Going into this episode of Raw I was hoping for the best but worried that the WWE was going to drop the ball again. Sadly they didn't help much going forward other than Kevin Owens and the IC Championship match, which was great through every segment in this Raw. Then there's Ambrose getting the chainsaw, which leaves me in suspense for the next week, just waiting to see if they can top Funk and Foley. Honestly, about halfway through Raw I had written so much I knew I could just stay up and round out the rest of the RIB, but by the end I needed to get away from modern WWE and get back to Trip flipping out about the WWF Championship, and Foley as the Commissioner putting the screws to Trip at every corner, so I curled up in bed with the WWE Network and I feel so much better about wrestling as a whole, but not this Road To WrestleMania.
In Ring Segment > D
Steph looked the part, talked big, but wasn't impassioned or over-the-top like she needs to be more going into WrestleMania. Then there's Reigns who said the right things at first and got a bit of a pop for it, but beyond that and stopping Steph's slap, he was more blah than he needed to be for this segment to be little more than suck. Not the best way to start Raw two weeks out of WrestleMania. The only thing good about it was that it didn't last twenty minutes.
AJ vs Owens > A-
I expected a lot of flying early, but KO really slowed that down quite a bit. AJ looked to be a spot monkey in his 20s while KO looked like a monster in his 20s. Imagine what the WWE would have looked like if they'd actually gotten these two that young? But then KO slowed it all down again. I want to see these two go all out, leave it all out there. Finally, AJ came back with his high flying, looking great on KO. AJ got rather creative in the ring with KO, hitting moves I've not seen from him, but he's also been off most wrestling TV in the USA for a while, so maybe it's something he picked up in Japan.
KO is so hard hitting that I thought it might be over, but AJ is so quick and (mostly) on point when working with someone. Between AJ's fireman carry into the neck breaker (hope he doesn't catch crap for that move), and KO's frog splash, this match left me and the rest of the Open Thread Discussion thinking that there's no way the rest of Raw could live up to this ring work. KO and AJ always leave it all out there, but when they're in the ring with someone who has worked the industry in a similar way, they seem to shine that much more. This match has been magic all the way through.
The near-falls in this match have all been stunning. They put so much out there, and I knew Jericho would be costing AJ the match in some way, it's just the way things had to go for AJ at this point in his career in the WWE, and his feud with Jericho.
Winner – Owens
In Ring Segment > B
Ugh, Ziggler? Nothing against Ziggler, I just want to see Sami face KO at WrestleMania. Miz? Okay, I will get behind a Ladder Match for the IC, but they need Sami! And then out he came! I know Sami isn't the best talker (why he hid under a hood for so long), but he looked and sounded solid here. I love Sami Zayn! A Triple Threat Match is a good thing, but I still want a Ladder Match for the IC Championship at WrestleMania.
Backstage Segment > A
I know this wasn't really backstage, or, maybe it was, but no matter where it was, it was fantastic! I know certain people were upset that Funk handed off the chainsaw and not the branding iron, but Funk was more famous within the WWE for Chainsaw Charlie than the work he did before and after the WWE. They went with who the WWE Universe would know, and most would know the chainsaw, so I get it. Further, Ambrose couldn't have had as much quick fun with a branding iron than he could a chainsaw, and Ambrose had so much fun with that chainsaw! Ambrose was giddy, bemused, elated by that chainsaw and being able to trash that table with it.
