Even all the recap videos from last week couldn't save this Raw. It seems like the WWE has one great idea, and bringing Shane back was a great idea, but they rest everything they have on that one idea and everything else crumbles for it. Honestly, while we say Raw last week was great, it was only the opening segment that was great, the rest was marginal at best. Unlike when the WWE was on top, they seem to be unable to focus on more than one person, feud, or storyline at a time without letting everything else crumble. It appears as though the backstage issues are really becoming so bad that almost everything they're showing on WWE TV, and a lot of the new stuff on the WWE Network, are suffering. They're so focused on Shane, the McMahon family, and that whole mess that everything is going by the wayside, again. This episode of Raw had three separate twenty-minute segments, each with a different member of the McMahon family, and they really didn't hold up well. Honestly, the best was Steph's and that's because there was so much truth to what she was saying. It's that honesty and grit that has been missing from the WWE, now, if only they could expand it to the rest of the Superstars, feuds, storylines, and everything else the WWE throws at us each week.
One last thing before I jump in. They said Reigns needed nasal reconstruction surgery. I didn't know they did that for a blood capsule? That's a new one for me!
In Ring Segment > B-&A
As I heard Trip's music, I cussed aloud. The last thing the Road To WrestleMania needs is twenty minutes of Trip starting a too-long Raw! And sorry Trip, I'm not afraid of authority, dress how I want, and don't have the type of repercussions you spoke about. Yes, some would say I'm lucky, other pity me for it. I have always challenged authority, but that's who I am, and how I learned to get what I need in this world.
I know the opening segment for Raw last week was about a half hour, but it was a great storyline, so unexpected, and so interesting. It wasn't Trip self-aggrandizing for a half hour! And then Ambrose came out. The crazy from Ambrose is one thing, but smelling Trip all over was hysterical. Of course, Trip had all the right answers, but he probably spent hours working on the right lines, whereas Ambrose's schtick actually felt genuine. Trip came off as so plastic compared to Ambrose's Austin-esque banter.
“You can't beat him!” chants were great. They might have been piped in, but perfect. Actually, it was all looking close to perfect until Trip decided that Ambrose had to face bleeping ADR tonight. Not only bleeping ADR but his League of Boredom!
Sasha vs Becky > A
This is exactly what the Divas Division should be. These two might have been working well together, but against each other is that much more exciting. It's almost as exciting as Sasha against Bayley! The chain wrestling between Sasha and Becky is so well executed, and we don't see that solid work from most of the guys on the roster. Think about who on the roster are solid wrestlers, then look at the Divas of now and tell me that some of these Divas haven't surpassed a lot of the Superstars. I know the Divas had to elevate their game to get noticed again, but they're making the Superstars look bad these days – especially these two Divas!
What a great match, and I KNEW that there wouldn't be a clean winner because neither could go over the other to face Charlotte at WrestleMania. Both Becky and Sasha sold their ire and emotion after the bell rang. Of course, Charlotte and Flair had to be their skanky looking selves, but it was the Divas in the ring who made this match shine and more than earned this grade. Okay, I know there was controversy about Sasha looking lazy at the end of this match, and there's no reason she couldn't pull her shoulders up, but I didn't see it that way. I saw that she was so tired from that match (even though it was short compared to her Iron Man with Bayley), and so beaten from the move, that she just couldn't pull herself up. It happens. I can't wait for their Triple Threat Match at WrestleMania (maybe)!
Backstage Segment > B
Bray was better here, but it helped that his mic was working better. Bray can be great on mic when he's actually wired well and has something interesting to say. Sadly too much of what he'd been saying was the same crap he'd been seeing since his debut as Bray Wyatt. This was more solid, and having all three big guys standing behind him, not moving, not speaking, really did help this time around.
Miz vs Ziggler > B-
Miz facing Ziggler makes almost no sense to me. They've both hit the glass ceiling – though Miz had crashed through it early on, he's been stuck under it since! Miz looked solid in the ring with AJ, so maybe they're seeing if he can do more than talk? I have to admit that the short match really shocked the heck out of me, and makes me wonder the plans. Honestly, anything less than an Elimination Chamber match with them, some League of Nations, and a few over faces, wouldn't be worth the time or the money for anyone involved – including the fans.
