I have just been reading some of Brodus Clay's interview that was re-posted on Wrestling News World. I am completely blown away at was a class act this man is. Not going live at Wrestlemania after being on the card had to be devastating. I cannot even imagine how heartbreaking that was for him, Sweet T, Cody Rhodes, and Damien Sandow, but I have not heard one word of negativity from any of the four. Yet, the next night on RAW, Randy Orton and Sheamus caught the biggest load of crap from the fans I have ever seen, and Orton had a downright meltdown. The next day Sheamus got on Twitter, he was classy and made a joke about. He actually said, I'll be able to tell my grandchildren I was there.
Obviously everyone has bad moments, but it's how you react to those moments that shows who you are as a person. We have discussed many times how we really dislike Cena's character, but the man behind it all is quite a Superstar. The more I see of some of these younger superstars, the more impressed I get. It appears to me that more of the younger superstars are following in Cena's footsteps than in Orton's footsteps. There are always going to be those whose heads get too big, too quickly, and end up being more like Orton and Swagger, but it seems as though more of the young superstars are learning good work ethics, philanthropy, and how to be good human beings. It seems as though many things are going right backstage at the WWE these days. Some might miss the old school ways, but some of these new school ways are working out quite well.
Video > C
Something about this week's opening video really rubbed me the wrong way. It was boring, and not overly informative. Yes it set up for Heyman and Brock, and reminded us about Ryback's now dirty ways, but otherwise was very lackluster.
In Ring Segment > B
I will admit that I liked how Cena referred to Daniel Bryan as an ancient Chinese philosopher, and used Bryan's famous "YES!" and "NO!" to make his segment more interesting. The use of Betty White, a spatula, and DTF was also quite well executed, as was admitting that he has not been 100% since 2002. I think a lot of us forget that these people go to the ring every night at least partially banged up, or sore from something, never mind any type of intestinal distress, or foot fungus.
Vickie, as usual, was grating, annoying, and badly dressed, but she is fantastic at what she does. And in all honesty, the dress look great on her, it was the mid-calf boots that made her legs look short and chunky.
Ryback was Ryback, but Cena was a better Ryback. Between the snorting, breathing, and snarking, Cena had Ryback down pat. I did like how Ryback decided what this stip for their match should be. It made a lot of sense, but was also a bit daft. I'm getting visions of Cena, duct tape, and Batista. We all know that Cena will do anything to win a Last Man Standing Match, no matter how dirty, even though he is a face. Honestly, I think Ryback handled himself quite well on mic, which could have been hired in the ring with Vickie and Cena.
Oh, I cannot forget to mention Cena's little nod to Vince Russo. When it comes to On A Pole matches, Russo rules.
Announce Segment > D-
I'm grouping all of these segments together in one here, because there were just so many last night. It seemed as though after every match, in ring segment, backstage segment, or video, the announcers needed to talk about Heyman and Brock at Titan Towers. While I can understand they consider this a huge storyline, they jammed it way down our throats last night, and it was too much. By the time Triple H hit the ring I was ecstatic, because I figured that was the end of the stills, tweets, and her surveillance footage, and we were still stuck watching a recap of it before the main event. And that was after they visited this at least five times from announce before the segment. There is more going on in the WWE then Brock and Heyman at Titan Towers, therefore the announcers should be talking about more than Brock and Heyman at Titan Towers!
Orton vs Sandow > B
I liked how Sandow was able to mount some offense on Orton, but not enough considering his talent in the ring. Sandow should be getting pushed to the top, not jobbing to the likes of Orton. Further, Sandow very clearly sang some of Orton's biggest problems, yet he still jobbed to Orton. I honestly don't know how the WWE can build the next big WWE Superstars if they don't give them a chance. Yes, it's nice to see Sandow working the ring with Orton, and many would think it's a step up for him, but I thought it wasn't handled very well because of Orton's arrogance and his unwillingness to sell Sandow's moves well. I have to admit I'm a little surprised that Orton didn't have negative words about Sandow after the match, as it's the type of thing Orton's become known for. And what was up with Orton's pin? He gave the heel arm across the face, but the body location looked more dirty than wrestling.
Winner – Orton (9:27)
In Ring Segment > B+
Jericho on mic was just fantastic here. Jericho is one of the Superstars that the younger guys should be watching videos from. Jericho isn't just a flash in the pan, and I know a lot of people were not sure about him being the very first Unified Champ, but Jericho has more than proven that he was worthy of that role. Jericho has done a wonderful job working against Fandango, messing with his name, jet not sucking up too much TV time.
