The other night I was at Target shopping with Stacy and, of course, looking at the WWE action figures. A woman very pointedly went to that section of the toys to see what was there, and made sure her son didn't want Cesaro, also checked to make sure that it was Jey in the package, not Jimmy as they already have Jey. The boy was so obviously a HUGE WWE fan that I asked his mother if I could ask him a few questions about wrestling because I write about the WWE online. She looked at me as though I lost my mind, but said I could. Seth is ten years old and really impressed me with his love of the industry when he told me his favorite wrestler is Stone Cold Steve Austin, and his least favorite is Cody Rhodes. I get such a warped view of children as wrestling fans because Sam is too much of a smart fan living with me, but Seth warmed my heart by being an Austin fan, at such a young age.
Normally I stay away from mentioning the fans unless there's something specific that happened out there, but I have to mention that group of guys who made themselves heard through my TV last night. It's hard to say, but it felt like they were in the center on the TV side, and did all they could to get their chants going, and make sure they were heard by anyone.
Please be forewarned that I'm in a bit of a mood (not much, just a little), so this RIB is a bit less than the normal G rating. At WNW we try to keep the cussing out, and make sure everything is approachable for anyone who might be interested, but today I'm going to be a bit more PG than normal, maybe even PG-13, though I won't be writing anything here that I wouldn't say in front of Sam, and she's 11. That being said, I normally have a potty mouth, and Sam's heard much more than she should have in her eleven years.
In Ring Segment > D+
Possibly the best thing about this segment was seeing Cena in the Santa hat. Okay, Cena saying he wanted a Frozen Sing Along Play Set was cute too. Beyond that, bah, humbug!
I know this last episode of Raw before Christmas does nothing but keep the status quo, but this segment was a mixture of boring, old hat, and downright annoying! I know I've been complaining to anyone and everyone who would listen/read that I wasn't at all impressed with the WWE bringing in HoHoHogan. I know that Santa Foley was already booked for the night, but to bring in HoHoHogan was a mess in my book. Santa With Muscles, anyone? The only thing I was truly happy about in this segment was that HoHoHogan was fully dressed as Santa – even though he was having troubles keeping his pants up (and not the only one with that issue on Raw) – and not in the sleeveless look they'd been showing in the promos, or what he wore in that horrific movie.
I have two other little things to mention that bothered me here. I know they're working off each other, but Cena telling Rollins that he's putting the fans to sleep is only going to undermine Rollins and his character going forward. Yes, Rollins is one of the top stars climbing the ranks in the WWE, but those little comments can hurt him. There has to be another way for Cena to say the same thing without actually undermining a young Superstar who has really stepped it up. I'm sure Cena feels threatened, but he's also had one of the longest runs at the top and needs to remember that the WWE 'Universe' won't always rise and set in his ass. The last thing being, where was Heyman? Stacy hasn't been watching Raw as closely going into the holidays because he takes the times I'm writing to get other things done. But he questioned why Rollins was out there without Heyman. I agree with him. They made this big thing of Rollins aligning himself with Heyman, and now he's out without Heyman on the very next Raw. What type of daft booking is this?
Cena vs Rollins > B+
Compared to the opening segment, this was worlds better. They worked that ring hard, and even got some "This is Awesome!" chants from that specific group of guys who made themselves heard Monday night. They were right, parts of this match were fantastic. It was nice to see someone stopping Super Cena at every turn, or at least at most of them. Rollins really does bring out some of the best in Cena in the ring. It's like he's fighting harder because he feels threatened. Not saying Cena doesn't always leave it out there, but with someone like Rollins, Cena cannot be five moves of doom.
I understand that Cena won because Rollins won last week, the problem I have with this is that Rollins needed J&J Security, Brock Lesnar, and Paul Heyman to win last week, yet Cena won despite J&J Security this week. Way to look a raising Superstar look terribly weak going forward. At this point Rollins is all bluster and no bite.
Winner – Cena (15:54)
Backstage Segment > C
What was the purpose behind Kane coming up to the Christmas set backstage and simply saying "Bah humbug!"? To me it was daft, disconnected, and left me waiting at each commercial for someone else to do something, or Kane to return to say more. While Kane is cute in all he does (except politically, but this is not the place for me to address Glen Jacobs' political work and views), this would have been the perfect time to re-mask him. Even further, why not re-mask him in a new mask that doesn't continue to destroy the bridge of his nose the way the one he's most recently worn does.
