It seems that so many of the problems that so many of us have been complaining about WWE creative have been fixed bit by bit the past couple weeks. The characters are solidifying, the storylines are tightening up, and some of the issues that had been nagging some of us have been ironed over. I'll discuss them as I go through the show segment by segment.
In Ring Segment > B
As much as I love HBShizzle, this was not his best segment, at least until Orton came out. All HBK did was restate what he's already said, and we already know – he's Trip's bestie, trained Bryan, loathes Orton, knows HIAC, and is determined to get past the horrible crap that's happened so that a new WWE Champion is strapped. He was solid, but not overly exciting. When Orton came out HBK became his goofy self to mess with Orton, but Orton was trying so hard to get cheap heat that he couldn't work strongly against HBK. Honestly, the most heat Orton got was when he went after HBK physically.
Miz vs Orton > B
Orton had been running roughshod over every face that he's encountered, and making them all look quite inferior. Of course Miz needed to be destroyed in his hometown, the obligatory hometown beat-down, but he was made to look so weak, as have the other faces that Orton has destroyed recently. It seems as though the WWE has realized that there's only so many faces on the roster right now, and that Orton's not going to have faces to work with if he wants to continue on this vein. I like that Orton had to work a bit with Miz, and not just plow over him. Even better was that The Wyatt Family cost Miz the match, and saved us from having to watch Miz struggle through the fig 4. I am also quite impressed with how they handled The Wyatt Family, and Bray, with his injury. That he stayed on the stage, sat in his rocker to deliver his lines, after being put on the stage without the fans seeing (at least on TV), was brilliant. I know the WWE has had to creatively work around these things for years, but this was an inspired one that should be mentioned.
Winner – Orton (5:21)
Fandango vs Santino > C+
While it makes sense to have Fandango work with Santino, as both are humorous and fun to watch in the ring, but this was a flop. The two of them felt very watered down, and not at all their full characters. Personally, I think the WWE should stick to having one strong comedic segment or match on each episode, unless much of the episode is comedic, or has a strong running gag through the show, rather than two watered down comedic matches. This wasn't a lot of fun, and really fell short of the mark it needed to hit. SR didn't help the situation, but I've never been a fan of hers, and think that she's not at all expressive or funny. Most of the time she seems more worried about how she looks than anything else going on in the segment or match.
Winner – Fandango (2:43)
Backstage Segment B
I really don't understand Maddox. I know he's playing a character, but sometimes he can barely talk, and we all remember when he couldn't even remember the names of the wrestlers he was faced with in the ring, but sometimes he's horrible, and other times he holds his own. You'd think he'd do better with people more his age, and on his level, but he seems to deal better when working against Heyman, Steph and Trip. I find it very strange, but maybe he just feels more at easy working with his higher ups? No clue, but he came across strong here with Heyman.
Announce Segment > C
I'm very confused about where they're going with Xavier Woods and this petition. I have no clue what the plan is, but it seems very strange that they would be bringing Xavier up in such an odd way. I will admit I hope to see him soon, as I've been a fan of his since his Consequences Creed days in TNA.
Los Matadores vs 3MB > D
Crap on me all you want for this, but this was the Los Matadores' third match on RAW, and third with 3MB. Further, every match I've seen Los Matadores in so far has been against 3MB. I'm bored. Los Matadores could be interesting to watch, and they're strong in the ring, but putting them in the same match over and over is a sure way to book the team into oblivion.
Winners – Los Matadores (4:03)
In Ring Segment > B+
Finally Steph and Trip have stopped being wishy-washy, stopped flipping from heel to face in the same show, or even the same segment, and finally proved their alignment. Steph was strong in talking about how her kindness has been taken for weakness, and then there was Trip who varied between yelling, growling, threatening, and being downright mean. Trip was the heel we all loved to hate back in the AE, and McMahon/Helmsley Era. Trip was on fire, and laid down the law in a fantastic way, but it was Steph who stole the segment for me. Bryan was fun when he came to the ring chanting "YES!" "YES!" "YES!" but it was after ADR took him out that Steph shone. "Oh, Bryan, you were saying something? I guess you're finished." The simple and almost deadpan way she spoke the words echoed her father while also being very much evil Steph. It was fantastic!
Beat The Clock Challenge > C
I love R-Truth, but this match was average at best. It didn't help that Ryback was very obviously called the match as they went, and wasn't trying to be at all covert about it. It made the match look that much rougher.
