I have two major things I need to address before I jump into Raw. The first being that I'm a bit put out by one of the ways the WWE is handling Connor's Cure. They are selling bracelets and bandanas on the WWE Shop Zone, but they are not selling pins. Now the bracelets are cute, and the bandanas are nice, but Ellie – my own pediatric cancer survivor – and I – who lived a year on a peds ward not knowing if I was going to live, watching my friends die around me – both want Connor's Cure pins. The pins that all the Superstars wear on the shows are great, and I want one almost more than anything right now. I don't care if it's expensive, it's worth it. I'm a wrestling fan, I was touched by Connor, and I while I didn't have cancer, I spent a lot of time on a peds ward, not knowing if I was going to live, and losing those close to me, so I don't understand why they are not selling the pins. I think they'd do quite well with them. For the right price, I'd buy one for my denim jacket, the one that's covered with pins and patches (I need a Fozzy patch for it too, if anyone knows where to find one), and I'd buy one for my favorite hat (I bought a second identical one, in case this one ever dies) that I'm weaving a new hat band for, and it has a big Dragon pin on it, as well as a big gold belt pin that I got in a recent Wrestle Crate. These are two things I wear quite often, and I'd proudly display a Connor's Cure pin on each of them, because of what it means. I truly hope they release the pins soon, I think they wouldn't be able to keep them in stock, and would bring in a lot more for Connor's Cure.
The other issue I need to address is with the pacing of Raw. This was the worst episode of Raw since the Brand Extension, by far. Some of the segments and matches were fantastic, but all the crap in between made this Raw sometimes unbearable to watch. WNW regulars were dropping like flies from the Open Thread Discussion because they were so put out with the same matches we saw the night before at the PPV. The filler between matches and vignettes and promos has become too ridiculous, and is making Raw almost unwatchable. Further, for some reason, there were more commercial breaks than I ever remember seeing during Raw before, and many times there were more commercials than the normal two minutes (yes, when I was doing Raw Live, I kept track of approximately how long the commercial breaks were). It used to be that when there were more than the normal number of commercial breaks were shoved into the start of a Raw, we'd have a solid thirty-five to forty minutes at the end of the show commercial free, and always announced to be that way by JR! But no, this episode of Raw had so many commercial breaks, placed in some of the most awkward spots. I know McMahon and USA agreed that Raw should be three hours for the commercial revenue that extra hour would bring in, but that last hour loses so many viewers that I wonder how much more money they actually make. Add in nights with this many commercial breaks, they will be losing more viewers. It seems incredibly daft to me. Hopefully they pull their heads out and get this kerfuffle fixed before they lose so many more viewers that it won't matter how great the matches and segments are, the fans won't watch it live because of everything in between. We disconnected DISH this past week and invested in Sling TV. We have USA, BBCA, and whatever that network is that has Lucha Underground. This way I can watch Raw and SmackDown live, and then go back and check whatever I need on Hulu the next day. Add in Netflix and the WWE Network, and we are saving at least $75 a month that will go directly into our SCA (medieval) fund for next summer. But that also means that I'm one less person that will be counted in the ratings. I know I'm not the only one changing my viewing habits, and the more they do this crap with Raw, the less likely I will be to even keep Sling TV. I love watching with the guys, and girls, in the WNW Open Thread Discussion, but if Raw is going to continue going down the tubes, I might just watch on Hulu. All that being said, I am being counterproductive, because there's no way anyone could make me get rid of my WWE Network.
I do want to mention that there's another mini-rant about the commercials further in that I wrote during Raw. Please be warned.
US Championship Match – Reigns (c) vs Rusev > C-
Rusev, with such a jobber entrance after being the US Champ for so long, looks horrible. Yes, I know, I look too deeply into a lot of things, but I'm nowhere near as bad about this as most members of the IWC. I know that McMahon thinks we're insane for commenting on these things, but if they're part of a pattern, then it becomes obvious where a Superstar is going. Further, if you don't notice it, you don't see the pattern forming.
