Welcome to this week’s Raw is Blogged! This is a weekly published review of Monday night’s Raw broadcast. As it is a review, this article expresses my opinion on the broadcast and it does not reflect the opinion of WNW as a whole or that of the site owner Richard Gray. I know that everyone will not agree with my opinion on everything here, and I highly encourage you to comment in the spaces below to let me know your opinion on the broadcast. All I ask is that you please use common courtesy as you do, since this is a public forum.
I knew I was going to be behind the eight ball today with too much going on, but I have to say that the WWE gave us all a (mostly) great show last night, and because of that, I should be able to get through this without too much trouble. Honestly, last night on RAW we saw some of the best matches we've seen on RAW in a long time. I can forgive a lot of chaff when they give us matches like the longer ones last night. I'd also be willing to forgive more of certain things (Cena never changing) if we got more Regal. I know I'm not the only Regal fan around here, and I have to say that I'm bummed that we don't get to see the man more often than we do.
Video > C
Much of the video was about The Shield, which is a good sign for them, more than just for this one show. I know they have huge futures, and I'm thrilled to be here watching the start of something really grand for the WWE – more than just an unstoppable faction.
In Ring Segment > A-
Heyman was fantastic in this segment. I know I say it quite often, but Heyman really is a genius at what he does. Further, he works so well by himself, and with someone else. He really works the crowd quite well, and sells his reactions wonderfully. The look on Heyman's face when Trip's music hit was wonderful, but Trip got a couple of moments in this segment that were even better. Between the way Trip looked over his shoulder at Heyman while posting, and "I lied!" Trip has such great delivery – usually at its best with HBK – and because of that, I am thinking we need to see more of him. Not more of him in this same stupid loop with Brock – and we can only hope that the rubber match ends it all – but more of Trip really putting over younger Superstars and helping the ones who obviously need the guidance of someone who's been there.
Cesaro vs R-Truth > C-
Now, I have nothing against R-Truth, in fact I really enjoy him, his characters, and his work, but I don't understand why he went over Cesaro (of all people) so quickly and easily. I will say that I know that most people lose in their hometowns, but Cesaro was nowhere near close to his home country! Further, it's obvious that Cesaro pissed off someone and is getting humbled for some reason. The look on Cesaro's face when he was taking the fall was interesting. He wasn't struggling, he wasn't at all in character, he looked either annoyed or disgusted by the whole thing. He seems to be taking the crap, but not selling it. That Cole mentioned the losing streak makes me worry that they're making it into a storyline.
I will say that this was the perfect time to break out 'What's up?' again. The fans loved it, and R-Truth, as always, sold it really well.
Winner – R-Truth (2:17)
Outside Segment > A
That was a wonderful way for The Shield to arrive. Whoever thought of this was brilliant! Nothing like taking their faction to a whole new level.
Funkasaurus vs Sandow > C-
This match lasted longer than Cesaro's. I have a serious problem with this. I have nothing against Funkasaurus, and I'm a huge Sandow fan, but when he's in a match like this, it's less about the ring work and more about getting Tons of Funk out there dancing and getting the fans in a good mood. I'm really unhappy that Rhodes Scholars have been stuck in this loop with Tons of Funk, because I think both Sandow and Rhodes should be advancing up the ranks, not playing slap and tickle each week to be the semi-straight men to Tons of Funk. I'm also really bummed that we didn't get Sandow on mic. That man is gold with a mic in his hand, and could be the best talker in the company if given the chance, the right direction to take his character, and good writing. The best thing I can say is that the Bellas were not out there wrestling with them as well.
Winner – Sandow (3:25)
Video > B-
The recap of Ziggler winning the WHC has been replayed enough. Maybe it's because Ziggler can't seem to buy a win since becoming Champ?
Backstage Segment > B
Zigglypuff? I was about on the floor with that one. And calling Kaitlyn fat is a bit much. They did it with Mickie, and it was gross, but Kaitlyn? She's one of the physically strongest women on the roster and they're calling her big? Things like this really irk me.
They did a solid job of setting up what could be growing issues with Big E. The way he was standing there staring off into space while Ziggler and AJ were kissing was really creepy, but it could work to his favor in the long run.
