I have to admit I was surprised to read that people weren't very impressed with Miz on announce. I thought he was a breath of fresh air I didn't know we needed. For me he was both endearing and annoying. That he both put Cole in his place, and joined Cole in ganging up against Layla was an interesting and unexpected dichotomy. Okay, he's not Punk on announce, but I think he could easily develop into a great color commentator. He's well spoken, has a way with words and his character, and he knows how to throw off wise cracks when he's made a mistake. I will agree with JR's comments that filming a promo and being on announce are very different animals but that Miz looked good at announce. Then I flash to Lita. Lita looked great on TV, but is one of the worst talkers – in my opinion – she gets nasally and almost yells more than just talking when in the ring, but she spent some time on announce and made it work. I know it was 'only' on Sunday Night Heat, but she held her own with Snow – after a bit. Her first night on announce was painful to watch. Miz had a much better start than she did, and I think it's something he could do in the future, when his in-ring career was over.
I thought that Miz brought out a different side of Cole. I never thought that Cole and King might be in a bit of a rut, but having Miz on announce forced Cole to not just sit back on his normal arguments with King, and because of that he was so much better last night. I think the biggest thing Miz said last night was agreeing with King that Punk has turned his back on the WWE 'Universe'. I don't know if it was scripted or not, but it could lead to something big for Miz in the future.
I have to say that I love the Chicago wrestling fans! There were parts of last night's RAW that were really good, but made great by the fans in attendance. I think it was said that there was about 13,000 fans in attendance, and they proved what I've been saying week after week about TNA Impact – the fans can make or break a show. Orlando fans are bored, therefore boring and further drag Impact down, whereas the WWE knows where the wildest crowds are and book their shows accordingly. Even with Punk trying to turn heel, he's Chicago's own, so he was going to get the pop, so he worked hard for every bit of heat and the fans loved every moment of it. Because of the fans, this RAW was a really solid show.
Pre-RAW Commercial Segment - A-
I wanted to know what people think about me adding this little extra bit into the RAW Results. I've always been impressed with this little bit of marketing technique from the WWE. It makes perfect sense to advertise the impending RAW during the final minutes of NCIS (original or LA), because of the huge following the show has. Then there's the quality of these little promotional moments, they're always great. TNA has picked up on this idea, but their segments are just not up to par, especially compared to the WWE.
Video > B
Of course they had to set up for Punk and King in Chicago! It's Punk's hometown, something big had to go down with him, and they had to remind us brainless fans as to exactly what went down last week. It was short, sweet and to the point. They also didn't push Punk's blading, wonder why that is?
Backstage Segment > A-
First off, let me say how jealous I am of Gesus and his wife Rikki. They went to RAW in Milwaukee last week, then to RAW in Chicago last night. In two weeks there will be a RAW house show in Portland (Maine) and Night of Champions the following night in Boston, yet I'm not going to either. My realy good friend Jen is getting married that weekend, and I'm sure I will shock a lot of people by saying this, but her wedding is much more important to me than wrestling.
Anyway, what I was getting at is that Gesus texted me before RAW went on the air and told me that Cole's music played and he came out, but then King's music played and no King. More music, and no King. So I knew something was coming with King before RAW even started, but what they gave us was great! I was thrilled to see this fight going down backstage, it really helped bring the fans to another level of excitement, really got the juices flowing before anyone even came out to the ring. I have to say that both of these guys sold everything in this brawl, but that last big boot was sick! Okay, it wasn't the sickest big boot of the show, but it was the best big boot so far in the show.
In Ring Segment > B+
I was very confused when Sheamus came out to the ring. He wasn't who I wanted to see, nor who the fans in attendance, but it was a way to get the show rolling in the direction they needed. Of course the fans were absolutely wild for Punk, but I have to say he looked to Orton-esque for me in his outfit. I think if he hadn't buzzed his hair off, it wouldn't have been a big deal, but with the short hair, his own t-shirt, and those jeans (cut and color), all I could see was Orton. Some people said Austin, but I didn't see it – personally. Actually, I can understand why they would want to push a more Austin look (toes still crossed that they face off at WrestleMania), but I didn't get that vibe.
Anyway, Punk did a great job working the crowd and abusing Sheamus for only being the WHC. Punk made this segment and set up for what could have been a great main event match. Yes, Sheamus was solid and AJ adorable in how she skipped around the ring, even though she had no business to conduct ringside.