Fandango vs R-Truth > B
I can't say that the grade for this segment was for the actual wrestling, but the match was entertaining. Between the judges, Fandango on mic, and R-Truth working it all so well, I thought they did a solid job of it. I'm always impressed at how Fandango stays in character while working the ring. He took some solid bumps, yet still stayed the dancer through it all. Funkasaurus not being able to find the #10 card, so he held up a 42 for R-Truth dancing was the final laugh to seal the segment. I do have to mention how happy I was to see Fandango out with a dancer who can actually dance, and wasn't trying to step in on his growing stardom.
Winner – R-Truth via Count Out
Video > A+
Triple H's Susan G. Komen video was lovely.
Backstage Segment > B
I really enjoyed how Bryan handled Ryback, but it was Kane who stole the segment. Ryback tried to talk down Kane's monstrous ways, honestly I thought it was more funny than anything. We all know Kane goes between being a good guy, a bad guy, humorous, scary, silly, mean, but he's always a monster and has been since he first appeared and cost Taker that HIAC against HBK.
ADR vs Ziggler > B
I know that they are setting up for their match at Extreme Rules, but there was more going on outside the ring in this match then inside, and that can be quite problematic at times. Swagger prove this after the match with the reckless way he tossed the ladder around. He was very, very lucky no one was hurt by his actions, especially going into a big pay-per-view match. All that outside stuff being said, this is actually pretty good match. Both Ziggler and ADR worked the ring really well, and sold wonderfully. I was more impressed with ADR than usual, but being in the ring with someone as creative as golf is bound to push his own creativity. I know I catch a lot of guff for being such a Ziggler fan, but I think he has what it takes to be the top guy, and continues to prove it week in and week out.
Zeb on announce was very interesting. He climbed all right up on top of Michael Cole, and surely gave him what for. Seeing what he is doing now with Swagger, I wonder why he's been off television for so long. He's great on creative, but watching him in front of the camera, Zeb really shines. Watching him now makes me think of the years we have missed him on television. I'm very glad McMahon brought him in for this role, but I have to admit that I wish he was leading someone other than Swagger. We will all have to wait and see what happens when Swagger goes to court, but I think the WWE is setting a bad precedent by pushing him as hard as they are with this hanging over his head.
As cranky as I get about Swagger and ADR, putting them in a Ladder Match with Ziggler at Extreme Rules, these three men (after their MITB matches) and their entourages, could steal the night. Looking at the card so far, this is the match I am expecting the most from, and if booked well, they could give us a match of the year contender.
Winner – ADR via DQ (15:03)
Video > C
I find it odd that the WWE is teaming up with Yahoo. After everything they've done with YouTube, it seems like a strange direction for them to go.
Backstage Segment > B-
I understand why the Bellas are the ones messing with Kaitlyn, but it goes back to reeking of of cattiness and putting women in a bad light. Yes, many women get involved in this sort of nastiness, but it seems to me that the Divas get involved in more of this crap and make women look so much worse than we are in real life. It seems as though the good really gets lost in the bad with the women more than with the men. All that being said, I love watching Natalya and Khali talking. He seems so much more at ease with her around. I know he's married, and she's been in a long term relationship for a very long time, but he really seems so much more at ease on mic with her by his side. I think he's hysterical when they're together backstage, and he comes off as such a sweet goofball. His wrestling skills suck, but these little moments are so much fun to watch.
The Shield vs Kofi & Usos > A-
I'm working on an article about Saturday Morning Slam, and the Usos (hopefully be posted tomorrow on wwenews.net), so I was wonderfully surprised by this match. I was so surprised to see them on RAW, and especially in a match with the likes of The Shield. These are the guys who have been working with Taker recently, and they looked great working with the Usos. I'm a fan of the Usos anyway, but being in the ring with The Shield made them look that much better – especially compared to being in the ring with Prime Time Players.
Now, I have a theory, so please hear me out before you tell me I'm daft. A lot of people questioned Kofi being strapped right after he'd had such serious heat on him backstage. What if Kofi still has some heat on him, but they wanted to strap a face, someone they could push briefly, but then be totally squashed by Ambrose for the US Title. I can't think of any other face that would fit into that role right now. Further, putting Kofi with Team Hell No against The Shield at Extreme Rules with all the titles on the line, the six of them would give a jaw dropping match. Kofi is really exciting to watch in the ring, and working against The Shield with Team Hell No would make a lot of sense. Many of us were were very confused by Kofi being strapped, but if this was the longer term picture for him and the US Title, I think it makes a lot of sense. The questions behind Kofi being strapped, and the way Ambrose seemed to be almost salivating over the US Title after this match is what brought the whole theory to mind. Just something I wanted to throw out there.
