10 Thoughts: WWE Raw 6.25.13 (CM Punk, Paul Heyman, Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan)
by Matthew Harrak on June 25, 2013

Raw (Hartford 2013)

1. I can say with total honesty that it never even entered my mind that the man to get Daniel Bryan over as a massive star would be Randy Orton. The man for so long to be rumored to have the “Triple H-syndrome” of wanting to protect his spot is putting over the small “internet darling” into a main event spot.

2. There were more mentions promoting a SmackDown match during that Sheamus/Christian vs Rhodes Scholars match than I think there’s been in the entire month of June.

3. It only took a couple of months off, playoff muttonchops, the trashing of the head shears and an affinity for “Beats by Dre” headphones for us to finally get the anti-authority CM Punk back on WWE TV. Hey, whatever it takes, it’s about damn time!

4. So are AJ Lee & Dolph Ziggler still together or is AJ strictly with Big E Langston? Because there was absolutely nothing babyface about the AJ/Kaitlyn/Big E segment and yet even the WWE is promoting Ziggler as a babyface against the notorious/heinous Alberto Del Rio. A split needs to happen between AJ & Ziggler quick.

5. I’m actually pretty surprised that Chris Jericho & Alberto Del Rio haven’t met in the ring before. With both of their extensive backgrounds in Mexico as well as wrestling the WWE’s main event-style, you would think their chemistry would blend beautifully in the ring. That was a great match tonight & one that probably would have headlined many PPVs a few years earlier when Jericho was in his prime & full-time.

6. Ziggler’s definitely getting the massive babyface pops, despite even attacking Jericho. It’s absolutely time to pull the trigger with him and I’m glad they’d held off so long with him. They were obviously right because he seems poised to be a huge star for a longtime.

7. The cover reveal of WWE 2K14 would have been more effective if the superstar on the cover was still on the roster. Hell, The Rock might never even wrestle again. At least he kind of has already suffered the “Madden Curse”.

8. It might not seem like a lot but having a triple threat tag match for just the #1 contendership spot is a good step in the right direction for the tag division. Don’t get me wrong, the tag team division is still a joke (hell, two of the three teams in the match are comedy teams) but at least they’re doing something besides just putting the belts on two singles wrestlers that have nothing else to do.

9. “I don’t care if he’s bigger than me. I don’t care if he’s stronger than me. Because he is not BETTER than me.” – CM Punk. In that one moment, CM Punk summed up the backwards booking that has plagued the WWE for years and they are JUST NOW starting to see the light. Guys like CM Punk & Daniel Bryan don’t need to be 6’4″ and 290 lbs because they have TALENT. And I don’t know if it’s just because he’s that good or because he’s that aware of how Kevin Dunn works & how much HD cameras can pick up but I think CM Punk might be the best at using subtle facial expressions and movements to convey a story in history. Like I said, a lot of that has to do with the extra benefit of HD cameras but damn does he know how to make them work for his character.

9a. CM Punk vs Darren Young? What the bloody hell is going on?! Not only is it Punk vs Young but Darren Young is getting a tremendous amount of offense! I’m all for putting over young talent but I never really considered putting the word “talent” in the same sentence as Darren Young. As for the finish, I mentioned it when Curtis Axel re-debuted that CM Punk was one of Hennig’s strongest supporters backstage. That being said, I’ve also heard that Heyman’s been lobbying for weeks to keep Axel away from any sort of CM Punk/Brock Lesnar feud fearing that Axel will just be used as the job fodder for each of them. Looks like Heyman was overruled and we’re going to get another IC Champion who loses every non-title match he has.

