Could you imagine if the WWE fans were always as wild as they were for this episode of RAW? McMahon and Trip would have to think on their feet a lot more, as would the Superstars. Also, McMahon would have to start catering to the fans, and not the Superstars. I know that sounds really cynical, but it feels to me that the Superstars matter more than the fans a lot lately, and that hurts when I think too hard on it. Hopefully that live crowd opened McMahon, Trip and Steph's eyes and other fans to step up at every event to let it be known what you really feel about what you're seeing!
Sheamus tweeted that, "I will be telling my grand kids: I was there! #NJChantMob #RVD #OleOleOle" Now, I don't remember the 'Ole' chants, but I also couldn't hear a lot of the chants. As I was writing the Live RAW Results, Jesse was IMing me what the chants were so I could make sure I got them written in correctly. So, again, I have to give Jesse huge props for helping me through RAW on Monday. But beyond that, this was possibly my favorite RAW – other than the 900th RAW in Boston that I saw live – in five years. Yes, last year's post-WrestleMania RAW was fantastic, but this topped it by a landslide, and all for the fans. Obviously fans from all over the world buy tickets for RAW and Smackdown after WrestleMania, whether they actually attend WrestleMania, or not.
I was bouncing around talking to Richard about The Rock running home and what was going on. I have to admit I was shocked when I found out that The Rock really appears to be injured, I thought it was covering for someone screwing up. What I don't understand is why did The Rock flee without telling anyone. Why didn't any of the producers of medical staff know that The Rock was at all injured? Why didn't The Rock tell McMahon, Trip, Steph or even Cena, someone high up in the WWE so they knew what was going on? That no one on the medical staff knew The Rock was injured makes me wonder if he didn't tell anyone, and if so, why? I have so many questions about what went down there.
In Ring Segment > C+
I didn't realize that the WWE Title belt was printed on his shirt. I know he took the strap off, but I didn't notice it on the shirt until much later. I really don't like it, but you can't like all the shirts. Heck, so far I haven't seen many that I like, but it is what it is.
I have to give Cena props for thinking on his feet. He reacted to the chants from the fans really well. Cena reacted better than Henry did, that's for sure. Henry just looked pissed off about the chants he didn't like. While Cena really needs to change his character, he did well with the crowd. I think he was just lucky that they hadn't warmed up yet, or they really would have trashed him and Henry in this opening segment. I will fully admit that I will not be as kind to Cena's promos until something, anything, happens with his character.
Bryan vs Big E > B
Richard called it Big E's rookie moment, but I saw Big E slam his hand into AJ's chest. That girl covered her pain really well. Almost anyone else would have been on the floor gasping for breath, but she smiled through it. She tweeted that if she wasn't forced to wear a padded bra, she'd be in a lot of pain. The problem with that is that padded bras don't protect your breast bone in the center of your chest, above your boobs, and that's where Big E hit her.
Big E looked really dominant in this match. He really showed off his strength, but Ziggler and AJ stepped in to help, just so we didn't forget he's supposed to be a heel. I think he has a bright future in the WWE if he paces himself and bides his time.
Winner – Big E (2:21)
Front Row > C+
Kurt Warner was decent on mic. I'd rather see a small interview like this than have Warner the Special Guest Star for the night!
IC Title Match Miz (c) vs Barrett > B+
What the heck are they doing with Miz? If they wanted to keep Miz's pseudo-streak alive, they shouldn't have had Miz face Barrett on the pre-PPV show. They don't count Miz's WrestleMania 25 pre-show loss, but they're counting this pre-show win as a WrestleMania win. Okay, as Jesse just reminded me, Miz wasn't pinned that night, JoMo was, by Carlito, to unify the TTC, but that is crazy math in my opinion. Maybe, as Richard said in Ask WNW, there could be a big picture, and before we go a bit mad about the absurd looking booking, we should remember that, but looking at Miz's matches this week, I'm confused. They could be setting up Miz's heel turn, but right now it just feels like a mess. Miz has been looking really solid in the ring recently, better than ever, so I'm hoping they have something bigger in store for Miz.
I have to slap Barrett around for his very obvious botch in this match. Miz going for his 'vintage' neck/backbreaker move, but Barrett just drops out of Miz's hold and lands on the mat. They ended up konking heads because of it. Further, Barrett's mouth was bleeding quite a bit from the mouth after this. So I don't know what happened, but Barrett really made one of Miz's regular moves look a total mess.
Winner & new IC Champ – Barrett (13:03)
Backstage Segment > B+
I'm still not at all impressed with Maddox, but Vickie and Sheamus came off really well here. Actually, Sheamus was fantastic.
Backstage Segment > B+
While I've never been big on Orton on mic, I loved the way he worked Booker T here. Orton really manipulated Booker T here, and that could lead to a lot of interesting happenings.
