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Chair Shots: It's official, Ryback turns heel on WWE Raw

So much for the slow play. With a point-by-point promo laying out John Cena's grievances and defending his actions, walking out on Cena when the Shield attacked the WWE Champion like they had him so many times before and the scorn of babyface announcers Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler, "The Ryback" has officially turned heel.

Personally, I think it's a mistake this soon in the game. I really thought this was a big money match that needed a big money setting like SummerSlam, and that it would've drawn more interest if both men entered as babyfaces. Then again, after the Cena-Brock Lesnar encounter at last year's Extreme Rules (along with Brock-Triple H III seemingly coming this year) it's becoming obvious that WWE is trying to push Extreme Rules as one of its bigger events.

With that said, I thought the turn was carefully executed and well thought out. Ryback's pretaped promo in which he explained the motivation for attacking Cena last week in great detail was well done. It all made sense (which, in a way, might have some fans thinking he is justified -- a WWE.com poll actually has it at 50/50 right now). I also liked that there was some storyline continuity with the Shield attacking Cena and Ryback standing idly by, since that was one of his major gripes with Cena, as Raw went off the air.

It's not immediately clear that Cena will defend the WWE Championship against Ryback at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view, which is still five weeks away, but things certainly appear to be shaping up that way. I'll be writing some more a little later this week about why I think a heel Ryback is a mistake. In the meantime, here are my other thoughts on Raw. ...

Meanwhile, Brock Lesnar returned to Raw to decimate 3MB, who had earlier called out the Shield, then issued a challenge through Paul Heyman for a rubber match with Triple H inside a steel cage at Extreme Rules. Heyman did a nice job building up Triple H (not that he needs it), which worked because it made Lesnar look better since he was coming off a loss. With Lesnar having a long-term deal now and no more "career on the line" stipulation for the Game like there was at WrestleMania, it certainly seems like it would be appropriate for Lesnar to go over here and be done with Trips. ...

As for Paul Heyman's other client, CM Punk, he spoke about all that he's achieved over the past year and looking for that next challenge before walking out, seemingly realizing there were no challenges left. It has been rumored for some time that Punk was going to take time off the road to heal up from multiple injuries he's suffering from, and this was a good way to do it. Punk's character will likely be freshened up a bit when he returns, possibly as a babyface again. When he does come back, I envision him doing something with Lesnar, either teaming with him or wrestling him. ...

For the second time in as many weeks, a mid-card title changed hands on Raw. This time, it was Kofi Kingston ending Antonio Cesaro's 240-day reign as U.S. Champion. Cesaro had been booked poorly recently, with no obvious reason as to why. So had Kofi, and now he's got yet another mid-card title (his third U.S. Championship, combined with three Intercontinental Championship reigns). In his post-match promo when he said the U.S. title had come home, I couldn't help but think he's nothing more than a transitional champion to get the belt to "A Real American" Jack Swagger. ...

Then about an hour later, Swagger defeated Dolph Ziggler, the World Heavyweight Champion, clean in a nontitle match to earn a spot in a Triple Threat championship match along with Alberto Del Rio. It was kind of convoluted how they got to this point, so I won't rehash it all, but it should be noted that a lot of this seems like a vehicle for a Teddy Long heel turn or something, who keeps defying Booker T. The match itself was fine, but the crowd wasn't buying into the heel vs. heel stuff, even though Swagger and Ziggler have some good history. Del Rio, who was denied his rematch with Ziggler last night because of a Swagger attack, got some revenge on Swagger, attacking him after his victory. ...

Then trend of champions losing nontitle matches continued throughout the evening, with Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett getting upset in short order by R-Truth of all people, and one of the Bellas defeating Divas Champion Kaitlyn after Twin Magic. (The hilarity of Jerry Lawler commenting that one of the Bellas was 'bigger' than the other, while Cole and JBL tried to say it was about her weight and not her breast implants because, hey, it's PG, was the only reason to watch this one.) Of course, this will set up title matches down the road. This is just lazy booking in my opinion. Remember when the No. 1 contender's match was a thing? ...

Kane and Daniel Bryan beat the Prime Time Players for what seemed like the billionth time in a row. On the bright side, we learned that Team Hell No will be joined by the Undertaker next week in a six-man tag team match against the Shield. (!!!) I feel like WWE should be making a much bigger deal about the Undertaker actually wrestling on free TV (or at least being advertised to be, whether he gets out of the gate is another story entirely). Anyway, that alone makes Raw must-see next week. It's also from London, which WWE tends to treat as a mini-PPV, so expect a hot crowd. ...

Last week's crowd that made Fandangoing a thing wasn't replicated by the folks in South Carolina last night, but WWE tried to squeeze all the juice it could out of the Fandango orange with the video clips and his promo last night. It hurts that Chris Jericho wasn't around this week, but he'll be back in London and those two should finally have their blow-off match. It's also possible that Fandango gets into a feud with Kingston over the U.S. Championship, considering he and Kofi have had a TV angle lately, and it would surprise no one for WWE to put a belt on Fandango in an attempt to get him over. ...

Randy Orton and Sheamus were back on the same page and beat Big Show in a 2-on-1 handicap match to start Raw. It was an interesting dynamic, as it's rare to see a handicap match favor the babyface. The announcers did a good job of putting over whether it actually was in favor of the Celtic Vipers, since Big Show can be so dominant. This match actually happened on Smackdown too, but Show walked out. This time, both faces hit their finishers to put him down after a solid 12 minutes. Later, Mark Henry attacked Sheamus backstage, and a tag team match pitting Orton and Sheamus vs. Henry and Show was made for Friday night. I love the idea of Henry and Show teaming. ...

The Rhodes Scholars beat the Great Khali and Santino Marella. Good. The best part was Santino Marella trying to do the Cobra on Cody, and him rolling his eyes and saying, "You're not even doing it right!" There is definitely a place for comedy on Raw and the Rhodes Scholars are unintentionally hilarious in that role. More please.

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