I honestly don't know how to start this RIB this week. There were so many things wrong with this episode of Raw, and everything I thought was great I talked it up in a huge way in that segment. I will again mention that Ambrose getting his own match is something great. I've been hoping for a very long time that they would create an Ambrose Asylum Match. While I was hoping for more creativity than they seemed to put into it, it's hard to create a completely new match that's cohesive and makes sense to the fans. TNA was amazing in how they could make their gimmick matches so convoluted that I was confused more often than not, and Lucha Underground leaves my mind boggles with each episode – but at least they're entertaining! I tried to go into this show with a positive outlook, but hearing about the ADR, Paige, Charlotte love triangle just left me with a bad taste in my mouth. When things like this come out, I miss the days of wrestling before the Internet. You know, back when wrestling was real and we didn't know McMahon owned the WWF. If I hadn't known about who ADR was getting friendly with, I would be a much happier fan.
In Ring Segment > C-
I know AJ was supposed to be showing his angst about the Tweets about The Bullet Club, but the dead air was bad. Then JBL saying that Reigns was getting pop when he came out was just bad. Reigns responded well to the chants of, “We want Rollins!” Rather than ignoring them, he said they won't get him. Shows Reigns is getting better on mic, even if he's still in so far over his head that he will never break the surface. Reigns is getting stronger, but like Austin trying to be a heel and doing all he can do make it work, failing miserably because the fans didn't want it, Reigns will never be over as a face as he is right now, in this push. Reigns was more heel here than anything, yet #WWELogic keeps him face. So bloody daft!
That AJ was able to say what he did about Reigns and being sick of him was great, but saying things only go so far when the WWE keeps screwing up something that could be so great – meaning Ambrose or KO as WWE WHC. This opening was a kerfuffle and a mess, but at least they didn't start with twenty minutes of McMahon!
Sami Zayn vs Cesaro > D-
I was really pissed that this match basically ended before it began, and most of it was focused on Owens on announce. Yes, Owens is fantastic, but I really want to see Cesaro and Sami in the ring. This really hurt my heart as well as my stomach.
Stage Segment > B+
Shane was great giving Foley his props and getting the cheap pop. Shane had it down well, but Steph messes with it. Now, this one-upping thing can be good, and I was even more pissed when she put Sami and KO together until Steph put the stip on KO that he couldn't touch Sami or he'd be out of his PPV match. Otherwise, we all know what would have happened.
I love the chemistry between the sibs, and they're really leveling each other out. Makes me wonder where things will be going with them. I hope they do more than play Teddy Long, though I'm not sure Long would have made this match with these teams. Yes, very go-home to a PPV, but the pairings makes me actually care about the match. Well, that, and the fact that I think two of these guys should be in the main event for the WWE WHC, and a third will be ready before long. The last has already been there, done that, has the t-shirt and missed the boat. Not sure he will earn his way up there again. What do you think, will Miz ever be WWE WHC?
Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens vs Miz and Cesaro > B-
KO and Sami make everything that much better. Miz has been showing more in the ring than he has in years and has been much of 2016. Add in Cesaro and this is a great way to start Raw. That being said, I really did want to see what Sami and Cesaro could do one on one in the ring. Maybe we will see that soon, though I don't want either to turn heel.
While I wanted to love this match, I think there were too many big personalities in there for a Raw match, and it didn't work as well as I wish it had. Just too many issues between the teams for it to be greatness. I expect Sunday will be fantastic, but this was merely good. It almost physically hurts to hive them such a low grade, but that's how this was booked, not how it was worked. Fingers crossed that we will see their best at Extreme Rules, not a rehashing of this match/mess.
Winners – Sami & KO
Primo & Epico vs Local Jobbers > F
The jobbers lost to American Alpha last week on NXT, but beyond that, I cannot say much about them. Honestly, I feel bad for John Skylar and Corey Hollis being put in this match. They are being fed to Primo and Epico, the worst booked team in the past decade in the WWE. This looks as though the WWE is working with the tourism board to keep the power on in the hospitals in Puerto Rico. (Working off info I've read.) Puerto Rico is in tough financial shape, but I don't see as two cute (like puppy cute, not hot and sexy cute) wrestlers can do much for them in the long run. This is just more bad repackaging.
