It appears as though the WWE is starting to pull out the big guns when it comes to pushing certain younger guys in the WWE. It feels as though it's been a long time since they've really gone all out for young Superstars, and now they're doing it for two young guys. Obviously some wrestlers take off without a lot of rigamarole – the stars align and things just take off. It's more than possible to hit it right off the bat, or hit it on your 20th character change. Look at some of the biggest names and all the characters they went through before hitting huge. Just to grab three big names – Austin was WCW and treated like crap, then to ECW to let it all out of his system, into the WWF and a horrible character, then Austin 3:16 just whipped your ass! Foley bounced all around – WCW, Japan, ECW – and while he was well known, it wasn't until he became Mankind that his career exploded and he could revisit all the other characters he'd created over the years. The Rock might not have has as long of a time to get really recognized, but look back at his early characters, he was a mess. The hair alone was just ridiculous! And since I'm in a mood, look at the craziness Ziggler has been through to get where he is – I don't mean concussed, I mean WHC. He was a bloody cheerleader! He was the caddy for Chavo when HE was Kerwin White! He ran around introducing himself to everyone, at every turn, looking like a total idiot, yet look at how far he's come, and they didn't invest anything in him. He did run with Vickie, but it took him a long time to get there, they didn't just throw him with a big name – Guerrero is a big name, no matter which member of the family – right when he returned to TV as Ziggler.
The WWE hadn't been investing any change into the younger wrestlers, and it takes quite a bit before anyone even gets their first t-shirt. Heck, after all we've seen from AJ, her first shirt came out this week. But then they really went all out with Hussey's newest character, between the stage set and the flaming Fandango over the ring, the WWE has invested serious money into this guy. Further, the WWE is utilizing one of their biggest stars to get Fandango over with the fans, and because it's Jericho it's working so wonderfully.
But then Heyman has a new client. Of course whoever is going to be with Heyman is going to be over, or has a huge leg up on getting over in a huge way. I heard some rumors here or there who might be joining Heyman's unusual stable, but none of them felt right. While RVD did make a lot of sense, especially the way he's been kayfabing the fans online, I just don't see RVD being able to play the type of heel he'd have to play if he was being managed by Heyman at this point. I didn't see Joe Hennig coming. I was blown out of the water with the direction creative went with this one, and impressed that the WWE thinks highly enough of Hennig to match him up with Heyman. While I absolutely think that it's time Heyman takes a younger wrestler under his wing and work with him – the way I think Trip should be doing (I'll get there) – I wasn't sure it was going to happen this soon. I am all for managers helping wrestlers get over, and while I think Ziggler was with Vickie a bit too long, and that Punk doesn't need a mouthpiece, this could be a perfect fit for Hennig (pun intended). Since I heard that The Rock was working with Hennig (just to name one) to get ready to get back into the ring, I've been wondering when that praise from The Great One would lead to a monumental push. I will fully admit that I haven't seen enough of Hennig beyond Nexus, but I hope that's remedied soon, and if he's at all like his father, we're in for one wild ride with this young guy!
Before we jump in I have to apologize for how late this is. It's been a terribly strange week, medically, and it threw everything around me in a crazy spiral. I'll try to make sure this won't happen again.
Ambulance Segment > B-
It's taken me a bit to figure out who Ryback on mic reminds me of. It must have come up during the WNW Extreme Rules Live Blog, and I cannot recall who brought this up, and I'm sorry, but Ryback is very much like a young Scotty Steiner. It's in the way he talks, the way his voice seems forced out, almost as if he's on the edge of yelling at all times, and the beat at which he speaks. His voice has more of a musical beat that many on mic, it's almost as if he's always talking along the beat of his music, whether it's playing or not. The way he used to bop his head in the ring, it seems as if he's still doing that mentally while he gives his promos. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, it's really growing into his own style, and something I'm not hating. He's not the best on mic, but he sure is a lot better than many ever will be, and if keeping that beat works for him, more power to him for finding a way to make it work, even if he doesn't realize he's doing it.
I do have problem with Cena's side of this storyline. If any Superstar might be injured and he refuses to see medical personnel, then there's no way he would be allowed back in the ring. I call shenanigans on that one! Even Cena would not get away with being 'knocked silly' and not being examined by a medical professional.
