I'm so excited that the Royal Rumble is this weekend. Everyone is trying to book up my Sunday, and I keep telling them that I have the Royal Rumble and will be watching it while chatting with the great guys (and a few women) here at WNW. I will be here and watching the Royal Rumble Sunday night, even if I am at a friend's house while everyone else hangs out and chats. I will not be missing my favorite PPV of the year, no matter how worrisome it might look at this point.
I ended up staying late on Monday at my babysitting job (close friends, so that their daughter won't be in daycare for the majority of the week, and can stay home with someone they know love their daughter, and get as much from her as I try to give to her). Also, it's been a great addition to Sam's homeschooling. She's learned so much about babies, children, and early childhood development that she would never have learned in school. She also has someone who looks up to her in all she says and does, and therefore, she's much more aware of what she's doing and saying when Dani is around. It's a great relationship for all involved, but because I was there so late, I missed much of Raw. That means that I'm writing, at least, half of this show as I watch it the first time through today. Being in the Open Thread Discussion with others who had watched Raw from the start makes me worry that it's as bad as they said it was, but this is me, and I will give it the benefit of the doubt and go into it with the hopes and anticipation that I have for every Raw, and especially the go-home to the Royal Rumble – my favorite PPV of the year.
Lastly, I will slip Jericho's description of Steph in wherever I can. I know I've used it as a title previously, but I will continue to use it any time Jericho pulls out the catchphrase for Steph. I'm just too attached to that era of wrestling, and how well the two of them worked the mic together.
Video > A+
I love how the WWE puts out the most perfect videos for the poignant holidays in the USA. This video for Martin Luther King Jr. was fantastic, I just wish the WWE would follow suit and practice what they preach. That grade is for the production crew and the video package they put out, not for the WWE and all they places they've dropped the ball within the WWE with sexism, racism, and bullying. The list could go on and on, but I will stop with the biggies.
In Ring Segment > B+&D+
I know that starting Raw with the WWE WHC makes a lot of sense, but I didn't see the reasoning behind it. Now, I missed SD last week, so maybe there was something there, but this whole thing seemed to come out of nowhere for me, but then it paid off – at least for Jericho and Reigns. Reigns was fantastic working the mic with Jericho. The way he showed thinking about who won the Royal Rumble Match last year, and who he eliminated, and then talking down Rusev, he was better than ever! People have been complaining about Jericho being over the hill, but when he brings the fans out for a segment that would have fallen flat because of League of Nations, he's absolutely needed on Raw. Further, Jericho's calming presence in the ring seemed to help Reigns that much more.
So while all that was well and good, League of Nations and questionable statements made me wonder who wrote this segment and organized this episode of Raw. The top three contenders for the winner of the Royal Rumble Match? That's saying that the WWE is telling us who should win, and I don't like that. I'm all for crazy swerves in the WWE, especially for the Royal Rumble Match, but only if they make some semblance of sense.
As much as it pains me to say, I agree with Sheamus, since when is the Royal Rumble Match all about Reigns vs Brock? That's the only thing he was right on when he spoke? Eating his shirt? Not inviting League of Nations? Jericho being stupid? Of course, he was fodder for Jericho, but everyone is fodder for Jericho, and Sheamus is fodder for everyone. Speaking of fodder, putting the mic in ADR's hand makes me wonder where they think ADR belongs on the show compared to where he really belongs – which is not in the WWE at all. I see what they're trying to do with League of Nations, but there has to be someone who stands out to lead the group, someone who can be more than a mid-carder, yet none of these guys are great enough to lead the rest. And then the best talker in the group was the only one who didn't speak. He had nothing to add to the conversation, but he's still better on mic than any of the other three!
Reigns vs Rusev > B
Video of Chioda giving Jericho the shirt off his back was great. I can't say that Jericho skinny jeans worked with the ref shirt, but he is lucky that jeans have a lot more Spandex in them than they did the last time jeans were fashionably this tight, or Jericho would have split every seam trying to count this match. This is also a great way for Jericho to be more involved in this storyline without having to work the ring against the top Superstars of today. Very smart of Jericho to work his spots the best for himself, and he was a solid ref in this match.
