There's been a lot of little things going on in the WWE. Meaning a lot of little things other than that certain Superstars keep stealing RAW, week in and week out. It seems like no matter what happened outside of the WWE, there's certain people who are rocks (and I don't mean The Rock, but he's a rock as well) and continue to prove that they're really the best in the business and deserve to be at the top.
The first big thing I have to talk about that happened outside of the WWE is, of course, Jack Swagger and his DUI conviction. Honestly, it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. I have been very vocal in my personal life that I have very serious issues with Jack Swagger and everything he has done, in the ring, on mic, backstage, and in his personal life. These are not the good old days, the Internet is here to stay, in many ways kayfabe has gone the way of the dodo, and professional wrestlers need to mind their P's and Q's a heck of a lot more than they did back in the day. I say that, but wrestling was such a different entity back then, and the likes of Jack Swagger would not have lasted as long as he has these days, or he would've had that ego beaten out of backstage. As annoyed as I have been by Hogan lately, the first part of his book – either of his books, they both start out as basically the same book – really shows what wrestling was like when he first started, and how it was easier to break his leg then deal with Hogan wanting to be a wrestler. When it comes to guys like Jack Swagger, they don't realize just how easy they have it these days, and they still throw it away like its trash. In some ways I hope that Swagger learned something from this, but in other ways Swagger has proven, over and over, that he just does not have the maturity needed to be a WWE Superstar, and it's beyond time that he finds something else to do with his life.
After all that negativity, I have to say how much more I'm impressed by Henry. There's so many little things we do not hear about to happen backstage, things we really should hear about, the good stuff. We hear about all the great work that Cena does on his own time, but what about those little things that every one of them do? Look at what Henry had to say in the WWE Magazine this month. Looking at the list of people he is helped backstage, and I am sure that is only a short list, is something we don't hear enough about. Yeah, Cena has taken Big E under his wing, but we hear those things about Cena on a regular basis. We need to be hearing those things about people other than Cena. It might give some of us a different outlook on certain wrestlers, such as Henry.
Bryan vs Orton > B+
We all pretty much knew that these two are going to go at full bore once the bell rang, and we had to figure that there would be another screwy ending. These two have taken this pseudo-feud to a level that I didn't think was possible for Orton. Orton is known for being robotic both in the ring and on mic, and lately – meaning the past couple years – is fallen back on five moves of doom. I can't say that his moves are bad, but like Cena, he hits those same exact moves, the same exact way, in every match we see him in, and it gets bloody boring. But somehow putting him in with Bryan really shook up Orton and his work, all of his work. I know I rave about Bryan each and every week, but the fact that he has brought Orton out of his shell in such a way should be shocking and impressive to everyone.
Double DQ (1:14)
Backstage Segment > A-
Bryan said what so many people thought for so long about him. He's too short, he doesn't have the right abilities, oh no he's vegan, he doesn't have the right look, does he have the charisma? There were so many things said about Bryan through the years that were negative, many of them said by McMahon, yet there is Bryan one of the most over Superstars in the WWE right now. The sky is the limit for Bryan, and I give it McMahon a huge props for poking fun at how wrong he really was about Daniel Bryan Danielson. McMahon doesn't often admit when he's so wrong, and that he did it on RAW is huge. Bryan should wrap that moment up as a warm fuzzy feeling.
Rhodes Scholars vs Sheamus & Christian > B
I really enjoyed watching Christian and Sheamus work the ring together. When I think of Christian tagging, I automatically go to the obvious, Edge, but I also go to one of my favorites, Lance Storm, but Sheamus feels like a natural partner for Christian. These two as heels, tagging together, could be sick. But beyond all of that, I love that Cody Rhodes looked strong in this match. I know I have been constantly complaining about Sandow's losses, but Rhodes is in the same boat, and while I don't think Rhodes is to the level that Sandow is in a lot of ways, they are both destined for greatness, if only given the chance. Honestly when I was writing out who won this match, I put down Rhodes Scholars because of how great Rhodes was in this match. I really did forget that they didn't win it, even though they came off so strong. I do not read spoilers, but my fingers are crossed for Sandow on Smackdown.