I want to mention one more little thing about this match that caught my the first time around. When I'm writing the live results I miss a lot of the little nuances of matches, but I saw some of the tag work between The Shield and I was blown away. We all know that they have a certain amount of time after they tag out, for them to get out of the ring. Well, at one point Ambrose tagged in, and as he was climbing into the ring, Rollins tagged in. Ambrose hit a drop kick on an Uso, then Rollins immediately hit another drop kick on the same Uso, and pinned him for two. That's the type of tag work we so rarely see in the WWE these days, and it was so effortlessly executed. The beauty and mastery of their tag work left me speechless. The announcers mentioned The Fabulous Freebirds and their tagging work during this match, and I had a dream match moment in my head – imagine the Freebirds in their prime facing The Shield!
Winners – The Shield (6:40)
Cesaro vs Ryder > B+
We have been seeing much more of Ryder recently. I don't know what that's posting mean, and it might only be because 3MB has been taken out by The Shield recently, but it also could be a good thing for Ryder. I know he has been jobbing since his return, but maybe there are looking to see if he really is that dedicated, and willing to job to get back on TV. But for me it's Cesaro who has made the biggest change. No more yodeling, or that goofiness that went along with it (sorry, I couldn't help using that pic, even though it's so different from who he is now). He is even stopped with the United States flags all over his ring gear, something I am thankful for. I cannot say the beret and aviator glasses are the best look for Cesaro, but I love that is viciousness is back. I have been saying all along that Cesaro is a top star in the making, and it's nice to see him finally stepping up into that role. I know a lot of the issues he's had have been with character development, and that's not all him and it's not all creative, but it is a process most wrestlers have to go through to figure out what is right for them. Seeing Cesaro hit his gut wrench, and his neutralizer, while cracking his neck to show how bad ass he is, made me smile.
I really enjoyed seeing Cesaro on mic. He was strong, well spoken, and finally believable. He wasn't doing any silly gimmicks, he wasn't trying to be someone he is not, and he was finally believable. I know I have been saying over and over that what wrestling is missing today is some of the over the top characters that made us all fall in love with the industry, but that does not mean that every wrestler needs an over-the-top gimmick. Certain guys, like Cesaro, are better off going with who they are and making it work for them. To me, this Cesaro feels like a throwback to SCSA, but also very much Cesaro. I am planning on watching Main Event this week, just to see Cesaro. All that being said, I found it interesting that Cesaro mentioned NXT before any other show. I was speaking to Jesse about this, and we both agreed that it felt like he worked shoot. As Jesse knows a lot more about NXT than I do – I have a lot of catching up to do – I asked him if there was anyone in NXT who should be brought up to work with Cesaro. The one named Jesse very quickly gave me was Adrian Neville. He used to work the indies as PAC. I'm planning on checking this Neville out tomorrow, just to see what he's like.
Winner – Cesaro (2:01)
In Ring Segment > A-&D
I am sure I'm going to catch flak for the grades on this segment even before people read what I have to say. I'm sure everybody believes, okay most everybody believes, that I am going to say the A- is for Triple H, and the D is for Brock. Not true! The A- is for creative, Heyman, Brock, and Triple H. The D is for how crappy and cheesy they made Triple H's office look.
First off, because of all the time spent setting up this segment, I was annoyed as it first started. They put too much into the build, and because of that I was bored, and annoyed by the whole storyline before we even saw Heyman and Brock step into Titan Towers. The fact that Heyman actually shut his mouth and let the video play, rather than talking through it all, even though he did that previously, made the video more dynamic. I enjoyed the way, Brock and Heyman walked through Titan Towers, pointing out specific posters, and ignoring people who tried to stop them. What I did not like was Brock putting his hands on people who are "innocent bystanders." It is one of those things that the WWE does that really bothers me. I specifically liked Heyman's comments about Killer Kowalski. Who did he ever train?
But then they walked into "Triple H's office!" To me it was quite obvious that it was not Triple H's office. They cut the video of Brock stepping into the office, from Triple H's outer office, quite well. The thing is that Triple H is a top executive with the WWE, and he would not have a crappy, cheesy, piss-poor office such as that. That desk almost crumbled when Brock slammed his feet down on it! While I'll admit I used to write my WNW articles on a laptop as old as the one Brock trashed, even I've stepped up from that, and I'm sure Triple H's laptop is much snazzier than mine. Then there's the fact that there was a laptop and a desktop at that desk. Honestly, that doesn't bother me as Stacy works on his desktop at work, and talks to me on his laptop next to him, but Triple H was in Virginia at the time, so why would his laptop be on his desk? They obviously would not be trashing really good furniture and electronics for this segment, but to me the stuff they did trash looked so terribly cheap it was not believable.
Beyond all that, I really enjoyed this segment and everyone involved in it. Trip worked wonderfully with Heyman, as usual, and the segment further pushed his match at Extreme Rules. My problem with that is the same problem I've had all along. If Triple H is going to continue work the ring, he should be working to elevate younger wrestlers, not working against Brock which doesn't really help anyone involved. Triple H in small doses is really loved by the fans, and he should be using that to push the company forward, rather than just having glory matches with the overpaid oaf.
