I have to say I was delightfully surprised with RAW last night. I thought the show had a decent flow, with both vignettes, promos and some solid wrestling. Actually, a number of the matches on RAW were better than I expected. I thought the Divas Match was better than what we've seen recently, much more hard hitting – as it should be. Miz and Kofi was really a good match, even before Kofi knocked Miz out. And then there was Sheamus and Barrett who were as good, if not better than last week.
I also have to say that Ryback stepped up his game last night. He barely said anything different, he didn't react to anything, he didn't show any emotion or personality, but it somehow really works. I've been waiting for this whole character/storyline to crash and burn. I thought VKM had lost his mind on Ryback, and that this character was going to be a big blemish marring the tail end of his career, but the past couple weeks the character has really grown into something viable. No longer do I think VKM is living alone on Ryback island, and I might be willing to admit I was totally wrong about all of this – but I'm reserving my right to wait until after HIAC before really giving my opinion on how far I think Ryback will go. I think HIAC is going to be the make it or break it for Ryback, and I'm going to keep my fingers crossed.
While I know King is scheduled to be involved in Smackdown this week in Memphis, I was hoping for more than just a little shout out from Cole. We didn't even get a medical update on King. I guess that's a good thing, as a medical update might mean he's not feeling as well as we all hope he is after that horrible night.
Video > B
Of course they had to start RAW with a recap of how RAW ended. I liked how they edited the segment, and made sure that nothing of Punk's fight in the stands while keeping his freaked out look of fear as he hugged his belt to his chest.
In Ring Segment > B
I really enjoyed this segment and thought Big Show did a great job getting the fans riled up. I'll admit he started off a bit slow, but by the time the fans were chanting at him that he sucked, and then the '45 second' chant that Big Show instigated. Calling out Bryan the way he did was wonderful!
That they continued the segment backstage with so many people watching on the monitor, and R-Truth talking to Little Jimmy was fun. These little bits with Team Hell No are just great! Keeping their segments short and peppering them though the show keeps them from being logy and boring.
Bryan vs Big Show > B+
While this wasn't a very long match, it was a solid length for a Big Show match. Big Show looked really good, as did Bryan. Actually, Bryan took some really solid bumps in this match and looked great doing it. That man just floors me with his work rate and how he puts his body on the line and keeps going like a tank! Is it me or is Bryan looking a bit more solid than he had? Wonder if dealing with his soy issue and changing his diet has been part of how his body has seemed to change a little lately.
I love that they threw that tiny bit in with Kane and Bryan. Bryan is the 'little brother' that Kane never wanted. He can pick on Bryan, but no one else can. Laughing at Bryan is okay for Kane, but no one else can mess with him!
Winner – Big Show (6:33)
In Ring Segment > A-
I loved how Punk made a statement that he wasn't going to be pushed. It didn't matter who you are, if you disrespect Punk, verbally or physically, he will put you down! Nice little reminder to people, like fans in the stands, who try to push Punk around, like last week on RAW, that Punk won't hesitate. I wonder if they've figured out who that guy that pushed Punk a couple times, from the side, so hard.
Actually, I loved this whole segment. Heyman and Punk worked the fans over, seemed to have them exactly where they wanted them, bringing the heat level higher and higher, then VKM slapped them both down so hard. It was great! Even the props in the ring added so much to the segment. I'm very impressed with everyone involved, and creative, for the work in this segment.
Video > A+
Layla talking about losing her mother to breast cancer was heart wrenching to watch. Layla laid her emotions all out there and made herself more human. I think it took great courage to do what she did, and my heart goes out to her for everything she's gone through.
Funkasaurus vs ADR > D-
Yes, I think this match was sub par, less than average. First off, this is such a mismatch, and not in a good way. Both of them are so limited in the ring, Clay due to his size, ADR because he doesn't seem to care to expand his move set since joining the WWE, which made this match an absolute mess. Take all this and add in that the WWE didn't even care to show the entrance of either of these men on TV, and this was just a total waste of time for everyone involved.
