There's been so many things going on with the WWE this week, and that was before RAW even started! I know I've said this quite a few times over the past couple times I've been writing for WNW, but I really try not to write about the things Richard posts in the Premium section, because the readers pay for that added info, and I don't want to let it spill, but there's certain times that something really piques my interest and I have to write about it. I just want to say that I think that Paul Levesque is making some very smart moves with the WWE and is working hard to prove that he really is more than just that dumb wrestler guy who married the Billion Dollar Princess. I'm very impressed and am becoming more impressed with each move he makes. I think the WWE will be in very capable hands when Steph and Paul take over for VKM.
The WWE has been very particular about how most of the Superstars have been using social media, and they have worked hard to keep them out of too much trouble. There haven't been any big problems so far, but I have to say I'm a bit shocked that Punk wasn't wasn't spoken to about a few comments he made today (Monday) on Twitter. WNW is a wrestling site, not a political or religious site (I'd get into a lot of fights if it was), and I try really hard to keep my personal politics and religious views to myself. I've even stepped back a bit in other places online in what I've said as I know I represent WNW when people see my name, even if it's not here on WNW. While I can't say I completely agree or disagree with what Punk said, I'm really shocked that no one in the WWE had a huge problem with what Punk said, or what King said early on in RAW about Pope Benedict XVI. They stepped further over that PG line than I thought VKM would like. Then again, Dutch Mantel really stepped over that PG line, but I will get to him when I get to his newest debut on RAW.
One last thing before I jump into RAW. A couple hours before RAW started I lost my DISH reception and was freaking out that I wasn't going to be able to write RAW Results. I talked back and forth with Richard, while watching Attack of The Killer Tomatoes with my daughter on DVD (we all loved it, not bad for a B-movie entertaining three women from 9 to 39), about what to do about the situation. Luckily DISH came back on, recovered from the third snow storm we've had up here in four days, but during that time I realized just how much I really love writing the Live RAW Results. I've been doing it for about ten years, elsewhere before coming to WNW, and have missed writing less than a dozen shows in that time. One of the times when I missed a show I was in the hospital, and I could barely watch the show because it felt wrong not writing it as it played. I have even written Live RAW Results while in the hospital at other times. It's become a part of my life. The reason I'm talking about this is because I want to know what I can add or change that would make the Live RAW Results that much better for the readers. I will fully admit I have fallen into some ruts, but also think that adding in the duration of matches has added a lot to the overall results. Anything you might have to add, I'd greatly appreciate.
Video > C
Is it just me, or does this recap video that opens almost every RAW bother you too? Between the monotony of it, and the narrator, I find it a very boring way to start the show.
In Ring Segment > A
I know a lot of people don't like Heyman, but that man is a genius! I've mentioned how my older daughter Ellie has been watching a bit more RAW with me each week because she comes to visit on Mondays (such a good girl), but it was this segment and her reaction to it that really reminded me of when we started watching wrestling together on a regular basis. It was about nine years ago, we were really bonding, and it was just as I was in the process of taking her out of her father's house (she's not mine biologically, but she will always be my little girl). She missed that WrestleMania, but watched it a few weeks later with me. She didn't understand why the arena erupted the way it did with that one GONG, why the return of Taker as the Deadman, and Paul Bearer with him, meant so much. All she knew was the two men crying in the ring, hugging the way they did, touched her heart. Through the following winter she and I watched every wrestling show we could see, including TNA on Fox Sports. We really bonded over wrestling. She knew little to nothing about WCW and ECW, other than what I told her, but watching with me she learned just how great certain people really are in the industry, and that they don't have to work the ring to be considered one of the best. She knows the ECW history, has seen some matches, heard the stories, but she learned just how great Heyman is by watching him on the WWE. That is so opposite from where I first saw and learned about Heyman, but we both came to the same conclusion.
