Normally I start this by writing about my overall feelings for Raw, but Richard wrote about Raw already, and he hit on so many points, and wrote so specifically about the problems I also had with Raw, that I'm just going to link to his article here.
This week I'm being joined by WWENews.net writer Joshua Tucker. He specifically asked for a match, so I gave him free range to write what he wanted to. As per usual, his segment is set in italics.
In Ring Segment > A-
I was thrilled to see Ambrose to the ring, and blown away by his promo. Ambrose is one of the best characters on the roster, and that man plays his character to his tippie-tippies! Ever body part, even down to the tips of his fingers, are expressing something when he's working. Younger wrestlers coming up should be watching him closely for how to work their bodies and their characters. Too many forget that the camera is watching more than just their faces, and that they're on camera even when they're waiting for the other guy to speak, or waiting to tag into a match, and they lose their characters in those moments. Ambrose is stellar for staying in character, no matter what's going on.
Honestly, I thought that when Cena's music hit, he was going to come out, and they would decide to work together. I love that Ambrose wanted nothing to do with Cena, he was so focused on Rollins that he didn't even want help, he just wanted to take out Rollins. That's an unusual swerve, and something the WWE needs more of. Further, the way The Authority came out, but didn't really go anywhere was fantastic. They looked shocked, confused and disheveled by the whole thing, and it worked well. Finally something that didn't look so polished up that there was nothing wrong with any of it because it was all so overly scripted. This is what I've been begging for, some grit, something that doesn't look so overly polished that all the excitement has been removed and it's now only a boring snore-fest.
Backstage Segment > B
I had been wondering how long Orton was going to take Rollins being the golden boy and not complaining about it, but I have to admit that I didn't expect Kane to get whiny too. Honestly, I completely agree with their issues, and wondered if they might turn on him at some point soon if he didn't humble it down a bit, and stop leaving them to pick up after all of his messes. I do have to say that I like it. As a mother to teen sons, Rollins is doing exactly what they've done, acted like he knows everything, makes messes and expects other people to pick up after them. He's playing the golden boy character to a tee!
IC Title Match – Miz (c) vs Ziggler > D-
That grade is not for the match itself. It was really, really good. If it was just for the match the grade with be A-. However, it’s for the booking decisions surrounding the IC championship. In a time when the Intercontinental championship needs to be seen as extremely important, it is being tossed around like a hot potato showing that is even less important than ever. I have no problems with Dolph Ziggler being the champion. My problem is the fact they just took the title off him the night before only to turn around again and take the title off Miz just 24 hours after winning the title. How in the world can the title gain status when it is being treated like that? Now is when the title should be showcased and built with the world championship on the waist of a part timer that’s not going to be around a whole lot to put the show on his back and carry the ball. I know everyone was as ecstatic that Ziggler won the match but I wasn’t because 1) it continues the feud which has been awful and 2) it further makes the Intercontinental Championship look like it’s nothing more than the toy version that Damien Mizdow had over his shoulder at the start of the match. Right now the Intercontinental Championship is just a very expensive paperweight and that pisses me off more than anything else. Ultimately I feel they made a mistake here and should have just had Ziggler go over on Sunday and started a new feud on raw, maybe even with Sandow, than to trade the title back and forth like that.
Winner – Ziggler (13:00)
Bo vs Swagger > C+
I wasn't overly impressed with this match, but at least Bo didn't seriously botch anything this week. It's sad that I am looking at the lack of a major botch as a huge positive for a WWE Superstar's ring work. In the end, the best part of this, and what brought it up from just a C, was Zeb on mic after the match, mocking Bo.
Winner – Swagger (3:16)
Announce Segment > A
The WWE has really stepped up with their heart and condolences for friends of the WWE who have passed on. It was very sweet of them to talk about Eric Lynch, AKA Eric The Actor, from The Howard Stern Show. He will be missed. RIP
Summer Rae vs Nattie > C-
I know the reason I loathe Summer Rae so much is because she reminds me of my frenemy from high school, well before the term frenemy existed. Sadly that person's attitude is so much like the Summer Rae character that my hackles are raised each time she puts on that more beautiful and desirable than anyone else in this world. That being said, Summer Rae plays the character wonderfully, because I wouldn't hate her so much if she didn't. Beyond that, this match wasn't much to write home about. It wasn't bad, but it really wasn't very good either. There were some solid moves, but the match looked sloppy all the way around. I do have to say that this is a better role for Rosa, much better than actually putting her into wrestling matches!
Winner – Nattie (2:14)
Ambrose vs Kane > B+
I really enjoyed this match. Ambrose is so great in all he does, and Kane looked much better than he had these past couple weeks. I'd started getting worried about Kane, maybe that he'd recently lost it, and wasn't going to be able to put on the matches that this work horse had been giving us for so many years, but he's back and as solid as ever. Putting him in the ring with Ambrose further shows what a work horse Kane is – even in dress pants – and how absurd Ambrose is. Richard mentioned it earlier today, but I have to mention it again, because it's so true. Sunday night, during NoC, Jesse said that Ambrose is like Brian Pillman and Steve Austin rolled into one, and I think he perfectly nailed it on the head with that comment. I'm thrilled that Ambrose is back, hopefully they will continue to book him strongly and push him to the top of the card.
