I had really been hoping for so much from this episode of Raw. Not that I thought they would be able to fix the major plot holes and serious issues going into WrestleMania all in one night, but I thought they'd give us a real reason to want to watch WrestleMania. I feel a bit bad saying that, but I've taken a step back from watching WWF 2000 and I started watching all the WrestleManias in order. I started watching WrestleMania 11 this morning and I'm pretty floored with much of what I've seen so far. I, as per usual with my watching, found more issues and holes in modern wrestling. Now, some major Superstars took years to get to the top, while others quickly rose and were the man pretty quickly. The biggest factor in all of it was how strong the roster was at the given time. The problem I see right now is that the roster is seriously sick, yet they're being treated like there's a group of top guys keeping them down, but there isn't a Hogan, Warrior, Savage, Piper, Cena group of horribly strong top guys keeping everyone down. There's just The Authority and McMahon. So, where does the trouble really lie?
In Ring Segment > A
I was shocked when Taker came out to start the show. He's gone into a number of WrestleMania feuds without saying a word, that he's out here on this go-home makes me worry that they're just hoping to get enough people tuning in to see the PPV. Taker is always money, and he sold it really well here. Very Taker entrance and moment, even though he's 51 years old. Calling Shane 'bitch boy' was fantastic. He really put it out there to Shane, all the while being the Taker we all know and love – if with a lot less hair.
Shane looked great, got a solid pop, and really laid it out there for Taker, and wasn't backing down. I love when we get 'Holy shit!' chants this early in a show, even better are the "This is awesome!" chants. He ripped Taker a new one over his legacy and what he's willing to do to take back the WWE. His last appearance was quite lackluster, and it seemed as though he might have lost whatever it was he had when he first returned to the WWE. It appears as though him being off the way he was was a fluke, not his first appearance being the fluke.
These two have known each other since they were both young men in very different roles within the WWE. Taker was the man, Shane the boss' son who wanted to learn it all and do everything. That Shane was so great in the ring was an anomaly compared to McMahon's klutziness. Steph was better than her father, but it was Shane who shone in the ring, and it's great to see him back and in better shape than ever. Everyone has said that this match has painted the WWE into a corner, and while I agree with that, I know that the actual match will be something we will be talking about for years to come. Taker's in great shape, not just for his age, but in great shape. Shane's in great shape and obviously ready for this match. Shane's always been a high flier and willing to take the risks that you never think he will make, but almost always succeeds at. Shane earned his 'Giant Killer' persona. While his first match with Big Show had tons of help from Test and others, Shane took that and ran with it, hitting moves that would make Rey, RVD, Jeff Hardy, and Foley cringe. He always amazed me, and I hope he continues with that without injuring himself or Taker at WrestleMania.
The punches Shane threw in the ring didn't look fantastic, and that monitor Shane hit Taker with was so obviously plastic and fake, but that flying leap Shane took was the best spot I've seen in a very long time. Shane still has it, if not more it than he had when he was in the ring on a more regular basis. Shane seems to be missing that baby fat he had when he was working the ring, definitely leaner than we've ever seen him. I'm excited about their WrestleMania match, even though I have little idea of a possible good outcome for all involved. The best idea I've seen is Zack's article that he posted about this match and the WWE WHC. If you haven't read his article, go read it now, I'll wait. I'm serious, go read Zack's article!
Jericho vs Ryder > B-
AJ added so much to this match. It was great to see Jericho yelling at AJ and taking bumps, but it sucked that it was Ryder who had any control over Jericho. I thought I was the only Ryder hater around, but it came out in the Open Thread Discussion that there's a bunch of us who haven't cared for Ryder since he stopped being an Edgehead. We knew that the AJ distraction would cost Jericho the match, but the “Y2Jackass” chants were more than I expected, and AJ got exactly what he wanted.
Not sure if Jericho didn't trash Lilian's knees off getting the chair and trashing the area, but it looks as though the announce area will be trashed through the whole show. The only thing I think was really missing was a stip for their match. It cannot be a simple singles match, it has to be more.
