I am one very unhappy camper going into this Raw. The WWE did something incredibly daft this past week, and you all know what my issue is – Damien Sandow. Sandow has more potential than a lot of WWE Superstars, and unless he has a health issue we know nothing about, it seems as though the WWE has cut off its foot to spite its leg. Sandow has more than proven that he can handle anything that's thrown at him, from characters that shouldn't work to big matches that people didn't think he was up for, but he killed and should have been pushed from (if not won)! Sandow has an interesting look, fan following, and Shane said he was going to be putting Superstars to work who have been wallowing off WWE TV. No, I'm not at all done or over this Sandow thing. The WWE needs to pull their heads out and bring Sandow back PDQ!
Highlight Reel > B+
I have to admit that I'm totally disgusted that Jericho has the Highlight Reel back. I know it makes no sense that this bothers me so much when Shane's loss but ending up running Raw (if briefly) didn't bother me in the least, in fact, I was defending it because they had booked themselves into such a terrible corner.
Then there's Jericho who has been looking worse and worse in the ring, and his mic skills have not been up to par. He wasn't too bad here, but most people who are great on mic can continue to carry things even when their world is crumbling around them. Now, I don't have proof that Jericho's ring issues have anything to do with his lifestyle, but you have to admit that Jericho hasn't been looking anywhere up to snuff lately. Jericho can only toot his own horn so many times before it looks like he's convincing himself that he's still the GOAT of the WWE.
Now, I have to say that I love all this outpouring over Mitch, but that's the WWE Universe for you. We love the quirks, and Twitter has given us such a great outlet to get our thoughts and feelings out to the world. It's easier than finding a tall building and screaming that my waffles on Mother's Day were fantastic.
It's strange to see Cass without his hyperactive Enzo, but he did a solid job of holding his own. It might seem as though Enzo is the mouthpiece of the group, and he is, but so is Cass. Cass is the opposite of Enzo on mic, and I think that's what makes them so great. The slower speech with his accent and enunciation are perfect. He has charisma oozing, and I wasn't sure how that would work without his bouncing ferret, but I'm blown away. Sam asked me if Jericho was short or it Cass was just that big. I said yes, but that Cass is a big man, right up there with Nash and Kane at seven feet tall, and you can't teach that. (Yes, I said it that way, I couldn't stop myself.) I have a feeling that friends and family are going to hate hearing, “And you can't teach that!” very quickly. Sam doesn't get the SAWFT thing yet, but I love it, and I am really understanding just how much I've missed in NXT by watching the AE as much as I have. Time to change my late-night viewing habits – after the Invasion. I don't remember it being as bad as people have said, so I need to see for myself.
Backstage Segment > C-
I know Jericho isn't as young as he used to be, but he appeared to be nodding off when Steph was talking to him. His eyes seemed a little too closed, like maybe he was nodding, or something. Also, Jericho and Steph used to have chemistry, and while Steph was all on here, Jericho barely seemed to be doing more than saying the words and trying to stay awake. No clue what happened during the commercial break, but Jericho went from being on to looking exceedingly off.
Ziggler vs Corbin > C
Corbin was solid speaking on the split screen, but I want to see how he is during a live segment. Yes, this goes back to me needing to watch tons of NXT, but I'd think with him that impressive in that little segment that they'd put him on live. Then again, if it took Corbin twenty takes to get it, I can see why he's done so little live on WWE TV.
I will say that Ziggler looked stronger here than I've seen him much of the time against Corbin, but that also means that we've seen too much of these two in the ring together. I've mentioned it before, but being in a feud doesn't mean you only face that one person over and over on every show – in some way, shape, or form – it used to be that faces and heels faced off in the ring with other people through feuds, leading up to the big defining match(s) at PPV(s). Now all we see is the same match over and over until it's finally over, and/or they stop feuding for a couple months, then go right back to it. If I never see another Orton/Cena match again it will be too soon. I don't want to feel that way about these two, but other than a Battle Royal, I cannot think of Corbin facing anyone but Ziggler on WWE TV. Now, it might have happened, but I don't recall it at the moment.
