I have to say that while I'm impressed with how the WNW comments have been heating up going into WrestleMania, a number of people have not been as nice as they could be. While I know it's easier to be a nincompoop online as you're not face to face with the person you're bashing, it's still not cool. It's not that hard to express your views without being mean, or breaking any rules. Actually, I find it fun to find creative ways for explaining my personal viewpoints. Each week I try to add in a new and different word. I actually take challenges from my friends and family to see if I can use certain words in my writing and have them work seamlessly. Since I'm finally admitting this, I expect you to call me on any words that glaringly and obviously don't work.
Anyway, last week a couple of people greatly disagreed with my grades for two specific segments on RAW. Anyone who read the comments last week know which segments I'm talking about. I had actually gone back and forth about how to grade those segments, but then I realized than no matter what I said, people would be touchy about it, so I went with how I felt – this is a Blog after all. I guess I was just surprised at how nasty some people will get when they don't agree with you. Normally I let the crankiness slide off, which is easier to do now than it was when I first started, but being told I know nothing about wrestling after I've been writing about wrestling for over ten years, and watching it for over twenty-five, really gets my goat. While I don't know everything about wrestling, none of us do (though Professor, Blitz and Storm really make me feel like a twit), I try my darnedest too continue reading and watching – new and old – to continue to round out my knowledge.
Because of all this I'm going to employ 'The Choice' Matt Andrews' disclaimer for the next couple weeks until people remember that this is a Blog, my opinion and while people are more than welcome to express their opinions and debate, I will not be standing for abuse – toward myself or anyone commenting on any of my writing!
DISCLAIMER: THIS IS A BLOG, NOT A NEWS ARTICLE. THE FOLLOWING WRITINGS ARE THE OPINIONS OF A STAFF WRITER OF WRESTLING NEWS WORLD. THEY DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE OWNER OR THE OTHER MEMBERS OF STAFF. ALSO: COMMENTS ARE WELCOME AS LONG AS THEY PROVOKE MEANINGFUL CONVERSATION OR CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM. GRAMMAR/SPELLING IS SUBJECT TO RIDICULE.
In Ring Segment > A
I know a lot of people are going to be unhappy about my grading of this segment, but I was very impressed with the work of both of them. Jericho was the total rotten jerk, playing the nice guy, then turning it around to be downright evil. Punk stood strong, but he sure sold the emotions on his face and in his body language. The longer Punk is on top, the more brilliant he is. WWE managed a major coup bringing in Punk and then keeping him when it was time for a new contract.
Kane vs Big Show > B
I thought that the story was more impressive than the match. Neither of these big guys can have an injury so close to WrestleMania, so they played it safe in the ring. Or they mostly played it safe, other than Big Show's spear on Kane. I also liked the way Kane chokeslammed Big Show from the corner. It wasn't beautifully executed, but it was interesting.
Better than the actual match was that Cody did to cost Big Show the win. After that I was impressed with how Big Show sold the possible head injury. That he had to put his hand back there for Cody to cuff him looked silly, but after he was cut free he handled himself wonderfully. It's nice to see someone who can sell, hopefully some of the younger guys were watching and learning. I was also impressed with Big Show yelling at Cody to run as he was being cut from the cuffs.
I went back to watch this match as I wanted to see the Shane Douglas debacle. I've explained before that when I'm writing the RAW play-by-play I am so focused on the moves in the ring that I sometimes miss things happening peripherally. I completely missed Douglas' little show in the stands. Going back to watch I was specifically watching for him little stunt. I saw him stand up, then I saw his white shirt go flying, then the fans in that area all wild over what he had done. To me this just continues to show what a bit player Douglas really is. Douglas will be in town here on Sunday with BTW. As with last year when he was here, I plan on giving him a wide berth as his attitude and nastiness, even when he's not playing up his heel character, was enough to make me ill last year. As much as I try to retain my decorum at events, put myself across as a professional, a writer for WNW, and try not to mark out too badly, I know I'm going to have trouble keeping a straight face when I see Douglas at the meet and greet. I will be writing up my trip to the BTW event again this year.
Winner – Kane
Otunga w/ Laurinaitis vs Santino w/ Long > C
I have to say that not even Santino could make Otunga look good in the ring. Yes, Otunga is a beautiful specimen, but the way he was showing off his bicep muscle was reminiscent of Steiner, and Otunga is no Steiner. It was actually Stacy who brought this up, laughing. Stacy doesn't know much about Steiner, other than what I've told him, and what he's seen of Steiner in TNA/IW, and he still is less impressed by Otunga than Steiner. Sadly that's saying something about Otunga. I think I need to find him some old WCW Steiner Brothers matches, maybe against Harlem Heat!
Anyway, I wasn't impressed with the ring work here. Actually, the only things I enjoyed was Long and Santino taking out Laurinaitis' cell, and the way Long slapped the taste out of Laurinaitis' mouth.