Winner – Miz
In Ring Segment > A
While Steph looked most amazing, so on point, but that they did this segment was hysterical to me. There was no way she was going to get through the speech, and the segment, no matter what happened. The fans were not going to let this happen, but the best were the “We want Shane!” chants. Her little hissy fit was fantastic, and her ranting rage over Shane was just amazing. Every little sister feels this way about their big brother at some point, especially when the family business is on the line – been there. Nothing like working a shoot, and the McMahons are some of the best at it. She really seemed to let it all hangout, and I imagine a lot of it was reality, which always makes these segments that much better.
It got out her true ire and frustration, pushed the storyline in a huge way, and was so entertaining. Sometimes watching a woman pitch a royal fit that is partially deserved makes another woman who's had similar issues feel that much better about life. For that I thank Steph!
League of Nations vs Lucha Dragons > D
I have to admit that I wonder why League of Nations is together and what the continuing idea about them might be. None of them are over in any way, usually getting X-Pac heat if any reaction at all. Sheamus is so bloody boring. ADR is so bloody entitled now that he's getting more money to be in front of fans who never want to see him again. Rusev is so bloody ridiculous in his lack of power after beating up everyone for so long. And Barrett is just bloody lame. None of this makes any sense to me.
Winners – League of Nations
Backstage Segment > F
I was wondering why Renee was talking to Nattie this way, and then it was a Subway commercial. Well, they don't have Jared any longer, so they have to find someone safe – why not the sexually repressed married blonde from Total Divas?
Rose vs Ryback > F
I know that (sadly) Social Outcasts are jobbers, but feeding Rose to Ryback was a bit much. No clue whether Ryback is supposed to be heel or face, or getting the Big Show treatment, but this could be bad. This appears to be the Ryback who started in the WWE, and he didn't get over with the fans at all. The fans like this new Ryback for his vibe as much as anything, and he's losing that zen vibe when he's losing his mind. I really don't like it and I really worry for Ryback's future. Further, I worry about the futures of all four in Social Outcasts, as they're all better than this, and Social Outcasts are so much better than the sum of their parts and should be pushed accordingly.
Typical for the WWE, they put Ryback out there talking about the movie Spotlight when they obviously had no clue that it was about rape. Bravo WWE for not researching what they were putting out on Raw, and not thinking about how badly someone who was a victim of a priest might react to Ryback talking about how he deserves the spotlight while not having a clue what the movie is about. This is what took the grade from a D to an F for me.
Winner via DQ – Rose
New Day vs Y2AJ > B+
While they didn't look quite on, I loved seeing Jericho and AJ fly together. I can't say that Jericho was working noticeably stiff with Kofi, but I wouldn't have blamed him if he did after the black eye Jericho got on SD last week. I wonder if that's why Kofi was the one to tap out tonight. But, beyond that, I have to admit I like seeing Jericho and AJ tag together though I worry about AJ's future. Maybe if his time with Jericho is short-lived it will work, but if it runs too long it can hurt the time AJ has left in the wrestling industry. He's not as young as he used to be.
I thought AJ came off kind of cute here on mic. The stumbling over Y2AJ worked really well for him. I liked it, and it seems as though Jericho helped his mic work a bit. It has to help to be working with one of the best talkers who worked two of the three big companies during the War.
Winners – Y2AJ
In Ring Segment > B-
Our third twenty-minute segment? I really miss there only being one of these in the two-hour show, and it wasn't always right at the start. There were more short segments, many of which were backstage. Short vignettes are some of what made the WWE so great to watch. The storylines that ran through the entire show, swerving and making us question things at every turn, and sometimes at the end we were played, sometimes we weren't and it was fantastic! Yet we barely see them these days, and the ratings are sucking. I know there's more to it than that, but that's one major issue I've noticed recently watching so much AE and beyond.
