I really didn't know what I was going to start this with, but then I saw Triple H own up to having his little potty accident. There was so much talk online about that wet spot. Honestly, being that it was a week later, he could have just ignored the whole thing and let it blow over, but he made a joke out of it and let the fans know what happened. He keeps stepping up and proving that he's not just a wrestler, but can really become the man in charge. That he has no trouble with a bit of self deprecating humor doesn't hurt either. One other little thing I have to say about Trip is about the Mae Young video. McMahon was talking about his history in the WWE, and then he talked about the kids coming along – Shane, Paul and Steph. It's obvious that McMahon thinks of Trip as his son, and while I have to imagine that's got to be a bit crappy for Shane, no matter what he's doing, or what he says, but I found it really sweet that McMahon said that so casually about Paul being one of his kids.
After RAW last night I was trying to explain to Stacy about just how over the New Age Outlaws were. Stacy has only been watching wrestling for five years, and really missed a lot of the big characters. He's watched quite a few DVDs with me over the years, but most of those have been about the bigger and more flashy wrestlers. Before we went to bed I was rattling off Road Dogg's original ring entrance. I absolutely couldn't do it justice, so I pulled up the October 25, 1999 episode of RAW where the New Age Outlaws faced SCSA and The Rock. We didn't watch the actual match, but we watched the New Age Outlaws come out to the ring and run their schpeal. I was floored at how over they were with the fans. The fans were wild for them, and that was before The Rock and SCSA even came to the ring. The fans were screaming, yelling, waving signs and saying every word along with Road Dogg and Billy Gunn. It was a shock to be reminded at how insane the crowds were, how much they cared for the wrestlers, and not just the biggest names.
While the fans are getting riled up as we're heading down the Road to WrestleMania, it still doesn't compare to those golden days. It is such a bummed to go back and re-watch RAW after watching that little segment on YouTube. It just isn't the same. I guess my biggest question is what can they do to get the fans back, bring them around to those wild days? I don't think it all rests in the shows going PG, because they've been proving over and over that they're willing to stretch PG, and not be so uber corny that we can't bear to listen to what Cena's saying, but what can they do to bring the fans back to the fever pitch we once were driven to every Monday and Thursday nights?
Music & Pyro > A
I normally don't even mention the opening music and pyro, there's no reason to unless it changes drastically. Well, this was an 'Old School' RAW change that's worth mentioning. It brought back so many memories and left my daughters sputtering questions about the pyro, the logo, the siren, and what the heck was Cole and King wearing?! (Sorry, if anyone knows how to program an interrobang in, I'd greatly appreciate the help.) I, on the other hand, had been wondering all week if Cole was going to break out the wonderfully horrid mustard colored blazer, if King was going old school with his garb, and if McMahon would be hitting announce. Two out of three ain't bad.
GONG! > A-
I loved that Taker came out. I used to get up early on Sunday mornings when I was in college to watch WWF Superstars of Wrestling, and 95% of that was all for Taker. Yes, I'm a huge Nash fan, but in those days, I only had eyes for Taker. I would plug in head phones to not disturb my roommate, and watch the show in giddy anticipation for Taker. WrestleMania XX was the first wrestling show I watched with my daughter Ellie, and she didn't understand what the big deal was when that GONG hit, why the place almost exploded. Now, getting close to WrestleMania, she brought it up yet again when Taker came out. It was over WrestleMania XX that Ellie and I started to get to know each other, started our relationship to me taking her from her father's house, and now going into the adoption process. That GONG is iconic. That GONG stops wrestling fans in their tracks. I'm sure there's some wrestling fans out there who do not like Taker, but they're few and far between. Anyone? Anyone?
So when Taker came out I was on the edge of my seat, my daughters were watching, all excited. The IM program I use makes it so I can have info from Twitter and Facebook pop up in the lower corner of my computer screen, but I only have Facebook enabled. Quite a few people quickly posted Taker comments and I smiled as I saw them pop up. I expected so much, and then there was nothing. He came out, and that was it. I love how mysterious Taker is, it's a big part of who he is, but I have to say I thought that was a huge letdown. I really expected so much more. Because it's Taker, he got the good grade, but the WWE should receive much lower for the booking.
