By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Triple H Stripped Daniel Bryan of the WWE Championship
We all saw this segment coming immediately following the conclusion of last night's WWE title match, but I think it's a solid story. Someone is seemingly framing Bryan to make it look like he conspired with the referee. Triple H's mic work here was nothing special, but I liked how Bryan didn't give up the title belt without a fight. This was a logical follow-up to last night's controversy, but it should have been addressed on the pay-per-view itself.
Dolph Ziggler def. United States Champion Dean Ambrose (Non-title)
Although I still strongly believe that these two are capable of providing a much more entertaining matchup, this was a pretty good contest while it lasted. The commercial break hindered the action a bit, but the final few minutes were well done. The fact that Ziggler and Ambrose competed against one another in their home state of Ohio was cool, and it was nice to see Ziggler pick up a decisive victory for once. It was odd for Justin Roberts to announce after the bout that Ambrose was still the U.S. Champion (isn't that a foregone conclusion?), but that might indicate that their feud is far from over.
Fandango def. R-Truth
I'm glad the commentators made mention of the fact that this match stemmed from the dance off both Fandango and Truth were involved in on last week's SmackDown, so at least they justified it. Aside from that, though, I couldn't have cared less about this match. Fandango is in dire in need of something fresh and Truth has never felt more stale. This win was a step in the right direction for Fandango, but he still has a long way to go before he can become relevant again.
Stephanie McMahon Offered Dusty Rhodes a Business Proposition
I can't recall the last time Dusty was on television, but he appeared to be in much better shape this time around. Not only did he look good, but his promo was excellent as well. I've been enjoying the on-going Rhodes saga in recent weeks and it should result in a massive pop when he returns later down the line. Big Show's involvement felt tiresome since it has been done to death over the last month, and I desperately hope the pay-off to the angle comes sooner rather than later.
Brie Bella and The Funkadactlys def. Layla, Aksana and Alicia Fox
This was essentially the same exact six-Diva tag team match that we saw on two separate occasions last week, so what was the point in doing it again? I understand that Brie is on "Total Divas", but seeing her continue to team with the babyface Divas is simply strange. The only true highlight of this segment was AJ Lee on commentary and it looks like WWE is building towards an eventual Divas Championship match between her and Natalya. Speaking of Natalya, she did a nice job of covering up the fact that her headset wasn't working by blaming AJ.
Rob Van Dam def. Damien Sandow
These two have had a handful matches in the past, and their latest encounter was more of the same. I guess it's a good way of furthering RVD's momentum, but why have Sandow continue lose? His post-match promo gives me hope that he will cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase for the World Heavyweight Championship successfully at some point, but that is assuming that WWE will actually do the right thing. In other news, RVD and Ricardo Rodriguez still have zero chemistry.
The Miz vs. Randy Orton Ended in a Double Count-out
I loved absolutely everything about this segment. Since Miz is from Cleveland area, it was brilliant of WWE to use him in a top-tier storyline on this show, as he garnered a massive pop from his hometown crowd. Orton attacking Miz before the match only for The Awesome One to battle back following the commercial break made Miz come off as a resilient babyface and Orton as a ruthless heel. Orton continuing to glance at Miz's family at ringside as he decimated him was a very nice touch and I like they story of Orton getting in touch with his old self. This match delivered on all cylinders and I hope we see more from Miz and Orton down the line.
Paul Heyman Explained His Alliance with Ryback
As I stated in my Night of Champions review, I really like the pairing of Ryback and Heyman. Ryback hasn't been involved in anything meaningful in months and was in desperate need of a mouthpiece. Plus, it keeps Heyman on television for a while longer. I'm happy that the feud between CM Punk and Heyman is not yet over, but hopefully Ryback's involvement can breathe some new life into it. Ryback was decent on the mic, but his promo was thankfully kept short and sweet. Heyman's kiss on Ryback at the end was hysterical and a brilliant way to end the segment.
The Usos def. The Real Americans and Tons of Funk in a Triple Threat Elimination Tag Team Match to Become the No. 1 Contenders to the WWE Tag Team Championships
Similar to the Tag Team Turmoil match at Night of Champions, this bout consisted of fun, fact-paced action that the live crowd was surprisingly into. The Real Americans once again were the MVPs of this match and continue to show great chemistry as a tandem. Despite being fed to The Shield a few months ago, The Usos are still very over with the WWE Universe and it was nice to see them pick up the win here. They are deserving of a run with WWE Tag Team titles, and one can only hope that they will be successful whenever they ultimately contend for the straps.
Daniel Bryan def. Roman Reigns by Disqualification
While the other two members of The Shield may be better in-ring works, Reigns was more than able to hold his own against Bryan in this matchup. It was a solid match as a whole, and I was surprised by how much time it ended up receiving. Given the difference in size between the two competitors, Reigns and Bryan worked well together and it made for several suspenseful moments in the bout's final few minutes. Randy Orton's interference was expected, but I'm extremely glad the show didn't end with the heels getting the better of Bryan for what would have felt like millionth time. I like the idea of the faces finally rebelling against The Administration and it registered a massive pop from the live crowd.
This show was a massive improvement over Night of Champions and an enjoyable episode all around. Orton added more depth to his character, Bryan bounced back from having to vacate his title, and the controversy surrounding the WWE Championship leaves viewers in suspense going into next week. The matches on this show were also enjoyable while some of the segments were effective in furthering feuds. Additionally, the Cleveland crowd was hot for a majority of this Raw and definitely helped enhance the excitement of the episode.