Lastly, I know Ryder had an earlier segment with Jericho, and maybe it was a nice way to give both Ryder and his girlfriend show bonuses for the same Raw, but why Ryder? Ryder hasn't had a Raw win in a year, hasn't had a clean Raw win in almost two years, yet they went with Ryder as a face to go against Jericho rather than Sandow? My only hope is that Shane will win and Sandow is his first push, that Sandow will be getting so much more after WrestleMania – even though that's the downtime in the WWE. At this point I'll take Sandow in any way I can get him, the man deserves so much more than he's gotten from the WWE.
Winner – Ryder
Charlotte vs Becky > B-
It makes great sense to have Sasha on announce after Sasha's last match with Charlotte. It seems the only way to round out their Triple Threat Divas Championship Match at WrestleMania, but a bummer to see that there're so few real faces in the Divas Division these days. Further bummer that the Divas Champ cannot win a match without her father getting involved. I truly hope he loses the match for her at WrestleMania. Also, Becky didn't look very beaten when she gave up the three here. Not good selling, or not enough time spent really taking Becky down? I vote for the latter.
Winner – Charlotte
Backstage Segment > B+
I'm glad they're changing things up, putting McMahon on the mic backstage rather than in the ring, or talking to Steph who seems to only whine at him. I love that Shane got in there and got in his face. McMahon is the man who didn't think his own father was in touch with the fans, didn't think his father had his finger on the pulse of the industry, and now he's just as bad off, if not worse than Jess was when McMahon started changing the industry in a huge way. This was a solid segment between a father and son, showing that there really are issues with the way the WWE is being run, and I'm hoping that Shane can breathe some new life into things. Trip has a pretty good handle on a lot, look at NXT, but McMahon won't let him take the WWE to the next level. While Shane and Trip/Steph might not agree, I'm hoping that what's coming is better for the Superstars, the fans, and the future of the WWE.
Social Outcasts vs Kane & Big Show > C+
Axel shouting out a birthday wish to his father, Mr. Perfect, was so sweet. I loved seeing the Social Outcasts lined up on the apron, and even though they got cut off by Big Show's music, Axel got his wish out and that touched me.
When Sandow hit the ring the Raw Open Thread Discussion erupted! Everyone was screaming about the Sandow sighting. I know we are a small subset of the IWC, but when everyone is so excited to see Sandow in the ring with almost 20 other Superstars, that shows that he's missed and needs a regular role on WWE TV. It's time to get Sandow back on Raw, getting a solid push in a great storyline. I'm so disgusted with the WWE over their mistreatment of Damien Sandow!
This match didn't last long, but because of what it was for, I didn't expect much. I loved the Social Outcasts chokeslam from Big Show and Kane, and it makes me think that the Social Outcasts could be a lot of fun in the Andre The Giant Battle Royal.
I do have to mention someone in the stands who caught my attention. Did anyone else see the blonde dancing slowly to Big Show's music, wearing a Hot Rod shirt? She really confused me. Did she know she was at a wrestling show? I shouldn't talk much, I'm always looking at and doing the strangest things at shows, but she really looked confused about why she was there.
In Ring Segment > B
And here's our 20 minute Trip segment. Blah, blah, blah, I'm Trip and I'm the best there's ever been in the WWE, in the industry. As much as I am annoyed by these segments, Trip knows how to hold the fans, how to get a reaction. Steph is just as good but in a different way. But the way that the fans were either dead quiet, or booking Reigns, they're in so deep that if they don't come up with something earth-shattering at WrestleMania, they will be dead in the water.
There was almost no reaction for Reigns, other than the 'Roman sucks!” chants, and the fight between them was nothing. The best thing to happen now would be for Reigns to get 'injured' and have Trip work with Brock Lesnar and Ambrose for the WWE WHC. Otherwise, I'm quite worried.
Kofi vs ADR > B+&D-
Ugh! Just ugh! I know this match was to push their tag match at WrestleMania, but why did they put the worst of both teams into this match? Kofi can botch almost anything, and ADR has gone from getting X-Pac heat to getting nothing at all from the fans. The fans are so over ADR and League of Nations that it seems as though they're taking the apathy route. You'd really think that TPB in the WWE would get the hint! Apathy is the worst thing fans can give, and they're to that point less than a week out of WrestleMania. Bad sign for things going forward!
