THE BLOG
08/07/2012 09:57 am ET Updated Oct 06, 2012

WWE Raw Recap: John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan, CM Punk vs. Rey Mysterio

WWE Raw: August 6, 2012 -- Episode 1002 or "The Case of the Burrito-Blasted Ferrari"

Quick Results
Match #1: C.M. Punk defeated Rey Mysterio with the Go2Sleep in a Raw Active Match
Match #2: Alberto Del Rio defeated Christian after Del Rio hit Christian in the head with a boot
Match #3: Randy Orton and The Big Show wrestled to a double-countout.
Match #4: Ryback defeated Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks in a handicapped match
Match #5: Epico and Primo defeated Darren Young and Titus O'Neil (with AW) after Kofi and R-Truth distracted AW's team
Match #6: Damien Sandow and Brodus Clay (with the Funkadactyls) went to a No Contest because Sandow attacked Clay before the bell rang
Match #7: Kelly Kelly defeated Eve
Match #8: Alex riley defeated Dolph Ziggler after Chris Jericho distracted Ziggler
Match #9: Kane defeated Intercontinental Champion The Miz in a non-title match
Main Event: John Cena defeated Daniel Bryan

Last week, Raw lost some of the mojo it gained with a landmark 1,000th broadcast, by delivering a so-so follow-up. Have they gotten their groove back and figured out the new three-hour format? San Antonio, Texas is about to find out one way or another.

The Good

The New Opening Video
And let us never speak of Nickelback again.

That Wade Barret Hype Video
Holy crap, that was glorious. WWE produced one of their best videos in a long time, showcasing Barret's return to the world of illegal underground bare-knuckle boxing (How did they get the camera there anyway?) The dude looked like he walked straight out of a Guy Ritchie movie.

Don't Say "Crazy" Around A.J.
It's a good detail to add to the apparent 180 degree turn she made as a serious businesswoman. If --IF -- the writers are clever enough, they can turn it into a Pee-wee's Playhouse Secret Word game (and prevent her from fading into a nonentity).

Ryback vs. Hawkins and Reks
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Ryback's pre-match taunts about "hunger" and the "food chain," Hawkins and Reks being allowed to look competent, and the post-crowd chants of "Feed Me More" created a great segment featuring new characters. Who cares if Ryback reminds us of Goldberg -- Goldberg was awesome, and I was perfectly content watching him wipe the floor with Jerry Flynn and Brad Armstrong for years and years.

Titus and Darren vs. Primo and Epico
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As ugly as AW's Kobe joke was last week, it seems like he's eaten enough crow for it. The "millions of dollars!" schtick is still hilarious. Primo and Epico are allowed look credible and have a legit grudge against Titus and Darren. And Kofi and Truth look pretty swank in those suits; it all adds up to a great tag team-based rivalry.

Damien Sandow Continuing to Take Out Brodus Clay

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Funkasaurus has looked like a chump ever since Big Show beat the snot out of him, and he failed to fight back. There's something unintentionally funny about seeing a big fat guy getting constantly knocked down. Clay is becoming WWE's version of Jerry from "Parks and Rec."

Chris Jericho and Dolph Ziggler: Mirrored Rivals
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It's such a simple "Who is the Better Man?" rivalry, but it's playing out perfectly.

Daniel Bryan in General
His "No!"-fueled freakout to the audience's "Yes!"a-mania was hilarious, and it was refreshing to see a bad guy who is not afraid to get in the face of the crowd. Bryan is probably inciting the most vocal, passionate responses from the audience.

The Main Event
It was a great back-and-forth contest filled with surprising twists and turns. Cena looked like he had a legitimate new threat, while Bryan carried himself like a masterful crowd conductor. I can't remember the last wrestler that was able to quash the "Let's Go Cena" chants with such command.

The Closing Moments

Punk's realization that he needs to focus entirely on kicking ass and taking names makes up for his cowardice at the opening of the show. And I guess it was fine that Big Show looked imposing.

The Bad
C.M. Punk Whining About the Triple Threat Rule
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Isn't this the guy that spent a year saying he was "Best in the World"? Why is he suddenly so afraid of a very common match scenario?

C.M. Punk vs. Rey Mysterio
A main event-level match was treated like a curtain jerker, and then promptly forgotten about.

A.J. Scheduling the Show on the Fly Apparently
If Del Rio didn't anger her, what was she going to do during the first hour of the show? Was she just waiting for someone to piss her off?

There are certain leaps in logic that wrestling fans are supposed to accept: a voodoo witch doctor made the Ultimate Warrior puke split pea soup, a Boogeyman hid under the ring to throw worms on you, Bobby Lashley was worth caring about. But can we stop accepting the notion that the general manager of a long-running, profitable sports extravaganza goes into live television without a plan?

