Normally I start RIB by writing about something that has happened in wrestling news, WWE news, over the previous week, but after RAW last night, I have to start off talking about that. While I normally like to hit upon the highlights, I have to jump to the worst low from RAW last night. What was up with the Washington DC fans? They took a fabby show and dragged it down, way down. Miami, between WrestleMania and the RAW on the following night, the fans in southern Florida took great wrestling shows and made them stellar by their reactions and love of what they were seeing.
D-Bry was the man in Miami, but I didn't hear one "YES!" from the Washington crowd. Laurinaitis, Vickie, and Jericho, some of the biggest heels in the WWE, and even they didn't get the reaction they normally get. Heck, Jericho is so much more evil than he was prior to the last weeks before WrestleMania, yet he garnered a much hotter reaction in fricken Bangor, Maine! Don't get me wrong, I love all of the local wrestling fans, but we are a strange group – something I notice even compared to events in Boston – but they would have been a much better fan base than Washington was last night.
Punk got some pop, but much of it came only after he went rogue on Henry, even more so after Jericho came out, but not on his own. Cena did get the reaction that he gets all over the USA, and in some parts of Canada, but it was no where near as loud as it should have been. Heck, even Brock didn't garner the reaction he deserves for his return. I can understand why the fans were still not quite sure how to react to Brock. Yes, he's very obviously a heel – which he should be, as he sucked royally as a face, and he's shown his volatility over the years even outside the wrestling industry – but the fans could be unsure if they're happy that Brock is here to go after Cena, as they were when Rocky came in, or are they going to hate Brock just for the fact that he's a heel and you're supposed to hate them. So while I can see some uncertainty when it comes to how to react to Brock, some noise would have been nice!
I really wonder if that Washington crowd would have even given the proper reaction to Batista if he had made a shocking return! We all know that the WWE has been interested in Batista possibly returning, and he's not adverse to it. I know (as we all do, if you've been reading WNW) Batista was not at all happy about the corny PG direction the WWE has gone, but with Rocky's return, and now Brock's, I would imagine that Batista's thoughts on returning could have changed a bit. All that being said, I'm not even sure if Batista's hometown would have given him the reaction he deserves if he had somehow returned last night.
Bizarro crowds are one thing, they add a certain flavor to a show, and make King say absurd things all night, but a completely dead crowd can ruin the show for those watching at home. It's one of the big complaints many of us have with TNA/IW staying in Orlando all the time, but the WWE hasn't had this problem in a long time, especially the past couple months. I do want to state that I am not attacking anyone in particular, but I have to say that the Washington crowd as a whole really brought down what could have, and should have, been a great show.
Video > F
I was not at all happy or impressed that The Three Stooges were the Special Guest Stars on RAW. While some of the guest stars haven't been that bad – Bob Barker, Freddie Prinze Jr., Muppets (loved Beaker and Sheamus) – but The Three Stooges? They sucked and should never have been booked, for any reason!
In Ring Segment > A+
The was the best start to a RAW, one of the best overall segments that we've seen on RAW, in years! We haven't seen a locker room clearing brawl, even though there was only two really brawling, in so very long. Stacy and I have been living together for going on four years, meaning he's been watching wrestling, and became a wrestling fan, four years ago – we didn't go out on dates on wrestling nights, just didn't happen. Stacy sat there watching with his jaw hanging open. I haven't pushed upon him much of the Attitude Era, or nWo, so he hasn't seen this side of wrestling. Between the washed out PG WWE with overly perky Cena, the badly written, horribly booked, wonderfully wrestled and terribly run TNA/IW, and bits of ROH we catch, he really hasn't seen much of the gritty and edgy side of wrestling. This segment last night brought him, and so many others, a whole new side of what wrestling could be. But it's not a new side at all, it's what the industry was before VKM over polished it. The grit is something I've been missing quite a bit lately, and I know I'm not the only one.
I really liked that it wasn't all heels or all faces holding back each of these guys. That the lines were blurred for this segment made it feel more realistic. Okay, what made it really realistic was that first punch. So many questions about that punch have been flying around -
1- Was it an accident?
