Last night's RAW was just horrible! We all know what happened, we've all read there is to read, seen the pictures and the fan video – if it's something you want to see – so there's no real news I can give you about King. What I can say is how impressed I am with everyone who was working RAW last night. That includes all the staff and crew, the wrestlers, and specifically WWE's medical staff, and Michael Cole. We went back and watched King's tag match, and then the #1 Contenders Match to see if we could see anything leading up to King's collapse. King looked exactly as he always does in the ring, but during the contenders match King's voice got quiet, almost too quiet to hear, then he went down. While there was some chunks of time that Cole was also silent, that Cole was able to continue in a way that showed nothing of what was going down at announce shows his true professionalism. I know Cole and King are good friends in real life, and that Cole continued to call the match as he did is a testament to who Cole is, and I'm willing to bet that his background in journalism had a big hand in that.
I was blown away at how Bryan, Young and O'Neil kept their focus on the match, though Kane broke kayfabe and was obviously paying more attention to King than the match at certain times. But being under that mask, I didn't notice it until I went back and watched it a second time. Kane had the perfect cover that the other wrestlers didn't have. I have to admit that I'm annoyed with myself for not noticing that the fans were all turned to watch what was going on at announce, but I think it was because my DVR isn't working correctly and I don't have the time to skip back a couple seconds here and there to notice those things. I also couldn't understand what the fans were chanting at one point, but it turned out they were chanting 'Jerry' as they carried him out on the backboard to meet up with the stretcher. It was so out of context for the match that I didn't catch it.
They very easy could have sent someone out to announce to cover for King, but I'm glad they didn't. It was a nice impromptu tribute to King when they didn't know what was going on. I'd forgotten how much I rely upon the announcers when I'm writing the RAW Results. Not having them there made my writing a lot harder, and I'm sure I missed more moves than I normally would, but I was also out of sorts with worry.
Cole about tore my heart out when he first addressed the fans. He started speaking about what had happened and I said, "Oh my, King has died." I was sure that's what had happened from the slow and heart wrenching way Cole spoke. I was impressed with how Cole held it together to pass on information, but it ripped at my heart each time he spoke, because he was obviously so shaken by what had happened. I was a bit surprised he stayed at announce, but Stacy asked me what he could have done backstage that he couldn't have done out by the ring? The backstage was in shambles all night, so adding one more person back there who would only be in the way wouldn't have helped anyone.
In Ring Segment > A-
I will admit I was shocked that Justin immediately announced Bret to the ring, but after thinking about it for half a second it made sense. The Montreal fans were absolutely wild, completely revved up to see Bret for the first time in a WWE ring in fifteen years. I have to admit that it would have been great for HBK to have been there, but he's selling his Brock broken arm, and it would have taken a lot away from Bret.
When Bret came out I was surprised to see he wasn't wearing his normal black leather jacket, but have to admit that I loved that plaid shirt on him. The touch of pink worked well, but more than that, and I could be reading way too much into this, that blue blazer brought me to Owen. I highly doubt that Bret's choice of jackets was a happy mistake, as I saw a beautiful, yet silent, tribute to his brother in that one item of clothing. Actually, my original title for the RAW Results was 'Bret's Blue Blazer' because it jumped out at me from the very first moment.
His mic work seemed better than normal last night. I don't know if it was being in Montreal, or what, but he seemed less hazy than he has in recent years. He really poured his heart out and gave the fans the return they and he needed in Montreal. It was beautiful to watch. His banter with Punk felt less stilted than Bret can be, and he was a wonderful straight man to Punk's rage. Between attacking Bret's book and saying that he's better than HBK, Austin and the Rock, Punk was so over as a heel that it was starting to feel like any of the times HBK visited Montreal after the Screw Job. No matter how face HBK was, he was heel in Montreal with some of the most intense heat – Punk was getting that type of heat, and I think it sealed his heel turn. Who better than Bret Hart to verbally abuse in Montreal? I will admit that the unedited 'asshole' chant at the end of this segment was a great touch.
Announce Segment > C
I didn't really understand the choices for Punk's opponent last night. King made sense, and Orton wasn't too far off, but Funkasaurus seemed out of the blue to me. All three are solid faces, so they'd work against Punk, but it felt forced to me. Not that Cole and King felt forced, but the options felt more forced than they normally do.
