A wise man once said “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”. I’m sure, WWE had good intentions with Raw from Dallas. However, the final offramp to Hell in a Cell in Los Angeles was littered with potholes and traffic jams alike. What seem like a no-brainer ideas bringing in legends to promote next year’s Wrestlemania only made the show feel like purgatory for all those involved.

The show opened strong with Stone Cold Steve Austin making his triumphant and return to Raw. I couldn’t believe that It had been four years since the Texas Rattlesnake returned to the show that made him famous. Then they followed up with the double punch of bringing out Undertaker. I thought it was a weird use of Austin. There was a debate online whether The Bionic Redneck would actually appear on USA Network. As soon as The Dead Man appeared Steve Austin was gone just like that. After a promo hyping the final showdown between he and Brock Lesnar this Sunday Undertaker would then challenge The Beast Incarnate to a fight which Brock would back down from.

Now, I may be forgetting something and forgive me if I am. But remember right after WWE Battleground when Undertaker returned and the two battled back and forth with the whole roster separating the behemoths. Well just doing a segment where Brock who hasn’t back down from a challenge even at the behest of his advocate Paul Heyman is anticlimactic to say the least. Especially since this is really the first interaction the two have had in quite a few weeks. And even doing something simple like exchange finisher attempts would’ve been a little more interesting than what we had.

I understand the old-school philosophy of not having your principal characters touch before a big encounter. However given the past history with one-on-one showdowns It just took the air out of the room for me.

This trend would continue all throughout the night as John Cena and the Dudleys would get comeuppance on the New Day. Once again, Xavier Woods meets the wood for the third time in two months. It’s the law of diminishing returns I honestly think that Kofi or Big E should have went through the table instead. The fact that John Cena does not have an opponent announced for Hell in a Cell instead doing the US Open Challenge made this segment even more lackluster.

WWE would try to bolster each hour of this week’s episode with legends. But even with his name power they were used in lackluster ways to try to put over storylines that had run their course. Ric Flair alone was the most egregious as he was just there to really introduce Roman Reigns at the top of the third hour. Flair would lead into a sitdown literally between Bray Wyatt and Reigns. The segment would try to be like the Joker meeting Batman in The Dark Knight. But It just felt rather weak. Add that to the fact that the Randy Orton Dean Ambrose interactions were scrapped for an undisclosed reason and everything went stale.

The Divas Revolution feels like it’s that at its expiration date. With two matches that in the grand scheme of things don’t really matter to the overall story. I guess you could say they gave both competitors a win before Sunday. But what does that really mean in the long run? Does anyone really think Nikki will get the title back? What does it say when once again the highlight for the women is a backstage promo with Paige cutting down Renée Young. Something that just won’t lead anywhere.

WWE is trying to perpetuate that Paige attacked Natalya to “hold on” to her friends in PCB. Friends that she doesn’t want to be a part of. Friends that she’s left high and dry multiple weeks in a row. Okay forgetting all that, the only way were going to get anything worthwhile out of this thing is if it turns out Becky Lynch attacked Natalya. Just give the poor girl something. You can go the crazy stalker angle with Charlotte or just the fact she’s fed up about not getting noticed. Just give her something.

Seth Rollins was again used poorly this week as he was bested by Shawn Michaels making him look foolish. It was once again an illustration of how the previous generation has that aura about themselves and the modern generation really doesn’t. And that’s all due to presentation. The fact that Seth Rollins defeated Ryback really didn’t do much for either man. As the putting them in the tag match main event when there was no Kane to be found on the show. I know the storyline was Corporate Kane was suspended as Dir. of Operations but did that really mean there was no Demon.

I know WWE thought that reuniting Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins against the Wyatt Family would gain some interest. But the execution of this was simply not good. You had one opportunity to pull the trigger on the former trio known as the Shield reuniting and you blew it. Now if you ever do turn Seth Rollins against The Authority a reunion will not mean as much because you’ve already done it. You can use semantics all you want but it’s happened. I’m sure for the fans in Dallas it was a cool moment to see those two stables face-off again. But Braun Stroman is no Luke Harper and it shows. If I were the company I would’ve had Stroman be the one to “take out” Randy Orton leaving the original trio to face off against their former adversaries.

Kevin Owens defeated Mark Henry in a really nothing match. How is that supposed to make me think that Ryback could beat him on Sunday. And why were the announcers acting like Owens and Ryback never fought before? It’s commentating like that which I’m sure has Vince McMahon all over it that casual fans scratch their heads and hard-core fans want to pound their head against the wall.

Similarly on that same note, I love the fact that for most of the night it was stated on commentary that Bray Wyatt is scared because he will be locked in a Cell for the first time against Roman Reigns. They made it clear that Wyatt couldn’t get in or out of Satan’s structure. Even though last year he entered with no problem even though he wasn’t in the match between Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. Of course commentary would later mention that fact totally negating anything they did in the previous segments.

And probably the most sad thing him on the show was the six man tag that saw Dolph, Neville and Cesaro lose to Sheamus, King Barrett and Rusev. This was basically a nothing match with characters that haven’t meant anything in a long while. I do appreciate they changed the finish that happened in the tag match previous week. That being said the fans in the arena didn’t care because creative did not give them anything to care about. The fact that we are going to see the match again on the preshow Sunday disappoints me. All these guys deserve better.

Side note: What the hell happened to the Stardust storyline they started on Smackdown with Cesaro? Where the hell was the Prince of Dark Matter and the Ascension? Did they drop the storyline already? It just goes to show WWE does not remember what they do from week to week. They really need to get continuity director or someone to help with these random scenes that go nowhere. Because they think fans don’t notice these things but they do.

I know I’ve been really negative this week but they really didn’t give me much of a choice. This show, which had so much animosity coming into it a few weeks ago, seemed to dissipate quite a bit throughout the show. Remember when Roman and Bray Wyatt have that awesome brawl or Raw a few weeks ago. While that energy was gone. Even the return of Erick Rowan to the Wyatt family fold was done in such a lackluster way to make him seem unimportant. Am I saying the pay-per-view this Sunday will be unimportant? No as always I think the performers will do their best to make their matches standout from the crowd. But they are definitely behind the eight ball starting out. As a wise dead man once said sometimes you have to go through hell to get to heaven.

About The Author

Dan is host of Shooting from the Hip which you can hear every Sunday at 8pm EST, 7pm CST right here on PWpop.com.