Winner – Corbin
Backstage Segment > C-
Shane ending his call with his family was cute and shows how real and relate-able he is these days. That Charlotte and Flair thought they could sway Shane from Steph's decision last week. That they're getting along, sort of, is interesting to see, and I wonder where it is going to go. Will they end up siding against McMahon? Only time will tell. And while Shane was great here, Charlotte and Flair, not so much.
Backstage Segment > B
Is this the same AJ? He's doing so much better on mic with The Club by his side! I'm liking AJ's new vibe and abilities. Maybe he just needed to have the right people by his side.
Fandango vs R-Truth > D
What did R-Truth do to his hair? Looks like he should be tagging with Goldust with his hair looking like that! And all that gyrating. What is this, 1993? Actually, R-Truth was more animated in the ring now that he was with Road Dogg back in 2000 when he debuted, and he bounced all over the ring back then. It's almost like he's trying to prove to himself that he's not old.
As much as I love seeing R-Truth, Goldust and local boy Fandango out there, the fans were so dead for this match. They were more animated after the match, but during it, they really didn't seem to give a flying fig. That doesn't bode well for them getting more TV time, but we will have to see how their SmackDown tag match is received.
Winner – R-Truth
Backstage Segment > B+
Sami rushing into this segment was a great dichotomy to Miz's whining! Sami is so endearing and I can't help but adore him. He has an awkward charisma about him that makes me want to take him home and feed him milk and cookies. The way Sami handled this segment made me that much more excited about Sami's future. I do have to admit that usually I only step up and refer to a Superstar when I truly respect them and have said as much. That's not the case for Sami. I don't call him Sami because I don't respect him, because I truly do, and have since the first time I saw him in the ring as El Generico, but something about this character of his, he seems more of a Sami than anything. Also, I think every time I see the name Zayn I think of One Direction.
I loved what Steph said to her brother and the absolutely stumped look on his face. They have such amazing chemistry!
Charlotte vs Paige > B-
It looks as though someone has sewn a padded bra into the ring gear she debuted at WrestleMania because she's finally not needing to readjust it every thirty seconds. Further, it looks as though she's taped her boobs in because nothing is moving in there. I wonder if she heard about it backstage, worries about a wardrobe malfunction. Actually, I have to say that the ring gear that the women are wearing is built so much better than it used to be! Finally, someone is taking their time to make the ring gear look good, not like they're either strippers of figure skaters.
It was so refreshing to see Charlotte work the ring without her father ringside. Yes, she was working as if she didn't have the self-esteem to do all this on her own, and did a solid job of it, but then Flair had to come out. Actually, it makes a lot of sense, and pushed the storyline along well, but it was so expected. There wasn't anything new or exciting that happened, it's exactly what you would expect Flair to do. (If you haven't read Zack's newest article, check it out. I completely agree with him!) For me, Nattie should have taken his ass down again and held him in the sharpshooter until Paige won the match, that would have been a lot more fun for me. Not really exciting, or a swerve, but more interesting.
Winner – Paige
Sami Zayn vs Miz w/ Maryse > B+
I just cannot say enough about Sami. I love that the way he runs around and out to the ring is captured so well in his merch. The silly run, the hat, everything. Such a difference from El Generico, but also so much fun. JBL, on the other hand, makes me want to mute my TV for three hours. Rarely JBL comes out with something interesting or funny, like last week talking about a bar brawl with the Dudleys that might have had nothing to do with being filmed for a segment, and D-Von not paying his tab. Now, that was funny and wasn't JBL screeching about faces or getting butt-hurt over something said by Cole. Between climbing all over Byron, something that is so easy that it seems hard to not fling insults at him all the time, screaming about one heel or another being screwed, or lying about something we all know to be true, it seems that JBL has taken being the heel announcer to a whole new level, and making King look like a softie from his feud with Bret Hart early in his WWE tenure.
