So much happened on RAW last night that I want to talk about, so I'm going to jump right into the show and work through my excitement and angst through each segment.
Videos > A
The WWE always does Martin Luther King Jr. Day right, and this year was no exception. Usually they start the show with one video, this year they did that, but added a couple more throughout the show. All of them were strong, and lovely. While the WWE could gloss over holidays like this, they don't, and actually go forth with some solid videos to remind people why we had the day off, and what it means.
In Ring Segment > B+
Was it just me (and Jesse, and Stacy), but did Steph seem to be a bit more pissed at Orton than just the things his character has done, the things she was scripted to say? She looked livid at Orton in this segment, and it seemed to be beyond her scripting. Steph is good, but she's not that good. And then there's Orton. I just can't get past the feeling that much of what we see isn't great acting, but the belligerent little boy inside of him showing his true self.
Then there's Batista and his skinny jeans. After RAW was over, Jesse made sure that I was going to go after Batista's skinny jeans here in the RIB. I told him that I honestly had more of an issue with Batista's horrible metro shirt and matching shoes. (There's another huge problem I had with Batista, but I didn't notice it until his later appearance, so I'll wait for that to mention it.) I found it interesting that Batista didn't take off his aviators in this segment, but I thought he was being too cool for Orton. One thing I have to say about Batista is that his mic work has improved. He seemed more comfortable, relaxed, and his voice was less gravely. He seemed quite sure of himself, much better than before he left, and much less whiny.
Big E & The Brotherhood vs The Shield > B+
As always, and as expected, these six were fantastic. The Brotherhood show each week why they deserve to be the Tag Team Champs. I'm still waiting, and expecting things to crumble, but every week that it doesn't happen, I revel in the beauty of their ring work. Those brothers together in the ring are a job to watch, and I will be bummed when they split, even though I know that's the traditional order of things in the wrestling industry.
I found it interesting that the replay after the match really focused on Reigns, and they replayed his superman punch more than once to show how great it was. It's obvious that they're really focusing on Reigns and his future. I have to admit that I put him on my possible list on my Royal Rumble Match white board. Of the three in The Shield, Reigns is the only one I could see winning the Royal Rumble Match at this point. I also added Big E to my possible list. Big E has a huge future ahead of him, and while I think it's too early for either of them to win the Royal Rumble Match yet, crazier things have happened.
Winners – The Shield (10:51)
In Ring Segment > B+
I love Bryan, and will never make any apologies for it. I really didn't think Bryan had the personality to carry himself to this level in the WWE, but now that he's here, I can't help but smile when he gets that look of awe in his eyes when the fans show their love. Bryan gets this smile on his face, and he seems to be in absolute awe that the fans love him the way they do, and react so passionately to him, it's endearing. That Bryan didn't have that look on his face last week when he sat atop the cage last week, so it should have been an indicator that there was something wrong with him.
Personally I'm thrilled that he's no longer running with The Wyatt Family, even though his explanation of it all was a bit weak. The biggest problem I have with it all right now is that he's going to be facing Bray Wyatt at the Royal Rumble, and it appears he won't be in the Royal Rumble Match! So many WNW readers have been calling for Bryan to win the Royal Rumble Match and headline WrestleMania. The only reasons I see for that not happening are that Bryan is going to be facing HBK at WrestleMania, or that it's too obvious right now. To me Bryan is a natural Royal Rumble Match winner, and should be doing so very soon. If not this year, then next. I do understand that his health is questionable right now after his concussion, and he could be fine tomorrow, or he he might never be the same, head injuries are that questionable, and they need to set up something for Bryan, just in case he can't work Royal Rumble due to his health. Putting him in a match with Bray Wyatt makes a lot of sense for that reason, but I hope that the real reason is because he could be facing HBK at WrestleMania. That, to me, is the only good reason for keeping Bryan out of the Royal Rumble Match.
Woods vs Fandango > C+
Not much of a match, but I thought Fandango looked decent. I love his left leg drop, but otherwise, this match was an absolute nothing. I honestly don't even understand why they put it into the show, it was so short, and didn't mean anything other than show bonuses for three Superstars and a Diva.
Winner – Fandango (1:07)
Backstage Segment > B+
I've never understood why Kane stepped into this role, it's very odd, though he's done a fabby job with it. Kane has continued to prove that no matter what he does, he does a great job of it. From big red monster, to comic relief. From horror movie villain to being mounted by AJ. From jumper cables on Shane's grapefruits to hugging it out with Bryan. Kane in a suit is just one more step for the man who does not like to be reminded that he was Dr. Isaac Yankem D.D.S.
In Ring Segment > B+
Watching Kane's internal struggle is always a lot of fun. He sells things so visually, even though he's so used to working under a mask, and did for so many years. He's one I always thought could emote well, even from behind a mask, something few can do. I love Rey, but he doesn't have that ability.
