I have the feeling that I need to start this Blog with a disclaimer the way 'The Choice' Matt Andrews does as I can see this Blog getting people screaming at me. Yes, I took this directly from 'The Choice' as it's so beautifully written. Therefore – This is a Blog, not a news article! The following writings are the opinion of a staff member of WNW. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the owner of the other members of staff. Also – comments are welcome as long as they provoke meaningful conversation, or constructive criticism. Grammar/spelling is subject to ridicule.
I sat here earlier today (Sunday January 1) and watched all of the new cryptic videos and Kia's (Kharma) Christmas video as I'd been meaning to, but life kept getting in the way. Between puppy sitting (Stacy's parents are on vacation so we're dog sitting my service dog's sister – she's sweet but terribly needy), the kids being on vacation, and trying to clean up Christmas, it's been wild around the house, but I thought it important to watch all of those before RAW aired. Compared to Jericho's breaking the code videos, this was very sparse in clues. I know people picked out things that could mean this person or that person, but for me nothing was as glaringly obvious as the code videos were in the past.
I have run through a bunch of names for this return, some realistic, some downright silly – Taker, Jericho, Shane-O-Mac, VKM, Steph, JR, JBL, HBK, SCSA, Hogan, Brodus Clay, Andy Levine, Mae Young, Big Daddy V, Warrior, Steamboat, George 'The Animal' Steele. Honestly, a number of those I just put out there because they're silly.
Steele is in there because I like and respect the man. He's a hero to me for who he is and what he's accomplished. Almost anyone with a big name who has stepped out and talk about their struggle with Crohn's Disease are worth my time and (usually) adoration. There are a few who actively earn my disdain for their BS comments about Crohn's Disease (Shannen Doherty and Marvin Bush), but they are few and far between and this isn't a Blog about Crohn's, so I'll stop here.
Okay, I just watched RAW and I think Jericho was fabulous! He was amazing and will not be deterred by all the comments posted during RAW Results and posted to the article about Jericho's return. Some people complained that the videos were very dark, but Jericho's return wasn't. Some people are upset about the way Jericho worked the fans and that Jericho stole ten minutes of their lives, the worst ten minutes of RAW, etc. I have to completely disagree. Jericho worked the fans beautifully! Richard has said, and I usually agree, that a big named wrestler returning almost always has to be a face to start off with. Jericho came back as a face and turned heel in under ten minutes. When Jericho came out Stacy asked if he'd be heel or face. I said face, just look at this reaction, but when the fans started getting tired, even before Jericho dropped the mic, I knew he was going heel.
I'm blown away at the creativity and am willing to bet Jericho and that big smile of his had a huge hand in how his return and turn were handled. Everyone who is yelling and screaming all over the interwebs about how horrible Jericho's return is? They have you talking and that's what they were trying to do. Brilliant! Just brilliant!
B > I know I normally complain loudly when TNA/IW starts (every) show with a video recap of some sort, but I'm not going to complain here. The final segment of RAW last week between Kane and Cena was just fabby, and the way they cut this together was creative. If only TNA/IW's producting and creative crews could learn something from videos like this!
In Ring Segment
B > I give Cena credit for being so upbeat and perky, no matter what the fans say. Actually, Cena was more corny here than he has been in weeks, but in some ways it worked. He's fighting against Kane's suggestion of him embracing the hate by going even more upbeat and gung-ho! Even more interesting was Kane speaking but not being seen. It made me wonder what he might be hiding, or what he might be up to. All in all, both worked the fans and that segment in a solid way.
Bryan vs Cody
C > I've been very impressed with both of these guys lately, but this Match wasn't much to write home about. The ring work wasn't bad and Bryan's stolen win was good, but there wasn't much to it all. I know that's the booking and creative that cut the Match so short, so this lower grade isn't for Cody and Bryan. Actually, the best part of this for me was Bryan after he won the Match. It seems like the end of every Match he's won the WHC for the first time. He virtually glows over that belt and makes me smile watching how happy he is right now. Rubbing it in Cole's face makes me smile that much more. The worst part was how easily Cody was thrown under the bus here. Cody has been climbing the ladder out of mid-card hell and deserves better than this.
Winner – Bryan
A- > I cannot get over the petulant Miz here! He was so funny when he kept saying, "No" like a little boy in trouble. He just wouldn't own up to remembering attacking R-Truth, putting Laurinaitis in a parental role that he handled really well. Even better was R-Truth flapping his wings and quacking at the camera! That man has taken the ball and is running with it in a way I didn't think possible. These men are the future of the WWE.
B > A nice way to remind us that this is the 25th anniversary of the Royal Rumble. I always smile when I remember that Hacksaw won the first one. Looking at this video I was shocked at how little he's aged these past 25 years!
Wade vs Santino
B > This grade is not as much for the Match as for Wade's mic work. I have been determined not to like Wade. I didn't like him early on and haven't wanted to give him a chance, but recently I've come around. He's impressed me more and more, capping it all off with this promo. I saw no reason behind him squashing Santino, but it seems like the job of every heel coming up through the ranks. Either way, the Match sucked.
Winner - Wade
C+ > Ugh! Am I the only one who really wants the Bellas to go away and never return? Seems as though they're little better than arm candy and can't seem to find their place in the company other than being loud and obnoxious, mostly to each other lately. Even their thinly veiled penis comment wasn't very good. Miz was good snapping at them, but the way R-Truth worked visually was the only real saving grace.
