I spend a lot of my time ripping on the Bellas and their lack of ring work while so many other Divas are getting pushed aside. Watching Total Divas showed me exactly what I feared, the Bellas are thought of as veterans of the business when their ring work is sub-par at best. I guess I shouldn't be shocked that they're getting the push on Total Divas when you think about how the backstage politics works, and who they're in relationships with. I'm not saying that they're using Bryan and Cena, it's just the way things work backstage. Honestly, I like the Bellas a lot more, as people, since watching Total Divas. The way they are when they're with Bryan and Cena shows what sweet girls they really are, the problem is when they're at work and turn into catty teenaged girls. Playing politics to get ahead backstage is one thing, but they're making themselves look like immature asses when they're dealing with the other Divas. I know a lot of reality shows are scripted, but there's only so much I'd do or say to be on TV, and since they're supposed to be portraying themselves, they're doing a piss poor job of putting themselves in the best light. Normally I enjoy reality shows – not all reality shows, maybe 50/50 – and I'm still not sure how I feel about Total Divas completely, but I know a lot of people really liked it.
In Ring Segment > B
While McMahon is the man, and Bryan is more over than just about anyone else on the roster, this segment wasn't fantastic. They went through the motions, but it wasn't as good as it could have been. Honestly, I cannot put my finger on what didn't work exactly, but there was issues. The fans loved Bryan, and he was good, but his chemistry working against McMahon wasn't as good as it is with other people. I guess if I hadn't seen all the work Bryan has done with Kane, I wouldn't have thought so much less of this segment. Bryan has developed into a charismatic powerhouse, but he didn't come across as strongly here. McMahon is always great, but he didn't seem to have the heart he normally does. So while this continued to build well toward SummerSlam, it wasn't as strong as I think it could have been.
6 Man Tag Match > B
I don't know what it is, but I'm already getting bored with this match. Don't get me wrong, Henry with the Usos working against The Shield is a really great combination, and they all work strongly together – stronger than I expected – but it's starting to feel a little boring already. The Usos are looking stronger and stronger, showing what I've known all along, that they're really great in the ring, and could truly follow in their wrestling royalty family footsteps of serious gold. Henry seems to mesh with Rikishi's sons seamlessly, something else I didn't expect. Their work with The Shield has been lovely, and enjoyable to watch from when the Usos faced them in the MITB pre-show, but something about their work is getting boring and quick. No clue what they need to do to spice things up, because the ring work is really strong, but they need to do it soon before everyone suffers.
Winners – The Shield (12:03)
Video > C+
Ryback needs a manager in a huge way. The man shouldn't be allowed to talk on WWE TV, because each time he does it turns into a debacle of the huge variety. He just cannot seem to get over when his gums are flapping. The only thing that saved this segment was the food flying and the fear on the littler guy's face.
Video > C
Recapping The Wyatt Family. Okay, it makes sense, but I want more from them. I like that the WWE isn't pushing them too hard, too fast, but I think they need to step things up a bit. The flow is a tiny bit too slow for my taste. I don't want them to be rushed, but I want a bit more from them, and a tiny bit faster.
RVD vs Fandango > B
RVD has had some solid matches since his return, and he really has been treated much better than he was in TNA, but I'll admit that I'm a bit worried. I'm worried because while RVD is only a part time worker, he's been bouncing around without direction since his return. The MITBLM was great, but since then he's not been feuding with anyone, or had a storyline of any sort. His match with Jericho was stellar, but that wasn't a feud, or even a set-up for one, and wouldn't have been even if Jericho hadn't been leaving to go on tour with Fozzy. Honestly, at this point, I'd be thrilled to see RVD feud with just about anyone, but I enjoyed watching him work with Fandango on RAW. Fandango's dancing, and RVD's high flying in the ring could work really well together for more than just four minutes, and could help Fandango grow as a wrestler and a character. I know, I know, I am biased toward Fandango, being that he's a local boy and all, but I liked the vibe between the two of them in this match, and they are both in need of someone to feud with. This seems like a natural feud waiting to happen.
Winner – RVD via Countout (4:02)
Backstage Segment > B-
AJ's crazy seems to be going more varied and unexpected as usual. She appeared to be toying with Big E's feelings, but then there seemed to be more crazy than usual going on there. I'm not sure what the plan is, but this didn't feel quite right, and didn't have a very good flow. I'm normally high up on AJ, but this really didn't work for her.