Kofi & R-Truth vs Miz & Cesaro w/ Aksana > B-
While this wasn't a bad match, I was left wanting more when it was over. It wasn't fulfilling. Aksana was more memorable than Cesaro. Thinking about this match I had to go back to the Results to remind myself of what happened in this match. True that my focus it more diverted than normal because of King, but I honestly didn't remember anything Cesaro did in this match, but I remembered Aksana lounging on the apron in a very sexy pose while blowing kisses to him. That's the best Diva/Manager moment I've seen in a very long time. Aksana is selling her character better than Rosa, and almost as well as Vickie. I didn't see much in her from back in her time in NXT, but that black hair has made her into someone wonderfully memorable and so much sexier than when she was a blonde.
I know this match wasn't all about Aksana, and Miz worked really well against R-Truth and Kofi, but Miz almost always looks good in the ring, as does Kofi and R-Truth. I guess (hope) Miz and R-Truth have gotten past their previous incident, as I didn't see anything out of sort between them in this match; no noticeable animosity. So, as I said, this wasn't a bad match, just not very memorable compared to other matches on this episode of RAW.
Winners – Kofi & R-Truth (8:09)
Video > C
I understand that they're banning the brogue kick to add more interest to the feud between Sheamus and ADR. Not only does taking away one of Sheamus' moves because it's too dangerous make Sheamus look stronger, but that Sheamus so easily moved onto the Texas cloverleaf as his finishing submission hold makes him look more versatile and shows that ADR isn't the only one who can end a match with a submission hold. It really is a very smart creative direction to take Sheamus, and his feud with ADR. So while the video was nothing special, the psychological reasoning behind it all is impressive.
Backstage Segment > B+
I'm going to lump these all together here. I really like how the WWE showed Bret talking to different wrestlers backstage throughout the night. It showed Bret's interest in the Superstars, broke up the show a bit, showed Bret to the fans more than he'd be seen otherwise, and only took a few seconds here and there. Very smart move on the part of creative, even if they were in such a kerfuffle over much of the rest of the show.
Sheamus was so well spoken in this segment, he had this segment in his pocket and didn't give anyone a change to even try to take it away from him. This was all Sheamus Lipschitz and there was nothing anyone could do about it! Sheamus' comments rolled off his tongue in such a natural way that I was floored. He can sometimes come off a bit hesitant in promos, as if he's not sure about himself, but when he gets talking about 'family' members of any sort, that's when he shines, and he was a sparkly ruby here. The Irish/Jewish thing was so absurd and well executed that it completely overshadowed the rest of the 'deposition', but that's okay for me. I know that the 'drink too much, then feel guilty about it' is so over the top cliché that some could be offended by it, but if they are, then their skin is way too thin to be watching the WWE! The brogue kick to the camera was a bit over the top, but it worked for what it was. I must admit I'd have loved to actually see Sheamus singing Hava Nagila.
6 Divas Tag Match > C-
I want to see more between Beth and Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn doesn't come off looking as much like a powerhouse as Beth, but she sure is a strong Diva and I think she'd be amazing against Beth in a solid feud. We didn't see any of Layla acting like a goober, and that bothers me. She needs to silly, or not, I don't care, just commit to something! And then there's Eve. She sold her totally creepy, I love everyone, personality well, but it didn't do much to make this match look good. The best moments for me were when Kaitlyn was in the ring, and at this point, I hope they strap her this weekend at NoC as she could be a solid fighting Champ – if the WWE lets her.
Winners – Eve & Layla & Kaitlyn (2:24)
Backstage Segment > C
And creative is back to being wishy-washy with AJ! While Punk mentioned AJ's freak out last week, she showed no signs of being at all off kilter. She was back to being covered up and not at all off balance. We fell in love with AJ for a reason, and they keep taking that away from her. And what happened to the issues between AJ and Vickie, we saw none of that during this episode of RAW. I'm going to chalk it up to creative not being able to agree on anything, and not being at all organized. Hopefully they'll get their act together before it's too late for AJ.
Punk vs Orton > A-
I was shocked at the numbers on this one. 75% of the people wanted to see Punk face Orton? That doesn't feel right to me, but this match sure did! I really enjoyed this match and all that they both put into it. While Orton has five moves of doom, many wrestlers have their move-set that they feel most comfortable with. I feel Orton has fallen into a bit of a rut – like Cena has – but he worked really well with Punk, someone who almost always makes his opponent look better than they might have otherwise (Bryan is another good one for that right now). They went back and forth so well, and it became obvious that neither could come out on top, neither could go over cleanly on the go home to Night of Champions. I thought it was great that Ziggler was the one who broke up this match. Sets up well for NoC.