In Ring Segment > B+
I loved how Punk came out through the 'Old School' RAW entrance, and didn't act like anything had changed. He and Heyman handled themselves beautifully in this segment. Orton actually impressed me more than I thought he could at this point in his career. For him to bring up big losses like that was fun, though I think Orton is really past the fans caring for him the way they did. I don't care much, the less praise that man gets, the better. Big Show, on the other hand, has been around so much longer, but has some class and that's one of the big reasons he's survived so well. Sheamus coming out the way he did shocked me a bit, but it worked. I know, I'm big on Sheamus, but he adds a wonderful flavor to all he does.
What I don't understand, other than giving us a decent match, why they did this. We've all basically known for a while, even thought Punk said he didn't want to while at ComiCon, that it would be Punk versus The Streak at WrestleMania. This seemed like a big waste in a lot of ways. I gave the segment a solid grade for the work from the Superstars, but not for the way creative put it all together.
And I know some of you get cranky when I talk about what someone is wearing, but I think a lot of the time what someone wears can add so much to their character. That's why I wanted to design clothes in the first place, I saw what the wrestlers wore to the ring and how much it effected their characters. I used to think Vickie just had terrible taste, but recently I've been thinking a lot of what she wears pushes her character even further. That was one horrid dress on Vickie, and it made her bum look worse than Rikishi's. I normally hold my comments to myself during the RAW Results, but I couldn't hold that one back, it was assaulting my eyes, like Vickie in that dress. And where was her little puppy Maddox? I think that WWE creative dropped the ball sending Vickie out without him here.
Announce Segment > C+
Cole and King talking about Tout the first time wasn't bad, didn't really ruffle my feathers, but it was the first time they went to announce for something like this. Rather than writing about each one, I'm going to keep track here of how many times they went to announce, and how frivolous it seemed.
Their second big segment was to talk about Tout and the WWE Magazine. While I know they need to push these things, their segments are starting to feel very ineffectual and almost pathetic.
The third time to announce as Cole looked like a mustard bottle and they showed Taker's return. This one made sense, and was kept short and sweet.
Cole was nicely pissed about the legends getting abused, but this segment was more to set up for Miz's new movie than anything. I have to admit that I'm sick of all this talk about WWE's movies. I think it's great that they're making them, but the releases need to spread out so they're not all taking up wrestling time.
Time to be excited, Trip will be on next. At least they're keeping these announce segments short? I really wonder why they're bothering, other than giving King and Cole face time for some reason.
Finally the last announce segment showed the Touts from the fans. Some were good, but all were passionate. I might actually Tout about something like Taker if I wasn't writing the results. I guess it was the best way to end off these segments.
Cesaro vs Ryback > B
I'm re-watching RAW as I write this episode of RIB, just to see what I might Taker differently from the show, plus I think it will keep me moving faster in my writing and get less distracted by life. I went into this match to see when Cesaro might have been knocked loopy, but I couldn't see it. Cesaro rolled from the ring shaking his head early on, but I didn't see a point where he obviously bumped his head. I just took it that Cesaro was selling Ryback's power, even though I think of Cesaro as being a much stronger competitor, Ryback just has more bulk.
I will say that Cesaro kept his head up off the mat when he took the body drop and the spinebuster, higher than most people do when taking those bumps. I guess it further shows Cesaro strength. Personally, I didn't like Cesaro going under to Ryback here. I would have rather see a jobber go under if they're trying to rebuild him. Cesaro needs to be pushed, not put under at this point in his career. All that being said, I have to say that both men looked really solid in this match, and even better if Cesaro was knocked loopy.
Winner – Ryback (8:06)
Henry vs Ryder > F
Setting up for Ryback versus Henry at WrestleMania? It would be a beefy match, but putting two of the most reckless wrestlers in the ring together on the grandest stage of them all makes me question the direction creative is taking certain things. On paper it makes sense, but after the careless ring work from the two of them, I see big problems.
When Ryder's music hit, I said aloud that I think this will be the last match we will be seeing from Ryder on RAW. Between the way he hasn't been booked on TV, and the way he's been handling himself online, I think Ryder could be on his last legs in the WWE. I don't have the info Richard has, this is just gut feeling, but I'll be surprised if Ryder hangs around through the post - WrestleMania roster cuts. He didn't learn from Matt Hardy's mistakes.