Winners – Primo & Epico
In Ring Segment > B+
Ambrose is so great on announce, and he commanded this match. Of course, Jericho balanced it all out with his ego, but it was mostly Ambrose. I've been waiting for an Ambrose Asylum Match to come to fruition. It's a cross between Raven and Abyss, but with so much more because Ambrose's mic work and body are in better shape. Possibly the best part is the potted plant hanging up there.
I've been watching so much WWE Network and seeing so many Hardcore Championship Matches, and Stacy has asked me why they don't do those things any longer. I said it's the PG Era. He and I agree that it was a lot of fun, and most of it wasn't that much crazier than what they do now, but it was so much more creative. In all honesty, it was rare that much blood was spilled, or that they ended up wrapped in a chunk of chainlink fence down by the river, so I don't see why they can't bring back some of that fun. Yes, it would be very different without the head shots, but it would only make the wrestlers get that much more creative. I'd love to see it, and I think the fans would too. Maybe this Ambrose Asylum Match could be the start of some of that again. And, who better than Ambrose deserves his own match? Taker's Hell In A Cell has become so much more than what it once was, so have Ladder Matches (HBK & Razor Ramon), TLC Matches (Edge & Christian, Hardys, Dudleys), etc. All those matches have grown and become matches we clamor to see, and I think this will be following in their footsteps.
Backstage Segment > D
Right now, to me, Dana Brooke comes off as little more than a bitch blonde with big tatas, and they're a dime a dozen.
Becky Lynch vs Dana Brooke > B
Brooke has some interesting moves in the ring, and quite the vicious streak. It's not the typical blonde bimbo vicious streak, but a true vicious streak. It must hurt that the fans are chanting that they want Sasha, but most of the female wrestlers hear that right now. Makes me wonder why we haven't been seeing Sasha in the ring in a top storyline, as if they don't have room for more female wrestlers on the roster right now, yet they brought up Emma and Dana Brooke. This makes less than no sense to me!
I understand why Brooke went over here, but it's time for Becky to get the push she deserves. Being the ultimate underdog only goes so far, and this is starting to hurt Becky in the eyes of the fans (sorry BG). EDIT – I had a little Twitter chat with BG, and we have politely agreed to disagree. He was so diplomatic and gentlemanly about it that I'm going to stop poking at him over this. I've been blocked by some of the greatest, but BG has a professionalism that those who blocked me for politely disagreeing with them cannot seem to grasp. Thank you for being a human being as well as a great wrestler and one of the best on the stick the industry has seen.
Winner – Brooke
Video > B-
While I loath Backlund and Trump, for the first time, I found something with Backlund humorous. I loved his calendar, phone, watch, desktop thing, and have had moments that I've felt the same way. But, while I love my phone, I have a blank book (graft paper) that I keep as an artistic datebook where I keep track of everything that's on my Google calendar, but also a lot more. I have my phone on me at almost all time, but I wear a watch. Further, I wear a watch with a dial on it because digital clocks don't make sense to me. I'm old enough that I have to convert digital back to a clock face for my brain to make sense of it. So while Backlund is annoying me, and I've always thought that Young (and America) were great, this was quite a bit better, and funnier than last time.
Backstage Segment > B
Steph and Shane are butting heads, but that's to be expected. That Steph is being so nice makes me wonder the direction.
Interesting to see the direction the WWE is going with the Dudleys, but I'm not sure it makes a lot of sense.
Video > D-
Golden Truth, finally? And why did they need to kill time with a video? This is a bloody mess, and I love both R-Truth and Goldust!
Golden Truth vs Breezango > D+
So much for Golden Truth, but these things can happen. Looks like Breeze was busted open by his temple, so I guess the match was stronger than it looked. Yes, I'm playing armchair quarterback, but I think so little of Breeze, so I never think he can get into a spot that he could ever come close to bleeding. But, all in all, this was a kerfuffle, just not the kerfuffle I expected it to be.
Backstage Segment > B
R-Truth is hysterical, but when I hear their tag name, I think it's something dirty. These two might be the Golden Girls, but the fans love them. I love them.