Winner – Orton via DQ (13:45)
King & Orton vs Ziggler w/ Vickie & Punk w/ Heyman > A-
While very different from the prior match, this was just as good. King and Orton worked together brilliantly, but that's King for you. That man can work with anyone and seems to have worked with everyone. He's the Kevin Bacon of the wrestling world, though I'm willing to bet any televised wrestler could reach King in less than four degrees, maybe even three. (Can you find a televised wrestler who absolutely can't be connected to King in seven degrees?)
I thought that King looked good in this match, not at all off, but I have to admit that it was Punk who stole the show. The way Heyman strode out to the ring, then conversed with Punk, even while Vickie was screaming EXCUSE ME!! into their faces over and over, was just glorious! Ziggler handled himself well in the ring (other than the botch getting him set up for the DDT), but he didn't have a chance against Orton and King. The look on King's face when he was staring up the ramp at Punk and Heyman casually strolling away from the match was the icing on the cake.
Winner – King & Orton (7:05)
Backstage Segment > A
'I'm a Paul Heyman guy." So simple and to the point. A brilliant nugget in an otherwise choppy RAW.
Video > B
This segment was good the first time around, then the video on Smackdown made sense, but I was a bit tired of it this time. They need to move this forward rather than dwelling on the past, but I understand why they showed it, so I won't beat it up too badly.
Backstage Segment > A-
The way Kane talked about Shelby, that he was such a sadistic evil monster made Stacy and I both laugh aloud. Almost as good was the mention of the bottomless abyss. I have to say I miss seeing Abyss on Impact. Anyway I can't wait to see what Shelby does to them next!
Slater vs Ryback > D-
I'm so not impressed with Ryback or the abuse Slater is taking. All I can say is that at least Slater and Ryder got show bonuses for this RAW. I will admit I didn't think they were going to continue showing Ryback on RAW because of the 'Goldberg' chants, but there he was!
Winner – Ryback (2:13)
Backstage Segment > C-
The only bits of this segment that I liked was AJ telling O'Neil and Young that they're annoying, and then when she gave it back to them with 'Kane and Bryan's was great. Her outfit still left a lot to be desired. It was cute, but still covered her up way too much.
#1 Contenders Match > B+ & A+
I'm having such a hard time looking at this match as just a match. I will say that O'Neil looked better than he had, in other words he looked less dangerous in the ring. Young also stayed involved in the match and didn't react to what was happening at announce. Bryan is so over the top now, really has become almost a cartoon character – but in a outstanding way – that I'm sure he was watching what was happening at announce, but he was so in character that it wasn't obvious.
As I said, Kane broke kayfabe, but it wasn't obvious the first time through. What could be thought of a negative – his mask – because he can't emote through it as well, actually became a positive in this moment. It wasn't obvious that he was watching King and not completely engrossed in the match he was working. Honestly, I can't blame Kane, and wouldn't have blamed any of the wrestlers if they'd just said screw it, what's wrong with King. Just like I said with Cole, the wrestlers – all of them, in this match and all that came after this match – deserve huge props for continuing with business as usual. These four deserve an A+ for working through like King hadn't collapsed ringside.
Beyond all that, I loved the work between Kane and Bryan. Since they've started this storyline I've been itching for them to tag together. I thought it would both be fun, and they'd be quite the formidable team. When the Prime Time Players won on Smackdown, I was really annoyed, but to see them get taken down on RAW brought it full circle. I said this before, but I think Kane and Bryan have enough personality between them to go back and forth and really give us something special all the way through WrestleMania. I know I'm asking a lot, but these two men have a lot in spades.
Winners – Kane & Bryan (8:29)
Kidd vs ADR > B-
I don't like that Kidd was fed to ADR for the purpose of ADR having someone to abuse and look strong against, because he sure hasn't looked strong in this feud against Sheamus. I think Kidd is better than this, but they'd already fed Slater to Ryback, so I guess someone had to be ADR's whipping boy of the night and that was Kidd. I know, it's the hometown boy losing, even though Kidd is not truly the hometown boy, he was the last non-Hart that went through the Dungeon, and Bret was there, so Kidd was the hometown boy in a way. I just think Kidd's better than this and deserves to be shown in a better light. He has so much to offer and I'd rather see him feuding with Sheamus than ADR, but I can only talk about how I feel about ADR's lack of star power so much before I feel like a broken record. So here I am with the needle skipping. (Did I just show my age?)
