I have to admit that MITB was better than I expected in certain regards, but in others I was not at all impressed. It was nice to see Cena Sr. in the front row, being so animated early in the night. He's such a lovely man, and one of the sweetest heels I've ever met!
I mentioned before that I was in tears about not stepping up and getting tickets for MITB early enough that I could actually afford the tickets, but watching MITB while hanging out in the WNW Live Blog absolutely lifted my spirits. WNW readers have opened up my wrestling world in a way I never thought possible. Even those I don't always get along with always find a way to open my eyes to something, or give me a point of view I hadn't thought of. I am not sure I would have enjoyed MITB anywhere near as much without you wonderful readers, so thank you.
The other think that helped me through MITB was Cena winning the WWE WHC. I was really hoping for a big change, even if it was just a short time before Brock returns to become Champion. I just thought it was the perfect time to step forward with someone unexpected, just give them a taste and chance to prove themselves. Unlike Paige, having someone like Brock (My client, Brock Lesnar conquered Underaker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania!) taking the straps from them wouldn't be as much of a boot to the head to their character, or their career. If they were able to put on a solid match with Brock – not get squashed – then it could have been huge for that person. I know people think it's too early to push Reigns, but if done right, with a short run, it could have worked really well.
In Ring Segment > C+
Those fans really wanted Punk. They were louder than we've heard before, and that surprised me. Beyond that, I thought the way The Authority were being so sticky sweet, and that Cena wouldn't buy it was great, but even greater was the way the 2K15 banner didn't drop when it first should have.
I was born just south of Boston, and grew up in New England. If I'm not aware of it, I can drop my Rs, and sound exactly like Cena did in this segment. The thing is that Trip was born into a French Canadian family in Nashua, New Hampshire. While those from Connecticut usually have a different accent, those from Boston and north seem to take on a similar accent, until you get very far north in Maine and NH. Vermont has very much its own accent. So Paul Levesque grew up sounding exactly like Cena portrayed in this segment. I have to admit I was laughing really hard, and enjoyed it completely because of how on the mark they were. I always am impressed when they bring locality into the shows, and while I don't understand much of what's said about other areas, this one hit very close to home, and was quite a lot of fun for me.
John Cena normally is one of the few guys I will say that despite every bit of criticism he gets, has some of the greatest respect for this business I have ever seen. He lives this business, and would do nothing to disrespect it. But Monday night on Raw, he did just that by wearing the WWE WHC the way he did. I know that most people will say that it is nitpicking. But by wearing them like a scarf, I felt a slap to the face. Those titles, despite the way they have been booked at times, are the two biggest titles in wrestling history. They deserve the respect of being worn or shouldered, as almost every champion before him has done. Maybe it was just a lapse for the night, or maybe Cena wanted to "show his edge", but all it did is leave a bad taste in my mouth.
RVD vs Rollins > B+
I have been kvetching about RVD's ring work since he returned this time around. It seems as though finally, at MITB, such a dangerous match, RVD found his spark and gave us what we love from RVD. I am not saying that RVD isn't showing his 43 years of age, or 24 years in the ring, but he does have that zest back that he'd been missing. He did a great job of making this match look solid, something he hadn't been doing before MITB. It's great to see that RVD got his spark back, but Rollins really out-classed him in the ring. That being said, the two of them looked really sore and tired after last night, but they still stepped things up for the live fans tonight. I think working with guys like RVD will only help Rollins grow as a wrestler in the long run. He's one of the best on the roster, but working with guys like RVD absolutely can't hurt in the long run.
Winner – Rollins
In Ring Segment > B+
I know Rollins was tired from his match, but Ambrose really outshined him here on mic. So excited that Ambrose is going to be up Rollins bum at every turn. This could be fun!
In Ring Segment > B+
I never thought I'd hear the fans behind Swagger, but Zeb made it happen! Two weeks in a row the WWE has taken a most hated heel – Vickie more than Swagger – and turned them into a top face in the course of fifteen minutes. Jesse is thrilled by this, and totally marked out. I, on the other hand, am waiting for Swagger to do something stupid. Once burned, shame on you, twice burned, shame on me. Swagger has burnt the fans more times than I can count, in more ways than I can count, so I'm wary. I also don't see where Swagger can get past Rusev when Big E couldn't. Makes me wonder if the WWE hasn't learned their lesson about pushing the younger guys so they can grow and learn, but dropping them for a guy who has continually let them down. I think, by this point, we should be calling it the Orton Effect.