Honestly, no matter what I say about this match, while expressing my own personal viewpoint, not a vendetta or trying to sabotage Ryback in any way, just stating how I feel about the man's work in the WWE. I'm the one who was defending him at every turn – even though most people can't seem to recall how I've defended him, only that I am finally fed up with his work rate. I know Ryback could be a great mid-card wrestler with a fantastic career, if he could only get past his bad attitude and ego. All that being said, I know that I will be attacked for joining with Richard to gang up on the defenseless Ryback.
Winner – Ryback (5:44)
Backstage Segment > B-
I quite enjoyed watching Steph working with the Bella twins. Both sisters sold their uncomfortable feelings, and anger toward Steph quite well, without saying a word. They will never be great actresses, but they've taken big steps recently.
Tons of Funk vs The Real Americans > C+
This was the second humorous match of the show, and because of it, it also felt watered down. I did enjoy Sweet T in the ring. He really seems to have stepped into this character and seems to be doing much better with it than he did Tensai. For me the best in this match was Cesaro. Between the gut wrench on Sweet T, then the neutralizer on Clay, he was shocking and scary strong. That man lifted Clay like he was half the size he really is. I'll admit that I watched much of the match wondering if he was going to try to swing either of the big guys. It was obvious that Sweet T was much harder to swing than Khali, but Cesaro did it, and it was one more step toward what I hope is a record breaking swing, possibly at WrestleMania. It was also cool that he showed that tiny bit more of his personality. Hopefully this is one more step in the right direction for Cesaro's career.
Winners – The Real Americans (5:40)
Brie vs Tamina > B-
This match was a step in the right direction for the Divas. Brie has very obviously been working on her ring work recently, as her skills have stepped up in a huge way recently. For the first time, I haven't been cringing when the Bellas head for the ring, and it's a nice sensation. I also have to say that Tamina has worked on her ring skills since we last saw her, and while her flying looked good her landing wasn't that strong. In fact, Brie's flight off the apron, the way her fiance does, looked a lot better than Tamina's flight, but I'm sure Brie has been working on it a lot lately. Either way, I'm thrilled at how much stronger those two young ladies looked in the ring, and I hope things continue along in this vein.
Winner – Tamina (4:33)
Backstage Segment > B
Steph was again strong working against Bryan, and did a great job mocking him for Brie's pain.
Beat The Clock Challenge > B-
I'm sure you're expecting me to give this match a glowing reaction after trashing Ryback's match, but you're very wrong. I thought this match was barely this side of better than Ryback's, and that's just barely. I honestly don't understand how they could book Punk to carry the WWE Championship for 434 days, best all of his opponents, then barely get through five minutes with the likes of Axel. I had hoped that Axel would shine with his repackaging, but he just continues to struggle. I have to admit that I'm bummed out that he's not getting ahead, but because he isn't, the booking of this match made no sense. How could he keep Punk on the ropes for five minutes, if he's been barely able to get ahead with Heyman by his side? Further, Punk is one of the strongest wrestlers in the WWE, even though I know many of you will disagree, and should have made easy work of Axel.
Normally I love Beat The Clock Challenges because it brings an extra element to an otherwise normal match. I have troubles keeping an eye on the match, because I keep checking the clock. I keep checking the clock which heightens the tension of the match. Sadly, that was not the case for this match as I didn't think there was any way Punk wouldn't win the match in time. Honestly, the best part of it all is knowing that Heyman will be locked in the HIAC will Punk, even though Ryback will also be in there.
Winner – Punk (5:33)
Bryan vs ADR > B
I have to say I didn't think this match was terrible, other than a couple of botches, but then Jesse came to me and brought up a number of other issues ADR had in the match. The first being that the kicks thrown by ADR in one corner, were absolutely terrible. I at first blamed it on the possibility that ADR wasn't as used to working longer matches, and was more tired, but then I was told it was early in the match that this happened. Jesse then brought up the horrible blows from ADR on Bryan on the mat toward the end of the match, and how they very obviously came no where near Bryan. There was more, but I think you get my point.
My issues with the match, even though this wasn't part of the actual match, was that Bryan came to the ring nursing a growing bruise on his face from ADR's obviously misplaced kick. I also had issue with the way ADR so obviously slapped his leg as he kicked Bryan in the face earlier. I've had issue with how blatant ADR is about the leg slap, but the fact that it was so poorly timed to his kick is what I had the most trouble with this time around. The other issue I had with this match was... Wait, are you sitting down? You might want to be sitting for this. When ADR came off the corner with his missile drop kick, Bryan jumped way to early and made a total hash of the move. ADR was spot on and Bryan made it look a mess. I went back and watched it three times, then pointed it out to Jesse for another set of eyes, and he agreed with me that Bryan screwed that up in a big way.