Punk coming out and saying, "It's apology time!" was a cute way to enter, especially since he didn't get an entrance for his match. I actually really enjoy the chemistry between Kane and Punk, and I hope Kane is entered into the Royal Rumble Match this year, because it would be fun to see them face off in my favorite match of the year. Well, that, and I'd love to see Kane break HBK's elimination record. Honestly, I'd love to see Kane win a Royal Rumble Match, but at this point he's past his prime, and I don't see it happening, even though he's one of the few who should have won at some point who hasn't. Like with Bryan, I absolutely adore Kane, and it hurts that he's never won the Royal Rumble Match.
Punk vs Billy Gunn > B+
I loved the joking about Billy always losing rock, paper, scissors, but in reality, the division of the team made perfect sense. Billy is better in the ring, and Road Dogg is one of the best talkers in the WWE. I've said it before, but that man's voice is his money. I have to say that each week Billy has impressed me more and more. I was worried that he was always wearing a shirt in the ring, but in this match he removed it, and he looked really good for his age. Of course his skin is a little looser, and he has a bit of the Naugahyde barcalounger look that anyone who's tanned too much through the years always gets, and his hair is thinner than it once was, but otherwise he looks as great as ever.
I really enjoyed how Punk worked with both Billy Gunn and Road Dogg. Between diving over announce onto Dogg, and knocking him off the apron, but not missing a beat with Billy. It doesn't look good for the two of them going into their Tag Title Match with The Brotherhood on Sunday – a match that should be on the actual PPV, not the Kickoff, but that's a rant for Predicts – but continued to make Punk look strong being the #1 entrant in the Royal Rumble Match.
Winner – Punk (9:03)
Videos > A
I have to admit that I'm biased, I adore these By The Numbers Royal Rumble Match videos. Not only do they give us the facts, but some of the video clips bring back fantastic memories. The Royal Rumble is my favorite PPV of the year, so I'm always excited to predict the show, and cuddle in to watch. The WNW Live Blog has only helped to make my enjoyment of the Royal Rumble that much greater.
Video > A+
I loved Mae Young, and it is ripping my heart out that she's no longer with us. The video they prepared to honor Mae was lovely, and only fitting that Steph narrate it. The last time we saw Mae, when McMahon, Trip and Steph presented her with a Divas Championship belt, she was kind of in and out, and kept reminiscing about McMahon on announce, and Steph when she was a little girl. It was obvious that Steph and Mae had a beautiful connection, as Steph grew up with Mae in her life. Some of the moments they showed in the video were odd, but some, specifically her last really coherent moment when Kane and Bryan were in a diner making a lot of interesting noises, and Mae went all When Harry Met Sally on them and wanted what they were having. The other moment that really touched me that they showed, even though Bubba Ray Dudley has burnt bridges in the WWE, was him putting Mae through a table. It was such a moment, most of which was backstage, that showed what a tough lady she was. Bubba Ray didn't want to put her through a table, but after being slapped and being told to not be a wuss, he put her through a table off the corner of the ring. He was very careful with Mae as she was 77 at the time. Backstage after it all went down, Mae got in in Bubba's face and told him that if he's going to slam her, he's going to slam her like one of the boys. For those who don't watch Impact, Bully Ray (formerly Bubba Ray) was in a big match with Mr. Anderson (Mr. Kennedy). It wasn't until the end of the match that I noticed, but Bully had Mae prominently in black letters on his wrist tape. I thought that was incredibly touching.
Rey vs ADR > B
I love Rey, but I'm not liking how he's being booked. I really don't know why he's being fed to someone like ADR who is no where near in Rey's league, and can't seem to be bothered to better himself. I can go on and on about ADR and how I feel about both him and Rey, but I've said it all before, and been backed up by TPTB after the way ADR returned from his concussion – yet they're still booking him over Rey.
Winner – ADR (14:49)
In Ring Segment > C+
I split this off from the match because there was something big I noticed that really bothers me about Batista, and I'm not talking about his really terrible spinebuster on ADR. I didn't notice until he took off his aviators, but there's something really off with Batista's face. It used to be that Batista's cheekbones protruded quite a bit, and it was something that always made me swoon a bit for him. From what I saw, it looked like Batista has moon face. Anyone who's had cancer, Crohn's, severe allergies, or any number of other autoimmune issues know what moon face is about. Moon face is caused by too much corticosteroid in your body, or possibly Cushing Syndrome. Basically what I'm getting at – and I'm not making any accusations, just making observations of what I saw – is that it appears that Batista has too much of some type of hormone in his system. I actually stopped writing and made a run to my doctor's office. They fit me in as I'm still having stranger than normal health issues, but while there I asked her about moon face, what might cause it. She simply said, prednisone. Prednisone is a corticosteroid that is used for all the ailments mentioned before, and more. She also said that you an get it if you gain a lot of weight, but I explained that he's beautifully ripped, but has moon face. She told me that taking anabolic steroids can make your jawline look stronger and more exaggerated, but when you stop it can make your face look strange, but not give you moon face. Again, I'm not saying that Batista is on steroids. What I am saying is that he looks like he might be taking prednisone, and that's a medication that is also a steroid. The thing about prednisone is that you don't want to take it unless you have to, because it does the opposite of anabolic steroids, it destroys muscle tone, among a whole slew of other side effects that can make your life almost unbearable.