The way Ryback talked down the fans made sense, and it got him a lot of heat, but I think he made a huge mistake in what he said. I'm not going to blame this solely on him, I think it was the writers who made this major kerfuffle, but after their head writer lasting only six weeks, I shouldn't be surprised. Ryback said, "I have nothing in common with any of you. You don't understand what it's like to wake up each and every day wanting to be the damn best!" Of course that will piss off everyone who does wake up every day wanting to be the best, because he doesn't know them, and it pisses off those who don't because Ryback makes them feel bad about themselves, and I am all fine with that. In fact it's a smart direction for his character to go, but what I'm not fine about is the phrase 'wanting to be the damn best.' To me that he wants to be the best is bad wording for someone in his shoes. He should know he's the best, but due to Cena and the refs, and everyone else holding him back, he's not holding gold and showing that he's the best. It's a tiny little tweak in wording, but it means so much. So while I see an issue with it, I'm not blaming Ryback for it because I'm sure at this point he's working almost line for line to get his promos right.
Beyond that, Ryback got some solid reaction from the fans. While he's not there yet, he sure is better than average and got the reaction he was after, unlike so many Superstars who either don't get any reaction, enough reaction, or the wrong reaction.
Announce Segment > C+
A lot of shows are working with the next step beyond product placement and putting the commercials right into the shows. With Hulu, Netflix, DVR, etc, we have many ways to skip commercials, so it make sense that companies are thinking of how to get the advertising to the viewers. I haven't seen any lately, but I have seen some of the corniest 'commercials' for different snacks and Midol on Days Of Our Lives, but I like that the WWE is more straightforward about the way they push certain things, even if it does annoy me that the closest Sonic is well over four hours from here.
Fandango & Barrett vs Miz & Jericho > B
This match was quite interesting. There was a lot of decent ring work, but there was also so much entertainment and the complete opposite of ring work. I loved it that Fandango left the match to go 'dance' with Summer Rae in front of announce, and that the rest of the wrestlers just kept going in the ring. I didn't completely understand why they put these two teams together, but it's good that Fandango is pissing off more people than just Jericho now. I can't put my finger on why, but putting Fandango and Barrett on the same team felt really odd to me. Any thoughts? Also, I have a confession to make. I really don't mind Miz with the fig 4. Yes, I think he should have worked that move hard and had it down pat before Flair passed the torch, but I'm kind of enjoying seeing how Miz is evolving with the hold, and how the hold is evolving with him. No matter how hard Miz works, he's going to catch a ration of crap from almost everyone, so I have tuned out most of the Miz-haters these days.
One last thing. I know I have been really down on Summer Rae, and I'm still not a fan, but I think I have figured out why I'm having such an issue with her. First off, she just doesn't have the grace and skills of Fandango's original dancer, but on the other hand, I'm not sure his original partner could have done a lot of the things SR has been doing the past couple weeks. Then there's the fact that I'm annoyed with her because she's another one of McMahon's skinny blondes who doesn't have the ring skills. When she first came out it really felt as though she thought she was the star of the duo, even though Fandango had been working it for a couple months without her, and made it without her. The last thing, and the thing I just realized, is that she's not Stacy Keibler. I think that's what it is. With her legs and blonde hair I get a very Keibler feel from her, but she doesn't have that something special that makes her Clooney worthy. She doesn't have Keibler's class, or at least I haven't seen it yet. After the really solid way she worked with Jericho in this segment, I'm going to give her a bit more lenience.
Stage Segment > D-
When Vickie comes out to the stage, I expect something very Vickie-esque, what we got was John Laurinaitis with boobs. Very, very disappointed that they didn't use Vickie to her potential here. It would have been better to send Long out for this, rather than such a waste of Vickie.
Backstage Segment > B+
The start of real issues between Kane and Bryan? In some ways Bryan needs to go off on his own to regain a top role in the company, but in other ways, I love Bryan and Kane together. I hope that this team is revisited through the coming years, even after Kane retires, but returns for a special event. You know, go all DX with Team Hell No. I think it's one of the few teams that this would work with. These two are just so compatible on mic and in the ring, so I hate to see the cracks forming in the team, but I also know what Bryan is capable of. Arg! This segment was lovely in that it had that wonderful comedic feel, but also the tension needed for a team that just lost the TTC.
Sheamus vs O'Neil > B
I really want to know of O'Neil got his bum chewed out by McMahon for dropping that f-bomb. As soon as I heard that O'Neil had been bleeped out, I immediately shot a message to Jesse Sherwood to ask him to check on it to be sure I was right about the f-bomb. I know that my timing of the matches is not the most accurate – I'm sitting here with a stopwatch that I start and stop with the bell – but I try not to cut into the matches as I'm writing the results, if at all possible. I used to make Stacy have his laptop open in case I needed him to look things up, but since Jesse joined our WNW/WWENews/TNANews team, he's been my right hand man for checking if things happened on RAW as I'm writing results, checking on possible mistakes by Cole, spelling of obscure names that I'm clueless about. I made Jesse go back and check to see if O'Neil actually dropped the f-bomb, as Jesse didn't think he had, but he so obviously did.