I know I went about this the long way round, but I wanted to show that a person doesn't necessarily have to have watched WCW and ECW to appreciate how great certain people in the industry really are. Ellie sat here in awe of Heyman and how he worked the crowd. She truly sees what he adds to the industry, even so far removed from ECW, and can appreciate how the man can keep every fan in the palm of his hand, and make them feel what he wants them to feel. To me, on some days, that's even better than the perfect suplex. Heyman was captivating in this segment, and worked the emotions of the fans in ways that we don't even know. From his voice that grates on my nerves, to the way he clutched Punk to him, he made me feel it all. Kane and Bryan make the hugs feel silly and corny, uncomfortable, but also necessary in some ways. Punk and Heyman felt real, like two men who really care about each other and are not afraid to show it, even in an industry of too much macho. I know it was all for the fans, and it was storyline, and the way it was written, but the way they put it out there, I believed every word and feeling. If I didn't already know that Punk and Heyman were close, I would have believed it there. To me that's what made this segment top notch.
Khali vs Henry > D-
Will someone please get Khali out of that ring? I know he brings in a certain fan base, and he's an absurdly sized man, but he brings down everyone who's in the ring with him! When Hornswoggle is better than the wrestler he's hanging with, there's a serious issue. Now I really like Hornswoggle, but there really isn't a lot he can do in the WWE at his size. I think it's great that he's doing so well with the company, but tagging along to make Khali look that much bigger is not cool. And then there's Natalya and the role she's in. She's part of the Hart family and she's reduced to dancing in the ring in her ring gear rather than actually wrestling in it. I know she's getting more face time than a lot of the Divas, but that's not saying much these days. She should be in the Divas Title mix, not dancing around trying to look happy.
I honestly have no clue why they made this match. It made no sense to me. Although I will admit that I made a mistake last week when I said that Henry showed up to attack the smallest guys on the roster – Rey and Sin Cara – I had actually forgotten about Hornswoggle, but Henry took care of that this week. I will say something positive about Henry, but only one thing, I can't break my total crankiness where he's concerned. Mark Henry (like Cesaro) can hit his finisher on anyone and both make it look good and protect the person they're working with. Henry hit his WSS on Khali, then on Hornswoggle, and it looked good on both, but it was also obvious that Hornswoggle didn't take the beating he could have with someone less careful. Yes, Henry leaned his fists into Hornswoggle's chest and abdomen after the move and made it look rather uncomfortable, but when he actually hit the move, he really protected Hornswoggle. Now I'm going back to being cranky at Henry until he really proves that he deserves otherwise. I'm so over him which really sucks because I've always really adored Henry.
Winner – Henry (1:35)
Backstage Segment > A-
Jericho was great here! I know a lot of people love Jericho as a heel, and I will absolutely acknowledge how fantastic he is as a heel, but he has such great timing as a face. He's one of those Superstars who can get over no matter the direction of his character. We did have a good laugh at Booker's expense, but he seems to take it well, and still seems so much happier than he was in TNA.
What I'm not sure is the melding of RAW and Smackdown. It works for the Superstars, but where does that leave Booker, Long and Vickie? Yes, they're still the leader of their brands, but with those brands falling by the wayside, what happens to the leaders? They've been crossing over more and more, but it seems that nether the two shall meet. The problem is that both have been making matches on each others shows, but with only the smallest comment that the other has allowed them to do so. I think the WWE needs to make a decision of some sort as to their plans going into the future with regards to the leaders of both brands.
Backstage Segment > D
I know that VKM wasn't supposed to have been backstage because of his hip surgery (the pictures they posted were absolutely disgusting, but my daughter Sam thought they were very cool), but having him on Vickie's cell fell flat for me. Yes, VKM was at his growling best, but when you can't see his face, something is missing. What makes it worse is that we know VKM was there, but stayed off camera for appearances.
I have a big problem with how creative handled this segment. It's almost as if they have forgotten what has happened in the past between Heyman and Vickie. They've argued, yes, but they've also shared some sweet moments, and have come together as a united front at other times. Recently they have seemed closer, almost as if they've been suggesting that they might come together in a business sense – they're both so high up on Brock, even if he's only there for the paycheck – or possibly more, at least as a brief storyline. But in this segment there was nothing but venom between them. I found this very strange, and more of creative really dropping the ball on the small things. Okay, they've been dropping the ball on most of the big things too, but for me, this one was a little nugget of glaringly obvious that really threw a wrench into my enjoyment of RAW. I can't really blame it on Vickie or Heyman, but if it was my character, I'd step up and at least make it known that this isn't the direction they had been going. I know in the WWE it can be bad to open your mouth when you disagree – unless you're one of the top guys – but not opening your mouth can lead to 340lbs of 40 year old man standing in the ring in pink satin an black lace.