Winner – Henry (0:50)
Promo > F
I'm more than over Fandango and all his promos.
Miz vs Ziggler > B+
I really loved how Miz's mic didn't work when he first started. It wasn't until Flair was out to ringside that it really clicked that Flair is backing Miz and not Ziggler, the person so many of us have been calling for since Flair left TNA. Yes, I can be a little slow on the uptake, but I've been so focused on WrestleMania, Taker's possible return, the new directions that WNW is going, and all the other things going on in the industry right now. I guess it also shows how much Ziggler is again taking a backseat to everyone else, even though he's a true star!
I know it makes some sense for Flair to run with Miz. Miz is a face, and Flair returning almost has to be a face because of how the fans love him. Miz needs the push with his movie coming out. Miz has a similar charisma to Flair, in some ways.
But then there's Ziggler who has a similar look to Flair. He has a strut. He has the ego. And I bet he could lock on the fig 4 better than Miz has until this match. I think they could have made it work between Ziggler and Flair, and it's a fit that makes a lot more sense. Hopefully Flair will turn heel (WrestleMania?) and hook up with Ziggler and his little motley group. Could be an interesting Evo type group, as long as Flair doesn't try to steal AJ from Ziggler. And AJ is another thing, we need more AJ!
All that smack I wrote, this match was really solid, and with the perfect amount of outside distraction. It really felt to me that both Miz and Ziggler took this match and made it a bit flashier than they normally would, that they really made it an old school-esque match, and it worked well. I'm not sure Flair humping the ropes was needed, but I'll also be shocked if he was perfectly sober. Yes, I said that!
Winner – Miz (10:11)
In Ring Segment > A-
My first thought on this segment as it started was that I didn't want to watch it again right now, but that I really do want to sit down and enjoy the intensity between them. This is what old school promos were about. They didn't just throw a few words, get mad and fight, they really poured themselves into it all. Those who could talk well did so, and really put their heart and intensity out there for the fans. Savage, Piper, Flair, The Rock, Jericho, etc., they really left it out there and left the fans loving them or hating them, but the fans were left feeling so much. The fans were either swelled with emotion or drained from it all. This was that type of promo, and I'm quite impressed with how they pulled it off.
But I do have one beef with this segment, and it's with The Rock. The Rock said that no one in that locker room had the drive, passion, heart, fire, will to win, will to be great. No one in that locker room besides Cena – and The Rock – have that, and that's why The Rock wants to face Cena and only Cena at WrestleMania. While that's a lovely sentiment, it was quite the kick in the teeth to Punk, the man who faced The Rock in two huge matches, the man who helped carry The Rock's last two matches because The Rock just doesn't have the stamina needed to go the way the rest of the locker room can. 434 days and he's brushed aside like a piece of trash. I don't care if it's the way it was scripted, it's wrong!
Swagger vs Hacksaw w/ Dusty & Slaughter > F
I really don't like it when the legends of wrestling go out to the ring only to be destroyed. I understand it was one more way to push Swagger as an uber heel, but it made me ill to see. I have no interest in seeing crap like this, even if no one is hurt by it.
Backstage Segment > A
Bryan was just fantastic! This is a man I really thought had little personality, and very little visual expression, and he's blown me away with his character work. I completely agree with what he said, it's more than time for him to go heel and get the lead out, but I'm enjoying every minute of the growth and change of his character right now. His feud with Kane is going to be jaw dropping, possibly could be the feud of the year. The anticipation is making me giddy!
Backstage Segment > B+
I loved how ADR jumped Swagger and went off on him. This is the type of passion we need for the build of them going to WrestleMania. So far it had been Swagger and Zeb talking, ADR reacting a little, but no physicality. I loath the way Swagger attacked the legends, but I love ADR's reaction. He really stepped up the build to the WHC Match at WrestleMania!
Team Hell No vs Prime Time Players > B
I saw 'Million Dollar Man' about a year ago and he really struggled climbing the steps and getting into the ring. I was also shocked at what a quiet and classy man he is in such a cut throat industry. He glowed when I mentioned his sons in the WWE. He really lit up that I mentioned Brett as well as Ted Jr. both being in the WWE. Where I'm going with this is that I'm impressed that DiBiase was able to bounce up after taking a fall on his way to the ring because of how he was moving a year ago, but not surprised because of how he carried himself. I hope he's okay.
