This past Sunday night left many, possibly a majority, of the WWE 'Universe' up in arms. So many people are rooting for Bryan, yet we're not getting what we want. Whether a work or a shoot (honestly, I don't care right now), I love Foley for all he's said and done in support of Bryan. After the Royal Rumble was over, and we were all sitting around here in shock – that Batista won, that the fans booed Rey at #30 because he wasn't Bryan, that there was so much the WWE could have done, but in reality (other than a few lovely little moments), the best parts of the Royal Rumble were the Kickoff between The Brotherhood and New Age Outlaws, and the first math between Bryan and Bray – my middle daughter Ashlyn said something insightful, "It doesn't matter, Bryan is still going to have one spectacular year." I will admit that a couple of those lovely little moments – Kofi's amazing dive back to the apron, Kofi holding on by his toes and getting back into the ring, Big Sexy's return (leave me alone, you know I adore that man), Punk hiding under the ropes in a corner resting, just like another #1 entrant who was one of my favorites, and Reigns' spectacular first showing. I will admit that I'm bummed Kane didn't break HBK's elimination record, but I like how he and Punk are feuding, and did you notice how ripped Kane is looking? He's lost some weight and is getting a serious bod under that suit!
I could go on and on about the Royal Rumble, both good and bad, but I'm going to jump into RAW so I can get this out to everyone. I'm sure Mayo is chomping at the bit.
In Ring Segment > B+
I know people criticize Steph and Trip as a couple, but I love the little moments they have together. Even if they are scripted, they're adorable together. I thought Steph was strong, and Trip perfectly played the infuriating jerk with his whiny voice about the fans not getting what they wanted, right down to the doe eyes. Also, Trip saying Bryan gave, "A good little effort." was just fantastic! But it was Bryan telling everyone not to chant, can't make The Authority mad! It was great that the fans just couldn't get their chants organized after that. I think they were just so excited to see Bryan, and what might happen from there.
I love the #YesMovement thing, and though I'm not sure who started it, it sets up for so much in the future. When Bryan is a heel and terribly hated, will we get the #NoMovement? All that being said, I think Bryan improves on the mic week after week, but it's the way he breaks into that fantastic smile when the fans are all chanting for him. I knew something was off when Bryan was atop the cage a few weeks ago, because while he had the "YES!" "YES!" "YES!" chants going, he didn't have that endearing grin.
Okay, the set up for the main event was a bit obvious, but I was thrilled to see it because it meant that we wouldn't be seeing Bryan vs Sheamus (most likely) at WrestleMania. When Bryan asked Steph to step aside, and stepped up to face Trip, nose to nose, I told Stacy that we would be seeing Bryan vs Trip at WrestleMania. While it might not be a WWE WHC match, I think it would be a great spot on the card for Bryan. I would have no issue with Bryan facing Trip at WrestleMania, though I would love to see him facing HBK.
One last things about this segment that I would be remiss to mention, as it is my RIB title this week – Rollins' graceful entrance to ringside. I will admit that I stopped my DVR and watched this at least five times. We all have heard about the night Reigns tripped going over the barricade and landed flat on his back, and most of us have seen the video of Punk teasing him for it, but the impressive tumble Rollins took there was on a whole other level. He was very obviously pissed, as he slammed his hand on the floor as he got up, but it was Reigns who made me laugh even harder. Reigns went over the barricade as if nothing unusual had happened right in front of him. He had to have seen Rollins bust his ass, but he never broke his stoic character. The whole thing was a blast to watch. Sometimes the most unexpected moments are the best.
Rey & Sin Cara vs The Real Americans > B-
Is there a jinx on the Sin Cara name? It really looked as though Hunico was struggling in the ring this week, and it felt as though we were watching the original Sin Cara with the issues I saw. There was the double team move with Rey, a rough kick in a corner, the way he and Swagger got a bit ties up after flying, and the way he took Cesaro's neutralizer looked quite off. Even sending Swagger into announce looked really rough. Other than those problems Sin Cara looked much stronger, it was just odd to see flashes of Mistico's Sin Cara.
What was up with Zeb slapping Swagger? Are we starting to see cracks in The Real Americans? It did seem to help Swagger get in the game, but it seemed like an odd way to do it. I hope there's racks as I'd love to see Cesaro on his own and getting pushed. He's so strong, and has so much more than he an give being stuck with Swagger. I have to say it was great to see Cesaro's neutralizer. I honestly can't remember the last time we've see it hit on anyone.
