I know I'm going to catch some guff for this, but I think Kane made RAW last night. In Ask WNW Richard said that Kane is really nothing more than a reliable veteran who can be used wherever needed, and while that's true, I'm a huge Kane fan and love it when he lucks into an interesting feud or storyline. What we saw from Kane last night left me with a huge smile on my face, and the Big Red Machine glowing in my heart.
I read what Foley said about Trip talking about him in Trip's possible swan song. While I can understand why Foley might feel that Trip was speaking about him, especially since they have such a difficult relationship, but I think there's so many other people who fall into the role Trip was speaking about. Interestingly enough, when Trip was talking about wrestlers who don't hang it up when they should have, and going out there for another pop from the fans, I immediately thought of Trip's good friend Ric Flair. From there I went to Hogan, Nasty Knobbs, and Jake 'The Snake' Roberts. While I can understand why Foley thought Trip might be talking about him, I doubt as many of the fans thought about Foley as thought about Hogan and Flair. If Foley hadn't said anything about it, I would have been writing this only about Hogan and Flair.
Video > C
I think that the WWE is trying too hard to turn Punk into a heel. Having him take down the Rock was enough to get him heat, but he hasn't been able to keep up the heat on his own. Even attacking King didn't push his heel quotient up enough. I said this last week, but I think they're pushing Punk too hard to be heel, the way they pushed Austin too hard to be heel with VKM. That didn't work then, I would have thought they'd have learned from that monumental mistake, but yet they're doing it again. And Punk is the guy that many people want to see Austin face in his final match. Makes less than no sense to me, but VKM has done things for years that haven't made sense. Sometimes they work out, but usually if the fans are against it, then VKM is in the wrong. Though he'd absolutely never admit it!
In Ring Segment > B+
I really liked the chemistry between King and Punk. That many fans are still asking if there's really heat between King and Punk shows us just how good the two of them are. Richard said that the younger guys could learn a lot from King, and I completely agree. They worked well together, and I think King worked well to push Punk's mic work to be better. Not saying Punk is lesser, but the better worker will almost always elevate the less, rather than the lesser bringing down the better worker – especially on mic. King's work made Punk's pipebombs more striking, made them hit closer to home. The way Punk came up close on King at certain times as he spoke, I don't see him doing that with others who are active roster wrestlers – they would just pop Punk one for that. The flavor of the segment, the simple nuances between the two were so much better because they pushed each other, and they're both so believable. People are still questioning their relationship behind the scenes, and that's the best thing two wrestlers could want from a segment like this. But, and it's a big but, Punk was pushing too hard to try to play a heel, that he was obviously trying to play a heel, and not being a heel. That the fans don't want him as a full on heel only makes him push harder, and make it feel less than he's capable of. So while this could have been a solid A segment, it fell short for what the fans want compared to what the WWE is trying to force.
I have to comment on Punk's hair, this is me! While I thought his new short hair was adorable when he first came out, but when watching him I realized that Punk pulling his hair back out of his way was such a dynamic move, such a part of his edgier character right now that he lost by cutting his hair. The more frustrated Punk got, the rougher he got pulling his own hair back out of his face, so cutting it took a big chunk of Punk's visual tension away. I'm actually quite bummed about the hair cut and think he crippled his character a bit when he cut it.
Ryback vs Swagger > D-
This match sucked! Straight up, this was horrible! Between Swagger being humbled to the point that he's not even as solid as Cole in the ring, and Ryback who is being pushed like Goldberg, yet he has none of the charisma. Swagger was a mess, even though he's a dang good wrestler, and can sell very well in the ring, but he was very much at fault for some of those horrid looking moves. Then there's Ryback who dropped Swagger on his fricken' head when attempting a body drop! How the heck did that happen? So, while I'd like to fail this match, I'm going to give props to WWE production for making Ryback's chants sound better than they were, and Swagger for looking totally defeated after the match was over. Hopefully he's learned something about playing the game backstage and can start building himself back up from zero again.
