Doctor's Orders: The Money in the Bank Go-Home Raw Review
By The Doc
Jul 9, 2013 - 12:57:02 PM
The Snowman is a genius
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Question of the day: Do you think that Daniel Bryan's re-ascension will earn him a permanent main-event home ala CM Punk?
Over the last several years, I honestly have not gotten that excited about the first main-event runs by any of the new stars. Not since Edge became WWE Champion in January '06 have I been truly captivated by a wrestler's initial rise to the top. For me, it is no longer about the ascension. It is about the RE-ascension. The Rated R Superstar was the last burgeoning top guy to have his headliner passport stamped for permanent placement amongst the elite on his first attempt. Once he cashed in his Money in the Bank contract, he was a main-eventer for the rest of his career. Since then, many have reached the top of the mountain, but various circumstances have knocked them halfway back down. The excitement has, thus, shifted to seeing them climb back up again. Personally, I loved CM Punk's promo two years ago, but part of the allure to "The Summer of Punk" was that it was the end of his fight to climb. For a few years, the WWE made you wonder if they were ever going to get it together and keep it together with Punk. Just as soon as he'd seemingly made it, he would have the rug yanked out from under him. To see him fight through all of that adversity and achieve the heights that he has reached has been a pleasure. It rarely happens in this day and age. The quest for permanent main-eventancy has become so difficult.
I feel like we could be seeing the final stages of the quest for Daniel Bryan. Watching him in these last few weeks has been a lot of fun. It puts a smile on my face every week to see him climb the next rung of the figurative ladder. He has made a habit of it in the last two years, but he is in that stage right now where his head is clearing through the clouds and he can smell that difference in the air at the top of the WWE mountain. His match with Sheamus was yet another step in the right direction for him. Not only was it a great TV match (one of the best of the year), but in Bryan defeating Sheamus, it gave the WWE's general fan population another reason to further invest in him. I have long advocated that winning still matters in wrestling. When Bryan made Randy Orton tap out, it mattered. Orton is one of the top WWE stars of the last decade and defeating him - especially by submission - carries weight. The WWE has done well to make mention of Bryan's history with the Celtic Warrior, thus making a win over him seem like that much bigger a deal, as well. Winning damn sure matters; and Bryan is winning consistently.
At Money in the Bank, Bryan will be the prohibitive favorite to win the All Stars Ladder match for the WWE Championship briefcase. I find myself legitimately rooting for him. His victories now mean something to me. My interest in the WWE product now has a direct tie to Daniel Bryan's success. I want to see him climb that ladder, both figuratively and literally. It's great to someone make it to the top, but I love the fact that we're seeing the preparations for Daniel Bryan to stay at the top.
I hope to say the same thing about Bray Wyatt one day. I sure am digging his character. If he can sustain and maintain that persona for a lengthy stretch, then I think it will get over very quickly. His vignettes have me as intrigued to see what he can do as I have been based on any pre-debut promos in years. The last vignettes that had me this engaged were Sean O'Haire's. Hopefully Wyatt works out better than he did.
#beginrant - Do people actually think that they are adding a "smark" element to the show by chanting "Husky Harris"? Maybe its sheer exhaustion on my part, but that annoyed the you-know-what out of me. I wanted to fly to Baltimore and slap every last one of those booger eaters. What's with the trend of chanting a different name at a wrestler? I want that to end immediately. - #endrant
Kane is a good choice for the Wyatt Family's first feud. The Big Monster has been a more prominently featured member of the roster over the last year than he had been in some time. Team Hell No was not something that I initially appreciated, but it has grown on me as time has passed, as it wound up keeping both Bryan and Kane in the spotlight. Subsequently, the Wyatts will be well served to make Kane their first target. He's not too high up the card that the Wyatts won't have anywhere to go but the very top after they're done with him and not so low on the card that it feels like they're merely mid-carders. This feud has a high ceiling in my opinion. Kane has enough strange storyline bullet points to draw from in his career that he ought to be able to give Bray someone to feed off of if they're given a chance to do a little improvising here and there in prospective verbal battles. It should be interesting to see if Kane makes it to MITB or if they have him sell the effects of last night's beat down. All in all, a good debut for the Wyatts.
I thought the wrestling on Raw last night was great. I have not been shy about my TV match opinion as of late. I do not care that much about the in-ring work on Raw, by and large. It takes a special match to hook my attention; otherwise, I just assume I'm going to see a match that I've already seen before numerous times and I keep on fast-forwarding. Bryan vs. Sheamus, in last night's context, got my attention. So, too, did Randy Orton vs. CM Punk - the combination of which produced one of my favorite Wrestlemania matches in recent years and one of the most underrated in Mania lore. I tuned into last night's main-event with legitimate interest. It has been quite awhile since two matches on the same Raw have been able to do so. Who would have thought that guys like Punk and Bryan would bookend the flagship by defeating guys that perfectly fit the prototype body style of the modern WWE Superstar? It's no longer surprising considering that they are the two most over guys in the business, sans for Cena.
Speaking of Cena, I remain locked into his title match on Sunday. I think Cena will retain and Mark Henry will soon be riding off into the sunset, but they have done a good enough job on the microphone in the last few weeks that they're match should garner some potentially massive heat from the Philly crowd. I like that Cena has not verbally engaged Henry as if he were facing some unstoppable force. He is not approaching this match as if he's intimidated. Cena has a tendency to pretend like he's Rey Mysterio when facing larger wrestlers, so my hope is that Cena mirrors his mic work against Henry with his physical performance, opens up his playbook, and tries to steal the show. Non-gimmicked main-events against big guys have not been critically successful for Cena in the past. The only thing lacking on his overall resume is a classic match against a super heavyweight without the use of a stipulation. Money in the Bank will provide him with an opportunity. I hope he studies some tape. Mark Henry is at his best when his opponents match his offense at about a 40-60 clip (World's Strongest Man getting 60%). Otherwise, his matches succeed in staying true to the psychology of a WWE big man match, but fail in the aesthetic department needed for critically exceptional bouts. Study the Sheamus-Henry matches.
Henry vs. Cena is an interesting match, looking at it from the critical side. I think it could be a 4-star performance that we talk about five months from now during year end awards or it could flop to the tune of average (which is how I've traditionally rated Cena's work with men of Henry's size).
Money in the Bank Predictions:
-Cena retains the WWE title and gets his critical home run against a super heavyweight
-Bryan wins the All Star MITB match in a MOTY contender with exceptional crowd response (I think it will be the modern standard bearer for MITB matches)
-Del Rio defeats Ziggler (the story is furthered and AJ costs DZ the match, giving face Dolph to sympathetic angles to build momentum)
-Damien Sandow wins the WHC MITB match (mic time = you matter; Ambrose last spoke when? He's still the favorite, though)
-AJ retains against Kaitlyn (the break-up with Dolph happens)
-Curtis Axel retains against Miz (I don't see "it" in Axel)
-The Shield's momentum is tanking. Mid-card titles are poison right now, sadly.
Money in the Bank winds up being the PPV of the Year.