AJ vs Kaitlyn > B+
For a Divas match, this was great! I know I complain about how ADR spends the entire match working over his opponent's left arm? Well, AJ did the same thing in this match, but it worked because it was new and fresh. If she continues doing just this for the next year and a half, then I will be all over her for it, but right now it's new and fresh from her. The way AJ is using submission holds, and how she was bridging was beautiful! Kaitlyn came back at AJ's technical work with brute force and style. A huge step in the right direction as this is what I want to see from the Divas Division. Finally they're showing their ring skills, something we've been begging for from them since McMahon went all bikini model over skilled wrestler. Even if Total Divas is what it took to bring back some solid ring work to the Divas Division, I'll take it!
Winner – Kaitlyn (4:51)
Ziggler vs Big E > B-
I really don't think that Ziggler and Big E work the ring terribly well together. They're both really strong in the ring, but their styles are so different that they don't mesh well. Maybe once Big E has had more experience things would work out better, but right now he looks rough and stilted when working against Ziggler. Ziggler did pretty well to help the flow of this match, but in reality AJ was the saving grace. The work in and out of the ring helped break the match up, give it a bit of flow it wouldn't have had otherwise, but it was AJ's attack on Ziggler that brought the true feeling and emotion to the match, something that was greatly missing. I know these guys have it in them, I've been championing for Ziggler for a long time, and I know Big E will be great when he's more seasoned, but this one just didn't work very well – especially coming off such a strong Divas match.
Winner Ziggler via DQ (5:33)
Backstage Segment > B+
Another short and solid segment from Bryan. This is the type of segment that that introduced Bryan's real personality, chemistry, and charisma to the fans, and this continued on in that vein. Very strong segment with few words spoken.
ADR vs Christian > B+
I was really annoyed when I saw that Christian was going to be facing ADR in the ring. I just don't see in ADR what some others do. Further, I forget he's WHC when he doesn't have the strap on his body. He's just not believable as Champ for me, and the fact that he cannot seem to work a match in any way but attacking that left arm to set up for his cross arm breaker. All that being said, I thought ADR looked really strong in the ring with Christian. I'm a huge Christian fan, and have been since he and Edge broke apart, and he's been looking really strong since his return, but he really brought it up a notch in this match. Christian really seemed to put it all out there, throw all of his power and emotion into this match, and ADR reacted in kind. I really didn't feel like ADR was phoning it in this week with Christian, and because of that, I think I want to see more of these two fighting it out. I don't think TPTB in the WWE would strap Christian at this point, though I think he and ADR could give a sick match at SummerSlam. Personally, I'd love to see Christian strapped, but more than that, I want to see great ring work, and Christian brings it out in ADR.
Winner – Christian (13:26)
Barrett vs Cody Rhodes > D+
I have huge issues with how Cody Rhodes has been booked lately. The past couple matches he's spent being beaten down, but then, right at the end, he pulls out something miraculous to win. It's worse than Super Cena, and worse than Orton's RKO out of the blue, because the booking continues to make Cody look week and ineffectual in the ring, and like he can only pull out a win with craftiness and a slight burst of creativity, not through the solid ring work that we all know that Rhodes is capable of. I'm really upset with how Cody has been booked, and if he's going to make it further, he needs to be booked to his potential. By the end of this match I was seething, and I'm right back there now writing about the match.
Winner – Cody Rhodes (4:23)
In Ring Segment > B+
I'm going to include the recap video here, because I haven't been able to watch Smackdown yet. I loved that Cody stole Sandow's case and threw it into the Gulf. It's been done before with a variety of things over the years, but the way Sandow jumped in after the case and almost drown himself made this segment so strong. I cannot wait to watch Smackdown and watch the entire flow of the segments leading up to the tossing of the case.
I loved Sandow on mic here, he continued to show his strength on mic, and his wimpiness as a heel when he fled as soon as Cody took a step in his direction. I love that they're not pushing these two to fight too early in their feud. They're building to it slowly, and doing a great job with it.
Bryan vs Kane > A-
Kane and Bryan worked this match really well. This was exactly what I expected from Bryan and Kane when they finally started to really fight against each other. They haven't had the time to really explore their feud, but this was a lovely little teaser for when they get there. I'm not complaining, because Bryan really does deserve to be WWE Champion, especially at this point in his career. The man is on fire, shows it each week in the ring and on mic – as in this match with Kane – and continues to wow us all even more each time we see him. I don't know how he does it, but that man is the epitome of Superstar!