Orton vs Ziggler > B
JR said that this was a PPV level match, but I discussed this match this morning with Gesus and he thought it was absolute crap. Me? I thought it was in the middle. While Orton's matches are as formulaic as Cena's and Flair's, and he can be robotic, he's not a terrible entertainer. I felt that he phoned in much of this match, but he did have some lovely moments – my favorite being Orton hitting his father's superplex. It's one of the best I've seen in a long time, and it was even cooler that it was Orton hitting the move. I have to say that Ziggler taking his headstand into a bridge was an interesting and well executed way for him to take his showing off to a whole new level. So, while I can't say this was their best match, it was nice to see the WWE give us a solid and long match early in the show.
Winner – Ziggler (13:41)
Anger Management #1 > A-
I'm not sure who was furrier here – Kane or Bryan. They both have great comedic timing and can deliver lines better than most. I have to agree with something Richard said last week, that he didn't expect this much personality from Bryan. While I loved the American Dragon in ROH, I didn't see him as someone with personality bubbling over. I know I will get people pissed about this, but Bryan seemed to have a rather stoic personality, something along the line of Benoit. Who knew that he was Eddie under all that?
I loved Bryan's "NO!" collage, and the way Kane lit the trash can on fire. They both stayed within their character and storyline, but pushed them both further in a very short segment. I'm impressed.
Rey & Sin Cara vs Tensai & Cody > B
Another match that just fell short. I think if Cody had been partnered with someone closer to his size, maybe Sandow, that this match could have been very strong. Instead there was more of Tensai bumbling around in the ring with guys he could easily flatten without batting an eye. Tensai just doesn't seem to have the ability to work with a much smaller opponent and make it look believable. Other than that, this wasn't horrible, though I wish we could get past Cody trying to take Sin Cara's mask off. It's a horrible role for Cody who should be working his way up, rather than being dropped back into feuds like this.
Winners – Rey & Sin Cara (7:51)
Anger Management #2 > B+
I didn't think this segment was as good as the first one. I did like the way Kane sort of caught Bryan, but then how Harold was dropped. Bryan thinking he understood Kane felt a little creepy to me. Maybe that's the way they wanted it, but it felt slightly off to me. I will admit that I'm hoping these segments are over, that they don't drag this out too long. They're great segments, but they need this to evolve to the next level – whatever that might be. I just hope they bring Harold along for the ride, because I think he'd be a fun character for them to continue to abuse.
In Ring Segment > B+
I have to say that Sheamus sure got the short end of the stick when it came to Punk last night. On the other hand, Punk sure worked the fans. He whipped them into a frenzy and dropped them hard! Punk is so good at what he does, I just wish he wasn't looking like Orton when he did it.
I know this is the backstage continuation of Punk leaving, but I love his interaction with AJ. Even better was AJ not having a clue who Striker was and made him her errand boy – love it!
Sheamus vs Swagger > B+
While this wasn't a spectacular match, it was fast paced and interesting. Okay, I'd have given it a B-, but Sheamus' Texas cloverleaf won me over. I thought it was pretty kick butt to see Sheamus debut a new move/hold, and that it's a move that we see so rarely lately, I have to give the man huge props. That one move absolutely brought this match up two grade points, and I can't wait to see him use it more. He's really developing quite a nice move set, adding a submission hold is a lovely bit of gravy.
Winner – Sheamus (2:43)
In Ring Segment > C & A
The first grade is for the boring way ADR had to attack Sheamus. This is modus operandi for ADR and Ricardo, and so many other heels. It's always pathetic to see a face fall for it, yet they always do.
But then there's Ricardo and that brogue kick! I said that the big boot King took was the best big boot to that point in the show, this was THE sick big boot of the show. Ricardo took that bump beautifully! I was completely blown away at how well he took it, and how well he sold being knocked out by it. After RAW came back from commercial they showed how they revived Ricardo, and if I didn't know better, I'd have sworn he'd been knocked out. The dazed look in Ricardo's eyes was just perfect. Each bump he takes makes me want to see him working the ring that much more.
Eve vs Kaitlyn > C+
Whether that botch was an honest botch, or it was a scripted botch, they made it work, and made it work well. I thought both Kaitlyn and Eve handled that well. I also found Eve's new smiling and hand shaking to be beyond creepy, in other words, really great! We all know someone like that, and I thought Eve hit the nail on the head.
Then there's what was going on at announce. Miz and Cole really lit into Layla! That was some brow beating they gave her! If that had been real, it could have turned very ugly. I was impressed with how all three of them handled that segment behind the table.
Winner – Eve (3:10)
Backstage Segment > C+
It's about time something happen with Swagger and his losing streak. Guess it's time for him to go back and get repackaged. I hope the WWE doesn't let Swagger go before he can come back as something different. I know this guy has it in him, he just needs a personality to go with his look and his skills. It's not even his lisp that's the issue, it's that he has absolutely no personality or charisma going on. Maybe some time off the air, some time to rebuild himself, he could come back as a force to be reckoned with. Not sure AJ would have agreed at that moment, but this should be a good thing – hopefully.
