What a wild two days for the WWE! Between the Elimination Chamber PPV, the WrestleMania XXX announcement, and all that went down on RAW – specifically the new WWE Title belt – the WWE has really stepped things up and seem to be running with it. I can't say I agree with everything that went down over those 27 hours, but I will say that everyone did what they needed to (other than ADR's major botch), and they did it with conviction.
I'm going to start at the beginning, will go from there, and try to keep it as brief as possible. I missed the Tag Match prior to the Elimination Chamber PPV, but don't feel as though I missed much. I wasn't at all surprised that the Funky Train (best name I've heard for the team) won over Team Rhodes Scholars, even though Rhodes and Sandow deserve to be pushed in a big way – together or separately.
Why did they start Elimination Chamber with the WHC Match? As if it hadn't been sad enough, starting a PPV with it was a kick in the slats. Then you add in how one sided the match was, as it would have to be with Big Show in against someone like ADR, and it was a snooze-fest. It would have been better for all of us if this match had been a quick DQ of some sort, and we wouldn't have had to watch that monstrosity. The only good thing it did was set up for the Elimination Chamber Match.
While I really didn't think Miz would be Cesaro, I was hoping enough that I picked him. Cesaro and Miz in the ring is a fantastic thing, and I think if Miz had won, then Cesaro would have really had a place to shine as an all out heel going after the US Title. That could have taken their feud to the next level, but I guess Miz accidentally dropping Punk on his head made things worse for the Superstar who keeps ending up behind the 8 ball – whether his fault or not. But the way this match ended blew goats and WWE creative should be ashamed!
The Elimination Chamber Match was when the show really started picking up. Everyone in the match was great, and I think it ranks up there with the better Elimination Chamber matches. They all really put themselves out there and took some serious beatings. I will admit that I was nervous with Henry coming in fresh at the end, but it worked out well, and was believable, especially when he returned to flatten the remaining wrestlers. I'll admit I was getting worried that Orton might pull it out somehow, but in my gut it made sense to have Swagger win. This is his chance, so he'd better run with it, or he might not get another one!
While I still believe that the 6 Man Tag Match should have been in an Elimination Chamber, I like the way it worked out. I honestly didn't think they would let Team Cena lose, but I'm glad they did. Okay, Ryback keeps getting the short end of the stick, but he keeps coming back for more, and I think it will work out well for him, even if it's not until WrestleMania XXX. The Shield did a great job of fighting dirty, and made it work. They not only looked great in the ring, they sold well. I can't say that any of the six dropped the ball in this match, and I'm even more excited to see the work of Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns. These three are Superstars in a big way, and they all have a fantastic future ahead of them.
I was just sick that Ziggler didn't have a match scheduled for the Elimination Chamber. It felt like a huge snub. Ziggler deserves better than this, and should be in a bigger role in the Road to WM. It was pretty obvious that he was going to beat Kofi, and would have been a travesty if he hadn't. Hopefully things will get better for Ziggler and he'll have something solid to do at WrestleMania and after.
I will fully admit that I was in the bathroom for the backstage segment between Funkasaurus and Albert. From what I understand, I missed the perfect part of the PPV. I still feel really bad about Matt Bloom, but if he's okay with it, them I need to learn to let it go.
The Divas looked decent in the ring. I won't say it's the best Divas wrestling we've seen, but at least Tamina didn't look like a slab of bacon.
Of course screwiness was abound in the WWE Championship Match, but we all expected that. What people might not be expecting is how I'm going to verbally slap down The Rock here. People have been criticizing The Rock for not getting in the ring on RAW, just working PPV matches, but I now know why. The Rock was struggling after not a lot of ring work. Punk looked solid, but The Rock looked as though he could barely keep up. In fact, The Rock was really showing his age, and looked older when he was on the mat grasping for breath. He might look incredibly buff, but his stamina seems to be suffering in a big way. Further, I had forgotten how much Cena and The Rock have in common. People rip on Cena's 5 moves of doom, but what about Rocky's? His in-ring repertoire has never been fabulous, and he seems to be losing some of that with age. I have always, and will always adore The Rock for what he's done for the industry, his all out sexiness, and I know he's doing a lot for the WWE right now, but it's sad to see his actual ring work. All that being said, I'd still rather watch The Rock work the ring than Brock.