Video > A
I really enjoy seeing the work Cena does with Make-A-Wish. Whenever I get annoyed with him about something, I remind myself of the fantastic work he's doing with the children. My daughter is a 'wish kid', and I spent the better part of a year on a pediatrics ward with many terminal children, when I was eight, before they worked through my health issues. Because of this Make-A-Wish hits really close to home for me. The littlest joys make such a difference when your world revolves around hospital beds, medical tests, and such pain. I know what moments like this mean to children who are so ill. That Cena puts himself out there for these kids, really seems to invest himself in it, I can't help but respect the man. The next time we get really down on Cena, we have to remember that there's more to the Cena character than just the man playing the role, and think about how many funerals he's had to attend for children that he's made smile, if only for a short time.
Video > C
Ah, the segment that I got so bashed for last week! Yes, I stand by this being a great segment, and Punk being great in it. Did we need a recap? Not really. They could have shoved it in the opening, or kept it shorter than this, and it would have been better for the overall show.
Backstage Segment > B+
The Shield further showed that they're deserving of this push they're getting. Nothing like going after the biggest dog in the yard, and working him over for how he ran the locker room is quite an interesting way to go. It made perfect sense, and they all handled it wonderfully, as per usual.
Jericho vs Ziggler > B+
This is one of those matches I mentioned earlier. This was a stellar match that further proved that Ziggler deserves to be working the ring with the biggest stars, and can carry the belt. While I don't like that Ziggler had to cheat to win the match, especially after he lost on RAW the week after winning the WHC. To me it shows a that the WWE still isn't willing to put that trust in Ziggler that he can carry the WHC and be a top (winning) Superstar. It feels like they don't have enough faith in him that he either loses or cheats to win. I know it's a heel way of doing things, but even most top heels that feel they have to cheat, can get clean wins now and then. It's only two weeks in, and I know I'm getting ahead of myself, but the WWE has proven that they don't have that faith, even though he's done nothing but prove himself.
Beyond all that, Ziggler and Jericho really worked that ring, sold it the way they always do, and made each other look even better in that ring. Okay, Jericho almost always does that, but in this match they worked well together to give the fans in London, and at home, a great match. Matches like this make me yearn for the best Iron Man matches. Only a select few can really work a great one, but I think these two have the makings for one in the near future. The way they work back and forth, both selling so well, their chemistry, and ring psychology, that makes me think that they could really make an Iron Man match shine.
Winner – Jericho (16:35)
Video > C
I know they want to go a certain direction with Ryback and Cena, but I'm not sure it's really working. I know that these recap videos aren't working for me.
Backstage Segment > B
Foley sure knows how to turn a phrase. He's the truth behind you can't judge a book by its cover. He's a hardcore legend, yet a New York Times Bestselling author, and not just of autobiographical work. He wasn't who I was expecting to see on RAW, or who I expected to get involved with Ryback, but I think it works well after the direction Ryback's heel turn has taken.
Sweet T vs Rhodes > C+
I have to admit that I enjoyed this match a bit more than I did Clay versus Sandow, but that's because I think Sandow is more ready for the top than Rhodes, and Sweet T really sold his character here. He was really silly and goofy, but in a way that worked. I really saw him enjoying himself in the ring here, the way he used to as Albert. I know he worked hard to get past that, but I guess the WWE wants him to be that way and won't accept anything else. Also, the way Sweet T held Rhodes upside-down for so long shows a lot of both men.
Winner – Sweet T (4:31)
Backstage Segment > B+
Team Hell No handle these backstage segments like no one else can. The only team who was better at these comedic segments was DX. That Bryan and (Kurly) Kane have that type of chemistry makes me hope they continue this team. Actually, this is really hard for me as I want to see Bryan as a dominant heel with the WWE Champ, or WHC, but I know he will have to break off this team to go there. It's had for me as I know Kane doesn't have the career time left that Bryan does, so I know that they can't go back and forth, revisiting this team again in ten years, or even five. Kane is a workhorse, but he can only go for so long. Like HBK, Kane can return later, after his in-ring career is over, but like DX, it won't be the same. I'm sure most of you want Bryan to turn heel and dominate, but am I alone in my liking of Team Hell No's chemistry?