Anger Management #3 > B
The doctor finally cracking at Bryan and Kane was great, and I hope this means it's the end of this therapy. It was obvious that all the niceness won't last, but I don't think any of us expected anything different. Where will they go from here? I don't care as long as they don't drop the ball with these two (and possibly Harold), and they don't bring Charlie Sheen in, and I'll be happy.
Announce Segment > C
I really had to laugh when Cole told us of the three things to vote for when it comes to Bryan and Kane. When I heard 'hug it out', I knew we were in trouble. I really want to see them as a tag team. They could be so great as a team. Yes, it might be a bit of a step back from Bryan from the main event, but they're so over with the fans, that they could revive the Tag Division. I'm hoping they go in that direction, because it could be good for both of them, and great for us fans.
Backstage Segment > B
ADR really sold his worry for Ricardo. I was kind of shocked by that, but even better was Otunga being their legal counsel. This could be a good role for Otunga, as he sure isn't great in the ring!
Announce Segment > D-
Okay, what the Rock did on set was really cool, and I'm honestly not surprised. What surprised me is the robbers took Rock's badge as real and didn't recognize him, and the horrible hashtag the WWE made up for this! What is up with #BootsToBurglars? Someone make it stop!
Ryback vs Mahal > D
They really need to tweak Ryback's character as this really isn't working. The 'Goldberg' chants are ridiculous and throwing Mahal to him are just trashing both of their careers in one shot. Recently Richard said that while VKM has the last call on everything, but sometimes he's the only on his own little island about certain things, well VKM is on this island alone, possibly with Ryback, but they have no boat and the volcano is going to erupt.
Winner – Ryback (2:12)
Backstage Segment > B-
AJ climbing all over Striker verbally was fun. I'll admit I've never been a Striker fan, didn't like how he handled his wrestling career and how he started his time in the WWE. If you're a teacher and a wrestler, don't call in sick to wrestle in an event, it's really crappy to treat the kids that way. McCool, Spike and possibly Kane (to name a few) were teachers, but they didn't lose their jobs for lying to work a show. There's a way to do things and Striker did it wrong, but he got a WWE contract from it, that just rubs me the wrong way.
Hug-fest > A-
It came up in conversation earlier, just how over Bryan and Kane are with the fans. They're heels, but absolute fan favorites. They're like Kane and X-Pac, but actually entertaining and talented. But in reality, these two handled this segment wonderfully. Gesus said most of the fans there were really enjoying this segment, and while I loved it at home, I think it should have been a bit shorter. If it had been shorter, I'd have given it a solid A. I think they drew the forcing of the hug a bit too much, but the awkwardness and how they handled this segment was fabby. Kane and Bryan have this wonderful chemistry that so few have. I think this could be great for both of them, and hope they end up forced into a tag team so we can continue to watch them struggle together, but possibly dominate the Tag Division while giving it a needed shot in the arm. I couldn't think of anything better for them to do, at least short term.
US Title Match > C-
First off, I have to comment on what Aksana was wearing. In this day of PG WWE, I was shocked she was out there in that top. Let me back up. At the 900th episode of RAW, Maryse was out in such a short dress that the young boys in the front row got a bit too much of an education. Since then I've been watching what the Divas wear a bit closer. That short belly shirt on Aksana looked great, but with such an open back, it was obvious she wasn't wearing a bra under it. I'm not saying she needs a bra, implants stay up beautifully without a bra, but that shirt hung away from her body – not at all form fitting – so anyone at all lower than her could easily get an eyeful looking up. I'd be shocked if some people in the front row didn't get quite a show when she was up on the ring.
Now to the wrestling, what there was of it. This match was a mess and made no sense. He went for the cobra, then didn't, then did. It made no sense to me and made the whole match look sloppy and badly booked.
Winner – Cesaro (2:06)
Ryder vs Slater > B
I was really impressed to hear Miz talk up Ryder the way he did. He mostly talked about Ryder online, but the props he was giving Ryder were nice to hear. To further hear Miz talking about Slater needing to step up with his online action was also interesting. I though that both performed well, even though this match felt like a filler, an afterthought that was shoved in because they were kicking around backstage.
Winner – Ryder (3:00)
In Ring Segment > A-
If there was less of Vickie's screeching, this would have earned a solid A. while Vickie is amazing at what she does, I can only put up with so much of her screech before I want to slap her. On the other hand, she worked that segment hard! Personally, the Board of Directors told AJ to apologize and she did, she didn't have to keep doing it, but then they wouldn't have had a segment.
