23 years ago last night Raw debuted, Taker was the main event. I have to say that the WWE as a whole, and Raw as a show has come leaps and bounds since then. Most of the changes have been great, but not all of them. Through the years there's been some of the best of the WWE, and some of the worst of the WWE that has been seen on Raw. Personally, I think being three hours is part of the worst, as the WWE gave better shows a couple decades ago, and in only two hours. They're proving that too much time can really be a bad thing.
Another bad is that most everything is too scripted. They have polished all the corners off everything to make the show all clean and shiny, but they took it too far and all the question and possibility is gone. Now we talk about creative ideas, and doing what's best for the wrestler according to who they are and what they've done, not what their characters should do. I want the grit, the spontaneity, all the questions and excitement back in wrestling! I'm not even going to claim I'm almost begging for more grit, I'm down on my knees, asking whoever it is in the WWE who reads through all that's written on WNW, please, tell anyone and everyone in the WWE worth their weight, that they need to back off the scripting and give us more grit. Not asking, begging!
In Ring Segment > C+
Sandow sighting! He was on stage behind New Day, so he's able to appear on Raw, there's no evil curse keeping him off WWE TV on Monday nights. It's time to bring back the knowledgeable one to all who love and miss him.
Now that I got that off my chest, I have to say that Steph and McMahon trying to banter in the ring fell flat. It was so overly buffed, Steph so perfectly spoken and over-the-top, that I was annoyed. Steph can be really great on mic, but she was trying so hard here that it was horrible! McMahon, on the other hand, was funny with New Day. Okay, going back, I loved how the fans reacted to KO possibly winning the Royal Rumble Match, and his smirk was cute. But other than that, Steph felt faker than her ponytail extensions.
DEP! Them appearing on announce was fantastic, and brought back Wyatt's 'Anyone by you Roman, anyone but you.' That's the type of thing I love. They haven't forgotten about their feud, and brought back Wyatt's phrase. Thinking the fans don't remember every detail has been McMahon's downfall for years, so Trip's love of the long burn shows that he's a fan before anything else, and panders to the fans in some of the best ways.
Reigns sure got mixed reaction from the fans. It took Steph talking about Reigns beating up McMahon to get Reigns a solid pop. That being said, the fans were again lackluster and couldn't get themselves together for a solid chant. I know that I expect more from the live fans because I've been watching Attitude Era wrestling on a daily basis (I'm in the middle of Stone Cold Steve Austin's beer truck/beer bath episode), but it seems as though the fans aren't even up to their normal reactions. This is the Road To WrestleMania, I'd think the most die-hard fans would be out to the shows, yet the fans are almost as bad as those who attended WCW in 2001!
Ambrose vs Sheamus > B+
I'm loving that Ambrose is The Authority's whipping boy. This will only push him to greater heights. Further, that Ambrose is feuding with more than just one person, as life really is because it makes the flow and storylines work that much better. While I'm not a huge Sheamus fan these days, as I feel as if he's close to getting X-Pac heat for how he's been shoved down our throats because he's Trip's buddy, I think there's things they can do with him – even as a heel. But as things are, Sheamus is little better than a glorified mid-card mess.
All that being said, I liked some of the work in this match. They were creative, as Ambrose always is, but Sheamus worked right along with him as if it was natural. This shows Sheamus has it in him to do the work, if not create the best matches without someone like Ambrose to face. Their work outside the ring was much more interesting than what they did inside the ring, which makes me think that these two could put on an epic gimmick match where they could work outside the ring more than in it. Falls Count Anywhere Street Fight? I just see it being a lot of fun for the fans to watch, and a great way to get them both over. Even better, make it a three way and add in Owens! I love that Owens is taking things into his own hands, feuding with more than one person, and looking great in all his attacks. Owens is the man, and should have been brought into the WWE years ago. Then again, maybe he'd have been cleaned up too much if he'd been in the WWE all along. Tough to tell, but it's nice that both Ambrose and Owens haven't lost that passion that carried them through their indie careers and got them noticed by the WWE. So much fun!
Double count Out
Backstage Segment > A
Ambrose yelling in Renee's face was solid and entertaining. Renee sold it well, looking more than a bit nervous with her boyfriend right up in her face selling his ire. Her hand on his neck, feeling his pulse, then pulling back the way she did was so well executed. She sold as well as Ambrose here.
Backstage Segment > B
Why was Steph dancing? She looked ridiculous! But then Heyman! I hope Heyman gets the financial props for advertising Apple while displaying his phone so openly in this segment.