Winners – The Real Americans (9:31)
BNB > D
I am not at all impressed with Barrett in his new role. He's not good, and he's not very good at being bad. Honestly, his voice is grating, he's being annoying, and someone needs to teach him how to pound a gavel, because he looks like a toddler with his plastic hammer working over his Fisher Price Pound-A-Peg toy.
Video > B+
I loved the Monday Night War DVD set, and the WWE Network is going to be that and so much more. I cannot wait to immerse myself in wrestling next month. I have some great plans for articles, and I'm giddy about watching and re-watching so much of the past!
Fandango vs R-Truth > C+
JBL asking if Woods skinned El Torito for his jacket, and if he could have the horns for his golf cart was possibly the best part of this match. Honestly, I had to go back to RAW Results to see who won this match, it was that memorable. There was a couple of interesting moves in this match, but re-watching this match, I'm actually impressed listening to Woods. He came off as very intelligent talking about his education and dissertation. I liked him when he was Creed, though haven't been impressed with the Woods character until now. It's a strange dichotomy between him being so frenzied everywhere else, but composed and intelligent on announce. Not sure how it work yet.
Winner – R-Truth (3:31)
In Ring Segment > B-
Who dresses Maddox? He always looks like he's trying to fit into clothes that are at least a size too small, and it's almost uncomfortable to look at him for that reason. I'm just waiting for him to split his seams; though he hasn't forgotten any major Superstars names lately. Maybe Maddox and Evil Marie deserve each other?
Orton to the ring garnered little reaction from the fans, good or bad. There was more of a low murmur and some "Daniel Bryan!" chants. He didn't get much more heat as he spoke. I thought Batista had more heat upon entering the ring, then the "Daniel Bryan!" chants grew. Batista glared and ignored, definitely different from The Authority. They're trying to keep Batista a face, but having him win the Royal Rumble Match doesn't help that, especially after the lackluster response he received from the fans in the arena upon his return.
So, is Batista friends with The Authority, or is he in the WWE for three reasons, and who cares what The Authority likes? Someone really let the ball drop with that inconsistency in the scripting. What was better was Batista's clothing. McMahon wanted him to look bigger, and the way he dressed did that beautifully. The purple burnout V-neck t-shirt was a bit metro, but the open hoodie under the open jacket with extra pockets added bulk, as did the looser jeans and work boots. Batista absolutely looked bigger and more intimidating this week, but then Brock came to the ring and Batista wasn't quite so big and scary. We know Booker T beat Batista up, then Batista would have no chance against Brock. Doesn't mean I wouldn't love to see Brock vs Batista vs Orton in a Triple Threat Match (during the AE), but that's just my sick theory that they would absolutely destroy each other for our entertainment. And some people think I'm too soft to be a sports entertainment writer.
Battle of Cleveland > B-
First off, I love that Miz was in all Cleveland Browns colors. His ring gear shows serious dedication to his hometown, but how did I miss that Ziggler was from there too? And speaking of Ziggler, someone needs to hold him down and bleach his roots – please!
I can't say that this was a bad match, though it was interesting to see that the fans were more behind Ziggler than Miz, even though Cleveland is usually right there for Miz. They both hit their moves and sold them, but this match was little more than a throwaway. They tried to make it interesting because of Cleveland, but it was two wrestlers without direction in a four minute match that really didn't mean anything to anyone. Ziggler needs a feud, and one that means something, and Miz needs to be on announce. Listening to him banter with JBL on Smackdown was refreshing and added a lot to the show. It was a nice change of pace from the same stuff we always hear between JBL and Cole at minimum twice a week. Miz can talk, his banter was quite solid, and the man knows the industry. He's not working as a wrestler, so why not try him on the table with JBL for a bit and see how it works out?
Winner – Ziggler (4:10)
Usos vs RybAxel > B-
I loved hearing King say what nice boys Jimmy and Jey are, so enjoyable to be around. JBL said how impressed he is with the Usos, and that they will be Tag Team Champs. I agree, their matches get better and better. Not every match is great, but if they're in with decent competitors, their work looks that much better. They're learning and growing so much.
Speaking about growing, I haven't heard that Ryback actually hurt himself in this match, so he's seriously learned how to sell – at least when it suits him. Ryback sold his shoulder to the post in a way I didn't think he was capable of. It might have been a stinger or something to help him along, but he was acting as though his shoulder had almost been ripped off. Proof that Ryback isn't as bad as we've all been saying? Maybe his head was just too big because he was pushed too fast? Only time will tell!
