What a roller coaster ride the WWE loves putting us on! Extreme Rules wasn't the best of PPVs, and then Raw last week wasn't the best, but it showed some solid matches and what I thought of as a shining moment of unexpected greatness with Charlotte and Flair. Of course, Enzo's return was another great moment and brought the fans to the brink. They followed that up with the announcements about SmackDown going live on USA on Tuesday nights, and the 2016 Draft, all things we've hoped for, but really didn't expect to happen. I have to say it puts a bit of a crimp in my ending my time with DISH and only getting Raw, and now SmackDown, on Hulu, but it's something that I really need to do. Yes, I will still be doing the RIB, just with certain segments filled in by other WNW writers, specifically Jesse and Mitch.
Then there was this week's Raw that gave us so much greatness, so many questions, and so much direction. It seemed as though the WWE is actually paying attention to what they're doing, giving us more show than tell, and putting together both matches and storylines that make sense. They keep this up and the really might be able to bring their ratings up and bring back past fans who aren't watching because the shows have just plain sucked.
Memorial Day Tribute > A+
The WWE always does a fantastic display for patriotic holidays, holidays that celebrate our fantastic armed services. I cannot say enough about the US Armed Forces, and all the great things the WWE does for them.
Now, I'm going to take a possibly unpopular stance here, and I'm going to rip on the WWE for something they did here. Yes, they used a fantastic speech by Reagan, a beloved former President of the United States. The part that I'm rubbed the wrong about, and I'm sure most people didn't even think to read into, is that Reagan is thought of as one of the most beloved republican presidents of the last century. We all know that the McMahons are republicans, raging republicans, and good friends with Trump. Maybe I'm reading too much into this segment, and while I love what they did, and even love the speech they used, I have to wonder if there was some ulterior motive in the WWE going with a very right-wing presidential speech here. Yes, I know, I said I'd keep politics out of it, but you also want what I think about Raw, and that's exactly what I think.
In Ring Segment > A&F
The F is for cutting Steph off from dancing. Yes, I know she doesn't like doing those things on the air these days, really tries to stay more composed when possible – other than being 'arrested' and dumped in the mud by Vickie – so I was shocked she was going to dance. I wish she'd been able to get a few moves in before Vaudevillains cut her off. Now, I love how Steph is loosening up with Shane being there, but I'm wondering how far she will go with it. I'm sure it's easier to let go when her big brother is out there, but I have to wonder how much tension there still is with Shane back in the WWE. It cannot be easy for any of them, but the WWE needed Shane back, and things have gotten a lot better since Shane returned. It's just a bummer he felt he had to leave in the first place.
New Day is so great, and working with Shane and Steph made them that much more fun while bringing some humanity to Shane and Steph. Sometimes the McMahons can seem as if they're actors and nothing else, but this seemed to bring out more reality in them, showing a more fun side of them. It was also nice that they addressed the 2016 Draft, if only a tiny bit. Think of the children!
Vaudevillains vs New Day > B-
I really want to like the Vaudevillains, but they're just not working for me. I'm just not getting their vibe, and it's annoying me. I think they have the chops, and I think their gimmick could be great, but they're just kind of floating along. They're just not connecting with the fans live at Raw, and they really are not connecting with me here at home. Now, I have to say that I'm thrilled that VKM hasn't pulled the plug on them, and is letting things play out a bit. If VKM had pulled the plug on them the way he has with Big E, Cesaro, and so many others, who knows what we might miss, the way there's so much that might have been with the guys I mentioned. I just hope they don't go too long with them if they really aren't working, the way they did with Los Matadores.
Stomping a glory hole in him? I know JBL is a bit freer on announce than most, and because he's a good friend of VKM's he can get away with a lot more, (and no, I'm not going to get into them being good republican buddies), but dang, that was quite the statement!
