Kester's WWE Raw Rundown: Ryback costs John Cena another match, Chris Jericho humiliates Paul Heyman, and Daniel Bryan continues his efforts to prove he's not the weak link
By Ryan Kester
Ryback and John Cena
Remember when Ryback didn't talk much? It made for a much better act. Far too much of Ryback's latest promos have either been completely out of left field, like his devil synonym brouhaha, or they have been groan inducing like last night's, "I had a stomach virus and my throw up was bigger than you." WWE had a fresh babyface that was getting over with their audience at large, and he's been transitioned into a cartoonish meathead that is all over the place. I understand that they turned him before they were ready to out of necessity, but the weekly "throw things at a wall and see what sticks" approach has been detrimental to his character.
I left last night's show without being anymore excited for Ryback and Cena's match at Payback then I was going in. In a large way, we simply got a rehash of the show closing angle from last week, only this time it involved a table rather than the ambulance. Whatever WWE has in store for viewers at Payback, for Ryback's sake I hope it involves an exit from the feud so WWE can focus on finding the rhythm for his heel act rather than selling an overly gimmicked match.
Speaking of guys in need of a more focused approach, Curtis Axel is getting nothing from the style of push he's receiving. For the third week in a row, Axel has been the background character to someone else's story, and when he is put up to the forefront, he's knocked back and treated like a joke. Time will tell if Axel actually has the charisma to back up the push WWE is setting up for him, but they are hamstringing him out the gate by having the top acts treat him as an afterthought as they go about their other business.
Paul Heyman and Chris Jericho
There wasn't much to this segment. The biggest thing viewers should take away from the contract signing is that WWE is expecting the usual pro-Punk reception in Chicago, and they want potential buyers to be aware that it's a bit of "bizzaro world" and that Punk is still a bad guy paired with a sleazy manager.
Chris Jericho's humiliation of Punk to close the segment was odd. Jericho's Y2J character has always been over the top, but he came off as more of a bullying heel than he did a confident babyface. I enjoy the work of both men normally, but this segment didn't mesh with the previous tone of Jericho wanting to get his hands on Punk.
WWE put a lot of time into Daniel Bryan's latest gimmick last night, and the direction WWE is going is beginning to come together. While I still feel the best use of Bryan is to take advantage of the pop he's getting and give him a huge babyface push, but Bryan is taking the "weakest link" idea and running with it; the added intensity to his matches lately has been very entertaining. WWE may find that Bryan gets the reaction he is getting regardless of what they do.
If nothing else, Bryan had a set of great in ring performances last night. WWE seems to be allowing him to use a few more holds in his matches than he did earlier in his WWE career, and he is obviously more comfortable fitting his style in with the WWE way of wrestling. WWE is taking care of Bryan and giving him a wealth of solid attention from creative, and it's going to be exciting to see where he goes from here.
Last night's show was solid enough. There was some solid wrestling on both ends of the show, and some of the mid and undercard is getting attention it normally goes without. However, the WWE Championship story is a mess and WWE is way too enamored with their app, and it led to some segments that dragged and a flat close to the show.
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