I was away from wrestling for a week, something I didn't think I'd handle well, but it was so refreshing! I was able to come back and look at it all with a new eye and really see what I love about the industry. Yes, I'm still annoyed by a few things, but they're the same things we've been saying over and over for a couple years now, so I doubt they will change.
I'll admit traveling after all I've dealt with the past couple years with my health made me nervous, but I had my daughter with me and so many things to do that I ignored my issues and had a blast. A couple years ago I discovered – no clue how I found it – this Lucha Libre Gourmet Taco Shop in San Diego, California. While I knew there was very little I'd be able to eat there, my brother-in-law Jason, and my daughter Ellie stuffed themselves silly. What I did have for food was amazing, they said their food was out of this world, and the décor had me smiling and taking pictures like a cheesy tourist. I've posted the pictures on FaceBook for anyone interested. I also purchased a t-shirt, and will have to hunt down the season three episode of Man vs Food taped there. There was a black and white movie playing on the TV, and one of the characters was masked – I have to find out what that movie was, and if I can get it dubbed or subtitled in English! One of the things that stuck out to me was the digital frame showing pictures of famous people who'd eaten there. Of course Adam Richman, from the show mentioned above was shown, but there was also pictures of Chavito, Rey Mysterio, ADR, Hunico, R-Truth and Santino! I thought there was another member of the Guerrero family pictured, but it turned out to be a man working the kitchen – he sure looked like a Guerrero! Even if you can't eat the food, which looked and smelled amazing, if you're ever in San Diego, you have to stop in. The décor of this restaurant was perfect for us wrestling fans, and the atmosphere was was great, the food just rounds out the visit.
In Ring Segment > B-
I understand why they started RAW with Cena, especially after VKM decided that RAW's cruddy ratings were caused by Cena not being on the show. Personally I think it's a huge load of elephant poop, that the NFL and RAW's quantity over quality had more to do with why RAW's ratings sucked so badly, but VKM is the captain of the WWE boat and (still) has final word on how things go down. While I know Cena loves what he does, and it shows every time he's in front of the camera, or meeting a child, heck, in front of any fans – he needs time off! Yes, VKM is worried about ratings and thinks that the WWE wouldn't survive without Cena, but if he doesn't back the heck down and let Cena take some time off, then Cena will be out for a much longer time than either want him off. VKM is pushing Cena too hard, and I think he thinks he can get away with it because Cena pushes himself so hard, but I think it will be a total mess if VKM keeps up the way he's going.
I do want to mention Cena's asking AJ out and mentioning In N Out Burger. I have to give him props for mentioning a more local food chain to get the pop, but also the rather dirty way he was talking there. I know I'd have understood the dirty previously, but I would have missed anything he was saying about the menu before last week. Ellie dragged me in, and I now wish we had In N Out Burger here in Maine! But more than that, I thought Cena did a solid job of being a dirty boy while keeping it goody-goody Cena, leader of the PG Era. I wonder if anything storyline will be coming from this.
Ryback vs Colons > D
While the 'Feed me more!' chants sounded good, they were obviously piped in, unlike the 'Goldberg!' chants that were very obviously real. Honestly, I really want to like Ryback, and I do, but I don't like that VKM wants him to be WWE's own Goldberg. Didn't he learn the first time around that even Goldberg wasn't a good wrestler? So not only is VKM pushing Ryback to be Goldberg, Ryback has similar sorry ring work. He does look dominant, but that's not enough to get him over with the fans, especially the fans who actually want to see some interesting ring work. If Ryback continues along this vein, he's not going to reach the top for any other reason other than VKM.
Winner – Ryback (2:32)
In Ring Segment > C
While this was a cute segment, I see no reason for it other than giving Funkasaurus, the Dactyls and R-Truth show bonuses. The whole think made no sense to me, and wasn't a very good lead up to VKM's State of the WWE Address.
State of the WWE Address > A-
Vince is almost always great for bringing WWE TV to another level, and the little bit of his 'speech' he got out was both funny and endearing. He amazes me in how he can wear so many hats and still get over with the fans as if he wasn't the biggest heel in the company for so many years.