The Bulgarian brute isn't as unbeatable as he once was. No questioning his strength, but he's not the squasher he once was. So much for him being a great wrestler, Jericho was more entertaining than Rusev has ever been, even with his horrid cartwheels, he gave us more that Rusev. Does that mean that Jericho stole the match? Yes, but Reigns was able to hold his own in the ring, as an entertainer, with Jericho. Rusev, on the other hand, was forgettable. In a couple months when someone reminds me of this match, I'll remember Jericho and Reigns, but I'm sure I won't recall who was the heel in the ring. And that's my issue with League of Nations, they're not memorable, they don't stand out, and they're not going to be unless they add someone who deserves to be pulled out of mid-card purgatory.
Winner – Reigns
Backstage Segment > B+
Of course Steph had to get in Jericho's face, and it was fun. I haven't yet made it to Jericho's debut in the WWF, in fact I'm only one episode of Raw off from the worst night ever in the WWF (RIP Owen), but I'm anticipating all the fun that's coming from Jericho, Steph being the filthy, dirty, disgusting, brutal, bottom feeding, trash bag ho that she was back then. Jericho right, he's always so pissed off at everything right now, but so was McMahon back in the day when he was the Evil Boss of the WWF.
I love that Steph brought up paying Brock even more money, because it's such BS that he'd getting the money he's getting for what little he'd doing. But I loved this segment for all it brought back to me. I smiled remembering, but also knowing that I'm heading into seeing it all over again, for only $9.99!
Nattie w/ Paige vs Brie w/ Foxy > B
Well, that was short, but they both worked each other hard while they were in there. I know this was all about Total Divas, but I'm glad Nattie is back in the ring and worked it with Brie. I understand it being short, as it's her first time back in the ring on Raw, and that they didn't hold back in that short time, I give her props. Not a Lass Kicking match, but solid for who it was, and after being out so long.
They Wyatt Family vs Dudley Boyz & Ryback > B
This match makes so much sense to me. I cannot think of any other team/group/faction that could work against They Wyatt Family and make it look as believable. Some have complained that the Dudley Boyz are over the hill and shouldn't be back in the WWE. If you're one of those, go watch what Bully Ray did in TNA. Age doesn't matter to him, he's better (in some ways) than he was in ECW! (I said in some ways, don't go misquoting me, saying that Dudley Boyz sucked in ECW because they were great back then!) Bubba Ray and D-Von can still go hard, and putting him with Ryback to work against They Wyatt Family works really well. The Dudley Boyz should do all they can to help Ryback and They Wyatt Family get over, as so many helped them. It makes a lot of sense to me, though I hope for more for They Wyatt Family, especially Bray, going into WrestleMania.
Winners – Dudley Boyz & Ryback
Big Show vs Slater > B+
Is it just me, or does Big Show look a bit chubby in the face? Maybe it's that I've watched so much of his first year in the WWE, you know, back when he had hair. I love it that Axel brought up that he hadn't been eliminated from the 2015 Royal Rumble Match! I thought he should have brought that up all through the year, but then we really didn't see him all through the year! Again Axel showed more personality than he'd shown in the year leading up to him not being eliminated from the 2015 Royal Rumble Match! He again showed more heart by going after Big Show after Slater was destroyed. And, for the first time, I actually thought Bo was a bit endearing. He was kinda cute in his excitement over living through being in the ring with Big Show. He also sold the KO punch wonderfully after that. I'm loving the Social Outcasts and have from formation. They are fun, but also passionate and believable. They have everything a faction needs, other than size – and they make up for that in heart. (The grade is for entertainment value, not technical ring work.)
Winner – Big Show
Backstage Segment > B
Solid pep talk from Steph. It was really more of a con job, but that's Steph for you. She has grown into being her father, and is fantastic at what she does, even if she isn't that fresh faced young girl who clung to her father when Taker was trying to abduct her, but her character has evolved, something Cena hasn't yet learned.
Stage Segments > B
Steph saying that we might never have seen the Royal Rumble Match in the WWE was a lovely little twist to get people wondering. Steph poking fun at her father over McMahon's Millions was hysterical. They are willing to poke fun at themselves, as we've seen from both McMahons on this episode of Raw, and that's something too few are willing to do, especially on TV!
