This past weekend Goldberg, I mean Ryback, was doing a media event and stated that the only reason people chant the name 'Goldberg' when he's performing is because of an article posted on WWE.com. Something about him channeling Goldberg before he goes out, which is completely false. He says it doesn't bother him because they will have to bring back Goldberg, just so Ryback can beat him, and make tons of money. The whole thing is absolutely daft and, in my own opinion, is a bit delusional. That Ryback thinks the only reason fans are chanting for Goldberg is because of that one article. Honestly, I didn't know such an article existed, but my first thought when Ryback came out was of Goldberg. Ryback, even if he hadn't been booked to defeat all the jobbers they threw at him, has the look and vibe of Goldberg.
To think that the only reason that fans chant 'Goldberg' at Ryback is because of that little article on dot.com is daft, but after the ego and attitude Ryback has been flinging backstage, it's obvious that he doesn't have the brains needed to conduct business, keep his mouth shut, and stay out of trouble.
In Ring Segment > B+
It was refreshing that they started RAW with Punk in the ring, and not a recap video, or Trip on mic for 20 minutes. Okay, I know Trip has been keeping his mic work shorter, but many of the segments he's involved with in the ring seem to last quite a long time. Punk was strong in the ring, but this storyline is fizzling a bit. They really did book it backward. I know they wanted Punk to face Brock at SummerSlam, but it killed what could have been one of the best feuds of 2013. So now they're booking this backward, and while both Punk and Heyman are great, they can only carry things so far with Axel struggle and Ryback being... well, Ryback!
I also have to give Maddox props here. He came off so much better than he usually does, and actually showed that he might have a future in the WWE, more than the pathetic little worm he had been up until now.
Punk vs Big E > B
Honestly, I'd so much rather see Punk face Big E at Battleground than Ryback. Two big men, but one of them has show tact, class, and creativity while the other has shown ego, arrogance, a bad attitude, has shown bad decision making, and is a cardboard cutout of Goldberg. There's no choice between the two in my book. Big E might still be rather green, has a long way to go, and much growth, but he has a grace and style in the ring, he doesn't just plow through everything, and I enjoyed watching him work with Punk in this match.
I know I'm going to catch crap for being a Ryback hater, 'like all the writers on this site' like I did last week, but to those who came after me, you really need to look back at what I wrote about Ryback this past year. I defended him when no one else would. I had been rooting for Ryback, even after he talked smack about Bryan's ring work in their match. It's only recently have I really soured on Ryback completely, and I decided that I'm done with him after how he handled his botch throwing Punk through the table last week. So, before you attack me for things I haven't said or done, please know what you're talking about.
Winner – Punk (6:02)
Kofi vs Fandango > C-
They spoiled this match before it started by showing the YouTube video of Kofi hitting his TIP 30 times in 30 seconds. At that point it was obvious that Kofi was going to win. While the match wasn't bad, it sure wasn't memorable. Honestly, the only thing that really stands out in my mind was how nice Fandango's shirt looks in pink, and how nice it looked on him. When that's the most memorable part of the match, there's a serious issue in the booking. Yes, the booking! These two men can do a lot more in the ring than they were booked to do, and they can do it well. So I'm blaming the booking on this one.
Winner – Kofi (3:02)
In Ring Segment > B+&F
I'm very confused by what The Wyatt Family did after the match. They came to the ringside area, had Kofi with chair in hand, ready to go, and Bray spoke well, but that was it. Bray is great on mic, Kofi was ready, but then nothing happened. Something could have happened and gone out on the WWE App, but that doesn't help the RAW viewers who are left hanging with no resolution. To me that is more bad booking, and much worse than just a boring match.
Backstage Segment > B
I love how Orton has been taunting the Bellas, especially Brie. I get worried when the WWE uses real life relationships in their storylines. To me it's hitting a little too close to home. Brie and Bryan have kept their relationship off TV for well over two years, and the WWE doesn't kill every relationship they touch, and I have to keep remembering that. I will say I love how Brie has been working against Orton, and with Bryan. It's showing a new side of her, proving she's more than just a bitchy heel Diva.