Winner – Sheamus & Christian (4:50)
Backstage Segment > B+
Punk worked Vickie beautifully, and Vickie handled herself through all his angst with strength only a mother has.
Kaitlyn vs Aksana > B-
I liked how hard hitting Kaitlyn and Aksana were in this match. They didn't hit a lot of moves, and there weren't a lot of big moves, but everything they hit was strong. So while not a huge match, and not a lot of greatness, it was nice to see the Divas looking so strong. Hopefully this is a continuation in the right direction for the Divas. I really wonder if Dutch Mantel has had a hand in the Divas getting stronger recently, if he is, we're in for quite the treat down the line.
Winner – Kaitlyn (1:21)
stage Segment > B+
I might catch a lot of crap for this because of how much I loather the Piggy James storyline, but I'm loving the feud between AJ and Kaitlyn. Let me explain why this is so different from Lay-Cool all up on Mickie James for being chunky. When Lay-Cool were harassing Mickie for being fat, the storyline was so much more than what we were seeing on the screen. The WWE was slapping Mickie down for things that had happened backstage, things Mickie had done (but were not all completely on her), and went about it by being really nasty to Mickie on camera. Further the WWE was attacking someone for being fat, when she really wasn't, and did it in front of an audience full of women who will never be built like that. The average woman in the USA is not built like a Diva, and will never be built like a Diva, and while we know this, seeing two skinny chicks attacking another chick for being fat because she isn't as slim as them feels dirty.
On the other hand, AJ is picking on Kaitlyn for being strong and having muscles. To me this shows more of AJ showing her awareness of what she doesn't have compared to Kaitlyn, and trying to attack Kaitlyn for it. The WWE is making such a big thing about bullying right now, and I think this storyline is showing AJ's inadequacies though her bullying, and it's a nice twist. It's a lot better than the whole Piggy James thing in my book. I also like the way Big E is able to show off some of his talents. He's a natural face, and great comically. Have you seen his 5 count promo on NXT where he channels The Count from Sesame Street? I tried to find it on YouTube, but I couldn't find a clip of just that, but it's there as part of an NXT clip. In the process of looking for that I found AJ's WrestleMania Diary where Big E received a personalized My Little Pony? I know it really should be Orton receiving a personalized My Little Pony (you remember that promo with The Rock?), but the way Big E reacts to the fan's gift, and the way he taunts AJ with it shows a true when natural charisma, something were not seen from the man as a heel. I think of anybody on the roster right now, Big E is the one who needs a face turn, possibly the only one who needs a face turn at this point, and this video should show you why. From there Big E can take some time to learn how to be a heel, but right now I think putting him in his comfort zone would be a good thing.
Videos > B+
They keep showing these Wyatt Family videos, and giving us tidbits from Bray, and their great, but I want more. I saw Bray live in a house show earlier this month, and since then I have been chomping at the bit for him and his family to debut on RAW. This man and his followers are going to change everything when they debut. Bryan changed everything, Punk changed everything, The Shield changed everything, and The Wyatt Family are going to further change how we look at the WWE. But I want them NOW!
Video > B
I normally trash recap videos, but after what Henry did last week I can't help but enjoy the video and reminisce about how great he was last week.
Video > A
I knew the WWE would be showing one of these 'Don't Try This At Home!' videos this week. They don't show it every RAW, but they do show it every SMS, the one show specifically geared toward children, as it should be. I am glad they step things up this week and showed on RAW as well. They shouldn't have to, but it is the way things are these days.
Jericho vs ADR > B+
I have been quite vocal about my feelings for ADR. He just hasn't been cutting it for me, and hasn't been for quite a long time. Just because I picked him to win the 2011 Royal Rumble doesn't mean I like the man or how he works the ring or mic. Ricardo absolutely carried ADR on mic and by bringing some charisma to their vignettes and promos, and I'd like to say Jericho carried ADR in this match, but I can't. Jericho didn't carry ADR, but he raised ADR to a whole new level, and made ADR look better by making ADR work more creatively. Only for Jericho and his legendary abilities did this match work as well as it did.
