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Yes! Yes! Yes! The Raw Review (#YYYTRR)

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Coming off the back of Sunday’s SummerSlam, Raw was guaranteed viewership this week, but also added pressure.

Pressure for the extremely well-played out double heel turn of former Evolution teammates Triple H and Randy Orton to convincingly rub the fans the wrong way for the first time in years, pressure for the would-be WWE Champion Daniel Bryan to pull off the role of a modern day “Stone Cold” Steve Austin in the wake of the ‘L.A. Screwjob’, and also pressure for the heated storyline between CM Punk and Paul Heyman to keep building momentum and interest after a match which could well have ended it and kept us all happy.

Fortunately, WWE looks like it has nothing to worry about. All of these potential pressure points became great moments on this week’s Raw and created an atmosphere which suggested a wind of change for a multitude of superstars over the coming months.

The Chase is On!

I was left shocked at the close of SummerSlam, and it is not because I predicted that Orton would cash-in or because Triple H was the guy who stole Bryan’s career-defining moment. I was shocked at how well the series of events played out after Bryan gave John Cena his 4-6 months of leave from WWE (4-6 months, I hope, which are used to create a new face of WWE in Bryan rather than a stand-in until Cena makes his triumphant return). They let him have a false moment where he embraced the fans, and ultimately accepted that he was at the summit of WWE. The arena even filled with confetti and fireworks, and Bryan thanked his parents in the process.

That is what made the familiar sound of “I hear voices…” a shock.

Bryan’s position had been given enough time to sink in with the fans, and Orton and Triple H took that away from everyone. I am not ashamed to say that this is a storyline which could evoke the same emotion that the ‘Summer of Punk’ did from me in 2011. I find myself invested in this because it was given the time to make us all believe that Bryan was truly on top of the WWE mountain.

This is where this week’s Raw had the most pressure put onto it.

The Bryan/Orton storyline is now at the forefront of everything WWE does heading towards its next ‘big four’ PPV, Survivor Series. In other words, three months of build towards one of two things (Bryan finally securing the WWE Championship from Orton, or the next really big step in a rivalry which could build all the way to WrestleMania XXX) all rested on the opening and closing 20 minutes of Raw.

Thankfully, WWE did deliver in making me excited for this storyline. I was made to truly loathe the words “best for business” when they came from the mouth of Stephanie McMahon (at one point I was hoping Bryan would put her in a Yes Lock – when I wish harm on Steph it is a sure sign that it is an effective promo), and when Bryan was led away by security it was a throwback to the countless times Mr. McMahon had Steve Austin removed from arenas.

Orton’s ‘Coronation’ segment was almost flawless, with only two exceptions – I saw Roman Reign’s Spear coming a mile off, and Orton’s RKO was poorly executed. My cousin put it well when we were discussing the segment, likening The Shield to three of the Big Boss Man. This whole storyline is beginning as the famous ‘Austin vs. McMahon’ feud played out, and some will likely call it a rehash.

In some respects it is, as the whole concept of the angle is that McMahon wants what is best for business, as it was with ‘Austin vs. McMahon’. Bryan is not the atypical “Corporate” face of WWE, much like Steve Austin was treated. In truth, the list of comparisons could go on, but you get the idea. It is a storyline which uses the WWE Championship as a beacon of power in the future of WWE as a company, and the superstar who holds the title is instrumental in how the company is perceived.

But is it really a bad thing if WWE is using the same storyline which brought it superiority over WCW to propel Daniel Bryan undeniably to the top of WWE as its new face?

I don’t think so. We all knew that eventually Steve Austin would conquer the McMahons’ stranglehold on his rise, and we all know that Bryan will eventually become WWE Champion for longer than five minutes. It is all just a matter of enjoying the ride, and Bryan vs. Orton matches have that reputation behind them.

The mystery lies in which other superstars will be heavily involved with Bryan’s rise. The Shield are already involved as henchmen to the new ‘Age of Orton’, and Dolph Ziggler and Big Show (along with, presumably, Mark Henry) are also opposed to Orton’s reign because of their comments post-SummerSlam.

The one superstar I do hope weighs into this at some point is, predictably on my part, CM Punk. In some ways this is his ‘pipebomb’ coming full circle as the superstars from the indie scene are making headlines and the McMahons are representing the holding back of talent which Punk eluded to multiple times in his rise to the main event. But this is a scenario which could be a long way down the road yet, for later discussion.

