It feels as though the WWE is shooting themselves in the foot to keep wrestling news sites from getting the perceived upper hand. Even more than that, I thought having the WHC change hands on a taped show was a senseless move. I know the WWE wants better ratings, but it was The Rock that did that for Smackdown, not the fans knowing that Big Show was going to drop the WHC to ADR. I'm thrilled that Smackdown got the ratings it got, but I think it was a boneheaded move to change the WHC. It would have been a natural for Big Show to somehow cause a DQ and beat ADR on Smackdown, then have Booker schedule a Last Man Standing Match for RAW and have them fight it out then. I understand that the WWE wants to 'put butts in the seats', but The Rock was scheduled for his Smackdown return. His first time on his show in ten year. If The Rock wasn't going to bring in the numbers, ADR beating Big Show on a taped show wouldn't do much more. Anyone who has read my blogs over the years knows that I'm a huge Big Show fan, and I think he deserved more than losing his WHC on a taped show. It's not like RAW couldn't support a Last Man Standing Match, the show runs three hours, it would make more sense to schedule it then, if only for the time availability!
As much as I love The Rock, and I do, I'm worried about his return as we've seen it so far. Don't get me wrong, Rocky was great and brought serious star power to both RAW and Smackdown last week, entertained the fans in attendance and at home in a huge way, and worked against Team Rhodes Scholars and not just Punk, but what else is he going to do? Rocky talking is almost always great, he's so charismatic, and not too hard on the eyes – and nice that I don't feel like I'm thinking dirty thoughts about someone too young as Rocky is actually a bit older than I am – but what else is he going to do? Don't get me wrong, it was great to see him harass Lilian on Smackdown, like the old days, and that she had that beautiful smile for him, even after all she's been through lately, but there needs to be more!
The Rock is doing a solid job, and booking him in the middle of Smackdown broke things up a bit, but if all they're going to have Rocky doing is talking smack and taking out heels with rock bottoms and The People's Elbow, then it's going to be a very long couple weeks to the Royal Rumble, and an even longer Road to WrestleMania. If he's really back – even if for a short time – and going to be WWE Champ, it's about time he gets off mic and gets his butt in the ring.
Music & Pyro > A
I absolutely loved the opening music. The production crew did a wonderful job of mixing up past RAW openings in a creative way, not just putting them all in order straight through. They could have gone the easy way, but instead the made it a lot of fun. There were a lot of great names in the opener, and some people I haven't thought about in quite a long time, and some that I like betting than the one they're using now.
I mentioned in RAW results that I saw both Gangrel and Ken Shamrock. Of course there were the biggest names – SCSA, Hogan, Triple H, HBK, The Rock, Flair, Taker, Punk, Gorilla Monsoon, Jericho, Trish, Vader, Sid, Bret Hart, British Bulldog, Mankind, Owen Hart, Razor Ramon, Diesel, VKM, Lawler, Big Show, Kane, Edge & Christian, RVD, Randy Orton, Mark Henry, Miz, and Rey. But after going back to look I noticed a lot of obscure and mid-card names too, such as - X-Pac, Road Dogg, Mr. Ass, Snitsky, Val Venis, Al Snow, Chyna, Stacy Keibler, Torrie Wilson, Candace Michelle, Matt Hardy, Santino, Maria, Kofi, Bellas, ADR, Kelly Kelly, Sin Cara, Beth, Ryder, Cody Rhodes, R-Truth, and Sheamus. Interesting that they showed Matt Hardy and not Jeff Hardy. Shows just one major difference between WWE and TNA.
I'm sure someone's going take offense at where certain names landed, or that I missed someone, but there was nothing behind that, just snap judgments as I watched it in slo-mo. The one person that I thought I saw, but was sure it couldn't have been, was actually on that video. It has been talked about online today by a number of people, and I have to admit that I wasn't completely sure it was him until I did a bit of further investigating. Yes, I am talking about Benoit. As far as I can tell, he could be seen giving his famous flying head butt in this video. I have to admit that I'm shocked they didn't change things, or cut him out, but it really seems as though he was in the opening segment.