I am loving that Ziggler is not just a straight up face right now. Ziggler could have come to the ring, taken out ADR, and made nice with Jericho, even after what happened on Smackdown. That Ziggler didn't do the typical face thing and make nicey-nice with Jericho after they have had so many issues in the past. Ziggler is bringing something new to his character, and while I'm not surprised, I like it!
Winner – Jericho via DQ (14:21)
Backstage Segment > B
They have absolutely decided to slow down the McMahon storyline, and did a great job with that. Vickie is still on her toes, and jumping at every shadow. Whenever McMahon, Triple H, or Steph come into her office, Vickie doesn't know how to handle it, and it shows. I will admit that I was a little bummed to that things were slowed down, I understand why they did it because they need this to last the summer. Possibly they started the storyline to strongly, and now this backtracking feels like too much of a lull. Either way I'm very excited that they are going in this direction, and that we're seeing more of McMahon, Triple H, and Stephanie on RAW each week.
Video > B
I am not sure where they are going to go with these 1-800-FELLA videos, as Sheamus a really needs to turn heel right now and shake of his character, but he cannot do that with these funny videos. So while the videos are cute and fun, and Sheamus is doing a great job with them, I don't see them helping his character progress as it needs to over the course of the summer. Then again, someone needs to be the face.
In Ring Segment > D
I thought that King, Vickie, and Maddox really blew this segment. The flow was horrible, and they all stumbled over each other. It just didn't work for me. Further, I understood and why The Rock is on the cover of the newest WWE video game, it's in his contract, but the issues between The Rock and the WWE since just before Wrestlemania makes me wonder if they might have tried to change this somehow. I guess it was really too late to change it because so much has been in the works for so long, and stuff like this happens in big business, but the whole thing feels really wrong to me. We don't know if The Rock will be back for Wrestlemania XXX, or if he will ever step in a WWE ring again, but he's on the cover of the video game! Yes, I know that The Rock is one of the most recognizable WWE wrestlers of all time, and I can only help video game sales, but at this point seeing the fantastic Superstars who are carrying the WWE right now, I wonder how they feel. Is this more of the boys feeling stepped on by the big part time Superstar?
Ryback vs Khali > F
I don't know who was smoking what when they decided to book this match, but I want to know what it was. What a horrible mess! They take a man who was in the main event against the WWE Champion, and booked him against the biggest joke on the roster – pun intended. I really do not understand this. Maybe they wanted Ryback to look strong coming out of his loss at Payback, but all I saw was a joke. I truly do not understand it, and think that WWE creative screwed this up in a huge way. With all the greatness going on in RAW, I guess they needed at least one clinker.
Winner – Ryback (2:19)
In Ring Segment > C
Cena has great charisma, and he hit on some very valid points, especially that people like Edge, HBK, and Flair have had to go out there and give retirement speeches, whether they were ready to or not, but Henry made a mockery of all of that last week. You could say that, or you could say that Henry won over the fans like never before. Then again how would he win over the fans by having sex with Mae Young, then coaching her through giving birth to a hand, and not even a biracial hand. Henry really has been screwed at every turn when it comes to characters and storylines, on the flip side you could say the same for Bryan, yet he is beloved by the fans for playing a character that most people would say looks like crap on paper. Isn't all that you make of it?
So, yes, Cena has charisma, and he knows how to work a crowd, love him or hate him, Cena riles up the fans. With this is best segment? No, not at all. There was one man in the crowd chanting, 'Boring!' and I have to agree. This segment furthered his storyline, and made it so everyone live got to see Cena, but after last week with Henry, this just wasn't a good one for me. For Cena, he was just average.