It is storylines like this which help a new generation of superstars to secure the reigns of WWE without the threat of the old guard (Big Show is the old guard, but his influence in putting The Shield over since their introduction to the WWE Universe is undeniable just because of his size and constant involvement with them) snatching them back, and they also bring long-time fans, like myself, to the edge of their seats just waiting for the next development.

Far from finished

At the start of this entry I mentioned that the CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar match at SummerSlam could have been considered the end of the Punk/Paul Heyman feud and left us happy.

Obviously, this is not the case and I am glad for it. I’m glad, not because I want to see Lesnar vs. Punk II at some point (although I, and most of you, probably do), but because it is still an extremely interesting storyline.

The build to SummerSlam saw anger, emotional outbursts (mainly from Heyman in his declarations of Punk breaking his heart), and mind games. In the aftermath of SummerSlam this is no longer the case.

From this point on, Punk is a sinner looking at Heyman as his redemption.

Punk’s initial feelings of betrayal are, at this point, just sheer determination. A determination to end Heyman’s claims that “we were both the Best in the World” is the driving force behind Punk’s existence in WWE, and this week saw Heyman as a jovial victor in the wake of Punk’s own mistakes.

Punk’s desire to once again prove himself as the “Best in the World” by taking on all challengers once he returned at Payback was the beginning of the Punk/Heyman split. But it was Heyman’s claims that Punk cannot be the “Best in the World” without him which caused his anger and ultimately his tunnel vision-incurred loss to Lesnar.

This leaves Heyman as the only barrier Punk can break down in order to reclaim, what he believes to be, his title as “the best wrestler in the world”.

Raw was quite exclusive of which superstars and storylines it featured this week, and usually I would consider that as a bad thing. For once, this is not the case.

I looked at SummerSlam as the beginning of a new chapter for WWE, and although Bryan never walked out of the Staples Centre as WWE Champion he walked out as a genuine main eventer. Raw was touted at one point by Michael Cole as episode number 1,056 (or somewhere around that – I’m foggy on the exact number) this week, but it could have also been labelled as episode 1 in the build to a potential WrestleMania dream match.

In mid-August, this is all farfetched speculation, but Daniel Bryan entering ‘Mania as WWE Champion is extremely possible. The farfetched part of all of this is that CM Punk could be the superstar he faces off with.

Depending on the conclusion of the Bryan/Orton feud, Punk could end his story with Heyman at the same time; leading to a match we have seen before in Punk vs. Bryan, but one which many would agree should be a WrestleMania main event.

This week’s Raw could be explained as relatively narrow because it is the first piece of a puzzle which sees a new generation of superstars finally take their place at the absolute top of WWE.

This is all, like I said, speculation, but the WWE Championship is at the forefront of every major storyline in WWE right now.

This week’s question: What was your initial reaction to Darren Young coming out, and do you think the push he is likely to get (and saw a glimpse of this week) is going to lead to bigger things for the Prime Time Players?

Thank you for reading #YYYTRR. Follow me on Twitter for more of my WWE-based views at @SpringerAJ.

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  1. grave's Avatar
    nice blog, also looking forward to see this storyline since i wasnt watching wwe when the austin mcmahon feud was going on.

    for the question, well, i was thinking: uhm well, whatever,
    you could see it coming from a man with that haircut ... but I hope that he doens't get a push that sole reason
  2. DK Wrestling Savior's Avatar
    Great blog as always. But let's not the time Wrestlemania comes around, Cena will be back. Punk vs Bryan as the main event? Well, I guess it all depends on the role Cena plays on his return. Hopefully, Cena comes back and is a special attraction type, thrown into storylines with part timers and big marquee-like matches, without taking the main event away from Orton, Bryan, Punk, etc. When Cena returns, matches with Jericho, Christian, RVD, Undertaker, etc...are what I hope to see from him. Big time matches with a big time feel, but ultimately, behind Daniel Bryan vs Punk or Daniel Bryan vs Orton, etc. Maybe he can even be in one-on-ones with guys to help put them over.

    As much as I like the idea of Daniel Bryan being in this position...I do fear it's just a stop gap. I hope not, but I fear it. And deep down, I think we all know that without Cena going out for surgery, he doesn't even face Bryan at SummerSlam, let alone, put him over and lose the title to him.

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