Richard sure stepped in and really bashed the bloody heck out of RAW before I got the chance! Some boss. Actually, I adore Richard, and agree with most of what he said, and including a year old chunk of my RAW Results was cool too. That he felt so strongly about this episode of RAW that he couldn't keep his mouth shut should impress upon everyone just how bad the show was. I'll try to go in a different direction with the RIB so we don't step on each others toes.
First off I have to say I disagree with Richard's review of Kofi's big spot in the Royal Rumble Match. I thought he was rather creative on the fly when he realized that there was no way that he could jump from Spanish Announce to the apron. Asking JBL for his chair and using it as a pogo stick was an ingenious move on the fly. I remember reading Lita's book where she was almost tossed through an announce table at a PPV, but did everything she could to avoid it because she knew that the table was earmarked for a specific move later in the night and didn't want to tick anyone off. Obviously Kofi knew if he tried to jump from the table it would fall apart. My question is, why didn't they shore up the table a bit before The Rock and Punk almost really hurt themselves later in the night?
Video > C
Of course they have to set up RAW Roulette and recap the Royal Rumble. It wasn't bad, but nothing special. An average way to start a craptastic show!
Backstage Segment > B
I'm going to lump all of Vickie's wheel spinning together here to shorten things up. Other than wearing a most horrible outfit that did 'nothing for her lumpy neck' according to my older daughter Ellie, 'though the color is great on her, few can wear peach that well,' she handled the backstage wheel spins while staying very in character – both nasty and cranky. My favorite of these actually foretold the worst segment of the night, but Funkasaurus was endearing and adorable.
In Ring Segment A-
You're a no good, cheap, flesh peddling promoter! Punk would have earned a great grade with that line alone, but the way he sold his wrath was intense and palpable. Punk has been a favorite of mine for quite a while, and it looks like his name is going to become synonymous with the number 434, but more that that, he can sell emotion better than most in the WWE. If it was Cena who had lost, he'd have been whiny, but then gone right into his Richie Cunningham routine. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big Happy Days fan, but other than Bob Backlund, I expect my wrestlers to be more Fonzie than Richie, and Punk gave that here in a big way.
Am I dating myself here? Sorry, but Punk's ire and how he handled himself was a highlight in an otherwise desolate creative waste of three hours of my life. That Punk is not willing to take the loss makes me wonder what will be happening at Elimination Chamber – which I'm not looking forward to predicting, but will mention that Alex is ahead already for 2013, after only two PPVs – and further going to WrestleMania. Punk was so over-the-top in this segment that I felt a bit of that AE vibe, and it felt terrific. TNA might have two Title belts on one Champ, well it seems as though while the WWE only has one belt and The Rock is holding it, Punk still thinks he's the Champ. That could add a lovely flavor to the Road To WrestleMania.
Announce Segment > C
I'm going to combine all of these announce segments together to shorten this up. These were nothing outstanding or dreadful, just kind of middle of the road, except JBL. I don't know what crawled into his pocket and pinched him, but he seemed to be in a foul mood. Yes, he's the heel of the group, but he was really over-the-top, and came off as a bit nasty a couple of times during the show. He's a good heel, but I thought he came off as obnoxious, and somewhat tacky.
Orton vs Cesaro – Special Guest Ref – Miz > B
My daughter Ellie doesn't watch a lot of wrestling with me these days. She lives an hour away, and while she comes to visit weekly, she usually cuts out before RAW gets too deep, particularly this time of year with the weather we've been having. She loves Orton and Miz, but didn't really know much about Cesaro. I was telling her about how great he is in the ring, and how he continues to impress, especially with his finisher. The way Orton has been going under lately, I was sure we'd see the neutralizer. So we tucked into this match anticipating a lot. The way they went back and forth with upper cuts was so different, and impressive, but I still wanted more. Then Cesaro came off the corner with that sick flying upper cut.
It was impressive, but not the finisher I'd hoped for. I know they're building the feud between Miz and Cesaro, and that Miz would screw Cesaro over, even though he's face right now, but I thought the ending would be closer. I expected Cesaro to hit his finisher, Miz wouldn't count the three, then Orton would hit the RKO for three. It wasn't a bad match, one of the better of the night, I just expected more angst and problems between Cesaro and Miz, and the neutralizer is always impressive.
Winner – Orton (12:45)
In Ring Segment > D
When Ryback is the shining light of a segment, then there's a serious problem. Nothing against Ryback, but his mic work isn't the most elegant, particularly on a show where The Rock is talking. I really don't understand what the plan for the Prime Time Players is. They're goofy, but don't really have much character or direction. It's almost as if Rico needs to come back and be their manager, give them some sort of direction.
I did notice that Young fled the ring very quickly when the Ryback started attacking. I haven't heard if he's perfectly fine from his ungainly exit from the Royal Rumble Match. And I think the best part of it was Striker getting shell shocked, but this was also the first segment/challenge of the night that was left unfinished. The first of too many.
