As today was a day of much travel for me, I'm going to jump right into the show, but I have to give props for my title to LDB. It was thrown out during RAW in the OTP, and Jesse passed it on. It was exactly what I'd been reaching for as a title, but wasn't able to clarify on my own. If you haven't had a chance to check out any of the WNW Open Thread Parties, you should, they're much fun.
In Ring Segment > B
First off I have to say that I love Trip and Steph are getting all lovey-dovey with each other. It a throwback to the McMahon/Helmsley Era, and I think it works with them being full out heel again. The thing that bothered me about this segment was that they didn't really do what they went out there to do. I was under the impression that they were going to rip the Rhodes Brothers a new one, but then they dealt with Big Show on the tron, and Bryan came out when Ambrose was introduced. Yes, they were distracted, but you'd think they'd go back and do or say what they were going to do or say to Cody and Goldust before the end of the show. That they didn't made me feel like they skipped something on RAW this week.
Bryan vs Ambrose > B+
I'm always up for a Bryan and Ambrose match, I think it was a great match for the go-home, and everyone knows how I feel about these two, so I'm going to hit on the issues in this match. There was a solid and obvious botch between the two of them in this match. There was a moment on the ropes when they struggled around, obviously trying to call the moves, but not at all in synch. Lastly, Ambrose limped away from this match. These things happen, and not every match is perfect, but people keep saying that I can't see the bad for the good in certain people. My feeling is that when the work is so solid, it's that much easier to overlook the issues. But when the work is already rough, it's hard no to see every flaw.
Winner – Bryan (15:25)
In Ring Segment > B
I will admit that Punk was strong on mic, but he wasn't as great as he's been in the past. Everyone has nights they're on, and nights that things just don't work as well. I won't say this was a bad segment, but nothing compared to what Heyman gave later in the show.
Backstage Segment > B
I love that Steph was actually dealing with the fact that Big Show snuck through, and was where he shouldn't have been. Back in the day it was rarely questioned when DX took over, but they're not brushing this under the rug. I also like that HBK called Steph on loving when DX did things like this, but now it's not okay? Things were handled well, and HBK's humor showed how Trip and Steph have lost theirs.
Santino vs Slater > D+
I normally defend Santino, and I should be happy that Slater was in a match with someone other than Los Matadores, but this was just horrid! I understand the WWE wanting to inject some humor into each episode of RAW, but this type of humor is better left out. The only part of this segment that was at all not horrible was watching King on announce dancing. He seems to take each moment and make it that much more since we almost lost him, and he brings such joy when he doing simple things, like dancing on announce.
Winner – Santino (3:25)
Ziggler vs Orton > B+
I am very glad that creative has stepped back a bit with Orton. When Orton was the evil Viper before, he had really strong people to work against, specifically Trip, but lately he's just been destroying people and there really hasn't been anyone worth standing up to him. Orton was looking unstoppable, and not in a good way. That he pulled some of that back made it so his match with Ziggler was solid, and really worth the time to watch. At one point Orton got a bit overzealous and threw Ziggler over his head in a rather reckless way. Ziggler landed on his shoulders, and luckily not his neck, but that wasn't because of the way Orton threw him. Even the announcers commented on how Orton could really have hurt Ziggler, not that Orton would care. To me that was the second obvious botch on RAW, though I will say that this was another great go-home match.
Winner – Orton (7:50)
AJ & Tamina vs Bellas > B-
Botch number three of RAW was that kick from Tamina. As much as I love her, and want to see her succeed, she has not grown as quickly as I had hoped. The Bellas might have gone a long time as looks and little else, they're very quickly learning a lot and improving in the ring by leaps and bounds. Even Nikki, who is suffering some obvious ring rust, proved that she's really working hard to step beyond their reputation of looks over skills. Some might not think the Bellas are much, and most everyone knows I've never been a fan, but I think they're turning a corner and could become something quite strong in the ring if they continue working hard, they way they so obviously have been doing lately.
I also have to mention how thin AJ looked here. I know AJ is thin, it's just who she is, but the shorts she was wearing were floating on her, bigger than ever. I hope that she's okay and not suffering any ill effects of her concussion, but from where I was sitting, something is off with her right now.
Winner – Bellas (5:04)
Backstage Segment > A
I have to say that sometimes Heyman is good, sometimes he's not so good, but in this segment, Heyman was epic. That man was on so perfectly in this segment, and he came off better than ever. Heyman proved in this segment what a genius he can be, and so many people – wrestler, actors, and people who want to learn how to get a point across, or emote more – should study this segment.
