What a wild week for the WWE! I love this time of the year in wrestling, the Royal Rumble is my favorite PPV, and has been for as long as I can remember. To me it's more interesting, creative and exciting than WrestleMania, and I feel lucky that I was able to attend a Royal Rumble in the past. It not only was a great night to cross off certain wrestlers I've always wanted to see, but I was able to see both Booker T and Nash return to the WWE. It also didn't hurt that I picked the winner of that Royal Rumble Match. Yeah, I know, but I'm still terribly proud of that predict.
I know I said last week that this would not be late again, but Sam has been sick since just after Christmas, just returned to school today – and that was iffy – but before she did, she passed on whatever it is she has. I got a flu shot, and made sure everyone else in the house got one as well as with Crohn's Disease, I'm on a pill form of chemo, and a doubled dose immunomodulators. Basically I'm saying if it's possible to catch something, I will be the one to get it. I wrote ¾ of this before I went to bed last night, but I staggered off to bed before 9PM, because I just couldn't stay vertical any longer. From here on out if I don't get this up on Tuesday, I will send off all I have to either Jesse, Mayo, Brooks, Alex, even Ric or Richard to polish up and get posted for me. It's important to me that the RIB gets out on Tuesdays, and I know there are certain readers who love it (Mayo, I'm specifically looking at you).
Video > B+
I love Bray Wyatt on mic. He might not be the best in the ring – not bad, just not great – but his character and his mic work are his money. When I saw him in that 40 Man Royal Rumble Match, he scared me because he was so excited that his ring work was extremely reckless, and actually quite dangerous. It was right after that when Orton punted his head off and Husky Harris went back for more training and repackaging. Anyway, I thought this was a great way to start RAW, not an expected way to start the show.
Bray & Bryan vs Usos > B-
I wasn't really impressed with the work in this match. I expect so much more from the Usos and Bryan in the ring, and this match fell flat. I was thrilled to see wrestling start the show, and I'll admit that it's a selfish reason – it's hard on my emotions when I'm behind with the RAW Results from the first segment, and talking always sets me back, but wrestling doesn't. Sadly this wasn't the best match to start the show, but they made up for it in a HUGE way to end the show, so while the grade is crappy, their later grade more than makes up for it.
Winners – Usos via DQ (5:37)
Sandow vs Cena > B+
I am thoroughly enjoying Sandow's changed up character. Since he cashed in against Cena, Sandow has been a new man, both in the ring, on mic, and his charisma. He's vicious, stronger, and really showing what he can do in the ring. Prior to cashing in, he was becoming somewhat boring and predictable in the ring, but since then most of his matches have been B+ or better. Even his gimmick matches with Ziggler left me giddy. I was worried that Sandow might get pushed aside a bit with his former partner now being TTC with his brother, especially after losing his MITB cash-in, but it seems to me, after putting him in this match with Cena, Sandow might be heading into a push, and possibly a spot in an Elimination Chamber Match, or something else solid going forward toward WrestleMania.
Winner – Cena (10:26)
Announce Segment > B+
I expected them to talk about the WWE Network, and King not being on Old School RAW last week, but I didn't expect to see King dressed Old School this week. Sam thought it was great that he was wearing what she thought he'd have worn last week, but she adores King, and loves flashy clothing. I thought he looked great in his snazzy shirt, and quite healthy. Even though I knew he was okay, seeing him put my worries to rest.
Backstage Segment > B
I've been wondering if this new character for Kane is a way to ease him into more of an acting role, a way to save his body for bigger matches. While Kane's body might not be as beaten up at Taker's, but he is 46, will be 47 in April, and if there's any chance I'm going to get my dream match – Taker vs Kane at WrestleMania (someday, I hope it happens, as Taker's final WrestleMania moment, possibly 25-0?) - I'd hope that they'd be the best shape possible. Then again, I hope that for them at any time. Stacy actually noticed that Kane seemed to be limping a bit more than normal as he headed to the ring to chain the door shut for the main event. It's hard to say if Kane's dealing with health issues that are keeping him out of the ring, but his work as an executive is further showing what a fascinating and talented man Glenn Jacobs really is.