10. Before I get into Orton vs Bryan, the WWE Championship Money In The Bank ladder match featuring all former World Champions & all babyfaces to boot? The Money in the Bank PPV is shaping up to be a pretty big show again this year. Now… Did we just see a chairshot to the head?! First the WWE runs a concussion angle with Triple H, then has a legitimate concussion with Dolph Ziggler and they still allow Bryan to take a chair to the skull!??! The amount of selling Randy Orton is doing for Daniel Bryan is fantastic. It’s been a LONG time since we’ve seen Orton show as much vulnerability in a match as he has in his matches with Bryan. And then Daniel Bryan gets a clean, submission victory over Randy Orton on WWE’s flagship show. Honestly, in today’s WWE, this one-on-one victory could only be secondary to a clean win over CM Punk or John Cena on Raw (of course I would include The Undertaker but I’m just considering full-time guys). Tonight seemed like Bryan’s stamp of approval and I think it would be shocking if he DIDN’T win the Money In The Bank match in July.



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Matthew Harrak

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  • Penny Marie Sautereau

    The WWE Video Games tend to be purchased mostly by the hardcore lifelong wrestling fans. Casual fans and casual gamers generally pass on them. And it was mostly casual fans that enjoyed Dwayne’s comeback. Most of the hardcore fans I know, (save a few unnamed idiots with egos and chips on their shoulders) hated the Rock’s comeback, his ridiculous title run, and his screwing full-timers by hogging TV time only to leave again. Granted he had surgery, but what was stopping him from the occasional appearance “via satellite”?

    Putting a part timer the lifelong fanbase is mostly unhappy with who isn’t even presently active on the cover is a mistake.

  • FDSwayze

    Actually Penny, many non-wrestling fans play those games. Also, people really like The Rock. You just don’t like him.

    The REAL mistake is that it’s a PS3 game, and not a PS4 game, which means they are just rushing it out. People who play video games were looking at that, not the picture of The Rock. I’m sure the video game players are also concerned it’s not a THQ game, but these games put out lots of info and footage to educate consumers before making a purchase.

  • BD

    How do you figure most of the lifelong fanbase is mostly unhappy with him? Rock got one of the best reactions of anyone on the show. He’s not my favorite either, but just because you don’t like him doesn’t mean he isn’t good.

  • http://www.examiner.com/pro-wrestling-in-national/mark-satrang Mark Satrang

    The Rock is a huge star, not just in wrestling, but in entertainment all across America. Other than Hulk Hogan he’s the most recognizable “wrestler” going today. Putting him on the cover of their relaunched video game series was the best thing they could do for that business venture.

  • Larry B.

    Keep in mind that THQ went out of business, and 2K acquired the rights for the WWE game just a few months ago. I would imagine that they probably also acquired the game engine, and that’s the only reason they’re even able to put out a game this year at all. A PS4 game would almost certainly be a rush job, given a lack of a next Gen console game engine, or a best case scenario, it would be essentially the same game with maybe a slight graphics upgrade. The other factor to consider is the WWE 2K14 releases in October, I believe, and the PS4 and XBoxOne aren’t due out until at least November.
    And as a side note, I enjoy the Rock quite a bit, and he absolutely gets terrific reactions from the fans. And ultimately, he didn’t have to come back to Wrestling at all. You could make the case that he should not have had the title run and that he was “screwing full timers” by main eventing Wrestlemania. Except when you look at the rest of the card and see HHH, Brock, and the Undertaker, you can see that that is an issue in the WWE, not inherent to the Rock himself. The Rock did what he was supposed to, he showed up, he drew interest, and he went out and performed (even with an injury). What the WWE decided to do with him, is on them. They easily could’ve had Brock interfere in the Punk/Rock match at Rumble in order to set up Brock/Rock and Punk/Cena, but instead they went with Rematchmania.

  • FDSwayze

    Ah, thanks for the info Larry B. You seem more up to date on this video game information than I am.

  • Alexander Lucard

    Neither THQ and 2k Sports actually make the WWE video games – they just published them. Yukes makes the games, which is funny because until recently they were the majority stakeholder in New Japan Pro Wrestling…and they hadn’t made a game for their own company in years because of the forced mandate to have a yearly WWE game. So no matter who picked up the rights, the engine, basic gameplay and the like would be exactly the same and there would have been a release this year.

  • BD

    I actually think that Rock may be bigger than Hogan in present day… doubt he rivals his popularity back in the day though.

