Seth Rollins, otherwise known as Tyler Black, but born Colby Lopez, is even younger than Ambrose, but no less promising. Born in Buffalo, Iowa, Lopez made his wrestling debut in Scott County Wrestling under the name of Gixx. Between there and IWA Mid-South (founded by Ian Rotten), Lopez learned the ropes and started growing into the wrestler we know today. He also spent some of those early years in NWA Midwest.
Through the years he moved on to Full Impact Pro where he became the WHC, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla where he was TTC with Jimmy Jacobs – they defeated Roderick Strong and El Generico.
As Tyler Black, Lopez made his debut in Ring of Honor in September 2007. Along with Jacobs and Necro Butcher they attacked the Briscoe Brothers and hung Jay Briscoe up by some rigging used in an earlier match. The footage was so controversial that it was cut from the PPV that it was taped for. There was such an outcry for the footage that they ended up releasing it on ROH Videowire that same month. Beyond working with the names mentioned, Lopez worked in the ring and out with Nigel McGuinness, Davey Richards, Austin Aries, Bryan Danielson (Daniel Bryan), El Generico, Kevin Steen, Kenny King, Colt Cabana, Roderick Strong, Claudio Castignoli (Cesaro), Chris Hero (Kassius Ohno), Terry Funk, and even the famous Jim Cornette. On September 11, 2010, at ROH's Glory By Honor IX, Lopez lost the ROH World Championship to Roderick Strong in a No DQ Match where Terry Funk was the Guest Enforcer. It was his last appearance in ROH.
Lopex had been offered a contract with TNA, was renegotiating with ROH, but Matt Korkland (Evan Bourne) convinced him to go with the WWE. Only three days after his final appearance on ROH, Lopez debuted in a dark match, where he beat Trent Barretta, on Smackdown! On September 30th he debuted in FCW, under the name Seth Rollins, losing to McGillicutty. He worked FCW with all the amazing workers there until June 2012 when he debuted in the 6th season of NXT where he became the very first NXT Champion! On the October 10th episode of NXT he successfully defended his NXT Title against McGillicutty, in some ways coming full circle from his FCW debut.
On the November 15th taping of NXT Rollins defeated Mahal to retain his NXT Title, though the match didn't air until December 12th. But on the 18th of November Rollins debuted at Survivor Series with Ambrose and Reigns, thereby forming The Shield! I find the dates and times in his career so interesting as his time between ROH and his WWE developmental contract was so short, but also his rise in NXT, but then quick jump to WWE. He's a rising star, and one to be watched. Seems there's a lot of them in the WWE right now.
Miz TV > B
I've been enjoying Miz TV more and more since he's turned face. He's not silly and corny, but he's still a good guy. I like that he's able to ask the harder hitting questions, using his sarcastic attitude, to both heels and faces. He really seems to be growing into his role as a face and it seems to suit him well. Also helps that he's a face going into his new movie coming out.
As much as I would love to see Team Rhodes Scholars win the TTC, I'm loving the word play between Miz and Sandow. They really have great chemistry between them. Maybe at some point in the future, we'll see a great WHC feud between the two. I think that would be stupendous for all involved.
The only person who really got lost in this segment was Cody. The poor guy just can't push through all those dynamic personalities. It's kind of sad that he's so over with the fans because of what's living on his top lip, not because of his own charisma. Even though I think Cody is destined to be a star, he really doesn't have the forcefulness of personality that Sandow, Miz and Cena have. Beyond that, I was laughing at how Cena reacted to Cody's 'stache. I'm impressed at how Cody's handling the joke of his top lip, it has to be a bit annoying that everyone's focused on that and not how hard working he is coming back from his most recent injury.
Cena & Miz vs Team Rhodes Scholars > B+
Miz handled himself well in this match, and looked good working with Sandow and Rhodes. Actually, Sandow and Rhodes looked equally solid in the ring against Miz. Of course Cena had to make the hot tag and get the win, but it was a really solid match up until that point. I see a lot from these three in 2013.
Winners – Cena & Miz (12:03)
Backstage Segment > C
I really expected more from Vickie in this segment. She seemed rather off her mark and not quite the Vickie we all love to hate.
Backstage Segment > B
The Prime Time Players came off really well here, but it was the way Punk was really on, and the way he so casually kissed Vickie on the cheek that was nice to see. Actually, the strangeness between Vickie and Heyman was what made this segment so much better than the first. Are they going somewhere with this? I'm not sure I want to see it, but it could be quite funny in their strange way.