2- Did Brock forget he's in the WWE, not the UFC?
3- Did Brock throw a stiff punch because he's still harboring ill will toward Cena?
4- Was Brock told to open Cena up? (Just a thought)
Whatever it was, it made the segment amazing. Okay, busting open Cena was one thing, the way Cena handled it was what made it great. Between Cena wiping his mouth and showing off the blood on his hand, and him smiling at the camera to show off the blood, Cena played it to a tee! Honestly, I didn't think Cena had that in him. Him being a little sore this morning is so worth the points he earned last night with the fans. Cena slapping Brock the way he did, how he was all bloody, and having some swagger showing off the blood showed that Cena is less of a puss than he's been showing these past couple years. While I don't think this is the direction they'd been planning on taking Cena before Brock's possible return came about, it is a direction that could only help Cena. He will continue to hear chants of those five words for the rest of his career, but he showed last night that he's stopped carried his Fruity Pebbles in his purse.
I did find it interesting that King kept saying that Laurinaitis wouldn't be happy with the blood being shown on RAW. So they're blaming Laurinaitis on the lack of blood on the WWE, I find it a creative and very smart way of doing things. Laurinaitis is a great person to blame things on, many, many things, and hopefully they will continue doing that because it's so much fun!
Video > C
I have no trouble with them coming back from commercial and showing what just happened, but they spent ever spare moment of RAW showing us what went down between Brock and Cena. I'm lumping all these videos together here so I won't have to continue writing about them. Honestly, if they'd only done it a couple times, they would have earned a much higher grade, but the number of times they did it brought the grade way down. Too much of a good thing is normally great, but this was too much of a bloody Cena, too much showing that slap and that one punch which took the spark from it, made the image less effective. Hopefully they will back off a bit from over showing a key moment too many times in such a small length of time.
Backstage Segment > B
This segment felt rushed, more than just because it was supposed to feel like Laurinaitis was rushing through things. I did like that Eve's innuendos went right over Laurinaitis' head. But I hope this Laurinaitis lording over Long doesn't last long as neither are good at it.
Funkasaurus & Santino vs Swagger & Dolph w/ Vickie > B-
Nothing could follow the opening segment and get anywhere, but this was worse than that. The wrestling was sloppy, they all seemed to be a bit off their marks and they all seemed to be fumbling around. From the opening bell the moves just were not crisp and didn't look good. The worst moment was when Swagger dove at Clay's left knee and Clay sold the move before Swagger was even touching the leg. If the camera had been watching this move from a different angle it might not have looked so bad, but it was and it did. After it was all over Santino messed up the Funkasaurus' groove and even the dancing suffered. Hopefully they can pull it together before next week.
I also wanted to mention something that was said in this segment. The way Vickie came out and announced Swagger and Dolph as The Greatest Tag Team In The Universe made me wonder if she meant universe or 'Universe'? Also, would that be a jab at The (self proclaimed) World's Greatest Tag Team who is now back together in ROH?
Winners – Clay & Santino
Backstage Segment > B+
Laurinaitis made a huge deal about Brock not being about catchphrases, then they mentioned Brock bringing the legitimacy back to the WWE about a dozen times. I know this is normal for the WWE, but it was annoying. Legitimacy how? I will give Cena props for this segment. He was cool, relaxed and actually a little sexy in his beaten-up-shirtless-ness. He made that segment work better than any uptight, corny Cena ever could. I'm liking this change, but wish it had come a couple years ago!
Backstage Segment > D
The only thing that worked here was Kane and Santino power walking away. I will admit that it was nice to see Hawkins and Reks on RAW, more than just holding back Cena and Brock. Not that they got to say much, but it's a step up from not being on RAW!
R-Truth vs Cody > B
Cody and R-Truth looked decent in the ring, and I understand why they're doing what they're doing with Cody and Big Show, but I'm over it. Big Show's had his WrestleMania moment and has the IC Title, Cody lost, but it's time for him to take the next big step. I will continue to say this until it happens – Cody should be leaving this storyline behind and heading in the the main event circle, going after Sheamus and his World Heavyweight Championship, rather than ADR. As much as I love Big Show, it is time to let it all go and move on.