I could get a little conspiracy theory on everyone and comment on just how many times Stone Cold Steve Austin was in that opening segment, and how it has to mean that Austin really is returning to face Punk at WrestleMania, but I'm not. Austin was one of the biggest names the WWE has ever had, if not the biggest – so arguable that I won't get into that unless someone really wants a fight – and he was a major part of a number of RAW's opening segments. I could question why they cut the Austin segments in and other segments out, and is there some underlying reason behind it? I hope so, but I feel Austin deserves one last match, and I think Punk would be the perfect man to face him. It would be beautiful closure for Austin, and something I would PAY to see.
In Ring Segment > B+
I really enjoyed VKM demanding Big Show call him Mr. McMahon. VKM was quite over with the fans, and he really added to the heat Big Show got, but the best part of this segment was ADR. I can't believe I'm actually willing to admit this, but ADR was really solid and the fans loved him. I will admit that I liked how Big Show stated honestly about making ADR a Latino hero, but even funnier was Big Show talking about carbs. I know I've said it before, but Big Show has wonderful comedic timing and needs to be doing more comedy – not slapstick like that movie of his, but good comedy.
Either way, it already seems as though ADR has stopped phoning it in. I said something about that when he turned face, and will admit I was quite worried when I learned he won the WHC, but after this segment I'm a little more relaxed. Even better is that it seems like Ricardo might be getting a bigger role in all this. That is someone else who has terrific comedic timing, and should be getting more face time. Things are looking up for Smackdown.
I absolutely have to mention the big move in this segment. I was floored when I saw ADR up on Big Show, but when he hit that hurricanranna I actually cussed aloud. That they would even try a move like that is shocking, but even better was how it was executed. Yes, I know it was all Big Show, and ADR had little to do with the actual move, but it's the fact that Big Show was able to hit that move at his size, at his age. That Big Show didn't hurt himself or ADR when he hit that move was just jaw dropping. If anyone questions that Big Show still has it, all they have to do is watch that one move. Does anyone remember Big Show taking a hurricanranna in the past – recently or not?
Video > C-
I don't think I'd have started off with this video, but it could have been worse, much worse. I'm just wondering why this segment made it to TV when others didn't. I'd love to know who chose which video clips from RAWs past, and why.
Barrett vs Orton > B
I think Barrett's win over Orton, in a longer match, on such a huge show, could mean great things for his future. I was sure Orton was going over in this match. I know he's not the golden boy he once was, and they're grooming ADR to be the face of Smackdown, but he's still Randy Orton, and someone VKM seems to think needs to be high up in the company, no matter what atrocities he's committed. Very few Superstars would have lasted through the same problems Orton's had.
1- Orton is starting to look like he might be the one who is snake bit. He worked hard on getting rid of Ken Anderson (Mr. Kennedy) for that same reason – among others – yet these past couple years it's seemed like Orton's been more injured than not. And his arm and shoulder injuries are being self inflicted by him pounding the mat the way he does. At least he's calmed that down a bit since his most recent shoulder dislocation.
2- You could write Anderson off as a one time thing, but there were others behind that, Orton has purposefully squashed the pushes of. Kofi, Miz and Manu to just name a couple off the top of my head. There's many possibilities as to why Orton did this, and I wouldn't have said anything if it had just been one person, but Orton's had his hand on squashing a number of pushes. While I'm not going to say whether Kofi should always be a mid-card wrestler, but when he was knocked down it was after one specific match. This match had people raving about Kofi's work, and then Orton started complaining. Read into it what you will.
3- Okay, so Rochelle Loewen has put the kibosh on the rumors that Orton pooped in her bag, but she did state he damaged her belongings. He was quite terrible to her and Amy Weber specifically, but there's been other rumors about how he's treated the Divas. Don't forget that he also called Kelly Kelly a slut on the radio. Whether she is or not, that was not the time or the place, nor was he the person who should be saying those things. He's been a total jerk to many people backstage, not just the Divas, and has earned himself a reputation for it. Even Triple H is not his biggest fan, though he knows that Orton is a draw.
3- I know it was quite a while ago, 2007 to be exact, but Orton caused $50,000 damage to a hotel room during a WWE European tour. Even back then TPTB in the WWE were split on what to do about Orton, some hoping he'd grow up, others thinking he was a lost cause. And while he didn't cause huge damage, he was involved in another hotel incident in 2008, also in Europe. There's been a couple of fan incidents, though not all of those were really proved to be Orton's fault, so I will give him the benefit of the doubt over those.