This was the only match I skipped some of from CoC. I came into the PPV very late, almost the end, because I was at a class in Bangor that let out much later than I expected. It was the first PPV Open Thread Discussion I've missed in as long as we've been having them, and even before when they were Premium chats. I've run PPV Open Thread Discussions and Raw Live while in the hospital, so missing last night was huge for me. All that being said, I loved the PPV, except this match, and this is the match that I skipped big chunks of, because it just didn't hold my interest the way the other matches did.
And then there was two sets of commercials during this match? Trip had promos that lasted longer than this, and without commercials. I know his ego is bigger than Reigns and Rusev combined, but still! Nothing like making these two look like they're worth so little after pushing the two of them so hard. #WWELogic! I gave Raw a chance after the newest brand extension; time to figure themselves out and figure out what they wanted to be and how it would all work. Now no more Ms. Nice Queen. I'm done, and the grades are going back to being harsh, possibly harsher than ever if they continue to fill these three hours with filler and not stack the show with great matches, storylines, and feuds. Knowing what the WWE is capable of is what makes me so disgusted when they seem to not put much thought or care into filling the three hours of Raw they give us every Monday night. If you can't fill three hours with QUALITY sports entertainment, then maybe it's time to cut bait and go back to the two hour show that was tight and filled with greatness. SmackDown is so much more exciting each week, and that's because it's so tight.
CJ had a shocking moment during this match when he realized the match was still going, he'd been sucked in by Facebook, which was more interesting. I agree with him, but shocked that the fans in attendance seem to be louder than ever for them. I honestly had to look to see if the fans were really cheering, or if the noise was obviously piped in. I was shocked to see that there really was a lot of waving arms and excited fans, and they were excited for Reigns! Looks as though maybe much of his heat is over! I'll admit, I didn't think it would end that quickly!
Double Count Out
In Ring Segment > C+
I love Foley, but goodness, he is looking thin! I hope he's just doing DDP Yoga, eating right, and training with Noelle, but in the back of my head I worry that this is his last run with the company, and he's doing this because there's something wrong. I thought he was a strange pick for Steph from the start, we all did, maybe it could be to give Foley one last time doing what he loves, but not having to really be on the road or do much other than Monday nights and one Sunday a month. I hope I'm jumping at shadows and there's nothing wrong, but I love Foley more than anyone else in the industry, and therefore, I worry.
Throwing them together like this as a team is such a cop-out! I think they could be a top tag team and really compliment each other. Honestly, it's a great way to turn Sheamus face and help him get over with someone the fans truly love. I love Sheamus as a face, I think he's funny, and has great timing, and with someone like Cesaro he could really do well. (I discuss further ideas on this in a later segment.)
I worry that Cesaro is getting pigeon-holed as a tag wrestler, but he really has been great with every team he's been in so far. He has worked well with everyone he's been teamed with, other than Aksana, and she was useless on so many levels. Beautiful body, but when she purposefully dropped her knee into Naomi's eye socket, that sealed the deal for me. He worked so well with Swagger, and Swagger is barely better than useless much of the time himself (though fingers crossed for his new character on SD works out for him and he doesn't injure anyone else). And he worked so wonderfully with Tyson Kidd, while becoming such a close friend of his. His friendship and respect with and for Kidd showed when they were tagging, and since Kidd is out of the ring, and most likely won't return. Cesaro's use of the sharpshooter that touches me the most. So while Cesaro has been on the WWE roster for four years, he's been in two solid and fairly long-standing tag teams, and I worry that going into another one will seal him in the WWE as a tag competitor, even though he's so great as a singles competitor, and just proved that against his new partner!
Tag Team Championship Match – New Day (c) vs The Club > B
Their match at CoC was interesting, and kept my attention, but I didn't want to see it a second night in a row! They gave great match, and really entertained the fans, but why did they have to do it again so soon? Was it all for Cesaro and Sheamus? That doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but it is what it is.
I love watching New Day in the ring, especially Big E. So much personality! Speaking of which, Kofi has been showing so much more of himself these past couple months, and I love him more and more each match and segment for it. But, in all honesty, the member of New Day who showed the most of themselves tonight was Xavier Wood. After the match was over and he was almost fighting with Kofi to keep that towel tight against his forehead to staunch the flow of blood, Wood showed us something that we've seen from few Superstars through the years. Yes, he was wiping blood off Kofi, but at first he really was fighting with Kofi about the pressure on his cut, showing that while he's not the oldest (actually, Kofi is almost five full years older than Big E and Wood who are both 30 – and that freaks me out as my oldest is turning 30 in November [she's the adopted one, I didn't have my first child when I was 13]), he's a loving and caring partner to Big E and Kofi and is there for them with more than just Francesca and a drop kick. It was a beautiful thing to see, and endears me to Wood and New Day as a whole just that much more.