All that being said, if we can get a solid feud, I'm happy. I'm even happier that Lana has someone great on mic to verbally spar with her. The one thing that has me worried is Zeb. He had troubles getting his knees under him when he stood up on the apron. I know he's a tough old bird – and I mean that with the utmost respect – but I think it's time he starts using the stairs to get to the ring.
Backstage Segment > B
I don't know what it was about Usos and Sheamus laughing and playing as they headed for the ring, but while it felt a bit overboard for TV, it didn't feel that far out of reality. It was interesting to watch.
Usos & Sheamus vs The Wyatt Family > B
This match was a lot of fun, but the Usos and The Wyatts in the ring together is almost always magic. I cannot say this was their best match, but again, everyone was sore and tired after last night. Sheamus and Bray both in MITBLM, and the Usos with Harper and Rowan in their tag match. I thought the tag match at MITB was very strong, and those four can take a night that they don't completely kill themselves for us. I love watching all these men work, and I enjoyed the creativity of the moves with Sheamus added in. That Harper hit a kick similar to the Brogue really did a lot to add to the creativity of the match. I also love the way that JBL pushes Harper's clothesline, it shows a level of respect, coming from the man who used to hit the clothesline from hell.
Winners – The Wyatt Family
Backstage Segment > C+
Of course Nikki is catching all of Steph's crap now! Not only is she Brie's twin, but she's also living with Cena. It was a given that Steph would be going after Nikki. While I know Nikki's ring work has improved by leaps and bounds, I still want Steph to face Brie in the ring. It feels more like what the fans want, because of Bryan, and it feels more organic, but maybe that's just me. I thought Nikki handled herself well here, but you know there's a lot more in store for her soon.
Stage Segment > B
Bo-ner! Between that and the way Bryan told him to Bo-leave the ring, there's some great chants in Bo's future. Sometimes I think it's great that he smiles through it all, because some nights it has to be hard to do all that with a straight face. I still think Bo has a huge future if he continues to prove his character work, but he has to be willing to grow and change within it, the way his brother is already doing.
Nikki vs Dactyls > B-
Looking back, Naomi could have been so upset at ringside because she knew AJ was back and she'd be losing her chance to get strapped, but you never know. I would love this growing feud between Naomi and Cameron if I knew Cameron could go in the ring to the level Naomi can go. Naomi is a main event Diva, and while Cameron has come a long way, she's nowhere near Naomi's level. The grade would have been much lower if not for Naomi's ring work with Nikki. Nikki is solid in the ring, but working with Cameron she looked like she did a couple years ago – not the best.
I do have to mention that on Smackdown, Naomi was getting up in Paige's face after the match, and the ref called her Trinity, not Naomi. I know it has very little to do with this, but I found it interesting enough to mention.
Winners – Dactyls
Ringside > A+
I loved seeing the Special Olympians in the front row with their medals. It was a sweet moment.
Announce Segment > C
I'm not marking this segment down at all for the way they were on announce, but more for the news about Bad News Barrett that we all knew was coming. Unless an announce segment is great, it's really just average, and should be graded that way. I feel horrible for BNB. It seems that every time he comes back, he gets injured again.
As much as the WWE overuses tournaments, I think this would be the perfect time for the WWE to throw a tourney at us. They don't have KOTR, so why not an IC Title Tournament? We've had so many Battle Royals lately, it's time for a change. Then again, Cesaro did so well at WrestleMania, if his eye is not a lingering issue, then it would make sense for him to win the IC at Battleground.
Kofi vs Cesaro > B
Kofi, like Swagger, is one who has issues with not being as tight and careful in the ring as they should be, but I'm not sure where Cesaro got injured. It wasn't bad enough that Cesaro couldn't beat down Kofi after the match, but we also know that wrestlers push through things they shouldn't. I will say that they worked hard in the ring, and even harder outside the ring. I was quite impressed with Kofi's flying, and Cesaro powerful moves and heel work. Add in Heyman egging Cesaro on, and this was a solid match. I lowered the grade because of the injury. An injury in a match cannot lead to a high grade no matter how it happened.