The last thing I want to talk about is the WWE announcement to hold WrestleMania XXX in New Orleans. I don't want to insult anyone from New Orleans, as it's not a personal attack, but the audiences in that city have been lass than stellar these past couple years. Actually, the worst audiences we've heard have been the New Orleans audiences. They're just dead, and have proven to be the several times they've visited over the past couple years. I worry that the fact that New Orleans has had notoriously dead crowds will affect WrestleMania XXX. We all know how a dead crowd can trash a PPV, and this is WrestleMania 30 years in the making! My only hope is that because WrestleMania draws fans from all over the world, the crowd will actually be as reactionary as they truly should be for such an epic event.
Video > C+
Of course they had to start the show with a recap video, and it wasn't a bad video, but they then ambushed us with too many more videos throughout the next three hours. I'll get to those later.
In Ring Segment > B
Cena came out strong here, surprisingly after his loss the night before. He got a lot of reaction from the fans, good and bad, but at least they're reacting. I won't say I was wonderfully thrilled when Cena came out. Actually, I loudly said, "Crap!" when I heard his music hit. Sam was thrilled, but Stacy laughed at my reaction. I was just not in the mood for more of Cena's talking about a loss, but how he will get better for WrestleMania! It's when Punk came out that really heated the segment up. Punk was absolutely perfect in his reactions to what he thought he goaded Cena into. He worked it wonderfully, and set up for what could be a lot of fun.
In the WNW Elimination Chamber Live Blog, someone brought up that he didn't think the WWE would do another big Triple Threat Match for one of the big titles at WrestleMania because the last one they did, at WrestleMania XX, was so huge and involved Benoit. While I can understand where they're coming from, I don't think that's enough to keep the WWE from doing it again. That specific Triple Threat Match was hugely iconic – as was that whole WrestleMania – but I don't think it would keep the WWE from doing it again. I would love to see the WWE make the WWE Title Match at WrestleMania into a Triple Threat Match. It makes so much sense in so many ways. Punk would have a huge WrestleMania match, Cena would be able to go after The Rock again, and The Rock would be able to take naps during the match to refresh while the other two work the ring. I think it would be the best of so many worlds, and make the 'once in a lifetime' from last year still be once in a lifetime. It would also leave an opening for The Rock to say that he wasn't pinned, so he could come back for more matches against either in the future. I think it's win win for everyone involved.
Videos > C+
I'd love to give the Presidents Day videos an A, but I found them more confusing than inspiring. I'm normally high up on WWE's production team, but I think they dropped the ball with this one.
Backstage Segment > B+
I was very confused the first time Ryback stomped across the screen. I actually rewound and checked to make sure I saw what I thought I saw. I really thoughts Ryback had screwed up, then it made sense that he was pacing, and I think it worked really well. Even better was the two of them getting pissy at each other. Jericho saves the day. What a wonderful person to place into this since Cena's coming out to work with The Rock going forward! Actually, this continues to work into Jericho saving us, the WWE, whoever this week. Further, I loved Jericho's speech. The way he said he loves the WWE, has loved the WWE since coming into the company in 1999, and how it will be the only wrestling company he will ever work for. I know he has a lot going on in his life, but his loyalty, in this day and age, with someone who has so many options, is inspiring. Too many people take their employer for granted until it's too late. I've had two opportunities to leave WNW and do other things, but I've been treated so well by Richard that I would never go elsewhere. It's nice to hear those words spoken by someone like Jericho.
Sin Cara vs Henry > F
This grade is for Henry, but it's also for WWE creative for putting together this match in the first place. Some might say it makes sense because Henry trashed Rey upon his return, but that was also daft creative. Okay, so Rey needed more time off, so an injury makes sense, but having Henry do it upon his return made Henry look weak and pathetic, and of course Rey is now 'injured!' I'm getting more and more confused by Henry's return, and the booking. There's a number of things Henry could do, but they have him in the ring with Rey, Sin Cara, and Khali. He was really solid in the Elimination Chamber, and that made sense, but otherwise, Khali? Khali might be a bigger man, but Henry can snap him like a twig. What is the sense of putting two not very careful, not very good wrestlers in the ring together, do they want to see who gets injured first? I guess if WWE's creative had to drop the ball with certain wrestlers, it's better that it's these two and not wrestlers who are actually huge draws.
Winner – Henry (1:33)
Promos > C
I really don't know what the plan for Fandango is, but it seems like a terrible time to bring up a new wrestler. It worked for for The Shield, but that was well before the Road to WM. Now it seems like the worst time to introduce someone new, especially through vignettes that are really going nowhere. Further, they started and stalled with him once before, so it appears that they don't have a direction for him at this moment. Hopefully he won't get lost in the shuffle, but I have little hope of that happening.