4- Orton stated that he'd matured after getting married and the birth of his daughter, but that didn't seem to last too long before he popped another Wellness test. I know the WWE has claimed that they're keeping track of the violations people have, and that some of Orton's 'violations' came before there was a solid program on the books, but Orton's absolutely has more than two Wellness violations. If it was almost anyone else, they would not be getting the solid face time on TV that Orton gets whenever he's not injured or suspended.
All that being said, it has seemed like Orton could do anything and not lose his push in the company. But losing this match made me wonder that maybe Orton is not in the same high spot in the company that I thought he was. Further, this could mean wonderful things for Barrett's career. I really don't like Barrett's new finisher, but I didn't like his old one either! But beyond that Barrett has looked great since returning from his dislocated elbow. He's been more focused, driven and seems to have his eye on the prize. He needs to work on creating a persona beyond British guy who was a bare knuckle fighter back in the day. His character needs to be fleshed out to make him more interesting and believable, from there on, the sky's the limit.
Winner – Barrett (10:04)
Did You Know? > C
I normally don't write these, or write about them, but this one did nothing but make me feel old. When RAW debuted, I was in college and a number of my favorite Superstars weren't even old enough to have zits.
Backstage Segment > C+
Long took a good slap, but beyond that, there was little to this segment. Knowing what I knew about Eve leaving the WWE, they had to do something so that she absolutely had to drop the strap to Kaitlyn, no matter what games she tried.
Video > A
I think Bryan and Kane together are comedic gold, but add in Dr. Shelby and hijinks ensues. It's great to see Shelby crack, but even better to see him crack after being verbally attacked by Rhodes and Sandow. This was one of those segments that flowed perfectly and couldn't have gone better. Absolute genius!
Kane vs Sandow > B+
While this match might have been short, the way everyone worked their characters made it all very entertaining. If it had only been the moves without any of the facial expressions, or body language, this would have been the most boring two minutes of the show, but Sandow fleeing the ring to avoid Kane, and the way Kane brushed off everything Sandow did as if it was nothing was what made the match so good. So while I wish it had been longer, they both worked their characters hard, if not so much the ring.
Winner – Kane (1:58)
In Ring Segment > C+
I will admit I was a bit worried when The Shield came out with Foley in the ring. Foley absolutely should be done in the ring after the career he's had. His is one body that shouldn't be bumping any longer. The way he slid out of the ring did look a bit wussy, but better than him taking any bumps.
I like that Ryback came right out and started the fight, with Orton and Sheamus joining the fray and ending the fight. I do worry that The Shield will start to look a little weak now that they're not getting the upper hand all the time. Hopefully there's a long term plan for this group, other than fighting with Ryback, Orton and Sheamus. Well, I guess Orton won't be turning heel quite yet. Then again, he's so over with the fans that I'm not sure he could successfully turn heel. Remember what happened to SCSA when they tried to force a heel turn. Even when he beat the holy heck out of Good Ole JR, the fans didn't want to hate him.
And then there's Ryback on mic. He wasn't as bad as he has been in the past, but he wasn't good either. If he's going to be a 'catchphrase guy', then he needs more than one. The fans know "Feed me more!", so it's time to add another one. I don't see Ryback as being a good talker, so maybe catchphrases are the way to go with him.
Divas Championship Match – Eve (c) vs Kaitlyn > B-
There were some really solid moves in this match. Kaitlyn showed her strength, and Eve her abilities and vindictiveness. I will admit that I'm going to miss Eve. She's a beautiful woman who has made her character believable, much more than so many, but she's also been given the screen time to build her character. She will be missed, but I know she is moving on to work with the family she's marrying into. Hopefully Kaitlyn will be able to pick up the ball and run with it. I wonder who will be going after the Divas Championship next.
Winner – Kaitlyn (5:27)
Backstage Segment > B+
I loved the way Clay said he was born to shuck and jive. That they're making his character a bit more serious, but he's still got that silly and fun side to him.
Video > C+
Still not a bit of RAW than I think of as iconic for the show. I really wanted some older bits with bigger names. To me Trump was never a big WWE Superstar.