McMahon and Heyman getting pissy at each other was great, but they've been great at that for decades. Steph wanting to take it behind closed doors is funny. Wanting to take it from whoever might be around, never mind the camera that was almost right up in their faces. I know they're used to this, but I have troubles not laughing when they act as if they don't notice the cameras right there, peering up their noses.
Video > A
I was quite impressed with Foxy's anti-smoking commercial. She looked lovely with such minimal makeup. For the first time, he actually felt like a real person, not who she thinks she needs to put out there as her character/brand. Even in the Susan G. Komen videos, she felt fake, but this was realer than I knew she had in her. I know she's playing a character in the WWE and Total Divas, but she's one who doesn't seem to break kayfabe in anything she does, but this was different, and she deserves huge props for it. I might have to reevaluate how I think about Foxy.
Stardust vs O'Neil > B
I've been excited about these two feuding since they started their issues backstage. They're a natural feud with their personalities and characters. Even the size difference doesn't bother me because they are so well matched in so many ways. That being said, too many of these singles matches between them will turn me off very quickly. I think this is the perfect time for both of them to face other people, diversify, yet have other attacks happen between them here and there. Have them take it into the Royal Rumble Match, build from there, add more interest, and create something we are all itching to see them at WrestleMania. Even if it was a Pre-PPV match, it would be something we're excited to see at WrestleMania. It wouldn't be hard to do, if only creative spent a tiny bit of time giving a flying fig about the two of them.
I loved Stardust's homage to Bowie with his face paint here. He was in the best spot to honor Bowie, as he's one of the few in face paint, so I'm glad he did it. Plus, who better to pay homage to Ziggy Stardust than Stardust?
Winner – O'Neil
Highlight Reel > A-
Did Jericho just say what I think he said? Both myself, and a few members of the WNW Open Thread Discussion went the racism direction with Jericho's comment, not knowing that Jericho was referring to pot. I honestly couldn't understand why the Samoan twins should be in the back of the bus when New Day is made up of African Americans, but then Stacy told me that they were talking about pot. Even the Usos looked shocked that Jericho said that. I hope they don't get popped on a piss test and fined from Jericho's comment because that would be absolute BS. Also makes me wonder what would happen in the WWE if marijuana was legalized. I know a lot of companies would still think it's a drug test fail, but would WWE keep their fines for it? I know this isn't a political site, but I'm looking at it as it could specifically affect the WWE.
That all being said, I love seeing Jericho in the WWE, even when he's only around now and then. He's worked it out well that he can come and go when his schedule permits. He's one of the best talkers, is so polarizing, and can get a reaction out of people the way few can. Miz is getting better at it, but he's a heel through and through, where Jericho can play both sides of the fence and is loved by most when he does it. And, since I'm me, I have to say that the skinny jeans, scarf and blinkie leather look was better than the too-short vest. It's deliberate, and, therefore, works for Jericho the way it couldn't work for most of the WWE roster.
I love Jericho verbiage and his question about MySpace. I thought they went back to being what they first started as, a music site, so I'm shocked that Jericho didn't know of they were still a thing. Then again, Jericho has more on his plate than trying to keep track of all the social media outlets, like stating he's going to win the Royal Rumble Match. None of us believe it will happen, but it's still a great 'excuse' for him to return and work against New Day. They're doing wonderfully on their own, but adding Jericho in brings them back to being a bit more heel, and gives them someone who can solidly work against them on mic. I'm willing to bet that there are others on the roster who could do it, but haven't been given the chance yet. We honestly don't know who on the roster can talk if we haven't heard from them. The Usos don't talk much but are always more than decent when they do. They were solid here, showing that they have the Anoa'i charisma in their veins. I think with more time on mic, and working with a coach if needed, they could be really great.
Another Bowie homage was great, but the way Big E was fondling Kofi and Wood's horns looked a bit dirty to me.