The $54,000 question is, who will be handing Ambrose what iconic weapon. A lot of big names were bantered around, but either the name isn't in good standing with the WWE, or they didn't have an iconic weapon. The name that made the most sense was Tommy Dreamer, as he has a good relationship with the WWE, but what can he really bring to Ambrose? A kendo stick? And, if anyone was going to bring Ambrose a kendo stick, shouldn't it be Sandman? I don't think Abdulah The Butcher is on the best of terms with the WWE, but his fork would be very cool. There's Regal's brass knucks, and he's someone who doesn't get the respect I think he deserves, but I think that would make him anticlimactic to most. As much as I love me some Foley, and adore Dreamer, I think Al Snow bringing Head to Ambrose would be kinda epic, but last I knew he was still tied to TNA, sadly. The problem being that I cannot think of who could top Foley or Funk at this point. It's not like Austin was extremely hardcore and had a specific weapon. Trip has his sledge, but that's not going to happen anytime soon! Who is left? Come on, there has to be someone who has an idea. WAIT! What about E&C with a ladder? They're in close contact with the WWE, and it's quite the weapon. No, sorry, the ladder was supposed to belong to the Hardys, the tables to the Dudleys (which won't happen), and the chairs belonged to E&C. Arg! I feel as though I'm missing something right in front of me. Cornette's tennis racket? Goodness, I hope not! Foley back with Mr. Socko? Seems too obvious and contrived. How about Roberts with a bag of snakes? Honky Tonk Man and a guitar? Sure wouldn't be Jeff Jarrett and his guitar! Cowboy Bob Orton's cast? I'm still going to keep my hopes up that it's Al Snow with Head, but that's because I adore Snow. Ugh, this is going to drive me crazy for a week!
Backstage Segment > B+
KO with Steph was really cool. She was honest and impressed by KO, and he was very respectful of her and Trip. I really liked that, as KO could be great with The Authority.
Video > B+
I loved the reactions from Foley, Cena, Booker T, Jericho, etc was great. I didn't realize how much I missed Shane in the WWE. Watching WWE Network, I see a lot of him each day, but seeing Shane old, the way we've all aged, it feels right, and the right time for it. I don't normally comment on videos, but this one was so well executed and timely that I had to say something.
Backstage Segment > D
Twerking backstage? I should fail them, but I'm being kind.
In Ring Segment > F&B+
League of Nations were enough to put me to sleep, but then New Day came out and really ripped each of them a new one, and for very specific reasons. Rusev's feet? Fantastic! ADR not having Ricardo as his personal announcer. I missed Barrett, but that's not unusual, he's missed most of his career for injury. And then Shame-us. Gotta love the abuse New Day threw, and the fans did. Sadly League of Nations seemed to be clueless about how to handle the roasting.
Big E vs Rusev > B+
This was a solid match between two big guys, but the more fun was outside the ring. Rusev has held singles gold, and Big E should be WWE WHC someday, and the hard work the put into this match shows that they're no slouches, but I've never been a huge fan of the BIG guys in the ring together. It's a personal thing, and I understand that there's a lot of people (like VKM) who love this stuff. I'm just not one of them.
Big E's spear through the ropes was kinda amazing, but most of the rest of the match wasn't overly exciting. As I said, I've never been a huge fan of two big guys fighting it out in the ring, even though they really did work hard and give us so much. This is a personal preference. I know Big E can be more exciting than that, but Rusev seems to be a one-note pony, so Big E can only go so far, do so much, but I will say he went as far as he could with that spear.
Winner – Big E
Backstage Segment > D-
I'm really getting bored with The Wyatt Family in their backstage segments. There's nothing new, different, or exciting in them, and they make me roll my eyes at this point because we've seen all they can give in these segments.
In Ring Segment > B
I love Big Show, but I know so few do these days, so this segment of him talking about Andre didn't go far, or get any reaction. It came from his heart, but his heart has flipped so many times that the fans are over him.
I love the smile, the laugh, from Big Show during Social Outcasts on mic. Social Outcasts are great, but when Big Show called them Hashtaggin' Trolls had me about on the floor. Of course, it took weapons to take Big Show down, but it only took fire to get me marking out. I'm such a Kane fan that I can't not react when he comes to the ring. Anyone hasn't seen a pic of my youngest, Sam, wearing her Kane mask, let me know. Anyway, I'd go to a Tea Party rally if Glenn was talking, just to see him live. I'm a crazy fangirl for Kane, and even his political views haven't turned me off (though they've come close).