Winner – Ryback (2:13)
Trip Videos > D&B
Okay, they drove Trip down our throats last night, and I'm sure he got pushed so much because of his place in the WWE. All of that really annoyed me, and I'm not sure I'm not the only one. On the other hand, some of those videos were really good. The one I liked the most was the DX video that they started out with. They showed all sides of DX, even some of the non-PG segments, but really sticking to Trip's involvement in the group. The later video about Trip's biggest moments -winning accolades, his major injury, then return to MSG – was wonderfully cut together. Because I am who I am, and have always been for Trip, and all he's done for the WWE, and all he's doing for the WWE, that I've always been a HUGE Trip fan, I have to give big props to production for those videos. You thought I was going to give Trip the props for those videos, didn't you? Admit it! Yes, I'm sure he had a big hand in it, but when videos come out that solid, I have to give the glory to WWE's production staff. They never get the accolades they deserve, so I feel it's important to mention them. I hope it's obvious that the D is for how WWE drove Trip and that horrible 'Game Over?' bit at us, and the B was for the quality of the videos.
Layla vs Natalya > D
I expected so much more from Natalya. Cole made a huge deal about Natalya's family heritage, and that she was trying for the sharpshooter, but beyond that she was sucking up the ring. I can only think that they're pushing Layla to look more dominant than she is, but it only made the two of them look worse.
Add in Vickie being so obnoxious, something that hugely deterred from the match and showed all the fans how little they care about the Divas, and the booking of this match, I don't know why they even spent the three minutes of ring time! Then there's Layla's new goofy side, which would work if it was more integrated into the match, and if it was more than one goofy moment in the middle of her not acting that way. What I'm saying is if Layla acted somewhat goofy – dancing, making faces, doing silly ring moves – more regularly, not just at one point in the middle, then it would actually make sense and create a new layer to her character. As it is now, she just looks like she's trying too hard to do something the WWE wants her to do, but isn't really in her character. The problem I have with that is that Layla's goofiness seems very natural, organically who she is, so I think it would work right if integrated more evenly into who she is. I also have to mention that Stacy thought Layla looked a bit like a Power Ranger on her way to the ring, and I have to agree. While she's not a Lance Storm Power Ranger, it was a bit too reminiscent of the Power Rangers for me to not laugh at her for it.
Winner – Layla (2:54)
In Ring Segment > D+
Vickie is a great heel, and what she said made sense, but the sound of her voice drove my oldest child out of the house. Ellie had been upstairs reading Harry Potter to Sam before bed, and when she came down she was going to head home, but she ended up fleeing in horror at Vickie's voice. I guess that's proof that she's really great at being annoying! Actually, Ellie fled so fast, without looking at the TV, that I'm not even sure she knew that was Vickie screeching.
While what Vickie was saying was right on for her character, and actually it did make some sense for AJ to attack her for the names Vickie called AJ, I think AJ lost a lot as a GM for it in my book. I understand where she was going with it, and in some ways it was very heel Steph. I've seen a lot of Steph in her since taking the GM role, therefore I'm hoping she continues in a good direction, but after this segment and the way the fans reacted to it, I will admit to being worried. Personally, I think they need to bring back a bit more of what made AJ a fan favorite, and her innate sexiness that's been lost under those suits. If they did a bit of that, bring back some of her quirkiness, and she might just have a chance, but I've been saying this since it was first announced that she'd be the RAW GM.
Group Therapy #1 > C-
While I understand that they wanted to bring in the goat face thing, I think they did a horrible job of it. First off, if this little boy was in a play, why was it only the mask and not the whole outfit? But more than that, there's no way a therapist would have his young child come into a group such as this. Dealing with anger management, the last thing the doctor would want is his angry group knowing about his family. This was beyond my ability to suspend my disbelief.
Announce Segment C-
Who is Dominic Monaghan? Sorry, I knew he was the Social Media Ambassador this week, but beyond that, nothing. I think the idea is daft, but would like to see the numbers and see if they might be bringing in more viewership, or if their regular Twitter fans are just ignoring all of their RAW Tweets and moving on from there.
Gesus texted me and said that the fans were totally dead for King in this segment, and it sounded that way on my TV as well. I can't say why the fans didn't react for King here the way they did earlier, other than to say maybe a big part of it was the interaction between Punk and King that worked so well. Also, we all knew King would face Punk in the ring, so this was a waste of time. Then there's the fact that all we'd see on RAW for wrestling was two train wrecks and the fans were more than ready for some actual action in the ring, not all that talking crap and videos that had been thrown at us for the better part of an hour! I know I was getting annoyed and I wasn't even there! This was a really bad first hour for RAW, possibly the worst first hour they've had since going to three hours.
Miz vs Cena > A-
And at the top of the hour we actually get a match worth watching. I know we were told that a big part of the first hour would be recaps and setting up for the rest of the show, but that was too much boring, more that the opening segment could carry through the rest of the hour. I'm shocked to be saying this, but luckily we got Cena in the ring to liven things up! Wow, I didn't think I'd ever be saying that about Cena when he's being such a boring face, but he saved RAW at this moment for me.