Promos > C
I find this dancing character quite interesting after Jericho was on Dancing With The Stars. There's been enough time since he was on the show that it's not too glaringly obvious, but the idea obviously came from somewhere and it's hard not to think it was DWTS. While I've been calling for some characters who are a bit more out there, and a bit more over-the-top, and Fandago could be that, but the razor stubble and acne in his closeups kind of killed the overall sex and mystique behind the character. I also think it's strange that they're bringing him up now, and not after WrestleMania. It seems to be a very awkward time, and he could really get lost in the shuffle, but then again, he's already been lost in the shuffle when his promos first aired. Sadly I'm not expecting much, so anything will be a nice surprise.
Bryan vs Jericho > A-
My biggest problem with this match is that we lost almost a full three minutes of this match to commercials. Lately it seems like everything Jericho touches in the WWE is amazing. Okay, Jericho is always amazing, but this is the second match, the second week in a row, that has been top notch and show stealing. It seems as though Jericho can work with anyone and make it jaw dropping. In some ways I think part of it is because he's in and out, so he doesn't get burnt out, but on the other hand, I wonder just how great it could be if he was to return for a full year. He's always been top notch, but it seems like the more diverse his life becomes, the more comfortable in his own skin he is, and he brings more of that back to the WWE with him each time. If anything, Jericho seems to get better with age.
You might want to complain at me for saying so much about Jericho, but not really talking about Bryan, but how much can you say about that man? He's an absolute genius and has done so many amazing things in the business, and he still so young. There's few negative things I could say about Bryan, and almost every week he makes me happier than the week before. Bryan has grown by leaps and bounds since joining the WWE, and continues to grow no matter what is thrown at him. He will be a leader of the WWE for years to come, and will be a top player even after Cena isn't the #1 guy.
Winner – Jericho (10:40)
WWE Rewind > C
I will give TPTB in the WWE huge props for the lack of recap videos on this episode of RAW. Last week it seemed as though there was a glut of recaps. Every time there wasn't something pressing, they went to Cole and King, then a recap. I can't say that recap videos are my favorite thing on RAW, but this one was well placed, and made a lot of sense, setting up for the next match. I have to give the WWE huge props for stepping back from too many videos last week.
3MB vs Cena & Sheamus & Ryback > B+
I knew this was going to be a joke, little more than a total blow out. I liked that 3MB was allowed to mount a bit of offense before being flattened. All three of the faces looked solid, and the way they ended the match really worked well – or at least better for them than the way Ryback and Miz's similar ending over the weekend worked for Punk.
I actually really enjoyed them on mic briefly after the match. What they said was short, sweet and to the point. It worked really well to set up for later in the show, and heading into the Elimination Chamber PPV. This was the first moment that RAW really felt like a go home to the PPV.
Winners – Cena & Sheamus & Ryback (2:51)
Video > C+
It was another recap, but it was kept short, and also led in to the coming segments.
Backstage Segment > B-
It was nice to see Riley and Yoshi hanging out, but the segment felt really forced. It also set up for the coming segment, but didn't do much for Riley and Yoshi other than giving them a show bonus.
In Ring Segment > B
It has to be really hard for Big Show, who has worked so hard, for so many years, to stand in the ring and hear 'Boring' chants. Big Show is anything but boring, but I will admit that he's been booked to be that way at times lately. I really hope his character picks up, he more than deserves it after all the hard work he's put into the industry for all these years.
HOF Video > A
I can't help but give the HOF videos all A's. The WWE has done a lovely job with all of them, and always have.
