Thinking back, it's not at all hard to remember where I was when I learned Eddie Guerrero had passed on. It was a Sunday in November, so I was with my NaNoWriMo writing group at Panera. Even though I was there to write, the first thing I did after getting my coffee was look at WNW. I wasn't working here yet, but I was already a loyal reader. My daughter Ellie was there with me, and another member of the group is a wrestling fan. I read that Eddie had passed on, then said it aloud. I just said his first name, but both Ellie and my friend Ed knew exactly who I was talking about.
We were all in total shock over the loss. Even though we were there to write, I kept checking periodically to see what new information would be coming out about what had happened to him. It was just such a shock that this man who had finally cleaned up his life was suddenly gone. He had been doing everything right. He got off drugs, stopped drinking, proved himself, got his wife and family back, found religion and had become one of the guys that people went to backstage when they had a problem. Eddie went from that man who people whispered about in worried tones to the man people went to for advice, religious or otherwise – and Eddie knew which advice people wanted before they even spoke. He had become a man who proudly carried on the Guerrero name in the wrestling industry, and then he was gone.
It still weighs heavy on my heart each November when the anniversary of his death comes around. We watched as Eddie so publicly went through so many personal highs and lows that greatly affected his career in so many ways. I remember how bad he looked before he was taken off air and sent home to clean up himself and his life. It was obvious that he was in a terrible spot, but I also remember how great and happy he looked those last couple years of his life. He went out on top and so happy. I'm not saying that it was at all good that we lost Eddie, but at least he had found happiness and peace before he passed. And I know I've said it many times, it's really horrible that we had to lose Eddie to discover what a Superstar Vickie is. When one door closes, another opens. We all miss you Eddie.
Pre-RAW Commercial > A
The tone in Cole's voice when he spoke about King returning to RAW was just wonderful. The other stuff was just fluff, it was obvious that all that mattered to Cole was King's return, and he gave us that through his words and the tone in his voice.
Video > A+
This is the WWE, so they started with a lovely video for the US Veterans. While some might roll their eyes, for me it made perfect sense for Cena to narrate the video. That man is devoted to the kids and the soldiers, and for that he will always hold a special place in my heart.
Video > C+
Having kids means I have spent a lot of time watching the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. Okay, I'll admit it, I love some of the shows as well, but these opening videos with that narrator flashes me back to a certain segment that used to be on Nickelodeon GAS (Games And Sports) about ten years ago. Basically they would tell these silly little stories about dodge ball, or soda bottle bowling in the driveway, or keep-away and make it into a huge story about a specific kid in the story who prevails above all the horrible things that happen. The narrator of these opening segments brings me back to those overly dramatic stories, and not in a good way. The WWE really needs to drop the narrator, or bring in someone who doesn't scream silliness. It's such a strange dichotomy with the wrestling, but this time it doesn't work.
Orton vs Ziggler > B-
I am rather upset with this match. I had really hoped that they would push Ziggler a bit harder and make him look a bit stronger against Orton. Orton can handle looking a bit weaker, but Ziggler needs to be pushed much stronger, and he hasn't been at all lately. I understand why the made Ziggler look a bit weak going into further segments of RAW, and possibly into Survivor Series, but I'm not a fan of him looking that terribly weak. He doesn't need both Ricardo and ADR to get the upper hand over Orton! I'm also not a fan of Orton being so strong and not taking the humbling that almost any other person on the roster would take. I just wonder what will happen if Orton pops another test. Will they really let him go?
Winner – Orton (3:19)
Announce Segment > A
I'm going to lump all of Cole and JR's segments leading up to King's return together here. While I thought they pushed a bit hard, I understand why then did and won't fault them for that. It really is a huge thing that King came back nine weeks after such a serious heart attack and all that went with it. The fans love King, and rightfully so, but I think Cole has stepped up in a lot of our eyes through all this. Of course he did all he could for King during his heart attack, and carried all he could on his back, but more than that, Cole showed his heart and soul these past nine weeks. He went from that overly annoying total DB who most of us were so sick of seeing that we would cut the sound while watching RAW (not me as the announcers help me get through RAW Results in a big way), to a man who so obviously cares about his announce partner and showed that in his face and voice every time he spoke King's name. He really showed that he's not that jerk on announce and that he cares about King in a huge way. It was lovely to see Cole come into his own these past couple months, I just wish we hadn't had to lose King – temporarily – for us to see that side of him.
