I'm always so excited when WWE goes Old School. It's a wonderful time to see Legendary Superstars who we don't get to see very often. In many ways it's good that we don't see them often, as we have learned with Hogan and Flair in TNA, too much is not a good thing. But the WWE usually handles most of the Legends well, so much better than we've seen from TNA. I went into RAW with a heavy heart because of the condition of Mae Young. When Aurora Rose was born in 2006, Mae made Steph promise that she could have Aurora in the ring when she turned 18. Being Steph, she promised. The last time we saw Mae she was obviously struggling more than ever, but the connection between Mae and Steph was quite evident, and touching to see. Old School RAW seemed a bit empty without Mae there, but it's something we are having to face more and more as the legendary wrestlers we grew up watching are aging, dealing with the physical and mental issues that go along with the abuse they take in the ring and on the road. Too many of our favorites have passed, but Mae's failing health is hitting me harder than most. I just hope that when the time comes, she passes peacefully.
I have one other thing I need to address before I jump back into one of my favorite jobs at WNW. I cannot go further without writing about what happened to Ziggler in the ring before RAW started. I've stated numerous times my issues with Ryback's reckless ring work, and while I haven't seen what happened, I have a hard time believing that it wasn't more of the same that caused Ziggler's concussion. When Ziggler was concussed by Swagger last year, there was questions about it possibly being career ending, and concussions are cumulative, so I'm that much more worried about Ziggler. I have never had a concussion, nor had I been around anyone on a regular basis who's had concussions, but the newest child in our home was a competition cheerleader, and got three concussions within the course of a couple weeks last winter, and she's still dealing with side effects from it. Seeing this on such a personal level, I'm shocked. Through Jesse I learned a lot about head injuries, but having Ashlyn around I've learned so much more. Hopefully Ziggler will come out of this without any lingering health issues, but I have to say I'm quite concerned for his future.
Old School RAW Starts
In Ring Segment > A-
I'm not a huge fan of Flair, or haven't been in recent years, but I thought this segment was handled wonderfully, and a great way to start RAW. Bringing Orton out, after their history in Evo, was wonderful, and nice to see that the WWE hasn't decided to try to change history in any way. I will say I love that Orton is Champ, but keep getting ripped down by everyone about his attitude, how he had such a bright future from day one, yet continues to do everything in his power to destroy all he has been handed on a silver platter because of his name and his looks. It warms my heart to watch Orton fume over all the crap he's done, and how it's continually thrown in his face.
Flair hit just the right amount of styling and profiling in the ring, though Sam asked me if he was drunk, the way he was at the BTW show we saw him at. She asked me the same thing when we were watching old Razor Ramon / Scott Hall videos on YouTube earlier today. She knows the history of these two, so automatically thinks they're drinking if they're not perfectly lucid and clear eyed.
Announce Segment > B
I loved seeing Cole and JBL in the Old School blazers, and JBL's pompador, but the best part was how straight up they were about King and his health issues. They didn't try to brush it under their folding table, and told it like it is. Then again, the way King went down while on announce in the past, I don't think the fans would have accepted anything less. I'm just glad that King is okay, and was at least able to be backstage and hang out with everyone, including his son.
Usos & Rey vs The Wyatt Family > B-
Normally I enjoy the Usos and The Wyatt Family, but this match felt wonky. I know it was supposed to feel that way as Bryan is starting to work with the group, and they showed they had issues, but even beyond that, something about this match felt uncomfortable in a different way. This match didn't show anyone's best skills, in fact made them all look like so much less than they really are, even Rey, who might not be at his best, is still a top notch worker. Kind of sucks that the one night Rikishi is there backstage, the twins have a less than stellar match. I'm sure he knows how great they really are, but you'd hope they'd have a great match with Dad there.
Winners – Usos & Rey (8:46)
Backstage Segment > B+
ARN! I adore Arn. I once trailed a guy around Sam's Club because he looked like Arn. When I finally spoke up, he was surprised that I knew who Arn was, and appreciated that I was so starry eyed over a wrestler that fewer women swooned over. So obviously I was rooting for Arn, even though I pretty much figured he wouldn't win this poll.
The reason for the grade I gave this segment was for more than just Arn being sexy, it was because of Kane's mic work. Each time I think a certain wrestler has gone as far as he can go, they do something that leaves me extremely shocked and impressed – specifically coming to mind are Bully Ray, Abyss, and Bryan. Kane in this new role is absolutely fantastic, yet just as scary as ever. I loved the precise way Kane told Maddox that he'd 'never be seen or heard from again.' It was just beautiful.