Winner – ADR (2:11)
Backstage Segment > B
I have to say that these segments between Punk and Heyman are much better than they were last week. This time Punk has some fire under him and Heyman is showing his wormier and whinier side, something that's always fun. I'm glad they were able to step up to where I know they're capable of being. I'm guessing that last week was an off week for them and move on.
Ryder & Santino vs Prime Time Players > C-
The best part of this match, the thing that kept them from completely flunking out was Ryder. He looked the best in this match, by far, and really carried this match for the other three. I guess I should be glad that it was so short and much of it during the commercials? I don't know. And while I'm not a fan of the Prime Time Players, that they didn't get an on-screen entrance really bothers me. Even though they're a team, this brings it up to four people in two matches who haven't had TV entrances and that really bothers me.
I do want to say that I like the new look of 3MB – whatever than name means. The jeans and leather jackets look good, though a bit odd on Mahal. Drew looked the best in my opinion. That bandana around his head really gave him a new look that works. His hair doesn't look stringy the way it normally does. I'm impressed and hope this new faction works out for them.
Winners – Prime Time Players (1:21)
Video > C-
I'm grouping all of the Punk/VKM recap videos together here. While I know they have to remind us of what's coming up later in the show, especially for people who missed that segment, they replayed this video way too many times for my taste.
In Ring Segment > C+
I was thrilled to see Vickie covered up so she wouldn't be flashing anyone this week. I was even more thrilled to hear Ziggler talking, rather than Vickie. Everything he said made sense, and hopefully will lead to something interesting. But then Otunga came out. Why? I see no reason for Otunga to come out and make this big stand. He's done little but job since his return. The whole thing was kind of sad when he came out.
Otunga & Ziggler vs Ryback >
This was the third match in a row that lasted under three minutes. Of course Ryback destroyed Otunga, and even better than Ziggler fled. He might be on his way up (hopefully), but he's not stupid! And this wasn't a big step up for Ryback. Actually, this did nothing to help Ryback at all, in my opinion.
Winner Ryback (1:51)
Backstage Segment > B+
I loved the way VKM was toward Heyman. I'm sure some would call it bullying, but I thought the whole thing was so tongue in cheek. Not sure some of the younger audience would understand, but I thought it was kind of humorous. The thing I didn't like was that VKM 'set up' this match, but there was obviously no thought of ever following through on it. I would have loved to see Heyman and VKM in the ring for a few minutes, with Ryback keeping Punk out of the way, of course.
Backstage Segment > B
AJ really needs to sell her crazy a bit more. They go all out with it one week, then the next week it's barely much of an issue. Her character needs a bit more continuity to work and have the staying power. She was good working off Striker, even though it is Striker. Putting him in the ring with Kane is better than watching him trying to interview people. I might be in the minority, but I'm not a Striker fan.
Cesaro vs Gabriel > B-
Well, it was better than the previous couple matches! A few of the moves were a bit off, and I don't know what was going on with Cesaro putting his shoulder up into Gabriel's 450 as he could have really hurt someone doing that. I'd love to see more of Gabriel on RAW, or anywhere on WWE TV these days. I've always thought he was a star in the making.
I also think Cesaro looked fairly decent in this match. His character came through better in his little promo than it ever has before. Getting away from saying things in five languages has given him some personality. I think it worked and got the fans chanting against him. It didn't help that they were also chanting against Gabriel as he's also not from the USA, but that's mob mentality for you.
Winner – Cesaro (3:54)
Striker vs Kane > B+
I'm not grading this on actual ring work, but on entertainment value. For me this was really funny. I have to admit that I wouldn't turn down a hug from Kane, but I'm not a wrestler! That Striker was actually drawn into one hug was odd, but a second hug was downright daft! Striker also reacted well to being stuck in such an awkward bear hug.
I loved how Cole said to not call AJ the 'C' word, but wasn't about to say what that 'C' word was – though we all know. But even better was how Kane lounged down by Striker and 'interviewed' Striker. It was even better than the 'mindless carnage' chant during the match.