In Ring Segment > A-
I thought they handled this segment pretty well. Ziggler made it obvious that he was still running with Vickie, even though she's not his manager any longer. He was strong on mic and downright nasty to AJ. He grew a lot here for me. Actually, his mic work shown through in each segment he worked on this RAW.
It was fun to hear the heat for Ziggler, but then with Vickie started talking you could barely hear her. The heat that woman gets is epic, and she works hard for it all. She is downright nasty to AJ, and that's what's pushing her heat even higher! I didn't think it was possibly for her to get more heat than she had been getting, but this AJ scandal has pushed her up to a truly awe inspiring level.
Finally AJ is back in what I think of as AJ clothes! We've seen her in ring gear and backstage, but she was finally out to the ring in her skinny jeans and tiny mid-drift baring top. That girl might be tiny, but she had an amazing little figure, and her stomach is rock hard! The fans in attendance were so thrilled to see AJ in the ring and she handled herself so well. She's back to the quirky expressive girl who won us all over early on. I loved how she stopped Cena from attacking Ziggler so she could do it. Do I see a mixed tag match coming up where Cena and AJ will face off with Vickie and Ziggler? Of course that can't happen with Vickie as the supervising manager of RAW, but I'm hoping that doesn't last very long. Honestly, since Regal has been around on RAW and SD lately, I'd love to see him back in a GM role, but that's just me.
Backstage Segment > B+
I've been waiting for them to start making AJ and Cena a couple. AJ has made puppy eyes at Cena, but it was nice to see them taking the next step. So far they're doing a really good building their relationship slowly and organically; not forcing the issue too quickly.
Big Show vs Regal > C
I have been calling for Regal to be back on RAW, any way we can get him, but getting squashed by Big Show wasn't exactly what I meant! Regal did give his best shot, but this was just a mess. Hopefully having Regal running with Sheamus will bring him back to RAW more, and maybe into a larger role? I'd love to see the man as GM again. Regal and Vickie as Co-GMs could be just fabby! Regal being more of a face right now could play wonderfully against Vickie's uber heel role. Honestly, I can't think of Regal in a leadership role without seeing him drinking his tea that Jericho had supposedly peed in. That man has such wonderful creative timing, and his facial expressions are just hysterical! I know he has two Wellness strikes against him, but he's been clean for quite a while, so why not bring him back and give him a shot?
Winner – Big Show (1:38)
#1 Contender Match for Divas Championship at Survivor Series – Layla vs Kaitlyn > D-
I am willing to bet there was a couple of decent moves in this match, but they spent more time and attention on Eve than they did on the actual match. Honestly, I think Layla and Kaitlyn could put on a really solid match as Layla has picked up some interesting moves, and Kaitlyn has really turned into a power house. Sadly the Divas Division has really been dropping the ball lately, even though some of the Divas could really give great matches. Hopefully Kaitlyn and Eve will be booked well at Survivor Series, but I'm not holding my breath.
Winner – Kaitlyn (1:04)
Video > ?
I might get verbally slapped around for this, but I was really bothered by this video about King's heart attack. The WWE has been pushing the the PG initiative at us so hard, then they showed this video that I thought went too far. I adore and respect King, and I think it's wonderful that he had such a great medical staff at his disposal, and they deserve huge props for doing their job and saving King's life, but I didn't need to see him getting shocked or chest compressions. I was in tears during this video and only watched it out of the corner of my eye. I won't be watching that video again as I cannot handle it. I did want to fail this video, but I did not think that was fair as I am willing to bet I am in the minority in my feelings about this video.