Video > A
I'll admit that I've never been a Bob Backlund fan, and when he was up here about three years ago, I didn't go out of my way to see him, but he did add a lot to the wrestling industry, and he absolutely deserves to be in the WWE HOF. This was a wonderfully executed video about his career.
Barrett vs Bo Dallas > B
While this wasn't a long match, Dallas really made a name for himself. Okay, he started to make a name in the Royal Rumble, and obviously ticked off Barrett starting their feud. I wasn't sure if Dallas was going to come right up to WWE TV, but since he has, it looks like they're running with him and Barrett having issues. Dallas looked pretty solid in the ring. Where his brother is rough and tumble, Dallas seems to have more grace and finesse. Hopefully we'll be seeing a lot more good things from this young 3rd generation Superstar. I know where Richard is coming from with this 'nobody' going over the IC Champ, a person and Title that is going into a big push, but I call this one a fluke and leave it at that. Dallas needed a solid start, he got it, and looked good. I don't see how losing this little two minute match will hurt all the names Richard listed, especially since it was in the midst of this three hours of crapitude!
I love how Barrett is so disgusted by these NXT upstarts who don't know their place! Methinks the pot should not be referring to the kettle in such a way. How much two and a half years changes things!
Winner – Dallas (2:11)
Rhodes vs Cena > D-
This match was less than nothing, and only managed to make Rhodes look terribly weak. Super Cena is at it again, and we're all stuck dealing with it. Lucky us.
Winner – Cena (1:59)
In Ring Segment > C-
Didn't anyone learn anything from Cena's horrific mic work last week? While he wasn't off the wall, or as bad this time around, he was somewhat confusing talking about facing The Rock or Punk at WrestleMania. Cena made it sound as if the holder of the WWE Title was in question, though the only person who's said anything about that was Punk, and of course he wouldn't admit that he lost the strap. This is confusion that the WWE doesn't need added on to the horrible show they put out.
The attack on Cena by The Shield makes me wonder what the plan is. Also, Sheamus and Ryback coming out to help made sense, but I thought Orton was also out to get The Shield. Actually, I really have no clue where they're going with Sheamus, Orton, Ryback or The Shield at this point. The whole thing seems to be a convoluted mess, but maybe they have some sort of creative plan that makes sense to them. Or creative is so burnt out that they don't know what end is up. I think I'm going with the latter.
Video > F
They replayed the video of The Shield's attack on Cena, Sheamus and Ryback so many times that I thought I was watching a recap show. Not cool.
In Ring Segment > F-
Yet another segment that doesn't have a clean ending, but more than that, Matt Bloom has lost all the respect he worked to earn in Japan. I completely agree with Richard, this was a huge step back for him, and at this point something he won't recover from. Anyone remember Big Vito and his cross dressing? That was pretty much the end of his television career, even though he worked ECW, WCW, and TNA as well as his time in the WWE. He wasn't a top worker, but someone I really enjoyed, even though WWE creative thought he'd look better in a dress.
Richard said that people in the industry need to learn to say no, and I have to agree. What's the worse the WWE could do to Bloom, fire him? That could be a good thing, then he could go back to Japan and regain some respect from the fans and his peers. I'm still having flash backs of Tensai's bum with that lacy thong over his ring gear, and it's not a good memory. The WWE needs to hire more creative and give some of them a much needed vaca, as it's obvious that they need it!
Body Slam Challenge > D
While this wasn't a horrible segment, it sure wasn't something that worked very well. I know ADR and Ricardo used duct tape on Big Show at the Royal Rumble, but Big Show is Big Show and doesn't need to use duct tape to take down both ADR and Ricardo. The whole thing was more annoying than anything. It's time for Big Show to find someone else to fight with because this sure isn't working. And this was another challenge that didn't go to a clean ending. All that being said, this was still better than much of the rest of RAW.
Las Vegas Showgirls Lumberjill Match – Tamina vs Kaitlyn > D-
I would love to see Tamina and Kaitlyn in a serious feud. They're both strong and talented women, but this match was total crap! While the Divas got their show bonuses, that's all they got. I will say that the chemistry between Kaitlyn and Tamina, the vibe between them as they glares across the ring left me excited for more. These two could give us some wonderful matches, if they're booked for more than a bunch of two minute slap and tickles. Oh, and here's another challenge that didn't have a clean ending. Way to go WWE creative!
Winner – N/A
In Ring Segment > A-
The Rock was really strong on mic, but more than that, he was endearing. It was obvious that he was touched by being Champ again, and the fan reaction to his win. He had tears in his eyes and while he was in character, he also showed a lovely honesty.
Punk was also wonderfully on in this segment. I loved how Punk ripped on The Rock for cussing. Some might think it makes Punk look a little Brady Bunch, but I thought it worked. It's the clash of two very different eras, and they're doing a fantastic job of it. That Punk is granting The Rock a rematch at Elimination Chamber was a terrific way of playing it. These two are hot and so much fun to watch. Honestly, they were the only talk worth any time on this RAW.