All my kvetching about these long segments and McMahon did fairly well right off the blocks, even though the fans were not giving him any sort of reaction. The fans didn't love McMahon, or hate him, but he just kept going as if he was getting a reaction. I wonder if his hearing is going.
Many, myself included, had hoped that Taker would tell McMahon to pound sand and back Shane, but Taker's match is HIAC, so it does make sense that he's willing to go in, no matter who against. Taker did a solid job here.
Suddenly he's writing Shane out of his will and giving it all to Steph, even though that's the opposite of what's happening backstage. I know McMahon renouncing Shane, calling him an SOB, is all storyline, and something we love to see from the McMahon family, but it's been so long since they've been willing to go THERE, and willing to throw PG out the window to help get their company over, that I am still a bit shocked to see it. The problem I have with it is McMahon's delivery. He felt very stiff as if he was forcing an AE storyline through in an era he still thinks should be PG. We've seen the pendulum swing back and forth, and after Hogan ruling the roost for so long, the WWF had to break out of the cartoon characters. Now, after Cena ruling for so long, and being so corny PG, it's time for the pendulum to swing back, but McMahon isn't comfortable with it because he's not at risk of losing his family company to bleeping Turner.
Further, this whole thing is outside of Taker's character and, therefore, makes even less sense to me in the whole grand scheme of things. So much for continuity!
Jey vs Bubba Ray > D
I really didn't like this match, and I don't like the direction the Dudley Boyz are going right now. I think Bully Ray could be great, but this isn't Bully, or A&8s, this is watered down ECW, but with old guys who can go so much better than this. I thought Jimmy took the table well and sold it well, but beyond that, this match did nothing for me.
Winner – Bubba Ray
Backstage Segment > D
R-Truth sold this segment well, but not at all as I'd expect R-Truth to sell. He was too hard and not at all R-Truth. Hopefully, the thoughtful look just after Goldust left means something. I liked these segments because they were fun, this one wasn't fun at all, and kinda hurt my heart. I know that was the plan, but I still didn't like it.
KO vs Big Show > C
Why? This makes little sense to me, and the last person I want to see KO feuding with is Big Show. Now, Big Show in his prime against KO could have been epic, but Big Show isn't in his prime and is about to the point he needs one more solid run with a decent version of his character and then retire and be inducted into the HoF. It's just to that point. If he wants to stay around, I'd sure there's a lot he could do, but he's not getting the reaction he should be getting from the WWE Universe. Further, that this ended in a Count Out is strange. I know KO won that way last week, but it's still really odd to me. I'm not getting it, or where they're going with this.
Winner via Count Out – Big Show
Backstage Segment > B+
Brie is so much better on mic than Nikki, not saying she's great, but she's worlds better. I wrote that sentence before Lana showed up in the segment. So glad to see Lana back, and she sure does have a figure. As one who has been too heavy and too scrawny, all due to health issues, I'd rather be curvy and appreciate other women who work their killer curves instead of thinking they're fat because they have bodacious tatas and/or badonkadonks. I know certain cultures within the USA push for women to be stick thin, basically look like boys (sometimes with big fake boobs), so I like women who appreciate and work what they have, no matter what it is they might have.
Hearing Brie say that about Lana not stepping in the ring made me wondering how long it will be before Lana does step into a ring. Further, the comments about Rusev had me laughing aloud. Brie is usually more monotone on mic, but here she was interesting, insightful, and slammed Lana's love through the floor with only a couple comments. It's nice to see a back and forth segment between the Divas that actually works!
Brie vs Naomi > C
I expected so much more from this match. Brie is more solid in the ring than ever, and should have been able to look better working one on one with Naomi who is better in one on one matches. It felt shorter than it should have been for the two of them to look as good as they should, and can look in a WWE. So I'm calling out booking/creative for this match not being what it could have been.
Winner – Naomi
Backstage Segment > D-
Becky and Sasha are solid, and the banter felt real, but Charlotte and her daddy had to kill it for them. Ugh!