US Title Match – Cesaro (c) vs Sgt. Slaughter > B
I've been really impressed with how Cesaro has worked the ring up until this point. He's shown creativity and serious strength that I think few others can match. He's not the biggest guy, but he's not a little high flier. He moves around the ring fast, but he has strength that I think few his size, and many bigger just can't handle. Cesaro also has this amazing control of himself and his surroundings in the ring.
All that being said, I think he looked wonderful in the ring with Slaughter. I always worry when an older wrestler gets in the ring with someone who isn't as well established as the likes of Kane or Cena. I worry that they'll forget that they can't move the way they used to and someone will get hurt. Slater proved this past summer how well he can work with some legendary wrestlers, but Cesaro stepped it up a notch with this match. Cesaro hit moves that I believed, but I wasn't also cringing and worried about Slaughter's health in there. I know this was a taped show and we'd have heard if anyone was injured, but more than that, Cesaro worked that ring in a way that I wasn't at all worried. Cesaro has hit his finisher one men of all size and really impressed me with it, but the way he hit it on Slaughter sealed the deal for me. Cesaro is the man to watch in the ring.
Winner – Cesaro (1:48)
Backstage Segment > A-
This is the type of segment that works best for Team Hell No. short, sweet and to the point while getting the fans excited and working their characters so hard. Brilliant!
Backstage Segment > B+
This was basically two segments in one. The first being the work between Big Show and Ricardo. Big Show was great,but Ricardo brought this to a whole other level. Ricardo is so strong, even when he's not saying a word. He exudes character, but not always silliness, even though most of his segments end up silly. It's very interesting to watch him work. He's just a joy to watch.
I will admit that I skimmed through what had happened at the RAW taping and the confusion about Mae Young being backstage, but the crowd at the event never saw the backstage segments. I will admit I was quite interesting to see where they were going with her, and I thought the start was very solid. I'll leave it there for now.
Tag Team Championship Match – Team Hell No (c) vs 3MB > B
I have to mention that King sounded like the King I remembered from a decade or more ago. He was full of silly jokes that left me stopping mu DVR so I could giggle. He really seems to be coming back to a King that I hadn't realized had been missing. He's not the AE King screaming for puppies 24/7, but he has more playfulness and personality than we've seen the past couple years – the way he used to be with JR – and it's making Cole more enjoyable to listen to as well.
I wanted to get that off my chest as this was the match that he jumped out at me the most, but that takes nothing away from this match. Okay, it wasn't the best match I've seen from THN, but it was solid. Bryan, as always, did a great job of keeping the fans invested in the match when their interest started waning. The end of this match was the best part. The way they all worked the final moments was just lovely. All that being said, 3MB really needs to pick things up. They're looking decent in the ring, but I know all three of them have more than they've been showing us. I hope they step things up before it's too late.
Winners – Team Hell No (6:10)
In Ring Segment > B+
As per usual, Punk and Heyman were really great on mic. The two of them are a great team, and VKM was smart listening to Punk about bringing in Heyman. Their 'doctor' was quite a mess, but it worked for him. The one thing that felt off was that they didn't make much about this being Punk's doctor and not the one who operated on him in Florida. I know VKM mentioned than this was Punk's doctor, but I felt it was skimmed over and not addressed enough for the average fan.
Stacy was laughing at VKM's suit. It was similar to the one Sheldon wears on Big Bang Theory, but much less geek and much more high end corporate. Stacy works in the State House here in Maine, and is surrounded by suits, but not well dressed suits – always very conservative and boring while being not very well made or high end. Seeing what VKM wears almost always makes me drool, but Stacy was thinking about the reaction he'd get if he showed up to work in a plaid suit like the one VKM wore on RAW last night. They're already confused by his wardrobe, and that would send them over the edge. I don't think Stacy could pull off a suit like that the way VKM can. Even though he plays the VKM character while on TV, you can see the power he exudes, and how well he wears a suit like that. He really brought a great tension to this segment, and questions going into next week.
Ziggler w/ AJ & Big E vs Sheamus > B+
I was sure this match would not end cleanly, but I did not expect it to be The Shield to break up the match. I was sure it would be Big E who caused a DQ, or a dirty loss for Sheamus.
Sheamus and Ziggler really worked the ring well and sold well. Ziggler keeps proving himself to TPTB, and it finally looks like he's going into that big push. I think having AJ and Big E following him around makes him look even more like a star. He brings me back to the days before the AE. I see so much Flair in him, and having a little entourage adds to that. Breaking away from Vickie was something he needed to do for a very long time, and now that he has, I think the sky is the limit.