Backstage Segment > B+
I was asked how the WWE would fit all these Legends into one show, and this segment showed perfectly how simple and easy it is to slip a couple wrestlers into the show in a classy way. They were all obvious, stayed in character, but didn't take 20 minutes and make asses of themselves to get over. Big E looked giddy walking through Volkoff, DiBiase, and IRS, but he handled it well, and with his wonderful sense of humor.
Big E vs Axel > C+
This wasn't a bad match, but nothing to write home about. I honestly hadn't really thought about the matches in this episode of RAW as the Legends were so exciting, but the second match in, and the second match that really wasn't up to par. Big E looked solid, as usual, but Axel dropped the ball a bit.
Honestly, the worst part of this match, for me, was Ryback, and that was before I knew he concussed Ziggler before RAW even started. I was enjoying Axel and Ryback together, and don't understand why they haven't been tagging. Obviously running together isn't enough to keep Ryback in check, they actually have to be in matches together.
First he concusses Ziggler – and I will run with that until proven that it wasn't Ryback's fault, and that's because of his track record. Second he gets on announce and makes a totat jackass of himself. I know Richard said that the backstage review of his time on announce was good, but I thought it was so bad that I mocked him in my RAW Results title. The hoarse comment at Lilian was not cool, but within his bullying persona, as was the way he talked about his team name, RybAxel. What wasn't part of his bullying character was when he said, "I'm only 21 months in, give me a few years!" Ryback was talking about not being a singles Champion yet, because he's only been on WWE TV for 21 months, the funny part about that is that Big E was in the ring at the time, and he's a singles Champ, with less than 13 months on WWE TV. That comment completely derailed me from the match, and made me stop and goggle. What a daft comment at possibly the worst moment!
Winner – Big E (2:44)
Piper's Pit > A
I love Piper, and I was so glad to see him back with the WWE. That he wasn't involved in WWE 2K14 had me worried that he was really at odds with TPTB in the WWE, but he was back, so I'm excited to be wrong. I was blown away with the chemistry between Ambrose and Piper. I know Piper is one of those who can work with almost anyone, but with Ambrose he created something very special. Piper is a great taunt, and the way he called Ambrose and Rollins the cracks in The Shield was fantastic, but it was his one on one, right up in Ambrose's face that was the best. Many say that Ambrose is a throwback, and I keep saying how much young Scott Hall I see in Ambrose's mannerisms, facial expressions, and the way he reacts to things. I know I have talked a lot about Reigns recently, and how far I see him going, but I think Ambrose has a huge future in front of him, and if things all work out right, he will be WWE WHC in the future.
Rollins was a bit of a puppy, bouncy and goofy, and all over the place. Reigns, on the other hand, was focused and to the point. I was quite impressed with his strong and silent way of handling things until the end. He has a presence that doesn't require a lot of chatter, so working with the other two has been a wonderful thing for him in his first year on WWE TV, a year of serious growth.
This is a segment that I cannot wait to watch again with Sam. When I write the live results of a show, I sometimes miss some of the nuances, so I'm excited to see the whole segment straight through.
Sin Cara vs ADR > C-
I've never hidden my feelings for ADR, and it seems as though he's showing his true colors to TPTB. I know he was out with a concussion, but he did nothing to help his cause while he was out. He looked a bit flabby, and really didn't put much of anything into his match. He'd been phoning things in before, but this match was just pathetic. I actually felt bad for Sin Cara being saddled with ADR for these couple minutes, further, if they want to push Batista when he returns, why are they putting him against ADR? To me that sounds like lame booking for someone they want to push. Maybe he will plow right through ADR, and as unimpressed as I've been with Batista through most of his career, I'd love to see him take out ADR like he's nothing, because he's been showing that's what he cares about his WWE career – nothing.
Winner – ADR (2:17)
Backstage Segment > B+
This was a solid segment for The Wyatt Family. Bryan showed the strength that brought the fans to love him, and didn't back down to the rest of the family, as many of us worried he would. I loved the way Bray came back at him with the answer for what will be happening next week. He's not backing down to Bryan, even though he's got Bryan in his clutches. This might be better than I expected, even though I think it's a bad direction for Bryan right now.