Backstage Segment > B
Heyman is great, no matter who he's talking to, but I will give Renee credit, she's growing into a strong interviewer backstage. There's been few who have worked out really well backstage. Before Renee it was Josh. Before him it was Coach. Renee is finally stepping confidently into her role, and it looks as though things might work out back there for her.
Los Matadores Debut against 3MB > N/A
I honestly don't know what to say about the Los Matadores debut on RAW last night. Talking to people and looking across the internet, I'm surprised at how much people love and hate this debut. I can't say I agree with Richard's reaction in Ask WNW, but I'm not sure how I feel myself. I promised that I would go into this with an open mind, but then El Torito came out and my jaw fell open. I was writing the words about what I was watching on the screen, but I honestly couldn't believe that I was actually seeing it. It felt like a flash back to the 80s, and while I have been calling for more creative characters, something above and beyond a first and last name without any development of the characters, or even nicknames. While they have been stepping things up and changing things here and there, it's been slow going. Don't get me wrong, I don't want all the crazy, over-the-top characters that we rolled our eyes at in the 80s, but I will say that I'm bored with the lack of creativity in character development, and the flat characters barely keep me awake. There has to be a happy medium between Randy Orton and Los Matadores. I think that the WWE is working well with The Wyatt Family, Dolph Ziggler, and even Daniel Bryan, building them into well rounded, multidimensional characters, but I'm not sure Los Matadores and El Torito. The best I can give them right now are that they're very obviously quite skilled, and very talented wrestlers, and as Primo and Epico were, they had no hopes for any future. I hope this works out for them, but I am almost as worried as I have been since I first saw the promo.
Because I'm still at such a loss over Los Matadores, I asked a couple of other WNW writers to give their views on their debut.
I guess with all the seriousness going on in the WWE, they need a comedy act. Right now those are Los Matadores. It's something widely different and sort of entertaining while giving more stock to the Tag Team Division. I see them getting old fast, but for a few weeks, can't we at least enjoy it?
I always give stories or characters or anything on a wrestling show a chance. You never know how it is going to turn out. I was giving Los Matadores a chance. Then they play a bull fight with a person dressed as a bull and that person claws like a bull. How can I actually give that a chance?!
When Vince Russo is brought up in general conversation between wrestling fans, aside from the obligatory bashing, the first thing brought up is how VKM had to act as his filter during his time with WWE. Now, with the debut of Los Matadores, one has to wonder if someone needs to be above him as a filter. It's no secret that Vince McMahon has notoriously tight reigns on Creative, even to the point of calling for rewrites during the middle of a show, but when as big of a gaffe such as the gimmick of Los Matadores passes his stringent standards, could we be seeing the man who revolutionized this industry losing his mind for this business? And while I really wish Primo and Epico would work out well in this gimmick, as other silly gimmicks have gotten over well recently (Fandango), I can't help but feel like if I was in their position, I'd have said no to this repackaging. All this does is lower their stock even further in many fans eyes, to the point that even a TNA run as total jobbers would be better than this hot mess. Ring work can't save anyone from a bad comedy gimmick. Just ask Santino on that one.
I gotta say I'm torn on the debut of Los Matadores. On one hand, I understand that it's only been one week, and I should see how they play out a bit before judging them. On the other hand, I could tell just from a few minutes last night that Los Matadores could quite possibly the worst gimmick in WWE history, and that includes Mantaur and Gobbledy Gooker! I can't promise not to dispel my hate of them, but I'll at least promise not to change the channel on them, and to at least give them a chance before I permanently bury them in my mind. I must say, though, that what I saw last night was the best debut for the worst gimmick I have ever seen!
Los Matadores once again proves how out of touch Vince really is. A gimmick like this would be good in the 80s, not 2013. These silly gimmicks do nothing more than waste Raw's time and bore the entire audience. The live crowd hated it and it's universally hated by pretty much every wrestling fan in the IWC. Give us something that we can get invested in and something than can actually draw.