Usos w/ Jericho vs New Day > B
While this is one of those matches we've seen a number of times, they were able to make it fresh by adding Jericho at ringside. The fans were rather dead, so having Jericho out there working to keep the fans excited and entertained helped a lot. This goes back to what I said previously about the WWE needing to team up a few more wrestlers and get them into the Tag Division. I don't believe this, 'Don't have anything for ____.' crap! There are so many wrestlers who we barely see, who the fans are clamoring for a spot on Raw, why not match them up into teams. Now, some of these wrestlers are aging, some are in feuds, but it doesn't mean they can't be put together with someone younger to refresh them, and it doesn't mean singles feuds have to end if they happen to have a friend who helps them out. Just by glancing at the roster I came up with a list of wrestlers who are not injured and don't have a faction of any sort that they're running with, and came up with – Ziggler, Big Show, Sandow, Young, Fandango, Swagger, Kane, Miz, Neville, R-Truth, Ryback, Stardust, O'Neil, Tyler, and Ryder. Not saying all of these guys should be on Raw every week, but if they put a couple of these guys together it could round out the Tag Division and make the matches different each week and bring the interest back because I'm sick of seeing the same tag matches every week. Yes, I did say that Jericho in the Usos corner helped a lot, but seeing more tag teams could help bring life to the teams that are already formed. Not looking at the factions, just the specific teams (though New Day falls into both), these are the teams I came up with in the WWE right now – The Ascension, Los Matadores, The Dudley Boyz, New Day, and Usos. Of those teams, I don't want to see The Ascension or Los Matadores unless they do something to make them watchable. That leaves three teams to make things exciting I the division, but that's not enough to make a division interesting. So yes, while this match was entertaining, I'm completely bored with the Tag Division, and pissed because I know there are great Superstars who could make the Tag Division into something it's not been for many years. It's time for TPB to step up, and when better than on the Road To WrestleMania?
Winners – Usos
Backstage Segment > B
Steph is playing moderator between her father and Heyman? That's funny! I know why Heyman feels the way he does about Brock, but Steph really laid it down for Heyman and I had to smile. She is her father's daughter.
WWE Hall of Fame > A+
As per usual, a most fantastic video for announcing Sting's induction into the WWE Hall of Fame. Sting will be the first wrestler in both the TNA and WWE HoFs though it is only TNA. Sting carried WCW for so many years, he is the Icon and had some of the best evolutions in the industry. I'm so glad it was Hogan who became the big name in nWo because it opened up so many doors for Sting to become even bigger in the WCW. Sting deserves one big win in the WWE, and hopefully, his body will allow that to happen. I've loved Sting from the first moment I saw him, and he's been in my top ten faves my whole time as a wrestling fan.
They Wyatt Family vs Social Outcasts > B+
Wyatt laughing at his own brother on mic was too funny! The SO didn't really have a chance, but Axel really put it to Stowman! It didn't last long, but he unleashed that fury he's been showing and tried his hardest to take the ugly ogre down. Ryback would be an obvious addition to the Social Outcasts, giving them the muscle that they're lacking. Add in Sandow and they could be almost perfect, in their own absurd way. I need a #Social Outcasts shirt! I should be able to afford it next month.
While it wasn't a great match, it was entertaining, moved storylines forward, and evolved characters. SO is going to be something really important going forward.
Backstage Segment > B+
Kalisto is exactly what the WWE needs – he's GREAT in the ring, can talk on mic, is charismatic, and wears a mask, something that McMahon loves to sell to kids! I see this as a perfect fit.
US Championship Match – ADR (c) vs Kalisto >
Looking at ADR on mic I really wonder why he's back in the WWE. I was one of his biggest detractors when he was around previously, and caught a serious load of crap for it. Since he left and has now returned, it seems as though almost everyone I know loathes ADR and wants him gone. Almost everyone in the Open Thread Discussion rips on ADR whenever he's on WWE TV, and much of it is nastier than the things I've always said here about him. I will agree that ADR appears to be working stiffer since his return, and wonder with the rest if it's only time before ADR injures someone. Yes, he was taking credit for Cena being off TV due to injury, but that's typical jackass heel talk. But what stands out to me, even more, is just how old ADR looks. Between his graying hair, his piss poor haircut, and his extremely tired eyes, ADR looks like he should be on his retirement tour, holding the US Title by courtesy only.
The League of Nations are fairly young and should be in the prime of their careers, but they all barely look like jobbers who cannot keep up with what the fans want to see, while the Social Outcasts are getting solid pop and serious love from the fans, because people honestly want to see them succeed. I know the WWE is just trying to get Superstars over with the fans, but when is it time to cut bait? When the fans are begging each week to see Sandow, and they keep shoving League of Nations down our throats. When is the X-Pac heat going to erupt in full force?
JBL really cut on Rey when he called Kalisto a little green urchin in a mask. I know he was playing the role of a heel and wasn't talking about his friend Rey, but that was exactly where my thoughts went.