Ryder vs Swagger > B
I will fully admit that it's been so long since I've seen Dutch Mantel, and I wasn't expecting to see him, so my brain shorted out. Since Uncle Zeb was once Justin 'Hawk' Layfield's manager, I think it will be fun to hear what JBL has to say on Smackdown about him. What I will say is how shocked at what Zeb said after the match was over. I'm not going to argue politics here, but I'm shocked at the direction they're going with Swagger. If they wanted to get him heat, they did a great job of it, though, as Gesus mentioned to me, it sounds a tiny bit too close to Cesaro's platform. If Cesaro needed a mouthpiece, I might be willing to say that Cesaro should join Swagger and let Zeb lead them. Just a thought.
As for the ring work, I thought it was decent, but nothing spectacular. I really didn't like Swagger's way of powerbombing Ryder in the corner the way he did. That did not look like a very good idea for anyone involved. All that being said, Swagger sure looks like a different man, and I think it's finally working. I'm glad they finally gave Swagger his own mouthpiece, I think it could be a great step forward for him.
Winner – Swagger (2:33)
Backstage Segment > B
Now that Jericho is in the Elimination Chamber, Ziggler wants to be, makes sense to me! What didn't make sense was Big E talking this time. Each time he's spoken before this it's been different and interesting, this was just blah, not at all memorable. I think he needs to stick with his strange voices. It might not be in line with him being a heel, but I think with his size and who he's running with, he can get away with it. At least his interesting voices are memorable, something he needs right now to be more than just a meat head.
Video > C
More recapping, but again, not as much as last week, and this also set up for the next segment.
Miz vs Rhodes > B+
I wasn't sure how this match would be handled, but I figured Miz was in for a humbling of some sort after what happened with Punk at the house show last weekend, but I didn't expect things to go down the way they did! Miz winning by DQ was not the direction I thought they'd go, but then the way Cesaro abused that man left me with my jaw hanging open. Cesaro worked it well, and Miz took it like a trooper. Can anyone else remember when such a move was used in such a way? And by who?
Winner – Miz via DQ (3:04)
Video > A
I was absolutely getting Samantha involved in the WrestleMania Reading Challenge, but then I read that she's too young! It doesn't start until 5th grade! I really have a problem with this, and Sam is rather bummed too.
Primo & Epico vs Funkasaurus & Tensai > B
My only problem with all this is the work Bloom put in while in Japan to step beyond the comedic role. If he has no troubles with what he's doing, I'm not going to worry too much. I will say that he needs to change up his ring gear to better reflect his character. Maybe not right off the bat, as he's still transitioning, but soon. He and Clay really seem to meld together well, and hopefully they will work as a team. They could be unstoppable if they really buckle down and did more than act as comic relief. Personally I think they could be solid in the ring while still having fun before and after their matches. The only reason I gave them the grade I did was because they're entertaining, and because I think Albert need the little self esteem boost, even though I doubt he's going to be reading this. Rock on Bloom!
Winner – Funkasaurus & Tensai (1:11)
In Ring Segment > A-
The Shield really impressed me here. Tyler Black, I mean Rollins, was as solid as ever. He stole my heart in ROH, and he continues to win me over with so much more than his impressive bleach work! Rollins really needs to talk to Ziggler. I'm not sure I've seen anything resembling a root on the right side of Rollins' head, and that's dang impressive for how blond he keeps it. Yes, Rollins is much more than his impressive grooming, but it's the little things that draw me in that much more. The man is a solid performer – in the ring and on mic – and he proves that each time we see him. He's a star and will be going far in the WWE.
Something about Ambrose's delivery has been skirting on the edges of my brain, something odd that I haven't been able to put my finger on. The way Ambrose delivers brings me back to a person or place I can't put my finger on. Gesus says that Ambrose reminds him of Scott Hall when he was an Outsider. I guess that makes some sort of sense, as thinking about it that way I realized that Ambrose sometimes reminds me of my brother. My brother dealt with the same issues that Hall is still struggling with. I'm not saying that Ambrose has the same types of demons, just that his delivery reminds me of those two specific people who are and have dealt with those demons. Does that make any sense, or am I talking in circles? All that being said, I adore Ambrose and am completely impressed with him and all he's done in the WWE.