Winner – Kofi
Backstage Segment > ?
Santino talking to Cobra was adorable, and the way Rose got into the mix was cute too. The whole thing had a very cute vibe, but it also reminded me of something. Sometimes on Days Of Our Lives they have product placement segments that are so over the top corny that it boggles my mind. From a recent episode, "Do you have cramps Paige (actual character's name), then you should try Midol..." Include the cheesy Price Is Right product modeling and too nice, but robotic voices, and you know exactly what I'm talking about. This had that feel, but with Santino and Rose, it almost had to have that feel.
The other reason this segment hit me so strangely is because the WWE has done so much to be PG, and now they're product placing alcohol! Not just any alcohol, but one of the ones that really appeal to a younger than legal age audience, because it really doesn't taste much like booze. I'm loving that they're loosening up with the PG thing, and showed it at MITB when they were not pulling Orton out of the WWE WHC MITBLM and wrapping his head in white towels, but this seems like a HUGE step away from PG in a strange and disconcerting way.
Announce Segment > C
When I'm writing moves in and out of the ring, I sometimes miss things. I guess I somehow missed Kofi landing on, or going through Cole somehow. I don't know how much he was selling, but the concern from King was sweet. JBL, on the other hand, not so much.
In Ring Segment > B
I love Sandow, and thought he was great as McMahon. This was one of his best characters, and he sold it better than Trip did when he was playing McMahon. I know he was going for a different style, but it still worked wonderfully. Of course Steph would get bent out of shape over this, but I'm blown away by Sandow's range and creativity. Hopefully they come up with something really great for him soon, before he remembers how to be great in the ring.
Khali vs Sandow > F
I know that Khali was looking to the ref for cues for what he was supposed to be doing next, but it really looked as though he was looking down at Sandow, over and over, just to make sure it was Sandow he flattened, and not really McMahon.
Winner – Khali
In Ring Segment > A
Okay, before RAW started, and the announcement came out that a former WWE Champion would be on the show, many WNW commenters were talking in the RAW Open Thread Discussion about it being Miz, and that would be a letdown, but also a great way to build him up upon his return. There was no way Miz could return as a face, it's just the way things are with Miz, and he worked it really well. This is me, I have to comment on that sexy suit Miz was wearing. Normally I'm not big on summer suits, they bring me back to 50s court room movies, and old men in bow ties, but I love linen (sewing with it later today), and that suit has such a modern cut that it works. With the open collar, and the splash of lack of color in the scarf and shoes, it was perfect. My only gripe was that Miz's shirt was just enough off in color from the suit, and a bit too crisp to work perfectly, but the color could have been my screen.
Beyond the suit, Miz did a solid job of working the fans, making them think he was the person that had been announced (the outline in the pre-Raw commercial was absolutely Miz), and that he was sort of a letdown, getting him over as a heel that much more, but then Jericho's music hit and that place erupted! I was a bit behind, and a Facebook comment popped up in the corner of my screen, so I knew he was coming, but it didn't stop me from completely marking out when Break the walls down! hit. I played 20 questions with Stacy, and he had no clue who it could be returning, but he lit up when it was Jericho. Jericho is a huge name who will bring in fans. Further, with his new album coming out, this is a great way for him to promote it. Wonder if Fozzy will be playing at Battleground.
Because Jericho had been so adamant about not returning to the WWE because the boys were getting screwed by the WWE PPV bonuses, I honestly hadn't thought about him feuding with Bray, but OMFGWTFBBQ! What a fantastic idea! First off, it makes even more sense for Bray to feud with Jericho than Cena, because of what Bray stands for, and what Jericho does with his life within and outside of the WWE. I think Jericho could help take Bray even further, and it could be a jaw dropping feud. Jericho is great with working with creative, and has done a lot of his own personal writing in the past, so working with Bray on this could leave us with a summer to remember; as if we aren't already having one! I'm so hyper-excited about this that I was marking out even more after the DEP! than I was when Jericho's music hit.