I'm not sure I've ever seen the Open Thread Discussion so happy to see someone win a championship on Raw! Everyone was cheering, so happy, so thrilled than Kalisto walked out of that ring strapped, and that ADR lost the gold. I know WNW is just a small bit of the IWC, but we have quite the cross -section of wrestling fans from around the world, many who love that we won't let people attack each other and treat others like crap in the comments section. There might have been one or two ADR fans in there, but that's it, nothing more. The love for Kalisto was obvious and for good reason. We all hoped that Kalisto would win, and were cheering when he did. Hopefully, things only get better for Kalisto, and we won't have to see ADR with gold again before he snaps (or VKM comes to his senses) and he is again out of the WWE.
Winner & new US Champion – Kalisto
Backstage Segment > D-
I know Flair was there to promote being on Stone Cold Steve Austin's podcast after Raw, but he's been there so much that he's holding his daughter back. He's there to turn Charlotte into the dirtiest player in the game, but doing all he can to get the reaction for himself. He might say he's there for her, but he's someone who cannot survive not being in the spotlight and is only hurting Charlotte in the process. She will never grow, get better on mic, stand on her own two feet if she has her father continuously chasing her spotlight, and she keeps letting him have it. It's her turn to shine, but the fans are turning against her, not for her own faults, not because she's a heel, but because Daddy is letching behind her 24/7/
Charlotte vs Brie > A-&D-
Becky Lynch looked great out there. It's nice to see a face attack and take no prisoners. Becky Lynch is a force to be reckoned with, and a most beautiful one at that! Even better is her standing on her own two feet, not needing someone behind her to hold her up.
I'm so over Ric Flair on WWE TV. For years, I caught crap from fans for being anti-Flair, because he was an icon and did so much for the industry, but now he's taking every moment he can in the spotlight because he cannot handle life, not in the spotlight. He's taking the time away from his own daughter so he can continue to live his own dream, and because he's good friends with Trip, he will continue to do so. Now, I don't want anything bad to happen to Flair, as he's obviously a cat, but he needs to be off WWE TV but for once or twice a year. When he was in Charlotte's corner when she faced Nattie with Uncle Bret in her corner, that worked. That was a beautiful match with a beautiful ending with Flair and Hart in the ring with their girls, but that was a one-time thing, not something we need, or even want, to see every week.
I will give Charlotte props for playing up the attack and getting out of her match with Brie, that is until Flair stole that bit of spotlight too. It's time to get that man off TV before he ruins his daughter for the fans.
Backstage Segment > A-
Becky on mic is so great. Between her accent, how pissed she was, her personality, and how she worked it. She had tears in her eyes, making it that much more believable. Further, she stumbled over her words a couple time, showing a bit of grit as she bounced back and forth between her feet because she was so wired. This segment was just fantastic. Charlotte can barely loosen up to talk on mic, but Becky is the complete package with the charisma and mic work to tie up the ring work and unusual look package that makes a top Superstar. So excited for her and her career. The fans are getting the best part of this deal.
1 vs All Match – Reigns vs Heels > B+
Steph dancing out to the ring next to McMahon's strut was too funny. I thought her husband was still recovering from when Reigns attacked him. I know if Stacy was at all injured, I wouldn't be dancing. But, Steph and McMahon did a solid job of working the way McMahon used to work the mic with Shane back in the AE. McMahon is showing his age quite a bit here, and it makes me wonder how many more Road To WrestleMania on WWE TV he might have in him. Also makes me wonder if he's going to stay heel or turn on The Authority at some point soon. He's playing his role as even more of a caricature of himself than he used to, which is making me wonder if it's on purpose, or if it's his age showing through.
Owens vs Reigns is a fantastic idea and looked great. Reigns has grown so much these past couple years. I wouldn't have wanted to see what a puddle of mush Owens would have left Reigns in the ring two years ago if they faced in a singles match. Makes me think back to Regal talking about one of his worst matches – when he had to carry Goldberg for eight minutes. Goldberg only knew his couple moves, and how to squash, but then Bischoff wanted Regal to have an eight-minute match with Goldberg, and Regal had to do 98% of the work because Goldberg had no clue what he was doing in the ring. An absolute mess it was, and would have been for Reigns two years ago. Reigns had so many detractors for so long, but he's stepped up and proved that he's not a Goldberg, that he could learn and live up to his family name. I'd love to see a solid singles feud between these two in the future.
