Powell's WWE Raw Hit List: Daniel Bryan faces Antonio Cesaro, Ryback, and Jack Swagger, C.M. Punk and Paul Heyman, Alberto Del Rio vs. Sheamus, Rob Van Dam vs. Wade Barrett, Total Divas cast on MizTV

Posted in: Powell Editorials, MUST-READ LISTING
Jul 23, 2013 - 03:15 PM

By Jason Powell

Dot Net Members are listening to my 58-minute audio review of WWE Raw, and my 48-minute Q&A audio show from Monday. If you enjoy our All Access audio, help support Dot Net by signing up for membership to the ad-free version of the website via the Dot Net Members' Signup Page.

WWE Raw Hits

Daniel Bryan in three matches: WWE told a great story with Bryan that helped establish that he's driven and more than just a comedy act. As much as I've disliked the McMahon Family skits, Triple H helped the cause by praising Bryan during his backstage segment with Brad Maddox. Obviously, Bryan vs. Antonio Cesaro was the real show stealing match. Here's hoping that performance does as much for Cesaro as it does for Bryan going forward. It would have been cool if Bryan had defeated Ryback as well and hopefully he does before SummerSlam.

John Cena and Daniel Bryan contract signing: Cena's endorsement of Bryan as his challenger for SummerSlam was effective. With Vince McMahon and Brad Maddox taking jabs at Bryan and that awkward scene last week where Cena named Bryan as his challenger, this was an important segment that should go a long way toward making casual fans see Bryan as a threat to take the WWE Championship. It will be very interesting to learn how Bryan's matches performed in the ratings.

C.M. Punk and Paul Heyman: Another intense verbal sparring match between Punk and Heyman. Punk showed great intensity and rage by repeatedly asking where Heyman was because he wanted to get his hands on him so badly. Heyman's line about heroes and cowards was among the best I've heard all year. Punk established himself as the babyface who won't quit regardless of what Brock Lesnar throws at him. Another excellent piece of business.

Alberto Del Rio vs. Sheamus: Del Rio continues to shine as the heel champion. The legitimate Sheamus thigh injury served as the perfect setup for Del Rio to once again show how ruthless his character is. First, he targeted Dolph Ziggler's head when he returned from a concussion, and now he focussed his attack on Sheamus's injured thigh. Del Rio is doing fine without Ricardo Rodriguez, but I do believe his act can be even better once his ring announcer returns. The heelish Ricardo we saw prior to his suspension leaves me hopeful that he can enhance this suddenly strong act.

Rob Van Dam vs. Wade Barrett: A good showcase match for RVD that kept his momentum building strong. That said, I remain baffled by the company's decision to position Barrett as an undercard performer. What's it going to take for Barrett to get his first consistent push since he made The Nexus work? Meanwhile, RVD kept his streak of potatoing his opponents alive with that vicious kick that caused Barrett to bleed from the mouth.

Overall show: Another strong effort from WWE. It was odd that Big Show didn't return when he was the only thing advertised for this edition, but the three Daniel Bryan matches afforded them the chance to leave Randy Orton and The Wyatt Family off the show. As much as I want to see what was next for the Wyatt Family, it's never a bad thing to leave fans wanting more while not overexposing characters. The Prime Time Players singles matches were predictable, yet both served a purpose of showcasing two babyfaces who need wins.

WWE Raw Misses

Miz TV with Total Divas cast: Okay, so I know the horny male demographic has one reason to view this as a Hit. I honestly expected this to be longer and worse. However, by the time the segment was over, I actually had less desire to watch the premiere of the reality show than I did going in.

Booker T and Teddy Long: Wait, neither man is the Smackdown general manager and Teddy certainly isn't a wrestler, so why are they still feuding?

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