Of course Punk had to come out, and everything he said to VKM worked wonderfully. Punk said everything he seemed to feel over a year ago when he 'left' the WWE for being treated so badly. I have to admit it was funny when Punk talked about him being the one paying for VKM's jet and fueling it up. He was full on heel and perfectly in character.
VKM did a lovely job of arguing that it's all about the fans, even though he doesn't listen to us, and when he does it's to do the opposite of what we're crying out for. But I will give VKM props for how he handled Heyman, Punk and how well he sold that slap. Actually, Heyman sold his worry, and Punk sold his arrogance with that blown kiss as well. Basically this was a wonderful segment from all three and further set up for the possibility of Punk vs SCSA at WrestleMania, but didn't state anything the WWE would have to take back, in case that epic match doesn't go down at the next WrestleMania. I will say that Austin's response to 'hearing' that Punk was running him down was fun, and I can't wait for this feud to really pick up. I love both these guys and think that they could bring WWE's entertainment level back up to what we keep begging for – or at least their segments should be that good, can't talk about the rest of the Superstars.
All in all VKM did what he needed to do, brought the fans in and raised the level of excitement for the show as a whole. That the fans were stomping so hard that they could be heard through my TV just shows that VKM and Punk can work a crowd something fierce!
Videos > A&B-
I'm putting all the Punk/VKM recap videos together here because I do think they overplayed them. What I will say is that the video clips they played were of the perfect length with the best moments captured. The production crew did a wonderful job with this video, the only problem was that they played it too many times for anyone willing to sit through all three hours in a row. Even Shwarzenneger made it sound like he'd not be watching the whole show when he said 'he'd be back' to watch Punk versus VKM.
Prime Time Players vs Rey & Sin Cara > D
I might get slapped around verbally for this, and while I love that the WWE is actually pushing the Tag Division, I'm not at all impressed with this match or anyone involved in this match. I loath saying this, but I get the feeling that Rey is just calling it in these days. All the live fans seem to care about is seeing Rey hit 619, but other than that he's a mere shadow of his former glory. Putting him together with Sin Cara just shows how his stock has fallen as even Sin Cara isn't as over backstage as he once was. Then there's Young and O'Neil. I like Young and would love to see him make it in the WWE, but this character of his is a caricature similar to Cryme Tyme. I know it's not the same type of character, but it's still a racially driven character that I find a bit disgusting. Then there's O'Neil, who I've already been verbally beaten on for feeling that he's too green and dangerous in the ring, as if I was stating this as proven fact, but I have to say that he's been looking better in the ring. It's hard to gauge things like this when he's in the ring with guys as small as Rey, but I have to admit I didn't cringe like I normally do when O'Neil is in the ring. Maybe I should just be glad that the Tag Division is getting such a push, but I'd really like matches with some substance that make a bit of sense to go along with it. Fault me if you will, but I actually enjoy good matches to go along with storylines, even tourneys such as this.
Winners – Rey & Sin Cara (7:12)
Backstage Segment > C-
I'm a huge Heyman fan, and have been once I got past his character, and truly learned that this was all scripted an fake. I will admit that during that time I wasn't quite sure if every character was scripted, I was not at all a fan of Heyman, but now I know the genius he is, even if his business acumen wasn't always what ECW needed. And then there's Punk, someone I have been very open about adoring in both character and ring work. All of that, but this segment fell flat for me. I can't put my finger on exactly why it fell flat, but I just didn't feel the spark from these two that I normally get.
Barrett vs Sheamus > B
I actually thought these two put a lot out there in this match. I will admit I wasn't expecting as much as we got. I think Big Show being ringside added a lot of extra drama that was needed to bring this match to something that might have been missing if he wasn't there. Both Barrett and Sheamus worked it hard and gave there all. That was a fairly long match, compared to what the WWE has given us the most of lately, but they both worked hard the whole time and didn't slow down at all. The more I see of matches like this, the more I think either of these guys could handle an Iron Man Match – though we see so few of them these days.