Winners via DQ – New Day
Backstage Segment > B
The Bullet Club is a great faction, a force to be reckoned with, and I doubt AJ is really out. They didn't beat AJ up when they went their separate ways, so I don't think they're at all done. I've always liked Gallows, and Anderson is impressing me week by week. I'm excited because we haven't had a serious faction since The Shield, but The Club could be as strong, if not stronger.
Backstage Segment > B+
Big Show is great here! He'd be a wonderful mentor for Crews. The height difference is hysterical, but so was Big Show with Rey and with Spike, and he tagged with both of them at different times. I'm excited for this, and I'm glad they put Big Show in there because both Crews and Sheamus have such little personality that we would have been bored to tears by them feuding one on one.
So, when will we see Crews in Big Show's bus?
Usos vs Breezingo > B+
The best part about this match is listening to R-Truth and Goldust on announce. Molten Poop? I kinda love it, and I love how JBL was up their butts on announce. They are both such strong talkers and guys who won't get flustered by being verbally abused by JBL. I think JBL's history in the locker room intimidates too many younger wrestlers when they're on announce with him. Heck, the fact that Miz can sit next to him and not act like he wasn't completely tormented by JBL is an impressive thing.
So yeah, announce was much more interesting than this match, but I will say it was nice to see the Usos have a bit of fun in the ring, not just have to fight for their lives in there. When their opponents have that much character than the Usos, and they're barely seen on Raw, there's an issue. I will keep plotzing over them having no character until they actually get character. I said that about Sandow, and that fell through, though I'm going on a re-hire Sandow campaign. But from here on out, I'm on the 'give Usos character so they don't continue to bore the fans to tears' campaign.
Winners – Usos
In Ring Segment > F
The guy who struggles on mic, and they give him mic time. The guy we want to hear on mic, we don't get it. Further, Rollins was channeling Jericho with the no speaking thing. How many fake outs did Rollins give us? It was totally lame! They brought Rollins back, it's time for him to help Raw, this only hurt it. So not bloody impressed!
Rusev (c) vs Ryder > C-
Is Ryder taking fashion tips from Christian, circa 2010? And why is Ryder back to being squashed? Put him in the ring with someone he can actually work with! I know that it was all setting up for Cena (who hasn't come out yet, but he will, this is exactly what makes sense according to #WWELogic). I truly feel bad for Ryder at this point.
Winner – Rusev
In Ring Segment > A-
Wait, Titus O'Neil? That was very unexpected, and I love it! I honestly didn't think we'd see him doing anything good at any point soon, so this is great to see! If you are on Instagram, you should follow Titus. He's so positive and uplifting. He makes me smile on a daily basis, and I cannot say that about anyone else on Instagram, even Rocky.
Backstage Segment > B+
I love how Steph ripped Charlotte a new one for how she treated Flair. Charlotte does have a bit of a leg to stand on with Steph because Steph did some horrible things to VKM on TV, but Steph is the boss, and a much stronger woman, so Charlotte didn't have a chance! I love it when Steph gets like that, really shows her chops and what she's made of, that she is a McMahon.
In Ring Segment > A
I have to split this off from the match, as I would have the New Age Outlaws if I was writing the RIB when they were huge. Further, I would have graded them with an A almost every time they were out there, at least when they were truly on their marks, as Enzo and Cass were here. The thing is, the only time I've not seen Enzo and Cass completely on was when Enzo was knocked out on the floor. I'd been saying that there aren't any guys with repeatable catchphrases, and then the WWE gave us Enzo and Cass. While I was crushed and worried when Enzo was hurt, I was blown away by how Cass can truly hold his own on mic. I don't want to see them apart for quite a while, but I know they will fare well when they are.
For me, it's how on point they are for what's going on, or where they're working. The Green Bay thing was wonderful, and then the cheese thing was off the hook! Those two had the fans between their slices of bread, and broke the cheese everywhere! Okay, I'm done. I know that line flopped, but Enzo and Cass didn't and that's the most important thing.
Since I gave Titus O'Neil props for his uplifting postings on Instagram, I have to give Enzo huge props for being fun and interesting to follow on Instagram. He's a very interesting man.