Matches like this just prove my feelings for both Sheamus and Ziggler. This RAW was guaranteed to have horrible ratings (not that I've looked, but it was New Year's Eve, so people were out partying or watching something else – they might have DVRd RAW, but few actually sat and watched it the way I did), but these guys worked the ring hard for the fans that did watch. I won't say they put on a PPV worthy performance, but they gave quite a solid match – one that more than kept my attention.
I like that it was The Shield that broke up this match, rather than Big E. I don't know why they attacked Sheamus here, it seemed a bit out of sorts compared to the rest of their attacks. What was Sheamus doing to Ziggler, Big E or AJ that The Shield had to step in for? That's the only thing that left me questioning the way this all went down.
Winner – Sheamus via DQ (12:52)
Backstage Segment > C
I like that Kofi's character is always caring about other people. It's something we don't see often from wrestlers, but it works for him. Beyond that, I thought both him and Barrett came off a bit forced here. They had the lines they needed to say, but they didn't feel like they meant it.
Backstage Segment > C+
This segment felt really disjointed. It felt as though Maddox wanted to say more, and I think he's going to come out and say something that Heyman and Punk don't want him to say. I feel like Maddox is going to say he was in cahoots with Punk and Heyman. Whether that's true or not is left to be seen, but I think Maddox is either going to say it, or blackmail them in some way so that he can 'get a job' and continue his face time and storyline on WWE TV.
Backstage Segment > D
I cringed when the 'doctor' said Mae Young was preggers. My first reaction was, "Please, not another hand!" I was worried for the rest of the show that the WWE was going to go in that direction again. I also wondered, because these segments were not shown live to the fans in attendance in DC, that maybe Mark Henry would be making a return. To me it only made sense, and I don't think a tiny cameo in conjunction with Mae Young would hurt any heel return he might have. But I was wrong, and will admit I was a bit bummed that he didn't return, but I will say that the direction they went would not have worked if Henry had arrived as Mae Young's Sexual Chocolate.
Divas Championship Match – Eve vs N/A > C-
I knew Mae Young would not be in the ring, but I thought they'd at least replace her in this match. Yes, we got to see a bit of fighting, but it wasn't very good. They really need to do something with the Divas as they're sucking in a big way. The only Diva worth watching lately is the one who isn't working the ring – AJ.
Backstage Segment > B+
I really liked this segment between ADR and Ricardo. ADR made a big leap in this segment and proved that he can really get over as a good guy. He was so sweet to Ricardo, and really made some big strides in admitting that he has treated Ricardo like dirt, but Ricardo doesn't deserve that. Giving him the scarf, and then the car keys was just adorable. This was a big step for ADR's character, and I'm actually willing to admit that I'm starting to give him a bit more of a chance. He seems to have stopped phoning things in, so hopefully he's actually caring about his work in the WWE.
World Heavyweight Championship Match – Big Show (c) vs Ricardo > B+
While Ricardo didn't have a chance in this match, it was nice to see him actually hit some moves. Yes, they were mostly ADR's moves, but to stick with storyline, that really needed to be done. I thought Ricardo looked quite solid hitting those moves. I know he's a wrestler, but we've seen so little of him in the ring. Hopefully they'll be letting him in the ring more and more after this. So this wasn't a great wrestling match, but it was entertaining for story and character growth. It was quite entertaining, and the fans really seemed to get behind Ricardo. Please remember that I grade matches like this for the entertainment value as much as the actual ring work – of which Ricardo looked a lot stronger than many thought his character might look, no matter what his actual skills are.
Winner – Big Show via DQ (2:27)
IC Title Match – Kofi (c) vs Barrett > A-
I've made a point of changing how I refer to certain wrestlers as they reach a certain point. I really try to refer to most male wrestlers by their last names as a form of respect. There's certain wrestlers who go by a single name, so there's no reason to call them by their last names, but for some reason I haven't crossed over that way with Kofi. It might be because they rarely refer to Kofi by much more than his first name, but I just can't see myself referring to him as Kingston all the time. It just doesn't feel right. So he will be Kofi, no matter how much I respect the man.