New Day on mic was solid and deserves the grade for that, but everything after that was just booty!
Winner – Kofi
Stage Segment > A
I loves me some Coach! They need to do a Rocky and Coach at WrestleMania, just for nostalgia's sake.
Backstage Segment > C-
That first punch on Bubba Ray was stiff! But it's Bubba Ray, so I bet he was thrilled to see Reigns hit him like that. What I don't like is that it took the Dudley Boyz to lure Reigns into a fight. Trip should be able to do that all by himself, and shouldn't need even someone to lure Reigns. And the beating wasn't that good. Reigns did what he did to Trip the past couple weeks, then this? Such bad booking by the WWE, and it's leading to an epic mess at WrestleMania. I feel for them, but they backed the wrong horse and didn't do anything to push Ambrose into that spot when it was so glaringly obvious that Reigns wasn't working out. Again, I think a Reigns 'injury' is the only thing that could save them at this point.
Kalisto vs Konnor > D+
I'm shocked to see Konnor still around and on Raw. He's the second lowest of low-level jobbers we've seen on this Raw (the other being Ryder), kind of shocking to me. Kalisto deserves better than this, and that he was booked in this match was a total slap to Kalisto and the US Championship. Heck, Viktor is better than Konnor at this point. I think Konnor is the worst of the worst in the WWE, and it's time to cut bait with him. I know the WWE doesn't have mass releases the way they used to, but I don't know why The Ascension hasn't been sent back to NXT, or even quietly released by this point. There're so many other jobbers who have more than proven themselves in the WWE. Poor Kalisto, he's so much better than ADR and deserves so much more than he's getting. Kalisto is marketable, unlike ADR. Kalisto's ring work is on point, unlike ADR's. Kalisto has a fan following, unlike ADR. Kalisto has such merchandizing opportunities, unlike ADR. Lastly, Kalisto hasn't alienated most of the other Superstars and backstage staff, unlike ADR! It's time for McMahon to admit this mistake, give Kalisto a push, and push ADR out the door.
Winner – Kalisto
In Ring Segment > A-
Heyman! He's the perfect person to get us excited for WrestleMania. That man is fantastic on mic, and visually, he's right up there as one of the best in the business. At times like this, it doesn't matter that Brock doesn't speak, because he needs to be menacing going into the match with Ambrose at WrestleMania. All that being said, Ambrose stole the segment. He ran away with it as if Heyman and Brock weren't even there. I will say that Brock's facial expressions, the smiles, smirks, incredulity made what Ambrose was doing that much more interesting, but it was Ambrose who about brought the house down.
Now, many of us have spent the past week trying to figure out who would appear and give Ambrose an iconic weapon. You saw me tweaking out in the RIB last week, and I actually came up with two more ideas going into this Raw – Jake 'The Snake' Roberts lending Damien to Ambrose, even though PETA might freak about the whole thing the way no one ever freaked about the snake before, or maybe Sting with his back baseball bat – but they didn't go anywhere with that. I'm not sure anyone could have done more than Foley and Funk did, so I get why they sent Ambrose out there with his big red wagon. Not sure why Barbie, the chainsaw, and all those other things were lined up under there for him, other than to make the segment work, but it was Ambrose who more than stole the show for me, and never said a word. I adore that man!
They mounted Ambrose's wagon too close to the wheels. With the weight Ambrose added to the wagon, I'm not sure it was rolling well for him. Someone really screwed that one up! That Ambrose didn't even look at Brock when he collected weapons, and the way Brock leaned and laughed at Ambrose, I thought that segment went over better than it could ever have looked on paper. It's so obvious that a lot of segments the WWE gives us look that much better on paper than in real life, and that's because so many of the Superstars cannot stand up and give us so much more than the paper their segment is written on. Ambrose, on the other hand, gives so much more than most of the Superstars on the roster, and that's where the WWE has so epically screwed up with the booking of WrestleMania.