Dudley Boyz vs Enzo & Cass > B
This was fun, but a step down from Enzo and Cass on mic. While I would like to say that it's because the Dudleys are so over in the ring, but I can't, because they're not. Both Bubba Ray and D-Von are still very viable wrestlers, but the WWE has booked them to be almost vanilla, especially compared to who they once were. These men could be so much more, and should have had one last Tag Championship run before this New Era started. Yes, they're doing a fantastic job of being the old guys to help the younger guys look good, but in doing that, they've completely lost who they were as the Dudley Boyz. So while I'm thrilled with the push Enzo and Cass are getting, I don't like seeing how the mighty have fallen.
Speaking of Enzo and Cass, they are so much fun to watch, and both are so much better than a big guy and a little guy. Their chemistry is sick! Beyond that, they both work the ring really well and sell really well. They're well-rounded in ways I haven't seen in a long time, and I'm VERY excited for their future, and thrilled that I get to sit back and watch them.
Winners – Enzo & Cass
Backstage Segment > A
They are so ribbing KO and the IWC! That's hysterical! LOVE this segment and their reactions! Brilliant!
In Ring Segment > A
Patriotic Cena is a great thing, but sometimes over-the-top in a slightly off-putting way. I know why he gave the speech he did here, and I agree with everything he said, it's just that Cena can get so that way, and that's why the fans just cannot love Cena the way he really wants to be loved. He's just too corny for his own good, and while patriotism isn't corny, sometimes the way he approaches it can be.
I was completely shocked, blindsided (watching the season finale of Survivor as I write this bit), by AJ coming out to the ring to Cena. I thought it was going to be the US Championship again, and I was prepared to be annoyed and bored. Yes, Cena with the US Championship has given us some of the best matches we've seen with young Superstars, especially when you don't expect Cena to work so well with the differing styles, but I wasn't ready for Rusev to lose the strap so soon, and have him again be squashed by Cena. So AJ was a shocker, and I think it was a bit of a shocker for AJ as well. He looked in awe of the chants and reaction from the fans. He was in the ring with the biggest named wrestler of a decade, and he was getting competing chants. No only competing chants, but they were as loud, if not louder for AJ. This has been a long time coming, and it's obvious that AJ was a bit floored by it. The look on his face reminded me of Bryan. AJ was humbled by the reaction, so it had to be interesting to be inside his head for it. The fans were showing him such love, but he knew that he was going to turn on Cena and turn heel within minutes. In the WNW Raw Open Thread Discussion I had stated that AJ was going to turn heel on Cena. Then I responded to myself saying that he was going to briefly side with Cena, then turn heel on him. I'd not seen any spoilers about AJ turning heel, but the fact that The Club hadn't beaten AJ up when they 'turned on him' showed me that there was a real chance that they were truly still together, but it also just didn't feel right that AJ would side with Cena of all people. It didn't feel right to me, so I got my predictions out before things happened, as much to prove to myself that I saw what was coming, as anything.
That heel turn was great, and AJ with his longer hair really looks the part of the heel now. So excited to see what The Club does going forward from here, and who will join Cena against them. Just as long as The Shield doesn't rebuild with Cena to get through them, because that would be an epic mess.
Nattie vs Dana Brooke > D
I've been looking forward to this match all night. A few moves looked a little too set up for my taste, and the match was way too short. I don't know if anyone else noticed that Dana's ring gear was having issues. The legs were gaping too much for me. I was worried that she was going to have a serious wardrobe malfunction. I was too worried about that to pay attention to much more, except Dana's finisher which didn't look great for me. She slammed Nattie, then landed on her own bum. It looked wrong and I didn't like the top of Nattie's head shoved so deeply into Dana's crotch.