Rowan & Harper vs Miz and Kofi > B+
Since I am giving props where they're due, I have to say that Rowan and Harper looked a lot stronger in the ring this time around. They seem to be fitting into their roles and growing into their characters quite well. I'd love to see them in the ring with stronger competitors than Kofi and Miz. Wait, stronger isn't the right word, I guess I want to see them facing wrestlers more suited to them. I can't say who I mean of the top of my head, and that could be showing holes in the roster. Anyway, I loved the death roll from Harper! What an interesting move, and so perfect for his character. And Rowan showed some serious muscle in this match, but it was Harper's finishing clothesline that that left me in awe. It's one thing to have a solid clothesline, it's another to get huge props from the likes of JBL, the owner of the clothesline from hell.
This match would have been a solid B, but Bray's mic work after the match brought it up that much further. I have been so impressed watching Windham in this character, and I almost cannot place him as the same man who used to be Husky Harris. The transformation is so complete that it's truly as if they are two different men, and that's saying something huge in this day and age of too many bland characters.
Winners – Rowan & Harper (4:51)
In Ring Segment > C-
I can't call this a match, even though Vickie screwed up and did just that, because the bell was never rung. And I have to say that the booking of all of this was so obvious, too much so for my taste.
Punk & Big E vs Axel & Ryback > B
But then there was this match that made up for most of it. I have to say that Big E really took a big step in the right direction in this match. He still has a long way to go, but I'm so happy that they finally turned him face! From what I've seen from Big E so far, he comes off as a natural face. He might learn to be a heel, but it doesn't feel right on him just yet. The WWE was smart in turning him face, and it doesn't hurt that they're matching him up with Punk, even if it's just for a short time. It was fun to watch him work against Ryback, in a role he was considered for, though it looked to me that Ryback was working unusually stiff. Might it be that Ryback's little ego was bruised by Big E being pushed by Punk's side?
Winners – Punk & Big E (6:35)
Backstage Segment > A-
I have to say I loved R-Truth's little promo. That was a great role for him, and something I'd love to see more of. It had a very DX flashback feel, but was also all R-Truth. He brought a huge smile to my face then, and is again as I write this, and that's saying something about a person.
Tons of Funk vs The Real Americans > B-
The fifth and final obvious botch of the night happened in this match. Now, personally I'm more than over The Real Americans, but when Funkasaurus about took a nap waiting for the giant swing, it was obvious that they were way out of synch. It's time for Cesaro to change things up, maybe turn face, but not to feud with Swagger. The last thing Cesaro needs is to feud with Swagger! I did find it interesting that Zeb broke out Matilda, but he looked really rusty with her in hand. I don't know what the plan is, but if she's around, he needs to break out the hat as well.
Winners – The Real Americans (3:33)
Video > B
I loved parts of the video about Cena, but wish they showed more young Cena, before he was really over with the fans. I also find it interesting that they showed so much of Angle, especially after he turned down the TNA HOF just the night before on Bound For Glory.
Reigns & Rollins vs Usos > B+
I really enjoyed the work in this match, though I have to say I was quite distracted by Cody and Goldust on announce. I plan on going back and listening to them straight through, because they were great, in their own ways. My favorite line was Cody, "Goldy, I think if you built a liar from the ground up he would look like JBL." Goldust's simple, "Oh snap!" in return was fantastic. Listening to the brothers together was a lot of fun, and I wonder where they're going with them, but I'm rather unhappy that this match didn't have a clean ending. Oh, it makes sense that Cody and Goldust got into the fray, and that they're going to have a Triple Threat Tag Match at HIAC, I'm just not big on tag matches with more than two teams, especially in the midst of a gimmick PPV. All that being said, I expect the work to be stellar, and they might just steal the show, and that's saying something.
No Contest (14:33)
In Ring Segment > B+
Normally I'm not thrilled with contract signings, but having Trip and Steph in the ring added so much more, and having HBK out there was brilliant. Orton's mic work was expected, Bryan's was fun as ever, Trip looks a bit like a crybaby trying to make himself look better than ever – while staying perfectly in character, but it was HBK who really brought the mic work around, and tied it up with a neat little bow. He really ripped his bestie a new one, but still left us wondering if he might do something other than call it right down the middle. We were left with more questions than answers, and that's the best way to leave things going into a PPV.
I'm sure some people are complaining about Big Show coming into the arena in a truck, but like Big Show breaking the ring the second time, it's been so long since it's happened, that I don't have a problem with the WWE revisiting it. Big Show sure cut an imposing image in black leather standing up in the door of that huge truck, and Bryan on the hood leading the "YES!" "YES!" "YES!" about had me on the floor laughing.
There were parts of RAW that were really strong and set up well for HIAC, other segments flopped harder than ever. While I'm looking forward to HIAC, there some storylines that are just not as strong as I wish they would be, or as strong as they could be. All that being said, I'm sure HIAC is going to be a much stronger PPV than Battleground, but then again, that wouldn't be too hard.
Queen of WNW