Winner – Ambrose via DQ (5:27)
Backstage Segment > B+
I love it when someone says exactly what we are all thinking. Steph said, "We ever throw someone out that didn't come back?" Trip should know that as he's one who was thrown out many times and always returned. Steph handled that well, and made that segment into something so much greater than it was.
Announce Segment > B
I feel horrible for Reigns. The hernia was from nothing he did, and he had no control over it. It's not like he went out and did something stupid and got injured in the process, and he was in so much pain that he had to call 911. This could screw up his year, and possibly his WrestleMania, as well as screwing up other storylines going forward. I hope he recovers fast, and isn't out for too long, but I understand how painful abdominal surgery can be, and how hard it can be to bounce back from. I feel for him.
I also have to address the over-the-top way that the WWE put the info out. I love Scott Stamford, but making this look like a serious newscast was just lame. I know it's WWE.com, but that was a bit much, even for them.
Usos & Sheamus vs Dusts & Cesaro > B+&F!
The Usos looked sick in this match, as if losing the TTCs really lit a fire under their asses. They looked absolutely fantastic in this match, as did the Dusts and Sheamus and Cesaro, but the ultimate booking of this match ticks me off. Why have the new WWE TTCs go under the people they beat the night before for the straps? I know WWE creative is trying to play cleanup each week, rather than giving us fresh and solid storylines, but this was just pathetic! Please, someone in the WWE needs to step up and show them how wrong things have become creatively. We know that each Raw after a PPV is wrought with rematches, but the outcome of this match was horrendous. Honestly, if it had been Cesaro that had been pinned, I wouldn't be half as annoyed, but Goldust taking the pinfall looked horrible, especially after the Usos were so strong in the ring.
The first grade is for the ring work, the second one is for creative and booking.
Winners – Sheamus & Usos (15:59)
Backstage Segment > C+
Rollins being demure? Something is going to go wrong. Honestly, I was wondering if they were going to have Rollins screw over Orton and Kane, even though there's nowhere for Rollins to go as he's already in the top heel faction in the company. Then again, WWE creative have been digging themselves in deeper and deeper each week with the daftest swerves and no way to get out of them. Honestly, Richard hit the nail on the head in his article about Raw and creative that he posted earlier today. The link is above, so I won't bother to add it in again.
In Ring Segment > B+
Looking at booking again, why did Henry loose at NoC? We're asking who is left to take out Brock Lesnar, but who is left to take out Rusev? If Henry, the strongest man in the world couldn't do it, then who can? Henry sold things well here, and really worked the crowd beautifully, stating that he deserved all the abuse and "What?" they wanted to give him, but he shouldn't have had to have, I think he should have beaten Rusev clean, or at least have the match end in DQ for some reason or other. While I'd love to give this a poor grade, the grade would be for creative, where as Henry deserves the strong grade for his mic work.
Rusev vs Henry > B
Not a great match for Henry, but honestly it was still better than most of Rusev's squash matches combined. Why this rematch was even booked made no sense to me. Henry was 'injured' at NoC, and while his pride wouldn't let him back down, there was no way he could have beaten Rusev after what he took the night before. If Henry needed to be humbled for some reason, this might make sense, but this is Henry we're talking about, he's nearing the end if his in-ring career, and while all storylines and feuds have their ups and downs, this seems a bit much for a man who has given so much to the WWE for so many years.
Winner – Rusev (7:27)
Rose & Bunny vs Slater & Gator > C+
So this is what the comedic match has turned into? I'd rather watch Santino drinking tea. I'd rather see El Torito. I'd rather see naked Mideon. I was hoping that things wouldn't go this way for Rose when he debuted, and I really hoped to see Slater go further after McIntyre and Mahal were released. Sadly Slater is in as bad a spot, if not worse than before. I will give props to whoever is in the bunny suit. Working inside that suit, between the head and the feet, has to be insanely hard, but he makes it look effortless. Isn't that one of the best things you can say about a wrestler? When they make the moves look effortless and easy shows that they are a master at what they do, and have spent a lot of time getting to that point. To me that shows a dedication that I don't see in certain other wrestlers. And yes, that's why I'm always so pissy about Ziggler's roots. If he can't be bothered to keep up with his character's look, why should we be bothered to care?
Winners – Rose & Bunny
In Ring Segment > F+
I honestly wonder if Bryan and Cena at all laugh about how bad their significant others are in these segments. As much as I love Stacy, I wouldn't be able to keep a straight face if he was this bad at something. Between Nikki's lack of inflection, and Brie's horrible 'upset' face, the two of them should not be working these segments. I'm shocked that the WWE didn't get them acting coaches. At this point I'm starting to wonder how these two got by in the WWE before their wrestling improved. I guess they just were a pair of pretty faces.