Handicap Match - Swagger & Zeb vs ADR > B-
The fans gave Zeb something even bigger than he asked for. This is where the fans really started heating up and taking over the show. I know this was supposed to be a Handicap Match, but Zeb wasn't ever in the match, though the fans chanted for him to get in the ring quite often! I have to admit that I was more impressed with this match than I was their WrestleMania match, but Zeb's little jibes – verbal and physical – from the corner added so much to the match. Zeb kept my mind off the sloppy ring work from both Swagger and ADR. Also, Swagger losing two matches in a row, are they starting the humbling of Swagger again?
Winner – ADR (11:06)
Ziggler cashes in MITB! > A
When Ziggler came to the ring with that case, I was wondering if they were pulling another teaser, but when Justin announced it, I knew it was on. I will fully admit that I was marking out in a huge way. I was worried when Ziggler didn't get the immediate three on ADR, but I really liked how the short match progressed. That Ziggler wasn't able to just cover ADR and win the Heavyweight Title made the whole thing more interesting. It wasn't the way Cena did it, but it also wasn't the way Edge, Bryan and so many others have. I think they did a great job with it in all ways except one. ADR wasn't supposed to put any weight on his left ankle, but at one point during this two minutes he was standing up perfectly fine. I know it happens, but at this level, we shouldn't be able to pick it out so obviously.
I'm sure someone's going to have a fit that I gave this match an A, but I truly believe that Ziggler deserves the grade. He's deserved this push for so long. They've done a lot of teasing, but it now looks as though it's Ziggler's time, and hopefully he can prove he can carry the WHC through the most difficult time of the year. Ziggler has proven himself over and over, and this was his moment. That moment deserves an A. I'll admit that I yelled, "YES!" when Ziggler won, not worrying that I might wake up Sam. She's also happy that Ziggler cashed in, because she still hasn't gotten over ADR running over Foley/Santa. I also have to give the fans huge props for how they reacted when Ziggler came out, and when he won. It had to be a magical moment to have the fans so behind him, even though he's a heel.
Winner & new WHC – Ziggler! (2:04)
GONG! > A-
I have to admit I was bummed that we didn't get to hear what Taker had to say about Bearer, but the possibilities of what they might be doing with The Brothers of Destruction, and Bryan against The Shield left me smiling. Rather than go on and on about this segment, I'm just going to give you a link to Jesse's fantasy booking article stemming from this segment.
Backstage Segment > B+
I think that Ziggler is going to have a hard time staying fully heel with the fans behind him the way they are. Ziggler is almost the antithesis of Cena right now.
R-Truth & Ryder & Santino vs 3MB > C
This was nothing but fluff, but it wasn't even really good fluff. This was the type of thing that was missing from WrestleMania, but it was executed so poorly that even the wild crowd at RAW didn't care. They cheered for the cobra, and that was it.
Winner – faces (3:28)
Video > B
I really like how they cut together the whole week. The production crew did a really solid job with this one.
Video > B
I liked Big Show's video, but I think with a slight bit more 'grrrrr' from Big Show, this video could have been a solid A. Big Show is normally better than this, but it seems as though WrestleMania damped down everyone but Taker and Punk.
In Ring Segment > D
This was the beginning of the fans taking over the show. I wonder what would have happened if the fans in the arena could have decided what to do with the show? They did cheer for Orton to face Big Show, and that's the fans voted for – though how they could know that 77% of the fans wanted Orton so quickly, I don't know. I have to admit that I ran over and tweeted #WWESheamus really quickly.
Orton vs Sheamus > 17
Orton was not at all impressed with the fans and their reaction to this match. Further, Orton got more and more pissed as the chanting picked up. When they started chanting for RVD, I thought Orton might just walk out. We know what an ego Orton has, so that match had to completely piss him off. Cole says that the night after WrestleMania is always this way, but I disagree. The night after WrestleMania is usually a wild crowd that changes the direction of things – last year they cemented "YES!" "YES!" "YES!" - but they've never been this absurd. King asked if they were in Canada – that's where they sometimes have 'bizarre-o crowds', but this was even well beyond that.
The chants of this match were - Ole Ole, RVD, JBL, Jerry, Michael Cole, Randy Savage, HBK, End this match, Mike Chioda, Thank you Big Show, holy shit, We are awesome, One more chair, Jerry. Also, the fans did the wave! The wave has been out of vogue in the USA for almost 20 years!