Winners – New Day
I don't know why, but it seems as though the first hour of Raw was filled with more commercials and boredom than anything else. Knowing there's another two hours to go makes me almost want to cry. I know what Raw could be with the roster they have, but we're in our second hour after so many commercials, a match that was only liked by those in attendance, and a confused mess in the ring. I honestly don't know why the WWE is trying to kill Raw, their flagship show, but it truly seems to be what they're up to right now. SmackDown has been so good, and chunks of Raw, here and there, have been solid, but since the brand extension, I wonder if they're actually out to make Raw look bad for some reason. But, to be honest, I have no clue what sane reason that might be. (EDIT: The whole BLEEPING show was chock full of too many commercial breaks, with more commercials than normal within each break. The worst part was there was no JR there to say that Raw would be continuing with
Announce Segment > C+
I love how they showed the video of Steph and Trip after the PPV last night and Byron was flipping out about it. Yes, they're a married couple and they kissed before leaving the show together. That being said, Trip and Steph can give such little face and leave us with more questions than answers, and that's what they did there.
On the other hand, I really didn't need to see that move on Rollins in slo-mo! It made my side (as that's close to where I've been dealing with serious pain lately) twitch, and I'm still all stiff from seeing it. I hope Rollins is going to be okay, but I wasn't shocked that he wasn't cleared for Raw this week. Honestly, even if he was, I think keeping him out of the ring for the night would be a good thing. Better to err on the side of caution so Rollins has a longer career.
Backstage Segment > A-
Cole said Foley is the best at creating magic with oddball tag team pairings, but my favorite, and one Xavier brought up in the Open Thread Discussion last night, was Angle and Benoit. Now, for disclaimer – I've been watching a lot of the WWE Network, and I was a huge Benoit fan. Because of this, I will be discussing and comparing him at times. Now, this doesn't diminish or detract from the horrors he wrought upon his family, but I am one who can separate the professional wrestler and the work he did in the ring from the man he was to his family that final weekend. Personally, I think his brain was swiss cheese (as was reported after his brain was donated by his father and examined by the Concussion Legacy Foundation), and he wasn't who he once was and really didn't know what he was doing. Knowing what steroids can do to a body, as I'm dealing with the after-effects of dangerously high doses of Prednisone when I was a child, it's not pretty. The last couple times I was on it, I was homicidal as well as suicidal. It changes your brain chemistry. And watching all those flying headbutts Benoit hit, and how he held his head as badly, if not worse than RVD after a frog splash. He was obviously continuing to injure his brain on a daily basis, each time he hit that move, and anyone who has watched Benoit knows that he hit that in almost every match he was in, way back to ECW and before. I'm not giving excuses for his actions on that last weekend, I'm stating my feelings on the whole situation, and stating that I'm writing about Benoit the professional wrestler, not any other man. Lastly, these are my own personal views, not those of WNW or Richard Gray, so if you have issue, take it up with me. I'm not hard to find, even though my online stalker seems to think I am.
Anyway, I'm in the middle of watching Royal Rumble 2003, and this is just past the biggest part of the Angle/Benoit tag team/feud. It was so much fun to watch them win the Tag Team Championship all the while fighting between each other and costing each other singles matches and chances at the WWE WHC. There was so much back and forth, and they were both so in the moment, even when they were supposed to be getting along, they were fighting, but when one of them needed the other, they were there. I have to say I really hope they go in this direction with these two, because it would help their careers, and be downright entertaining for the rest of us.
Bayley vs Jobber > B+
This Anna Fields is an impressive young woman. She looked great, had solid offense from the start, and worked well as a jobber. I don't know who she is, but the WWE should look at her for the future.