Winner – Otunga
Promo > A
I really enjoyed seeing Bloom's video and will admit that I did not realize it was him until Richard brought it up. To me Bloom has always been an incredibly hairy man, but he wasn't here. I've been reading a lot of wonderful things about how he grew as a wrestler in Japan. I'm planning on hunting down some videos to see what he's done. It will be interesting to see if he's going to make a surprise appearance at WrestleMania as a member of Team Johnny, or maybe just as Laurinaitis' enforcer. Be very cool for him to get a WrestleMania bonus on his first night back. I know that if the rumors are true and he's back to be Laurinaitis' muscle, then Laurinaitis will be sticking around after WrestleMania, and possibly Team Johnny will win at WrestleMania?
Video > A-
Rocky was strong, self deprecating, and used local landmarks as well as foods to bring the local fans to his side. This was his best promo in a couple weeks, for me. I can't say much about the Rocky movies, because I have never seen any of them, but it made a lot of sense for them to go there in Philly. I also have to admit that I spelled Adrien wrong last night, I'm sorry. But I did find out some interesting things about the statue. It's been moved a couple times, trying to find the right home for it. It was donated by Stallone to the city of Philladelphia. Many tourists run up the 72 steps while mimicking Rocky, but few actually enter the museum at the top of the steps.
D-Bry w/ AJ vs Ryder > B
This wasn't D-Bry's best match, but he sure stayed in character and let Ryder look like he had a chance. D-Bry also did a great job of treating AJ like crap while being so excited over what so many would see as an easy win. As 'iamjohnnymcb' commented in the RAW Results, "miz wants a match at wm28, ryder wants a match at wm28, for godsakes put these 2 in a match" It makes perfect sense to me, though Miz might see it as an insult, because that's how he is.
Winner – D-Bry
Announce Segment > C
I guess I shouldn't be shocked that they stepped up and used Cena's accident and made it a bigger deal than it was. Can you imagine that phone call to VKM? Less than two weeks before WrestleMania, the match they've been building for over a year, then Cena is in a car accident. I'm sure he called VKM, or someone high up in TPTB, and told them first that he was alright, then what happened. I'm sure he had to do it quickly as well, before someone else said something and the word got out that there had been an accident. But still, I could see the cow that VKM might have had about this.
Cena vs Henry > D+
To me this match was a joke. No wonder Henry is grumpy! He was on a huge push as an un-stoppable heel, possibly the biggest push of his career, but then he's injured and not allowed to work through it as he wished. Further he's put in matches where he has to job to the likes of Cena! Then there's the pseudo suplex Cena hit on Henry that left me cringing. I will give Cena props for hitting the AA on Henry, and props to Henry for taking it like a trooper and not fighting against Cena the whole way.
Winner – Cena
In Ring Segment > B+
I will say that Henry seemed more enthusiastic about taking the Rock bottom than he was taking the AA. For me this ramped up the Cena/Rocky feud more than their talking smack at each other. A number of people have been unhappy that Rocky and Cena have yet to get physical with each other, but I understand why VKM is holding that for WrestleMania. That Rocky came out and hit the Rock bottom on someone, especially someone the size of Henry, showed that Rocky isn't afraid of getting physical at WrestleMania, but he didn't get physical with Cena. I really liked how this was handled and it was a nice step up leading us to the big match without going too far.
Seems like there's a lot of videos on this RAW. Sadly we were stuck watching this one. That the WWE has allowed Maria Menunos to pin Beth is bad enough, but they're bringing her in again for another WrestleMania match? I'm completely disgusted by this and think it's a low blow to the already destroyed Divas Division. I think almost all of us would rather see Kharma versus Beth at WrestleMania, but I understand why it's not happening and Kia should take all the time she needs to get her head and heart into a place where she can handle being back in the WWE full time.
Miz vs Sheamus > B+
Some might be upset that this match gets a better grade than D-Bry's match, but this match did have better ring work. While saying the ring work was better, there was still a few moments that looked a bit sloppier than usual from either of these two. They both seemed to be about a half beat off from each other and that made the match look not as wonderful as we usually see from these two. I'm not blaming either of them for this as sometimes things just happen. I'm going to chalk it up to impending WrestleMania nerves and hope they both got it out of their system before the big day.
Tying in my final paragraph of this RIB, I found it very interesting that Miz spoke about Bundy's WrestleMania drop off just before facing Sheamus who will be in possibly the biggest WrestleMania jump. He and D-Bry were pushed to the dark match last year and are in a Title match this year. To me that's a huge jump for two very deserving wrestlers.
Winner – Sheamus
Stage Segment > B-
I don't understand why Orton needed to have Josh interviewing him, rather than just coming out to talk. Yes, it broke up the way the segments were handled, and some might say that Orton needs someone to work off to give a solid promo. Either way, I found Orton to be well spoken, but the location and the feel of the segment to be awkward, but it got Orton in front of the fans, not just being interview backstage. For me that's just not the right spot for talking to happen in the WWE. It's been a spot that they've used off and on for years, but has never felt right to me, and it was horrible to have announce up there for the time is was, and it feels wrong to be holding interviews there as well. Am I the only one who finds that an awkward location to hold promos?