Whatever They're Doing With Del Rio's Protest
Having him not wrestle until his title match was an interesting-enough storyline. They could have done something, anything, with his aristocratic persona finding competition beneath him. But instead they just had all eight of his bosses say, "No." ... Okay then, nevermind.

Christian vs. Del Rio
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It was perfectly fine wrestling, but Christian has been relegated to "afterthought" so fast, that even I got whiplash.

So Sheamus is a Car Thief?
Obviously something was going to happen to Del Rio's car when he parked it backstage -- because it's something that never occurs, which immediately draws more attention to it. But even that didn't matter because Del Rio and Ricardo were suddenly incapable of rushing backstage to prevent the World Heavyweight Champion from stealing the Ferrari. (Were the ring ropes electrified or something?) And Sheamus is a car thief -- we all saw it on camera -- can't Del Rio just press charges and have him thrown in jail?

When "Stone Cold" Steve Austin vandalized Vince McMahon's property or hijacked vehicles, he always faced the consequences. Back then, the show didn't ignore the logical outcome; now, there's a laziness to how these scenarios are scripted. WWE is forgetting all the little details that made those moments with Austin so exciting, and are coasting on the broad strokes.

The Ending to Big Show-Orton
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It was a plodding, predictable affair because WWE wouldn't add vulnerability to either character. One of those characters is going to main event the second biggest show of the year, so it's justified. But the other just got back from his second drug test-motivated suspension, and is one strike away from public termination. Why is WWE trying to pretend like Orton just took a vacation?

Kelly Kelly's Return
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The crowd was happy to see her again, but let's be honest: Kelly Kelly is a bad wrestler. She tries, but she's got two modes: overly choreographed or laughably fake. She's anorexic thin, bleach blonde, dayglo orange spray-tanned and she wears an oxygen-depriving push-up bra. She is the rich old, white guy image of American beauty, so she will be pushed as the sole female role model until she turns thirty years old (a.k.a. "decrepit"). It's a shame that WWE is so shameless in their apathy toward any of the other females they employ. And Jerry Lawler is thirty-seven years older than her; his drooling horndog schtick is sad and creepy.

The In-Ring Segment Between HBK, Triple H, Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman
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It took four talents to reiterate things we already knew. Oh no wait, there was a morsel of new information: Shawn Michaels will be at SummerSlam. Whatever. It's mind-boggling that WWE haven't done anything with the former UFC Heavyweight Champion of the World beside have him play a coward that backs down.

The Kane-Miz Match
The two men did a good job, but what was the point of that match?

The Ugly
They're Still Re-Playing the Same Triple H-Brock Lesnar Videos
Dear WWE: Some of us aren't as dumb as you think. We remember things that happened a week ago.

Big Show Entered to Audible Silence for His Match
His new bad guy character straight up lifted bits from Mark Henry's "Hall of Pain" and Brock Lesnar's "I'm an Ass-Kicker,", but he doesn't have the same natural anger or size-betraying intensity of either of those superstars. Plus, he's spent the last couple of months losing to Cena, so we can't suddenly start accepting him as a threat. It all feels sluggish.

Jerry Lawler's Insistence that Sheamus Isn't a Car Thief
It wasn't cutesy, it was annoying. Cole is supposed to be the obnoxious one, but he's making rational points about Sheamus' thievery. Meanwhile, King is stubbornly insisting that the Great White only "borrowed" the car. This would all be well and good if Sheamus was the bad guy and Lawler was Bobby Heenan. But later in the show, they aired another anti-bullying video with Sheamus -- the guy who stole a car belonging to someone he disliked.

In WWE, every good guy is the coolest and the toughest and the most bad-ass, while every bad guy is a limp coward. No hero ever displays any weakness, and thus, he's never in any real danger. And if that's the case why should I be tuning in every week? WWE is trying to sell "larger than life" characters to a young audience, but their storytelling skills are about as deep as "He's a pretty cool guy that kills all the bad guys and doesn't afraid of anything."

It's rich old white guy image of what kids think is cool and that translates to relentless "kid attitude" encouraging little Jimmies to act like selfish privileged jerks. Listening to a 62-year-old shill parrot this entitled nonsense as "totally radical!" is nothing more than totally insufferable.

Final Verdict
Good (10), Bad (10), Ugly (3)
WWE is just sticking to the two-hour format and stretching it thin. There are some stale archetypes going on in the main events too. But just underneath, there are some really entertaining characters stealing the show, with Bryan leading the pack.

SummerSlam (So Far)
Daniel Bryan vs. Kane

Triple H (with Shawn Michaels in his corner) vs. Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman in his corner)

World Heavyweight Title Match: Sheamus (Champion) vs. Alberto Del Rio

WWE Title Match: CM Punk (Champion) vs. The Big Show vs. John Cena - Triple Threat Match