There are two really good thing about this feud, one is is the stiff way they work together, the other is that they're gritter than a lot of the WWE, which is too polished. I know I've been talking about how overly polished the WWE is these days, but watching a lot of the WWE Network I'm realizing how things used to be, and how most of the reality has been polished off everything they do. Since they're sisters, they can work harder than most Divas without worry of retribution, and they have been working stiff! I honestly am excited for when these two start working the ring as part of this feud, it should be a lot of fun.
AJ vs Nikki > B+
Two nights in a row that AJ took quite a lot of bumps, and sold them wonderfully. I always thought it was odd that AJ did so well against Divas who are bigger than her, and usually seemed to have the upper hand without issue, so this makes more sense. I love watching AJ work the ring, she's becoming more creative, and obviously thinking about how to get in and out of moves and holds. Her ring work is maturing, and reaching the level of her character work, and it's really rounding her out to be the face of the Divas Division. AJ might not be cut from the mold that VKM thinks what a Diva should be, but she's very obviously the top of the division, proving that a tiny little comic book and gamer geek can carry a the Divas Division. I like how the rest of the Divas are working the ring with her, and thought she brought Nikki's work up that much more at NoC, and in this match on Raw. My favorite moments were when AJ was thrown into Paige, and the way AJ used her positioning on the corner to lock on her black widow for the win. Normally I'm not overly thrilled with Paige on announce, but she sold it here. Her facial expressions and pissy demeanor worked really well, but when she didn't sit back down after AJ was thrown at her, the way she slightly paced and bitched, worked perfectly and continued to push her character along. Pairing Paige with AJ has helped her in a lot of ways, and as I keep saying, if things are done right, they could become their own versions of Trish and Lita, with continuing shifts between friendship and hatred, all the while being the most entertaining Divas on the roster. No one will ever be Trish and Lita, they were special in their own ways, but it's time another pair really step up and have a long-lasting relationship of love and hate that the fans want to watch as they grown and change through the years.
Winner – AJ (5:09)
Backstage Segment > B
When Trip checked on Ambrose, making sure he was still locked in the room, but didn't actually look in at him, I wondered what might be coming. Great foreshadowing, and wonderfully short.
Orton vs Cena > B+
Of course Rollins had to have a hand in causing the DQ, it seems to be his specialty this week! By the time he actually cashes in his MITB case, it's going to be a lumpy mess of crushed metal. I love that they do refresh the case, and let the dents tell the tale of the abuse it's been through, it adds a lot to the story that the case tells as the weapon for the MITB winner.
I really had no clue what their plans for the cinder blocks were, and if they'd be able to execute those plans on Cena. I also wondered what, if anything, was going to happen with Ambrose. They could have had him try to escape, or kept in lock-down from here on out, with him trying to escape each week and causing issues the whole time. There was many directions they could have gone with this, but I have to admit, and it might have been that I was so focused on writing everything as it happened, that I wasn't expecting Ambrose under that shroud. Now, I know I'm caught off guard more often than I normally would be, because writing everything as it happens, I don't have much of a chance to think ahead about what might be coming, other than during some commercials. I probably would have realized something was coming, and even wondered if Ambrose was under the shroud, but until that moment, I didn't think about it.
That they started the show with questions, and didn't go with the obvious of putting Ambrose and Cena together, but in the end they had to come together. I like how they went about it, because it wasn't the obvious joining of two faces to take out the evil bad guy. For that, I have to give creative a little pat on the back, but I'm holding back until I see where they go with this.
Winner – Cena via DQ (15:08)
Each new experience changes who we are as a person. As each new thing we do in our lives, each new thing we see on every episode of Raw changes how we view the product as a whole, and each wrestler individually. Personally, even though I have four children, they've all been acquired as I move through life. I've never spent any serious time with anyone under the age of two, and the two year old I did spend time with, I immediately set to potty training so I wouldn't have to change diapers. This week's episode of the RIB was harder to write than normal because I'm spending this week babysitting my dear friend's daughter Danielle. They just moved from our hometown, where we grew up and went to school together, to where I've been living for the past dozen years, and they're needing some help getting work and other things straightened out, and since I'm close and don't work a traditional job, I'm the one watching her. From just two days with Dani I have learned a lot. First off is that Richard is even more amazing man than I thought, that he juggles two babies at home and runs WNW just floors me! I have a greater appreciation for David Jr. who works at a daycare everyday and chases a bunch of little ones around all day everyday. But the biggest thing I learned is that babies are better at emoting and showing us what they're trying to tell us without using words than the Bellas are, and possibly the Bellas should go back to being in diapers, because they sure do whine more than Dani!
Queen of WNW
KB & Joshua