Some of this match held me captivated. Other parts left me scratching my head. Sami over the top and bouncing his face off the stairs made no sense, other than it was booked to happen. Sami did all of that himself and it really looked lame to me. Miz did nothing but elevate him, and Sami could have easily landed on the apron, but ate stairs. It was a move that made no sense to me in the grand scheme of things.
I wonder how long it takes Maryse to bleach her hair that light. Her hair looks healthier than it should with the work it must take to keep her hair that light.
Winner – Sami Zayn
Backstage Segment > B+
Becky Lynch on mic is great! She's endearing, down to earth, and doesn't put on airs. She doesn't seem, at least as a face, to care about coming across as too polished or perfect, and I think that mixed with her mad skills, kicking bod, huge heart and sexy accent are what brings the guys running, and drooling.
Dana Brook is one tough looking bleached blonde. I wasn't thrilled the first time I saw her – very short moment on NXT – but she came off great here, and the guys in the WNW Open Thread Discussion were all excited that she was debuting, so yet another reason to watch every episode of NXT since they stopped being a pseudo-reality show.
Video > F
I'm so annoyed and squicked out by Young's video with Backlund that I had to skip it when I was watching it today. I will admit that Raw was on last night, but I took my meds and remember almost none of the show. The two things that stuck with me were that Cass was going to be in the main event, but something screwy happened, and this Young/Backlund video. When Young's face came up on the screen I had to forward through it, because I fear if I see it again, I might have nightmares. What are they trying to do to Young? Okay, while he's not pitching fits in the ring, I get a very Christian/DDP vibe here. On the other hand, I feel like we've seen this storyline before, with Backlund! If anyone knows what I'm thinking about and can job my memory, please bring me back to whatever storyline it might have been, because it's driving me crazy.
Backstage Segment > B+
When did Raw go from being fun skits that tell the stories, with a bit of talking here and there to help things out and push the best talkers, to everyone standing around talking about things? As a fiction writer I'm always told to show, not tell. You'd think that something such as a TV show would understand that they should be showing us, not telling us, the storyline. Not saying that this was a bad segment, everyone handled it well, but it was telling us the story, not showing it. I really want to know when the WWE changed their tune and lost the skits, because I watch TV to see what's going to happen, not be told about it. I have audio books for that.
Backstage Segment > C
And interview time, they have always been around, and I get that they're needed for things to continue, and this is where the telling, rather than showing, should be. This wasn't bad, but it was nothing exciting either. This was a middle of the road interview segment, and should be graded as such. With Shane around and things trying to change within the WWE, I'm really trying to be honest with the grading, and a C is an average grade, and this interview was just that, average.
Sin Cara vs Rusev > C-
Lana looked great in the ring, but bustier/corset tops like that, the ones with the sewn cup lines that look more like a bra than not, should actually fit like a bra. Meaning, those lines should sit under the tatas, not across the middle of them. Lana is so tiny that it appears as though that red top was too big, but the sewn cup lines were nowhere near below her tatas. This is one of my fashion pet peeves, and a style that is rarely something that works off the rack, because few racks actually fit well into the tiny cups sewn into those tops.
Rusev really sold some of Sin Cara's work very well. At one point he really looked like he'd been rocked by Sin Cara. It seems as though Sin Cara gets no respect because of who wore the mask before him, but this was handled better than I expected by Rusev. Most of the time I feel terrible for Arias because of what the original Sin Cara did while wearing the mask, but I also wonder if the hood might be a bit cursed. Arias is better than the character and should be allowed to work to his ability, but I guess I could say that about many Superstars. Either way, it was nice to see Sin Cara get a win, even though it looked terribly fake. Rusev's earlier selling was solid, but the finish looked quite weak.