The Real Americans vs The Brotherhood > B
This was another match that left me questioning the booking. First off, Swagger and Cesaro had Zeb out there with them, yet The Brotherhood didn't have Dusty out there with them. In fact, we didn't see Dusty at all on RAW, and I thought he was slated to be there. It would have made the most sense to have Dusty out there with them to at least get pushy with Zeb. Because Dusty wasn't there on Old School RAW, this match seemed to be missing a big component. The match also seemed just a tiny bit off kilter. I don't know why they didn't show Cesaro's giant swing on TV, where we're hoping to see it each week, and watch it grow into something huge at WrestleMania. (We actually have a Cesaro giant swing pool going, if you're interested in learning about it, let me know.) I know they're trying to get people checking the App during the commercials, but not everyone has the time during commercials, beyond running to the loo or getting a beer.
I thought Cody looked a bit off in this match, barely ducking out of the way of Cesaro, and then he was struggling with his boot after the match was over. I haven't heard that he was injured, so I guess it was nothing to worry about. Goldust, on the other hand, looked amazing out there. He hit a couple moves that he should be too tall to hit, and made them look both graceful and easy. I know everyone says it every week, but Goldust is in the best shape of his life. That man leaves me in awe every time he's in the ring, and he was a big part of making this match the best of the night so far.
Winners – The Brotherhood (11:52)
DAMN! > B+
Another cute segment for the Legends. DDP was able to really push his DDP Yoga, Booker T got some comedy in, and Ron gave his famous catchword in while his former partner was all giddy on announce. I have to say that I love the way JBL reacts anytime Ron is seen, or even mentioned. He's like a little boy talking about his bestie since they were in diapers. There's a true love between them, and I always warms my heart to hear JBL talk about Ron, and see how they are when they're together.
Sandow vs Khali w/ Special Guest Ref – Sgt. Slaughter > C-
As much as I love Sgt. Slaughter, I still wish Arn had been chosen. I just adore the man. And as much as I dislike Bob Backlund, he would have been hysterical as ref. I'm really wondering if he's getting stranger as he gets older, or if he's losing his marbles. I'm not at all happy about this new storyline with Sandow. He's better than working these badly ended matches against Khali. The only good thing that came out of this match for Sandow was that he took the cobra clutch from none other than Slaughter himself. What I don't understand was why they bothered bringing out Singh for Old School RAW, he sure isn't Old School, but he's backstage already, so why not?
Winner – Khali (1:56)
In Ring Segment > B
There's no secret that I think Brock is too dangerous to be in the WWE. If he wants to hurt people legally, then he can do it through MMA, but not in the WWE. I know the 'breaking of arms' is all show, but Brock has been obviously reckless in his work in the WWE since his return, and doesn't seem to care what happens as long as he gets his paycheck. It's obvious that he's only there for the money, and does what he's supposed to do. I do like that Heyman is running as his manager, and while I don't know what their relationship is right now, but Brock doesn't seem openly hostile toward Heyman these days. Brock didn't seem thrilled to have Heyman all cozied up to him last week on RAW, but he made a good show of protecting Heyman when Henry headed to the ring.
I understand the WWE wanting to build Brock back up after losing most of his matches since returning, and taking our Henry the way he did worked well for that, but terrible for poor Henry has just recently returned, again. But it didn't work great when Big Show tossed Brock across the ring like he was a Cabbage Patch Kid! Big Show tossed Brock by his face, and was none too careful in doing it. Brock landed badly on his shoulder, not at all as a wrestler should be landing in the ring, then fell out of the ring in a heap. I honestly didn't think Brock could sell as well as he did after Big Show tossed him like a lawn dart, and I'd like to think he was a little pissed at Big Show for how he was tossed around like nothing, but I worry that at Royal Rumble Brock will be the one getting the last laugh at Big Show's expense.
Fox & Aksana vs Bellas > C-
I really don't understand what TPTB see in Fox and Aksana. Neither of them are very good in the ring, and while I love Aksana's figure, she looks like she's crawling around the ring in her PJs, because her ring gear does nothing for her. Compared to the Bellas, who have put so much into improving their rink skills since their return, Fox and Aksana are a total mess. Honestly, this was one of the worst Divas matches we've seen in a while, and that's saying something. The Divas had been looking so much better lately, and then Nikki is feuding with Aksana? No sense at all. And since I'm going there, Jesse and I had a discussion about whether Fox has new boobs, or if it was just her top making her look that much bigger. I think she's been either newly augmented, or she was quite heavily padded, because I don't think horizontal stripes can do that much for anyone.