In Ring Segment > A+
The way both JR and Cole spoke about King was lovely. Even though I'm sure JR and Cole have seen King a lot since his heart attack, and saw him backstage before the show, it was lovely to hear them express their feelings for him so openly. I loved the hug between JR and King, but it was King's reaction to Cole wanting a hug was so sweet.
I knew that Punk would come out and get involved with this segment, it was almost guaranteed that he was going to take some credit for King's heart attack. WWE would be remiss if they didn't go in that direction, it was sitting right there waiting to be used. Some people will think it's in bad taste, but this is King and his life is all about the industry, and they would not have done it if King had an issue with it. Of that I am sure.
I have to admit I was quite impressed with Foley this week. Not only was he back on par for what I expect of Foley, that he was fulfilling his obligations working with the Troops when New York is still a total mess. Foley was all the way out there and full on Foley. He really impressed me as being back to that roof jumping man I so adore! But in all reality, most of that grade is for King's return.
Backstage Segment > A-
Punk going off about Heyman needing to fix thing is back to what I expect from Punk and Heyman backstage. Heyman said so much with his facial expressions. It was really well played.
Rey & Sin Cara & Kidd & Gabriel vs Prime Time Players & Colons w/ Rosa > C+
I wasn't really impressed with this match. They all looked decent, but there really wasn't a wow factor for me. Looking back the only things that I can remember from that match that mean anything are Ricardo coming out to give Rosa that note, and the ending run of moves.
Rosa about glowed when Ricardo came out with that note. It really was very high school and adorable. I had been thinking it might be too cliché, but the more I think about it, the more I like the idea.
The ending run of moves looked really strong from everyone, except Sin Cara. I wasn't worried as much about Epico, but it looked like Sin Cara could have really hurt himself on that landing if he was only a little bit off. I actually cringed when I saw Sin Cara land that one. While he's really stepped things up, he still has a ways to go before he really meshes with the other WWE Superstars.
Oh, I do want to say that both Kidd and Gabriel looked really strong in this match. I know they're always good in the ring, but they get such little ring time that I feel I have to make a point of how well their ring work looked when they're on RAW. That 450 was sick!
Winners – Rey & Sin Cara & Kidd & Gabriel (9:58)
Video > A+
I'm really loving how the WWE works with the National Guard. They're a group that gets overlooked so many times when we talk about our soldiers in the USA. It was at a National Guard event that I met Beth Phoenix and learned what a lovely and delightful young woman she truly is.
Backstage Segment > C+
They are filming a YouTube show about Maddox? Yeah, he's sticking around. I do have to say that Heyman going to talk to him was quite interesting, but not at all surprising.
Video > B
I will believe that Fandango isn't a horrible character when I see him. I really don't have high hopes for this one.
Backstage Segment > A-
Miz and Foley were just wonderful! The way they abused Ziggler, and the way Ziggler took the abuse was also great. When Miz asked to be on the ballot, I knew that he would be chosen by the fans. He really made a lot more sense than Santino and Ryder, but they really stacked the deck
R-Truth vs Tensai > B-
While the match wasn't very good, Cesaro was really solid on mic. Between the abuse for his man purse and all he had to say about Americans, he sure garnered more heat from the fans. I also loved R-Truth' knock knock joke after the match was over. He is about the only one on the roster who could get away with that, and he did a great job with it.
Wow, Tensai's stock has really fallen! Jobbing to R-Truth in just over two minutes of TV time, and without a televised entrance is a huge drop in where he was when he first returned.
Winner – R-Truth (2:17)
WWE Rewind > C-
Of course they had to review Maddox in the ring, but I don't have to like it.
$1,000,000 Contract Match > B+
I have to give them props for letting Ryback toy with Maddox a bit before completely obliterating him. They really left some great openings for someone to come out and help Maddox, or something strange to happen. The opening was there so many times, yet they didn't take it. I know that I thought something was going to happen so Maddox would end up going over Ryback and getting the contract. The further beating of Maddox after the match was over made me wonder if maybe the ref was going to overturn the match. So all in all, they did a really solid job selling this match for entertainment value, though it wasn't a very good wrestling match.