Clay vs Punk > B
I was impressed at how these two worked the ring together. More than that, I like how they broke up Punk's ring time. Of course he's not going to be in the ring facing The Rock leading up to the Royal Rumble, so changing up his opponents makes a lot of sense. I wonder who he will be facing next week?
Winner – Punk (3:41)
In Ring Segment > A-
While this was a short little segment for Punk, he was great on mic here. Between talking about The Rock doing whatever it is he does, and then his list of facts, Punk was great. The only problem I saw with this segment and the match before it was that Punk was getting as much pop as heat, if not more. I have no idea how it sounded in the arena – would love it if people got in touch with me when they're going to events so that I could get honest info about the reactions in the arenas, because what we hear on TV is so different from what is actually happening in the arena.
Video > B
I really enjoyed the automobile video. I was waiting for the cement truck in VKM's convertible, the axle off the limo, Bisch in the trash truck, and the Zamboni (a friend of mine married into the name Zamboni recently, but sadly no relation), but of course they had to start with the beer truck. I will say I was bummed that they skipped Angle's milk truck, but I can understand why. But most of all, I was shocked that they ended this with VKM's limo exploding. To me it automatically brought me back to Benoit, something I'd think VKM would like to avoid in any way, but after the opening video, I'm really not so sure.
Backstage Segment > A
The interactions between The Rock and Foley always have great chemistry, and this was no exception. They were fantastic and did a lovely job of setting up for later in the show with Vickie.
Over The Top Rope Challenge – Sheamus vs 3MB > C-
I really thought this match was badly booked and looked sloppy. Honestly, it made no sense to me, and was a waste of time. I don't know what they were trying to prove here, but they completely missed their mark. There's no way that anyone in 3MB are destined to win this Royal Rumble, no matter what Slater's mother told him their odds are.
Winner – 3MB (3:14)
Backstage Segment > B+
I've not been a fan of Cena's too corny mic segments, but I loved this one. When he goes off on these rambling tangents, my jaw drops. He's really good at remember what he needs to say, getting it out fast, and rarely stumbling over his words. The Braden Walker comment made me stop my DVR and laugh. Ouch, what a slam! Then the way he want on the way Kane did talking about his recent history, priceless, but will they be able to put together a meme as good as they did for Kane?
Recent future? Well, with all the talk of Fruity Pebbles – even before the WWE let that but about the Royal Rumble DVD out – I've figured that it will be Cena facing The Rock at WrestleMania. Why suddenly bring back all the Fruity Pebbles talk if that isn't the plan? But, I will give Cena and creative props for saying 'Get the F out!' It's a little thing, but it's another step away from RAW taking on a G rating, which is where they were going before The Rock's return in 2011.
Miz TV > A-
Is Miz ever going to be able to wipe that smile off his face? He looked giddy through this entire segment. Flair, on the other hand, looked a bit pissed – and I don't mean mad. I'm going to say it, and please remember that Richard is the one who is the reporter of facts, and I'm the one who talks about what I saw and what I think about it, and I think Flair looked like he'd had a few drinks before heading to the ring. It was in the eyes, he looked a bit dazed. I know he's had more head shots than I can even imagine, but we've seen Flair recently on RAW, and he didn't have that look to him. It was the way he showed off his biscuit, the ways he spoke to the camera, the way he handled himself when he didn't have to be perfectly focused.
Beyond Flair possibly being tipsy, I loved the banter and chemistry between him and Miz. The way Miz prompted Flair, only to get odd little quips back. It worked, and worked beautifully. I had never thought about putting Miz and Flair together in a segment, but it was brilliant!
Cesaro in this segment was also wonderful. He got serious heat, more than I've seen for him before, and he ran with it! Ripping on The 4 Horsemen was dirty, and it worked. Further Cesaro took Flair's chops and sold them wonderfully.
Richard wrote about how high up TPTB in the WWE are for Cesaro, and that putting him in this segment with Flair showed how much they think of Cesaro. That's all well and good, but what about Miz? To me this was a passing of the torch in a way. The way Flair had Miz lock on the Figure 4, to me that screamed of passing the torch. And because of that, I don't think Miz will ever stop grinning!