Winners – Aksana & Fox (3:49)
Too Cool vs 3MB > B
I was actually quite impressed with how Scotty Too Hotty looked – mature, but still the wild eyed boy from Westbrook, but it was GMS who left me with my eyes bugged out. I had never really seen much of his father in him, but from when he headed to the ring, all I could see was King. GMS has matured, but he gave a great show in his energy. The two of them gave all they had out there, and bounced almost as much as they did back in the day. Ashlyn asked me how Scotty Too Hotty was old school if he's the same age I am, I just glared. Then there's Rikishi looked a bit slower than I'd hoped, and slower than he looked when I saw him live last spring (tagging with Tony Atlas, and my friend Scufflin Hillbilly Cousin Larry), but still going quite strong for a big man.
I thought 3MB looked solid as ever, and I wasn't at all surprised to see that they were the team to job to Too Cool after all the work Slater did with Legends heading into the 1000th episode of RAW. The wrestling might not have been the best, but the energy and excitement in the match was great, and what I remember most from Too Cool in the ring. It was a great blast from the past.
Winners – Too Cool (5:23)
Stage Segment > A&D-
I like that they brought all of the Legends to the stage, even if it was only a way to get Bad News Barrett a few moments of time. He's not very good in this role, and I'm not impressed with what he's doing, and would someone please show that man how to bang a gavel, because he looks silly up there. I had hoped they'd stop with this character, but it seems as though they're going to continue beating this dead horse.
Punk w/ New Age Outlaws vs Reigns w/ The Shield > B+
First off, I have to say that Road Dogg deserves an A- for his mic work. He might be struggling with the same cold most of us have had this winter, but he still sounded as great as ever on mic. I love Road Dogg on mic, always his money, and the chemistry between him and Billy Gunn about the mic. I also like that they didn't have to tweak out and skip their 'Suck it!' to stay all PG. It was also great that they stayed out there to even the playing field for Punk against The Shield.
Punk and Reigns had a wonderful back and forth in the ring. They made this match look realistic and entertaining. The outside of the ring work was expected, but solid. The end of the match was fantastic with the counters and almost finishes. They made it look great, and as I expected, Reigns came out on top. While this match was really solid, the fun is just starting for Punk, Reigns, and The Shield. I'm excited to see where they're taking this in the future, and I hope they don't drop the ball after the fantastic first year The Shield had on WWE TV.
Winner – Reigns (14:30)
In Ring Segment > A
I had to break this off from the actual match as Jake 'The Snake' Roberts and Ambrose deserve their own grade for this. I have to admit that I had no clue who's music was hitting, because it's been so long since I've seen Jake, but when I saw him, I was blown away at how great he looked after all he's been through. DDP has done wonders with Jake, and all of Jake family, friends, and fans should give DDP thanks for what he's done – same for all of Scott Hall's family, friends, and fans.
Jake worked the segment well, but I have to admit that I stopped the show and laughed when I heard the voice – thanks to Xavier (WWENews.net newest writer) who said that it was Punk's voice talking down Jake – saying, "PG now Jake. PG!" Jake was having fun rubbing the snake, which I said was an albino Burmese python, but it could have been a large albino ball python (though they are much rarer), all over Ambrose's face. Ambrose's smirk through being molested by the snake was fantastic. He didn't flinch at all, and kept that almost serene smirk on his face through the entire event. That just further shows what a different worker Ambrose is, and what the man can do. Many people have an irrational fear snakes, no matter the smallest child or the biggest, toughest wrestler, but Ambrose smirked. To me, that was brilliant! I don't remember any Superstar responding to one of Jake's snakes with such a smile on his face. I really hope they don't drop the ball with Ambrose's brilliance and creativity, it would be a great shame. And as great as Jake's looking, maybe this won't be the last time we see him on WWE TV?
I have to take this time to apologize for this being so late. Brooks has been wonderful, helping me through the past three weeks, during his school break, and for that I'll be forever grateful. He's back in school (and getting fantastic grades, because that's who Brooks is), and I'm still struggling with a couple of health issues. I will work my bum off to get the RAW Is Blogged out to you on Tuesdays from here on out. I can't thank Brooks enough for helping me out through the holidays, and giving my wrist the time it needed to heal, and it is feeling much better. Thanks to everyone who's been checking up on me through the past couple weeks.
Queen of WNW