Paige vs Emma > B+
I love Evil Emma, but light blue doesn't seem like much of a heel color, even though Summer Rae was in the same color. I like that she's kept most of her signature moves, but fights so dirty now. Obviously dancing Emma didn't translate to WWE TV, but Evil Emma sure does. She looked great in the ring with Paige and worked hard with her in the ring.
Lana looked hot, but she doesn't appear to yet have the skills needed to do more than hit a couple moves now and then. I do like that this devolved into a major fight in and around the ring, but Eva Marie? That woman wasn't even as strong as Lana in the ring the last time I saw her, and from everything I've heard, she hasn't grown much in the ring during her three years of training within the WWE. I'd rather see Lana learn and work the ring hard than ever see Eva Marie in the ring again, but sadly, that doesn't appear to be what's going to happen at WrestleMania. If only Bayley was on Total Divas!
Winner – Emma
Backstage Segment > B+
I'll fully admit that I use the, “I thought it was boogers, but it'snot” joke at least once a week, so I was about on the floor laughing at Goldust and R-Truth. In fact, I laughed so hard I hurt myself, had to take pain meds and go to bed early before Raw ended. I might be a disabled woman in my 40s, but at heart, I cannot pass up a good booger joke. Please know that the grade for this segment is all for my own personal pleasure and I know that the other 99% won't be impressed.
Zayn & Ziggler & Sin Cara vs Owens & Miz & Stardust > B+
What a great match, at least on TV. It didn't sound as though the fans were really thrilled with it in person. With the 'Booty!' chants, and chanting for “New Day!” and “CM Punk” and “RVD” the way they did. I loved Owens refusing to stay tagged in, not working with his team, and being left in the dust because of it. Ziggler did a great job of being beaten down and giving the hot tag to Zayn who worked the ring so beautifully with his team. Funny thing about Zayn – Stacy was at Target and I asked him to check to see if there were any Owens or female action figures. He found Zayn but said be looked vacant and slightly confused. It was when this match started and he really looked at Zayn that he realized that the action figure wasn't that far off. I've not picked him up yet, but I might before I have to start taking my WNW Predicts pics on Friday. Hoping to have luck at Kmart tomorrow and Thursday.
Anyway, I have to say that I'm shocked the fans were so disgruntled by this match. I rather enjoyed it. The match told a story and set up for the obligatory IC Championship Ladder Match at WrestleMania. I watched the first one at WrestleMania 10 this morning and it was a great match. Hall and HBK really set the bar for what a Ladder Match should be, and watch those who followed take it to a whole new level. I'm excited to see what these six will do at WrestleMania, and I think they set up for what's to come with this match. This was a teaser, and Owens made it so absolutely everyone in the match truly hates him, even the other heels, which will make for that much more angst and ire at WrestleMania, something that's always great in a match like theirs will be. The finishers at the end finally seemed to get the fans interested, but it was really too late by that point. The match was much too good for how the fans in attendance treated it.
One last thing, who removed the top buckle passing that seemed to fall off out of nowhere? The ref kicked it from the ring, but I didn't see why it came off in the first place. Further, it wasn't used in the storyline of the match. Very strange.
Winners – Sin Cara & Ziggler & Zayn
In Ring Segment > D-
Trip spends thousands of dollars on his suits, and he still ends up with pleated pants? I know they aren't overly pleated, but one pleat on each side is two pleats too many. Pleats need to be removed, especially in pants that I know Trip spends serious amounts of money on. Things like that annoy the heck out of me because it's so simple and so easy to avoid.
Of course, Steph and Trip had to end the show, and of course, The Authority had to pull out all the heels to help them. So much for grit! They had a bit of grit, then League of Nations and the Dudley Boyz, and Miz and Stardust were out there and the grit was gone. Even with all the faces there, this was made into a wimpy mess. Even Reigns' dive from the ring, which looked beautiful, wasn't enough to save this segment and this go-home to WrestleMania. So sad.
I can't say this was the go-home to WrestleMania that I'd hoped for, but it is what it is and it's time to look forward. There's Smackdown, and WNW Predicts will be posted. Yes, I'm herding all my action figures together, hunting for that one missing crate of bodies tonight, and shopping for a possible couple more tomorrow, depending on what I can find. Be warned Lana looks like a linebacker without a neck!
Queen of WNW