RAW Is Blogged – Turning The Paige

Everyone has been talking about the monumental things that went down at WrestleMania XXX, and while I will gloss over the aftermath of some of these thing, I don’t want to add to the same things that have been said over and over since Sunday night. Also, this week, as has been the norm for the past couple weeks, Matt Kunka has been writing with me. I’ve come down with a monster cold and I’m pretty whipped on cold meds. Honestly, I’m not sure I’d have gotten through the RIB this week without his help.

Matt

This WreslteMania Week, Hall of Fame and WrestleMania XXX was my first working for this site.  It was certainly one of the cooler experiences of my life and allowed me to pay attention to Mania in a different way than before.  I had such a fun time and enjoyed everything (including Undertaker match).  Thank you everyone for your positive feedback and support!

Raw Starts

Video > A

I try to give the WWE production staff huge props as often as possible, but this past week has been crazy! They have gone above and beyond, and they made WrestleMania XXX that much better. In saying that, Bryan and Brie should stock this video away for their children, because it really is a work of art.

In Ring Segment > A-

Matt

The opening of Raw was something that was a long time coming. Daniel Bryan announced as our new WWE World Heavyweight Champion. The crowd went absolutely crazy and this was how the show started. It was a solid 5 minutes of just “Yes” chants from the crowd and “You Deserve It” sent Bryan into a constant smile. This is what so many of the WWE Universe has been waiting for that it could have gone on for 20 minutes and we’d all be smiling.

In pure authority move, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon came out to ruin Daniel Bryan’s celebration. The opening segment was just what we needed. It didn’t have any real fighting or any horrible promos of people lining up wanting to get a shot at the new title. It had a man who had fought so hard to get the title get his moment in the spotlight and soak up the love from the fans. Once Triple H announced that he was going to be Bryan’s first opponent for the title later on Raw, the crowd booed and Triple H got some of the nuclear heel heat that we’d see throughout the show later this evening. All we can hope is that Daniel Bryan gets a legitimate title run and solidifies himself where he belongs in the upper echelon of superstars.

Backstage Segment > B+

I feel like I’m back in the McMahon/Helmsley Era when everything Steph and Trip did revolved around Trip holding the big gold belt, no matter who they had to go through, or what they had to do, even to those who were thought to be their closest friends. It was a nice flashback, and it worked really well.

The Wyatts vs Cena & Big E & Sheamus > B+

Both Bray and Harper are top notch, and I feel that Rowan gets lost in the shuffle because they’re so strong. That being said, The Wyatts look like a well oiled machine, and always give a good match, no matter who they are facing. I loath to say this, but Big E and Sheamus both looked a little out classed in this match. Bray and Harper controlled them, and to some extent, Cena. I’ve been high up on Sheamus and Big E, but seeing them in this match I was able to see how much both of them, along with Rowan, are missing. Again, I think having the WWE Network, and watching so much wrestling has shown me faults that I hadn’t otherwise been seeing. The lack of competition thing is both hurting the WWE, and really showing the cream as it’s rising. I do find it interesting that it was supposed to be Bray leading Rowan and Harper, but Harper is rising almost as quickly as Bray is. Not to the same level yet, but much more than I expected from the start.

I know we’ve all talked a lot about Bray and how great his character is, and how wonderful he’s playing it, but Harper has shown so much to us as well, and I hope he doesn’t get overshadowed by Bray through it all. I didn’t say this before, but I should have, especially after what we saw on Sunday, but I’d been thinking about Bray as possibly this generation’s version on Taker. Not saying that he’s the Phenom, but I am saying that he’s one to watch, and if he grows as he should, tweaks his character as he goes, is lucky enough not to get injured, and booked into great storylines, he very easily could carry this character through a decade or two. Bray is one I could see staying in a similar role for a long time, and making it into a legendary character, while making himself into a legendary wrestler. Only time will tell, but from what we’ve seen, my hopes are high. That has to be why Bray challenging Cena’s legacy works so well.

Winners – The Wyatts (14:00)

Promo > C-

I’m possible? Bo-lieve? I honestly don’t know what the plan for Bo Dallas is, but I hope he’s not following in the footsteps of self-help guru with the same name – I’m talking character, not what DDP has done since he left the WWE. I thought DDP’s self-help character, trying to help Christian past his temper tantrums, was bad enough, I can only hope that Bo Dallas is better.

Fandango & Summer Rae vs Santino & Emma > B

Normally putting someone with Santino is the kiss of death to their careers, but it seems to be working well for Emma, at least right now. Emma has shown her strength in these short matches, leaving the guys to be the silly ones. I’ve heard great things about her work with Paige in NXT, so I’m expecting a lot from Emma going forward. I love her chemistry with Santino, but like all of Santino’s ‘relationships’ with the Divas, it will end, and she will move on, and I think she’s going to be a top player in the Divas Division, and quite soon.

