I was shocked to see the news about Bret Hart coming out with cancer, and then Blackjack Mulligan in the hospital. I know there's quite a large group of aging wrestlers whose names we all know, even if we haven't seen all of them wrestle, but it's still very hard to hear about these legends, who built the industry on their backs, aging and dealing with all the issues that go along with that. I know it's the way things work, but it doesn't mean I have to like it.
I'm sorry if this feels a bit short this week. I'm not sure if it's because I'm not feeling very well, or if it's because everything I wanted to say flowed out really well as I watched Raw, something that rarely happens, but the segments look short to me. I hope it has the same feel and emotion I try to give you every week.
In Ring Segment > A-
I would have given this segment a B+, but then Ambrose came out to the ring and made this into something special. The way he said he'd never been in a cage with a beast, then calling in cozy was fantastic! Ambrose is the character, the talker in the WWE right now. Then there's the fact that he can wrestle and be so creative in the ring, I have to wonder why he's not the top guy right now. I know name, looks and family are getting Reigns far, and he's growing into that role, but Ambrose has been ready for it for quite a while.
I know pushing Ambrose the way he should be pushed would completely derail everything they've done with Reigns, but Ambrose is so great! That being said, in the late 90s, there were a number of top Superstars who worked around, passing the top strap around between them. It wasn't just two people fighting over it for six months. There was Austin, Rocky, Taker, Foley, and Trip. There were even some other names that were slipped in that they tried to see if they were going to be top guys. There's no reason that Reigns, Ambrose, Owens, Brock, and whoever else couldn't be doing the same! Heck, bring back Sandow, when Cesaro is back from injury, throw him in! Throw in Bray to see how that works. There're so many guys who should be getting that top shot who aren't, even though there's a way to do it, and it's something the WWE has proved worked previously! I fully blame the Cena Era on the WWE not doing this the way they did in the AE. (Yes, I know, a lot bad about the AE, but this was one of the best parts, and it's booking that they could easily bring back.)
Jesse was reading Heyman and Brock's lips after Ambrose left the ring, and they were talking about how good Ambrose was on mic. Heyman's endorsement on mic is always a good thing.
Kalisto vs Rusev > C+
I'm over Kalisto getting beaten down but somehow coming back to win a match. The man can wrestle, let him show what he can do. I just really did not feel this match. I also really didn't like ADR on announce. He's just annoying, and I'm disgusted he's back. The man gets X-Pac heat and the WWE thinks it's real heat! I'm just glad that he didn't get involved in the match physically. Shocked he didn't get involved physically!
Winner – Kalisto
Backstage Segment > B
Steph is so great on mic. Seeing how far she's come from 'dating' Test, thought in jeans with her hair down, she looks more like that girl than she usually does. Bringing up Jannetty being dropped by HBK, and Orton dropped by Evo, it was interesting, and exactly what I expected The Authority would be doing to drive them apart. The banter between Reigns and Ambrose here was adorable. It was a bit longer than it needed to be but started laying the seeds for possible issues coming soon.
Backstage Segment > D-
I'm really glad that Nikki is doing well. From what Jesse has said, this injury could have left her paralyzed. She's a lucky woman. I have to admit that this segment felt like a stab at Bryan as well as a stab at Nikki. It rubbed me the wrong way, then Charlotte showed up and tried to talk, then tried to emote, and I was over it. The worse part was that Flair was right there with her, acting like people actually want to see him. It's really sad that this is the only way he can grasp any glory, and the fans are loathing him for it. It's time for him to go home.
Announce Segment > F
The F is for the WWE, not for Lilian. I'm disgusted that the WWE made a point of bullying Lilian for a slip of the tongue. And then they brought it up again later in the show, Cole mocking Lilian as if it was okay for one person to treat another that way. I know the WWE is big on 'do as I say, not as I do' but this was such obvious and blatant bullying that the kids who the WWE wants to teach to B.A.Star are seeing that they are hypocrites and are sending mixed messages.
All that being said, while I like Lilian, and think she has a beautiful singing voice, she's not the best announcer the WWE has ever had. Jesse says that she doesn't have the big show feel that Fink and Chimmel did, but I think it's more than that. There have been females who have done well with ring announcing, giving the big show feel, but Lilian hasn't been able to do that in a very long time. And just so I don't look like a sexist pig, there's been male ring announcers who don't have that big show feel as well, and not only because they can't remember wrestlers' names – specifically Jeff Harvey. I'm honestly a bit surprised that she's still around and Justin Roberts is gone. Not that Roberts was a favorite of mine, but he was reliable on mic. Not that I want to see anyone out of a job, I think it's time the WWE looks for someone better to ring announce on Raw.
Usos vs Social Outcasts > C
I loved SO on the mic, and how they handled Bo being out to be with Blackjack Mulligan, his grandfather, who is in the hospital. The bouncing around and confusion over Bo being gone was solid, but the best part was that they used BoRida again. Perfect way to explain away his absence.