Big Show vs Swagger > B&A-
Solid squash match to set up for Big Show facing Brock at Royal Rumble, and since it was Swagger, it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy! I'm glad, as I'm sure most are, that it wasn't Cesaro who was getting slapped around in the ring, and further hope that Cesaro moves off on his own soon as Swagger is holding Cesaro back in a huge way.
I know a lot of people, myself included, really have issue with older non-wrestlers taking bumps in the ring. It always upset me when JR (specifically), or Justin, or even Coach, though rarely Cole (he's followed Michael Dukakis, Bill Clinton, Steve Forbe and Bob Dole on their presidential trails, reported on the 51 day siege at the Branch Dividian Compound, the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, and spent nine months overseas covering the Yugoslavian Civil War – I've never thought of Cole as a wimp). But I think of Zeb Colter (aka Dutch Mantel, aka Unkle Zebekiah, born as Wayne Keown) as one of the toughest men in the industry. He might be 64, and started in the wrestling industry as Dirty Dutch Mantel before I was born, but he's one of the toughest men in the industry, and has a brilliant wrestling mind – right up there with McMahon, Heyman, and Bisch. He would not have been in that segment if he didn't think he could handle it, and I thought he handled it beautifully. Zeb might been known for being instrumental in the start of careers such as Sting, Ultimate Warrior, Taker and Kane, but he's also one of the best managers ever, though I've never thought about his facial expressions and his ability to sell, and it was sell he did in this segment. I'm very impressed with his facial expressions and how he handled himself with the biggest man in the WWE. Zeb deserves the grade I gave for his part of this match/segment.
Winner – Big Show (1:16)
Videos > B
While I'm not a big fans of Batista, I can understand why they're bringing him me, though I think there's a number of other former Superstars who I think would have been much stronger going into WrestleMania. Batista will turn 45 two days before his debut back with the WWE, so he's an older wrestler, but he started older than many. I'll stop here because there's so much I have to say about Batista and his return, but Justin Mayo and I are working on an article that will be posted on WWENews.net before Batista debuts next week.
New Age Outlaws & Punk vs The Shield > B+
It's about time! I love the New Age Outlaws, and JBL was right, someone forgot to tell Billy Gunn to age these past 10+ years! He's more than gotten past Cute Kip for me, and he's stepped back in as quite a force to be reckoned with. I'm very excited to see what Gunn and Dogg will do in the ring with The Brotherhood. Strange to think that Cody is the baby in that match – quite a throwback! Honestly, it didn't make a lot of sense that the New Age Outlaws were running as faces while their 'leaders' from back in the McMahon/Helmsley Era are heels running the show. Heck, even HBK is toeing the line of being a heel again, something I never thought would be possible- but with Bryan as over as he is, it does make sense.
So, on top of fantastic ring work from all involved, the New Age Outlaws finally turned and went heels, as they should be. Seems to me that this would have been the match of the night, if not for the main event. The ring work from Punk and The Shield, specifically, was fantastic, and the storyline direction just made it all that much better. What I don't understand (and I have to thank the WNW RAW Open Thread for confirming this for me) is why a group of male fans were chanting, "You can't wrestle!" when Rollins was in the ring. At first I thought I was hearing things, but they chanted it each time he was in, and the commenters confirmed it for me. Thoughts?
Winners – The Shield (15:37)
Backstage Segment > B+
Again, Bray is fantastic in character and on mic. Watching this segment, I had no inkling of what was to come between The Wyatt Family later in the show. That Bryan seemed so wonderfully committed to The Wyatt Family an this point made what happened later in the show so much more shocking.