I also have to mention how much I like the way they handled The Shield's attack on Team Hell No. Rather than showing the attack, or having someone suddenly find Kane and Bryan beaten up, The Shield went through the cameraman, showed virtually nothing of the actual attack, but the camera landed in the perfect spot to show Bryan and Kane down, as well as showing The Shield's feet. It seems as though creative has been putting a lot of their brain cells toward The Shield and how to make them different from anyone else out there, and they're doing a smashing job of it.
Video > D
A recap already? It just happened!
Smackdown Rebound > C
I wasn't overly impressed with this rebound. The pacing was slow, and the match wasn't that great to start with.
Backstage Segment > C
Ryback called out Foley. If this was 15 years ago, I'd be worried about Ryback's well being. But since Foley is basically done in the ring – thank goodness! - it's Ryback who has the upper hand. I honestly wish they had stuck with Ambrose and Foley as they're better matched on mic, but I am glad they're using Foley's skills that he's best at using these days. I will say that Ryback isn't the best on mic, but he sure isn't the worst either. He was a bit robotic here, but he's still getting used to saying more than "Feed me more!"
Big E vs Ryder > D
Who did this serve? I mean really, who got anything out of this match? Yes, Big E is a heel, and he needs to beat up jobbers, but this didn't even look slightly good for anyone involved. I've not been really impressed with Ryder, even when everyone was in love with him. I gave him props for taking his career into his own hands and saying that if he was going to be released, he might as well go all out and have a reason for it, rather than just sitting on his hands and letting the WWE decide his fate, but beyond that, I've never really been a fan. But in this match, I felt sorry for him. Ryder was brought on this European tour to job to other wrestlers. Now, I know jobbing is part of the industry, but on a tour like this, the matches should all matter. Why not show the fans who rarely get to see the WWE live, some of the best they have to offer. Why bother with jobbers on a tour like this? I know that Big E needs to get in-ring experience in front of huge crowds, but this seemed out of the blue, and really didn't make any sense in the grand scheme of things. I'd rather have seen him come out and cause trouble with someone on the roster and start something up so his character can grow, than see him beat Ryder in under two minutes in a match no one will remember next week. The thing is that I agree with the announcers, Big E could be a huge Superstar. He has most everything needed to get to the next level, but I see matches like this as a waste, rather than a help.
EDIT – I actually went back and watched the match again, and have to say that the actual ring work in this match was much better than I remember it being. It was still short, and it won't be remembered, but I have to amend the grade for the actual ring work. While I still think it meant nothing, the actual ring work was a solid B from both of them.
Winner – Big E (1:46)
Slam of the Week > B
Even though it's a recap video, it was Taker talking about Bearer, and the build to his match with Team Hell No against The Shield, so there's no way I can give it a crappy grade. If the recap videos were used for poignant moments like this, and not every time one of the top guys was on mic, I'd be less cranky about them.
Taker & Kane & Bryan vs The Shield > A
Last night my friend Gesus posted on Facebook – If Taker doesn't give you goosebumps, just stop watching. I agree wholeheartedly. Taker is The Phenom for a reason, and will always be remembered as one of the all time greats. I got to see Taker work the ring at the 900th Episode of RAW in Boston. Nexus got involved before Bret Hart and Taker could wrestle, but they both were in the ring for the dark match – in a cage. I will always treasure that night because I was lucky enough to be there live. Taker doesn't have a lot more of these in him, and (like Richard) I keep thinking he's not going to be able to work that next match, yet he keeps pulling out greatness.
Bryan carried a lot of this match, but that's Bryan and who he is. That man is so tough, and so great in the ring, the best wrestler the WWE has, and working against guys like Rollins and Ambrose, Bryan is even more in his element. Specifically, Bryan had some fantastic battles with Rollins when they were in ROH together, and Bryan had a couple of bog matches with Ambrose during his sabbatical from the WWE. All that being said, all six of those men made that match worth watching, because they all worked to the best of their abilities. Taker can't continually work the ring like he used to, but they used him just enough to make the fans wild for him. He looked great in there, and really brought the fans something special that was icing on the cake of a fantastic match. Though I will say that when Taker first clotheslined Reigns from the ring, before the match started, Taker barely touched him and threw himself from the ring. I was worried that they would be pussyfooting around Taker, but later Reigns speared Taker and didn't make it at all wimpy.