Bayley, of course, is fantastic in all she does. I've heard people say she needs more edge to her, but I think she's very Rey in that way. She's edgy when she's working the ring, but heartwarming all other times. I think she's just perfect and doesn't need to change at all, right now. Not saying she won't need to evolve, just saying that right now she is just perfect.
Winner – Bayley
Backstage Segment > A-
Foley with all this exposition feels a bit annoying, but Foley ends up the one bringing the fans up to date a lot of the time. That being said, dang Steph went all out heel on Foley's arse! She turned the whole thing around on him, made him feel horrible, and took this storyline. I love the chemistry between the two of them, and with Trip off Raw right now, it's that much better. I am loving this relationship, it's so refreshing after The Authority. I watched the McMahon/Helmsley Era during the time The Authority was in charge, so I got quite burnt out on Trip and Steph in charge and pushing faces around. That's why this is so refreshing, and continues to leave us with more questions than answers. If only the rest of Raw could be so compelling.
Alexander & Swann vs Gulak & Dorado > A
Stacy hasn't had a chance to watch the CWC with me, mostly because I watch it after he goes to bed at night. He has to get up much earlier than I do, but I don't like sitting downstairs alone for four or more hours by myself each night, so that's when I sit in bed and do paperwork for my business, weave, or write, and watch the WWE Network. After the opening chain wrestling of this match, we have to sit down and watch the CWC together, because he was just floored by that bit of work. He always enjoyed the high-flying of Rey, and the flying in TNA, before we stopped watching, so this really piques his interest. Further, this is something Raw really needed to add in. I worry that it will be one match a week, when it really should be at least an hour of work each week.
Now, I think I might have to come up with something new for a grading system for the CWs, because otherwise every CW match will be getting an A of some sort. Thoughts? Any ideas for this? I think they deserve something different, because they really are that different.
Winners – Alexander & Swann
Cesaro & Sheamus vs Jobbers > B
I love chants of, “Let's go Jobbers!” Even when they're facing guys like Cesaro and Sheamus, it's a fun way for the fans to get into things. Especially here, where the fans don't know if Cesaro and Sheamus will be heels or faces – though after last night, I think they're faces – so they are not sure how to react. As I said before, I'm expecting them to be similar to Angle and Benoit. Honestly, I'm excited for this, and hope that Sheamus and Cesaro pull this off as beautifully as I know they can.
Winners – Cesaro & Sheamus
Backstage Segment > A-
I adore TJP. I loved him in TNA, and I love him now. I adore Brian Kendrick. I loved him when he was 'really, really sorry' and I love him now. I think this is a great first feud for the CWs because they will put everything they have into it. They proved it at CoC, and proved it here in this segment. I'm so excited for the future of the CWs, and the future of this feud.
In Ring Segment > B+
Charlotte wasn't horrible here, but she still wasn't great. Compared to Sasha, she was downright deplorable. And Sasha Wanks? Not very PG – which I'm thrilled with.
Wait, is that Charlotte working off the fans? What's that? Color me impressed! That was wonderful! Now, if she could stop screeching, she'd be an all around great Superstar! Charlotte knows how to work the ring, and dang, can that woman sell. She was great taking this attack from Sasha and making it look like so much more than it really was. She sold in a believable way, and that's something so few on the roster can do these days. Brava Charlotte!
Backstage Segment > A-
They're married! I know it's all storyline, but hello, Steph and Trip are married! Foley being called a heel/liar is quite the message from Rollins. Wonder exactly how this will all go down tonight. I mean, we know what will happen, but exactly how is the big question.
TJP vs Tony Nese > A-
There's no way The Brian Kendrick won't come out and get involved in this match! We all know that he won't let TJP have a clean match during their feud.
And then more commercials! I used to, when I did Raw Live, keep the commercials listed in here, but I've stopped doing that since I don't work straight from the live results I wrote the night before. Tonight I almost wish I had them in here, it might show just how many commercial breaks there's been. Also, it seems as though there's been at least one more commercial each break, if not more than one extra. It used to be six commercials each time, but I honestly believe there's been more tonight. Ugh!
I'm shocked, I was wrong, and I think the WWE really dropped the ball here. They should have had TBK rush in at the end of the match, or even after the match, to continue their feud. TBK is focused and driven, so push this as hard as possible! Dropped ball.