In Ring Segment > A-
I was pretty impressed with how the Rhodes family segment worked out. It was obvious that Trip and Steph were going to put the Rhodes men in a sticky situation, but I was impressed with how Dusty, in particular, stepped up and wouldn't back down from Trip. I'm very excited with the direction this storyline has taken, and all from a lack of communication from the people Cody told he need time off, and creative. Cody did what he was supposed to do, told the people he needed to tell, that he was getting married and needed the time, but they didn't pass the word on to creative until it was almost too late. That all of this came from that little mistake makes me smile. We've all made mistakes like that which have turned into a total mess, so it was nice to see how well this has turned out. I love that Dustin is being given his 47th chance, and is doing wonderfully with it. My only issue is that he's stuck under that makeup, because no one would recognize him otherwise.
R-Truth vs Axel > C
Other than setting up for later in the show, this match was basically nothing. R-Truth was strong, and looked solid in the match, but I have to agree with Richard in that Axel hasn't seem to do very much to help himself stay memorable, or keep his own push going. I really like Axel, but he just doesn't have that spark that his father did, that something that makes him unforgettable, and makes you need to see what he's going to do next. So much potential, just something missing, that thing that would make him a star. It's sad to see, because he's so close. Heyman is the one who made this match worth the time with his reactions and realizations.
Winner – R-Truth (4:23)
Brie vs Fox > C
This wasn't a bad match, it just wasn't interesting or exciting. Brie has improved in the ring. I was wondering if last week might have been a fluke, but no, she has stepped up her game. I know some people will say she's only getting pushed because of her relationship with Bryan, but Brie was a strong Diva in her own right before we all knew about her relationship. She might not have been the best in the ring, but few of them are right now. Total Divas has really changed things for the Bellas, shown them in a new light, and they pretty much had to turn face, though they are still edgy. Nothing boring for the Bellas.
Winner – Brie (3:19)
Backstage Segment > B+
This just further goes to show how Axel can't push through. Renee came across strong when working against Heyman earlier in the show, but Axel couldn't even carry that in this segment. I will say that Heyman did a great job of setting up confusion for his later segment.
Backstage Segment > A-
Speaking of Renee, she further stood her ground and looked solid here. She's impressing me more and more, but it was Big Show who was the star here. That man ran through such a gamut of emotions in this segment, and did so seamlessly. I've been rather pissy about Big Show's blubbering, but I'm taking a step back to watch at this point. He was so strong here, going from upset to blubbering, to downright scary! This is starting to get good, and it's looking as though they really do have a solid plan for this giant, even though it had some terrible plot holes early on. Fingers crossed that this could turn out stellar for Big Show in the long run.
Backstage Segment > A-
Big Show continued working really strongly here, and Maddox continued to further show his skills. I don't know where Maddox suddenly found the intestinal fortitude and personality he showed on this episode of RAW, but I have to say it's about time! Maddox sold things really well when Big Show had him slammed up against the wall, held up by his face. That's not an easy feat!
Ryder vs ADR > D
Okay, if you really have issues, you can go after me for being an ADR hater, but I will stand up for my views on him, and back it with proof. I'm just floored that the WWE would let the WHC be degraded in such a way. Not only had ADR proven that he doesn't really care about what he's doing in the WWE, or he'd actually put effort into his matches, and actually do more than phone in his matches, but he hasn't done anything to improve himself since he started on WWE TV, and I have a real issue with that. It's obvious that the WWE has dropped any care they had in the prestige of the WHC, but having a jobber, one who's been at the bottom of the WWE barrel for quite a long time, control the majority of the match over the WHChamp. I'm disgusted in everything that happened in this match, other than Ryder finally getting out of the doghouse he's been living in in the WWE.
Winner – ADR (4:06)
In Ring Segment > B-
I have to say that I'm rather disgusted by this segment. The WWE had been so great when Young came out of the closet, but then they turn around and make such a mockery of one male proposing to another. I know it wasn't a marriage proposal, but the way Heyman handled things, it looked like it right up to the end. I will admit that I'm further pissy on the subject because this is Ryback becoming a Paul Heyman Guy. I am disgusted that such an honor would be bestowed on such an honor-less man.