Winners – Santino & Emma (1:28)

In Ring Segment > A

Matt

With Undertaker’s severe injury from Mania putting a question mark over if he’d appear on Raw tonight, WWE did a smart move and advertised Lesnar to come out early in the show.  I was beyond thrilled to see Lesnar and Heyman come out to such nuclear heat.  I was also surprised none of the fans threw their snacks or drinks on the two men.  Brock Lesnar pulled the single most shocking moment of WWE history (or at least top 3) by beating The Undertaker at WrestleMania and ending his damn impressive Streak.  21-1. The Undertaker and Lesnar both put on a hell of a match, given the circumstances.

Undertaker suffered a severe concussion early on in the match and Lesnar actually had to carry him through, guide him and call the spots.  The choppy finish lead people to believe Lesnar called an audible and beat the Streak to spite Taker; but it was planned that way.  WWE is going to be utilizing the shocked faces of fans for decades to come!  Respect to both men for pulling out a decent match given the injuries.

Heyman on the mic talking about how his beast did exactly what his T shirt says, “Eat, Sleep, Break the Streak”.  When Heyman did his shoot on how the Undertaker collapsed backstage and was rushed to the hospital with Vince, it not only showed the reality of how much Vince cares about Mark (which I love seeing) but it also shows the dominance of Lesnar.  Using a real life injury to sell him as the beast who not only broke The Streak, but broke The Undertaker is going to launch Lesnar to heights his already Hall of Fame career hasn’t been.

The key to this segment is that no one came out.  I think it would be poor booking to have Lesnar’s next victim lined up as this needs to soak in for a while.  Allowing Heyman to go on the mic and get such heat is nothing but gold for Vince and us fans.  With that said, we here at WNW wish The Undertaker a quick and full recovery as concussions are one of the scariest injuries you can get.

Tag Team Championship Match – Usos (c) vs Batista & Orton > D

Matt

I love The Usos but this match was just terrible from the beginning.  It was either going to go the route of Evolution reforming with Dave and Randy recapturing the tag titles; or something happening to end it quick.  I didn’t like it because The Usos are a legitimate tag team and have more than proven themselves more than just dropping their titles to a make shift tag team the night after their biggest career match at Mania.  The best part of this match was the crowd giving Batista the “you tapped out” chants which made me mark out like crazy!

The joke of a match was fortunately a count out thus leaving The Usos still with the straps.  Batista made a huge impact after by powerbombing one of the Usos on the steel steps then heat for posing in the ring.  This just sends the message that Orton and Batista are still around and still looking to be in the big picture.  Personally, I feel that Batista’s work at Mania and here on Raw have been much improved so I look forward to his future feuds with whomever Vince throws his way (hopefully Bryan for some good matches).

Double Count Out (2:12)

RVD vs Sandow > B

I will admit that I’m happy that RVD is back. He should have been booked better than he was the last time he returned, because booking anyone against ADR is the kiss of mid-card purgatory in my book. The whole thing just smelled of icky. Hopefully things will be handled better for RVD this time around. He looked good in the ring on his return, but sadly it was at the expense of Sandow. I don’t know what he might have done to get this sort of run of losses, but I’m more than over it. It’s time to rebuild Sandow and push him in the right direction, rather than this wallowing in his 11 singles losses since January 1st! It’s time Sandow is back on the right track so he can show his skills. Sandow is better than this, no matter what the reason for his losses.

Winner – RVD (2:49)

Rey vs Barrett > A

Matt

The past few months, every time I heard Wade Barrett’s music hit and him rising in the podium to give us bad news, I’d mark out like you wouldn’t believe.  It’s funny and got him some amazing heel heat that just elevates him past his Nexus days.  What was great in this match was that Rey, a permanent career babyface, was getting heat like he ended The Streak.  Wade was clearly loving the HUGE reactions he was getting and they rolled with it.

Rey was laughing in the ring when he was getting booed and Wade cheered and when guys have a fun time like that, you can’t help but enjoy it more.  Like a professional, they had a fantastic match.  Both hit their big moves with Wade winding up that elbow to put Mysterio to sleep for his first victory back!! Seeing him soaking it up and milking the crowd was great and I hope this momentum BNB has lasts because his mic and ring work can elevate him to the upper mid card and possibly championship run one day.  Also fun to note that it didn’t appear Rey hurt his knee, ALSO a first!