Winner – R-Truth
Backstage Segment > F-
It was bad enough that The Three Stooges were on RAW, and it was obvious to put them together with Santino, but this was ridiculous! When Santino is the glowing light of intelligence in a comedic segment, there's a serious issue. This show started so well, seemed like VKM had come to his senses, then this. Ugh!
Tensai w/ Sakamoto vs Yoshi > C-
Last week I gave Bloom's new character Lord Tensai a chance and he kind of bombed. Not only were the fans (the Miami fans who actually reacted) more interested in Tensai's debut and match, but they ribbed him with chants of his previous WWE characters. In this match they did chant A-Train and Albert, but not very loudly and it was about the only reaction from the fans. I feel terrible for Yoshi as his first RAW match in a VERY long time. December 6, 2010 is the last match on RAW that I've been able to find for Yoshi, and that's sad.
What made this match so much worse is how clichéd this whole setup was. The one Japanese guy on the roster is in the ring with Tensai? I call shenanigans! I guess we can't expect everything to change in just a couple of weeks, but I hope Tensai's in-ring work improves as his second time at bat was his second strike out. Then again the whole crowd in Washington struck out and made this match just that much worse.
Winner – Tensai
Video > B
I'm loving the direction that Jericho is taking this feud with Punk. They really are going in a direction that I didn't think VKM would allow things to go in this era of too PG for their own good.
In Ring Segment > B-
Punk said the words and sold it facially, but he was a little mellow dramatic for my taste. I like that he's getting riled up and pissed off, but in some ways, in this segment, he was so over the top, trying so hard to be anguished, that he came off looking like a teenaged boy who was just dumped by the love of his life. In other words the girl he met three weeks ago and has devoted his love, his soul to – forever! Can't tell I have a teen son, can you? Sorry, but for me Punk acted like he was full of teen angst and it was all so horrible. The thing is, this is horrible and should be a great storyline. Punk is a wonderful actor and is usually so great, but he's going too far with this one and it's falling flat. Hopefully Punk alone in the ring, on mic talking, will get better, because he is damn good – just not here.
WWE Championship Match – sorta > B+
I really liked seeing Punk go off on Henry. I liked the passion, the emotion, the abuse was great! Another segment that flashed me back to the days of AE. Then Jericho and his 12 packs of beer. I have to admit that I had had no clue what type of beer Jericho brought to the ring. Last week Ellie was here to tell me that Jericho had Jack Daniels, but she didn't stay this week. I just went back to look at the segment to see if I could figure out what Jericho had. Stacy saw the word national, so I looked it up. National Bohemian Beer is a Baltimore beer that's been around since 1885. I feel really bad that I didn't know this as I did live in Baltimore for a year. I think it's great that they used a semi-local brand of beer for this segment. I also have to ask if anyone else thinks that was a different jacket that Jericho was wearing last night? Either way, Jericho and Punk have taken this feud to a whole new level and I'm very impressed with how they're stepping over that PG line and really giving us what Jericho is best at, being a total jackass to someone for one simple little aspect of their lives. Taking something small and making a huge deal of it, taking it to a whole new level.
Winner – Henry via DQ
I'm not grading this, but I do want to say something here. I know it's extremely hypocritical for the WWE to be involved with an anti bullying campaign, but it's also good in some ways. Hopefully most of those who watch the WWE know that it's all scripted. They're always pushing the 'don't try this at home' and I think that should mean the way they act as well as the moves they hit in the ring. Let me just say that I understand where they are coming from on this and don't fault them too much for for their work with Be A Star.
Ryder vs ADR > C+
I wasn't overly impressed with this match. Actually, I have been finding ADR more and more boring as time goes along. Someone recently mentioned in the comments that ADR's character needs some serious tweaking, and that he needs a new finisher as that cross arm breaker is getting very old very quickly. Even Cena has two finishers! I also have to say that Ryder needs a new feud, something to keep him fresh and not grow stale in the eyes of the fans.