And then there's Reigns. I know he doesn't have the background of the other two, but his voice and his delivery is like velvety melted dark chocolate. If he wasn't so young, I might melt right into a puddle myself, but he isn't, I won't. Between his delivery, athleticism, and his looks, I think this man has a huge shot, and it's only his to lose. I expect a lot from him, and working with The Shield is a great step for him. Think about what a goober The Rock was on his first night on WWE TV, Reigns is already leaps and bounds beyond The Rock that night! No, I'm not saying Reigns is going to follow in his cousin's (?) footsteps, but that I think he has a very solid base that he starting from, and the sky is the limit from here.
I loved how Cena, Sheamus and Ryback killed the lights, then attacked. It we a great way to turn the tables on The Shield after all the attacks they made on those three, and so many others in the WWE. I think it worked really well, and further set up for Elimination Chamber. I'm even more interested in seeing what's going to happen on Sunday.
Video > C
Okay, maybe there was more recapping than I thought when I started writing this, but it still wasn't anything compared to last week.
Sandow vs ADR > B-
Sandow was wonderful on mic before this match, really showed his great verbal skills and why TPTB, especially VKM, should be high up on him. The man can turn a phrase like few can, and does on a regular basis, but then they fed him to ADR in barely over a minute. What was that about? Why take someone who is supposed to be on his way up and squash him so quickly and easily? I know that ADR is the WHC, but that doesn't mean he can destroy anyone in the blink of an eye. I know he needs to be strong going to Elimination Chamber and facing Big Show, but at the expense of Sandow? I really don't like it.
I have been really high up on ADR since his face turn, and for good reason, but in this match he fell back a couple notches. ADR has changed up his matches recently, but he went right back to his regular finisher in this match, and it grated on my nerves a bit. There's so much more that ADR can do, but he keeps going back to that cross arm breaker. It's the lazy way out in my book.
Winner – ADR (1:18)
Backstage Segment > B
I'm loving this back and forth between Barrett and Dallas. I think that Barrett could be great at helping Dallas break into WWE TV, and from what I've seen, it's working very well.
Kofi vs Barrett > A
There was a couple of really interesting moves in this match. Not only were they interesting, but memorable. The way Kofi came off the corner, and the way Barrett tied Kofi up in the apron, this is what has stuck with me through the past 24 hours. Yes, Bryan and Jericho were stellar in the ring, but I have been waiting to write about this match because it stayed with me the most. Both men should be very proud of this short match, and I hope TPTB noticed how interesting and original these two were in the ring.
Winner – Barrett (3:16)
Kane vs Ziggler > B+
These men left it out there! Like Jericho, Kane is the man! Kane is more than just a workhorse, he makes whoever he's facing look that much better. Before we realized that Sam was too young to be involved with the WrestleMania Reading Challenge, she asked if the winner could pick which wrestler would come to the school, because she wanted it to be Kane! And if not Kane, then Taker, or Bryan. After those three she mentioned Cena's name. I think she's much more critical of wrestlers than most her age because of her awesome step-mother, if I do say so myself. But Sam, even at nine, can see how great Kane is and how he works the ring.
Then you add in Ziggler and the match is almost guaranteed to be fantastic. It seems as though Ziggler continues to prove that he's no longer just a cheerleader or a caddy. While I love his little entourage, I worry that they're a distraction from what Ziggler could become on his own. AJ is not just a sexy little spitfire, she's tremendous at what she does, she could be seen as a distraction from Ziggler's overall success. Big E could be a big name in his own right, but his size could be a bit of a distraction from Ziggler, as he's not a powerhouse. While the three of them together are a unique and unusual team, and they meld together well, I worry that they could just be replacing Vickie as the shackles that hold Ziggler back. At this point, I really hope Ziggler doesn't cash in until after WrestleMania, as I think a post-WrestleMania cashing could be the zinger needed to remind people that Ziggler really is the man to watch.