Video > A-
I know a lot of people have serious issue with the WWE pushing the Be A Star anti-bullying campaign with the storylines they put out, but I understand why they're doing it. It's a hot button topic, and I understand why the WWE is pushing it. For me it's the separation of fiction from reality. What we see on RAW and Smackdown is fiction, it's not who these people really are, so it doesn't bother me that they're involved in this campaign. I actually really enjoyed seeing that Big Show, Otunga and Steph were out working with kids.
I thought that Otunga looked exactly like his character, right down to his travel mug, and that could blur the lines of fiction and reality for children. On the other hand, I'm sure Big Show was bullied because of and in spite of his size. I've read things Steph has said about being bullied because of what her father did, and got mad when people told her it was all fake. Steph is an eloquent speaker and seemed to do a great job with the kids.
Swagger & Dolph w/ Vickie vs Kofi & R-Truth w/ Aksana > B
I really enjoyed this match for its entertainment value. That Aksana was ready to rip Vickie's head off made this match that much more interesting. I will say again, as I have numerous times, I hope Swagger finds his way and is able to make the fans care about him in some way. He could be huge, if only he could get past his lack of charisma.
All of them worked a solid match, pushing their Team Johnny vs Team Teddy match at WrestleMania. Other than a few decent moves, Kofi's DDT standing out most in my mind, this match was more about drama and tension than actual wrestling. That Vickie pushed R-Truth's foot off the ropes only further pushed the heels to be devious and willing to do anything for the win, and for Laurinaitis. Other than those things, it was back to Aksana on Vickie that was in the forefront. It was fun watching Kofi and R-Truth peel Aksana off Vickie, then watch Swagger drag Vickie from the ring by one foot, but that was again drama, not actual ring work. Knowing what these four guys can do, but that they were overshadowed by the drama and the screeching women just shows the direction the WWE has taken more and more recently, though I will admit that the drama brings me back to the AE and the excitement of every show. What I'm saying is that there's good and bad things to be said about this match and where the focus was.
Winners – Dolph & Swagger
Video > C+
I wish they showed more video clips from house shows, but that would cost a lot more money as they don't regularly bring all the camera equipment for those smaller events. I loved seeing Trip work the crowd and hit the tombstone, but I did cringe a bit. It's not his move and it's one of those moves I worry about being hit wrong as it can have horrible consequences. I know it's not a move allowed by most of the Superstars, but Trip has a whole other place in the company, so of course he can hit it. Also, it was MSG! Any WWE show in MSG is going to be huge, so why not have Trip shake off some ring rust and give the fans such a moment? To me it's more of WWE crafting everything down to the letter.
In Ring Segment > A-
I am going to get beaten up on this grade, but this is my opinion, you don't have to agree with me! Taker, Trip and HBK are three of the greats from a bygone era. I still wish (a little bit in the back of my mind) that this match was between Taker and Kane, but that's just what I would love to see. I'm with 'Richie' who commented to the RAW Results. "I admit I was against the match at first but they have pulled me in."
All three of these men were on their game and crafted an intricate dance of words in the ring. It wasn't big and flashy, it was created of words and grew out of of the skills of these three men. Every move, every pause, every eye movement was calculated and presented to the fans. Those fans who are all about the flash and excitement are guaranteed to not like this segment, but for others it's a beauteous game of chess. The last moments when Trip looks back and forth between Taker and HBK, while HBK only grins when Trip's not looking, just a tiny thread of the creatively woven tapestry.
I completely understand why many didn't like this and there's many reasons to not like it, but personally I saw it as a inventive feat for three men who know how to put on all the flash and glitz, but are old enough to hold and spin this tight segment that didn't need all the flash. I'm not sure many of the younger guys on the roster could pull off a segment like this. There's no question that Punk could, but who else? Just wonder who else people think could pull off such a moment.
I have to say that not only does VKM, and everyone else involved in WWE's booking and creative, know how to put together a show with the right players, but they know where to do it and how to get the biggest reaction. Philly is almost always a hot crowd, but then they threw Jericho, Punk, Rocky, Cena, HBK, Trip and Taker at them. Further, next week's RAW, the go home RAW to WrestleMania, will be in Atlanta, the home of WrestleMania XXVII. Brilliant in my opinion. We sit back to watch and criticize each and every show, but there's so much that goes into every episode that we don't even think about. It's such a massive operation that becomes bigger every year. I'm not saying that they don't mess up, that they don't make massive mistakes, but in the grand scheme of things, these are really not a big deal as long as no one is hurt. Maybe we should think about all those little things they do right, so right that we don't even notice them, than abuse the things we're so sure they did terribly wrong.