I've really enjoyed the build to the Wyatt Family's debut. No clue what's going to happen with them as a group, but I will say I'm impressed with how the WWE is using these interesting and different wrestlers in such different ways. They might all have less than exciting names, but they're not the same happy-go-lucky good guy, or pissed off bad guy any longer. It felt like it was too long that everyone had the same look, the same build, the same boring ring gear. Now there's guys in all black riot-esque gear, a dancing fool from Maine, a southern cult leader and his goat masked boy, and then there's the actual goat faced boy! Finally some diversity from the WWE and it's glorious to see. Now all they have to do is bring up Paige and really mess with the Divas as well and maybe things will get really interesting!
In Ring Segment > B
Again, loving that they're not starting RAW with the same recap video each week. Changing things up is working well for the start of the show. It was good to see that King and Vickie could carry a segment and not have it turn to hash.
Bryan vs Sheamus > B+
I'm one of the few who really enjoys Sheamus these days. I can't say this is the best evolution of his character, because he really is a ginger Cena right now, but I enjoy who Sheamus is beyond all that annoying crap. I have to admit that the girly side of me doesn't have any problem watching Sheamus in the ring, but it's more than that, he really is a decent wrestler. But put him in the ring with the likes of Bryan, and he looks that much better. Hello, this is me being a broken record. I know, I weekly talk about how great Bryan is in the ring, and working the fans, but that's because he is. I don't understand why the IWC feels this need to trash whichever indy wrestler is doing the best right now. Both Bryan and Punk are both great wrestlers and have fantastic personalities and excellent charisma, why trash them for it? Sometimes I really don't understand people.
Winner – Bryan (14:50)
Reporter Videos > B
I've really enjoyed the build to the Wyatt Family debuting, but these reporter videos were not great for me. There was nothing inherently wrong with them, and they were definitely creepy, and they showed more about the faction, but for some reason they didn't hit me as great as I think they should have. I will fully admit that it might be me, but for some reason these were not on the level of the promos.
Backstage Segment > B-
Not sure how I feel about the way they're handling Ziggler and AJ, but they have to do something. AJ seemed to lack a lot of her AJ-ness when Ziggler arrived. I will say I like how AJ and Big E interacted, and I love how Ziggler is playing a really edgy face, but the work between AJ and Ziggler felt plastic and forced.
Video > C
Yay, recapping Henry's life. We're so lucky.
RVD Videos > B
I have to admit I was getting a bit bored with the same RVD promos, but these videos were a solid way to push RVD without putting RVD on TV. With these videos, I'm really wondering how they're going to be pushing RVD when he does return. After all these great winning videos, RVD could do anything in the MITBLM, but losing would be a huge let down. I'll admit I'm a bit worried at this point.
Rollins & Reigns vs Tons of Funk > B-
Um, why? Talk about craptastic booking for The Shield who had been getting a serious push. I know it's hard as there's really no great teams for them to feud with, but putting them in the ring with Tons of Funk, and making the big guys look as viable as they did, really makes me worry about their immediate future. I know that they need someone to fight, but I'd rather the WWE put two stronger opponents together to fight them than to feed Rollins and Reigns such weak teams. The Usos are at least stronger, but still not to the level of Rollins and Reigns.
Winners – Rollins & Reigns (6:34)
In Ring Segment > C
I'm really wondering if that one night was Henry's one big hurrah. He really hasn't been anywhere near as good as he was that one night. Last night was better, but his timing was still not up to par. Maybe Henry just isn't the top tier talent he's forcing upon himself. The whole needing to be Champ or not returning thing is proving that he's not Champ material to me. Yes, he's put in 17 years, but if seniority was all it took to be WWE Champion, then why isn't Regal Champ? Even better, why isn't King Champ? Other than any performer that isn't part of the McMahon family, and isn't Taker – who has been WWE Champion – King's been with the company the longest, and he hasn't been WWE Champ, so why does Henry really deserve it? Other than that one night, I haven't seen a reason.
Backstage Segment > B
Orton was less robotic and more passionate here than he's been in a long time. I don't know what's changed with him, but it's a very good thing.
Jericho vs Axel > B+
I really enjoyed the way these two worked the ring together. The first couple times we saw Axel in the ring he didn't really show much of what he could do, but things have been picking up lately and he's really been showing a lot of his father in the ring. While not always as crisp as some others, Axel is really strong, and I'm wondering why it's taken so long for him to get to this point. The way he hit that drop kick on Jericho coming off the top was more Orton than Perfect, but it was still lovely to see. Okay, so Axel didn't win this one, but it's good that he's not winning every match, it leaves a question mark over his matches to come.
Winner – Jericho (10:59)
Backstage Segment > B-
They set up a lot of little things in this segment. They showed how along Barrett is, but that he's not as alone as Fandango. They further showed the cracks forming between Sandow and Rhodes, hopefully building to a feud between them. Zeb was mouthy, but he always is, and at least it keeps Swagger from talking. Now if they would only do something to get Swagger out of the MITBLM, I'd be that much happier. But for me it was all about them warning Fandango not to say it.