Triple Threat Match > D-
This was the second match in a row – yes, I know there was other stuff in between – that was a total mess. Okay, so they need someone to face Rollins and Reigns at MITB, but this was not the way to go about it. I can't say who will should be facing Rollins and Reigns at MITB, but it shouldn't be any of these three teams, and they sure shouldn't have figured it out in this match. What a mess! I wrote the play-by-play and I still don't remember what happened, and each time I think back to this match I forget who the third team was. I remember that the Usos were in the match, because they showed us the best wrestling of those two minutes. I remember Tons of Funk because of who they are, and because of Scotty Campbell. Scotty Campbell was so entertaining on his way to the ring with Tons of Funk that I remembered his name when writing this. I went back to check, just to make sure I got it right, but I remember his name. I remember he was a state legislator, but couldn't tell you which state. He won this opportunity through the Sandy Relief Auction, but I don't think they said how much he paid. I don't want to get my Stacy in trouble, because he works at the state house, but I have learned over the years we've been together just how interesting and entertaining a state legislature can be. And so he won't get in trouble, I'll leave it at that. Beyond those simple things, I can't tell you what happened. I honestly have had to check at least five times to remind myself that it was 3MB that rounded up the match, but I couldn't tell you which two it was, or what they did. That to me is a travesty of a match. The only reason I didn't fail it was because of Scotty Campbell.
Winners – Usos (2:03)
Video > C
I love that video clip between Kane and Halle Berry. I have no interest in seeing the movie, but this video is one of those great moments in Kane comedy.
Video > B-
I normally give all recap videos a C, but because Henry on mic, and Brock taking out Punk were so big that I had to give them better than average. If they keep replaying them too much, then I will slap them down, but right now they are using them sparingly, and it works.
In Ring Segment > A-
Punk and Heyman bring so much emotion to everything they do. The emotions change every time, but they are there. Who knows what to believe it when Heyman is involved, but he sold every bit of it. I love that big parts of this were obviously a shoot, but they sold it is a work, and people who are not part of the IWC might not know that a lot of what they were saying in this segment was very true. I didn't know about the tag team proposal that Heyman brought to McMahon, but it does make perfect sense. It didn't at all surprise me that people were trying to get Heyman to fire Punk. In many ways, I am very surprised that Pump has worked as well as he has in the WWE. He has a very different look, a very different way of working the ring, and is a lot more outspoken than McMahon likes to keep around, but he does work, and quite well.
For me this was the best vignette of the night because of the emotion and the chemistry between these two men. If they weren't so close, it wouldn't work. It's like putting HBK and Trip in the ring together, you're always going to get fantastic TV. The look on Punk's face, in Punk's eyes, was so interesting while they hugged. It was impossible to tell if Punk believed Heyman or not. I think that's what made this so perfect.
Punk vs Young > B-
And this was the third match with very questionable booking. How does Punk go from stealing Payback with Jericho to facing Young? I honestly have no trouble with Punk showing his struggles and how he was out of sorts during the match, in fact that made a lot of sense, and Punk sold it wonderfully, it was who he was in the ring with that bothered me. I honestly don't understand why they picked Young! Did they draw numbers to see who could come up with the screwiest match pairing of the night? I'm not a Prime Time Players hater the way I once was, but this sure didn't make a lot of sense from any direction. Honestly, I never thought I'd be giving a Punk match such a piss poor grade, but this match wasn't worth much more.
And since we're going there, O'Neil really screwed up the post-match attack, and the botch was glaringly obvious. He had been looking better, but that was a serious mess! I don't know what O'Neil needs, but he needs something, or someone to help him with his ring work.
Winner – Punk (6:12)
Backstage Segment > B
Not a big segment, but it slowly continued to push the power struggle backstage.
Stage Segment > B
I also have to say that this wasn't Steph's best segment recently, but it wasn't bad. I was a bit surprised by a few of the names in the MITB as I thought they might be in other matches, but all in all I think this WWE Title MITBLM is going to be sick for the names involved. I know a lot of people don't like Kane in these matches, but I think he adds a lot of flavor, and more flavor than he would have added ten years ago. I know, I'm biased. You should be used to that by now.