Well, no, that's total bull. It wasn't really Cena who saved it, it was Miz with his new vibe in the ring with Cena that saved it. I don't know what it is about Miz's newest hair style, but he seems to be channeling VKM circa 1998, and it's working for him in a huge way. He has a palatable vindictiveness that carries Miz along, makes him more willing to push harder, dive deeper, and not take no for an answer. He did a lovely job of keeping control over Cena through a big part of the match. Other than the fact that the match was following a typical routine, I thought Miz might actually pull out the win. I know I was being delusional, but I was really pulling for Miz after the work he put in and the obvious frustration he was showing. Of course Super Cena won it in the end, but Miz sure did show well, and gave me huge hopes for his future in the WWE. Finally I feel as though Miz could be heading back to the top, after too long being humbled for a variety of reasons. The only major worry I have about Miz's future is the possibility that he might have to be, if not full fledged, than much more of a face than he is now, so that they can push his movie. They might be able to pull it off with this new and more intense Miz, and I hope they go in that direction, rather than forcing Miz to be something he's not.
I just want to mention that this grade might seem a bit high, but after the first hour of RAW, this match was such a lovely little nugget of intense wrestling love, that I had to give it props for bringing back RAW from the brink of three hour death! Miz put so much into this almost eleven minute match, so much of his character, that while Super Cena pulled out the win, it was Miz who made this match so much more than what we've seen from him in the better part of a year. Miz is back, really!
Winner – Cena (10:51)
Announce Segment > C
I have to admit something here. I have admitted this a couple of times here in my blogs, but this might be the hardest admission I've ever had to make, because I know it will be held over my head for the rest of my natural life. When Gesus got to the arena, he called me (a bit drunk) to tell me that there was a cage above the ring, and that there would be a Steel Cage Match on RAW. I should have known better than argue with someone six beers in, but I told him that it wasn't advertised, so it would have to be the Dark Match that was in the cage. We went back and forth about this, but in the end, he was right. I was so focused on writing everything that happened during RAW that it didn't click until they actually announced that the Steel Cage Match was the Twitter Poll winner, and that's when I knew I'd never live this down. Of course they had to have the main event in the cage, they'd already suspended it above the ring! Yes, I feel like a total numb nugget! Oh, I'm going to lump all the times they pushed this Twitter Poll here, there's no reason to mention it again here.
Group Therapy #2 > B+
Of course we knew that Kane was the last person they were waiting to round out the group, but everything leading up to that moment was solid as well. Harold sold his story well, then Bryan really let it fly! The way he described his life and his boss should have foreshadowed what was coming, but I didn't see it until I started picking it apart here. Bryan did a great job of putting it all in a nutshell and making it sound absolutely horrible – as it should and would to anyone outside sports entertainment! Bryan is so good on mic, and I have to admit that I didn't think he had all this in him, but I feel so lucky to see how he's growing into one of the top WWE Superstars from the American Dragon in ROH. He's quite the amazing man who has so much to give us, and I can't wait to see how his character plays out over the coming years. Okay, I'll get off all of that, but I truly do believe it.
When Kane walked into therapy in full ring gear, wearing both masks, I knew we were in store for something really fun. The reactions of the others in therapy was just great. Specifically the woman with her eyes bugging out of her head. It added so much more to the segment.
Slater vs Santino > B-
While I liked seeing Slater back in the ring, I worry that he's getting pigeon holed into these comedy segments. Slater is good with the comedy, but I know there's so much more he can do. The work he did with the legends proved that he's not just a mid-card worker, he can work with anyone, and make them look good. I think Slater needs to find his character and his place in the WWE, until then I worry that he will get lost in the shuffle. I'd even be willing to see them match him up with Ryder and have them run around together. That might be a little over-the-top silly, but it would give them both something to do, and get both of them some TV time. Just a thought.
Then there's Santino. At first I wasn't sure about Cobra (Cobra has officially been capitalized, like Mr. Socko) and Aksana, I thought it was just a way for the WWE to get the strap off Santino and onto Cesaro, but when she came out during this match I started to wonder. Now, I have to give Aksana huge props for those red pants! They clung to her in all the right places, and made her look amazing! Those pant are sexier than any of that revealing lace she's ever worn. And then I have to give Santino props because it seems as though he's working his way through the Divas! First Beth, then Tamina, now Aksana? I know Santino is really well liked backstage, and seems to work well with everyone, so it does make some sense that he's able to spread the love around without coming off like a player. Either that or most people don't think of him as a particularly virile male, so while he's 'with' so many Divas, it's not like he's 'WITH' so many Divas.