It's time the Usos evolve. They really have become rather boring, and when thinking about this, I realized that they really haven't been in a storyline. Yes, they've had many feuds, and have held the straps, but they really haven't had any storylines! They can talk, they do when they need to, but no evolution and no storylines. It's about time the WWE step up and do something with them and the Tag Division as they're suffering right now.
All that being said, this wasn't a bad match, but it wasn't anything great to write home about. It's what the Tag Division has turned into lately, especially when the Usos are in the ring.
Winners – Usos
Miz TV > A-
Miz killed it in this segment! He worked it hard, tugged on the heartstrings of the fans, trying to get yet another short protege. Miz on mic was fantastic, but so was AJ. Just watching AJ sitting there, reacting, but not saying a word, was brilliant. AJ can emote, but his actual mic work isn't the best, so this was perfect. Miz going on and on and on until AJ attacked. THAT's how you book to the strengths of those in the segment! After it was all over with Miz on the ramp checking for blood, AJ looking annoyed in the ring, I'm not sure what they could have done to make this any better.
Brie vs Charlotte > B
I cannot imagine how hard it must be for Brie to be on the road right now. Between having always worked the WWE with her twin, but Nikki is out with serious injury. And then there's Bryan who has been out for so long, and they met in the WWE. And even Cena is out due to injury. I know she has friends and other people to hang out with, but it has to be tough because the people she's closest to aren't there with her as they used to be.
Brie started this match hitting hard and looking solid doing it. Brie has worked hard to bring her ring work up and looked great until this newest group came up from NXT, but had been looking a bit less lately. In this match, she looked stronger than expected. Sadly, the same cannot be said for Flair. I get that he's friends with Trip, and why they would want him out with Charlotte at first, but this is ridiculous. I have to admit that watching Foxy yell at Flair but not getting close enough to touch him was kind of hysterical. But, on the other hand, Flair kicking at Foxy when the WWE is trying to be so PC is strange. I wonder if Trip is going to hear about that from McMahon tonight. Honestly, you'd think that McMahon would overrule Trip about having Flair on live WWE TV each week.
Normally I'm not for the Champ getting pinned on Raw, but it was nice that Brie got that three. Charlotte is beatable, and it showed that the Bellas aren't done in the WWE.
Winner – Brie
Big Show vs Rowan > C-&B+
Well, Rowan jobbed quickly here! The worst part is that he jobbed to Big Show who has suddenly turned again. This poor man has been booked so badly through the years! They Wyatt Family is supposed to be big and scary, but Rowan looked weak and meek here. He's better than this, much better. I didn't like how they booked Rowan at all, but I'm a huge Rowan fan.
On the other hand, Harper did a great job of leading They Wyatt Family for Bray while he was tending to his grandfather. Big Show sold the ring work really well and really sold the beat down. Other than the turn and the actual match, this was a good segment. Wow, that sounded really bad, but it's true.
Winner – Big Show
O'Neil vs Breeze > B
I'm loving O'Neil more and more, especially as I learn more about who he is as a man. Breeze, on the other hand, hasn't impressed me since he was called up. Add in that he's in the doghouse backstage, I'm not sure he will be lasting long on the WWE roster. Might be time to send him back to his comfort zone of NXT. Honestly, NXT might just be the right place for him. Some guys shouldn't have been called up from NXT, and I thought he was one from day one. The Ascension is the other major failure from NXT. On the other hand, I'm glad O'Neil is getting more of a push, even if it is still mid-card.
Winner – O'Neil
Backstage Segment > B+
Loved the interaction between Brock and Trip. Normally I have nothing for Brock, but he was solid in his single line here. Trip's smirk about Brock getting soft was just great. He knows when to use it, and has some of the best facial expressions when he's mocking people. That being said, you'd expect to see the WWE WHC on more than a two-minute segment backstage. Not saying he needs to have a twenty-minute diatribe to open the show, just that I expect more from the WWE WHC. I thought they'd learned from Brock Lesnar being WWE WHC and never being on WWE TV and how the fans hated that.
Ziggler vs Owens > B+
Now, I'm a fan of Ziggler, and I love me some KO, but we have seen these two work together over and over lately, and it's just getting lame. I know I keep looking back at the era I'm watching on the WWE Network right now, but I'm pulling out the things that really worked back then and wondering why they don't still do them. Like Superstars used to face other wrestlers during the month, then face their feud/storyline at the PPVs. Yes, they'd have promos together, be at ringside, run in, attack backstage, and do other things to each other, but they didn't face each other week in and week out, making it so their PPV matches were boring, or needed a gimmick to be different. KO vs Ziggler could have a PPV feel if they didn't face off so many times on WWE TV! This wouldn't be hard to bring back, and would bring show bonuses to more Superstars.
All that being said, I like that Ziggler won this one, and how KO reacted to it. Then again, KO is one of the best on the WWE roster right now.
Winner – Ziggler
Black History Month > A
Nice video about Mark Henry, but why do we have to wait for February to see videos like this? Now, I get that Henry might be retiring soon (maybe), but let's wait for him to get there before going there with a video like this. WWE trying to not be racist looks even more racist with these videos, in my view.