I love Bo with Kane, but I think it was how casual Big Show was with Kane before being tossed off the corner that I liked more. I know a lot of people kvetch about the Andre The Giant Battle Royal, but I think it's a great way for every Superstar possible to get a WrestleMania show bonus, so I will keep supporting it.
Jericho vs Fandango > B+
The Titantron was screwy for Jericho again this week. Rather than switching to Jericho, it was still on Fandango. It's great to see the local boy back on TV, even with Jericho yelling that Fandango didn't beat him at WrestleMania. I will say it's interesting how they showed that Jericho is that much more of a pro because he's been in the WWE since 1999. No, wait, showing how Jericho is that much more of a pro because he didn't get distracted by AJ on mic.
I love that they let AJ bring up facing Jericho at WrestleMania. AJ handled things well on mic here, quite well, but he was very focused on what he had to get across, and that one thing was huge – WrestleMania. The place AJ really screwed up was right at the end when he tried to get the chant going. He was too slow, so the fans didn't pick it up and run with it.
Winner – Jericho
Video > B+
HBK, Road Dogg, Pat Patterson, and so many others talking up Shane. They video showed Shane looked great going into this WrestleMania, but we won't have seen him in the ring in a decade, then he's going into an HIAC with Taker? This could be the most shocking match of the night, but without seeing more from Shane before then makes me worry that they cannot get the reaction he needs there. Further, this is an older Taker, a Taker who has lost at WrestleMania. Not saying I wish Shane ended the streak, as that would be the worst thing in the WWE, even worse than Brock Lesnar ending the streak, and I thought that was the worst thing that could happen at WrestleMania ever. It's time for things to change in the WWE, and bringing back Shane only to lose to Taker at WrestleMania is stupid. But putting Taker in this match with Shane to lose is also damn stupid. They might have booked themselves into a corner with this one.
IC Championship #1 Contender Triple Threat Match – Stardust vs Sin Cara vs Ryder > B
KO is so fantastic on mic, and really worked it here! He never said to Steph who was going to be in the match! Creativity at its best, shocking since this is the WWE I'm writing about. Further, I had troubles keeping track of the actual match because KO was on announce.
Miz is so uniformly orange that I wonder if he knows how funny he looks. I'm thrilled that Sami, Miz and Ziggler all came out and ended this match in DQ. Hopefully, this will lead to a solid WrestleMania match though they might run out of jobbers for the Andre The Giant Battle Royal.
One last thing I need to say about this match, and that it brought the grit I've been asking for. It wasn't a clean match-up, a clean match, or a clean ending. Not that I want to see a lot of these, but I do want to see feuds that make sense, and having the other three come to the ring and fight to be #1 Contender was fun and brought more people into this feud in a creative way. That the other three came out and got in KO's face, causing the end of the match is showing grit that's been missing for too long.
Backstage Segment > B
Steph doesn't feel safe because of Reigns? That's funny! So much for Steph's love for KO. Trying to go over Steph's head to Trip is something you never want to do. I've been calling for KO to be in an IC Championship Ladder Match for weeks now, so I'm thrilled though I'm not as thrilled about who is in the match. Honestly, I'd forgotten that the IC Championship was contested in a Ladder Match at WrestleMania last year, I was just dreaming about KO, Neville, and Sami facing off in a Ladder Match. Now that Neville is injured, he's out, so it makes sense to add these other guys. I'm excited to see, and really enjoyed the banter between KO and Steph. What had been so congenial earlier turned into such contention when they were both so cranky.
Backstage Segment > D-
Steph's screaming was a bit much. I'd have expected that from her fifteen, even ten years ago, but now? She's one tough bitch, and that's what I love about her, so screeching like a scared little lady doesn't suit her in the least. Further, the fight was so wimpy! What they did the week before was fantastic, and the way the garage door opened to show Reigns was great, but after that everything fell apart. It was a mess to the end where Trip jumped into the car on his knees. Reigns standing there the way he did looked great, but after such a wussy fight, it was too much show for not enough blow.