No DQ Match – Cesaro vs Miz > B+
This was a nice little piece of redemption for Miz after that BS ending at Elimination Chamber! I was actually quite impressed with the creativity of both of them in this match. That we see so few No DQ Matches in the WWE, so when we do, I expect a lot from them, and these two didn't let me down. I was worried that the screwy ending at Elimination Chamber might somehow end their feud, but it seems as though these two still have a fighting chance – pun intended.
Winner – Miz (3:39)
Video > B-
I'm staying out of politics, because that's not what WNW is all about. What I will say is that I thought this video fell pretty flat. Swagger looked quite unkempt, and that didn't help push his point across very well. Zeb handled himself well, but he's impressed in many ways through the years. I'll be interested in seeing where they go with this, but this wasn't the best step for them. I will mention that you should read the statement put out by RJ Brewer, the originator of the Zeb Coulter character.
Backstage Segment > B+
Sam was giddy when she saw Bryan, Kane and Orton on the screen together. It's February vacation, so we let her stay up and watch some of RAW with us, and she was thrilled to see them all on the screen. This is another one of those Team Hell No segments that work so well. Adding in Orton made it even better, except it made me worry that they might be reviving the Kane and Orton feud. That's something I absolutely do not want to see!
Backstage Segment > B+
I really don't understand what they're doing with Vickie and Heyman. They've gone round and round with them, and their relationship keeps changing. Honestly, at this point, I don't care what they decide on for them, just that they stick to it. It does seem as though they're going for hatred between them, hopefully that won't change next week.
Ziggler vs ADR > B+
I enjoyed parts of this match, but other parts annoyed the heck out of me. It had seemed as though ADR had changed up his ring work some, and was adding new moves to his repertoire, but then he slid right back to the same in-ring crap! Okay, I will admit that there were a few interesting moves. There was a lovely and strange move by ADR off the corner on Ziggler, then the blows while Ziggler was sitting on the second rope and the back stabber, but then he resorted to the same submission finisher.
Ziggler looked solid in the ring, for what he had to work with. Actually, I've really been enjoying how Ziggler incorporates his character and his cohorts into each match. He is the epitome of his character, and I'm wondering if they're priming him for cashing in the MITB in case something doesn't work out well with either ADR or Swagger. Ziggler is the perfect out, even though he should have been wearing the belt well before now. And I mean for longer than eleven minutes and twenty-three seconds!
I was actually quite impressed with Big E after this match was over. Actually, the whole part after the match earned more of the grade than the actual match. While Big E's finisher is nothing really painful, it does look good. Further, it's absolutely believable that Big E could flatten ADR so easily. What I was shocked with was how fast Big E moves! I was not expecting him to move like that. I'm a bit shocked that Ricardo stayed ahead of Big E up that ramp! But the hilarity of this whole post-match almost cash in was enough to raise the grade a couple points. I will admit I was cheering for Ziggler to cash in and win, as so many fans are. I'm willing to bet we're going to see more almost cash ins going down the Road to WM. It's a great way to keep everyone involved fresh, and on their toes, as well as making Ziggler seem more relevant than the WWE has let him in quite a while.
Winner – ADR (9:52)
In Ring Segment > D
Wait, what? I have no clue what happened here. I do think I saw Barrett in the movie trailer, but beyond that, I'm at a loss. What happened when Sheamus got on the tron, then was told he was out of time? The whole thing was very confusing and made no sense. Were they really that short on time that they had to make more for The Rock? And don't tell me that's how the segment was supposed to play out, because following clues show that they were crunching segments to make time later. I don't know who screwed up the numbers, but they really screwed up and many people suffered for it.
Funkasaurus & Albert & Cameron vs Primo & Epico & Rosa > C+
And this is also where time seemed to be crunched. The fat boys weren't even to the ring when the Colon's music cut in. They had barely arranged themselves at the ring when the bell was rung. Then the match didn't even last a minute, and they had no ring time to dance after the match. I'm actually wondering why they didn't cut this segment for time. It's not something they absolutely needed to show on RAW this week.