Winner – Barrett (4:07)

Promo > B

For too long, too many WWE Superstars have been boring (or silly) names, but little more. Too many Superstars without character. Even Steve Austin needs a little Stone Cold. Chris Jericho needs a little Y2J. And Hunter Hearst Helmsley needs a little bit of The Game. That being said, it seems as though, finally, the WWE has bounced back to giving us characters over boring guys who have names and faces, but nothing more. Bray Wyatt was a huge jump in the right direction, and even The Shield is more than the sum of their names. I think Adam Rose is another character the WWE is crafting, and making into more than just another two named characterless Superstar.

Rusev vs Ryder > B-

A lot of people have been complaining about Rusev because of his lack of emotion. I write a lot about the facial expressions of wrestlers, and how much more we get from them because of how expressive they can be. I talk up Santino a lot because of how visually expressive he is. That being said, sometimes the flip-side shows us just as much. Rusev doesn’t express anything, at all, but it works for him. He’s more than the strong silent type, and gets the job done. Honestly, Rusev reminds me of one of my favorite wrestlers from the 90s who is no longer working the ring, but still with the WWE. I’m speaking about The Iceman, The Man of 1,000 Holds, Dean Malenko. That man was almost devoid of emotion, but he made it work for himself. I’m hoping that Rusev, if he’s as good as I’ve heard, is able to pull off what Malenko did and more.

Winner – Rusev (1:21)

In Ring Segment > B+

Matt

I was half expecting Warrior to come to the ring running and with face paint on.  We got the man in a suit and walking to the ring…but it was still awesome seeing Warrior on Raw after SUCH a long absence.  On the ring apron, he shook the ropes just like old times (only not as long or as intense) and the crowd popped and I felt like an 8 year old kid again.  I never, ever, EEVVVVVVEEERRRRRRRR thought I’d see Warrior grace a WWE ring.  Bless the work of Triple H.

Warrior pulls a “Warrior” mask out of his pocket and cuts a promo as The Ultimate Warrior.  Doesn’t matter what he talked about because he nailed the promo.  The crowd was alive and in to it and he went with a huge promo after not really doing any for a long time.  True legend right there.  We’re going to be seeing more of him and I look so forward to it.  This weekend has proven to him that the WWE Universe still loves him and you can tell he appreciates it.  He’s home.

In Ring Segment > A-

AJ suddenly looked a lot more mature when she addressed Paige, though she only has five years on her. I’m a huge AJ fan as I’m a geek myself, and I’ve been rooting for her since she came out of the comic closet, and it seems as though the competition for her has been growing exponentially. Finally, and even before Paige came up from NXT, the Divas had been stepping up their training, and it’s been showing in their ring work. I’m excited for the future of the Divas Division, something I haven’t said in YEARS!

Not only did AJ come across as quite strong on mic here, she handled the “CM Punk!” chants without batting an eye, or cracking a smile for the man she loves. AJ is, in some ways, an anti-Diva, but Paige is an anti-Diva who seems to be following in the footsteps of one of the WWE’s most famous Divas, Lita. It was perfect that Paige made her WWE TV debut (though I won’t be able to say that much longer as NXT is on the WWE network) right after Lita was inducted into the WWE HOF. The timing was perfect, and brought back Jesse’s faith in the WWE. He was so crushed over Taker’s loss, but adores Paige and felt this was a refreshing start for her in the big leagues. In fact there’s two great articles over on WWENews.net that you should check out on Paige.

Divas Championship Match – AJ (c) vs Paige > A-

While this was a short match, and Paige’s finish didn’t work out as perfectly as I wish it had, it was great to see her show up and take AJ out. Okay, it might make the rest of the Divas look weak at WrestleMania, but I don’t think so. A Battle Royal is never an easy thing to work, especially since it was a one fall to win, so I don’t blame any of the Divas in the match for not taking AJ out.

Paige is a strong wrestler as well as being a beautiful young woman, and I think the Divas Division need Paige to bring back what’s been missing since Trish, Lita, Victoria, Gail Kim, and Molly were running roughshod over the Divas Division. Times change, divisions evolve, but the Divas Division had been a mockery for so long that I was wondering if we’d ever see any more decent women wrestling in the WWE, and Nattie would continue to outclass them all, but without gold. But the Bellas have really stepped up their ring work, AJ is stronger than she’s appeared because she needs solid competition, Naomi has mad skills, and I think we’ve only seen a little bit of what she’s capable of. Tamina has been looking much stronger lately, and could be a force to be reckoned with when she’s out on her own away from AJ. Emma hasn’t been in the ring for many long matches on WWE TV, but from what I’ve seen, I’m impressed. Some say Summer Rae is solid, but I haven’t seen anything impressive yet. But then there’s Fox who can barely get out of her own way. Eva Marie who is a solid heel, but greener than goose poo. Layla’s not bad, but she’s been injured more often than not. Rosa is so forgettable that I couldn’t tell you what her ring work looks like at this point. And then there’s Aksana who dropped that knee in Naomi’s eye for no apparent reason, and other than her physical attributes, I see little in her.