I'm thrilled that Sheamus was not concussed, though I admit he was looking rather rough as he returned to the ring after Big Show sent him flying. Honestly, I thought the way Big Show flipped Sheamus from the ring with that one leg was the most impressive looking move in this whole segment, and it was after the match was over. I have to admit that I was shocked Tensai was brought back into this storyline after what happened with him last week. Actually, I was shocked we saw Tensai on RAW at all this week.
Winner – Sheamus via DQ (12:37)
Announce Segment > C+
JBL was wild on announce last night. I won't say he was as good as he was a couple weeks ago, but he was sure wild! Maybe that thin mountain air riled him up in a strange way? What I didn't like was that JR seemed pushed to the side much of the show by JBL. JR got his comments in, but I honestly didn't realize what had happened on announce until JR left and Cole explained what had happened. For that reason I think this segment fell flat.
Backstage Segment > B+
Not quite the crazy AJ that had returned last week, but she was solid in this segment. The way she rubbed Punk's nose in his fears over Cena, and possibly VKM were great. I'm going to keep calling for more skin and more crazy, exactly as she gave us last week.
Video > C
While the WWE pairing with Komen For A Cure is a wonderful thing, Cena on Kelly & Michael (who is Michael?) was just a mess. Without Regis, that just doesn't work. For a laugh, you need to go back and watch Taker and Bearer on Regis & KL with that HUGE casket! Now that was a solid WWE/daytime TV crossover.
WWE Rewind > A
I saw a tiny bit of RAW last week as we got a motel room and staggered in while RAW was still on. I saw Cesaro hit his finisher on Clay and my jaw dropped! When I watched all of RAW when I returned home, I watched this move a couple more times as I was so impressed with how both men managed the move. Blown away!
Kidd vs Cesaro > B+
I really enjoyed watching Kidd and Cesaro in the ring together. I think a feud between these two could be very interesting. Cesaro has worked all over the world, and Kidd has a very Hart-esque style, but it worked. I'd love to see Cesaro working against Bryan, but until he's over, that won't happen. That move last week made him more than a contender in my book, but I think working against Kidd could help push both of them forward and up the WWE food chain. I'd love to see more of these two facing off on RAW.
Winner – Cesaro (3:54)
Ziggler & ADR vs Team Hell No! > A-
Kane and Bryan have made tagging cool again. Their chemistry is so delightful that I wait each week to see what they will come up with next. They didn't do anything especially different in this match, but the routine they've created works so wonderfully that they're going to get some solid run time out of it without having to change things up too much each week. Bryan has character that I'd have never believed watching him in ROH, and Kane has been reborn. I've always loved Kane's comedy as much as when he's full on monster, so I'm loving this, but I think a lot of people who haven't been as big on Kane being silly are also enjoying this, no?
Anyway, I am liking what THN is doing for the Tag Division, and hope it doesn't fall apart when Bryan and Kane end up completely turning on each other and feuding into a huge WrestleMania match. (A girl can hope!) Beyond the Champs, I thought Ziggler looked great in this match! He worked really well with both Kane and Bryan, as well as showed off his character, as well as just showing off. I think Ziggler needs to make his character bigger, bolder, more over the top, but along the same vein he's working now. I think he showed off a bit more in this match and it really worked well for him.
I also liked the yelling and arguing outside between Ricardo and Vickie. It took away some of her annoying screech and was quite funny. I do have to say I'm shocked they let Vickie walk out in front of the fans in the outfit she was wearing. That skirt was cut so high in the front that I was worried about some of the younger fans seeing a bit too much of the cougar's kitty, that they're too young to be seeing.
Winners – Team Hell No (16:01)
Backstage Segment > B
While it was great to hear JR go all announce on VKM, this segment made me twitch a bit. After all the abuse VKM has wrought upon JR over the years, for JR to come back at VKM with words of friendship from the week before made my heart hurt a little bit. I know, JR has said over and over that it's all part of the show, and if he keeps going back for more, and isn't crushed by it all emotionally, why should all of us fans have such a problem with it?