On the other hand, there was one bright and shining light in this match, and that was Cameron. She brought this up from an absolute failure. I'll admit that Ellie was a couple beers in and was getting a bit mouthy about certain parts of RAW, but Cameron completely changed her tune about this match. First off, we were both impressed with that bum slam of her's. Normally I might find it trashy, but it was wonderfully executed. Then there's the way she worked the rest of the match. The way Cameron flew into that corner and flipped up and over it in a way that should make HBK proud. Then following it up with the head scissors on Epico and the baseball slide between Clay's feet. She was beautiful to watch, and that's something we haven't seen in a very long time. We've seen Naomi prove her ring work before Christmas, and now Cameron. I'm thinking these two young women are being wasted dancing for Funkasaurus and Albert, but then I realize that VKM won't give any of the Divas a chance, so why should I get so excited.
Winners – Funkasaurus & Albert (0:49)
Video > B+
I thought the bits of speeches we saw about WrestleMania XXX came off well. They really put all of themselves into it. I love seeing Steph, and think she should be on RAW more, especially this time of the year. This is when the whole McMahon family steps up, and with the Brock storyline going the direction it's going, I think she should make an appearance of some sort.
In Ring Segment > B
"Why are they letting him talk?" yelled Ellie when Swagger was on mic. She's watched Swagger through his time in the WWE, and thought this was worse than he was previously. I have to agree with her, Swagger's mic work just sucks! But then there's Zeb, and he's great on mic. I'm not going to talk politics, but I will say that Zeb is getting a rise out of people, and pushing Swagger to that next level. Will it work? I'm not sure yet. Swagger has shown a drive that he hadn't shown previously, but is that enough to get him over? Only time will tell.
Swagger vs Bryan > A-
Bryan and Swagger left it all out there, and more. This is where Swagger shines, and in the ring with one of the best, he really looked very strong. I was worried that because Swagger went over in the Elimination Chamber, and will be going to face ADR at WrestleMania, that he would squash Bryan, but I was thrilled to see the way they went back and forth. This was a lovely match to watch, and makes me think that these two absolutely need to feud at some point – if Swagger makes it. This match was just fantastic, and one I'm going to watch again, just for pleasure.
Winner – Swagger (8:10)
In Ring Segment > B+
Everyone involved with this segment were fabulous, except Maddox. The man has three facial expressions, and that's on a good day. I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I think Garett Bischoff is better than this guy! I go with Garett because he's only where he is because of his father, and because he looks so much like Maddox, but I truly believe that Garett is better all around than Maddox. I understand where they're going with all this, and it's their way of screwing with Heyman, but I'm so over Maddox. At this point I'd rather see Maddox facing Henry than involved in anything else.
The other thing that bothers me in this segment is that I see where things are going with this. VKM, only a couple weeks out of surgery is going to get in the ring with Heyman, then Brock will appear, then Triple H, and they will set up for WrestleMania. I'm hoping that creative adds more interest to it than that one line I wrote, but I'm worried it won't be much more. So while as great as Heyman, Vickie and VKM were, what's too follow is too obvious for my taste.
The Shield vs Jericho & Ryback & Sheamus > A-
This was very different from the Swagger/Bryan match, but it was just as great. This wasn't about creative moves and more technical work, but about hard hitting and fighting dirty. I loved this match, and loved how everyone worked together. Jericho is very much a team leader and showed that here. Ryback showed what a hot head he is, but Sheamus is kind of lost in the mix. But all in all I like this team going forward.
The Shield has really impressed me with this match. It's one thing to impress at a PPV, but on a regular RAW, in a regular match, they really proved themselves. They all worked hard and sold hard. Ambrose hit the barricade outside, he really looked like his brain was rattled in there. He's really good, but I worry that his overly absurd expressions might get to be a bit mellow dramatic. It's a fine line between not selling and over-selling, but I worry that Ambrose is crossing it. Rollins is just jaw dropping in all he does, and I can't say enough about him. Then there's Reigns, the diamond in the rough. If the stars align, I think he could be an unexpected megastar. I will admit that his looks lend well to the ring, but it's more than that, this guy really seems to have that it factor.
Winners – The Shield (13:41)
Kofi vs Sandow > B
I have to say I wasn't expecting this ruthlessness from Sandow, but it feels right. The way he works the mic is very opposite of his vicsiousness in the ring, and while shocking, it really works. I don't know what the plans for Sandow might be, but it looks like he might not be sitting back and letting the world pass by him as we go toward WrestleMania. I'm very, very interested.
I'm thrilled to see R-Truth back and looking healthy. He looks great, and while he's not always the most technical competitor, he sure brings light to the shows. I will admit I've been hard over the years on R-Truth, but he's really growing on me, and I think I like him even more than I did when I first saw him running with Road Dogg, and that's pretty high up. R-Truth is a work horse and just keeps going, no matter what happens to him.