Jericho being backstage could also talk to the boys backstage, help them with what they need to work on with their contracts in the future with the changes happening within the WWE. Jericho is a shrewd businessman, and could do a lot to rally the other wrestlers, and help them in the long run.
Ziggler vs Fandango > B
At this point I was far enough behind in the show that Jesse was taunting me. I have to admit that I was really annoyed with this match popping up, because I knew something juicy was coming, but then Summer Rae came to the ring in that dress. She might not have been showing as much skin as she did in the dancing dresses, but she looked amazing in that hot pink bandage dress. I didn't like the boots with the dress, but that is a seasonal thing for me, black boots like that are not summer wear, even up in New England it's still summer! I didn't know bandage dresses were still in style, but Steph wore an aqua one recently, and now Summer Rae in hot pink, I think they're still in style, and they're being worn on the perfect bodies in the WWE.
Anyway, the kissing of Ziggler was interesting, but the way he grabbed Summer Rae and kissed her back, all the while Fandango is tweaking, and Layla is sulking, we haven't seen the end of this, and looks like they're setting up for a solid match at Battleground. The only question is who will be in the match?
Winner – Ziggler
RybAxel vs GoldStar > B
I'm loving Stardust the more I see the more I love him! That RIB after Stardust debuted, I caught a lot of flack for loving Stardust, but I'm standing by my feelings. Stardust has proven that he's not trying to be Goldust, he's being his own deranged and crazy character, and proving he can do almost anything with this character. It's the simple moves he makes, like the way he touched his brother's head from behind with his fingertips as they posed in the ring before the match – the looks he gives, that crazy Joker smile – and how he's changing up his moves, rather than the upper cut from the mat, he kicked his opponent in the head. Not saying I want Cody to be Stardust forever, but I'm blown away by his creativity and the way he's working Stardust. I'm sure Cody watched his brother on TV when he was growing up, so he sucked in a lot of Goldust's craziness, but he's taken it to a whole new level and made it his own. It has also taken their team to a whole new level, of fun, creativity, mic work, and ring work.
On the other hand, it seems as though RybAxel is fading away. I will say I'm glad Axel wasn't in a singlet on RAW, but beyond that, he and Ryback are struggling to stay memorable in these matches against GoldStar. They look like less than jobbers, just a canvas for GoldStar to shine. I know that every human being is different, I'm just so shocked that someone who oozed charisma and character could be the father of someone who is duller than watching paint dry. I want to see Ryback and Axel succeed, but at this point, they're barely worth mentioning, even when they're in a match on RAW!
Winners - GoldStar
Divas Championship Match > B+
With Paige on mic, I had a feeling that something was coming, and Jesse telling me something epic was heading my way. At that point I knew it was AJ returning. I told Jesse that Lita would be epic, Mae Young would be seriously epic (yes, I know the lovely Mae has passed, and I didn't mean any disrespect by this), but I knew AJ was coming back as soon as Paige was on mic. I also knew AJ was going to win the strap back tonight. I have to admit that I'm not thrilled with this. I love AJ, and she's done a lot for the Divas Division, but Paige hasn't had a chance to shine, and for her to lose the strap because of that pisses me off. Look at the match Paige had at MITB with Naomi, that was sick! Their ring work, minus that fall from the corner, was jaw dropping. Those two women worked that ring in a serious way. Nattie and Charlotte did it in NXT, but this was the first time we saw serious work like that in the big leagues, and I was hoping for so much more from them, and Naomi winning the strap soon.
I wasn't at all shocked with the "CM Punk!" chants, but I thought Paige handled it well, and AJ handled it even better! Her coy looks were so sweet and beguiling. I honestly cannot blame the fans for those chants, even though AJ and Paige deserved them more, because they are actually in the WWE and working it. But all in all, they handled that part beautifully.