I've stated over and over that I'm not a fan of the Prime Time Players. They just don't hold anything for me. I don't like O'Neil, but will admit that he's not as reckless in the ring as he had once been. Both he and Young have a long way to go, but there's so few established teams for THN to face, I understand why they're out there. I really wish the WWE would bring back Team Rhodes Scholars through WrestleMania and strap them. I think they're the best team to be champs after THN crumbles. Speaking of them crumbling, Bryan stealing the money out of Young's mouth was priceless!
Winners – THN (3:44)
Backstage Segment > C
Not a Honky Tonk Man fan, never have been, doubt I ever will be. He just really rubs me the wrong way, and I can't really put my finger on why.
Funkasaurus & Sweet T & Honky Tonk Man vs 3MB > D
Please, someone send me the mental Clorox! There was so much in this match that I want to un-see, un-hear, un-know. Sweet T? Really? Really? I have to say that I did love King being back to his old silliness. The Tippin' Scales? I giggled, even though I then face palmed. It's about time Albert loses the writing across his head and face. They're obviously so past all that, so why even bother?
On the other hand, it was nice to see Slater continue playing well with the legends. He really is so much better than his team as a whole. I like Drew, but he needs more personality. Mahal needs to go away. But honestly, it wasn't until I re-watched this match that I realized that Honky Tonk Man wasn't actually in the match, neither was Mahal. I automatically figured it was a 6 man tag match, and no one said it wasn't. Either way, the whole thing was a mess, other than how Slater handled himself.
Winners – Sweet T & Funkasaurus (0:25)
Video > C
Dead Man Down is coming out.
In Ring Segment > F
Johnny Curtis is better than Fandango. This man has had more debuts and character changes than... Okay, he has Morgan Syndrome, and I feel really bad for him. He's better than Fandango, but he really seems to be putting all he has into the character. It just seems that he hasn't found the right character that works for him. I will say that the Fahn-dahn-goh thing is creative, and that he won't wrestle until his name is pronounced correctly, but in all reality, how is this better than stuttering?
Video > A
Please don't fall over in shock that I gave a video an A. First off, this A is for the production crew who made this video. Not only was it pieced together wonderfully, but the overall color tone changes through the video makes the ending being in black and white not be so jarring. They told the complete story of Heyman and McMahon through Trip and Brock and their bloody fight. As I was watching this video last night, I knew I would be giving it an A, and that it was for the production crew. They more than deserve it for giving us such a solid video.
In Ring Segment > A-
I might get some hate for this, but I really think Trip was as great as The Rock and Cena in the ring because of his heart and passion. Yes, he screwed up with the number of stitches Brock received, but that doesn't bother me. I loved it when he channeled McMahon's firing voice, but more than that, he held me captivated. He ripped at my heart, but also made me smile at calling McMahon 'that old man'. Trip is one of those guys on mic who always leaves me excited or spent. There was a while there when there was too much Trip on mic, but since we get so little of it, I revel in those moments.
Video > B+
I can't say this was The Shield's best video, but the three of them are so good in their own ways. I'm interested in seeing who they will be facing at WrestleMania, because there's quite the number of guys it could be, and I know it will be a crazy good match.
Barrett vs ADR > A-
I was impressed with what an even fight this was. Rather than pushing ADR over Barrett to build him for WrestleMania, they really pushed both of these men in the ring. I thought both of them looked better than either have seemed recently. ADR's cross armbreaker on Barrett over the top rope was inspired, as was Barrett's knees to ADR's face on the apron! ADR's tilt-a-whirl backbreaker on Barrett looked like a struggle, but he hit it. ADR kicking Barrett in the head looked good, but Barrett back kicking ADR in the throat looked better. ADR really needs an actual finishing move, and I have to agree with Jesse Sherwood (Smackdown Breakdown) that the flash kick enziguri, or the tiger flowison made famous by Naomichi Marufuji, but also used by Kenta.