Video > B+
This video was in the middle of Miz TV, but I thought it needed it's own spot and grade here. They were showing individual style and voice with this one, and I loved it. Starting with Sandow shows that they really do have faith in him as a character and like how he's handling himself. I agree with all the people they showed in this video, and so many are modern wrestlers, but I loved the flashbacks too. DX, Foley, The Rock, Miz, E&C, Punk and all the rest are great, but one of the Superstars really shocked me. Lance Storm? Really? Really? Now I'm a HUGE Lance Storm fan, and have been since his early Power Ranger days, but I wouldn't have expected the WWE to mention him in such a way. Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled, just shocked. And then there's the way they ended the video, with Austin. Am I reading too much into Austin?
Video > C
I know a lot of people thought that Mike Tyson working with the WWE was great, but I wasn't one of them. I've never been a Mike Tyson fan, and I didn't think he was a good crossover star.
Bryan vs Rhodes > B-
This really wasn't a very good match. It was better than Sheamus facing 3MB, but it wasn't as good as Kane facing Sandow earlier in the show. What this match brought to me was that both members of Team Hell No went over facing members of Team Rhodes Scholars. Since they're going to be facing off at the Royal Rumble, I have a gut feeling that THN will be losing their belts. It's the old cliché thing about winning leading up to the PPV, so you lose there. I just see it happening. What I do hope is that the feud continues after the Royal Rumble. These four work so well together, and should continue working together for a bit, until it's a natural time for Kane and Bryan to turn on each other and have a fantastic feud of their own. I just hope another solid team steps up to feud with Team Rhodes Scholars after that, because it would be a shame for them to not have a solid team or two to fight against, and right now, I don't see another team anywhere near the level of these two teams.
Winner – Bryan (1:15)
WWE App Video > C+
Eve has worked hard to create her two faced character, and now she's dropping it like a stone and quitting the WWE. I knew it was going to happen – thank you Richard – but it feels like such a waste of a character. All that aside, I wish Eve the best and hope that she has a lovely wedding. I cannot imagine how hard it would be to plan a wedding while on the road the way the Superstars are, and this will give her the time to do things right, and spend the time with Rener. While wishing someone the best of luck in all their future endeavors is such a cliché, I think it's a solid sentiment for Eve.
Backstage Segment > B+
This was an interesting way to handle the wedding videos. AJ did a lovely job of introducing the videos, and showing her crazy array of emotions. I will admit I forgot just how slutty Lita's wedding dress was, and I'm shocked she didn't fall out of it! There had to be a lot of double sided tape holding that thing in place!
I think they should have started with Steph and Trip's first wedding before going to them renewing their vows, but maybe it's too PG13 for the WWE right now. I don't agree, but I can see how they'd see it that way.
Big E actually impressed me here. Hear me out! He's really struggled since joining RAW. He has a great look, but since he'd been a face prior to this, and really didn't know how to handle the role as a heel, he's not come off wonderfully. Also, he's had little to do but follow AJ around and that has to be hard, but he is growing into the role. But the way that he shrugged, looked at AJ, and rolled his eyes through this whole segment were fabulous! He showed that he actually has some personality, something Swagger didn't manage in all his time he was on WWE TV. The way Big E spoke was so unexpected and ironic that I was left with my eyes bugging out and a smirk on my face. For the first time, I really thinks Big E has a chance of really succeeding in the WWE.
Then there's Ziggler who was just wonderful! He really showed passion that we haven't seen, but something he needs to show. I wish his performance in the ring was as great at what he said it was going to be.
Announce Segment > A
JR always gets an A in my book, even if he was just coming to announce for one match. At least it was a long match!
Steel Cage Match – Cena vs Ziggler > A-
There were many creative and interesting points in this match, but I was still left wanting more. AJ climbing the cage and causing the distraction was just great. That she was left up there screaming and pulling her hair after the match was over was even better. Then there was Big E stopping Cena with one hand supporting his weight. That was really creative, but sadly it happened during the commercial break – not the best timing. We've seen people slam the door in people's faces, but using a chair to keep Cena from climbing down was even better. I know it's happened before, but it's been quite a while, so it worked well. But my favorite Big E moment was him getting a face full of Ziggler's case. He took the bump and sold it well, further impressing me for the night.