Sheamus vs Miz – not really
B+ > Sadly that grade isn't for an actual Match – as seems to be the trend for this show. Again R-Truth made the segment. I didn't think it was possible for Sheamus to be the face he is and I didn't think R-Truth would so easily turn face with the exact same character! The change in the Little Jimmy theme has worked beautifully. Actually, the horrible Bieber-esque 'Little Jimmy' who R-Truth conversed with in the stands was horrible! Obviously a plant and looked it. I don't know who hired him, but they need to rethink their line of work.
D > I don't know what's up with Dolph and his headstands! Even further, that promo wasn't good. He was trying to sound smart and condescending, but instead just looked silly. That type of heel promo would have worked for Miz, but isn't Dolph's type of character. Hopefully they don't keep pushing Dolph in this direction as I think he can make it far without this type of gimmick.
D > This just didn't work for me. Swagger being left to poke crankiness at Ryder just felt weird. Of course Laurinaitis had to show up at the perfect moment to make this Match. It felt more plastic and fake than usual.
WWE Championship Match – Punk vs Dolph
B+ > Until Laurinaitis screwed over Punk, this was a really solid Match. Okay, most of it was solid, but Dolph hit a couple moves that had Punk landing really badly. First was when Punk hit the middle rope with his face. The second was Dolph flipping Punk and ended up landing him on the mat face first. If they weren't obvious botches I'd wonder if Dolph was out to rearrange Punk's face for some unknown reason. Other than those two moves and Laurinaitis' involvement, Dolph and Punk worked this match beautifully. These two should be main eventing. Other than Laurinaitis, their Royal Rumble Match should be great!
Winner – Dolph via count out
B > Who better than HBK to get the fans looking toward the Royal Rumble?
Divas Tag Match
D > The only reason the grade is this good is because of Eve's moonsault off the top. She looked great doing it and landed almost perfectly. Other than that, this match wasn't worth the time it took.
Winners – Bellas?
A > Some people have been complaining that Punk has been losing his edge on mic; that he's kowtowing to the higher ups. This segment should change the minds of those. In jail for animal cruelty for beating Laurinaitis like a bitch? Punk was seething and gave one of the best performances of the night.
A > I know I'm going to catch a lot of crap for giving this segment an A, but I thought it was creative genius. The last time Jericho returned as a face it didn't work and he had to turn heel quickly to save any momentum from his return. This time he returned face and managed to turn heel by pissing off the fans in less than ten minutes without saying a word. It takes quite a bit of talent to work the fans the way Jericho did here.
I know there's a lot of people who don't understand what Jericho did there and don't understand what the videos leading up to Jericho's arrival meant, but that leaves a lot of questions hanging in the air. "You have brought this upon yourself. A familiar force shall arrive to claim what is his. She holds the mystery of my rebirth. But when I beckon her I will return to claim what is mine. She has spoken. It is time. The end of the world as you know it is here. Now." That leaves so much for the WWE to work with from here on out.
I guess the most impressive thing I've seen some from this segment was the fan reaction. As of writing this there were 99 comments to my RAW Results and 72 comments to the article about Jericho's return. I've never seen even half that many comments for any RAW Results. People are talking. Some are complaining, some are cheering, but all are talking about what Jericho did.
6 Man Tag Elimination Match
B- > When was Henry cleared to work the ring? Not saying he really worked the ring, but he did take a couple bumps. Actually, I was impressed with how they got the big men out of this Match quickly and easily. What I wasn't impressed with was Kane not being in the Match without any real reason why. This left me wondering and waiting for him to appear, but that's the next segment. The other thing that impressed me a bit was the way Cena worked the ring. He didn't do his regular moves in his regular order. Things were broken up enough that I noticed that Cena's normal routine was broken. Swagger hung in there pretty well considering the way the WWE has been treating him. It's been obvious that they have little faith in Swagger's abilities these days. I think they need to change up his character and take him in a new direction as it's not his look or his ring work that's hurting. The fans just don't care for him which can be the kiss of death in the WWE. So this was a decent match, but nothing thrilling.
Winners – Ryder & Cena
In Ring Segment
A > Has anyone other than Taker and Kane come up through the ring? Wait, I seem to remember possibly Sting did in the WCW, but I mean in the WWE. Is that role limited to the Brothers of Destruction? Kane did a beautiful job with this. His attack on Cena, ready to drag him off but then deciding to drag him to the pits of hell, or wherever Kane was dragging him. Having Cena rescue Ryder continues to show Cena as a good guy there to help his friend, but shows that Kane is getting to Cena. That fire erupting from the hole in the ring was awe inspiring! WWE has some great pyro guys! Great way to end a strange and confusing first RAW of 2012.
The subtle, yet judicious way this RAW was created was riveting. Cena being uber upbeat and corny, Jericho loving the fans until they hate him, Kane trying to drag Ryder to the pits of under-the-ring. So while I know a lot of people are not in agreement with me on Jericho's return, I'm sticking by my feelings for the segment unless someone can give me solid argument against it. I am more than willing to hear your (nicely worded) arguments for why you think Jericho's return fell flat. I love debate, but won't respond to nastiness in any way, shape or form.