  • BD

    “I can say with total honesty that it never even entered my mind that the man to get Daniel Bryan over as a massive star would be Randy Orton.”
    Bryan was over well before this. Come on now.

    “A split needs to happen between AJ & Ziggler quick.”
    No it doesn’t. Keep them together. Stop thinking that lines need to be that clearly drawn. It doesn’t need to be childrens TV levels of simple.

  • Zork

    Most lifelong wrestling fans who happen to be gamers dislike the newer WWE games. They’re mostly purchased by newer WWE fans, trust me I know this from first hand experience working in retail.

  • CB40

    I disagree with you Blair on the Orton-Bryan comment. Yes, Bryan has been way over on his own, but this little series with Randy helped a lot I’m terms of solidifying Bryan as a top singles competitor now that Team Hell No is officially over.

    And honestly, kudos to Randy for his inspired work over the past couple of months or so, and for helping Bryan with this last push to more permanent singles main event status.

  • waltkovacs

    He was over, but there is a certain point where the audience is given a sign that the office is actually behind them. To put it in kayfabe terms, that they are a ‘legit’ guy, instead of just someone who is over. CM Punk was very over, but at some point they let him beat John Cena, clean, repeatedly. The gave him an over year long title reign. Punk wasn’t just “a main eventer” in the same way that Jericho and Big Show are, but was on a level with Cena, and therefore guys like Taker, Micheals, etc. Very few people are ‘allowed’ to be viewed as equal to Cena [it doesn't help that Cena rarely seems to care when he loses, so beating him once is often not enough to matter].

    Agree on the AJ/Ziggler thing. They can easily slow burn it. When Ziggler is done with ADR, they can have the break up and give him a feud with Big E. Having Langston team with AJ and have matches with Ziggler could help set him up to at least have a shot. The risk is that he ends up like Riley when he was done with Miz, or Evolution when Orton was done with them, as the ‘former minion’ often ends up losing any heat when they are done with the feud against their former employer.

    Similarly, they seem to be doing a slow build with Heyman and Punk. Punk’s acting indicate that he doesn’t entirely trust Heyman, but similarly, he may not be entirely convinced that Heyman is lying either. Similarly, they may not actually have Axel jobbed out to Punk (the longer they put off Heyman officially siding with Brock, the longer Axel and Punk won’t fight … and they can easily continue Axel’s “winning streak” by having him get count out or DQ wins against Punk because of Heyman and Brock messing with him. Axel would still end up getting beat up as the Brock Proxy that Punk unleashes his frustration on, but also is an extra source of frustration as Heyman helps him to achieve wins by technicality.

  • http://creativelyendeavored.com/ Matthew Harrak

    Yes Bryan was over. Then he lost in 18 seconds at WrestleMania and was paired into a comedy tag team with Kane. This helped get Bryan back on track and back into the main event as a singles competitor.

    After thinking about it more, you’re right about waiting for a slowburn for AJ/Ziggler. What just bothered me about it was a few things. First, at the Payback PPV, they showed AJ crying when Ziggler lost the belt and was selling another concussion. I’m sorry but heels shouldn’t show that type of emotion when they’re supposed to be the cocky, arrogant duo of the WWE. Then on Raw they both appeared in completely different segments – one, full-blown “Piggy James” type segment with AJ and the second a babyface attack on the heel champion. A slow dissolve of their relationship could be good TV but instead they just seem to be ignoring it. Also by my saying “pull the trigger” on Ziggler’s babyface turn, I by NO MEANS mean he should change his character. I just meant it was time to start having him feud with heels while keeping all of the same attributes that got him over in the first place.

  • BD

    Regarding Bryan – yeah, but losing in 18 seconds didn’t make him less over. It made him MORE over.

    I do get what you’re saying regarding AJ / Ziggler – what they’re doing is definitely out of the norm. BUT I just don’t get the rationale for wanting to to turn out like every other predictable cookie-cutter story they do. Why can’t AJ be a bitch about some stuff (Kaitlyn) and still care about Dolph? Besides, isn’t Dolph still kind of the same guy he always was, just with people behind him? Isn’t Del Rio the same guy he always was, just without people behind him, and annoyed at the crowd now?

