WWE Raw Hit List: Bray Wyatt sings with a sheep mask wearing children's choir, Daniel Bryan, Kane, Stephanie McMahon, and Brie Bella, Ric Flair endorses The Shield, Hugh Jackman appears, final Extreme Rules hype
By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw Hits
The Wyatt Family and John Cena: The children's choir singing along with Bray Wyatt and putting on the sheep masks was eery in a way that fit perfectly with the Wyatt character. Cena's reaction to the the mind games was great...until they had him blow it off and return to normal before the end of the show. I had zero expectation of Cena turning heel at Extreme Rules, but I don't know why they didn't make it seem like it was a possibility heading into the show. They were telling a good story and for some reason felt the need to blow it off in Cena's last segment on the show. Still, the opening segment was the highlight of the night.
Daniel Bryan, Kane, Stephanie McMahon, and Brie Bella: Stephanie's apology that was actually a setup was well done. I like that Bryan and Brie aren't portrayed as gullible morons who believe her, yet Stephanie still had a plan to get them in the ring so Kane could attack them. I really liked the way the camera showed Kane's mask and wig in the glass case backstage twice before showing that it was missing heading into a commercial break. I also enjoyed the old school Kane spot where he was struck with a wrench and then sat up out of nowhere moments later. I am impressed by how quickly creative made what initially felt like a disappointing title match feel much more relevant in just two weeks.
The Uso Brothers vs. Curtis Axel and Ryback: A good tag title match. Jey Uso selling an injury had me wondering whether they might be setting up a title change, which was obviously the intention. It also set up the big comeback and the satisfying conclusion to the match. I am surprised that they didn't deliver a finish that set up the need for a rematch since it's not like there are many tag teams left for the champs to work with. Props to Michael Cole for his call of the match. It was nice to hear him engaged and simply calling the action.
Sheamus vs. Titus O'Neil: No one would have thought much had they had another straight up match, but the attack by Titus during the ring entrances was an attention grabber. I like the way Sheamus hit his finisher, yet continued to sell the beating he took from Titus after the match.
WeeLC match: Fine, I admit it, this is actually a clever pre-show match. Let's face it, the masses are more likely to watch Hornswoggle and El Torito in a TLC match than most of the throwaway matches they put on the Kickoff show. The segment that set up the match really dragged and was Miss worthy since there doesn't seem to be anyone who cares about Los Matadores. By the way, who knew that Heath Slater had a finishing move?
Alexander Rusev vs. Xavier Woods: A quick and effective way to add a little juice to the pay-per-view handicap match. R-Truth getting some offense on Rusev provided a little hope for his team on Sunday. Of course, Rusev is going to crush them, but at least it looked like they might put up a little fight.
Cody Rhodes vs. Alberto Del Rio: A Minor Hit. Del Rio got a much needed win, and the story of Cody's growing frustration and issues with Goldust was told.
Overall show: A good go-home show that left me looking forward to the top three pay-per-view matches. There was definitely a long stretch in the middle of the show where things dragged, and I've heard from more than one person who attended the show live that felt like it was especially draining. Still, it succeeded with this viewer as a go-home show. I was impressed by the way WWE handled the issues with the satellite companies. They explained the issue and plugged WWE Network while also mentioning that cable is an option. They remained professional and didn't go into attack mode with the satellite companies, which hasn't always been the approach when Vince McMahon has had disputes in the past. Major props for the Kofi Kingston commercial that compared WWE Network to Netflix. It's long overdue, but that spot should clear up whatever confusion remains about how the network works.
WWE Raw Misses
Ric Flair: Ric Flair endorsing The Shield was awkward and confusing. It didn't come off well and the live crowd didn't seem to know what the hell happened when he left the ring. I noticed Flair winking toward Evolution as he was exiting the ring. It could have been Flair being cocky after swerving them or something they will go back to if Flair helps Evolution on Sunday. Either way, the Flair appearance was a letdown.
Hugh Jackman, Dolph Ziggler, and Damien Sandow: A cornball segment. Jackman looked like he was having fun and he's one of the biggest and most likable celebrities they've had on Raw, but that doesn't change the fact that this segment was bad sports entertainment nonsense.
Rob Van Dam, Cesaro, and Jack Swagger: It's good to see Bad News Barrett win the tournament because the guy has been wasted since the Nexus run, though I still fear that a title win means he'll become just the latest secondary champion to lose a bunch of non-title matches (see his last run as IC Champion). The situation with Cesaro, Paul Heyman, Jack Swagger, and Zeb Colter is awkward, and now they've added Rob Van Dam to that mix for a Triple Threat match at the pay-per-view. Here's hoping that whatever happens in the match jumpstarts Cesaro, who actually seems to be losing momentum since his big battle royal win and Paul Heyman Guy announcement.
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