Whether O'Neil got chewed out for cussing or not, I'm not phased by it. I actually think it's quite funny that it came out. We've all said something when we shouldn't, have all let our emotions take over and something slipped out – good or bad – so I actually find it quite funny that he dropped the f-bomb in the ring. And that's why there's a tape delay on live shows! But beyond all the cussing, I thought O'Neil looked even better in this match. He's more than proven that he can work the mic, and did a solid job at Extreme Rules, and each time we see him in the ring he's improving. If he continues along the way he's been going, he could really become someone to keep an eye on.
Winner – Sheamus (6:35)
In Ring Segment > A
I might catch some flack for this grade, but I really think it deserves the A, and here's why:
- Heyman is a genius at working the fans. He set up this segment brilliantly, starting with the tweet. He had the IWC questioning who it could possibly be? RVD, Batista, or someone else? Then he came out and talked about setting the DVR and looking back at this monumental moment ten years from now. That was just fantastic!
- Then Hennig came out and I'll admit I was shocked. Why would anyone think that it might be Hennig? He's been backstage a lot, so no one would think anything of him being back there when Heyman was tweeting about his newest client.
- They used a rendition of Mr. Perfect's music, Perfection – another fantastic move.
- I know that a lot of people are unhappy about Hennig' new name, and think Curtis is a rather wimpy name. Personally, compared to Michael McGillicutty, Curtis Axel is quite the homage to Hennig' father, grandfather, and The Rock. We all know that The Rock started off in the WWE as Rocky Maivia – a mixture of his father's name, and his grandfather's name.
- Triple H to the ring added another wonderful element, especially how he so easily talked down to Hennig like he didn't matter in the least.
- Setting up the match between Trip and Axel sealed the deal perfectly for Hennig' new character, new start in the WWE.
ADR vs Big E > B
This match was better than I would have thought it would be. Big E seemed to bring some creativity out of ADR that we have seen little of lately. It was also nice to see Big E work the ring the way he did. Not only did he look really solid in the ring, and be the heel that he needs to be running with Ziggler and AJ. Speaking of AJ, I laughed when she skipped down the ring before Big E. just making sure she doesn't get hit by Big E's flailing arms again.
Winner – Big E (4:41)
Video > C
After watching RAW it felt as though they recapped the ambulance segment too many times, but this was the first time they did it, so I guess I was blowing things out of proportion Monday night.
Layla vs AJ > C
AJ's first neck breaker was good, the second was a serious botch. It seemed as though Layla dropped before AJ expected her to. The lack ring time the Divas are getting shows in their ring work. The girls have skills, or some of them do, and they should be allowed to show it. Though I will say that AJ's submission finisher is lovely, and well executed. I hope she puts together a finisher that isn't a submission, but that's just a pet peeve of mine.
Winner – AJ (1:55)
Ryder vs Rhodes > B-
This was a rather unexpected match. Ryder has been coming off as less of a face recently, at least to me, so it felt odd that he was in the ring with a full on heel. Further, why Cody and not someone else? Are they finally going to do something more with Cody? I have to admit that this wasn't a thrilling match, nothing was really impressive, but Rhodes' disaster kick was just lovely.
Winner – Rhodes (2:32)
In Ring Segment > B
I thought this needed to be split off from the match. I see what they're trying to do with Ryback, and it could work, heck, it has to work because the way he's been booked to this point has not been good for his career.
In Ring Segment > A-
The more we see from Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns, the more we want to see. These three men are the future of this company, and I can't wait to see what they're capable of. I think it's great that the one member of the group that people were worried might be too green has easily been holing his own. Further, he's showing both great mic and ring skills, on top of the genetics and breeding to be at the top. As I've said before, I've been a fan of Rollins since he was in ROH, and I am even more blown away by him in the WWE. Then there's Ambrose who I'd like to think will be in either Cena's, or Punk's, shoes in a couple years, and I cannot wait to see what happens when he and Bryan feud one on one. I love watching Ambrose move and talk, there's something about him that reminds me of Scott Hall in how he moves, both in the ring and on mic. And while this video doesn't show that, it made me smile, so I decided to sneak it in. Razor Ramon's First Vignette
6 Man Tag Match > A-
How many times can I sit here and write great things about Team Hell No and The Shield in the ring? I do want to say how thrilled I am that they let these six go so long in the ring. The WWE seems more willing to give The Shield longer matches on RAW, and for that I'm giddy. What else can I say about these guys being great in the ring and working so well together? I try to get creative as possible, but as I'm so late this week I'm not going to go into a huge thing about them, just need to say that everyone in this match was great, even Kofi was really was a bit outmatched with the rest in there – and I'm a huge Kofi fan.