Lastly, I was so impressed with this crowd early on. They were so into the show, gave so much to Reigns, and other matches, and Superstars. Then they were virtually dead during Cesaro and Sheamus' tag match and were chanting for Punk during this one. I'm so over the Punk chants, and I'm so over disrespectful fans. There's a line between having fun at a show and being a total tool of an audience. Now, razzing Superstars in the ring, being loud and obnoxious to the Superstars as the talk and work the ring, and I'm all great with that, but when the fans are chanting about irrelevant things, they are disrespecting the Superstars who are working their arses off in the ring to entertain us! Why would fans take a CW match and trash all over it, and after we've been begging to get the CWs back on Raw for so long? So yes, this is me calling out the fans from Raw. Not all of them, but the tools who can't seem to keep it in their pants and have to show off that theirs are bigger than everyone else's. Those are the fans I'm calling out, because there's a line, and they're jumping over it two years too late. Hello, Punk hasn't been relevant in the WWE in over two years, and he was quite relevant for quite a while, but he's the one who decided to be irrelevant. And he's even less relevant after his on UFC fight that didn't even last a round. I don't even like mentioning Punk at this point, but I'm doing it to show just how irrelevant the Cincinnati fans truly are.
Winner – TJP
Video > A+
I loved Morales' work in the ring. Such a personality.
Highlight Reel > A
Ashton? This should be interesting.
KO checking out the Jeritron 6000 was hysterical! They work so well together. KO makes Jericho that much more relevant, and Jericho takes KO's relevance to the next level. Their chemistry is great, and while neither needs the other, they take each other to greatness of huge levels. So much fun, and I'm so glad Jericho stayed around, even though a number of us were complaining about him being too hung over and too slow in the ring as of late. Hey, we can't be right 100% of the time!
Bada boom, realest guys in the room, how you doin'?
I love this Jericho and how he can't do or say anything right. He's so much fun, and so different from who he's been before, and that's why his comedy is working so well with Superstars like Enzo and Cass. These two are masters on the mic, as are Jericho and KO, but in a different way. I do have to say that the silliness and chemistry is lovely. This is the type of thing, and feel, we haven't had in years. I'm so excited for this New Era, and just as excited for Jericho to be a part of it while helping these guys along. It's perfect on so many levels.
Jericho & KO vs Enzo & Cass > A-
I love watching Enzo and Cass in the ring, and I love see Jericho and KO work together, so this was a treat. What's even better is that Enzo actually worked the ring and looked strong, rather than being beaten down and then giving Cass the hot tag. There's so much fight in that little guy that I see big things for him if McMahon can get over his size issues. Sorry, there's no way to say that without it sounding dirty. This was a really solid match, and a lot of fun. All four of them are such characters, and that makes their matches that much more interesting. Like Big E in the ring, he's so much more fun to watch since he's been able to show who he really is. The same for Kofi, and The Brian Kendrick. So many people are really starting to show personality, and it's making the matches that much better. This is something I've been screaming about for so long, and I'm enjoying the benefits of it actually happening. Now, if only they could get rid of the filler crap, and/or shorten Raw to two hours, then Raw could be almost near perfect!
Winners – Jericho & KO
I have something I need to get off my chest. If what I've read is correct, someone in the wrestling industry needs to be recognized for the love his has shown his brother. Now, we all know that Mark LoMonaco and Devon Hughes are not really brothers, but their lives have been entwined for so many years, and they have had to think of each other in the career moves they made. From all I've seen, Hughes wanted to go back to TNA for one more run, but LoMonaco had the chance for a singles push in the WWE. Hughes thoughts of LoMonaco and what he might accomplish and took a producer's job in the WWE so that his brother could try to get that one last singles push in the top company in the USA. That is brotherhood greater than most biological brothers would do for each other. Obviously we don't know what happened between the two men, or how this decision came about, but I am happy in believing that Hughes did this so his brother would have one last chance at the top spot by himself, and if LoMonaco can pull out the performance he did in TNA, I could see him as the WWE Universal Champion, at least briefly, and how better to top a career? D-Von, thanks for getting those tables!
Queen of WNW