Going into No Way Out, I wasn't thrilled. Yes, a lot of the matches looked good on paper, but would they be? I figured the Triple Threat Match would either be great, or the WWE would throw something horrible at us. I also figured that the WWE might screw over Ziggler for having the stones for standing up for himself and saying he deserved a solid push. While I was yelling at the TV when Vickie made such a point of kissing Ziggler on the apron, I was thrilled at the match they put on for us. Both Ziggler and Sheamus were awe-inspiring in that ring and Ziggler proved that he's top tier talent. Now VKM needs to open his mind to the fact that Ziggler really is a star. Well, he needs to, but will he really?
I have to say that Cody and Christian really put on a solid match. I wouldn't expect anything less from them, but they went above and beyond. They really are exceptional Superstars and I think working with Christian will only help Cody's work rate and his future. I just hope we get to see more of them, not less.
The #1 Contenders Match for the Tag Team Championship was pretty decent. There was some solid ring work and some interesting stuff went down. While I understand what happened with AW, where was Mason Ryan was through all this. Ryan had been hanging out with Primo, Epico, Rosa and AW, but nowhere to be seen here. Is he forgotten again, or will he pop up when least expected? Either way, the Prime Time Players need to step up their ring work to go with their characters.
I have to say that Layla and Beth put on one of the best Divas matches we've seen in a long time. They hit interesting moves and worked the ring like we haven't seen lately. Personally, I felt Layla's silliness was a bit forced. It could be really who she is, but we've seen nothing of that side of her, so we don't know if she's a silly goober or not. The only thing that still nags at me is that there's really no way Beth should be beaten by Layla. As much as I like Layla, she doesn't have the skills or strength of Beth, and there's no way she can believably go over Beth on a regular basis. Sometimes there's a fluke, but this didn't feel like a fluke. I just don't like matches when the ending is so glaringly unbelievable, but I will say the ring work was better and more creative than the Divas have been allowed in a long time and I hope they continue in this direction as the Divas are being wasted.
I really enjoyed seeing a quality match between Sin Cara and Hunico! It wasn't just SC flying high and making his opponent look like a fool. I said last week that I have really fallen in love with Hunico, and I want to see more from him – then there he was! I really enjoyed this match and can't wait to see where they might go with this. And while I was thrilled with this match, I'm hoping the WWE doesn't drop the ball with the future of Hunico.
I was blown away with the Triple Threat Match! All three of the men in this match worked beautifully, and AJ's involvement only added extra spice. While I wanted her involved, I was hoping that her involvement wouldn't dominate the match. A little AJ is good, but if she'd been all over this match, it would have been too much. She effected the end of the match, and that was the most important part. She also left us with more questions than answers, something that's always good. And while AJ was a big part of this match, she was nothing compared to the ring work put fort by these three men. While many were upset that Kane was added into this match, but I enjoyed his work with Punk and Bryan. I hope that we see Punk versus Bryan, one on one, at SummerSlam, but I did completely love this match. I'm thrilled they left the strap on Punk, this longer Title reign is great for Punk, the Title and the WWE.
I actually didn't hate the Cage Match! I'm a bit shocked about this as I didn't really want to watch this match. It meant nothing to me other than the hope that Laurinaitis would be off our TVs. Actually, that's not true. I really hoped that Big Show wouldn't be left looking weak. To me that was a huge thing, and I really liked that it took the extra help of the other guys running to the ring to help. It helped keep Big Show as the big, scary giant, while still allowing Cena the win to get Laurinaitis off the show. As much as I didn't care about this match, other than the Laurinaitis thing, this was actually a solid match. It was interesting, creative, and fun at certain points. Okay, the fun came after the match, but still. Okay, I have to admit that this was a solid cap to what should have been a craptastic PPV, but blew it out of the water in a big way.
Video > B
Of course they had to start with a Cyndi Lauper video. It was a nice little video, solid way to start the show. Actually, it made a lot of sense to bring Lauper in during this build to the 1,000th episode.
In Ring Segment > A-
I love Mrs. Foley's Baby Boy! Okay, everyone knows Foley is at the top of my hunka-hunka-wrestlin'-love list, but this was fun even beyond just Foley being on RAW. This was great because it was just one more persona screwing with Laurinaitis. Okay, it was great to see Foley and I'd love it if he was around more, but it looks like only this week. Either way, he was great here, even dealing with the Adamle-wannabe of the WWE.
WWE Rewind > B+
No matter what happens with Kane in his future in the WWE, I will never forget AJ skipping around, jumping on him and planting one on him. It's not my favorite Kane moment, but it's probably #2.
