They say when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. So when fortune and circumstance result in several hands either recovering from injury or shooting their latest role in a movie no one will ever see, you center storylines around CW superstars and vicious valets.
Good thing the broadcast hailed from Seattle last night, meaning Daniel Bryan was present to make us care about whatever's happening between Ryback, Miz and Big Show. That, and plugging his book, as well as Tough Enough (and even Santa's Little Helper), in lieu of any tangible reassurance about his eventual ring return.
Fortunately, Seth Rollins, Cesaro and a select few made it their business to put up solid fights against the setbacks as WWE motors tentatively toward SummerSlam in two weeks. But without any further integrated marketing for Straight Outta Compton, here are the five key things (in addition to the usual Twitter-friendly sidebar observations) that I took away from the August 10 edition of Raw.
5. It's the Summer of Summer
Ahem, that's "Hot Summer" to you. Nor is the above statement really accurate. But let's face it: Amid this disastrous non-feud between Rusev/Summer Rae and Dolph Ziggler/Lana, the real winner is Summer. Neither Rusev nor Ziggler's had much to do while the latter's been out shooting a film, and Lana already had juice. But for Summer, who's effectively been ostracized from both Total Divas and the "Divas Revolution" (should I insert a tiny ™ there?), getting to show up every week, get into character and beat the holy hell out of her female adversary is as meaty a role as she's had since sashaying with Fandago. In fact, she's suddenly more relevant than her former dance partner. Plus, turns out she has an evil cackle to rival Seth Rollins'.
4. It Is Not the Summer of King Barrett
All ye Wade disciples, I'm afraid I've got some bad news: Barrett's predicament went from bad to worse last night, as he was effectively squashed by Neville, asked to go wide left of character by aligning with a weirdo like Stardust and will almost certainly suffer embarrassment at the hands of Stephen Amell at SummerSlam. (Though, by the by, Amell acquitted himself mighty fine.) I'm not floating conspiracy theories about pushes and burials, nor do I necessarily know what Barrett's ceiling really is. But right now, the charismatic and talented multi-time Intercontinental Champ has arguably hit bottom in the bookers' pecking order, and that's no way to treat a king.
3. The Imitation Game
Might be time to take a break from having heels generate heat (or, for that matter, faces find their mojo) via aping opponents' mannerisms and move sets. Last night alone, Kevin Owens copped a Randy Orton god-like pose during his triple threat with Orton and Cesaro, and in the main event, Seth Rollins did one better and sent up Orton's entire "going to that place" routine before promptly getting RKO'd and saved from defeat by Sheamus. Stealing someone else's signatures, like kicking out of their finisher, should be reserved for occasional use and help remind us of select rivalries' singular competitiveness. Alas, both have become as rote and indistinctive as a suicide dive through the middle rope.
2. Cesaro: Now or Never
The amiable Swiss sensation will never be hotter than this. He's quite literally found his voice cutting promos as a witty, principled babyface; the Cesaro Section (contrived or no) has virtually elevated him from cult status to must-book main-eventer; and even though it didn't seem possible, his ability in the ring only sharpens, a testament to the work ethic fans have always appreciated about him. It's amazing how far he's come in both persona and presentation since the days of marching stoically to ringside with Aksana, let alone piggybacking off Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger's zealotry shtick or rebounding from an ill-executed alliance with Paul Heyman. But, word of caution: There may never be a moment where everything lines up just so for Cesaro like this again, so hopefully he stays healthy and WWE continues to rely on his dependability as others hit the shelf. Although, worst case, we get Kidd and Cesaro 2.0 this time next year. Huzzah!
1. What the Eff, Ref?
There's always a bit of haranguing over the Money in the Bank briefcase when a superstar threatens to cash it in on a vulnerable champ. It's part of MITB tradition. Generally, it's 'cause the man who possess this golden ticket hems and haws about whether to ring the bell, or maybe the ref does his best Regis Philbin and makes sure that cashing it in is the guy's final answer. But can someone explain to me exactly what was going on last night between Sheamus and John Cone when the Great White ran in on Rollins and clearly begged the ref to take his briefcase and "cash it in?" Despite Sheamus' audibly urgent pleas, he and Cone nonsensically played tug of war until Orton returned and RKO'ed his SummerSlam opponent as planned. That briefcase is supposed to be like a nuclear weapon, not a grenade that fails to go off. Perhaps it's all too fitting for a feud that's been a several-month-long dud.
Below the Belt:
- P.S. to those briefcase thoughts: If a guy first illegally interferes in a match before cashing it in, shouldn't it null his privilege?
- I don't remember anything about that Miz TV segment with Daniel Bryan, Big Show and Ryback other than Miz's amazing wardrobe.
- Wouldn't Ambrose make an interesting addition to the Wyatt Family?
- Hey, wait, TV superheroes don't have pit stains!
- When is a shaky camera too shaky?
- I love satellite Cena.
- So, just to be clear: We should go see Straight Outta Compton?
- Move of the Night: I know he's done it before, but man, Cesaro's corkscrew leap over the top rope is impressive.
- Line of the Night: Kudos to the crowd: "Sit down, Byron."
- In Case You Fast-Forwarded Through Commercials: Luke Perry's still got it, Sodastream's really on the offensive, and prediction: Sinister 2 will earn well despite looking like this.
- Noticeable In Their Absence: Taker/Lesnar/Heyman. And what, no R-Truth?