But beyond that, this segment was plucked directly from the 1999 Royal Rumble, or a Raw leading into it. What number will Stone Cold Steve Austin enter the Royal Rumble Match? From the BINGO barrel comes #1. To prove it's not fixed, McMahon tries again and gets #1. I understand why they did it, but with so many comparing The Authority to The Corporation, Steph to her father, Reigns to Austin, I'm shocked they pulled a segment directly from 17 years ago. I know McMahon thinks that no one remembers anything that has happened in the WWE, but with the WWE Network, we can go back to watch almost anything we want, just to make sure we're remembering correctly. That McMahon doesn't realize that the IWC can find almost any bit of trivia or fact we might want to check, really blows my mind, but I guess he really does think we are that stupid. If I had thinner skin I'd really be put out by that.
Tamina vs Becky Lynch > B-&B+
I have to say that when Naomi wore those pants in blue, I fell in love, but in orange, I'm floored. I love the cut and fabric of her pants, but I know there's no way I could look one tenth as good as she does in them, so I will have to dream rather than trying to find a pair for myself. And speaking of clothing, Becky's green ring gear is fantastic! The way it works against her orange hair, she looks like a sexy little leprechaun – in a most amazing way.
What I don't understand is why they took Becky and put her in the ring with one of the few Divas on the roster who really isn't very good, and doesn't seem to have her mind in the game. I really like Tamina and want only the best for her, but her ring work has hit a wall, and she just doesn't seem as focused as she once was. I get why she might not be as on point as she once was, but I think working outside the ring as muscle might be better for her. Is Naomi injured? Did I miss something there? If not, she would have been a much better opponent for Becky in this match. Sasha would have been that much greater, but Sasha is so much better than almost anyone on the Divas roster.
As blah as Tamina was in this match, Charlotte was so much worse on mic! Does she think she needs to yell into the mic to show she's a heel? I know it works for some, but the ones it works for are the ones who are fired up and pissed off all the time, like Scotty Steiner! Charlotte doesn't seem to understand emotion and how to display it visually and through voice inflection. For her, it's all about the yelling.
Then there's Becky who continues to steal every segment she has access to the mic. I loved how she ripped on Flair's signature catchphrases and have my fingers crossed that they round out what was said and make it into a shirt. THAT I would wear in a heartbeat!
Wheelin', dealin', title match stealin'
haven't a cluein' father!
Becky pushed Flair's buttons, and hopefully will have someone like Steamboat in her corner at the Royal Rumble to watch her back.
Winner – Becky Lynch
Ambrose & Kalisto vs Sheamus & ADR > A-&B
As much as I love Ambrose and Kalisto, and I'm so excited that Kalisto is getting a singles push, this match was amazing because of KO on announce. I said it last week, and I'll say it again, KO should have been brought into the WWE years ago, but I know that if KO was brought in back then he wouldn't have become the wrestler or man he is today. If he did have that personality, he could have been pigeon-holed and possibly ducked over for dropping pipe bombs. It appears as though KO is more willing and able to play the politics game backstage better than he who shall not be named ever did. Just my thoughts on KO.
Again, I LOVE Ambrose, and am really starting to adore Kalisto as much on mic as in the ring, but in the ring against someone who will never be the demographical leader McMahon thinks he should be, and the Mayo Mohawk, they just couldn't perform to the best of their abilities. I will say that I loved that it was Kalisto who got the hot tag, rather than being the one who took the beating. Ambrose did a lovely service to help Kalisto get over that much more by giving, rather than taking, the hot tag. (Keep your mind clean!) That's what the best Superstars do for each other.
Winners – League of Nations
Backstage Segment > A-
A funeral for Francesca? I was hoping they would kill a number of trombones and number each one as they were killed off, but I guess killing off too many trombones is against WWE's PG-ness. Dang, Big E was fantastic preaching at her funeral. He's so quirky and interesting that I never thought he'd find his niche in the WWE. Luckily Wood is quirky as well, and that gave Kofi a group to carry his blandness.
Video > F!
I've been waiting for Royal Rumble By The Numbers, it's my favorite video/promo of the year, every year! But then they had it narrated by Byron Saxton, ruining any excitement that might have been added from the video clips they showed. It was taking my favorite PPV, favorite promo for my favorite PPV, of the year, and wrapping it in soggy TP. The production crew is normally so good, and this might have worked, but for Byron. Fingers crossed that they will learn from this debacle and get back to the fun next year.
Let it be known that Zack and a number of other WNW writers and readers agree with me that this was a travesty, done to something we had been so anticipating. UGH!