The thing is that I really do respect Kofi, and think he has more in him than he's been given credit for, though I'm really realizing that Kofi might have reached his limit in the WWE and might not be a top guy. Then again Kane has never been the topmost guy, but he's still one of my all-time favorite wrestlers. Yes, Kane's held the big titles, but he's never going to be thought of the way his brother is.
I really enjoyed this match, and both of these guys came off as really strong, except one moment when they both got tied up with each other and it all fell apart. It wasn't a big move, and I'm not even sure what they were trying to do, but they looked like two little boys trying to play Twister and failing miserably. It happens, and I'm not going to fault them for it, but I did have to mention it. I also have to mention my shock that a title changed hands at a taped show, even though there was no injury or other split second reason that it had to change hands. That being said, I think it's smart that not all titles stayed the same since almost all of them were (supposed) to be defended. I have a feeling there's something big coming for Barrett, so strapping him when they did felt right. I agree with Richard that Barrett hasn't reached the potential we thought he'd have reached by now, and I'll admit that I've not always been a fan of his, but he really seems to have come into his own since returning from his elbow injury. I finally really believe in Barrett and think he's going far and winning the IC Title this time around is a big step in the right direction.
Winner – Barrett (10:31)
Backstage Segment > B
Hear me out! Yes, this was a totally craptastic thing that WWE creative did, but something else was happening in this scene that I think a lot of people missed. I didn't have the stomach to look at what was going on with Mae Young, but I did see what was going on around it. For me this segment was all about two men. First off there was O'Neil who I didn't even recognize at first. He was so into everything that was happening, that I couldn't help but look at him. But even more than O'Neil was Khali. If you can stomach it, go back and look at Khali in this segment. He was holding Mae Young's ankles in the air and staring off into space. It was obvious that he had no clue what was going on in this segment, and the look on his face because of it about had me on the floor laughing. I guess this is me looking for the good in the worst of storylines, but don't worry, I don't continue this outlook when it comes to Mae Young being preggers – AGAIN!
Backstage Segment > F
Okay, at least it wasn't a hand, and both Bryan and Kane were wonderful in how they handled the segment, and how they helped prop up Mae Young after Baby New Year popped out, but beyond them, this was an absolute monstrosity! Whoever came up with this idea needs to rethink their job in WWE creative – even if it was Steph, Trip or VKM. This was atrocious and not the way WWE should have ended 2012.
Announce Segment > A
Stacy and I stopped the DVR and sat here laughing for a minute, then rewound and re-watched the segment. This is the silliness that I said had been missing from King, the feel that had been missing, even though I hadn't realized it. That King would joke about not wanting his life saved because the Mae Young segment was so bad, and how Cole reacted to that, brought me back to the glory days of King and JR, even though Cole will never be JR.
The Shield vs Ryback > B
I really liked that this match didn't actually happen. Even better was Sheamus and then Orton coming out. I like that The Shield has pissed off enough people that they're starting to get out numbered. They've brought the group to an edge and have so many directions they could take them. They have so many options going into the new year.
I will say that there were some lovely moments from all of them in this non-match. Ambrose again gave great face. Rollins looked solid in all areas. Reigns hit that sick spear. Orton's RKO, as always, was stellar. Ryback really held his own. Sheamus took a beating and came back looking strong. But there was one moment that had me cringing. Sheamus, after he wasn't completely overwhelmed, came at Reigns and seemed to more fall on him than actually hit him with anything solid. The whole thing was confusion, so I can't blame any of them for things that went wrong, but that one was glaringly obvious to me.
In Ring Segment > B+
I really want to give this a better grade, but it was somewhat rough around the edges. Actually, I can't really put my finger on what felt off about this segment other than the fact that AJ had a mic in one hand and Ziggler's MITB case in the other, and didn't get to be involved with the toast for that reason. Why was it that AJ had to keep holding those things and couldn't have a sip of bubbly? But beyond that, most everything felt pretty spot on.
VKM is big on knocking people down on the air, and Cena did just that in his verbal abuse of Ziggler. I knew Ziggler had been around for a long time, that he was Kerwin White's (Chavo Guerrero) caddy when Eddie passed, and that the seven year anniversary of Eddie's passing just went by, but it didn't really click that Ziggler's been around three years less time than Cena, yet they've taken such different paths. Heck, Nicky was a bloody cheerleader! Then again, he's the only member of the Spirit quad who is still with the WWE, and look how far he's come. I wouldn't have picked him out of that group, yet here he is, getting another pile of poo dropped on his head.