Winner – Bryan (14:37)
In Ring Segment > B+
l love the continuation of The Wyatt Family with Kane. It's been an organic move from working with Bryan to working against Bray and his family, and I'm loving it. Like with Cody and Sandow, they're not pushing The Wyatt Family too quickly. I'll admit that I hope they step things up about a half a pace faster with Bray, Rowan and Harper, but only a half a pace. Anything faster could really hurt the progression. I think I'm glad that Taker won't be back for SummerSlam, because I think it would be too soon. Further, everything Bray said to Kane was spot on. These characters, the growth, the build, the booking and the direction is perfect for all involved. I'm at the edge of my seat to see what they're going to come up with next. This could be a huge faction for a long while to come if handled correctly, and so far they're going great.
Brie vs Natalya > C-
Where AJ and Kaitlyn were so strong, Brie and Natalya were so weak. Natalya has the skills, but working the ring with someone like Brie takes her down so far. There's only so much she can do in the ring with Brie because of her lack of ring skills. Further, putting someone as skilled at Natalya into a match that ends up becoming such a joke is a pathetic waste of her skills. Natalya is wrestling royalty, yet she's getting quacked at. I know it's the nature of the industry, but she takes more crap than almost any other Diva who actually can wrestle. So depressing to see things like that going down, especially when it's from Divas who really cannot work the ring anywhere near as well as Natalya.
Winner – Brie (4:13)
R-Truth vs Axel > B+
I like how Heyman on mic is leading to Axel on mic more and more. Axel isn't bad on mic, he just doesn't have the ease that some others have, and he doesn't exude the charisma the way certain others do. Then again, Bryan did exude that charisma for a very long time, then suddenly it was there. You just never know what's going to work for someone. What does work is Curtis Axel with Heyman. It's leaps and bounds above Michael McGillicutty with Nexus! Bad names, lack of characters and bad booking hurt a lot of the Nexus guys who are only now coming out of it – Ryback, Bray, and Axel.
There wasn't much actual wrestling in this match, but seeing Heyman selling not being able to flee from Punk made the segment worth the time. Those two have such chemistry, and they bring it to all they do – separately, and together. I feel a bit bad for Axel right now, because he's being pushed aside a bit so that Punk can work with Heyman, but without Axel, there wouldn't be enough of a platform for Heyman to be around for Punk to feud with. They're helping each other, and in the long run Axel will get his moments to shine. Until then, I'm excited to see how Punk abuses Heyman!
Backstage Segment > B
A makeover? My daughter Sam can barely look at Season 1 of NXT because Bryan isn't shagged out! I love the mic work between McMahon, Trip and Steph, and how it continues to push the storylines along.
Tables Match > A-
I would love to complain that we've seen too much of Cena and Ryback in tables matches, but they really know how to pull out all the stops, and each one is better than the last. That they're able to push forward with each match, and make each one that much better shows that they're not just resting on their laurels each time. The thing that the WWE did so well with these duel main events is that they played to Bryan and Cena's strengths, as well as the strengths of their opponents. In doing that we're able to see the best of each of the wrestlers in the WWE Championship match at SummerSlam.
Cena and Ryback pulled out some new and creative moves in this match, and I was impressed with it. That they threw the top levels of the stairs at each other to make a big crash was a bit corny, but the way Ryback slammed the table into the post, and the way the tables were set across from the apron to the stairs was great. Lastly, the way Cena avoided going through the table by going over it was a nice little swerve. I figured that Cena would be winning the match, so the fact that he almost went though the table was fun.
Winner – Cena (15:45)
In Ring Segment > B+
I had to break this off from the match as Cena and Bryan deserved their own grade for this little segment. Bryan and Cena really sold the end of the show, and did a great job of further setting up for SummerSlam. I'm not sure I've been this excited for a Cena match in the past five years!
Orton got attacked by a fan! That was quite the attack too! How the heck did that happen? Actually, the video I saw said staff attacked Orton, other things said a fan, but either way, how did that guy get over the barrier, into the ring, across the ring and crotch Orton without someone stopping him? If this was on RAW or Smackdown I'd wonder if he was a new character, but not a house show. I know Santino debuted out of the country, but that was on a televised show. Hopefully Orton is okay, as he looked fine, and the person is prosecuted for assault on Orton. That Orton didn't flatten that guy is shocking, but I think he was too shocked to realize what had happened. I guess only time will tell what will happen.
Queen of WNW!