Backstage Segment > B-
I really thought that Ryback's match with Khali could be the start of a major downfall, then they set up Ryback versus Jericho at MITB? That makes no sense to me at all! If Jericho loses, then it's a fluke. If Ryback loses, no one cares because he loses at ever PPV. Jericho sold this segment, and I guess he wouldn't be doing the match if he didn't want to, but the whole thing seems to be a recipe for disaster.
Backstage Segment > B+
That chemistry between Punk and Heyman, and the way they both work their emotions, and the emotions of the fans is just brilliant. Just when you think Punk can't add more to his character, he continues to work with his bestie and Heyman brings out a whole new level to the Punk. I'm so excited to see where these two men bring us over the coming months, it's going to be fabby!
In Ring Segment > B+
This segment wasn't to the level Henry had last week, but how could it be? That was a once in a lifetime segment, and Henry sold it in a way I didn't think possible from him. The thing about Henry this week compared to almost every week before last week is that the fans were hanging on his every word, and they weren't chanting the kiss of death, 'Boring!' Further, Henry held the fans in the palm of his hand, and worked ever "What?" to his benefit. I loved how he spoke like adults, telling him not to hurt the little children. Just great!
Street Fight > A
I'm going to start this off a bit negatively, mostly because I have to get it out of the way before I start getting giddy over the match. That first chair shot, when Bryan was heading for his suicide dive and Orton put the chair up between the ropes, appeared to be unprotected. I went back and watched it a couple more times, and Bryan absolutely had his arm up as he flew into that chair. He was well protected, so I guess we won't be seeing an $25,000 fines this week, but I have to wonder how many more chair shots to the head, protected or not, we will be seeing in the WWE going forward, especially after all the concussions that have been happen/ing up.
I have to say that both Orton and Bryan hit some seriously sick moves. They both used their normal moves, but also threw in so many other things that I was left in awe. Orton hanging off the apron over that table and Bryan just not being able to drop him with drop kick, so he slid out and powerbombed him through the table, it was creative and unexpected. Everywhere they went in and around the ring, they showed us greatness. I might catch some crap for this, but I love it when Bryan really locks in the "NO!" lock. He, for obvious reasons, reminds me of someone else who used to finish off his opponents in such a way. The mere mention of Benoit always upsets someone, and I'm sorry for that, but it is what it is. That Bryan brought it to a whole new level with the kendo stick had be roaring in delight. What a beautiful match, but honestly, how could you expect anything less after what these two have been giving us recently?
The end of this match brought tears to my eyes. Orton breaking kayfabe last week when Bryan couldn't continue the match was one thing, but the show of emotion from Orton this week further softened my heart to the great cranky, robotic, wellness violating, Diva tormenting man! I honestly never thought I'd be thinking or writing such nice things about Orton, but he deserves it with the work he's been doing with Bryan. I honestly didn't think Orton still had this in him, and I'm thrilled to be seeing it again. The handshake was wonderful, and showed real respect. Further, the look on Orton's face, the quiver of his bottom lip as he walked up the ramp sealed his part in this beautifully on his part, but it was Bryan on his knees in the ring that brought back another deeply emotional moment of another man on the mat after another fantastic struggle. Bryan might not have had gold in his hands, but the way he was sitting in that ring, the emotions pouring off him, I was brought back to WrestleMania XXII when one of Bryan's trainers, HBK, won the WWF Championship for the first time ever. It was lovely to see Bryan finally beat Orton, and do it cleanly. Just one more step toward being back on top!
Winner – Bryan (15:55)
The flow of RAW this week felt stronger. I will say there were more horrible segments, most of them poorly conceived and booked matches, this week, but RAW was still stronger than it was before the start of the Road To WrestleMania. The WWE has taken the post-WrestleMania spring lull, and summer boredom and have turned the WWE into 'Must See TV!' with jaw dropping matches, and some of the best storylines and swerves we've seen in the past year! It's way late, and I want to get to bed, even though I'm still pumped from this fantastic episode of RAW! I'm itching for next week, and can't wait to read what you think of all that went down. Now I'm going to see if that's a real mouse that one of the cats is playing with.