Winner – Kane (10:35)
Video > B+
Normally I get annoyed at videos cutting into wrestling time, but this was pushing the Elimination Chamber and the Elimination Chamber PPV. This worked well in that it reminded us of just how scary and imposing the Elimination Chamber can be, and some of the crazy things that have happened in the past. This was more building for the PPV, and like the Royal Rumble numbers videos, it worked hard at selling the PPV for those who might be on the fence. I know I'm watching, but it's rare that I miss a PPV (WWE or TNA) these days.
In Ring Segment > A-
I know some people are going to give me crap for the way I graded this segment, but please hear me out before you bash my keyboard in. First off, this was a wonderfully entertaining segment, especially for those in attendance. The Rock told a really funny story in a very creative way. It might not have been what most people would like, but it's something The Rock is a master at. He worked it, worked it well and was entertaining, but he wasn't the Champ he really needed to be going into a PPV, facing such a huge match, against such a top notch competitor. I read somewhere on WNW, in the comments, that it was a Cena promo. I understand that it could be thought of as a Cena promo because it was so out of the blue, but The Rock's delivery was stellar. It's one of those things that The Rock is so fantastic at.
On the other side is Punk. As if the hug that started the show wasn't enough, the way Punk so casually, yet lovingly slung an an arm around Heyman's shoulders was really touching. The hug was great, but that simple move from Punk showed so much more. That was a less is more moment, and Punk hit it beautifully. Beyond that, I don't think I've ever seen a stolen belt segment work as well as this one. Normally when a heel steals a belt it feels dirty, and most everyone is rubbed the wrong way by it, but the way Punk did it worked! His belief that he never really lost the WWE Title made his taking it back from The Rock feel really organic. This was believable and worked quite well for me. Obviously The Rock doesn't have any major media events between now and Elimination Chamber, or he'll take it back on Smackdown, but either way, this worked brilliantly. So the grade was as much for Punk as it was The Rock's entertainment.
This week, for a change of pace, I'm not going to give my final thoughts. This past weekend my good friend, and fellow WNW Predictor, Gesus Oliver, was lucky enough to meet some icons of the industry and write about it. He's wrote about his experience for WNW. Half of his report is here, the other half will be posted at the at the end of my TNA Blog Zone. Hope you enjoy!
On Sunday I had the pleasure of meeting a some greats in the wrestling industry. Every year we have had the chance to meet idiots and icons in the business at the Milwaukee Admirals Salute To Wrestling. In fact, thanks to the local wrestling scene, I have had the chance to meet many greats in wrestling these last few months, let alone the last few years. Heck, on Feb 22, I am going to meet Mean Gene (again), The King, and Good Old J.R. This time though I am going to talk about my experience meeting Dusty Rhodes, Million Dollar Man, and on Thursday, my experience with Brutus 'The Barber' Beefcake.
I was visibly giddy waiting in line, to the point my wife was yelling at me to calm down. Dusty Rhodes is such a great man, and an old favorite of mine. He has done so much for this business, inside the ring and out. Just one of those guys you look at and think he isn't going to get over in his poke-a-dots and out of shape, and then BAM with his charisma, ring work and just all around great attitude he will be down in the history books. When I met him he smiled and graciously grabbed my photo to sign. I asked him about his son Cody's mustache and he started glowing. He told me about how Cody told no one about the mustache, showed up and was getting made fun of, Dusty himself was weary of it, then Cody goes out on stage gets the chants. He came back into the locker room, Dusty and everyone else looked at him and sad "Keep it!." I can't get over how awesome that experience was.
Then there was the Million Dollar Man. While in line he did his laugh, I nearly died and went to heaven! We had a nice little how are you chat with him, then realized he was wearing his hall of fame ring. I nervously did an awkward bend to look at it while he signed my picture. Then I made a comment about it and without skipping a beat he lifted his hand and showed my wife and I. Just what a token of great attitude.
Later I was selected for a contest between periods and was standing there waiting for that to happen and who comes walking up behind me? Dusty, Ted, and Brutus! I nearly lost control with excitement. I was on the big screen in the arena with all 3 men. When turning away, Dusty looked and at me and winked, it was incredible. Such a great thing to happen if you ever have the chance to meet either of them, do it! Stay tuned Thursday for my experience and thoughts on Brutus!