Dactyls vs AJ & Tamina > D+
What a bloody mess! Why book Cameron to take the brunt of a match when someone like Naomi is tagging with her? I know it looked great to have Naomi make the save, but it made the match just horrid. I understand having Tamina as AJ's heavy, but I'd like to see more of AJ in the ring, showing her skills. The only really great thing about this match was after the match ended and Naomi showed her skills. I'd love to see Naomi go after AJ's Divas Title soon.
Winners – AJ & Tamina (2:50)
Backstage Segments > B-
This segment didn't seem like much of a stretch from what I think of Orton when he's pissed off in real life, but I've never been a big fan of his boyish charms. I find it interesting, almost as if Orton and Kofi are coming full circle with this match Kane proposed.
HOF Video > A-
I thought it was a solid video for Ultimate Warrior, though I have to admit that I had troubles paying attention to it because I was (still am) rather disgusted that Warrior is the first person announced for the Class of 2014 HOF. There's a long list of legendary wrestlers, managers and Divas who are much more deserving of being inducted into the WWE HOF, but as we try to keep things clean here on WNW, I'm going to stop here. I'm not sure I can get my full feelings out without letting the cuss words fly. What I will say is that Paul Bearer should have been the first name announced this year, and leave it at that.
Backstage Segment > A
Heyman is one of the best talkers in the WWE right now, and this segment shows just why. Personally, I think, "It’s a little known fact that the surgical removal of the pituitary gland to offset the onslaught of acromegaly can lead to the side effect complication of rampant case of stupidity!" is one of the best crafted phrases we've heard in the WWE in a long time. Also, the title to this RIB is another one of Heyman's wonderfully crafted lines, referring to Big Show going after his client, Brock Lesnar.
Orton vs Kofi > B
I have to say that this wasn't what I expected when I heard Orton was going to be facing Kofi. It wasn't that I was sure Orton was going to win, because I was, it wasn't that I thought that Orton was going to continue to destroy Kofi, which I was sure of that too. It was that I didn't want to watch Orton and his ego yet again. I'm burnt out on Orton. I know most of us get burnt out on Cena, and I've been there as well, but right now all I can see is the bad, boring, and bias.
As much as I've stood behind Kofi through they years, and especially when Orton went out of his way to hurt Kofi's career after what was a fantastic match between the two at MSG, his character and ring work has become predictable and rather boring as well. I think if he had something to strive for, his work would improve, but he's been stuck in mid-card purgatory for so long that it might seem that he will never get out of there. I was going to say that when even Santino surpasses Kofi to get into an Elimination Chamber Match, but I did the research to not screw it up, and Kofi was in the WWE Championship Elimination Chamber Match in 2012, the same year Santino was in the WHC Elimination Chamber Match. Yet it still seems like Santino gets booked in better matches than Kofi, most of the time, and Santino isn't allowed to show his serious ring skills most of the time. Maybe I'm digging deeper into a serious problem in the WWE than I have the time here. Do you understand where I'm going with this, and why I'm having such issue with Orton and Kofi right now? I'd love to talk this out with someone as I know there's a great article here, but it's just not coming to me at the moment.
Either way, I was shocked and thrilled to see Kofi come out on top of this one. I didn't understand why Kofi went over until the following segment.
Winner – Kofi (16:46)
Ringside Segment > A-
I absolutely had to split this off from the actual match, and thought it was better handled than the actual match. I'm a huge fan of Mr. Cena Sr. I met him for the first time at least three years ago. He impressed me with his knowledge of the industry, and that he wasn't floating on his son's jorts, quite the opposite, he's been in the local wrestling industry for many years as Johnny Fabulous. The first time I saw him, I didn't even know he was Cena's father, and that impressed me that much more. I once went to a very small indy wrestling show in Saco, Maine, the city I grew up in. Cousin Larry, and Tony Atlas were also there, as they're at most of the local shows and other events I attend (check out the picture of Tony, Larry and Rikishi in last week's RIB). That specific show had quite a few young children running rampant, and no barricades around the ring. The children mobbed Tony, as he's a beloved member of our local wrestling scene, but they were not quite as happy with Cena Sr. who was talking smack about Tony. At one point Cena Sr. was in the ring with about thirty kids around the ring, slapping their hands on the apron, and they really wanted to see him taken down for what he said about Tony. Security and the refs got control of the show, and made sure the parents knew that it was not acceptable for their children to corner anyone involved in the show. The look on Cena Sr's face was shock and awe. He knew he wasn't in danger, but he was also in the middle of the ring when these kids circled him.
