Vince McMahon buried Daniel Bryan in RAW’s opening segment this week, essentially calling him an embarrassment to the sport that lacked the “ruthless aggression” needed to dominate. Later in the show STephanie McMahon said she thinks Bryan needs a “Corporate Makeover.”
These antics could ruin most other WWE Superstars, but when the fans love you as much as they love old Goat Face, even the WWE Chairman and his daughter’s words don’t mean much.
Simply put, aside from John Cena and CM Punk, Daniel Bryan is the most beloved performer in the company today. From his budding microphone ability to his in-ring exploits, Bryan is one of the most well-rounded stars in the sport today. In a funny way, McMahon’s words on RAW this week were like a validation of Bryan’s path to success. With McMahon his old heel self, looking for a victim in Bryan, the former “American Dragon” becomes the good guy and hard-working underdog he should have been the second he stepped into a WWE ring.
With the Bryan/McMahon/Cena angle leading the emotional side of the show and another respectable card, this week’s RAW wasn’t a waste of time. If anything it was a competent tease to what should be an interesting next couple of weeks leading into Summerslam.
Tag Team Champions Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns and United States Champion Dean Ambrose vs. Mark Henry and Jimmy and Jey Uso: Henry was a ball of fire and the Usos were at their high-flying best, but The Shield were never out of the match. After Ambrose countered the top rope splash, he nailed Jey Uso with his Diving Front Face Bulldog for the win. After the match, Henry took out some of his frustration on The Shield.
Rob Van Dam vs. Fandango w/Summer Rae: RVD may have lost a step, but he’s still entertaining and the fans love him. Fandango used this to his advantage in the match, utilizing submission holds and great body language to get under the fans’ skin. Things were going well and eventually RVD got rolling, but Fandango left the ring and got counted out.
Kaitlyn vs. Divas Champion AJ Lee w/Big E. Langston: Lee was at her heel best most of the match and used a nice blend of strikes and submission moves, but Kaitlyn was always one move away from getting back in the match. After a few minutes of back and forth action, Kaitlyn won with the Spear.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Big E. Langston w/AJ Lee: These two have better chemistry than anyone could have thought. Langston hit a nice Belly-Belly Suplex and followed it up with a Splash earlier, but Ziggler fought back. When Ziggler began to get back in the match, Lee got involved and the match got thrown out. After the match, Ziggler caught Langston with the Zig-Zag.
World Champion Alberto Del Rio vs. Christian: Both of these guys have been on a roll lately, but Del Rio got the early advantage by working on Christian’s arm with strikes on both the inside and outside of the ring. Even with the “injury,” Christian hit the Tornado DDT, but couldn’t get an leverage on a pin attempt. Smelling blood, Del Rio fought hard, but Christian found a second wind. Even after a beautiful Tilt-a-Whirl Back Breaker, Christian still refused to quit. A Superkick from Del Rio later and Christian still couldn’t be pinned. After he missed the Killswitch, Christian was able to counter the Armbreaker into a Rollup for a wonderful and unexpected win.
Cody Rhodes vs. Wade Barrett: Rhodes is quickly becoming the face many people envisioned him as years ago. While Barrett dished out most of the offense, Rhodes was flashy when he needed to be. After he missed “The Beautiful Disaster,” Rhodes got the win with the Cross Rhodes.
Daniel Bryan vs. Kane: Match of the night. Both of these guys put their bodies on the line and the move progression was far from predictable. This was a smart bout. The fans were into it as well, especially when Bryan countered the Chokeslam into a Rollup for the win. Kane wasn’t impressed however. After the three-count, Kane delivered a massive Chokeslam on Bryan. Soon enough, The Wyatt Family found what they were looking for in Kane and made him pay.
Natalya Niedhart vs. Brie Bella: Niedhart’s timing was off, but that had a lot to do with the ineffectiveness and inability of Bella in comparison to her. After her sister came out with a duck call, Brie won with a Rollup.
Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel w/Paul Heyman vs. R-Truth: The challenger hit a solid Reverse Falcon’s Arrow and some strikes, but Axel changed the match with a dropkick. After Axel nearly decapitated Truth with a Neckbreaker variation, CM Punk got involved and the match got thrown out.
Tables Match: Ryback vs. WWE Champion John Cena: This match was stiff. Everything was in play from tables to the ring steps. Ryback was in control for the majority of the match, but he couldn’t finish Cena off. At one point, both used the ring steps against one another. Cena spiced things up with a Belly-to-Back Suplex on the steps, but Ryback countered with his Spinebruiser maneuver. With Cena down, Ryback hit the Meathook Clothesline, but missed it the second time, which enabled Cena to hit the Attitude Adjustment throw the table for the win.