I'd love to start this off by being really mean and nasty, but I'm having troubles finding a good reason to be all mean and nasty. MITB was a stellar PPV from before start to finish. They might not have added a huge swerve addition into the All Stars MITBLM, but they threw a swerve into it with Heyman. They might not have used Bray, but he made up for it with R-Truth. The Tag Team Match might have been moved to the Pre-Show, and I'll admit that I was annoyed, but those four men had the fans so riled up for that PPV because they showed how amazing they can be, and didn't take being delegated to before the PPV slow them down. The WHC MITBLM was jaw dropping and unexpected. The All Stars MITBLM might have landed a number of injuries, but the WWE showed their respect to these men by making them the main event, as they should have been. Even Cena versus Henry was a solid match. I wasn't thrilled with the ending to the WHC Match, but it pushed storyline forward. All in all MITB was better than many of us thought possible.
In Ring Segment > B+
I had to give this segment such a solid grade because it was unusual, and unexpected. The drum roll was funny, and Cena was expected, and Orton wasn't a shocker, but Fandango? Where the heck does Fandango fit into all of this? I was very confused about why he was out there in the ring pushing himself upon Cena...
Orton vs Fandango > B+
And then there was this match. I've been saying all along that Fandango can work the ring, but hasn't been booked to show that side. I was shocked when he was booked in the MITBLM, and didn't figure that he would actually make it to the match, but when he did, he showed some really solid work. I cheered, but honestly didn't expect much more, then this! I was blown away by the work in this match. Orton keeps stepping things up, and while I was worried that most of it was because of Bryan, but now I can see that Orton's gotten his mojo back and is really giving it back to the fans who love him so. What did surprise me was that they put Fandango in the ring with him to do this. I don't know what the plan was, but I'm glad they did it. It's about time the WWE let Fandango really work the ring, and against Orton as he is right now was a lovely idea. The only really noticeable issue with this match was that Fandango seemed to dive off the top a bit too early for Orton's superplex, but if I'm nit-picking that much, it was obviously a really strong match. I hope this wasn't a one time thing. Now that Fandango has shown that he can work the ring, and with the likes of more than one top Superstar, I'm hoping that they're going to keep pushing him and his left leg drop.
Winner – Orton (13:07)
Backstage Segment > B-
Okay, this might be a bit harsh, but I expected more from the two of them for this segment. We knew AJ would try to butter Ziggy up, and that Ziggy wasn't going to have any of it after she screwed him out of the WHC at MITB, so I really expected passion and fire here, and it just wasn't there. AJ didn't even throw any really great crazy faces in this segment.
In Ring Segment > C+
I think I've gone from being really annoyed by Henry to feeling a bit bad for him. He had one glorious moment, but everything before that was either flat or humor, and everything since has been terribly wishy-washy. His delivery isn't the best on mic, but I don't think he's been getting the best storylines, or scripting. And now, after all this horrible crap, the way he turned on the fans during his 'retirement' segment, he's turning face? Maybe it's Henry who needs Vickie Guerrero as his manager more than anyone else right now. If anyone can get someone over as a heel it's Vickie, but now Henry is going to be a face? Yes, The Hounds of Justice had very good reason for going after Henry – he returns and almost immediately gets a WWE Title shot, and all because he demands it – but it feels very fake and wrong. They all handled the segment well, but it really didn't go anywhere, do anything, or mean anything. Hopefully something interesting will come of it, but right now all I see is a great triple bomb on a really big man.
Backstage Segment > B
I will admit I'm impressed that Maddox seems to be remembering his lines, and remembering everyone's names. I didn't think he'd work this well off Jericho, but it is Jericho we're talking about here. Jericho, as usual, was just howling here. The younger wrestlers need to study videos of Jericho's work, on mic and in the ring.
ADR vs Ziggler > B
I know I give ADR quite a hard time, but I will admit that this was a solid match, and it was great to see that he was willing to do more than attack Ziggler's left arm to set up for his submission finisher. These two men carried on really well from where they left off at MITB, where they had been working the ring beautifully.