Honestly, I should have seen it coming considering how white everything in the ring was, but I didn't. Actually, I was quite shocked at how sexy AJ looked. I know she's gone a bit sexier since her heel turn, but that white dress was something else and she looked awe-inspiring in it. And while she and Ziggler didn't fall around and roll around in the poo, as I thought they should have, they both played it well and to character. They made it work, and I'm happy Big E didn't get stuck in the middle of that, it would have sucked for that to be one of the first big things he did on WWE TV.
I want to end this, the final RIB of 2012 – I know I wrote it on the first day of 2013, but it's about the final RAW of 2012 – by giving my thoughts of who will be the big names to go far in 2013.
Sandow & Rhodes – The will be Tag Team Champs, and I think it will be by WrestleMania, or at the event. I see them only getting stronger as a team, as wrestlers and as characters. This will be a great year of growth for both of them. As with many tag teams, I see them having a solid run, then falling apart to have an even better singles feud between them. That's when we should really watch them. They are really going to have to depend on each other to help get them over as both a team and apart. If they both go at it with all they have, they're going to be unstoppable.
Cesaro – His ring work is what's going to get him far in the WWE. I know VKM isn't the biggest on the ring work, but his is so reliable and solid that it will get him to the next level. He does need to continue to work on personality and how he gets over with the fans, but that's also part of creative and booking. He needs to be given something to work with, which I feel he hasn't. Only recently has he really had a chance to show personality beyond saying the same thing over and over in five languages. I see 2013 being a big year for him.
Punk – As much as I love him, I see 2013 as a regrouping year for him. He's held the WWE Title for so long that he needs some time without big gold around his waist. I'm not saying he can't go after it, but I don't see him as being the big Champ of the year the way he was in 2012.
Sheamus – He had a really strong 2012, but he seems to be sliding back a bit. He really needs to prove he can be strong in any role, and I think 2013 will be a supporting year for him. I'm not saying he won't be Champ, but I see him growing and building himself and others this year.
Ziggler – I'm really hoping 2013 is Ziggler's year. Cena said a lot of interesting things in the final segment of RAW, and I wonder how much of that is really true. Beyond that, Ziggler has proved over and over, especially during 2012, that he has what it takes and has pushed hard to show TPTB as well as the fans that he should be at the top. If he's not WHC Champ this year, then I don't know what's wrong with everyone in the WWE. I think the WHC is just the start for Ziggler, but he really needs to stay on top of his roots. He looks wonderful and has that Flair thing going on, but those black roots are weeks and weeks overdue.
ADR – I honestly don't have a clue what's going to happen with ADR this year, but I'm hoping it's one of growth. With his face turn and what seems to be some new-found dedication, he could really use this year to prove himself to TPTB and the fans. While I'd like to see him hold either the US or IC Titles, I don't want to see him back at the top just yet.
Barrett – As I said earlier, I finally believe in Barrett. He's more than a great look and good on mic, I finally believe that he can hold his own no matter what he's thrown into. I think his character needs more development, but that will come with time. All characters are always growing (except Cena's), and Barrett just needs more time to grow within his character. While I never think an injury is a good thing, and I was almost in tears watching Barrett in so much pain when he dislocated his elbow, he really has come back with a spark to him that he didn't have before. He seems more solid and driven, that he finally believes he can get to the top and is willing to invest himself in doing so. I'm not sure 2013 will be Barrett's year to get to the top, but I think it will be a big year in deciding if he has what it takes to get to the top. I think he does, but 2013 will be a big year for Barrett to continue to prove himself. He has gold, now it's time to prove himself by running with it.
The Shield – I see a lot in the future of these three guys, but I don't think we've seen enough of them in the WWE to say where they're going and what they could accomplish. They all have so much potential, and I think 2013 will be the year that shows which of them will grow into top stars, and which might not.
AJ – She is the only Diva really worth mentioning right now, and she's rarely in the ring. Sadly that shows the direction the Divas have gone. AJ is not the normal Diva, but she has something that the fans love, and are starting to love to hate, while still loving her. I know she's not VKM's normal idea of what a Diva should be, but she sure has become an unstoppable force in the WWE. If she can continue in the same vein, I think 2013 could be even better than 2012, and that's something none of the other Divas could even hope for at this point.
I'm going to leave it there. I know I only mentioned a couple of wrestlers, but they're the ones who stood out to me from this episode of RAW. There's so many others who should be watched, and some unexpected breakout star could peak out next week, but for right now, they the ones sticking out in my mind.
I hope everyone has a lovely 2013,