In Ring Segment > B+
I would have given this an A- if Naomi hadn't gone to the Bellas' School of Acting. (Fully admit that's not my comment, stolen from the Open Thread Discussion!) But honestly, Naomi was really rough there. Sasha, on the other hand, was beautiful, expressive, spoke well, and can emote like no other Diva on the roster now. Sasha is the Ambrose of the Divas Division! She is the total package and will be leading the Divas Division for some time to come. And, as a pink lady myself, I can't help but love her hair, and want to dye all my hair pink again – more than the simple streak I've had since my 18th birthday.
Sasha vs Becky > B+
Two of the best on the roster and they showed it to the fans. There were a few missteps, and they were not totally in tune through the whole match, but compared to watching Kelly Kelly, Torrie Wilson, and Maria, this was downright brilliant! Honestly, I knew Tamina and Naomi would get involved and everything would crumble, but it was a travesty when it did happen. Tamina and Naomi ended the beauty between Becky and Sasha. Hopefully, we will see it again soon, or they will be tagging to take out Naomi and Tamina. The only problem I have with that is that Naomi isn't as good in tag matches, and Tamina isn't very good in the ring at all. So, while I'm willing to bet we will see these four in a tag match at FastLane, I'm not as excited as I was to see Sasha and Becky face off in this match. I'm all for seeing the best Divas really work the ring on WWE TV, and this was that match, briefly.
Winner via DQ – Sasha
Backstage Segment > B
No Jericho's best, but he was strong and really put AJ, as is what he's there for. In fact, I wonder if Jericho was a bit under the weather as he didn't look like he felt very well. I love that Jericho is back and putting over AJ right off the top.
Backstage Segment > A-
I love this version of Goldust, as I said last week, and I love that he's taking it to a whole new level. And then there's R-Truth calling Goldust a weirdo with poo on his foot, but it's R-Truth's facial expression. Again, we all know that I'm all about the facial expressions and emoting, and R-Truth is one of the best when it comes to emoting. He's right up there with Santino, or possibly beyond him. I love these short segments between these two. They're funny, but not 4th-grade humor, they're not too long, and banking on the strengths of both of these veteran players. Loving this!
In Ring Segment > B+
I love how Wood got talking to the little kid with moves in the front row wearing the Bullet Club shirt. That they showed the boy and his father in the Bullet Club shirts was most likely a slap to NJPW, because the WWE doesn't let a slap like that pass by without being swung. Beyond that, New Day was solid on mic, and that's why they get the mic time they do. I'm still shocked that three guys who were not getting anywhere, a couple of whom were said to not have personalities, or be too strange to get over, and they're killing it. Their segments get the most pop of the night most of the time, and that says something about the men within the group who weren't getting the TV time singly to get over with their own personalities. Glad things are working out for them the way they are.
New Day vs Ambrose & Reigns > B+
These guys worked this match HARD! They flew around, out over the top, landing hard outside. They worked hard and bumped hard, all the while really entertaining the fans with more than their great ring work. Add in Heyman on announce and this was the way to do a main event! The back and forth work, with Ambrose taking the majority of the match, giving Reigns the hot tag, but then ending up back into the match before long showed his personality as well as ring work. Reigns was great too, working it hard, not backing down from anything. These two together make so much sense, kinda like Trip and HBK. Two great tastes that go great together!
I thought New Day hung quite well with Reigns and Ambrose, two guys who are PPV main eventers. That being said, Kofi was one, and I'll be shocked if Big E isn't in the running for the WWE WHC at some point in the next couple years. Kofi was on the track until Orton derailed him, and I thought that was a horrible thing to do at the time, and it really was, but I've since seen how Kofi has injured a number of people in the ring and isn't as safe as most of the top guys are. Ambrose, on the other hand, might not appear safe, but he's not injured or injuring others. I love the appearances of professional wrestling compared to the reality!
With Heyman on announce I thought Brock Lesnar was going to come out and clear the ring, taking Ambrose, Reigns, and even New Day to Suplex City, but, instead he came out, hit one F5 and it was over. That's a hefty payday for Brock hitting one move. I'm really not impressed with what little Brock did to make Raw more interesting this week.
While I could get into my thoughts and ideas for Ambrose and Reigns going forward, I still haven't decided what I hope will happen. All these ideas are flying around, and plans coming out of the WWE, but we all know that plans are constantly changing, so I'm not going to start with ideas until we get closer to FastLane.
Winners – Reigns & Ambrose
I have to say that I expected a whole heck of a lot more from Raw than we got. We're on the Road To WrestleMania, and I expect the feuds, storylines, and shows to step up a bit, but this one didn't. I'm quite disappointed with this episode of Raw, and with the WWE as a whole for the direction and booking of this Raw. There's so much they could be doing but they won't seem to step up and do it. I don't know if it's that they think things won't work, they're not willing to try, they don't think they have the roster they need to do some of these things (total BS), or there's still issues of Trip and VKM butting heads. No matter what it might be, it's more than the time they take care of business and give us a product that they have everything at their fingertips to give us.
Queen of WNW