Because I had another medical appointment that was a two hour drive each direction, I asked Jesse Sherwood to write my pre-blog for me to speed things up so I could get this out to you faster. Jesse has been doing a fantastic job with Smackdown Rebound, and I'm thrilled that he's willing to join me here this week.
The last two Raws have seen something different to their format, the Divas not only being given time to work a good match, but also being allowed to be the main event of the show. While I know some object to the Divas closing a show, I see it as WWE trying to rebuild people's faith in the Division. And after these two matches, we fans should be taking notice! AJ and Kaitlyn laid everything out there last week, and while it may have been a bit reckless for Kaitlyn to bump as hard as she did, it showed that she was willing to work as hard as any of the men. And AJ sold her character better than half of the roster! Then you go to this week, where we saw the Dactyls both put on a clinic for what a Divas match should be! Naomi's training and improvement from the time she was on NXT season 3 really showed, and Cameron was surprisingly good, considering her time in Tough Enough! It's a shame that they had to work against such tepid opponents as the Bella Twins. With the talent that WWE has coming up through developmental such as Paige and Summer Ray, the talented trainers down there such as Bill DeMott and Sara Del Ray, and with Dutch Mantell there to hopefully teach WWE some things about booking women's wrestling, this year could be shaping up to be the Summer of Divas!
Just to warn everyone that because this is the go-home to WrestleMania RAW, I will be grading it harder than I normally do for any other given Monday night. I hope you understand why.
Video > C
This week's video wasn't horrible, but it also didn't inspire me. If I was a casual fan, I would have shrugged and possibly only watched the show because of how close we are to WrestleMania, and all the name dropping in the video.
In Ring Segment > F
Let's face it, Cena sucked it up on mic big time here. The fans gave him a huge reaction when he came out, the heat for Cena was the loudest I remember hearing in the past 7+ years. The problem is that the cocky, cranky, Cena from last week was again gone, and we had corny, goody-goody Cena back and the fans hated it.
Getting reaction is good, any reaction, but the longer Cena talked, the quieter the fans got. He seemed to physically struggle with what to do when he heard that 'boring' chant from the fans. He knew he was bombing, so do you stick with the script, or try to get the fans back? Sadly Cena just got louder. Cena is the face of the company, but he didn't have the stones to pull a Punk. I like a lot of things Cena does, but he really needs to grow a set. What would have happened? Would McMahon have fired him? That's not even an option. Changed the outcome of his WrestleMania match? Like that's even set in stone now! So what if it might change the direction of his character, what he was doing very obviously wasn't working.
My final note as to why I failed this segment is my nine year old daughter Samantha. She's been walking around for weeks trying to figure out who she's going to pick for the WWE Championship Match at WrestleMania. She loves both The Rock and Cena, so it's very hard for her to choose. Lately we've let her stay up a little later and watch some of RAW with us. When Cena came out she was excited to see him, but even before the 'boring' chants had started she had gone over and dug her Cena and Orton Rumblers out of her Easter basket and went about building a house for her Scott Hall action figure on the deck of my WrestleFest game! When the kid and her mother – Cena's demographic – are bored and annoyed with him, there's a big problem that need to be addressed. Hopefully McMahon really took in what was happening in DC with Cena so something will change.
Orton & Sheamus & Big Show vs 3MB > C+
Sadly McIntyre didn't get the opportunity to shine in this match like he did last week. Actually, there wasn't a lot of shining from anyone in this match. I can't say it was a bad match, because there was no dangerous moves, nothing that looked terribly bad, there just wasn't anything really great about it. Sometimes matches are just matches that are not overly exciting, but most of these six men can put on really solid and interesting matches, and we're less than a week away from WrestleMania. There wasn't even any tension or issues between Big Show and Sheamus. I know they're supposed to be looking like they get along, but the group needs to carry some of that tension into their WrestleMania match so there's continuing questions. These six guys were just boring.