For me it's how much I adore JR for how great he is, but also all he's gone through with his health. It's that VKM goes after JR's health issues in a way that sickens me. I've seen less of it since the B.A.Star program has started, but I have troubles get over the past. Funny that the way JR gets treated seems so horrible when other wrestlers deal with it all the time. Guess I need to ponder on this more, but that I saw some of that teasing in this segment, even though it was much more subtle, that has kept me riled up about it.
Announce Segment > A
Okay, the grade is more about what JBL is doing, climbing these mountains, than the actual segment. I've always respected JBL, but this newest venture of his blows me away. I'm very impressed.
Larry King Now! > B
Miz sure was on, and Kofi did a wonderful job, but what the heck was LK and Shawn doing on RAW? This whole segment left me shaking my head. I was better about Bob Barker being on RAW than I am LK. I will say that Shawn really seemed to have a blast throwing that drink in Miz's face, and she sold it well. Okay, she didn't sell it as well as Miz did, but she did pretty well for her first time on the show. Honestly, I can't say who I enjoyed more, Miz or Kofi. It was great actually hearing Kofi. Since he lost his fake accent he hasn't said a whole lot, but this worked. I'm hoping they're setting up for a solid feud between these two as it would only be good for both of them.
Santino & Ryder vs Rhodes Scholars > B
As much as I like Santino and Ryder, I was thrilled that this was over quickly. I think Rhodes Scholars could be wonderful together and could really give THN a run for their money. I hope Sandow continues in the same vein as he has been, and really brings me back to Lanny Poffo in such a wonderful way. I can't wait to see the heights these two guy will reach in the WWE, and I think teaming will be a big step in the right direction. And I love that cartwheel!
Winners – Rhodes Scholars (3:07)
Backstage Segment > B+
Heyman met VKM when he was 14? I find that very interesting. I want to get this out to you as quickly as possible, so I'm not going to get into researching those things now, but I need to find out more about their history. I will say that I loved the way Heyman threatened VKM by mentioning Brock did to Trip.
Divas Championship Match > D+
My biggest problem with this match is that Eve has been really well trained, and Kaitlyn is one very strong woman who can obviously work the ring, yet we've been handed this three minutes of boob flying crap! I want to see the Divas work the ring. Further, these are two Divas who are completely opposite of Kelly Kelly, so they can really give us a sick match. I will admit that I'm not at all sad to see Kelly Kelly go, but I had held close an (obviously misguided) hope that the Divas might be getting better since the crop of Divas we're seeing right now are obviously built for the ring – not dancing around trying to look pretty.
I do want to say that I am interested in seeing where they're taking Eve's character as she seems to be deviating from what we've seen in the past. I'm hoping creative handles this well and Eve continues to sell her character as well as she has been recently.
Winner – Eve (2:54)
Backstage Segment > D
Right after this segment, when Josh mentioned that Orton Tweeted about being on Smackdown this week, I made a rather nasty comment about the whole thing that sums up my feelings about Orton, and especially ADR right now. I asked Stacy to remember my comment for me, but I also made a point of writing it down so I remembered it exactly as I said it. "Orton facing ADR! Now that's something I'd like to see... on Superstars."
Backstage Segment > A
I think that people who haven't watched Larry King Live over the years wouldn't understand about how LK basically announced Bryan, and then Kane in this segment. Bryan introduction was good, but Kane's had me laughing aloud. Bryan hitting on Shawn, and that she called him a troll really impressed me. She managed to get the better lines between her and her husband. But the best line of the night was Kane thinking LK was Skeletor! Stacy and I were roaring with laughter over this comment. My list of favorite Kane funny moments has been growing by leaps and bounds lately.
Backstage Segment >
Again, Punk and Heyman fell flat together here. Heyman's worry about VKM make their lives not worth living after that match was very apropos, but that weighs greatly upon VKM staying on WWE TV for a while, and I'm not sure if that's going to happen.