ADR vs Ambrose > A-&D+
Why was Ambrose lowered to face ADR? I know that League of Nations was Trip's hitmen, but the thought of Ambrose having to work with Superstars who care so little about what they do for the fans really pisses me off.
When Ambrose was 'hung up' on the barricade, 'hanging there' waiting for ADR to RIB stomp him, I saw exactly what the problem with the WWE and the Superstars really is. ADR was brought back to the WWE, even though he's an egotistical ass who thinks he's better than the rest of the roster, even though he phones it in more often than not, and doesn't really have an exciting move-set to go along with his horrible mic work. But then there's Ambrose who gives his everything at any moment that a fan might ever see him, and does it because he truly loves what he's doing. So ADR has Ambrose 'hanging' by his knees over the barricade, and takes his time getting what he needed to get in position to hit his exciting stomp, not taking anyone else into consideration. But then there's Ambrose who is using his hands to hold on for dear life in a most awkward position, trying to make everything look real, trying to sell, trying to do it all for the fans. Ambrose was obviously struggling, but ADR took his own sweet time to get everything together for himself. These two guys are in the main event together, even though one gives much less than his all, and the other one gives everything he can and looks for ways to do that much more, go the extra mile. The night Raw was snowed out in Connecticut, and Ambrose supposedly walked and hitchhiked from Jersey to get there, he went the extra mile to make himself look like he was freezing. It's obvious that he'd been standing outside for a long time to get the red cheeks, slightly runny nose, stiff hands, and watery eyes to sell that he was freezing. I can't think of anyone else on the roster that would go to that extent to prove his character, to do so much for the fans. Yet he's in the ring against ADR who should never have been brought back into the WWE in the first place and is getting paid way too much money to do less than most
I think it's obvious as to what grade is for who, and why. I get chills watching every little thing Ambrose does, and to be honest, it's hard to even notice ADR in this ring because Ambrose is so interesting and exciting to watch.
Winner via DQ – Ambrose
In Ring Segment > C+
We (WNW Raw Open Thread Discussion) were really hoping for some sort of swerve at the end of the night. Trip coming out had us all excited, and then all we got was this attack that wasn't anything to write home about. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't the type of beatdown that had us on the edge of our seats. We weren't watching with baited breath, wondering what was going to happen next, what would be broken, who would bleed and how. It was short and boring.
Ambrose brought it back in a way only Ambrose could by thanking Trip and getting totally beaten down. It was a little better, and Trip sold his ire well when he stopped on the ramp, look totally disgusted and then returned to destroy Ambrose, but it still wasn't quite what I'd been hoping for. The WWE is really missing the boat in so many ways, on so many levels, it's almost painful to watch some Mondays.
So many videos of the McMahon family issues from last week. They're skating off the one great segment, and it was one of the best we've seen in years, they've had and acting as though the rest of the show is up to par with those videos, but it wasn't. It's really time for the WWE to put up or shut up as this is the Road To WrestleMania, and I don't really give a flying fig. The other night my WWE Network subscription lapsed and I was without the Network for about 18 hours, and that's when I realized just how much I'm enjoying watching the older wrestling compared to much of what they're doing today. As bad as the McMahon/Helmsley Era was (and it really did suck), it was still so much better than most of what they're giving us these days, and they have an extra hour to make us love them that much more! Instead they're filling that hour with absolute schlock, and making everything that much worse.
I have to fully admit that I did the absolute opposite of what I should have done as a disgruntled WWE fan, as I bought merch during their T-shirt sale last night. I got a bunch of T-shirts for myself, some stickers, and something way marked down for my daughter's boyfriend that I know he will love. I know we should be showing the WWE how we feel with our cold hard cash, but it's rare that I can get the items I got for the price I paid. Things are at the worst, yet I was sucked in. I will try to stay strong from here on out.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Shane being on Raw next week will help things, but as they look right now, the WWE is going down the tubes and getting that much worse, something I never thought I'd see. Some of their storylines make TNA look brilliant, and that's almost physically painful for me to say. Keep your fingers crossed, as hardcore WWE fans, that's about as much as we can do right now.
Queen of WNW