That I wrote about the character and not the wrestling should show how memorable the ring work was. But with these Superstars it's more about the characters than the ring work. Not sure if it's a good thing or not. I'll have to think more on this, because I know both of these guys can work the ring when push comes to shove.
Winner – Santino (3:14)
Funkasaurus & Sin Cara vs Sandow & Cody > B
While this wasn't a long match, I have to say the entrances were great. Wow, that sounds bad! I was actually talking about Sandow and Cody's entrances. Sandow is always spot on, and Cody joining him worked really well. I see both of these guys being unstoppable in the WWE. Both could be huge Superstars.
This match was too short to be anything wonderful. There was a couple of really solid moments in this match, but in reality, it was another throw away match like the one before it. Not much ring work, just a bit of storytelling. At this point in the night I was really getting annoyed. There was just too many matches that were short and really without meaning. After RAW was finished I felt like it was a really great show, much better than previous episodes, but the more I write this, the more I see how lackluster much of the show really was. There were some really wonderful segments, but a lot in between those moments were not as good as they could have been. I'd have rather seen these four have more than just a couple minutes in the ring than see Ryback with Swagger, or even the Divas Match. These four could have given us a match we'd still be talking about, but they didn't have the time – there was so many places they could have taken time from, but didn't.
Winners – Funkasaurus & Sin Cara (2:37)
Group Therapy #3 > A
You had to know that I was going to give this segment a great grade! Kane delivered those lines in such a calm and deadpan way that I couldn't help but laugh. Actually, Stacy missed this segment of RAW, so he stayed up and we watched it together – twice! So I saw this three times in one evening, and I can't wait to show my friend Asher tomorrow at writer's group! I know he'll love both what Kane said, and how he said it. I honestly can't even pick out my favorite line from this. This quite possibly could bump my favorite Kane segment down a notch. This will be in my top five favorite wrestling moments that I go watch when I need a smile.
Richard talked about Kane being a reliable veteran who is used to fill in where needed, well I needed that! Further, it makes me want to go back and watch all those segments he spoke about, but I'm not sure if it made me want to go reread that fiction book about Kane's life. I think that might be more than I can stomach right now.
R-Truth w/ Kofi vs Bryan > A-
I was told that this match wasn't getting much reaction until Bryan snapped, then the place went wild. Honestly, R-Truth was just playing a role in the Bryan show here. While I adore R-Truth, I think he handled his job very well, and let Bryan shine. Bryan did more than shine, he was sensational. I love watching Bryan fight with himself internally, and he does a lovely job with it without overdoing it. That's a very hard thing to do, but Bryan shows his conflict from the inside out. The man is brilliant in the ring, and becoming a brilliant actor as well.
Winner – R-Truth via countout (3:06)
Triple H Segment > B
We all know that Trip is working his way up in the WWE so that he and Steph can take over when VKM is done, so of course he's going to get serious TV time if he wants it. Beyond that, I thought Trip did a really great job of bringing out that emotion, and leaving us with more questions than answers. I highly doubt that his match at SummerSlam will be Trip's last, but he sure did a good job of making us believe it might be. Trip, like HBK, can pull emotion from the fans. I was choked up at certain moments during this segment, because of all he put into it. On the other hand, this segment was way too long, and it really dragged in places. A number of fans at the show were yelling out some fairly nasty comments at Trip, but he went on like a trooper. I think if I'd been there I'd have been both elated, as I've never seen Trip live, but also dang pissed that Trip took so much time from actual wrestling, especially after all the piss poor matches they showed earlier. I also felt like Trip was pushing to hard at some points and that the question of him possibly retiring from the ring detracted from so many other people and their careers. Between bashing guys who didn't hang up their tights when they probably should have, but also I felt bad for Edge and his retirement speech. I can't say why this segment made me mad at Trip for Edge, but I am. Trip needs to either fish or cut bait, because hanging on the way he is hurting himself as well as so many others. For me this segment was so good and so bad at the same time, and it was dang hard to write!