Sheamus & Punk vs Bryan & Kane (14:21) > A-
RAW sure started off solid! This first match wasn't just long, it was good! If the WWE gives us more matches like this when RAW goes to three hours, then I won't be cranky and complaining, at all! This was lovely, interesting, creative, and told a story. All four men worked that ring hard and left it all out there. AJ's appearance made the match that much more fun. That girl is hysterical when she skips around, and the addition of the Kane mask with the red and black outfit, priceless! The whole thing wouldn't work if Kane wasn't so great at what he does. The question is, how long will it take for Kane to either get smart to AJ's fun, or for him to take her as his own? One thing I will say, it will be intriguing to see how it all goes down. Oh, I also want to say that Bryan took the GTS and brogue kick like the pro he is. As always, Bryan continues to impress.
Winners – Sheamus & Punk
Backstage Segment > C+
This was better than the average backstage segment, but not by much. It's time for something to go down with these three, but this wasn't the most absorbing, or well executed segment we've seen.
Backstage Segment > B-
Well, Laurinaitis sure talks big for a man without a job! Ordering around Otunga and Big Show as if he was still the boss was bound to get him into trouble. For me Big Show made this segment with his reactions and facial expressions. Even as the evil giant, Big Show is still wonderfully expressive.
Ziggler vs Swagger (4:36) B
This match really showed me who the weak link in this team was. I know Swagger is a great wrestler. He has a wonderful background in amateur wrestling, and he can hit moves that guys his size shouldn't be able to hit. The problem is that he has no personality and that shows through in his ring work. Kurt Angle, Brock Lesnar, Shelton Benjamin (and many others I'm not mentioning, but these three popped out in my mind before anyone else) – these men all have that amateur background, but they've been able to translate it to sports entertainment. Their personal character, their personalities, their charisma all shows through to create character we love, or love to hate – at any given time. Yet this is not happening with Swagger. Somehow, for some reason, his character is not showing through. I know not everyone has over-the-top personalities like Austin, but Swagger has to have more than he's showing us. It feels like something big is missing with him. He has a solid look, is great in the ring, and even his lisp is kind of sweet, but virtually no personality translate – on TV or live. I really wonder why that is?
I'm sure people have noticed that I normally refer to the wrestlers by either their created name (Rock, Edge, Kane), or their last names. For some reason I had fallen into a rut of calling Dolph by his first name, rather than his last. This past Sunday, at No Way Out, he more than earned my respect, and for that it's about time I give him that respect and refer to him by his last name. I might slip up, but Ziggler has more than earned my respect. I must admit that I'm not thrilled with Ziggler staying heel and with Vickie, as I think he needs to break away to go big, but VKM knows best, right?
Video > B
I'm normally against too many recap videos, but not everyone watched NWO, so it made sense for them to replay Trip challenging Brock for SummerSlam. I quite enjoyed how Trip came across on mic and how he challenged Brock to this match.
Video > B+
Okay, I have to agree that this video of Foley and Austin abusing VKM in the hospital was great, but was that really King's pick for favorite RAW video? I doubt it. Also, they didn't show Austin nailing VKM in the ass with the needle! That was one of the best parts!
In Ring Segment > B
Heyman sure isn't getting the heel reaction that the WWE wants him to get. The "ECW!" chants proved that. I know Heyman going after Steph was a cheap way to get heat, but I'm not sure it worked as completely as they might have hoped. Trip punching out Heyman was great, but I'm still not sure that helped Heyman in the heel area – people just like seeing him punched out, nothing new there!
Video > D-
I honestly really expected more from the Tux Match. Both Santino an Ricardo are good wrestlers. Sadly the WWE won't let them actually wrestle while putting on their comedy routines.
ADR w/ Ricardo vs Santino (1:52) > F!
ADR should not have been in the ring so soon after having a concussion. I agree with Foley, ADR needed more time to recuperate; at least a couple weeks. Even though the match was so short, it should not have happened so soon. I would have put up with more from Santino and Ricardo to have ADR sit out a little longer.
Video > B
Another solid video for Cyndi Lauper. She was such a big part of the success of the first WrestleMania and getting WWF over with the pop culture of the time.
In Ring Segment > D
The only saving grace for this segment was Piper, after he started talking about Captain Lou Albano. That Wendi Richter was not at all advertised was a slap in the face to her. Her outfit was horrid and the way she spoke terribly and sounded like a scared kid saying her lines without any inflection at all. Then Piper pronouncing her name incorrectly was almost the kiss of death for her.