All that being said about the Divas, and what Paige could help return the Divas Division to, I don’t think anyone could have followed in Gail Kim’s footsteps better. Don’t forget, Kim won the Women’s Title on her first night on RAW in a Battle Royal. I think saying that Paige is following in the footsteps of the likes of Lita and Gail Kim are fantastic things to say about the newest Divas on the roster.

Winner – Paige (1:19)

In Ring Segment > A

Zeb is a fantastic mouthpiece, and he really helped get Cesaro over that hump, but as soon as he took that mic from Cesaro, I knew something big was about to happen. I knew that there was going to be a new Heyman Guy, but I wasn’t expecting it until Cesaro said he’s not a Zeb Colter Guy. Only Heyman could lead the biggest heel that ended the streak, and Cesaro who is so beloved by the fans that they had been chanting “We, the people!” for him, even though it was a heel chant. Cesaro is going to be huge, and I’ve thought that about him since I watched him in ROH, but as a Paul Heyman Guy, Cesaro might be unstoppable. I don’t know what Cesaro wasn’t getting over early on, I very well could have been the boring name with no real character, but now, with one name, serious personality and character showing at every turn, and since he’s the King of Swing, with Heyman Cesaro could be at the top of the card by, or even before, SummerSlam.

This is the perfect way to keep Heyman on WWE TV, as Brock won’t be around all the time, he only has so many dates in his contract, and put Cesaro on the fast track. Cesaro is, pound for pound, the strongest guy on the roster, and watching him lift, carry, then eliminate Big Show was the greatest way to honor Andre, and now it’s time for Cesaro to be pushed as far as possible with the strongest manager in the WWE today. Cesaro and Heyman together is everything that Heyman and Ryback couldn’t be. This is an exciting time, for Cesaro, and the fans.

Cesaro vs Swagger > C

Matt

Cesaro got the rub of a lifetime this weekend in not only breaking apart from The Real Americans and winning the Andre the Giant Battle Royal; he now is aligned with Paul Heyman.  I can only assume this puts him in the anti-hero role because he can’t be a heel with the reactions he’s been getting.  This match wasn’t ever going to be anything special on Raw.  What we have here laid the ground work for a feud that should highlight, hopefully, the next two PPVs.

Jack left the ring, the crowd called him a female body part, and Cesaro was left looking better than ever.  Paul Heyman: Great.  Cesaro=Great.  Paul Heyman + Cesaro=HOLY CRAP THIS IS AWESOME.  This was a feud that people wanted for Mania but settling for how it went down makes me happier because it can have a lengthy run now.

Winner – Cesaro via Count Out (5:17)

Announce Segment > A

I find it beautiful that mainstream media has picked up on Taker. I know a lot of it was pushed out there by the WWE, but seeing all of those front pages touched my heart. After RAW went off the air I flipped over to The Daily Show. I wasn’t really paying attention because I was tying up the loose ends for the night, but at the end of the show John Stewart went on a rant about Taker losing at WrestleMania, and how the streak was ended and how wrong it was. It was obvious that he was upset by it and had to get it off his chest. Then, on At Midnight, Chris Hardwick started the show with a rant about Taker losing at WrestleMania. He used a picture of shocked fans to move the show forward, but he was obviously also unhappy about Taker’s loss. I’ve mentioned Hardwick and his love of wrestling before, so I wasn’t shocked that he went off, in fact it warmed me all over to see him and Stewart being so passionate about Taker and the end of the streak.

Backstage Segment > A-

I loved this segment! Steph between The Shield and Kane, trying to keep peace, and screeching at Kane had me all giddy. Steph’s screech is a horrible and beautiful thing in one, but beyond that, the four men in this segment seriously sold, just much more quietly than Steph.

WWE WHC Match – Bryan (c) vs Triple H > A

Matt

Anyone who didn’t expect a screw job with this match is silly.  Before the match even begun, Bryan took an RKO, Batista Bomb and Chokeslam from Kane.  What I liked here is we knew The Shield was coming out and they’ve been hot and cold lately.  Hot and cold meaning they both follow orders and turn the orders back on those who give them.  When it appeared Triple H was going to beat Bryan, The Shield’s music hit and the crowd came completely unglued.  I popped more for the super sweet masks that we saw them wearing at WrestleMania last night.