ADR & Ziggler vs Orton & Sheamus > B+
Ziggler's entrance was both brilliant and well executed. There were a lot of people in the crowd who really thought Jericho was back for a moment. And while I know the reason Vickie wasn't out with Ziggler, I think it worked better than when she does come out with him. I think the relationship there has become stale, and it's time for them to go their separate ways.
These five guys (can't forget Ricardo) really gave us a nice match. It was nice to see how well they worked together. As good as they all are, Ziggler really shone for me here. He's becoming more and more a Superstars who is heading to the top in a big way. This match showed what Ziggler has over ADR and Sheamus, and this really hard to say about Sheamus, but it's this special spark that the best of the main eventers have. It's what made Hogan, Savage, Austin, Rock, even Cena, who they became in front of the fans. It's that undecipherable force that draws us in to the best of the best. I can't wait to see what Ziggler becomes over the coming years.
Winners - Orton & Sheamus (8:38)
Backstage Segment > C
I would have liked a lot more from King and Cena backstage. Not more words, but more tension, passion, intensity. They both have it, but it was missing here.
Ryder vs Otunga – Special Guest Announcer – Kane > B
I couldn't tell you if anything really great happened in this match, because most of this match was focused on Kane sitting at announce and Cole trying to get any response at all from him – saying that they could be Gorilla and Bobby about had me fall over giggling. Cole doesn't normally have zinger lines, that that was great. The way Kane sat there and didn't say a word, really didn't even seem to move was so perfect, and really showed a different side of his character.
The thing I wondered about through this match, was VKM in Kane's ear. I know VKM is all about the show, and how it comes off, and the ratings, but I have to wonder if VKM was in his ear making comments. All I could see was VKM trying to get Kane to crack up while he sat there. And I was bummed that Kane didn't get his fire from the corners after he chokeslammed Otunga.
Winner – Ryder (2:26)
Stage Segment > B-
AJ didn't redeem herself with this segment at all. She was quite boring, and it was obvious that Cena would be facing Punk at NoC. We all had to know it was going to happen.
Steel Cage Match - Punk vs King > B-
This was actually better than I expected it to be. King did look quite a bit older in the ring, but he is older. That he can even get in the cage and go the way he did is more than respectable, it's dang impressive. He sold all that Punk gave him, but it was Punk selling that first punch was great. Punk's eyes like saucers, mouth hanging open, it was well executed.
Obviously King was not going to go over cleanly in this match, but the back and forth work between the two was great. King worked with Punk well, not that I'd expect anything less, but it was the end with the huge amount of abuse on King that really sealed how well they handled this together.
But then there's the other side of things. The WWE is pushing Punk to be a heel by having him brutalize King, but I don't think it worked. Yes, Punk was getting heat, but so did Austin when he beat up JR, and that didn't last very long either. Actually, it's kind of sad to see how they're working the same storyline, and it's not working for the second time! So while both Punk and King worked their bums off to get Punk over as a heel, they were still getting 'boring' chants from the fans in attendance.
Then there's Cena. Okay, the door was chained closed, that makes sense. For some reason the cage was clamped down in the corners in a way that I've never seen, all to give Punk more time to beat up King. Then there's the fact that Cena couldn't seem to think about climbing over the cage to get to Punk and save King, even though we've seen people do that numerous times. The only way I could think for the WWE to explain that away is that it would show kids that climbing fences can be dangerous. But if that's what they were after, why have a cage match in the first place. So while I understand where they were going with this, I thought the very ending was more than daft and my youngest, Sam, would see right through it. Actually, I think I'll save the show and watch it with her to see what she thinks.
One last positive note about this segment. I lover that Punk was busted open, but kept going with the match – that no one stepped in to pat Punk's blood down. That he wiped it away on his tape and moved on is how it should be. I mentioned that I'd like to show the end of this show to my 8y/o, and I have no troubles with her seeing Punk bleeding. He wasn't bleeding much, and it will show her that wrestling is nothing to be toyed with, nothing to play around at with friends. You know, responsible parenting, not just throwing her in front of the TV and to school for her to learn everything she needs to know as she grows up. I think that's the biggest part about the PG initiative that bothers me. They don't want to show certain things on their show, because they're now PG, but I think they need to remember where learning starts – in the home. Rather than 'don't try this at home' maybe they should say, 'talk to your parents about the show you're watching' but that's just me.
Winner – Punk (7:39)
To end this on a totally different note, what is your favorite book? Why is it your favorite book? It can be a wrestling book, but it doesn't have to be. I've been branching out with my reading and so I've been asking people what they like to read.