Swagger's lack of expression works for this character, but it creeps me out. Further shows that he really doesn't seem to have much real personality or charisma. I guess it's a creative way to go with him since he seems so blah in all he does.
Winner – ADR (4:52)
Video > B
Zeb is great on mic, whether I believe in what he says or not, he's so good at what he does. Sadly he's saddled with Swagger who can barely speak at all.
New Age Outlaws vs Colons > B+
I was quite impressed by the reaction the New Age Outlaws got from the fans. I won't say that Road Dogg looked great in the ring, but he handled himself well. The Colons also worked really well with them. They were a nice blast from the past who can actually work the ring reasonably well.
I'm ecstatic to know that Road Dogg and Billy Gunn will be facing Team Rhodes Scholars next week on RAW! I've spoken with a number of people who would love to see the New Age Outlaws on WWE TV more, and after what I saw last night, I have to agree. They're not the best wrestlers in the company, but they're an established team who the fans know and react well to. I think they could only help the Tag Division at this point, and bring up fan reaction overall on the shows. I also have to note that Gunn obviously bleached his hair for RAW, and that's something that impresses me. I've complained enough about Ziggler's hair, but I have to say that Gunn's dedication to his character, even after all this time, brought a smile to my face.
Winners – New Age Outlaws (2:55)
Video > C
Recapping Cena and The Rock already? Too soon for my taste. Wait for Smackdown.
Stage Segment > A
Okay, it was 8 days before Mae Young's birthday, but seeing everyone out there with her, so many people putting aside their characters to be there for such an amazing woman, made me feel good. Even better was Henry, the man who is trying to destroy everyone, stepped over to his his former 'girlfriend' on the cheek for her Birthday. Some might complain about Punk crashing through the party, but I thought it was perfectly done, and he didn't knock her on her keester, so all is good. In the video posted on dot.com, Mae said she wants to be in the ring on her 100th birthday and wants to face Steph. The interesting thing is that when Aurora Rose was born (Steph and Paul's oldest daughter), Mae said she wanted to face her on her 18th birthday. Mae will be 100 in 2023, and wants to face Steph, but in 2024 Aurora will be 18. So I guess Mae will have to get in the ring a bit after her 101st birthday, July 24th to be exact, so she can fulfill Aurora's birthright.
Fatal 4 Way Match – Punk vs Big Show vs Orton vs Sheamus > A-
I knew Punk would quickly try to leave the ring and the fighting as soon as the bell rang. It just makes sense for his character. I was actually quite impressed by the ring work of all four involved. They all worked it hard, and proved that any of them could have gone on to face Taker, even though we all knew it would be Punk.
I will admit I tweaked a bit when Sheamus and Orton threw Punk so forcefully out of the ring. Punk has so recently had knee surgery, and WrestleMania is coming, I'd expect they'd be more careful about things like that. I haven't heard anything bad, so I guess I'm the only one who had an issue with it.
The ending of this match with all the finishers and Punk sneaking in to steal the win was just perfect. We all knew it was coming, and he sold his bumps from the match, but his reaction after the match was lovely. He knew it was coming, but sold it beautifully. I believed I saw a bit of emotion there before the GONG!
Winner – Punk (11:50)
In Ring Segment > A-
Not a word was said, but the energy, the sparks going between Punk and Taker were almost visible. Taker always captivates the crowd, but I have to say Punk held his own without saying a word. I'm not yet going to predict the direction their match will take, but I'm excited to see what the build will be.
I just read that Bryan and Josh Reddick are having a 'Beard Off'. My first thought was that Bryan absolutely cannot shave his beard off, and that Reddick's beard looks silly, but after thinking about it, maybe if Bryan's beard comes off, then he will lose all of good-guy-ness and really turn heel on Kane. It's a direction that could really work for his character.
So much change going into WrestleMania, but also so many little disappointments. There's so many people that I really think need bigger pushes than they're getting, all for the part timers to get their big moments. Yes, these part timers are some of the biggest names ever in the industry, but it still makes me worry about what's going to happen after WrestleMania after Taker, The Rock, Trip and Brock go home to lick their wounds? Will they finally push Cesaro, Ziggler and Sandow the way they should be? One can hope, but after seeing that they keep wasting time with Fandango, I have to admit I'm a bit worried.