While these men worked the ring in a very solid way, it was the end of this match that meant the most, and was the most entertaining. The way the bell rang was confusing, but the look on AJ's face wasn't. AJ is one crazy chick, and while working her way through the roster, she's not letting any of them off easy, and now it's Ziggy's turn. The bad thing for Ziggler is that AJ now has Big E as her muscle. I'd much rather see Big E working as a face, because he's so much better at it, but he will get there, and maybe working against Ziggler he will get a chance to show some personality going forward. Finally we get to see Big E work the ring, and AJ when she's at her best – scorned crazy chick!
Winner – ADR (15:51)
In Ring Segment > B+
The more that we've seen the likes of Ryback, Curtis Axel, and Bray Wyatt working these characters, the more I wonder what was going on in Dusty Rhodes' head when he saddled these guys with Skip Sheffield, Michael McGillicutty and Husky Harris. While Ryback has had issues, Ryback is who Ryan really should be. Joe is so much better off as Axel, and I'll admit that Heyman is helping in a huge way, but in reality Joe needed a character he could work with, not a crap name and no character at all. Then there's Windham who was the token fat boy with the crap alliteration name, and like the other two, no character or personality at all! Finally they're breaking out of the shackles that tried to hold them back, and they are showing that they really can be Superstars. Not all of them will make it, but at least their getting the chances to prove themselves.
Bray is stepping things up in a huge way. He proved himself on NXT, and now he's proving himself on RAW. That Bray and The Wyatt Family debuted only last week and people were itching for Bray to be injected into the MITB PPV in any way possible should show just how much we expect from him. While MITB was a fantabulous PPV, and I think many still wish he'd been involved. And while he wasn't, he sure made up for in on RAW. Every last movement from him, Rowan and Harper were executed perfectly. Rowan and Harper did their jobs, Bray on mic was jaw dropping, then hitting Sister Abigail was just great. I cannot say enough about Bray and how far he's come from Husky Harris.
Video > B+
I'm very impressed with the Performance Center. This is something that couldn't have happened before this point in the evolution of the industry. I think it will be a wonderful thing for the WWE and the Superstars, and I can't wait to see how much more the WWE and the industry will grow because of it.
The Real Americans vs The Usos > B-
The Usos and Cesaro carried this match. Carrying a grudge against Swagger? Me? Absolutely! Look at how long it's taken me to get to the point that I wasn't spewing venom at Jeff Hardy at every turn. And then there's Orton! I don't like people who let their arrogance and egos get in the way of safety of others, and Swagger did that when he smoked pot, then got behind the wheel of a car, and then when he got in the ring with Ziggler that night that he gave him a concussion. I've never been big on Swagger, and I'm not sure I will get past what he's done because he thought he was above the law and better than everyone around him.
Cesaro looked solid in the ring, as did the Usos. It looks as though the Uso stock is going up in a big way. They're looking great in the ring, and the fans are really behind them. Their match with Rollins and Reigns at the Pre-PPV Show was inspired (from what everyone's said, I will fully admit that I missed it Sunday night, and haven't had a chance to go back and watch it yet due to driving 5 hours for two appointments today, but it's at the top of my list for tomorrow), and I'm sure that did a lot to bring many fans around for them. I'm excited to see where the Usos might be able to go from here, especially when so many of us thought that they were little more than less than stellar fillers until a really good team came along for them to face.
Winners – Usos (2:16)
Sandow vs Christian > B
So Sandow wins the MITBLM and then loses the next night to Christian? It was a short match, and not a lot to it, but what there was was solid. I actually quite enjoyed the reversals at the end of the match. I don't think I will ever be able to call Christian's finisher the kill switch, it will always be the unprettier in my book. The whole reason for this match was to show Cody's ire for being screwed by his bestie, and Cody handled that quite well. Actually, Sandow did as well. His arrogance with the case, but how he fled through the stands shows a couple of different sides of his character. I hope he doesn't turn into the typical arrogant heel who's afraid to face the person he crossed. I always think of that as the Triple H heel, as he played the role so well and so many times in the past. Hopefully there's substance behind this feud as they both deserve it.
Winner – Christian (3:04)
Video > C+
I don't know what the plan is for these 1-800-FELLA videos. So many want to see Sheamus turn heel, but we won't be seeing that happen with these new videos coming out. They're just a bit too perky for my taste, even though I adore Sheamus.