Nattie vs Charlotte > B+
The banter between Sasha and Becky on announce was as good, if not better than the ring work, and Nattie is a strong competitor! I'll even admit Nattie looked better than Charlotte through the first part of the match. Nattie was doing so well that out of the corner of my eye I thought she was facing Summer Rae, not Charlotte. Or, maybe I was trying to block out Flair at ringside and hoping it was Summer Rae. The outfit even looked more Summer Rae than Charlotte. Nattie's powerbomb on Charlotte was beautiful, showed her strength, and impressed the fans. But the sharpshooter was that much better!
I think I need to go back and watch their NXT match, the one that showed that the Divas are changing how things are being done, and the passing of the torches from Flair and Bret Hart to the Divas. Not saying this match was that good, but these two women are a couple of the best and are bringing their family names greatness, something that wouldn't have happened when these women were little girls. How times have changed!
Winner – Charlotte
Bubba Ray vs R-Truth > D
I knew this was all a set up for Goldust to save R-Truth. Of course, that's what this is all about. I have to admit I was shocked that the match ended before Goldust came out. Further, I was shocked that they took out Goldust and the Usos came out. I'm so bored by the Usos and the Dudleys at this point. How many different teams did the Dudleys work with when they came into the WWE? How many Divas went through tables? Terri, Mae Young, Fabulous Moolah, Lita, Torri, and Trish all went through in their first year with the WWE, yet they've done virtually nothing, this time, around, and it's not because of their age. Bubba Ray was seriously a great top guy in TNA not long ago, and while he was a big fish in a tiny pond, he still did right by being the top guy. WWE's Creative team sucks, and their use of teams has blown green goats for way too long.
Winner – Bubba Ray
In Ring Segment > D
Interesting how McMahon said that Shane winning would mean Steph and Trip would leave, and most likely McMahon as well. The fans really liked that. In fact, it was a louder reaction than most things have received from the Philly fans all night. McMahon talking the way he is, calling Taker his bitch, makes me wonder what swerves might be coming at WrestleMania. McMahon said that if Taker doesn't win, it will be his last WrestleMania. But if Shane's in control, then McMahon has no say in who is working WrestleMania. A bit of a plot hole here McMahon! Right, when the WWE thinks they know what they're doing and saying, the completely screw it up with a plot hole Austin can drive a beer truck through! It wasn't a horrid segment until McMahon went there and truly screwed it all up.
Ambrose vs Stowman > B-
I loved the looks between Ambrose and McMahon as they passed on the stage. And, I should love that Ambrose is in the main event, but it's against bloody Stowman, someone who is so new to the roster then he should be beating Ryder, not in the main event with Ambrose. I know Bray is healing up his back, but that would have been a much better match. Heck, Harper would have been a much better match. Harper has what it takes to be a top guy in the WWE, so why not push him in such a way? (Until he got injured in the dark match after Raw ended!). I get more and more frustrated with each episode of modern Raw, Smackdown, and the PPVs I watch. The creativity makes no sense, the plot holes are huge, and they cannot get on the same page with the fans. I love Ambrose and I should have been thrilled to see him in the main event, but this was a nothing match and wasn't even a tenth as interesting as the opening match that was so great. What a mess.
Winner via DQ – Stowman
I'm really confused by the direction the WWE is taking almost everything they're doing. Everything seems to be a bloody mess at this point, and we're less than two weeks out from WrestleMania. While I could understand if they want things to look so much better when Shane takes over Raw, but this is the bleeping Road To WrestleMania, and they should try to make it look decent! While I love Taker, fingers crossed that there's a big change coming down the pipe. A big change involving Sandow actually getting pushed!
Queen of WNW