I can see that Slater is going to be the Superstar (not that the WWE thinks of him as one) who gets abused on RAW by the 'Legend of The Week'. When he wasn't taken out by Foley, I should have known that Lauper would be the one to do it. Slater has some serious stones going out there and singing like that. Honestly, I'm impressed, though I think Carlito might have hit it on the money and Slater should make himself indispensable through all this.
Piper is always fun to watch. I swear I got my break into writing about wrestling because of something I wrote about Piper about ten years ago, so I always give him the benefit of the doubt. As per usual, he came off as if he was a few sheets to the wind, but it works for him. Well, him and Mae Young! The sentiment behind Piper and Lauper was wonderful, but I should have seen it coming when Piper presented Lauper with the framed gold record. Slater took that serious head shot from Lauper like a trooper.
Legends - 2
Slater – 0
WWE Slam of The Week > B+
I'm actually really glad they played this segment of the #1 Contender Tag Match from NWO because I somehow missed AW grabbing Epico by the ankle and dragging him from the ring so he couldn't save his cousin Primo. I must have been talking on the Live Blog and missed it, and that's something HUGE to miss. I completely understand why the Colons were pissed at AW.
Prime Time Players vs Colons (2:56) > D+
Was someone watching out for O'Neil and Young's lack of ring skills by keeping them out of the ring? It's one way to go about it, but it won't last long. I don't understand why they need to push these two! We have the Colons, the Usos, Gabriel and Kidd, and a few other teams peripherally, and other teams with ring talent that could be pushed. There's times I just don't understand where TPTB in the WWE are coming from, even though I do like Young. I still think he needs to work with Cena in some way – they look so much alike!
Winners – Colons via countout
In Ring Segment > C-
I usually try to keep my personal feelings out of of it when I write the RAW play-by-play, but sometimes I just can't hold my fingers back from making a personal comment. Normally I end up commenting on clothing worn to the ring – I never could stop myself from saying HBK looked like he got dressed in the dark when he came out in a suit – it was just THAT bad. Sometimes I can't keep myself from going after Vickie's outfits, but I kept quiet about her monstrosity this week because Ziggler was just that interesting this week. But then there's Laurinaitis. He might not be Adamle, but he sure screws up in a huge way. Each week Laurinaitis comes out with a comment that just floors me. The 10th episode of RAW? Hiring Big Show on Saturday?
Some might not find Laurinaitis pointing at the announce table and saying that Cena dumped him through that announce table as a big deal, but they made such a big deal at NWO about Spanish Announce being there, that it was almost a given that someone would be going through it and I was thrilled that the someone was Laurinaitis. So yes, he went through an announce table, but he implied that he went through THAT announce table and to me that was just another big mistake for him. I'm sure that someone will say I'm just looking for Laurinaitis to screw up, and they might be right, but I wouldn't be looking for it if he didn't screw up in such a big way on such a regular basis! I'm not saying I don't make mistakes, as I know I plug in many typos each week, but I always apologize for them, and never claimed to be above it all, the way Laurinaitis does.
I just wish this farewell speech of his (this was his farewell speech, right?) actually meant we wouldn't be seeing him again until he's inducted into the WWE HOF! (Snort!) I really thought I would be able to type that without laughing, but nope, that's still one of the funniest things said on RAW all night. Only if something truly horrible happened to Laurinaitis (something I wouldn't wish upon anyone, even Laurinaitis), would he be on the list to be inducted into the WWE HOF in his lifetime, if ever!
Big Show & Otunga & Laurinaitis vs Cena > A
Big Show's little speech, saying he owed Laurinaitis nothing was just beautiful!
Otunga & Laurinaitis vs Cena (6:15) > C-
I actually thought Otunga looked better there than he has in the ring, though I have to say that he's a lot like Swagger in that his personality, the spark inside him, it just don't come through when he's in the ring. I hope both of them can figure out how to somehow get past this problem as both of them could be great, if only they could get around these issues.
Laurinaitis vs Cena > B
If this was honestly the end of Laurinaitis, then I would have given this segment an A. Of course this won't be the end of Laurinaitis, VKM likes the character too much for it to go away thing quickly and easily – no matter how many want to see him gone! I will say that I was impressed with the abuse Laurinaitis took, both from Cena and from others after RAW went off the air. I have to say it had to be fun to abuse Laurinaitis as few wouldn't be thrilled taking it out on their boss physically – at least once. I'm one of the few exceptions as I absolutely adore Richard!
I have to thank everyone for sticking by me through the RAW play-by-play. My netbook crashed out in a most spectacular way during the Piper/Lauper/Richter/Slater segment. I think I have everything under control now and I will have my 'writing cave' set up before the 1,000th episode of RAW, so I won't be sitting on my sofa with my netbook on my knees. In other words, I will be set up to stay on task and on time – I promise!