Winners – The Shield (22:55)
Video > C
Recapping Axel and Heyman so soon would normally piss me off, but that was such a well executed segment that I won't complain much this week.
Backstage Segment > C
I adore Trip, but I'm not sure how I feel about him throwing his weight around the way he did about the company doctor. I know it happens all the time, and even I have done it in the family business in the past – when I was working there regularly – but it felt really dirty here. I know why they did it, and it was a way to set up for what was to come, but it left a grimy feel on it all.
Backstage Segment > D
Something about this segment really felt off. I can't say who dropped the ball in this segment, but for me it felt as though Kaitlyn, Natalya and Cody were all off here.
In Ring Segment > C
Khali over R-Truth? I guess I understand that fans want to see Swagger get flattened in the ring, but Khali? Really? I will admit I was a bit shocked at how high the percent of voters for Orton was, but they really stacked the deck for him to win this one.
Swagger vs Orton > B
Another long match is a good thing, I just wish they had been better wrestlers. This was the battle of the bad attitudes and egos out of control! Orton is more than over with the fans than so many wrestlers, and I understand that they're trying to build him up, but I'm so burnt on Orton right now that it will take a lot for me to care again. And I really don't understand why they would give Swagger so much time in the ring after all he's done. They gave this man a huge push, and might have strapped him, yet he's done little but screw up and show what a jackass he is. I realize the WWE is in need of Superstars to grow and help carry the company, but these two have proven that they're not top Superstar material, and there's plenty of other guys who have been proving they can step into those roles without causing such troubles, and without being liabilities to the company.
Winner – Orton (16:37)
Video > C
I could try to complain that they're replaying this video, but there was more added to it with Ryback's attack on Ryder, so it's not really like they're recapping the opening segment again.
Triple H vs Curtis Axel > B
There's been a lot of talk about this match and how good or bad it was. I am on the opinion that I thought things were well handled, and certain that I will have to wait to see how they handle Trip's health before I decide if it all made sense or not. Some people are saying that Axel looked weak because he didn't do anything to Trip to hurt him, but Axel's beautiful drop kick to the face was followed by a back elbow, then elbow drops on Trip. Trip didn't just start flailing around for no reason. Axel looked solid in the ring, both throwing moves and taking bumps. Yes, Trip hit a few moves after Axel was on him, but this is Trip and like so many wrestlers, he's been known to work while out on his feet. Not saying he did here, because he knew exactly what he was doing, but it happens and we've all seen it.
I thought Trip sold his health issues wonderfully. He really threw himself into this and did a great job with it, right down to fighting the medical personnel. My only worry is that they don't do enough in the future with Trip's health and possible 'concussion' as this would give them the perfect chance to discuss head injuries and push whatever info they can about it. If they just say Trip is injured and take him off TV, I will be very upset.
Then there's Axel and Heyman who will, of course, take this opportunity to claim that Brock and Axel destroyed Trip, took him out of the game. Of course that's not true, but they're heels and that's what they do. Personally, I don't have a problem with this as it will help Axel get a toe hold and push forward with this new character. Yet Gesus has a totally different take on what happened in the ending sequence. So rather than arguing with him while I should have been writing this, I told him to put his thoughts down to be included here. Who do you agree with, myself or Gesus?
I thought this was one of the best Raws since Wrestlemania, yet the ending was terrible. Importantly I need to get out there right off the bat, HHH did a great job selling it. The problem I have with it is how does it make Curt Axel look good? Yes, he can say that he put HHH on the shelf. What did he do to put him there though? He wrestled a good match, but he was on the defensive when HHH had to “shake the cobwebs.” I thought the ending would have been better with Curt and HHH in the turnbuckle and doing the 10x punches. Maybe some chain wrestling, but no HHH was in his go home sequence. It made it look like while Curt put on a good match, he was not able to hold a torch to HHH and was going to lose. With an opportunity like this, why not do the best you can to make Curt look like the strongest competitor there is. The boy is a Heyman Guy. HHH not being able to wrestle the best he can after the war he was just in with Brock 24 hours prior is more than an excuse to look weak. They blew a big opportunity to make Curt look very strong and thrust him into a lacking upper card.
Again, I'm sorry this is so late, and I will try to make sure this doesn't happen again, but what a screwy week. Anyway, what did you think of RAW and all that went down?