Tables Match – Sheamus vs Sandow > A-
Earlier I said that another match was one of the better matches on RAW, but the more I write, the more I realize that the actual matches on this show – the ones that lasted any time – were pretty solid. I really enjoyed this match, and didn't expect it. I've been very open about what a huge fan I am of both these guys, but their work together in a Table Match was rather unexpected. At some point in the future, I would love to see a serious feud over a big Title between these two, and I'd be shocked if it doesn't happen.
This wasn't as long as it could have been, and really should have been so we wouldn't have to have seen Tensai in lingerie, but for what it was, I loved it. These two worked it hard and sold well. The way Sheamus modified white noise to win the match was both creative and unexpected.
Winner – Sheamus (7:22)
In Ring Segment > F
Why? Just why? I will give Khali props for the way he sang HBK's music, but that was the only thing in this segment that didn't make me want to throw my TV out the window. Though I will admit I feel bad for the big man who is always so confused whenever he has to say anything on TV.
In Ring Segment > B+
I love me some Jericho! I'm thrilled that Jericho and Ziggler are at their throats again. Further, it looks as though Jericho might be staying face, if the front of his purple trunks with Y2J on the front. He was sure in Y2J form last night and left me with a huge smile on my face.
AJ handled herself well, the way she gloated over getting Jericho fired was really strong. Ziggler came off really well as well. It's Big E who needs to talk more. The few times he's spoken he's gone with different voices and makes me wonder just what a goober he is under all that muscle! I can see how he'd get over as a face, but I'm still not sure of his heel status. Other than his massive thighs that need to be in shortalls, not the onesie he wore last night. Sorry, that look just doesn't work for a man that muscled.
THN vs Ziggler & Jericho > B
There wasn't a lot of great wrestling in this match, but it sure was a lot of fun. The start of actual issues between Kane and Bryan were handled really well. They're not pushing their problems so hard that it's annoying, but enough so we can all see the direction this is going. As much as I thought Team Rhodes Scholars was going to win at Royal Rumble, I'm glad they didn't so these two can have a real deterioration of their relationship. Though the best was Jericho setting Ziggler up and leaving. A loss like that is absolutely worth it.
Winners – THN (5:46)
Video > A+
I was surprised when I read that Trish was being inducted into the WWE HOF, and then I was annoyed because I can't go. It's shaping up to be a wonderful HOF this year. Trish did so much to help the Divas of her time. From that boobie blonde valet of T&A – the T being Test who is no longer with us, and the A being Albert for those who don't remember – to a wonderful Champ with so much heart. This video showed her growth and transformation was beautifully shown in this video. I wonder who's going to induct Trish? Fit Finlay would make a lot of sense to me.
In Ring Segment > D
When VKM didn't get a chance to fire Heyman, it was the sixth thing that didn't come to fruition or end cleanly on this episode of RAW. That's averaging one a half hour. That's just terrible, and only one part of what made this segment a travesty.
Unlike Richard I will give a few props where they're due for this segment. There aren't many, but the way Heyman admitted to lying the way he did was too funny, but not as funny as the way he swore up and down that it wasn't him in that video. The other thing that I found funny was the way Brock pointed to the corner and Heyman went there quietly. I'm really wondering if they're getting along again, or if this is all for the screen.
The last thing about this segment that I liked was the F5. I've been saying all along that Brock is dangerous in the ring and isn't careful enough in the ring, but I thought that F5 was almost perfect, and VKM took that F5 beautifully. Of course they have to go with an injury angle, but I thought it was just lovely.
I might have been nicer than many about this episode of RAW, but I'm not saying it was good, and I won't be watching it again. My biggest problem with this episode is the downright laziness of the creative staff. When I'm not writing about wrestling I write fiction, and I understand writers block and being burnt out, but WWE's creative has gone beyond that. I don't know if they need to hire more people for the creative team, possibly rotate some of the work around, go back to two hours, or what, but obviously there are serious creative issues that need to be fixed.
While duct tape was used before in a Last Man Standing Match, at least it was a couple years ago that it happened – though still lazy creative.
Six segments that were left open ended – there's no cause for that, it's just total bull.
Putting Bloom in lingerie was a slap to his career.
Reorganizing the order of segments, but not catching that a match has yet to be made is terribly sloppy work – I'm including Cena in this, because he should be aware of what's going on with anything to do with his character or possible matches.
Using the exact same storyline exactly a year later is fantastically bad form.
As a fan I'm really put out. Further, that RAW did a solid rating (comparatively speaking, of course), only helps bolster VKM that RAW wasn't a craptastic episode this week. At this point all we can do is hope that they pick up and move on from that mess, making each show better during the Road to WrestleMania! I don't want to say it can't get much worse, but we all know that anything is possible.