It’s too early to tell, but is the WWE a little bit over their head, positioning the former Tag Team champion as their new Paul Heyman guy?
Axel has the pedigree, is a solid performer and who knows where he can go under Heyman’s tutelage, but it’s most likely presumptuous that he’ll be an overnight success. At any rate, it’ll be interesting to see where the youngster can go.
Ryback was another youngster who had an important night on RAW this week, coming out of the back of an ambulance and cutting one of his better promos to date. None of that matters though; the greenhorn’s angle with WWE Champion John Cena is still stale. After their last encounter didn’t produce a winner, it’s unsure where the angle goes from here.
Away from Axel and Ryback, the entertaining matches and solid storyline development highlighted a decent RAW. It kicked off the new pay per view cycle in a way that leaves the door wide open for something fantastic to happen.
The only question is, will anything fantastic actually happen?
The Miz and Chris Jericho vs. Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett and Fandango w/ Summer Rae: Jericho and The Miz were in control, while Fandango and Barrett were at odds. In the middle of the match, Fandango decided to start dancing with Summer Rae and skipped out on the match. All by himself, Barrett was the victim of the Lionsault, Codebreaker and Figure-Four before he eventually gave up.
Sheamus vs. Titus O’Neill w/ Darren Young: O’Neill made the most of interference from Young and even had the upper hand for a nice chunk of the match. But after the White Noise and The Brogue Kick, O’Neill was done for. Not many people kick out of that combination and O’Neill, in spite of a solid performance, didn’t have the extra mustard he needed to win.
Alberto Del Rio w/Ricardo Rodriguez vs. Big E. Langston w/ AJ Lee: Del Rio went for the Arm breaker early, but Langston’s strength proved to be an amazing counter. Del Rio battled back after some shenanigans on the outside, hitting a Tornado DDT, a Backstabber and a Super Kick. Langston turned the tide after an Eye Rake however and applied his Big Ending finisher for the win.
Layla vs. AJ Lee: Layla got in more offense than you might have expected, but Lee ultimately won with The Black Widow.
Cody Rhodes vs. Zack Ryder: A quick match that had Ryder in control for most of the match. Rhodes won however with a quick counter that transitioned perfectly into The Disaster Kick. After the match, Ryback picked up the limp Ryder and hit him with the Meathook Clothesline, a massive Powerbomb and The Shellshock, before he put him in the ambulance he parked earlier in the show.
Daniel Bryan, Kane and Kofi Kingston vs. United States Champion Dean Ambrose and the WWE Tag Team Champions Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns: This was an amazing match. As always, Bryan and Kane were spectacular. Using their signature offense and a hearty helping of energy, Hell No is still the best Tag Team in the company today. Bryan in particular was an offensive machine. But he couldn’t put The Shield away. Kingston as well was his usual technically solid self. As for The Shield, they sold at all the right times and used superior ring psychology and quick tags to gain an advantage. After a slew of spots, Reigns got the win with the Spear, thanks to a top rope Knee from Rollins and interference from Ambrose.
Jack Swagger vs. Randy Orton: A solid match that was back and forth throughout. Whenever Orton had the advantage, Swagger fought back and countered. When Orton looked to have things sewn up, Swagger countered the RKO with the Ankle Lock. Orton did manage to get to the ropes eventually and after another small progression of maneuvers, Orton hit the RKO for the win.
Curtis Axel w/ Paul Heyman vs. Triple H: Before the match, a WWE employee told Triple H he wasn’t cleared by the doctor, but that didn’t stop him from competing. The Game had the early advantage, as Axel looked severely outclassed. Using strikes, a solid dropkick and some submission work, Axel fought back and looked presentable. He never looked “amazing” or worthy of Heyman’s praise though. But just when things got real spicy, the climax to the match just never came. On the outside, Triple H sat and stumbled and appeared to be injured in some way and the show was over.