Winner – Dana
Backstage Segment > B
Ziggler is Jericho! I loved that Ziggler went there with this segment! I know some fans didn't like this, but I thought Ziggler did a solid job of giving Jericho props, as well as mentioning Malenko (who I adore), and dropping basically the same promo Jericho did in WCW, exactly 16 years and two months later, to the day. I hadn't realized until I went to look it up, Jericho hit that promo on March 30, 1998.
Ziggler vs Corbin > B+
I was so over this match before it started. I didn't want to see it! This feud feels longer than Cena/Orton (whichever time you'd like to pick), even though it's really not been that long. Ziggler has been so boring and really less than useless at getting over, or getting anyone else over, for a very long time. Honestly, I didn't think Ziggler had a chance of doing anything to change his role in the WWE, then he puts on headgear and a mouthpiece? What the heck is up with that? Such screwiness.
I surely didn't expect what Ziggler did next (and don't call me Shirley). That he kicked Corbin in the slats to get the DQ, then jumped on mic to end the feud was just tremendous! The man who had been boring me to tears, most of us to tears, took something no one wanted to see and made it shocking and absurd. I hope that this isn't the last of this version of Ziggler. Ziggler could really do this thing where he doesn't care about winning the matches, but is really edgy in all he does. I think it could work for him. Now, what to do about barely more than boring Baron Corbin?
Winner via DQ – Corbin
Backstage Segment > A
I don't get the goat/donkey thing, but I'm not Canadian. As much as I don't think Jericho should be working right now – he's been way off his mark, and I wonder if he's imbibing too much – and as much as I greatly dislike ADR, this segment was gold!
ADR smirked a bit at the end, but it was Jericho was was really close to losing it at the end. He was struggling not to laugh. Knowing Jericho and his pull backstage, I'll be shocked if he didn't have a hand in writing that segment, wrote the whole thing, or worked with KO and ADR to write it. Hey, I just realized that it was Y2J, ADR and KO in that segment. All letters and number, but so much humor. I liked the interaction between KO and Jericho the best, but I'm a fan of them and the way their characters use their humor. That was just brilliant!
Cesaro & Sami Zayn & Ambrose vs Jericho & ADR & Jericho > A-
This match is exactly what I expected, but that doesn't mean it was boring. I absolutely love four of the guys in this match, and it has nothing to do with who is heel and who is face. KO is the best heel we've seen in years, and if there needs to be a heel as WWE WHC, because we all know Reigns is a heel who isn't booked to be that way, it should be KO. Yes, they want Rollins to be the heel, and he will be WWE WHC, but KO is the top heel, and has been while Rollins was out. With the changes coming to the WWE, SmackDown and Raw having different rosters, KO should be the top heel on one of those shows, and as he's more than capable of carrying the company as a heel, carrying a show will be easy-peasy for him.
As I said, this match was exactly as I expected, the heels fell apart and attacked each other. Jericho and KO were bound to get into it and cost their team the match. The round-robin finishers were as great as ever, though I truly believe that Sami needs a new finisher. That boot in the corner is BORING! Such a fun guy, but that finisher is lame, time to fix that. From watching this match I'm that much more excited about the MITBLM, and itching to see who number seven will be. I didn't like that they haven't addressed that as of yet, because the fans are chomping at the bit. We want to know who it is, and I have to wonder if they really know who it will be. Rollins? Balor? So many great ideas!
Winners – Ambrose & Sami & Cesaro
So much good from this episode of Raw that I want so much more! I'm not a very patient person, and while I fully admit that, I've tried to be patient with the WWE. They've struggled so much over the past couple years, but I think they might finally be starting to come back around. The WWE is starting to make changes that they need to do to stay in the game, I just hope they're able to follow through, because it's time to put up or shut up. I think I'm past worried that they're dropping the ball at every turn, worried that some of the best are out with injury, past worrying that they're just too screwed, and I'm actually excited to see what they are going to do with the changes, with the Superstars, and it doesn't hurt that Rollins is back from his fluke injury. Fingers and toes crossed that we are going into another great time for wrestling. Another great time to be a fan.
Queen of WNW