And as much as I love The Shield, they weren't overly exciting either. They came off well on mic, but they didn't come off as though they were less than a week from WrestleMania and they needed to push so the fans were clamoring to see their match. I just expected so much more from these none guys.
Winners – Orton & Sheamus & Big Show (3:05)
Video > C
I think they need to do something to spice up Zeb and Swagger a bit more in these videos. They were in DC, so I was expecting a lot from them, but all we got was the exact same appeal without anything interesting. I know they have their platform, and that's solid going into WrestleMania, but I expect more reasons why they believe what they do, not the same half dozen reasons over and over. There's so much they could do with these two, especially Zeb who is one of the best, but it's starting to feel as if they're being held back on mic. While that's a good thing for Swagger, Zeb needs to be handed the soapbox and allowed to let his grandiloquent ways run wild.
Backstage Segment > B-
I like how ADR showed some intelligence in this segment. It felt very organic for the character, and helps with the feud. I'll also admit that 'pinata with a mustache' made me laugh.
Bryan vs Ziggler > A-
This was one of the two matches on RAW that was worth the time to watch. Ziggler keeps stepping up and facing some of the best in the company, and he's been holding his own. I will say he was a little outclassed in this match, but almost everyone in the WWE is outclassed when they're in the ring with Bryan. That Ziggler can look so good is a testament to his star power and hard work, but also to Bryan's hard work at making everyone he's in the ring with look that much better. I'm very excited about their match going into WrestleMania for this reason. Also, the way the post-match attack went down, I'm really wondering where they're going with the TTC.
When the first couple notes of Bryan's music hit, Sam ran over to her Easter basket and pulled out her newest and favorite prized possession – her Kane mask. She put it on and bounced back onto the sofa, thrilled to see two of her favorites, Kane and Bryan. Anyone who thinks kids only watch wrestling for the likes of Cena doesn't give kids enough credit.
Winner – Ziggler (11:07)
Slam of the Week > B
I was pretty impressed with how they went through all the history between Brock, HBK and Trip from this past year. All the 'broken' arms, and all the storyline. It worked really well, but was also nicely short.
In Ring Segment > B+
Seeing HBK back always brings a smile to my face. He always looks so happy when he returns, but I think that stems from HBK loving his life away from the WWE. Retirement really seems to agree with him. Even better than having HBK back, is having HBK and his bestie back together again. I love the emotion between them, their chemistry is almost unmatched. I'm sure most of us expected HBK to get cranky like he has in years past, but tat he's completely behind Trip this year ads a whole other flavor to it all. Yes, I'd love to see Steph involved in some way, but that's because I wish she was on TV more on a regular basis. We know HBK is only back this time of the year, and so it's only fitting that he's going to be in Trip's corner.
The other reason I liked this segment is that Heyman said that Trip would no longer be COO if he lost against Brock. I was under the impression that Trip's in-ring career would be over, not that he'd be out of the WWE completely. For me a career ending match is the end of a wrestling career, not what Heyman implied. I think this is going to change how I predict this match.
Recap Videos > F
I don't know why they kept jamming Cena's horrible segment down our throats, but you'd think that they'd have learned from the fan reaction to it live and juggled the show around a bit to cut them out. It's not like they don't normally juggle the show around as it happens.
Barrett vs Ryder > D
I'm honestly not sure who I'm more down on right now, Barrett or Ryder. Barrett's been given this great push, but his mic work has been lackluster since his return. His ring work had been solid, but even that has come across as boring lately. Then there's Ryder who I think has continued to shoot himself in the foot at every turn and every push. Jesse wrote an article about Ryder's career issues over at WWENews.
For me the best part of this match was Miz on announce. He kept the match going, even when the actual match wasn't worth watching.
Winner – Barrett (3:51)
Backstage Segment > B
I really enjoy Santino. It's good to see him healthy enough to be back. I'll admit that I'd been missing his certain type of humor. I only like it in small doses, so this was perfect. Vickie was also solid in this segment. For me Maddox didn't know whether he was coming or going, but I guess I shouldn't be shocked by that.