That was just one moment of Cena Sr's crazy career, and while he didn't take any big bumps that night, there were other nights I saw him take some big bumps – both from Tony and younger wrestlers. When Orton went after Cena Sr., I knew he was selling, but it didn't seem as though the man in the light blue shirt knew what was going on, as he tried to stop Orton a couple times as he went after Cena Sr. I have seen the bumps he's taken, and not just the time Orton punted his head off, and I know he can take bumps with the best of them. I didn't flinch when Zeb was taken down, and I didn't flinch when Cena Sr. was taken down. Both handled their bumps well, as professionals should.
The one thing in this segment that got me was John Cena. I loved the way he ran down the ramp, grabbed the doctor, and made sure the fans all stayed away from Cena Sr., but then he started cussing! Okay, he cut off most of what he said, and none of it was on mic, but it was very clear when Cena said, "Motherfu...!" and "What the fu...!" It was so nice to see squeaky clean, uber corny Cena actually almost drop kayfabe (even though it was all scripted) and say things that he really shouldn't be saying. It's a great step in the right direction for their coming match at Royal Rumble.
The Brotherhood vs RybAxel > B-
I'm not a fan of The Brotherhood facing RybAxel, but the WWE doesn't have a lot of great heel teams for The Brotherhood to face. The Wyatt Family were involved in two matches, and The Shield took out Punk, and The Real Americans dealt with Big Show. Now that New Age Outlaws are heels, and are facing The Brotherhood on Smackdown, I'm so excited, they will be a great team to round out the Tag Division, but that left RybAxel for The Brotherhood. Honestly, I shouldn't be complaining because the fact that the Tag Division is so strong right now, stronger than it's been in over ten years, so I should shut up about it. Also, I have said that I like RybAxel together, in the mid-card, and that's true. I guess there was just so many solid matches on this show, and so many matches that were worth watching that I have to pick on those that were not as great. I do see a good future for RybAxel – if Ryback doesn't get himself sent home for his crappy tweeting. Richard's right, it got people talking about him, and not talking about the stupid things he's said and done recently – the comment about Lilian, and concussing Ziggler – so maybe what he did was smarter than we all give him credit for? Nah!
Winners – The Brotherhood (6:04)
Rey vs ADR > C
I've mentioned before that I have a number of kids, and we recently took in a teenager who is the newest member of our household. Last week, Ashlyn, said something about ADR as he headed to the ring, something that I had planned on including last week, but it just didn't end up happening. When ADR came to the ring, Ashlyn asked why ADR has the scarlet letter on his penis. I honestly had never really thought about the fact that ADR has a big, red letter A on the front of his trunks, but now that she's mentioned it, I can't see anything else. It was like the time Booker T was running around in white trunks with a big red splash of color across his bum. Ellie made a few comments about that, but I'll leave those to your imagination.
What I don't understand is why Rey was booked to go under ADR here. I understand that they're trying to build ADR up for Batista, but where does that leave Rey? Personally, I'm seeing what happened to RVD happening to Rey now. A great wrestler returned to the WWE, it was a wonderful thing until he was so beaten down and lost so much, to ADR, that he's not much of anything right now. I don't understand why both RVD and Rey have to go through this by a man who has proven over and over – and such was even noted upon his most recent return from health issues – that he's phoning things in, and being lazy by avoiding the gym while he was out. I understand the WWE needing a top Mexican wrestler, but I think ADR has more than proven that he's not that wrestler and should be busted back to mid-card purgatory to show that he's not going to get everything handed to him just because of where he was born.