Winners – The Shield (19:53)
Announce Segment > B-
I have to admit that I like how they updated The Rock's health here. It was short, sweet and to the point while leaving me a bit twitchy with all the talk of intestines.
Backstage Segment > B-
For some reason, I just don't buy it between Foley and Cena. I know they get along quite well, but Cena comes off funny with certain legendary wrestlers, and Foley is one of them. Bret is another that I always feel something strange there. I did like Cena giving Foley that chair. The symbolism was a bit jammed down our throats, but not unusual for Cena.
Fandango vs Regal > B-
I understand the WWE wanting to use Divas who are already under their employ, but it really felt like Summer Rae was trying to step into Fandango's limelight and take as much of it as she can get. His regular partner is a lovely dancer, but she also is very much his sidekick. Summer Rae seemed like she wanted to be the star with Fandango as her sidekick. She's a pretty girl, and her legs are astonishing, but I just got a really uncomfortable feel from her.
I loves me some Regal! I know I said this earlier, but he really is so good. Putting Fandango in the ring with another pro like Regal further helps his career along. While it wasn't the best match, the WWE is booking Fandango very intelligently. And even though Jericho was in a great match with Ziggler, they did a solid job of continuing his issues with Fandango. Stealing Summer Rae for a dip, especially one that looked so great after Fandango dipped Lilian on Smackdown, only added insult to injury.
Winner – Fandango (1:40)
Divas Battle Royal > D
The best part about this match was AJ. The way AJ jumped up on Tamina was hysterical. AJ sold it from her face to her tippie-tippies, but it was the way Tamina put AJ down that had me giggling. Tamina is a tall girl and AJ is so tiny, so Tamina with her hands on AJ's waist that way looked very masculine, even though she's very not masculine. I thought Layla was going to pull AJ's boobs (or at least her padded bra – AJ's the one who say they make her wear one) off when she was trying to lift her. Other than that Naomi hit a couple of solid moves, and Tamina superkick on AJ looked great, but otherwise, this match was a mess. I honestly have no clue why Aksana is still around and in the ring. The woman just doesn't have what it takes to keep up with the rest of them, and knowing how little actual wrestling the Divas have been doing lately, that's saying something.
Winner – AJ (3:20)
Video > C
The grade is not for how good I think Clay's movie is, but for the fact that we were fed yet another video. I will say that it's nice that we've had a bit of a break since the last round of movies they were pushing at us. I know it's only been a couple weeks, but it was nice.
In Ring Segment > B
The grading of this segment took a lot of thought. I really enjoyed Foley, and even Ryback on mic. Foley was well spoken, honest, and to the point while holding his own. Ryback seemed to relax a bit when face to face with Foley, so his mic work improved. The way he was pacing, seething, and even hitting himself in the head showed a passion that works so well for his character, and it made his mic work better. He was so into his character that the words flowed better for him here. I really liked Foley getting up in Ryback's face. The tension was awesome and they both worked it well.
I didn't like Cena running out there and telling Foley to leave the ring. It rubbed me the wrong way, even though I know Foley had to get out of there for the segment to continue the way it did. I also didn't like the way The Shield had no trouble attacking Ryback. Ryback is fighting against Cena's injustice, so it makes little sense for them to go after Ryback at this point.
Alex mentioned that a commenter said that RAW ended eight years ago with Cena on top, and it's still ending with Cena on top. When is enough enough? In many ways I have to agree because I want more variation, but I want more variation of character more than anything. Everyone grows and changes over the years, and the fact that Cena's character hasn't evolved in any way is what is hurting him right now. I respect the man, but the character makes me want to rip my hair out.
There were some fantastic segments on RAW this week, and some that weren't so great. I honestly feel that Taker, Kane and Bryan versus The Shield should have ended the show. They could have put Foley, Ryback and Cena earlier in the show, and then left that wonderful match to end it all and leave the fans on a high. That match was great in so many ways that it should have ended the show. Actually, it's Taker, and he deserves the main event. That a Divas match and Fandango came after Taker just feels wrong. All that being said, those two great matches on RAW gave us more great wrestling than we normally see on RAW each week, and for that, I can't complain too much about it all.