In Ring Segment > A-
That looked like E&C's time machine, but when Jamaican Kofi came out, I laughed so loud that three of the cats jumped and ran from the room, and I woke up my Service Dog (Dragon) who is still glaring at me! But even better than Kofi not wanting to leave his best year was the creativity that went into this segment. This is something of what I've been begging for. I want these skits over them telling us everything. This is TV, they should show, not tell! It's obvious in fiction writing, but this is TV where they should show us most everything. This is a glaring hole the WWE has left in Raw, but this segment gave me some hope that they're remembering what made them so much fun to watch in some of the best bygone eras. This was fun, funny, did something and made all five men look solid. Skits don't always have to be funny, but this was New Day, so it made sense that it was. Compared to everything else we've seen so far on this Raw, this segment was stellar!
The Club vs Usos > C-
I truly don't understand why The Club is in a feud with the Usos, other than AJ is in a feud with Reigns. This is a huge step down from where Anderson and Gallows should be working on Raw. They were brought it for what they built in Japan, so it makes sense that AJ is at the top, but this whole Uso thing is lame. The biggest issue I have with it is that we don't know who the Usos are. They're all smiles and smugness now, but they used to be the happy-go-lucky twins. The booking of these two has been horrible. They've not been developed as characters, so why do we care to like or loath them? They are part of the Anoa'i family, Rikishi's sons, one is married to Naomi, but beyond that, there's nothing. We know more about Mr. Robot Orton than we know about these two. It's time that WWE Creative actually does something with these two, builds them characters, and make us give a flying fig about anything they do, one way or another! This is why the WWE is struggling, and why the fans struggle to care.
At least The Bullet Club has something behind it, but that's because of what they built before they came in – as I said last week. If they don't continue to build these three, then there won't be any continuing reason for us to care, for us to want to see them succeed. That I'm writing all of this and not really talking about the match should show you how I feel about the ring work. Anderson and Gallows are great, but I was bored. And all the selling announce was doing, trying to make the Usos and Reigns look face through all of this was sickening. I'm sure a lot of people will disagree with my grade, and The Club deserves a better grade, but this is for the match, and that's about as good as I thought it got.
Winner – Usos
In Ring Segment > B-
The fight after the match was better, more entertaining, held my attention more, than the actual match. AJ has finally taken enough and is going to stop being the uber good guy, even though they've been trying to make The Club look more the heel than Reigns and the Usos. What a bleeping mess!
Cass vs D-Von > B+
I know McMahon is behind Cass at this point, and I'm so excited by this guy. He's big, interesting looking, solid on mic, and those eyes are amazing. His pop culture promos are always great, if not epic!
I really thought it was going to be Blubba Ray, though D-Von got quickly splatted. This morning I watched Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit go over Stone Cold Steve Austin and Triple H for the Tag Team Championship. Yes, this was the match Trip got seriously hurt during, but it hit me that to get someone over in a big way, they need to have a younger Superstar go over a bigger name or two, the way the Chrises did. I couldn't think of any names big enough on the roster right now because Trip hasn't been seen, and he went under to Reigns at WrestleMania, but seeing Cass go over D-Von so quickly really did help his stock in the WWE. Now, I'm waiting to see Enzo back and healthy, but I'm impressed with Cass' push, and that he went over so quickly here. This is what the Dudleys should be doing in the WWE for the young Superstars right now. Bravo Dudleys, Cass, and Creative!
Winner – Cass
Kalisto vs ADR > B
I wonder if they put ADR in a third-hour match because of the news he's making by being a man-ho.
Other than the cheap crack at ADR, I thought this match was fantastically booked and made a lot of sense. There was a lot going on, both in the ring and backstage, and it all worked. Okay, so League of Nations broke up, but it made sense for these two to work Kalisto and Sin Cara this way. That they had so much going on, but it all made sense, and was pretty well executed made this stronger than most of the rest of Raw. Not saying I want to see more of ADR, but I am saying that the booking of this match was creative and well executed. I know, not what you expected from me about ADR, but it didn't have to be ADR, it jut made more sense with him. Smart booking makes sense, and this set up for Extreme Rules and entertained at the same time.
The post match hold on Kalisto made me ill. Yes, he's flexible, but he's not Melina! That was insane!