AJ & Bellas vs Kaitlyn & Dactyls > C
They have a Divas match and they don't have one of the best Divas on the roster in the ring. Naomi stood on the apron and did nothing while Cameron was in the ring. I know that AJ wouldn't have been able to get the upper hand on Naomi, but it still irks me to see the most talented standing by and watching. I will say that AJ looked really pretty good in this match, and Kaitlyn was a force! Hopefully with this new show on E! Will help push the Divas in the ring more this summer, and will show McMahon that we really do want to see strong women who know how to work the ring.
Winners – Kaitlyn & Dactyls (2:43)
Video > A+
I thought that Diddy did a wonderful job with this PSA. The more big names who step up against bullying, the better the world will be. I cannot imagine how hard it is to be a child in this media age. It was hard enough to be bullied at school, but to follow you home online has to be dreadful. We need to do all we can for our children.
In Ring Segment > B
We saw something in this segment is so rarely see, Henry thinking on his feet. He really worked the crowd well, better than I remember seeing him work them. Henry kept the fans going with the "What?" chants, and then ripped on them for it. I have never been a huge fan of Henry on mic, but he was fairly decent here, better than average. Then Sheamus came out and was still so much better.
Sheamus vs Barrett > B-
I have to admit I was surprised when Barrett came out, and then really bummed to see him again. I had high hopes for Barrett when he returned, but he sure has not lived up to them. And then there's the fact that he is a Champion, but he is there barely enhancement talent in this match. That doesn't say a lot for the IC Title, or Barrett. Then there's the fact that it has been a week and a half since we last saw Barrett, and to me it felt like months. I can't say this match was bad, but I can't say was fantastic either. Basically an average match, with more going on outside the ring than in.
Winner – Sheamus (7:05)
In Ring Segment > D
I had to split this off from the actual match, because I did not want to drag the grade for the match down with this. Now, I have nothing against Henry attacking Sheamus, what I do have a problem with is Mark Henry, the Worlds Strongest Man, needing to steal a trainers belt to whip Sheamus with. It felt cheap, useless, and rather pathetic. Henry is supposed to be so terribly strong, yet he has to steal a belt to go after Sheamus? To me that is just sad.
Video > ?
Fandango will have a Dance Off with Jericho? I'm honestly not sure about this, but it's Jericho, so I have higher hopes for it than anything else of this ilk.
Kane vs Ryback > B
While I know Ryback had to win this match, and I know Kane has been great at putting over younger talent, something about Ryback beating Kane just rubbed me the wrong way. I know I am a true diehard Kane fan, and that is why seeing a character, one who has been so misused over this past year, annoys me so much. I felt the same way when Ryback went over Bryan on Smackdown last week. Something about it just feels wrong, but it has to happen for Ryback to look viable against Cena at Extreme Rules.
I will say that it was nice to see Ryback actually working in the ring, rather than just throwing his couple of Goldberg-esque type moves. I have been saying over and over that Ryback does have ring skills, he just hasn't been booked to use them. He did look better, mostly, in this match, but as with on Friday, Kane and Bryan are great at making their opponent look better than they might otherwise, depending on who they are facing. Kane is a workhorse, as is Bryan, and they did well in the ring with Ryback. It was obvious why Team Hell No were booked in singles matches up against Ryback. Neither of them were squashed, but both of them helped Ryback move toward his WWE Championship Match in two weeks. I think that the Team Hell No losses could also help The Shield when facing them at Extreme Rules.
Winner – Ryback (8:57)
In Ring Segment > B
Again, I had to separate this from the match, and give it its own grade. I love seeing Bryan a rush out to Kane's side, as much as I enjoyed watching him dive through the ropes onto Ambrose and Rollins. To me that was much more exciting than watching Ryback swing a chair at Cena. Though I will admit that Ryback swinging that chair moved their storyline further along.
I have to say that I was very excited about a few specific moment on RAW, and really put out by a couple others. As I said before, I really wonder why Henry thought he needed a belt to go after Sheamus, being that he's the World's Strongest Man. And I just couldn't suspend my disbelief enough to believe that Brock was trashing Trip's office. On the other hand, Cesaro looked fantastic tonight with his new look, renewed viciousness, and greatly improved mic skills. And The Shield showed us just how elegant tagging really can be. I've been saying all along that there's a lot of greatness in the future for all three of those men, and they weekly show us why that is so.
I'm going to hold strong to my Kofi theory, and hope that because it's been written online it won't be changed. I'd love to see The Shield walk out of Extreme Rules with the US Title and the Tag Title belts in hand. They might just become a bit unstoppable with that much gold, even though it's considered minor.