Winner – Sin Cara
The Club vs Samoans > B
I know that the WWE cannot legally use the Bullet Club, but calling them simply, The Club, feels a bit lame. Honestly, I didn't know if the WWE would use a word as controversial as bullet in the name of a faction, but since we know that's what their name should be, The Club seems like such a letdown. Honestly, this whole feud seems to be a letdown. All I have heard about how Anderson works the ring, how Gallows has grown, which I saw a lot of in TNA, and how well AJ meshes with them. And while I'm thrilled AJ is in the WWE WHC fight, The Club doesn't seem to be living up to their potential, but I truly believe that Creative is at fault here. Putting them in against the Usos in their first feud was just daft. As much as I like the twins, they have no character, personality, or reason for us to care. Because of that, the only reason we really care about Anderson, Gallows and AJ is running on what they've done and who they were in other promotions. They've done absolutely nothing to build these three, other than working off who they previously were. That worked for Hall and Nash in WCW, but not all WWE fans are as well versed in worldwide wrestling. If the WWE doesn't create something for these guys, some character, some reason for us to care, the only reason we will care is from their past, not who they are within the WWE. Normally I don't bold something like that, but I truly hope that someone within the WWE who reads that really takes note. I know we can only say the no character, no personality, no reason to care so many times, but maybe stating that we love these wrestlers because of how they were built in other promotions will shake someone awake. Yes, Creative is a hard job, but it truly doesn't seem as TPB even care about characters, storylines, feuds and booking other than making sure they put together the needed hours of WWE TV each week. Burnout happens, and it appears to me that McMahon has burnt out and Creative is sick of being shot down at every turn by someone who isn't in touch with the fans (that he thinks ADR should be in the WWE and pushed to the moon shows how out of touch McMahon is), have also burnt out. It's time for something new, something fresh, a new era, but one that actually makes us excited to watch.
I didn't like the way Anderson and Gallows were eliminated, and I really didn't like the way Reigns tossed AJ across announce. That was too strong, too hard, and too far. Yes, AJ is a tough guy, but he shouldn't have to be that tough in a match like this.
Winners via DQ – Samoans
Ryder vs Owens > B-
While KO made this look solid, I just cannot suspend my disbelief enough to not laugh at Ryder getting anything over on KO. KO is so strong in the ring that it would take him being hung over, food poisoned, the flu, and a broken leg for me to believe that Ryder could get anywhere over him. This did nothing for me. I was shocked and could barely believe that Ryder was strapped, and now that it's over, I'm done. I'm honestly as shocked that he wasn't release that Sandow was. So while KO did everything right in this match, it was Ryder who was not believable.
Winner – Owens
Backstage Segment > A-
Cass said all the right things, did a great job of it, though I have to worry about how he hit on Ambrose's woman! Actually, I thought that Cass making eyes at Renee, flashing that amazing dimple, and making Renee swoon a bit was fantastic! He's shown charisma before, but that look in his eyes when he gave Renee a 'How you doin'?' was badda boom!
In Ring Segment > A-
I was floored by New Day going there the way they did. They pulled back by saying they were referring to smartphone users, but we all know what they were meaning. Wonder if that's a slight nod to the Nation? Okay, I look for little things like that everywhere within the WWE. Honestly, I really enjoyed this segment, while short, it was crisp and to the point. I think New Day are better like this than when they ramble.
New Day vs Dudley Boyz > B
This was just another Dudleys match. They are still better than what they've been doing since they came back to the WWE, but that's the WWE and their piss-poor booking. Yes, I said it, from what Bully Ray was in TNA, back to what he did when he was first in the WWE, it has to be a bit disheartening. Honestly, the best part of this match was New Day being New Day, from Francesca 2 to Big E being the total goober that he is. They command the screen in a way I didn't believe they would meld into when they first started together. The trombone no longer annoys me, and they're actually showing their personalities, something both Big E and Wood needed to do to get over with the fans. Honestly, if it was anyone else facing the Dudley Boyz, I'd have given the match a D, but New Day made it entertaining.
Lastly, what's wrong with Gotch's right elbow?