Winner – Ryback (5:43)
Sheamus vs Otunga > B+
Not a great match, but there was some solid tension and a couple of lovely moves. Sheamus really showed his strength when he carried Otunga around like he weighed nothing. I know he held Big Show that same way, but the way Sheamus so casually carried Otunga showed a lot.
When they showed Regal backstage watching the match, I knew he was going to get attacked. I will say that Rosa and McGillicutty also watching that match looked a bit strange. McGillicutty's smirk was really offsetting for some reason.
Winner – Sheamus (2:23)
Backstage Segment > C
Regal with a broken jaw? That seems a bit much, but we will see.
Backstage Segment > A
these are the segments that Team Hell No are so wonderful at. Small little segments where they have a few funny lines and push their strange and sometimes rather creepy relationship further. I loved that they went back to this type of segment because it works so well for them. Bryan being such a little crybaby was adorable. He knows how to put it on and make it look totally real. That's total bull that Bryan wouldn't tag with someone else if the match was set up that way.
Team Rhodes Scholars vs Kane & Miz > A-
While this was a really solid match between these four really great wrestlers, Bryan made the match something stellar. Between rooting for Miz like a petulant child, and trying to sabotage him at every turn, it was so much more of what has made Bryan into one of the biggest Superstars in the company. Even funnier was that Kane totally missed Bryan's involvement in the ending of the match until he and Miz started arguing rather than celebrating. Bryan and Miz yelling at each other like little boys fighting over a ball in the school yard about had me on the floor laughing. If I hadn't been writing the RAW Results, I would have rewound and watched that entire match over again immediately to catch all the nuances that I know I missed the first time through. These two guys are going to make Team Foley into something unexpected and fun. My only worry is that the two of them will make this Survivor Series match into a comedy routine, and that could be devastating to the PPV as a whole.
Winners – Kane & Miz (5:33)
Video > A
I'm really looking forward to Tribute To The Troops. They always do a wonderful job with it.
Punk vs Cena > A-
I have to say how happy I was the fans were so invested in this match. Other than the fact that only the women really liked anyone involved in this match, the reactions were great. It was a lot of fun listening to the fans hate on Cena and Punk, but cheer through so much of the match. The dueling chants for Cena were really loud.
The ring work between the two was solid, and Punk brought out a lot in Cena, as he always does, but even Cena's favorite move set was getting wild reactions from the fans. They went through a couple of really interesting reversals that impressed me. I was honestly impressed with some of Cena's ring work, something I did not expect I'd say in reaction to a regular match on RAW!
The post match theatrics added so much to the grade of this segment. Not only was the stare down between Ryback and Cena set up for their match at Survivor Series, but Punk's reaction to it all sealed the deal. That was a really solid way to go home to Survivor Series, even though I'm worried about the PPV as a whole.
Winner – Cena (13:19)
I have to say that I really enjoyed that they swapped out JR and King mid-RAW. I think that's something they could do on a regular basis, at least until King is ready to be back full time. I was honestly really worried when King started on announce as his voice was really raspy, but it evened out very quickly. While I'm thrilled to have King back, I really enjoyed having JR on RAW. I think there's a way to keep both on the show and break up the three hour show for those of us at home. Just my two cents on the matter.
EDIT - I wanted to say something about Miz that I forgot to mention earlier. Richard posted that Triple H was not high up on Miz possibly turning face, but I have to say that the fans in Columbus loved him! I know Miz is billed from Cleveland, but I wouldn't think that was close enough for the fans to love him just by proximity. Either way, I think Trip has been overruled by the fans on this one.
I also want to mention that I didn't mention Heyman's 'heart attack' on purpose. I just could not let King's segment get sullied by the mere mention of such horrible taste. I guess I should be happy that the WWE went a bit Attitude Era there, and I have to admit that it felt good that they did that, but I wanted to leave that segment the way it is for King. Here I can both sneer derisively and laugh hysterically! (Thanks for putting up with my little edit. They were a few things I missed when I was trying to write with a twelve year old little girl who couldn't quiet down for ten minutes and work on her school work.)