    I wouldn’t change a THING in terms of any of them. Keep them EXACTLY as they are. Don’t worry about stereotypical good or bad or tweener or whatever else. It helps keep it unpredictable which is only just a bonus in a situation where the matches are almost guaranteed to be good.

    I dunno – is it me, or does the crowd LOVE this Del Rio / Jericho / Ziggler stuff, and I honestly don’t think anyone really NEEDS to be turned one way or the other. Turning guys into cookie-cutter faces, heels, whatever, makes storylines and matches more predictable and makes characters way more boring. They turn Ziggler into a typical “face” then he’s almost guaranteed to win this thing with Del Rio, ditto if they were to turn Jericho heel on him if those two go at it. And with AJ being a heel and Dolph still being with her, it just adds to that.

    I’d keep it just the way it is. Nothing is suffering as a result of it, in fact it’s enhanced by being the way it is. I just don’t get wanting one storyline or the batch of characters in that storyline to turn out like every other character and storyline that WWE has been known for in recent years.

  • BD

    The slow build with Heyman / Punk, is leading to a very obvious conclusion, which makes the storyline very boring to watch, in addition to kind of making Punk look like a complete moron. It’s predictable. The AJ / Ziggler / Del Rio / Jericho stuff is not, which is part of why I like it (in addition to the amazing ring-work.)

  • http://creativelyendeavored.com/ Matthew Harrak

    I thought that’s what I just said… don’t change anything about Ziggler since that’s what got him over…

  • http://creativelyendeavored.com/ Matthew Harrak

    To weigh in on the “cover debate”, I don’t mind The Rock being on the cover at all. He’s a massive star with a “Q-rating” through the roof. I would have PREFERRED an active wrestler on the cover but who really gives a hairy rat’s ass? It’s a damn video game!

  • BD

    No, I realize that. I just don’t see why having him with AJ is an issue.

  • http://creativelyendeavored.com/ Matthew Harrak

    It’s not really the fact that AJ is with him. As we saw on Raw, she really wasn’t with him in either of their segments. My problem was more with the “heel” AJ crying over Ziggler’s loss and injury at the PPV.

    I know for storyline purposes they’re an item but her reaction and the WWE FOCUSING on her reaction during that segment in order to pull favor from the fans was a little backwards. We’re not supposed to like AJ but are supposed to care when she’s upset? It just appears as if creative is being pulled in two different directions and while I do agree with you that having a relationship storyline featuring a heel Diva and babyface wrestler could be really interesting, I didn’t agree with how they flipped AJ in two different directions on one show.

  • BD

    Okay, fair enough. But do you need AJ to be a heel ALL the time, or is it possible that you could feel bad for her and Dolph with his title loss, and then dislike what she does regarding Kaitlyn. I guess I enjoy the fact that there could be multiple sides of the same person. I don’t see why it’s an issue having AJ sympathetic in one area, and antagonistic in another. In fact, I think it’s more realistic and brings more depth to any given character. Dolph is another example – the guy is a dick who won the title in a cheap fashion, and quite often cheats to win… yet also fights hard and fought from behind is sad when he loses after a good effort. I don’t see an issue with that.

    I just think they could use less black and white characters. I think the fact that this storyline HAS been interesting is for exactly that reason. I would enjoy the matches whether this was typical WWE predictable garbage anyway, because the guys involved are very talented in-ring, which is rare in itself. But having the story not be so… paint-by-numbers, is quite an added bonus, and I think it adds to it. It’s like when JC put on his RAW report “WHO IS THE FACE AND WHO IS A HEEL?!?!” and I’m like “uhh… does it really matter?” Is it somehow taking away from the story by not having it play out like a novel from the “young adult” section?

    Anyway, it’s an interesting debate. WWE doesn’t do this kind of thing often, and I for one think it’s refreshing. Remains to be seen where they’ll go with it, but yeah. Anyway, have me on the podcast already. We’ll have fun, just ask Chris and Joel from Classy Ring Attire.

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