Winner – ADR (2:57)
King Updates > A+
I'm going to group all of these together here as we all know what's happened to King, and all that went down on RAW. For me these moments with Cole were so moving because of what was happening with King, but also because of how raw and honest Cole was in these moments. It takes a lot to let the world into your heart, let everyone see you so open and vulnerable, and Cole seemed to do it without a second thought. All he cared about was King's survival and that showed through in such a touching way.
Sheamus vs Otunga > B-
Sheamus looked very strong here, something he needed going into NoC. I was impressed with Otunga coming out of the bell, but he didn't have a chance as Sheamus needed to dominate this one. At least it was short and to the point. I also have to say each time I see Sheamus' Texas cloverleaf, I love it even more. I think it's because of the dichotomy between his skin tone and whoever he's in the ring with (even when he was facing Swagger), and the show of muscle from Sheamus when he puts on this hold is so interesting to watch. (I hope I explained myself well enough here, if not, please let me know and I'll try again. This one is very important to me.)
Winner – Sheamus (1:31)
Stage Segment > C+
Are we going to see some issues between AJ and Booker? That could be a lot of fun! Booker is a big man, with huge hands, and AJ is so tiny, but they both have such huge personalities. There's so many things they could do between these two, but I hope they both remain mostly face, it would add a lovely flavor to any issues between them.
While I understand why they're 'banning' the brogue kick, it brings me back to Edge's spear being 'banned' and how he would hit the move behind the ref's back, and after his matches were over – as Sheamus just did – and I worry that we're being fed this same thing so quickly. Edge's spear was banned (as far as I recall) for the Royal Rumble 2011, and for me that's way too soon to be replaying a storyline like this.
Backstage Segment > B+
Bryan and Kane have such chemistry together! I just can't get tired of watching them go back and forth, but agree with each other when it comes to Shelby. I'm glad they're continuing with Shelby, he's a character that Bryan and Kane can loath together, and it works so well. I'm excited to see where they're going from here. While I'm adverse to the TTC being used as a comedic tool, I think it's better than having no meaning at all, and I think they're going to go in that direction this Sunday at NoC.
Rey vs Cody > B+
This match was fast moving and looked really great. Rey is such a pro in every move he makes. I so enjoy watching Rey in the ring, and didn't realize how much I'd missed seeing him in that ring. He works so well with Cody, who really needs to be moving up, not wallowing with Sin Cara. I also loved Miz's involvement in this match. Even better was when Cody took out Miz after the DQ. This worked so well for all three men, and I'm very excited to see where this goes.
Winner – Cody (4:37)
In Ring Segment > B
For me this segment dragged on a bit. I know a big part of that is wanting to find out what was happening with King before RAW went off the air. There were some wonderful moments in this segment, most of them Punk telling how great he is, but it was the way he spoke that sold it so well. Cena was also strong when he said that Punk was at his best and said the most when his mic was cut off. Cena is correct that Punk hasn't been as poignant on mic since then, but I feel that a lot of that is creative and what they will let Punk say. I can't rest all of it on Punk, but he is the #2 man and should be pushing for more of those moments.
It didn't come to mind until I was writing about how the Superstars went on with business as usual, even though they didn't know what was going on with King. Love King or hate him, you have to respect everything he's added to the wrestling industry as a whole. The way Cena cussed and got very emotional, and Punk joined him with the emotion, I wonder how much of that was fueled by worry and anxiety over King's condition.
What an emotional and heart wrenching night, and it's carried though today. Actually, last night I spoke to Brooks through Facebook. I had to go to bed because I have kids to take care of, but he wasn't sure he'd be able to sleep until he heart word about King. He promised to text me if the unthinkable happened, and I'm thrilled I didn't hear from him at all last night. There's really nothing else I can say about RAW or King, so please stay tuned to WNW for updates as soon as we get them, and please keep the outpouring of love and prayers for King going strong. Even though he doesn't know how much we're all thinking about him, it will mean so much to him when he's in a place that he can recognize everything that's been said and done in our love and respect for Jerry 'The King' Lawler.