Winner – ADR
Backstage Segment > F
We really don't need to see the Stooges as we see enough abuse – without sound effects – in the ring.
In Ring Segment > F
I will admit that it was fun to watch certain people in the audience who actually thought Hogan was there on RAW. I will also admit that will Sasso as Curly as Hogan was pretty decent, but the segment as a whole should not have been performed. We don't watch RAW to see stooges, unless it's Patterson and Brisco – maybe the Live Smackdown tonight? Honestly, I think if this had happened in front of a normal crowd, we wouldn't have heard much of the segment for the heat and nastiness being screamed by the fans. Sadly that didn't happen. Stacy found this interesting article about this segment that I thought I'd pass on. http://www.avclub.com/articles/the-three-stooges-promotional-campaign-reaches-its,72195/ At the end of this I was just happy to see Kane come out and end it. Even if I wasn't a HUGE Kane fan, I'd be cheering the way he took control and ended our misery.
Backstage Segment > C-
I have to say that Henry is two for two! That man has had a backstage segment two weeks in a row and there was a serious blooper in each segment. Yes, last week it was AW's fault, but it didn't make Henry's blunder that much less funny. I thought I'd heard Henry say World Heavyweight Championship, but rewound the show, just to make sure. Stacy heard me making such a big deal about the blunder that he came out of the kitchen to find out what I was was ranting about. In some ways I want to feel bad for Henry, in other ways, he's a veteran of the industry, how can he make such a simple mistake?
Backstage Segment > A-
I have to say I was impressed with Brock on mic. He's never been the best talker, but he's taken a step up in his time away from the WWE. Yes, he's had some years to mature, but it's nice to see how much he's grown. He spoke well and really did a great job of getting his proud point across. I'm actually looking forward to more from him verbally as well as in the ring. This segment was well executed until the last moment. For me the wink and cluck of his tongue was a bit too much for my taste.
Video > A
I really liked this video about Trip, Taker and HBK. It was really nice to hear the other wrestlers talking about the HIAC match, even though it was all scripted, but it was also a well produced video. I hope it's not the last we see of Taker or HBK.
Cena vs Otunga w/ Laurinaitis > B+
Honestly, if this segment didn't end with Brock's attack, the grade would have been much lower. I will give Otunga props for the way he used the ropes for elevation of his elbow drops. It's a simple thing, but it looked nice. While I understand why VKM likes Otunga, his ring work is so sub par that I wonder why he's even on RAW, never mind in the main event of the show.
Cena working his new cocky attitude, really showing his chip on his shoulder to Laurinaitis, was nice to see. Yelling at Laurinaitis to get off his phone was great! This is what Cena has needed for so long. I don't see it stopping the fans from the dueling chants. I see that chant lasting through the rest of his career, no matter how much people love or hate him. It's just one of those things.
It was pretty much guaranteed that Brock was going to attack after this match was over. It's just the way it had to be. I can't wait to see where they're going to take this from here. I'm actually excited to be watching RAW these days. I'm always interested, but this is exciting!
Winner – Cena
Stacy sent me a long Tweet posted by Regal that locks into what people have been saying about the WWE lately. Some of the guys in the locker room are getting bent out of shape with VKM bringing in former stars who are taking their slots on RAW. The thing is that it doesn't feel like anyone wants to do anything other than complain. I will say that Ryder took the bull by the horns and stepped out to make his own way. He knew either he did nothing and would be released, or he did something and might be released for it – either way, he had nothing to lose at that point. These older guys – Rocky, Trip, HBK, Taker, even Brock to a point – had to step up and take these roles, or someone else would. They paid their dues, but it seems like dues were much harder back in the day. These spots need to be taken and run with. Standing around playing switch isn't going to get them anywhere.
Regal has posted comments saying that he's willing to help anyone interested in the industry. He's posted a number of comments to this effect, but the one he posted today really points to the differences in the industry. How the industry and the wrestlers have changed over the past twenty years. http://www.twitlonger.com/show/gte1ms