Winners – Dudleys
Jericho vs Cass > A-&F
I was very excited to see that Cass was going to be in the main event. While Enzo is out (due to accident or an exuberant opponent who threw him too close to the ropes, and while I've never worked the ring and cannot say for sure, but I've watched a lot of wrestling in my day, and I know how I feel about the throw), there's no reason for Cass to sit on his hands backstage and wait for his spastic little buddy to be cleared to return – which I hope happens soon, because he's a certified G and a bonafide stud, and you can't teach that. Heck, if you could, Reigns might be over as the top Superstar, but we all know that's not happening. Yes, I'm blaming some of his issues on him, even though the majority of the issue rests squarely on the shoulders of McMahon and Creative.
Anyway, I think it was pretty obvious that Ambrose would return and attack Jericho during this match. Further, that jacket was pleather and so obviously not real. It's not even the same jacket Jericho had on earlier in the night. It looked so cheap, especially the way it was lit. That was not the liner of a $15,000 jacket. The studs were cheap, the lighting was cheap, it ripped so easily (which thin, cheap leather will rip like that, but Jericho's jackets are not cheap, thin leather) and it looked rough. That being said, of course they wouldn't destroy a $15,000 jacket on Raw, it's just not something they'd do. That Ambrose pulled out all the guts and it was still lit up shows how fake the guts actually were. There were tons of wires in there that didn't need to be there; and I just realized that I've lost a bit of the spark I used to have watching wrestling, because I would have laughed about all those wires twenty years ago, now I'm pointing it out as a minor flaw. I'm not annoyed that they did this, and it makes perfect sense, I just find it interesting how they're willing to go overboard on such little details when they're being so staid with absolutely everything else.
But, all that being said, I have to give this segment the first grade for all out entertainment value. Between Ambrose and Cass (who I get to in the next paragraph), they absolutely killed it. They were fun, exciting, and put everything they had into this segment. Ambrose always kills it, so as soon as he took Jericho down and put on his jacket, I knew this was going to be fun, if not a Cass main event. Jericho spazzing out was fun, but it was Ambrose and Cass who made this the segment of the night.
While Cass got his time with Jericho, and he used every millisecond to the best of his ability, sold himself like few Superstars (other than those top names I mention on a weekly basis), and like I've never seen the likes of ADR sell for any reason. (X, that's for you.) I'm blown away by Cass, even though he wasn't in the main event match. That's where the F comes in. We spent three hours, specifically Jesse and I, tweaking out about Cass in the main event, and they pulled the old bait and switch
Backstage Segment > A
I liked the moment between Steph and Shane, but I'm not sure which way she will go. Will she join with her brother against McMahon, or will she lure Shane in, then try to destroy him from the inside? This is some sort of intrigue, something the WWE needs, but that was a two minute segment out of three hours – that really sucks as a hardcore wrestling fan.
As I said previously, I remembered that something screwy happened in the main event, but I was basically asleep by this point. I'm not going to blame falling asleep on the WWE, because I was heavily medicated, and had really pushed myself to stay up to catch the end of Raw. Honestly, re-watching the tag match, I remembered none of that match either, other than it happened, or anything after it. No clue how I forgot about New Day, or that they were in a match. All that being said about falling asleep during Raw, looking back on the grades I gave everything, this really wasn't a great Raw. The segments just didn't come together to give us a solid show. In fact, this was possibly the worst Raw since WrestleMania.
The Shane McMahon podcast with Foley has me quite excited. I know much of it, but hopefully not too much of it, will be kayfabe, but I truly hope that we will learn a lot more about what's happened within the family with Shane's departure and return. I have to admit that if I saw my father's business going down the tubes, I'd have to step in and do something. I've not worked there on a regular basis in fourteen years, but I grew up there, put my own heart and soul into that business, and it means a lot to me. While my health has made it so that I'm not the person taking over, I do trust my father's partner, who I've known since he was four years old. But yes, I get why Shane is back, and I hope he can make things work out for his family, the Superstars, and fans.
Lastly, looking back, I have to say that Cass won the night. Two of the four best grades were because of, or partially because of Cass. Not bad for one of the newest guys on the roster.
Queen of WNW