Jesse > B+
While some people may not like the reminiscent tone of the entire Heyman “proposal” to the Billy and Chuck near marriage 10 years ago, especially thanks to the way Heyman man-crushed on Ryback throughout the entire segment, I thought this was a fantastic way to try to get Ryback over as a heel. Heyman being so enamored with him made every single fan in attendance despise him that much more. Of course, Ryback did what I never thought he could: he played into the emotion and vibe that Heyman was trying to shill all of us, and he did so with it looking like he was the one in control of it. Maybe it wasn't with his words as much as his body language, but considering the body of work he has put out lately, Ryback was leaps and bounds above anything I thought possible. Of course, it was all over Ryback officially being called a Heyman Guy, but the entire lead up to the actual proposal was just a beautiful manipulation of everyone's emotions. But then we got Punk out to take out Heyman and Ryback, and that is where things got a bit odd. While Punk normally sells just about anything he does well, this whole “knee injury” segment fell a bit flat. It wasn't Punk's best work, but after weeks of Punk being led into traps by Heyman, Punk needed this one up to look viable going into Battleground. But with this segment, we also saw the apparent downfall of Curtis Axel. When he debuted as a Heyman Guy, he held a lot of promise. He seemed to be at the top of a potential gold mine of opportunities. However, Axel just wasn't able to get over to the level that WWE wanted. With what happened to him here, I think he may be heading back down to NXT for the foreseeable future.
The Shield vs Usos & Ziggler > A-
This, for me, was the best match on the show, and one of the strongest 3 on 3 tag matches that we've seen from The Shield in a long time. The start of the match was decent, but it was the strength of the end of the match that sealed the deal for me. The Usos are always right on their mark when things go all higgledy-piggledy, tighter than almost any other team on the roster, except possibly The Shield. Putting them into this situation, and add in Ziggler and it's a recipe for success. These six worked the end of this match so beautifully that I had troubles writing it. They were moving so fast, and I was so enthralled that I couldn't keep up, and didn't want to because I wanted to enjoy what I was watching. That to me is the true test of a great match.
Winners – The Shield (9:08)
Backstage Segment > A-
Again, Big Show really worked his emotions and facial expressions. I love how Steph not only came to Big Show's aid, but then ripped down his manhood in the same breath. Though that rivals with the way Big Show put his hand through the wall after being a blubbering buffoon again. This is getting to be a lot of fun.
Backstage Segment > B
RVD came across rather stronger than usual here, but much of that was the video of his ring work. Stacy and I had a good laugh over how easy it was to tell if the clips were WWE or ECW. All that being said, I can't wait to see him go hardcore on ADR's ass.
Santino vs Cesaro > B-
It really looks as though they're building up Cesaro to reach or break his record of 100 spins at WrestleMania. It would be great to see Cesaro get pushed in that direction, as it would be great to see him get any sort of push at this point.
Boy, Zeb hit the nail on the head about Mississippi being a third world country! Considering how they have some of the worst poverty rates, unemployment rates, educational systems, obesity rates, teen pregnancy rates, and crime rates, they might as well be the North Korea of the USA. I know he was working the crowd hard for the heat, as he might as well have been a hometown hero, but that hit a bit low! But his absolute defiance of the fans to use his catchphrase is sublimely intuitive, as it will only get the fans to say it more! And if they start using it, they will start caring about the faction.
Winner – Santino (2:47)
In Ring Segment > A-
I was not sure what this mediated segment between Orton and Bryan was going to prove on this go-home to Battleground, but it ended up showing a lot. I love that Bryan was the first to throw a punch. So much for him being little and weak. I also loved that Brie came out to try to stop Orton. Brie sold her anguish really well, and was believable, even though she knows how things are done in the WWE. I'd love to go on the old theory that when a face gets beaten down before a PPV, he comes out a victor. Fingers crossed!
I have to admit that I was worried about Trish through her pregnancy. It seems as though too many female wrestlers have had issues with pregnancy. Chris Surrency has written two articles about this topic recently Wrestling With Motherhood and Wrestling With Motherhood: Take Two I think Chris hit on some very important issues, but luckily Trish and her son Maximus came through without any issues. Looking at Trish, and her husband, Maximus has to be a beautiful baby.
Queen of WNW
KB, Gesus, Alex Barie, Jesse, Justin & Alex Gallardo