Ringside Segment > D
So, these are the same people who made a shout out to an indy wrestler on Elimination Chamber, but they're back on TV? They must have been spoken to about it. I missed it at Elimination Chamber, and I wasn't impressed with them here as they were only there to push a movie The Rock is in. it all rubbed me the wrong way.
Orton vs Kane > B
This was a solid match, but it was also a typical Orton match. Other than a few moves, this was a typical Orton match for him, and that's just not good. Kane, heck anyone, deserves better than that, especially the fans. I know Orton isn't the only one who has the same move-set for almost every match, but he's so boring and robotic at all times that it makes watching him that much more annoying.
What did make me happy was Bryan costing Kane the match, it meant to me that we wouldn't be tortured watching Orton trying to feud with Kane again. The way I'm bashing people tonight, I think I might have to put together my list of least wanted wrestlers on the WWE roster!
Winner – Orton (9:52)
In Ring Segment > A
Hear me out! The main reason I gave this segment an A was for the new WWE Title belt. People are going to moan and complain about any and all changes, or lack of changes in the WWE, but this is a change so many of us have been screaming about for years! It's always going to be too this, or too that for someone, but it's different! After eight years with the spinner belt, and a good five years of wanting it changed, it's changed. It will take some times getting used to, and I'm interested in knowing how heavy that dang thing is. Those belts seem to be getting heavier and heavier!
While I thought The Rock coming out through the University of Louisiana, Lafayette Marching Band was a bit much, I have to keep reminding myself I miss a lot of that grandeur, and think it's something missing in the WWE today. I think it's the fact that The Rock is getting this treatment, but no one else is, or has been. I loved the interaction between The Rock and Cena. That was electric. It's almost as if you could hear the air crackle around them. But then Punk came out and there was serious tension between him and The Rock. It was just as strong, but different. Further, the fact that Punk hit Cena with his own spinner belt was beautiful imagery, and very ironic. There's so many ways they can go with this, and it's so much more fun than Cena versus The Rock advertised for a year.
I had some questions floating around my head last night after RAW, so I shot a quick email to Richard. I asked him a few questions about his thoughts on the new WWE Title belt, and so what follows is a quick Q&A with the leader of WNW himself, Richard Gray!
KB - Is there any chance that when Cena beats Rocky at WM that they could return to the spinner belt? That belt is serious cash to the WWE in so many merchandising ways!
Richard - I don't see a return to the "spinner" belt even if Cena beats The Rock. WWE shelled out serious cash for the new belt and the "spinner" will be put in the physical Hall of Fame when it's built.
KB - Do you think there's going to be a run on toy spinner belts with this new one unveiled? Think the WWE will bank on that and re-release the toy belt at specific times?
Richard - I heard WWE is already selling the new belt and there's no way the "spinner" is going to be discontinued either. Belts, like masks, are very profitable merchandising for the company.
KB - Stacy mentioned that people are talking on Facebook about this belt not having a nameplate on it. I obviously noticed Rocky's Brahma bulls on the side plates of the belt. Do you think those side plates are going to be changeable for whoever is holding the belt? Or is there something else up VKM/Steph/HHH's maniacal sleeves?
Richard - Yeah the side players are changeable. Here's a new photo - http://www.wrestlingnewsworld.com/high-resolution-photo-of-the-new-wwe-title-with-wwe-side-plates/
KB - Anything else belt related I can quote you on?
Richard - This has been talked about for a long time. Vince always pushed back because the "spinner" belt sold so well. Many felt a change was long overdue. This came up prior to Royal Rumble with the idea The Rock would introduce the new title. We never ran anything because I gave up on the story.
I can completely understand why Richard gave up on the story as there was so many people, even Cena, who thought the belt should be changed, and VKM was holding out due to the popularity of the spinner belt merchandise. It felt as thought VKM would never allow another belt be created to replace the spinner. The one thing I don't like is that it took The Rock to usher in a new belt. Punk had been pushing for a new belt for quite a while, but it's The Rock who made it happen. I know there's always things that don't go the way you want them, but it seems as though Punk has been getting the short end of the stick at every turn. First The Rock ends his fantastic WWE Title reign, and now it's The Rock who gets to debut the new belt. After all Punk has done for the WWE, really carried the WWE this past year, it feels like a kick in the slats to me. Hopefully TPTB in the WWE will remember who the meat and potatoes of the company really is, and I hope they realize that before The Rock and Brock are off the show for a night and they have to go back to Punk doing what he does best.