And then there's that horrid spinebuster! That looked really bad, but the Batista bomb looked much stronger. I have to admit I liked that he continued with the thumbs up, thumbs down. It's something that is very Batista, and good that they continued with it with his return.
In Ring Segment > B
I enjoy Big Show as a face. I find him quite enjoyable, and his comedic timing is fantastic. Big Show emotes wonderfully, no matter his character, and some of his facial expressions are just wonderful, but little he does compares to the way he tossed Brock around like a rag doll. After all I've said about how reckless Brock has been since his return to the WWE, and how he doesn't seem to care if he hurts someone, as long as he gets his paycheck, seeing Big Show toss Brock around makes me almost giddy.
Speaking about Big Show emoting, he looked really unhappy when Brock actually threw that monitor at him. Until then it all seemed to be going as planned. It seemed as though Brock was going along with things as planned until he tripped over the monitor and fell on his ass. After that he seemed to lose it a bit, then the monitor flew. How much do those things cost? I know it's nothing compared to what Brock makes, but still, very unprofessional in my book.
AJ & Tamina vs Dactyls > C+
I've already said what I feel about Cameron in the ring with Naomi standing on the apron, but this match was worse than that. It really looked as though Tamina was out of sorts as well. Now, she might have been selling that she was upset because of getting AJ's cake to the face. Either she was out of sorts, or her acting has gotten quite a bit better lately. I will say that the little we saw of Naomi was great, and AJ sold her emotional issues beautifully. AJ's money is in her crazy chick schtick, and she hasn't been showing enough of that recently. Just thinking, now AJ has broken the record for longest Divas Champ reign, after Punk holds the longest WWE Championship reign in the past 25 years, what's left for the power couple?
Winners – Dactyls (2:27)
Usos vs Harper & Rowan > B
I love watching the Usos in the ring. They have grown so much over the past year. It seemed for a while there that they'd never really get out of the gates, even with their family name, but with the build of the Tag Division, and having such great teams to work against, they've grown into a formidable team. I truly think that they wouldn't have been TTCs by now if it hadn't been for the formation of The Brotherhood. This is a great time for the Usos as the Tag Division is better than it's been in so many years, and they've helped make it that way. The more we see of them, the better they get, even when they're facing wrestlers who don't have the finesse of grace that they have in the ring. Honestly, I don't know how Rowan and Harper would get over without being part of The Wyatt Family. They're both big and strong, but they haven't grown enough in the ring to really be spectacular. Honestly, the best parts of the team seems to be Harper, and that's because of his clothesline, gator roll, and his crazy eyes. That man can put on almost as much crazy as AJ!
The end of this match was enough to make it worth the time to watch. Between Bray on mic dictating how the match was to be worked, then Bryan taking him out – just great. While Bryan's match with Bray was only set up earlier in the show, this is the continuation that's perfect for a go home to a PPV. Still wish Bryan was going to be in the Royal Rumble Match, and not facing Bray, but that's me.
Winners – Usos (12:41)
Kofi vs Orton > B
I wonder if Orton was working stiff in this match, because Kofi didn't seem at all happy with the way things were going. The whole thing just felt very off. Cena running in saved the segment, and possibly Kofi from who knows what Orton could have done. Sorry, it just felt to me that Orton was more out of control than his character was scripted to be.
Using Cena so sparingly in this episode of RAW was great. I'm usually annoyed by Cena's pre-PPV mic work, so we were able to avoid all that. Making it look like Cena wasn't there, most likely with his father after the attack, was a great way to trim Cena's mic work. I actually really enjoyed the way they handled Cena and Orton here. Orton being the total wuss and fleeing Cena. That he had to go up through the stands was typical, but climbing into a strange car – though obviously planned – was fantastic! Cena did a great job of giving the fans his love, staying so very Cena through it all, even though he was so driven to get Orton, then distraught that he got away. I have to say that it was a solid way of ending this go home RAW, even though most of the show didn't feel like the last RAW before the Royal Rumble, before the Road to WrestleMania starts.
Winner – Orton via DQ (5:08)
I have to say that this episode of RAW was not the best go home to any PPV, never mind one of the big four. I expect so much more from the WWE at this point, but I think they really dropped the ball with this one in many ways. Also, I know I wrote about it before, but doesn't someone look over the Superstars before they go to the ring to make sure they're appropriately dressed? It just seems like an easy thing to do so they can avoid things like Batista's skinny jeans and the rest of that outfit that made him look more girly that I'm sure they wanted him to look.
I will admit that I'm a bit worried that so many faces went over in this go home to Royal Rumble. That can be an indicator that we could be in for a heel heavy Royal Rumble, but that's grasping at straws. I'll have to look at things more closely for the Predicts this weekend. I am so excited about the Royal Rumble, and can't wait to see everyone in the Live Blog Sunday night!
Queen of WNW