Then there was the actual match. I will fully admit that they both hit some serious moves and took some outstanding bumps, but I wasn't left feeling like the two of them did something that will live on in my mind as the jaw dropping moment of the 20th Anniversary of RAW. Yes, it was, by far, the best match of the night, and these two men were sick in the ring, but I went into it expecting something more. A Steel Cage Match is the perfect place for those moments to happen, but they didn't really have any of those moments. I'm not saying that they didn't hit some sick moves, especially from the top, but the match just didn't have those awe inspiring spots that's expected from two big names at a huge show. I know this wasn't a PPV, but I expected more than they'd give for any given RAW, and it felt like that's what we got.
Now, I do want to acknowledge Ziggler's drop kick from when they were both on the top rope. That was a jaw dropping move, and Ziggler absolutely deserves props for it. I think we've only seen part of what Ziggler is capable of, and the harder he's pushed, the better he's going to get. I think we're in for a treat with this man once he gets out from under this losing streak to Cena. I know he hasn't lost every match to Cena, but I don't agree with Richard that a loss to Ziggler would hurt Cena. I know they want to build Cena up, but Ziggler's push is the one taking a beating so Cena can go over. I know Ziggler could be the man if he was really given the push.
All that complaining about this match not being what I thought it could be, and I gave it an A-? Yes, it did give it an A-, and I think it deserves an A-. Those two men went out there and worked their bums off all over that cage. That was a better match than we've seen from Cena in a very long time, and it was the first Steel Cage Match we've seen on RAW in I don't know how long. If they'd had a couple of those crazy spots I mentioned, then it would have been an A+ and I'd have been screaming about it from the rooftops. It's because I know they can do it that I think they should have done it for this very important RAW.
Winner – Cena (16:35)
The Rock Concert > B
This Rock Concert was so much better than the last one! The last one seemed very unfocused and The Rock rambled away without much direction. It seemed like he was given too much time to let the fans fawn all over him, and it turned into an outright clusterfluff. This Rock Concert, on the other hand, had direction and stayed focused. That The Rock was willing to verbally abuse himself before going after anyone else was great. I've never been able to look at Rocky Maivia on his first night without laughing myself to almost peeing. It's seeing how far he's come that makes the picture that much funnier.
Since he's feuding with Punk in such a big way, it made sense that his two songs were about non-wrestlers with the company. The diversion with Heyman song was decent, but it was really Vickie and her song that made it all work. Vickie played wonderfully against The Rock. She was a plethora of emotions from start to finish. Apprehensive and worried before he began, touched and flattered as he started singing nicely, then angered and disgusted when she realized she was the butt of his joke. She really made this part of the segment so much more than just The Rock's song.
Then they took things in a direction I wasn't expecting. I didn't think The Rock and Punk would be dealing with each other on this episode. They made such a big deal about The Rock Concert that I didn't figure we'd see Punk. The last time they did this it was too much Rocky loving Rocky, so I didn't think they'd go against that mold. When Punk took off at a full run at the ring, I figured we'd see all of nothing, again. I was impressed with them tussling around. I know it was still all of nothing, but at least they got their hands on each other a bit, and did more than Punk taking a predictable bump.
I always giggle when they send out a couple refs and there's no way they can keep two guys apart. It's even funnier when half the locker room clears and they still can't be kept apart, and I think they will get there, but at least they started off small this time. There's still two more shows that The Rock is scheduled, so hopefully he'll either get in the ring – as he should – or he'll get into more fisticuffs with Punk. Maybe they will have a locker room clearing brawl.
I think The Rock needs some ring time on TV before going into the Royal Rumble. It's one thing for him to come back for a big match, but facing Punk for the WWE Title without working any other matches before the PPV is not right in my book, even though it is The Rock.
This show was not at all what I expected. I really thought they'd bring back some of the big names that made RAW huge, but the only big name brought in for the show was Flair. I thought Flair was entertaining, as was the Steel Cage Match match and some of the other segments, but it wasn't the Superstars studded anniversary show I was expecting to see. Honestly, it felt as though they put more into the 900th and 1,000th episodes of RAW than they did this 20th Anniversary Show. While I don't think it was as bad as some people, I do think they dropped the ball in a big way.