Santino vs Henry > C+
I know they needed someone to feet to Henry, and Santino is naturally one of the first on the list, especially since Ryder had already been beaten. Honestly, this was a less than nothing match.
The best part of this match was after it was over and Ryback came out. I will admit that Henry had me with 'only one thing's going to happen tonight, and that's smile.' He sold it wonderfully with that smile of his. Then the way Ryback used Santino as a weapon, the way Henry had used the bar on Smackdown. I like the creativity of it, and wonder what they might do on Smackdown to continue this.
Winner – Henry (0:53)
Backstage Segment > B+
I thought Punk was really good here. He was creepy, eerie, and continued to push the buttons of the fans and Taker. I thought this was wonderfully executed, but should have been in the ring.
ADR vs Zeb > D
Wow, that was a huge waste of time. I don't think this segment did anything to push their WrestleMania match, and that's what they needed to do during this go home RAW. I was very disappointed in everything BUT Zeb going out there and working hard, and especially the commitment ADR showed in the beating he took.
Winner – ADR via DQ (0:48)
In Ring Segment > A-
The fans were right there with The Rock, hanging on every word. Not sure I liked The Rock talking about being president, but I understand that they did that because they were in DC. He did hit his most famous catchphrases, and the fans hung on every moment of that. The Rock didn't take up a huge chunk of the show to say nothing. Okay, I won't say that The Rock said a lot to further their feud, but it reminded the fans why The Rock is so beloved by the fans. This was a direct opposite of Cena's segment, and because of that, it was wonderful.
Jericho vs Cesaro > B+
Did Cesaro pee in Trip or McMahon's Cheerios? We keep hearing how McMahon is high up on Cesaro, that's why he's US Champ, why he keeps retaining the US Title, yet he keeps losing, keeps being fed to the fishes, and he doesn't have a match on the WrestleMania card. Further, Cesaro is a fantastic wrestler who continues to prove himself, no matter who he's in the ring with, yet he keeps getting the short end of the stick. What does Cesaro have to do to get past this glass ceiling? If I'm this upset and frustrated over this, I can't imagine how Claudio feels!
Now that I've gotten that off my chest, this is the other match on RAW that was worth the time to watch. Both Cesaro and Jericho went out there and worked hard. I know, shocker, but it needs to be said because they both go out there week in and week out – when Jericho is with the WWE – and perform better than so many. Their ring work is top notch, and it's always top notch. I'm hoping that after WrestleMania season is over, after Bryan and Kane have finished all they will have to finish, Bryan will feud with Cesaro. I don't care if there's a Championship involved in any way, I just want to see them feud!
I loved Fandango out with scoring cards! That was such a creative way to bring the dancing back into Fandango's character, Jericho's time on DWTS, and the stroyline as a whole. I'm very impressed. It's something they could carry through by having Fandango's dancing partner flashing scores outside the ring during Fandango's matches after WrestleMania. She could flash high numbers for Fandango's moves, and really low numbers for his opponents. Just a thought. What didn't impress me was Fandango flopping around on the mat with Jericho after his very first attack. I know Fandango's ring work is better than that, much better. I worry that the pressure of it all could be getting to him. He came back with those wonderfully unique leg drops that were flawless. Further, that Jericho took one of Fandango's leg drops face down show that Jericho absolutely trusts him. I have to admit that the "You can't wrestle!" chants confuse me because we haven't seen him wrestle! I'm just happy he's continuing to get such a huge reaction. Also, I will be posting an exclusive about Fandango later this week on WWENews.net, so stay tuned!