Then there's their match. Those two little Divas packed so much into that 1:02 that all I wanted was more. I'm hoping for some epic battles between these two – as long as Naomi doesn't get left out in the cold. I know it was Lita and Trish, but there's always room for a third if she's just that great. It was the Dudleys, the Hardys, and E&C, they proved that triangles can work in wrestling, and I want to see it happen with these three Divas. It could be a great build to a Triple Threat Cage Match at WrestleMania! I know it's a pipe dream, but think about it!
Anyway, I have to mention that this match timed out at 1:02, but the first match between Paige and AJ timed out at 1:19. so AJ won back her strap 17 seconds quicker than she lost it. I think those 17 seconds greatly out-weigh the 18 second WrestleMania match AJ cost Bryan with that kiss.
I wrote a lot about AJ, and the future of the Divas Division, but in all of this, Paige was the one who was totally screwed. She was so over in the little microcosm that is Full Sail, but wasn't given any build, or anything of interest starting on WWE TV. They are finally pushing character, and making things more interesting, yet we were told NOTHING about Paige other than that she was in NXT. Not everyone has the WWE Network, or Hulu, and not everyone has seen NXT. I know I didn't catch much, but I have done a lot of research on Paige, and really looked into her work, which is seriously impressive. Paige is young, and still has time, but it's never good when they're treated like this from the start. Okay, Bryan did have his 18 second match at WrestleMania, and then turned into a top Superstar. It an happen, and I hope it does with Paige, because that little slip of a girl has so much to show us. Now the WWE need to give her a character of some sort, and get her in there against AJ and Naomi, really working the ring so she can show everyone who didn't believe in her that they were!
Winner & new Divas Champion – AJ
Kane & Orton vs Cena & Reigns > B
There was some solid work in this match, and while I've talked up Reigns' a lot lately, the way he rushed through his round of five moves of doom really looked horrible here. Then again, so did Cena hitting the 5 knuckle shuffle on Orton, then Kane, right in a row. Two chokeslams, or two RKOs, or two spears, or even two AAs in a row can work, but not 5 knuckle shuffle! It looked downright bad!
Not saying this match was all bad, in fact there were some lovely moments, but coming off MITB, all of them were tired and sore, and it showed. None of these four looked to be at their best, but I understand what they went through the night before, and don't hold that against them. I'm sure their Fatal 4 Way Match at Battleground will be much better, even though both Cena and Reigns will be tortured until then, and beyond.
Winners – Reigns & Cena via DQ
In Ring Segment > B+
I had to split this off from the match because it deserved its own grade. I have to admit that I was a little spacy and didn't put it together that Trip might be out there to make sure Rollins cashed in his case, I just figured it was to make sure Orton and Kane won their match. I guess it's because RAW had so much talking, and that MITB was so recent, that I forgot about the case, and that Ambrose promised Rollins that he'd be directly up his bum every chance he got, especially whenever Rollins wanted to cash in his MITB case.
Trip did a great job of making sure Cena was really out cold after the match, by shaking, then dropping his lifeless arm. Of course Rollins was right there when beckoned, as was Ambrose. The ref, for some reason, seemed to have issue with the case being cashed in with Cena out cold, though no ref ever seemed to care before! I loved the way Ambrose came out of nowhere, and really took Rollins out. I'm also wondering if the ref is going to catch a ration of poo from Trip very soon for failing to follow direction, because that's no what's best for business!
I loved the way RAW went off the air. It looked great to have Trip and Reigns staring each other down. They're really setting up for something big between them. I think they could give us a great match. Between Trip's knowledge of the ring and how to work it, and Reigns' strength and excitement for it all, this could be stellar. This could also help Reigns' ring work, and his ring maturity in a lot of ways. I think Battleground is too soon, this should be a SummerSlam match. Besides, Reigns is already in the main event at Battleground.
Innocent until proven guilty. I don't know what happened with Emma at WalMart, but it couldn't have come at a worse time in her career with the WWE. She was already frowned upon, for the same reason Paige is frowned upon, even though they haven't given her much of a chance after pulling her from the microcosm of Full Sail, so this could be highly detrimental to her career with the WWE. I'm hoping that this blows over and is nothing more than a mistake, but if it doesn't, it could impede her ability to even stay in the United States to work. Fingers crossed that things work out for the best for all involved, and that the truth – no matter what it is – comes out.
Queen of WNW