Winner – ADR (4:55)
Backstage Segment > B
Not Punk's best segment, but I love how he spoke about The Authority's hired assassins and now their good friends coming after him. His change in mood over being put into the Royal Rumble Match was interesting, but the best part was him telling Kane that he has a problem with him, and then the glaring. Last year Punk faced Taker at WrestleMania, why not Kane this year? Just a thought.
Cage Match > A-
What a lovely match. From the start I was not impressed. I will admit that. I thought the work was boring, and the Usos are hard to tell apart, so it was hard to figure out who was doing what to who, for how many cookies. But then things started getting interesting. Big moves, valiant escape attempts, and solid work from all four in the ring. I really enjoyed watching the ring work, and how the Usos got the upper hand. It was fantastic to see them take out Rowan and Harper outside the ring as well. It was nice to see a really strong cage match after the ones we've seen from TNA recently. It was also nice to see that none of the participants could squeeze out through the camera holes in the cage!
Winners – Usos (10:52)
In Ring Segment > A+
I was not thrilled with Bryan joining The Wyatt Family, especially when I learned that it wasn't something that had been planned out, and organized for the future. Spur of the moment changes like this are rarely the best, and this one wasn't working for me. Rather than changing how the fans felt about Bryan, it brought the fans over to clap with The Wyatt Family's entrance music, and cheer for them, even though they're supposed to be heels. I don't think that's what the WWE had hoped would happen.
After what we'd been seeing from Bryan with The Wyatt Family, I didn't expect to see Bryan turn on Bray the way he did. I honestly cannot think of a time, in quite a few years, other than the RAW after WrestleMania, when an entire audience came together for one person. I can't say that every person in that arena was on their feet, pointing high, chanting "YES!" "YES!" "YES!" But this was as close as I've seen in a very long time. I didn't think it would be possible for Bryan to be any more over than he already way, but this joining with The Wyatt Family, then turning on them pushed Bryan that much further. I loved the way he unzipped his gray jumper to show his traditional ring gear, after taking Bray down the way he did – specifically bouncing Bray off the side of the ring to knock Rowan down, then to the other side to knock Harper down. Bryan sitting up top of that cage, pointing high, chanting "YES!" "YES!" "YES!" with all those fans, I'm feeling much better about Bryan, the direction of his push, and what might be coming together for him heading down that Road to WrestleMania.
After RAW is over, I always switch over to watch John Stewart, then the Colbert Report. After they were over I saw that a show, hosted by Christ Hardwick (who I absolutely adore from Nerdist, and the times he's had Garfunkle & Oats on Nerdist, and the insane number of times he's hung out with Matt Smith). If you haven't seen At Midnight, you should check it out, but there's a wrestling reason I'm bringing up the show. Hardwick was talking about the WWE Network announcement, "Shit, yeah, America! I don't even need to leave the house!"
So the comedians needed to come up with #WrestlingTVShows.
Harwick gave a few examples - CM Punked, or How I Body Slammed Your Mother, or Hulk Hogan's Heroes.
The following are the titles that the competing comedians offered up for points.
Cristela Alonzo @cristela9 – Jake 'The Snake' And The Fat Man, 6 Million Dollar Macho Man, Remington Steel Cage Match, Owen Hart To Hart
Matt Braunger @Braunger – Jerry Lawler & Order, 2 Men & A Man We Broke In Half!, Broken Spinefeld
Kyle Kinane @kylekinane – Randy Macho Man vs Wild, Brock Lesnar's Tickle Party (not a take on a real show, but Hardwick said he'd watch), Triple H R Puff 'N Stuff
I'm sure if you go to Twitter and put in #WrestlingTVShows you will find more that the fans have added since the show.
One final note, today is Jesse's Birthday, so if you get a chance, make sure you wish him the best.
Queen of WNW