I must also say that I love how ADR sells his missed enziguri in the corner. That man flies through the air so gracefully that it's hard not to be shocked breathless by it. I'm not saying that this is turning me into an ADR fan, I still have serious issues with the way he works a match, and the ring, but I wanted to show that I'm not out to get ADR. I know the man is very skilled, and has a lot working against him, but I just feel most of the time that he's coasting in the ring, not putting out his best work unless it's a PPV, and even then if it's a non-typical match, or a big four. Honestly, my favorite ADR match was when he faced Cena at Vengeance 2011 in a Last Man Standing Match. Earlier in the night Big Show and Henry broke the ring, so Cena and ADR had to get creative. It was that creativity that made their match so much better than anything we've seen from them together.
Winner – ADR via Countout (14:05)
Backstage Segment > B+
It was obvious that Trip and Steph have lost their confidence in The Shield at this point, and it was solidly handled, but honestly, it was the kiss that sealed this segment for me. The way Steph tickled Trip's tonsils brought me back to the grand days of the McMahon/Helmsley Era, and how openly they were all over each other. Maybe this is just one more way to show that they truly are embracing that heel side of themselves again. I thought of this picture of Steph and Trip back in the day.
Video > B+
Cena is a freak of nature, but I have to take issue with one of the things he said in this video. Cena said he cheated and started working out early. This worked out fine for him, but what about the children who idolize Cena and think it's okay to cheat on this or that, because Cena said it's okay. I know the WWE is fiction, but videos like this are portrayed as reality, and people look at them differently. I am holding Cena to a higher standard than most others on the roster, but that's because he has been groomed to be their idol, the way Hogan was back in the day.
No DQ Tag Team Championship Match - A
This match was of better quality than most of the matches we've seen on the past two PPVs, notice I say most, because the match between these two teams at Battleground was stellar as well. As Richard said, the Rhodes brothers again stole the show on RAW this week. Honestly, I cannot give all the props to Cody and Goldust, The Shield deserves a lot of the credit for the work in that ring.
When Cody left to get married, we all knew he'd be back, but the direction the stroyline took was unexpected. Dusty on RAW wasn't unusual, but the use of Goldust was not where I thought they'd go. Further, I didn't think Goldust would be staying around, but I also didn't think Goldust could go in the ring the way he does. I'm shocked that Goldust can go as well, if not better than he did back in the day. It's as though clearing out some of his demons has helped him in a multitude of ways, and we're all the better for it, especially him. One thing I did notice previously, and have to mention again, is how lightly the brothers tag in and out. It's so obvious that I can't help but be surprised each time I see it.
The more Cody and Goldust were beaten down, and taken out by The Shield, I knew someone would be appearing to help them. I was so enthralled with the match, and typing it up for RAW Results, that I didn't even think of who might be appearing to help. Of course it was Big Show, but I was so enthralled with the work, right down to how well they all worked together, even through the chair shots from Goldust, that I didn't think of it. Big Show was just wonderful, and simple in how he handled The Shield and helped the Rhodes Brothers win the match they would have won on their own if Ambrose hadn't been involved.
This is how RAW should end. It was so full of excitement, tension, and finally the underdogs going over Corporate Evolution. Everything happening the way it did, everyone involved in the match, Big Show coming through the stands in jean, and new Tag Team Champs, it was wonderful! Horrible that the ratings dropped for the last hour, as those fans don't know what they missed. To seal the deal, Trip in the ring throwing Cody and Goldust from the ring. Trip's seething at Big Show in the stands was just lovely, but not as lovely as Cody and Goldust on the stage celebrating with gold in hand. Just so much fun, and great storyline development that really makes a lot of sense.
Winners – Rhodes Brothers (19:17)
This past couple weeks I've been watching Star Trek Voyager from start to finish on Hulu Plus. I will go back and watch TNG next, I was just in a Voyager mood, so I dove in. I wasn't expecting when I got to season 6, episode 15, that The Rock would be all made up and working a fighting ring against Seven of Nine. As soon as I saw the little picture pop up in the corner, I knew it was him, but shocked because I didn't remember him crossing over. It was funny, I told Stacy that he needed to see who was on the next episode of Voyager. And when each new character appeared he asked if that's who he was supposed to be looking for. But then The Rock stepped out, and moved his head from side to side in such a way that is ironically The Rock, and Stacy laughed at how obvious it was. As much of a wrestling fan as I am, and as much of a trekker as I am, I cannot believe I missed The Rock on Voyager.
Queen of WNW