothing was said about the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. For the next few weeks, Bryan refused to forfeit the title while waiting to come back. It was very heroic, except for when Bryan's recovery decided to turn this whole surgery "angle" into a shoot and not corporate. Bryan's neck went all Survivor Series 1997 on WWE by refusing to get better by Money in the Bank.
Now what would WWE do? They had an angle at their last special event where Bryan allowed his wife, Brie Bella, to quit instead of forfeiting the title. How awkward would it have been if Bryan had suddenly shown up on this show and decided to forfeit the title anyways? Does Bryan refuse to forfeit the title, then get emasculated verbally by The Authority? He couldn't exactly take a bump to make this angle work. WWE made the choice to leave Bryan off of the show, which robbed us of what could have been a great promo, but it was the more logical choice. Bryan would have looked so weak handing the title over.
With the title(s) now magically hanging above the ring (on their magical gold belt holder from TLC 2013), it was confirmed that their would be a "Whole Crapload Of Money In the Bank" Ladder Match at Money in the Bank. When all options are considered, this is probably the best thing. WWE gets to move on with their stories. Daniel Bryan gets time to heal up at home before heading back to work. The MITB show gets a nice special hook. Everyone seems to win.
This isn't how I saw the Daniel Bryan title reign ending and it isn't how anyone wanted it to. Even WWE tried hard to keep Bryan in the mix and get him on the next show. The timing couldn't be worse, since WWE is dealing with roster depth issues beyond Bryan being hurt. I still believe WrestleMania was a happy ending and a happy moment, even if the aftermath for Bryan has been rough.
The depressing news for fans from this show is probably the best news for Bryan. Instead of a deadline he has to return within, he now has all the time he needs. He can get healthy, hang out with his lovely wife, and just generally chill. After neck surgery, chilling is probably pretty nice. WWE also gets the unexpected opportunity to have one of their top stars make a big comeback after August, when they will need people to commit to the WWE Network for another six months.
No one wins here, but tonight WWE put themselves in a situation to succeed despite injuries. All the best to "Daniel" Bryan Danielson as he recovers.
And now for some random thoughts:
- What is there to say about the Seth Rollins explanation? I moved it up to the top of the random thought section because it was really good. Rollins appeared more polished on the mic and more connected with his body than he ever has. He also delivered some tightly written dialogue about his turn that filled in almost any hole that could be poked in it. Some people will still be upset, but this was a great first week for the heel version of Rollins. WWE followed up on his turn in the best way possible.
- The best part of the Rollins promo was the setting. Rollins stood in the ring with Michael Cole. Triple H wasn't there. Randy Orton wasn't there. WWE trusted Rollins to go to the ring, draw heat, and hold the promo together on his own. Whether it was an act of trust or a test, Rollins proved to be up for it.
- I was going to watch the Raw preshow this week, but then my TV was on HBO and I ended up watching half of a movie about cyber bullying that also involved identity theft. It was a much better choice. The movie itself was horrible and melodramatic, but it sure beat listening to Alex Riley and Booker T prattle on.
- Stephanie McMahon and Triple H played the opening perfectly. Their unrestrained joy and giddiness as they gloated about Bryan's title reign ending was great. It put Bryan over without him even being there. They continue to shine in their heel roles.
- Sheamus vs. "Bad News" Barrett was a fun match. I would have out both of these men in the Money in the Bank match, but that was obviously not the plan. Sheamus makes sense as a World Championship competitor, but his character is quite stale. Putting him in the ring with the newly dynamic Barrett doesn't help this situation.
- Rusev crush puny American President and his workout. Putin smile. Ryder cry.
- I didn't pay attention to the R-Truth as Goldust's partner match. Why not? Because R-Truth.
- Quick idea for Goldust's eventual partner? Why not have Cody Rhodes pick an NXT guy he doesn't expect to succeed (which is obviously the theme of the guys Cody is picking)? The NXT guy could go in, impress as Goldust's partner, and win. This sets the NXT guy up in a team with a veteran (always a good thing) and with a natural feud against Cody (also a good thing). This is a spot I could see Sami Zayn fitting really well into. His likability would assure that Cody is the heel. Plus, ZaynDust works as a team name.
- Layla and Summer Rae's weird milky backstage segment was weird. And milky.
- 3MB's challenge to Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose was fantastic. The ensuing beatdown could have been a little quicker, but it got the point of The Shield's anger across.
- Dean Ambrose delivered his first truly great WWE promo on this show. He had some amazing levels and was able to take the audience on a ride with him. His delivery is a really interesting mix of styles between those pioneered by Jake Roberts and Roddy Piper. It was fantastic.
- One of my first thoughts when Ambrose didn't turn with Rollins was about Ambrose's promo ability. WWE left the strongest promo guy in The Shield aligned with the strong silent babyface. Reigns needs Ambrose around him to do some talking. It actually makes perfect sense.
- Roman Reigns, as much as I just criticized his promo ability, did some nice work here as well. Reigns and Ambrose had a great first week of this angle.
- Damien Sandow made me laugh with his modern dancing. I know people who do that pretty much with the same quality of movement, but they aren't mocking it.
- Bo Dallas encouraging opponents post-match is one of my favorite things.
- Paul Heyman's promo about Brock Lesnar before Cesaro's entrance was quite fun.
- Rob Van Dam and Cesaro still lack chemistry in the ring. I'm glad Cesaro won this match, since RVD just seems like a filler guy right now. WWE needs star power, but does RVD offer it?
- John Cena did a nice thing by running in to help Reigns and Ambrose against The Wyatt Family. Nice people should do nice things.
- I enjoy watching Paige wrestle. I don't mind seeing Alicia Fox wrestle. For the love of all that is holy can they please stop wrestling each other?
- I fast forwarded through the Swagger vs. Santino match. Not a soul alive can blame me.
- The main event six man surprised me with a lack of shenanigans. I expected Seth Rollins and Triple H. I expected a whole lot of nonsense. What we got was a straight-forward six man tag match. It was entertaining enough, but it was nothing to write home about. (Why would I write home about wrestling in the first place? I am home. Should I leave little wrestle notes all over the house?)
- John Cena took almost all of the beating for his team in the six man. I was surprised to see Cena doing the heavy lifting and selling so much. Good for him. Way to be unselfish and help out the five younger wrestlers in the ring.
- Roman Reigns looks like a cuss-wording beast sometimes and it's awesome.
As I read over my review, I see that I liked a lot of what WWE did on this show, but the show itself was flat. It contained way too much filler. The key segments (The Authority stripping Bryan, Seth Rollins, Reigns and Ambrose) delivered just like they were supposed to, but the show was basically all thriller around those segments. It wasn't very exciting. I know Raw can't have three million things happening every week like Impact (mainly because relatively sane people write it), but it could be a little more exciting and fresh than this week's show.
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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