Winner – Jericho (12:35)
Dactyls vs Bellas > B+ & D
The first grade is for Naomi's ring work. That young woman is a star, and not just a star for her dancing, or her character, but a star for her wrestling skills. She took it to Nikki in that ring, and looked flawless in every move and bump. Someone could claim that when she went for her sunset that she was so high in the air it looked unrealistic, but I say it shows her athleticism and that she has springs in her feet! I'm completely floored by her ring work, and agree with everything Jesse said above about the Divas, and hoping we're seeing a change with the great training and with Dutch hopefully pushing McMahon on the Divas Division. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Cameron and her skills in the ring. She didn't get to show them off like her partner, but she has them. I'm really hoping we'll see a lot more from them at WrestleMania.
The second grade is for the Bellas. The skills of the Dactyls showed just how inadequate the Bellas are in comparison. The only offense Nikki had was using the ropes and an arm bar. After what we saw from Kaitlyn and AJ last week, and the Dactyls this week, I'm hoping that the Bellas type of wrestling is again becoming obsolete in the WWE.
Winners – Bellas (4:45)
GONG! > B+
They dumped fake ashes out of a fake urn, and people are melting down. Moody's children said they approved the storyline, but when they saw it on TV they felt different about it. Even if McMahon changed up some parts of the storyline, Moody's children shouldn't be surprised, this is Vince McMahon we're talking about. I don't want to come off as callous or cruel, but this is the WWE and should we really expect them not to cross that line? Look at the other lines they've crossed through the years. I'm just going to wait here while you think of all the truly horrible things that the WWE has done under the guise of entertainment. For me, this was no where near as bad as it could have been, and I'm still running on the theory that Moody would have found it great that he's still such an integral part of this storyline. Further, is this really worse than anything Bearer might have done in his day on the WWE?
I was not going to venture to grade this segment because I knew that no matter what I post, I'd be slapped around in the comments section, but then I realized that I'd be wimping out, and that's not who I am. I thought that WWE ended the go home to WrestleMania RAW with the most shocking moment we've seen in a very long time, but the same people who are complaining each week that WWE just doesn't go there any longer because the show is PG and the AE is over, are the same people who are having fits today. I stipulate that this is exactly what the WWE would have done in the AE, and possibly much more offensively. Look at Katie Vick! What about Dawn Marie sleeping with Torrie Wilson's father, marrying the old man in the ring – in their skivvies – and then killing him with a heart attack because of all their wild sex? DDP stalking Taker's (former) wife! Anyone remember Lita's relationship with Kane and Snitsky punting a babydoll from the ring? And then there's Tim White's multiple suicide attempts! And since we're talking Taker (and his brother Kane) in so many of these horrible storylines, how long was it that Taker was satanic? He hung Big Boss Man in a HIAC! Taker and Bearer kidnapped Steph and Taker was going to marry her in a satanic wedding! Is Punk rubbing some sand over his face really that offensive compared to the storylines I've mentioned. I'm not the only one in the WNW who has a lot to say about this matter, and I recommend you check out Elto's article over on WWENews.
There's always going to be someone offended by something, and I'm sorry Moody's children are not happy the morning after, and I do feel bad for them in all of this. They lost their father, and we need to remember that, but I don't know anyone who will forget Bearer and all the wonderful things he's done for the industry, for the WWE, for The Brothers of Destruction. He will always be in our hearts, and that's the most important thing.
Sam just came in and told me that she's going to decorate her new bike with wrestlers. She's going to put ADR on her seat so she can sit on him. She's been watching a lot of Happy Days, so she's learned some old slang, but she also hasn't been able to get over ADR running down Foley/Santa. She also wants to put tiny stickers of Cena and Fandango on the arms of her new glasses, so if anyone has any ideas for her glasses, I'd greatly appreciate it.
Beyond all that, I think the WWE struggled through this very important RAW. There was some high moments, but all in all the low moments really hurt the show. Okay, Cena really hurt the show. I could go on and on about Cena turning heel, or at least changing his character, but I'm just going to sit back and be quiet because if McMahon didn't learn anything from the fan reaction this week, then he's too out of touch to be running the company. I'm going to keep my fingers crossed and focused on all the exciting stuff that's happening this week, and WrestleMania coming this weekend. Yay!