Naomi vs Brie > C+
Okay, okay, I know it's because of Total Divas, but I'm so annoyed that we keep getting stuck with the Bellas. They're pretty girls, but the Bella Twins are not wrestlers. Naomi, on the other hand, is quite possibly the best Diva on the roster right now. I'd love to see what Naomi could do in the ring with someone like Natalya, Kaitlyn, or AJ, but not the Bellas. I will say that Nikki did a great job of leaning against the apron to keep her balance without her crutches, but it was Naomi who really stole this match. JBL gave her huge props, and they were well deserved. Hopefully we'll be seeing more of her in the ring and soon, but against someone who can actually wrestle.
Winner – Naomi (4:07)
Video > B
Heyman is so fantastic, even when most of what you see is his back turned.
In Ring Segment > A
Heyman and Punk are two of the best in the WWE right now, and that's why their feud is so powerful. I know the match is going to be between Punk and Brock, but the feud is between Punk and Heyman. The way Heyman turned on Punk at MITB was dirty and ugly, right up there with some of the most brutal attacks because of their closeness. Heyman and Punk have brought their real lives into this storyline because they are so close, and it's made the emotions of the storyline real. Even the fight between Brock and Punk felt better than any fight Brock's had since his return. Finally it feels as though Brock is doing more than going through the motions to collect a paycheck. Richard says this is Punk's doing, that he's pushing for them to get to know each other for their build and ring work to be better, and I see that it's working so far. Working better than anything Brock's done in the WWE since he returned. I cannot wait to see what will happen next with Punk and Heyman, and I'm hoping that this pushing by Punk will make it so Brock won't be a danger to Punk in the ring between now, and at SummerSlam.
Backstage Segment > B-
I'm all about the short silly segments, as I've said before. As long as they're kept short and to the point, they can be a lot of fun. I've really enjoyed Khali backstage with Natalya, and he was almost as fun with Cena. The whole thing was really cute, if a bit confusing.
Backstage Segment > B-
The messing with Maddox has started. It wasn't as great as the messing with Vickie, but obviously they're up to something so far. I loved how they poked fun that McMahon isn't usually around on Mondays when he is the one person who is always around on Mondays, almost without fail.
RVD vs Jericho > A
Guys like Punk and Bryan have been ushering back in an era of solid ring work, less of the five moves of doom, more of the technical and creative ring work that I so love. That they've worked so hard to bring it back, and we are all luckier for it. Because of the changes being made in the WWE, two great men were able to step into the ring in a way that they have in the past, and gave us all something very special. I cannot get over the chemistry and ring work we saw from two men in their 40s, and in some ways they showed up many of the younger guys. I wrote this match, play-by-play, and I thought it was a 12-15 minute match, not over 20 minutes, because these guys were so enjoyable and entertaining to watch.
Some might say that Jericho couldn't handle another loss, especially one to someone like RVD, but after a match like that, there isn't any real losers. Richard was right in Ask WNW in that Jericho is where HBK once was toward the end of his career, and that he's working to help get people over and things like titles don't really mean as much as the work he does with others.
Winner – RVD (21:03)
In Ring Segment > B+
I know people rip on Cena for being corny, goofy, and the all around goody-goody, but sometimes it works for the purpose, as it did here. Cena had a couple of cheap shots at a couple of Superstars, especially Ryback, but the best of what he did was work the crowd. We all knew that Cena was going to pick Bryan to face at SummerSlam. Even if they hadn't screwed up and let it slip out briefly on WWE.com during RAW, this is what the fans want, and Bryan is at the top of his game right now, so it's the perfect time. It was a bit corny how they came up with slipping Bryan into the match, but it was very different, and I will give them props for that. I do wish that Cena had said something to the Brooklyn Brawler who stood on stage to the far left with Khali and Ryder. Being in Brooklyn, it would have made sense for him to throw Lombardi a bone, but that's just me.
So Cena carried this segment well, but it was Bryan who made it glow. Austin made one simple word into something huge, but that was nothing compared to what Bryan has done with yes and no. Even Cena couldn't keep a straight face when Bryan was right up in there yelling "YES!" "YES!" "YES!" with the fans right there with him. I cannot wait to see what happens at SummerSlam, but what leads up to it could be just as fun, if not more so!
RAW this week was jaw dropping. There were obviously bad moments, but every show has those. The flow wasn't the best, but the moments that were great were awe inspiring. Coming off MITB I was both excited about RAW, but also worried that it wouldn't live up to what it could be, but because of Heyman, Punk, RVD, Jericho and Bryan, RAW was spectacular!