What was up with Axel biting Jey's head in this match? I'm not complaining, we've just seen a lot more biting recently, and I'm shocked because we know so much more about diseases these days. I know they're all tested, but it still takes guts to do something like that these days.
Winners – Usos (6:00)
ADR vs Kofi > B-
It looks as though ADR is a bit trimmer around the waist. It seems as though something got through to ADR after the time he was out due to concussion and didn't do anything to keep up his physique. He looks as though he's really been working on it since then. Yes, I said something nice about ADR. I actually do that when ADR impresses me, as he did by showing that he does care about himself and his position in the WWE. Further, ADR hit a couple of lovely kicks in this match. Kicks and enziguris are strengths of his, and he seemed to be even more on his mark with them in this match.
Though, no matter what I say about this match, the fans in Cleveland really didn't care much about what they were seeing. When the "JBL!" and "Jerry!" chants started. I know a lot of people think it's disrespectful to the wrestlers in the ring for the fans to chant like that, but I think it's their way of showing what they don't want to see. If the ring work isn't holding their attention enough that they have to entertain themselves, there's a problem somewhere. Cole was fantastic, saying, "It must be WrestleMania season." And while I do think that's part of it, I also think the fans were bored. This was a better match, and I will give ADR huge props for playing the heel and going over to yell at JBL for standing and further distracting the fans, but if the fans had wanted to see almost 14 minutes of ADR and Kofi in the ring, they wouldn't have had to entertain themselves.
I'm interested in the verbal abuse that the announcers seem to be heaping upon ADR lately. Is this the start of a storyline of some sort, or are TPTB heaping the heat on ADR in a distinctly different way? Or maybe ADR's derisive comments about not liking anyone backstage and not wanting to socialize with them is seeping out through the announcers, two of which are wrestlers? I guess only time will tell.
Winner – ADR (13:40)
WWE Tag Team Championship Match > B
It seems to me that the New Age Outlaws are more tweeners than straight up heels, but recently it was said that the WWE was going to be stepping away from true heels and faces, because no one is all bad, or all good. I'm not sure if it's that, or if the fans just are so impressed with how Road Dogg and Billy Gunn have come back and shown that they can still go, despite their ages. Goldust did it and is hugely over, so why can't they? Also, it's almost impossible to not go along with Dogg on mic. That man has one of the best voices in the industry, and his schpeal is so catchy. And who doesn't love yelling, "Suck it!" with 10,000 other people?
What I don't understand was all the comedy early on in the match. Was it because Dogg and Gunn were a bit winded from the night before and needed to take it slowly? I know Gunn is 50, but his ring work has been fantastic since his return, so much better than he gave in TNA as Cute Kip. No, he will never live that name down for me, but I will say that I have a dream team, or match that includes Gunn. I'd love to see him working with Ziggler in some capacity. To me it's a natural.
Okay, so the start of this match was lacking in actual wrestling, and it was confusing, but then they really got into it. I was quite impressed with the work between the two teams. They all left it out there, especially the Rhodes brothers. Between Goldust's flipping move on Dogg (Jesse and I don't agree on what the move is, so any help would be appreciated), and Cody's double missile drop kick, they were on fire.
All was going quite well, but then Brock happened. I understand that neither of these teams could have gone over cleanly, and this set up for a rematch between the teams, but things like that always annoy me. It's the whole bullying thing. Those who can overpower, do so because they can. I know it's wrestling, but I just get such a bad vibe off Brock, and have for quite a while, beyond who he's been in the WWE.
Winners – The Brotherhood via DQ (11:43)
8 Divas Tag Match > B-
First off, I have to say something about Aksana's ring gear. I have said numerous times that Aksana looks heavier than she is when she's in the ring because of what she wears, and that it looks like she's crawling around the ring in her pajamas. But they removed the legs from her purple jumper, cut it high on the bum with black boy shorts underneath and she looks almost 20lbs lighter. Don't get me wrong, I love Aksana's figure, and don't think that all the Divas should be stick thin. AJ is built that way, and beautiful for it. Naomi isn't the skinny twig, but I've heard (and read) more guys falling all over her than about any of the Divas lately (Xavier, I'm looking at you). Please don't think I'm talking negatively about Aksana's body, I'm a curvy girl, and think curves, as well as rock hard bodies, are sexy. My problem has been what she's been wearing, but this change is fantastic!