Sin Cara vs ADR > D
This is the other match that made absolutely no sense to me. They're trying to make ADR look strong, he is the Champ and all, yet Sin Cara looked stronger than ADR in this match – even before Ziggler came out to distract by being a total doofus on mic. Honestly, all the way around this was bad booking and bad execution, even from Ziggler. Honestly, and I cannot believe I'm saying this, the best of this segment was Sin Cara' deep arm drags.
In Ring Segment > B+
There were good an bad parts of this segment, but the fact that it was so entertaining, really riled up the fans, and brought in that many voters makes it a successful segment in my book. It also helped that it really pushed a couple of storylines forward in a huge way. Yay, Vickie is off TV for a bit, will give her a chance to recharge her character, and time for creative to come up with something else huge and annoying for her to do! Too much of a character like that and she's not as annoying as she once was. Even if she's only gone a month or two, when she returns she will be all up in our craws all over again, and there's so many creative ways she could return.
I'm loving how Trip is being the uber face, McMahon's is turning into the big bad heel, and Steph is stuck in the middle. The pushing and pulling is starting to come to the forefront, but it still hasn't reached anywhere near the height it's going to reach, and naming Maddox as RAW GM is just one more step in the fun. While I don't see Steph facing her father in the ring again, or them ending up in some disturbed church storyline like the summer of HBK, but why does every storyline have to be terribly not PG? They're doing a solid job of it so far, are not being too PG-y. Fewer uses of the words like spiffy and dandy, and more uses of damn and hell, has helped things seem less goody-goody and more realistic.
Backstage Segment > B-
This segment was a good continuation of the previous segment, but also possibly a bit too much. Maddox is such a goober, and what's with the whole Dr. Who wannabe look he has going on? It's kind of lame. But my real question about this segment is, what was Rhett Titus doing in this segment? Is there something going on there?
Kane vs Christian > B
This wasn't a bad match, and what wasn't great wasn't really their fault. The biggest problem with this match was the timing. This match would have gone over better if the fans weren't so worn out after the big segment previous to this. Kane and Christian worked this match pretty well, it was all about location, location, location.
Winner – Kane (7:49)
In Ring Segment > B+
Certain people have been trashing this segment and saying Wyatt Family will go nowhere fast, others have been saying it's just wonderful and they will be the top of the food chain in no time. I have to agree with Richard on this one and say it's too early to tell and we don't know what's going to happen. I did have a few issues with the segment, but other parts were handled quite well. I felt really ripped off that Bray lit the flame in the lantern, but when he came out it was wasn't a flame. I know it's s simple and rather silly thing, but it bothered me. I will agree with some others that the attack on Kane dragged on a bit, but on the other hand, the final hit with the top layer of the stairs, and the way Kane sold it was just great. All in all it was a solid segment in a bad spot in the show. The fans were still recuperating from Vickie's firing and complete and utter meltdown.
Backstage Segment > A-
I might catch some flack for this grade, but I don't care. This was the strangest segment we've seen in a long time, and because it was Ryback, it worked. The way he took the box from her, was so sweet and hugged her was odd enough, but then he handed her back the box and left her there with it was just absurd. WWE hasn't given us many moments that absurd in a long time. Last one I really remember was Santino's tea party.
AJ & Fox vs Kaitlyn & Layla > D-
This is getting so old. I understand they're pushing because of the Totally Divas show on E!, but this whole junior high way of dealing things is getting old. Not saying I want to see Lita in bed with Punk in the ring, and I don't want to see Jello Mud Lingerie Evening Gown On A Pole Matches, but looking back it seems those days were better than the whining and sniveling we're stuck watching these days! Only reason I didn't fail this segment is because I just can't get over the way Big E scoops AJ up like a doll and slings her over his shoulder to carry her away.
Backstage Segment > B
Not Punk's best segment. He was good, but it was the same words all over again. We've heard it all before and need more. We've all said it, and Punk has more in him, but they're not pushing him to grow and change. All the great ring work and charisma only goes so far without growth and change. Look at Cena. Not that his ring work is the best, but you know what I mean.
Orton vs Punk > B+
Solid match, but I have to say that the post-match festivities were what sold the go-home to MITB for me. Okay, I was sold before this, but this was a nice little tie up. I'm floored at how Orton has grown recently, and hope this is him clear headed and grown up. The rate he's going, he could make it back to the main event and look good doing it. Not saying soon, but at some point if he keeps working like that. Heck, I'd rather see Orton working like this facing Cena at MITB than Henry! Wow, didn't really think about that until I wrote it, and I never thought I'd want to see those two going at it again, but I'd so much rather see them doing their dance with Orton the way he is right now than Henry at any point. Yeah, all the shininess of that great segment has worn off, he's just Henry again.
Winner – Punk (13:53)
Can't say it's the best go-home to a PPV, but it was better than most lately. I'm looking forward to MITB, not for the big Championship matches, but the more interesting matches, and the keystone matches of the show. I have a feeling that not all those scheduled now will make it to the MITBLMs (not reading Smackdown spoilers before posting), and I'm sure there's some serious swerves coming, and I can't wait to see them.