I really didn't cover this match move for move the way I normally do, because I thought it was more important to cover the crowd than the moves. They were what was important. Further, I fully believe that they changed this match in the middle of it all. Maybe Big Show was supposed to come out, but I'm not sure. I'm sure they were all running around trying to figure out how to save this segment, and sending Big Show out there was the only way to do it. The fans loved Big Show out there, and gave the man the props he deserves, something I'm happy about after all the 'Boring!' chants he'd been getting recently. That spear on Orton was sick, but the air Orton got over announce was jaw dropping! That landing against the top of the barricade had to suck in a big way.
Big Show did a great job on Orton, but I have to admit that he broke character a tiny bit in that he didn't put his hands on King when he was in Big Show's way. Of course he can't put his hands on King as I don't think he's been cleared by the WWE yet, but it would have been in his character to do so at that point. It was the way King was checking on Orton after the abuse that made me really think that Big Show's part in this wasn't planned.
Winner – The Live Crowd In New Jersey!
Fandango vs Kofi > B+
Fandango didn't do much beyond using the ropes as his barre so he could stretch and show off, but it worked for me. He really didn't do as well as I expected at WrestleMania, so he had to work through his character more. What might have helped make Fandango was the way the fans hummed Fandango's music. The last time I remember the fans really singing along with entrance music was for Sandman, when they'd yell 'Sucks!' during Angle's ring music, and of course, singing with R-Truth music before they turned him heel and changed his music. I'm wondering if the singing of his music will carry on after this week. I'm excited to see, and am keeping my fingers crossed.
What I did love from Fandango was how he took his bumps flying from the ring, into the barricade, over the barricade, and into the stairs. Further the way Fandango had to say his name into the mic when it was all over really showed commitment. Jericho was fantastic giving JBL his hat back. That's proof of a top Superstar in my book. The ability to ad lib as they work is something few can get and make work really well, but Jericho is one of the best at it.
Winner – Fandango via DQ (1:30)
Video > B
I will admit that Cena earned a bit more respect from me when I learned that he not only worked WrestleMania with a broken thumb and food poisoning, but knowing he did the media circuit Monday morning after everything really impressed me. WrestleMania has turned into a week long event, and Cena was on the go all week, and while I'm sure most of us think it ends with their WrestleMania matches, there's so much more after that. Cena, the man behind the character just keeps going and going. I don't know how he does it, but that is why he's at the top of the WWE. He really is impressive in all he does – no matter how sick we are of this character.
Video > B
It was nice to see Trip being a real person getting his x-rays. It's a side of them we rarely see.
Backstage Segment > B+
Heyman, as usual, was fantastic on mic. What more can you say about Heyman. He's reliably great, and few can hold a candle to him.
8 Person Mixed Tag WrestleMania Bumped Match - B
I loved the gangster suits on Tons of Funk, and the Dactyls outfits were cute, but someone needs to remake Sweet T's ring gear. Whoever made Sweet T's ring gear needs to re-learn how the human body is built, and especially Sweet T's body is built. He looked like he belonged in Flashdance because his straps just wouldn't stay on his shoulders. I hope whoever made Sweet T's outfit gives him a refund, and makes him ring gear that actually fits.
Beyond Sweet T's ring gear, I thought this match was decent, but really rushed. The fans loved this match, and they really should have given the time the wrestlers deserved after being screwed out of their scheduled WrestleMania match. Hopefully we'll be seeing more of Naomi in the ring against some decent competitors, even men. She's one of the few who could hold her own with them, but sadly the WWE won't do that any longer. You'd think they would want to show strong women who can take care of themselves, but that's no PG somehow.
Winners - (2:25)
Henry vs Cena > D
I really thought the fans were going to chew Cena up and spit him out here. I was expecting the fans to brutalize him, yet they didn't get enough time in this match to do so. All they gave the wrestlers for chants was 'Sexual Chocolate'. Further, they went back to singing Fandango's music. I was expecting so much more from Cena, Henry and the fans, but this flopped quickly, and other than the singing of Fandango's music, quietly.
Winner – Cena via Count Out (3:17)
In Ring Segment > B+
I split this off from the match because Ryback deserves his own grade for his work in the ring. The fans were pissed when he helped Cena up, but loved Ryback that much more for attacking Cena. I don't know if they planned on turning Ryback heel, but it sure didn't work here. They loved Ryback more for destroying Cena, and it was great! Further, something happened! Something interesting, something unexpected, some almost creative! But who will be the heel? Yeah, I know.
For the first time since RAW went to three hours, I was shocked that the show was over because it sure didn't feel like three hours. That I give to the fans in attendance. They made RAW worth watching. This was the best RAW I've watched in years. I hope TPTB don't think that it was only the fans at this one RAW who feel this way about what we've been seeing week in and week out. Yes, the post-WrestleMania RAW is always the wildest of the year, but this year the fans took it to a whole new level, and I hope the live fan-base takes their cues from that crowd and gives the WWE something to think about each week by loudly voicing their views while RAW runs on live TV!