VKM vs Punk >
This segment had the flavor of the AE for me. It wasn't that VKM was busted open an no one cared, it was the overall feel of how the segment was handled. There was no abandon. They both went all at it, and did it all for the fans. I honestly didn't think VKM still had that in him, but he more than proved me wrong. The way he belly surfed across the announce desk left me smiling and feeling like it was back in the day that VKM jumped into matches all the time. He turned 67 not that long ago, but he's more physically active and physically fit than most people I know half his age – and yes, it's because most of my closest friends also have serious health issues, but you know what I'm getting at!
VKM worked that segment hard, but Punk also worked it hard. He didn't appear to hold back in any way. The only times he backed off was when it was to lure VKM in, and to flee Ryback – as his character should be doing.
Ryback absolutely needed that segment, and I'm not sure anything else he could have done would have gotten him over the way this did. Yes, protecting JR last week was a step in the right direction, but it was a short little segment and not something most people would remember for long if not reinforced through a segment like this. I can't say I think the guy should be main eventing, but I can say that segments like this are better than anything to get him over with the fans and maybe get them behind him a little bit.
All in all this is the segment that RAW needed. This wasn't beyond PG, yet it was still more entertaining than much of what we've seen in recent weeks – other than Team Hell No. I'm hoping we see more of this rough and tumble VKM on RAW for a while. I think he could help the momentum and morale by getting out there himself. VKM is a Superstar in my book, and he could show some of the younger guys what he expects by them by showing them himself. Have to respect a boss who's willing to get out there and get busted open like the rest of the guys! More segments like this could absolutely help RAW's ratings, but not as much as going back to two hours would.
I don't have much to say about what happened with Punk in the stands. It absolutely should not have happened, but I don't think there's only one person to blame in the matter. The fans should not have been pushing Punk like that. Punk should have kept his composure, even as a heel he shouldn't be attacking the fans like that, even after the pushing and blows he was taking. For me the most blame lays with security. They didn't even appear until after Punk hit the fan behind him. Punk should not have been in that position that the fans could push him around like that, and that's the fault of security. For me they're the ones who are the most to blame for that. Okay, I guess I had more to say on the matter than I thought. Thanks for hearing me out. What do you feel about what happened with Punk?
No Bells (11:16)
When I was writing all this up I got an IM from Gesus saying he has an idea as to why we're so bored with everything WWE right now. He thinks that we're missing the gimmick matches of the 80's and 90's. The variety of matches seem to be missing when all we have is basic singles matches these days. Yes, there's more tag matches right now, but that's new. The thing I think is missing is the over-the-top characters. Hogan, Savage, Sting, George 'The Animal' Steele, Razor Ramon, HBK, Taker, etc – they were all crazy and over-the-top in the way they acted and dressed. The gimmick matches seemed to come from the over the top characters; the one coming to mind before all else is Taker's HIAC.
Now there's Cena, Sheamus, Orton, ADR, Barrett, Cody, Swagger, and as much as I love some of them, they don't have that over-the-top quality that would help bring the WWE back to its former glory. I think that Kane, Bryan, and Punk have started going down that road (Kane's been there for his whole career), and it's something many of the younger guys should be working toward. I think creative is burnt out, but they need to remember what worked so well in the past, how the zany characters made the WWF what it was, and needs to return to make the WWE what it could be.
I know we're always talking about how the Attitude Era was so great and that the WWE is killing themselves with this PG crap, but I don't think that's all of what the WWE is struggling with. I think they could continue to stay very PG, but push the envelope with the way the Superstars are put out there, the characters they create and how they work those characters. Think about what you love in fiction – books, TV, plays, movies – what about your favorites make them your favorites? Now, translate that to the WWE. What was it that you loved back in the day – beyond not being PG – and what could they do to bring your interest back to where it once was? Personally, I think that's why this RAW main event worked so well, it was over-the-top and absurd, but still believable within the characters involved. What about you, what could the WWE do – while still being PG – that would make you stay in and check the clock as you wait for RAW or Smackdown to come on TV each week?