And then there's AJ. While AJ in the GM role could be good, covering her up, taking away her crazy, taking away the essence of what made AJ so loved by the fans, then sending her out to announce what matches would be on the show the way Teddy Long did – it fell flat. When AJ came to the ring for this segment she had removed her blazer. She'd had it off backstage, but when she came out showing that much more skin, just her arms, the wolf whistles for her were wild! The men have not been happy with AJ covered up. Yes, those are very sexy suits, but the little tomboy that AJ really is goes over with the fans because that's who she is. The fans love that AJ is a gamer geek tomboy and want to see her being her.
It was obvious when she started to pitch her fit as to why she was without her jacket. Yes, it visually showed her falling apart, but more than that, if she'd been wearing that jacket when she pitched her fit, she'd have ripped it apart at the seams. Actually, AJ's mental breakdown in the ring was wonderful. I know how it feels to want to let it all out like that, when everything is going wrong, but most of us don't go off like that, and she took it to another level. AJ showed that this was more than a hissy, that she was actually having a mental breakdown. She's a great actress, and this segment showed so much of what she can do, where she's willing to go with her character. And the sprinkles on top of all this hot fudge crazy was Cole. I hate to admit it, but what he said when AJ was crumbled on the mat, the simple, quiet, almost inaudible words, "I think she's having a nervous breakdown." Those words, spoken in that way – just perfect.
Announce Segment > C+
I would normally skip over this tiny little bit, but I have to comment on it. They'd just shown the recap of Punk leaving the arena, blowing off his match, AJ and all the fans. Miz said that Punk had turned his back on the WWE 'Universe'. Cole responded that it was what King had said that started this all. I'm left wondering if Miz echoing King's words was scripted, so just something he said. Either way, they've set up for possible issues between Miz and Punk in the future. Honestly, I'm hoping that Miz said it off the cuff, and I will hope it was until I hear different.
Falls Count Anywhere > A-
I was really not looking forward to this match. Take Super Cena who always does the same moves, usually in the same order, and most the time it's after he's been beaten down and needs to 'Hulk up!' Then you add in ADR who is terribly boring in the ring, only attacks his opponent's arm, and makes me want to turn the channel whenever I see him.
But the two of them together, allowed to be outside the ring and use the land and weapons around them, it really worked! I thought this was going to be a craptastic main event, but I was brought back to Vengeance 2011. That was the night that Big Show and Henry broke the ring, and Cena vs ADR in a Last Man Standing Match for the WWE Championship. That broken ring made Cena and ADR find different ways to work their match, and they poured that and more into this one. They were creative and worked better than I've seen from either in a long time. There were some moves that looked not quite right, but that always happens. The one move I will call them on is the double clothesline. It was obvious that there was nothing behind either of them, limp arms and little oomph. Gesus also said Cena's drop kick on ADR looked bad live, but I thought it came across well on the TV.
Other than those not quite stellar moves, the way they went through announce, and then worked outback was really well executed. I really enjoyed this match, and should not have been surprised when Punk showed up, but I will admit that I was surprised he put ADR across Cena for the win. I guess the match had to end somehow. I wonder if Punk is going to try to keep Cena out of the WWE Championship Match at NoC. Maybe he will get his new manager to push that? Actually, I'd been expecting Punk and Heyman to join up at some point considering how close they are in real life. Honestly, Heyman is so great on mic – not that Punk needs him as a mouthpiece – but he could bring a whole new level of heel to Punk. The fans love to love and love to hate Heyman, so this could be a lot of fun. As I put across in the title of my RAW Results, I do wonder if Heyman might be building a stable. It's been a long while since we've seen a manager form a stable, and who better than Heyman. It something a lot of wrestling fans have yearned for, and there's a number of younger wrestlers who could profit from the guidance of a strong stable – Cody, Sandow, Cesaro, Hawkins, Slater. Just a thought I wanted to throw out there.
Winner – ADR (13:13)
I have to say that I'm shocked at the segments that I really liked last night – basically the main event – but there were a lot of segments that were really strong. This was a much better episode than last week. Hopefully they'll continue in this direction next week leading up to NoC, and hopefully the crowd is as great as the fans in Chicago last night because they added so much to the show. They have so many directions they could go with things as they set up a lot with this episode. Usually growing episodes are not as good as those episodes where everything comes to a head, but creative did a great job making this episode really strong, and the wrestlers knocked it out of the park. Wrong sport, sorry, I'm a bit mind boggled this evening.
What are your thoughts on RAW?