I actually sat down and watched this match again, because while I wrote the moves last night, I didn't get the feel for the match. A few of the moves seemed a little off, mostly Nikki on Aksana and Fox early on, and Tamina seemed a bit rough. Naomi looked a bit rushed from her hot tag, and her flipping clothesline was just bad, but from there... Okay, that shimmying crotch/booty to AJ's head/face was strange, but had me laughing. Naomi hit the rear view well, and finished the match more relaxed. Hopefully this is heading into a Divas Title shot for her soon. She's really proving herself lately.
I have to mention a few moved. First off, Nikki off the corner with that kick on Tamina was lovely! But what really impressed me was that triple suplex. So many things could have gone wrong with that, but it looked seamless. The Divas have put in a lot of work lately, some more than most, but they're bringing the Divas Division up to something actually worth watching again, something it hasn't been since Trish left.
I have to go back to ring gear for one little moment. I think I was wrong previously, Fox's boobs don't look bigger in her orange ring gear. So Jesse was right that she doesn't have new boobs. Also, what is up with the hat hanging off AJ's belt? Are we back in the 80s? Honestly, it just seems strange to enter the ring with something so big hanging off such a tiny body, even for the sake of style.
Winners – Bellas & Dactyls (5:40)
Video > A+
I know I almost always give the HOF inductee videos top grades, but this was one of the best I've seen in the years I've been writing the RIB. I was never a huge fan of Jake 'The Snake' Roberts, but this video made me smile, and want to go back and watch him in his heyday. I'm very excited for Roberts being in such great health, and that he's being inducted into the WWE HOF.
Video > B+
I really liked Christian's promo video, and I'm thrilled to see he's returning.
6 Man Tag Match >
I enjoyed watching Cena and Rollins grapple a bit. Not the norm for Cena, but it looked solid between the two. I think they could have a solid little feud, and make it look great in the ring. Then again, I feel the same way about Cena and Ambrose. Or even, after the way he's grown this past year, Cena and Reigns. The Shield really is a fantastic team all the way around, and all three have huge possibilities going forward. I honestly didn't think The Shield would stay together this long, do as much as they have, give us the jaw dropping matches they have, and given us three top notch wrestlers.
And I thought Sheamus looked quite solid in the ring, better than I'd hoped after such an injury. 6 anchors to fix his injury is sick! That could have ended his career. He was a very lucky man. While I know Sheamus is a big man, it was seeing him work with Reigns, who has blossomed as more than the muscle of The Shield this year, and they're of a size. Both big men looked terrific in this match.
For some reason, and it might just be that I'm watching more closely this second time through, but Ambrose's facial expressions seem to be getting stranger and stranger! That man tells such a story though more than the moves in the ring, and the ring psychology, and that's what makes him so different from so many wrestlers these days. In some ways he's a throwback, and I love it!
Bryan's missile drop kick off the corner on Rollins was picture perfect, as was his belly-to-back – also on Rollins. Bryan had been botching moves more late last year, but he seems to have pulled himself back together. Those solid moves really brought the fans to a frenzy, right where they needed to be for this match. Okay, so Reigns' spear on Cena blew, but it was late in the match, and after all those spears, and the abuse they'd been through, I can understand that those things can happen. Otherwise so much of this match was just wonderful, and so exciting!
I figured that Bryan, Sheamus and Cena would be winning this match, but I wasn't sure how it was going to happen. It makes perfect sense that The Wyatt Family attacked Cena, except they basically handed the Elimination Chamber match to Cena and Bryan, something you'd think they wouldn't want to have happen. The Shield was quite pissed about the ruling, and something in my gut makes me think that The Authority is going to have something to say about all of this next week on RAW. I'm expecting them to make Bryan jump through a whole pile of flaming hoops to get into that Elimination Chamber Match.
Winners – Bryan & Sheamus & Cena (23:31)
I will admit that my grading might have been a little harsher this week, but I always expect more during the Road to WrestleMania. It's a time that everyone should be stepping up their game and showing that they deserve a spot on the show, and even if they don't get a spot, now is a good time to get noticed for possible pushes after WrestleMania. TPTB seem to be watching things more closely this time of the year, so it's a great time to really pull out all the stops. I think most dedicated WWE fans expect more this time of the year, and because of that my grading becomes a little tougher.
Queen of WNW