This match had a real throwback feel to it, in a good way. It feels so much better when the underdog really has to fight for what he deserves. There will always be Reigns detractors who claim that Reigns only got where he is because of his family, or because McMahon has a hard on for his look, or because of something else, when in reality, he's worked very hard to get to where he is, and continues to work hard to improve in all ways in the WWE. There's a number of guys who have worked hard and have proved that they should be top guys in the WWE, and someone will always think that Reigns, or some other guy, is taking the place of their favorite guy.
Personally, there's a number of guys who could be the top guy in the WWE right now, the talent pool in the WWE is deeper than it's been in a decade or more, and continues to get deeper as the WWE brings in more guys who could be the top Champion. To me, that means they need to open up the main event more, and not keep it tight between a couple guys, and really give these other guys a chance to fight for the Championship, be in the main event. I know I sound like a broken record, but back in the AE, there was Taker, Foley, Austin, Rocky, Trip, Big Show, Angle, and Kane who were all in the Championship mix at some point, and guys like Edge, Jarrett, Owen Hart, Jericho, Henry, Shamrock, Jeff Hardy, Farooq, and Bradshaw who had or would soon be challenging. The roster was stacked, the way it is now, and many people got the chance to fight for, or hold the Championship, and didn't devalue it in any way. When there are such great Superstars on the roster, moving the strap around doesn't hurt it, it only helps prove how strong the competition within the WWE is.
Looking at the roster and who could really fight for and hold the WWE WHC, the list is quite solid. I'm not including guys like Big Show, Jericho, Henry, who have had their time and are more enhancement talent, but there are some older names who I do include in my list. I'm also going to include the injured here, as there are some amazing wrestlers who need to be on this list, even though they're out at this point. They need to be recognized for how great they are, and where they deserve to be when they return. Here is who I think could, if booked correctly, be in the running for the WWE WHC in 2016 – Ambrose, Rollins, Bray, Cesaro, Sandow, Bryan, Ziggler, Kane, Owens, Neville, Harper, Ryback, and maybe a couple of members of New Day. I know some of these might seem odd, but these are the guys who I know in my heart have what it takes to carry a PPV main event, and the WWE WHC. I know Kane and Ziggler are longer in the tooth than the rest, but I think they each deserve at least one more shot. Then there are the NXT guys who I think could also step up and be WWE WHC in the same year they're called up – Samoa Joe, Sami Zayn, and possibly AJ Styles. I know there are a lot of great names in NXT, and I don't know most of them (go Bayley), but those are three guys I know quite a bit abut from their times in TNA and ROH, and they also have what it takes to be WWE WHC.
Okay, so I kind of hijacked this segment with my thoughts on the WWE WHC for the year, but I think it's important to keep in mind all the guys who are more than able to fight for and carry the Championship. Between people questioning Reigns, Cena (who should tie Flair if not beat his number of Championship reigns), Brock, and others who have and should hold the strap, I thought it was the right time to throw out my thoughts for the WWE WHC in 2016.
Reigns was looking a bit too strong there, but it was against the smaller, and mid-card wrestlers, so I don't see that as him being Super Reigns here.
We have been talking for a while about how Brock seems to bust open so easily these days, and whether his meds are possible making it worse, but Brock had blood on his cheek, a scratch or something, before even coming to the ring, as it was visible on his face backstage prior to him coming to the ring.
This would have been a decent go-home to the Royal Rumble, so here's hoping that they go a lot bigger to end Raw next week.
So many questions left unanswered, but my biggest and most angsty question is, where is my Royal Rumble By The Numbers? The Royal Rumble is my favorite PPV of the year, and aside from certain and specific advertising packages through the years, the Royal Rumble By The Numbers has been my favorite, even though few of the stats change. Last night during Raw Zack was kvetching about the WWE not doing their obligatory Royal Rumble advertising package, and I joined his lamenting because I feel the same way. It's one of their best advertising packages, and it withstands the test of time, like ringing Hershey's Kisses like bells, M&Ms seeing Santa, and the Cadbury Bunny. They dang well better bring it back soon as there's not much time before the Royal Rumble!
I have one last thing before I sign off for the week. I think that this episode was the third time that Francesca was broken. I'm looking for someone to tell me exactly when she was broken previously. I'd love to keep track of how many times Francesca is destroyed, as it will be a fun trivia question in ten years when New Day comes back together and the trombone abuse continues. So, who out there can help me with the exacts of when and who broke Francesca prior to Jericho's destruction of the brass.
Queen of WNW