Winner – Kane (2:02)
Video > C+
This was a nice little set-up to Miz TV, and gave the fans a laugh at Shawn throwing her drink in Miz's face last week.
Miz TV > B
I really enjoy seeing Kofi on mic. Between Wednesday on Main Event and this segment, I think Kofi has said more than we've ever heard from him prior to this feud – even including the time he was faking that Jamaican accent. Honestly, I think this feud is great. Between Kofi talking about his match being fun on Wednesday, and the way he's not taking Miz's verbal abuse, I think we might be seeing Kofi going somewhere. Wonder if it has anything to do with Orton's stock dropping? I can still see that match in MSG that sent Orton backstage fuming that Kofi was still too green, not ready for the push he was getting, and that was the end of anything Kofi heading up through the ranks. The thing is, I thought Kofi looked great in that match, and wonder if Orton felt more threatened than anything. It's taken way too long for Kofi to be getting a singles push, but I'm thrilled to see it happening with Miz. I think this could only help to elevate them both in the long run.
Sheamus vs Barrett > A-
Sheamus versus Barrett went for 12:37 last week, and 15:18 this week. Last week I said that the two of them went so hard for that match, with barely a breather, I thought that the two of them might be able to handle a Iron Man Match at some point in their futures, well this match further pushed that feeling. Those two men worked hard with very little rest time, and made it look good! I've always been a Big Show fan, even back in in his WCW days as Giant, but I'd much rather see Sheamus feuding with Barrett and facing him at HIAC. Wow, that was really hard to write, but it's the truth. Hopefully they go in that direction soon, but put a great storyline to go along with it to make it a top notch feud that both wrestlers could really use at this point. It's what I said last week, their characters are rather boring and need some spice and excitement added – something I think both wrestlers could handle. If the WWE did that, these two could make Smackdown an unmissable weekly show.
Big Show trying to explain that Sheamus 'fell out' of the ring to the ref had me giggling. I am really enjoying how Big Show's character is fighting against being the comic relief, but is becoming that despite himself.
Winner – Sheamus (15:18)
Backstage Segment > C+
I really didn't like this segment between Cena and VKM. I don't know if it felt strained, or if Cena was just too wordy, but the whole thing felt terribly wrong and uncomfortable.
Diva Championship Match > B
Hear me out! I'm grading this compared to the other Divas matches we've seen this past while. Yes, some of the matches have been better recently, but both Layla and Eve threw down hard and really left it all out there. They both worked a solid match and proved that they weren't prissy little girls who were afraid to break a nail. I actually cringed a couple times as these women hit some moves so hard. They ended this match beautifully with Eve's pageant smile and Layla outside the ring crying on the floor – it was quite the image to be left with. I'm sure with Layla's foot being on the rope, this feud will be going to HIAC. I only wish they could have an actual HIAC match, but I'm sure VKM doesn't want his pretty little Divas in such a scary match.
Winner – Eve (4:38)
Backstage Segment > B+
Another great little segment between Bryan and Kane. Not only did they squabble in such a comedic way, they set up for what could be an interesting match on RAW – Kane vs Big Show. Will Sheamus or Bryan get involved?
Backstage Segment > A
This was one of the segments I mentioned early on here. This little segment with VKM pushed Ryback to a whole new level. That Ryback didn't even quiver at all VKM said about him was great, but his only comment sealed his character for me. (I wonder how many takes it took to get that segment exactly the way VKM wanted it?) I'm thinking I like the direction Ryback is going!
Outside Segment > B
I thought 3MB handled themselves well in Honky Tonk Central. They went in all bluster and egos, but fled quickly when the cuffs came out. I thought it was funny and gave their group a bit more for us to remember them by than just them attacking people in the ring. Makes me wonder what they're going to try next.