Swagger vs Fandango > Q-!
Whose Cheerios did Swagger piss in? Swagger went from almost beating Rusev, to being unceremoniously pushed aside for Ryback to go after Rusev, which I still don't understand, and now he's being fed to a bloody rehashed Fandango who's lost all of his momentum? I'll get back to Fandango! Swagger was someone I wanted to see gone from the WWE. He had an ego bigger than Ryback's, he got arrested on the Road To WrestleMania, and then appeared to work stiff against Ziggler when he didn't get the outcome he wanted, in the end concussing Ziggler. He was absolutely on my shit list. But putting Swagger with Zeb seemed to slowly change him. Zeb took Swagger's lack of discernible personality, and utter lack of charisma, and was his mouthpiece in a controversial storyline (still hoping to talk to RJ Brewer about his storyline being hijacked by the WWE). Swagger got over as a heel, and it was his growing charisma that turned his character face with the fans. Swagger has turned into someone who seems to be willing to put the company and fans ahead of his own needs, and has turned into someone I root for because of this. He's made great strides in less than a year, and I've been excited to see where Swagger could go. Since Angle will not be returning to the WWE anytime soon, and the last person I want to see in the ring with anyone is Hogan, it should be Swagger to defeat Rusev. Swagger was so close at TLC, and it didn't feel like a blow off to the feud, yet now Swagger is jobbing to fricken Fandango? Again, whose Cheerios did Swagger piss in to end up in this hole, yet again?
Don't get me wrong, I am Fandango's biggest supporter. Okay, maybe not as big as Sam, and even she's disgusted with his character turn! Anyway, I was all for the local boy making good, and even more excited for him after interviewing Cousin Larry (Larry Huntley) about Fandango's start in the ring as a scrawny teenager. The WWE dumped serious money into Fandango and his character, then they took away all that was good, and they expect him to succeed? This is insanity! You know the definition of insanity, right? Doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. They're screwing up Fandango in a huge way just to get Rosa and Total Divas over. I'm so disgusted! Further, Fandango had his signature left leg drop, but won this match with a right leg drop? Is this bizarre-o world?
I thought an F- was too high of a grade for this debacle. I question everything they did here, so it got a Q-!
Winner – Fandango (2:04)
Backstage Segment > B+
I loves me some Dolph Ziggler. The man has been working with the WWE since the end of the AE. He's been with the WWE for ten years, starting as Kerwin White's caddy (Chavo Guerrero), and is barely recognizable as Nicky from Spirit Squad. He's also the only one remaining from SS, and so many thought it would be Kenny (Doane) who would make it big. Ken was the only one to remain on TV after the group was "shipped" back to OVW, and it seemed as though his relationship with Mickie James killed that! (But I won't go off on my Mickie James rant here.) But then Ziggler returned introducing himself to everyone. Between catching our attention, getting a Wellness Violation, and his loose lips sinking his ship too many times, it seems as though Ziggy-poof is finally on the path so many of us have been wishing for him for years. While his past ten years in the WWE haven't been as kind to Ziggler as they have been to Cena, I find Ziggler more creative and interesting than the cookie cutter Cena has turned into, and it seems as though Ziggler has finally learned to be a team player and a company man, something Cena's done from day one.
All that said, I'm thrilled for Ziggler and the direction his career is taking, but I am going to voice one note of worry. During the Slammy Awards Ziggler struck me with his endearing openness and touching beauty in how he spoke to Steamboat off mic, and how he spoke to the fans on. He was poigniant, and really left me with the feels. It was perfectly timed for Ziggler's career, but in this segment it felt almost a bit too sweet. He didn't quite feel corny, and it might just be the holidays, but I worry that the Showoff might end up too sweet and nice, too much like the parts of Cena that make us chant, "Cena sucks!" I'm just hoping they don't go too far in that direction with Ziggler's character as he's going into what could be the push of his career.
Rose vs R-Truth > D+
Yes, they're riding Rose so hard that he completely snaps, as he seemed to do here, but this was a throwaway Raw, so I'm sure there's something bigger and darker coming. It's more than time Rose turn heel on the Exotic Express and the Bunny, and show us what he's really made of. McMahon might be a genius, but sometimes his ideas are sophomoronic at best. It's time Rose show his merciless side, and we find out who the Bunny 'really' is.