WHAT WE HAVE HERE IS A SLOBBERKNOCKER! In OK Corral fashion, we had The Shield on one side of the ring, Kane/Batista/Orton on the other and Trips and Bryan standing in the middle.  Someone was going to die in this segment.  OH MY GOD SPEAR!!!!! When Reigns speared Triple H, I knew that we are witnessing one of the best Raws in history and are going to have a hell of a fun time the next few weeks with this.  The Shield clears the ring and Bryan knees Triple H in the face.  Kane pulls him out of the ring with The Shield and Bryan standing tall to HUGE crowd reactions.

The best part of that is that Triple H didn’t, again, screw Bryan out of his title.  Bryan is going to have an actual title reign now and that will help every aspect of the business from selling more merchandise, making good TV and getting other guys to show their true wrestling skill fighting someone like Bryan.  Raw went off air after the posing but the impact of it is still reverberating.  The Yes Movement is alive and strong and I’ve only got one question for you: WHATCHA GONNA DO WHEN DANIEL BRYAN AND THE YES MOVEMENT RUN WILD ON YOU!!!!

No Contest (4:10)

Post Show

First off, I have to give WNW reader and commenter ThePowerSurge for this week’s RIB title. Normally either something comes to me through RAW, or I asked Jesse or Kunka for ideas, but sometimes a WNW jumps in with an idea for them to send my direction, and for that I’m always grateful. I’m also grateful to all the writers who work for WNW and all the sister sites, as well as all the readers. Okay, I’m getting mushy. The cold meds are getting to me, so I’m going to sign off, you don’t need to read me falling into silliness. Just don’t forget to check out WWENews.net I’m very proud of the site, and all the work the writers have been putting out.

Queen of WNW
KB & Matt Kunka

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  • Bob’s Diner

    AJ even gave a few little nods to CM Punk in her promo – the fans were picking up on that, hence the chants.
    As for the segment with Paige… I felt it was poorly executed. Neither of them ever said her name or who she was. They just expected all the fans to be up to speed with NXT. If that had been any other crowd, that segment would have been a huge failure

    • Alex

      While I agree with you that it could of been done much better I’m still happy with the outcome none the less. I’m a big fan of Paige so right now I’m just excited that she’s champion and hopefully going to have a great feud with AJ. I can’t remember the last time I was this excited for a Diva’s feud.

    • Skyrim

      One would assume that WWE management knew that a post wrestlemania crowd would know who Paige was (as these are usually the more knowledgeable crowds in wrestling, smarks if you will) and let the crowd reaction alone speak to the viewers at home. The announcers briefed us on who Paige was when she first came out and the crowd showed us that we should be excited about her presence.

      • Bob’s Diner

        I get what you are saying, but you are a hardcore fan and so was that crowd. But basic storytelling involves establishing a character and who they are. How hard would it have been for AJ to say ‘Look everyone, it’s Paige from NXT’ or for Paige to say ‘For those of you who don’t know me, I am Paige and I worked with AJ in NXT’ or something. This is the most basic of storytelling. They have people that get paid to write their scripts – they should know how to do that sort of thing.

        Like I said, in front of any other crowd that would have failed. Emma is a great example; she was popular in NXT but no one cared about her stupid dance on Raw, so much so Michael Cole had to explain to fans that NXT fans loved the dance and we should too

  • Alex

    Great job on the blog Kendra and Matt. Between Paige & Bryan winning championships and all the great talent rising (Paige, Emma, The Shield, Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper & others) along with Jeff Jarret’s promotion in the workers it’s a great time to be a wrestling fan!

  • Mandy

    AJ is good on the mic and I thought she handled the CM Punk chants well too, she stayed in character. As for Paige, I don’t know much about her but the fans went wild for her and I’ve read she is damn good in the ring. I am looking forward to seeing more of her, there is hope for the Divas division after all!!

    I’m glad that Bryan is finally having his title reign, its long overdue and I absolutely loved when the Shield came out to help. It was awesome!!!

  • Quack

    “We’re going to be seeing more of him” -Referring to The Ultimate Warrior…
    Oh…

  • thepowerserge

    Great job on the blog, Kendra (as usual). The title fits like a glove too. Hopefully, Paige’s arrival to the main roster signals a return to glory for the Women’s division in the E. Now if only they’d get rid of that crappy butterfly belt and bring back the WOMEN’S championship, that would be awesome. Hell, they have a women’s championship in NXT. Going from Women’s to Divas champion just seems like a step down.