Rhodes Scholars vs Colons > B+
I was wrong in not mentioning this match in my opening paragraphs. I was blown away at how hard hitting both Primo and Epico were in this match. It seemed to me that Cody and Sandow had to talk to the Colon cousins before the match and say that they wanted to work stiffer, because this match looked so much stronger than anything we've seen from Primo and Epico in a very long time. I think Cody and Sandow elevated their opponents in a huge way. I don't know if Primo and Epico had been afraid to work like this, or what, but I'm thrilled to see them working closer to their potential. I didn't think Primo and Epico could earn such a solid grade, but now that I know, I can't wait to see more.
And then there's Cody and Sandow who seem to be one of the most shining pairings I've seen in a very long time. Yes, Team Hell No is something fun and they work really well together, but Rhodes Scholars will not only be a tag team, but they will help elevate each other to levels that they might not have reached as quickly without the other. There's this beautiful flavor to their work together that leaves me smiling and rooting for them, even though their heels. These two are a pair to watch out for.
Winners – Rhodes Scholars (6:58)
Miz vs Kofi > A-
Well, this wasn't at all what I expected from Kofi and Miz. They looked so great in the ring together, and they will be elevating each other in their feud, rather than through teaming. They worked really well together until the final move of the match. You can't really blame either of them for Miz being knocked out the way he was. That TIP was hit as it should have been, but they weren't in the exactly perfect spots for it to land as it should. It seems to have caught Miz across the bridge of the nose and knocked him completely out. Miz was quite out, even when his eyes opened - the light was on, but no one was home! They're going to play this up in a big way heading into their match on Main Event.
Winner – Kofi (5:18)
In Ring Segment > A
There was so much about this segment that I loved. I'm usually one of the first to complain about contract signings being boring and predictable, but they took this one to a whole new level.
Punk blowing the whole thing off and signing the contract because he didn't have any say in the matter anyway, really worked well for me. He flung his arrogance and ego around, but knew where he stood, so stayed snotty about that.
Cena actually impressed me in how he put Ryback over. He didn't say that Ryback should be Champ, but he said that what Punk needed was a beating, and Ryback was the man to do it over Cena. We all know what Cena probably should not be in the ring right now, or even at HIAC, but he didn't have to put over Ryback the way he did. In what Cena said, he made Ryback look good, but made himself look good as well. I don't know who wrote up Cena's segment, but they did a great job of it. And then there's Cena who really worked the crowd up to a frenzy. The best part was when Cena got the fans chanting Ryback's 'Feed me more!' chant over and over.
And then there's Ryback. That man barely blinked an eye through the whole signing. I barely even saw him move to sign the contract. He sold his character in a great way, but it was that stare-down over the table after the signing that was great. Okay, it wasn't the stare-down, it was the way Ryback slammed Punk's head to the table. That's one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time. It was the simplicity behind the move, and no one expected Ryback to attack like that! I went back and watched that about a dozen times, and dragged Stacy in to watch a few minutes ago. When I went to bed after the show I checked in on Sam who started mumbling in her sleep. I tucked her back in, but she picked her head up and looked around, still mumbling. I simply put my hand on the side of her head and gently pushed it back down onto the pillow, but then realized what I'd just seen Ryback do and had to flee her room before I woke her up laughing.
I'd love to say that the reason this is so late is because of the earthquake we just had here in Maine. Now, anyone who knows the USA knows that Maine usually doesn't have earthquakes that can be felt. Honestly, earthquakes are one of the bigger reasons why I don't want to live in California, yet we had one here this evening that we absolutely felt. Okay, we couldn't figure out it was an earthquake, and yelled at Sam for making the house shake until we realized that it wasn't her doing. It took Gesus making a comment to me about the earthquake for it all to click. So, as much as I'd love to claim it was the earthquake as to while I was later than I'd like to be posting this, but in reality it's because of Sam's 4th grade math homework that got me so far behind. Sorry, but homework comes first!
One question, anyone know the meaning of Punk's tattoo on his neck? It has the number 31(?) inside some sort of pattern or shield without an outline. Knowing me it's something pop culture that I should recognize, but I have to ask anyway. Thanks ahead of the time!