Jey Uso vs Big E > B+
Big E tossed Jey off his shoulders in such a way that I was sure Jey was going to break something vital. I think sometimes Big E is still not quite as mindful of his strength as he should be in the ring. It's at points like this that I remember that Big E is still a little green around the gills. It's not all the time, and running with Kofi has helped in a lot of ways, but his learning curve seems to be a bit rounder than Reigns, and it shows when his strength isn't in check, usually in singles matches.
This match went longer than I expected, and I was quite impressed with Jey here. Again, I adore Big E, but Jey was the star of this match all the way around. I was so shocked and impressed by Jey that he earned that grade mostly himself, though the outside antics were fun too.
Winner – Big E
Backstage Segment > Wha?
Neville's got a dream too? MLK Day so they pull O'Neil, R-Truth and Henry to work the ring on Raw? That's a bit ridiculous. We should be seeing these guys more often, on a regular basis (I know O'Neil has been seen more recently in his feud with Stardust), if they don't want to be called out for giving them a match on this specific Raw.
Neville & O'Neil & R-Truth & Henry vs Ascension & Breeze & Stardust > Nope!
Okay, so there's three African Americans on the face team, but it's Neville who gets the three? Now, I was not the first one to notice, or mention this. It came up in the Open Thread Discussion, and there were a lot of really unhappy wrestling fans. There were a few comments that were close to starting a fight about understanding how it feels, and how the WWE is so terribly racist. WNW has some of the best of the IWC, and it didn't erupt into what could have been very ugly, all because someone in the WWE needed a cranial rectal extraction – possibly under general anesthesia because local wouldn't work for something that far implanted.
Not ripping on Neville or any of the work in this match, just stating that the WWE (creative, booking, someone) messed up in a huge way with this one.
Winners – Neville & R-Truth & O'Neil & Henry
Highlight Reel > A-
This segment is what saved Raw as a go-home to the Royal Rumble. I won't say it's my favorite go-home to the Royal Rumble, but it's a heck of a lot better than I expected it to be after reading about how lackluster this episode of Raw was when I joined the show halfway through. Does Jericho have some new ink? His arms are looking NICE! (And not just for the ink.)
I don't care about seeing Brock Lesnar against anyone in the past couple years, I want to see Brock Lesnar when he actually gave a flying fig about the company and the fans, and that's what I will watch on the WWE Network with baited breath. Now, I will watch Brock Lesnar this Sunday, and whenever he's on the WWE or the WWE Network, but only because I won't let Brock Lesnar spoil my enjoyment of the Royal Rumble or anything else I'm watching. Now, all my kvetching about Brock Lesnar, I was quite impressed with the beating he took to end Raw. Now, booking-wise, it was one of the stupidest things I've seen since Katie Vick. Okay, maybe not since then, but when you build someone to be almost completely unstoppable, and then he's taken out by two spears, you've completely destroyed everything you've built in two moves. In fact, Brock seemed almost done after the first spear. I know he's doing what he's told to do so he could collect his paycheck, but one spear and Brock is done dealing with Reigns, but then trashes everyone else he can reach. Second spear and Brock is done for the night. So done that he actually appears to sandbag Bray's Sister Abigail. Further, in appearing to sandbag, Brock at the mat hard with his face. But Brock was the unstoppable, Mr. Suplex City! And then a couple spears and the man is toast. Just when Brock seemed to be coming back, one kick from Bray left him on the mat almost unable to move. I'm completely disgusted by this, and I'm not sure who to be disgusted with. Would it be creative? The bookers? Brock Lesnar himself? I'm going with all three for this one.
All my Brock Lesnar bashing, and I'm still glad they ended Raw the way they did because it leaves us with more questions than answers going into the Royal Rumble, and that's always a good thing – especially after the way they've been handling things leading up to this PPV.
What a lackluster Raw! There were only a couple of bright moments, and those might not have been planned to be the better moments of the show. For me, I loved Jericho and Steph backstage, and KO on announce. Those were the most interesting and unexpected moments of the night, other than Jericho and Heyman working the mic together, and that's almost guaranteed to be enjoyable because they're both the best at what they do.
Normally I'd continue on, but I have little more to say, so I will remind you to keep your eyes open for WNW Predicts to see what we have to say about the Royal Rumble Match and all the other matches slated for the Royal Rumble PPV this year!
Queen of WNW