Contract Signing > B-
I like that the WWE has been shaking up the main event, but I have to wonder if they put this into the final segment because they know that people know what to expect with a contract signing and have been tuning out more and more during the final hour. A contract signing almost always ends up in a fight of some sort after a bunch of trash talk. Those contract signings that haven't devolved have been so refreshing that they always end up with a solid grade. I have to say that the more old episodes of Raw I watch, the more I KNOW that McMahon is just a money-hungry jerk who doesn't care about his fans and only wants the ad revenue keeping Raw at three hours. I was unimpressed with this change from the start, but the longer he sticks with this daft plan, the more disgusted I get. The product is suffering greatly, and McMahon knows that the ratings are down and the fans are unhappy, but he only seems to care about the money he gets for the longer show. So sad to see how the genius has been losing sight of the grand scheme of things and how the product continues to suffer for it. He needs to be willing to let someone temper his ideas, yet he appears (from the outside looking in) that it's his way or the highway. Again, so sad.
On the other hand, there some things I really liked about this segment. Normally Charlotte on the stick is enough for me to want to fail a segment, but she really worked with the fans, reacting to the way they were reacting to her. Her single line, as she stomped her foot, “You don't boo a Flair!” made her mic work so much better. Yes, it's annoying that she yells her whole time on the mic, and emphasizes words that really don't make sense. Someone last night mentioned that Charlotte, for some reason, seems to emphasize every seventh word. While I've not counted, it sounds too close to accurate. I honestly don't understand how Charlotte is so bad on mic with her genetics and the fact that she's been around and watched the best talkers her whole life. There must be some sort of disconnect there for her as she just doesn't seem to get it, and maybe never will. You'd think with her father there he'd do all her talking, but they keep giving her the stick. I know this sounds like all negative, but how she reacted to the fans with that one line, and how she delivered it made up for so much.
Nattie's body language, facial expressions, and what she said here showed her in the best light and showed that she really is a well rounded Superstar. I've always liked her, but she showed so much in this segment and I fell in love with her all over again. I rarely have jealousy moments over the female wrestlers, but Nattie looked downright beautiful here from her hair, her eyebrows, all she wore, down to those sexy heels. She has an understated sexiness that is so opposite of the likes of Nikki Bella and Dana Brooke, and I really like that. Basically, Nattie was one of the best Superstars I've seen in a contract signing in a VERY long time.
I love it when Steph slaps someone! Her bitch slaps are some of the most vicious in the industry, and always seem to really hurt, but it seems as though Flair's old rubbery skin deflected her hand too much and he didn't get the full-on slap he deserved. I have to wonder what Trip will say to his wife when he returns to Raw. You know he won't be happy that his wife hit one of his (most drunken) besties – all kayfabe, of course.
Lastly, I have to go back to the negatives with Flair. He just grosses me out. We all know he has too much floppy skin going around, so the fact that his gut was pointy and didn't move in any way tells me that he broke out the girdle for this segment. Flair went from being one of the best in the industry to being a sad and pathetic old drunk who everyone (who I've spoken to) wants to just go away. I know he's really close with Trip, and that's one of the reasons he's around on Raw, but I think Flair is Trip's blindspot. It's nice that he wants to help his friend make some money with all those alimony payments he has, but nepotism only goes so far, and when it becomes the joke of the company, it's time to cut bait.
I keep hoping that things will get better each week on Raw, and last week was pretty bad, and I called them out for it, but this week was so much worse. From the boring opening, the nonexistent opening match that I'd been so excited for, all the way through bad and boring videos that dragged on, matches that I honestly don't even remember while writing this, there were very few bright points to this show. I love the WWE and have loved the WWE as long as I can remember, but I continue to get so much more satisfaction from watching the AE and after, even with all the glaring flaws that hurt that era so badly. At least then they made me care about the Superstars, in that I loved and hated almost everyone that Creative wanted me to love and hate. There were characters and creativity, skits told the story – even if they were sometimes a bit Nickelodeon soap opera (Spike and Molly) – and they pushed Superstars that made sense! There's a reason I'm so upset every Monday night through posting this on Tuesdays, yet watch two to six hours of Network on nights I'm unable to sleep.
I just read that Emma needs surgery on the ruptured disk in her back. I feel horrible for her. She was really bouncing back from her previous run and other issues that have plagued her career. I hope her surgery goes better than expect and she recovers quicker and easier than prescribed. This is the worst time for any female Superstar to be injured and out of the loop, especially one going into a push. My heart hurts for her.
Queen of WNW