Winner – R-Truth (0:54)
Big Show vs Reigns > B
This wasn't too bad. I honestly wasn't expecting a fantastic match as Reigns is still a bit green working the ring himself, and Big Show isn't as you and spry as he used to be. If this was anything other than a throwaway show, I'd have been pissy about Reigns not winning clean, but this show was what it was, and the way Reigns won wasn't as horrible as him losing the match all together. Only time will tell where they go with Reigns. He's progressed a lot, very quickly, but he still has a long way too go. Honestly, I'm just really enjoying watching him mature into a Superstar.
Winner – Reigns via Count Out (4:22)
Backstage Segment > B+
I've enjoyed Renee more and more as she's settled in backstage. She's the best interviewer they have on Raw and Smackdown, and I'm excited for her future. Renee works well with everyone, but it was sweet to see how Ambrose wished her a happy holidays at the end of this. I thought I'd read that they were dating, and Jesse confirmed it for me. I'd almost say he broke kayfabe, but he's the Lunatic Fringe, so no matter what he does, it's in character!
Nattie vs Brie > D-
Ugh! What is it about Nattie recently? She really seems to be off her game. Maybe she's selling TJ's distraction outside the ring, but even when she's not actively trying selling the distraction, she seems off her game. And while Brie is leaps and bounds better than she used to be, and she looked more on her mark than Nattie, she also didn't seem quite as good as I know her to have become. Basically another clusterfluffle of a match for the Total Divas. As I said last week, I'm done giving the Divas a pass, and I'm grading them according to what the should be doing, not compared to what they have been doing.
Winner – Nattie (3:16)
Stardust & Goldust vs Los Matadores & El Torito > C-
Another cruddy match. While I was thrilled to see more matches and less talking, being that they weren't going to push storylines at all when they figure most of the fans are too busy with the holidays, too many of the matches they packed into Raw were short and did nothing to show any real skill or entertainment. Yes, El Torito as Rudolph was cute, and he can work that ring against almost anyone, it wasn't enough to help carry a match that was short and mostly useless. The Rhodes brothers are better than this match.
Winners – Los Matadores & El Torito (3:34)
Backstage Segment > C+
Nice to see Harper getting a bit of mic time. He wasn't as strong as he was when he was running with Bray, but it's been a bit and he needs to re-develop his character. I know he has the skills, so I'm not worried about one segment that wasn't incredibly strong.
IC Championship Match – Ziggler (c) vs Harper > A-
Ziggler took a beating and kept on fighting back. It's interesting to see how Ziggler can get beaten down, but come back in a flurry of moves at the end, but doesn't come off like Super Ziggler in the process. Harper very obviously had the upper hand through most of this match, starting quite a bit before the bell rang, but Ziggler stuck in it, worked his butt off, and in the end was able to take down Harper, retain his IC Championship, and tell a great story in under twelve minutes. This was one of the three matches on Raw that lasted longer than ten minutes, and the two men gave us everything they had, as they do every time they're in the ring.
It's been a while since an announcer entered the ring after a match for a short interview, but this was a great time, and Ziggler was the perfect person. Again, still a bit worried about him being too much of a good guy, but it's working for right now.
Winner – Ziggler (11:48)
Piper's Pit! > B+
I have to say that Piper looked physically so much than he had the past couple times he'd been on Raw. Previously he'd looked quite frail, and fled the ring quickly to stay out of the way of any action, for fear of any bumps. Honestly, just thinking about Piper and bumps I go back to Raw in the UK on November 16, 2006 when Piper was terribly ill, but didn't want to just drop the TTCs he held with Flair. He was in incredible pain, thinking it was kidney stones, or possible disk issues, but still went to the ring. (I've had Crohn's disease and numerous major surgeries, but kidney stones is a whole other level of pain, so I don't know how he made it to the ring thinking it was kidney stones.) Piper took a couple of wimpy chair shots from Edge, then a one man con-chair-to ringside. Flair then worked the match and lost the straps to Rated RKO. It was later realized that Piper wasn't having issues with kidney stones, or disks, but cancer. That Piper was in that much pain, but wasn't about to drop the straps in any other way than in a match, shows me the type of man he still is. That he had been fleeing to stay out of the way of bumps had me quite upset there for a while, but he looked so much physically healthier last night, and that makes me feel that much better.
Where Piper seemed a little off was that he wasn't as quick on the uptake. He seemed slower to come out with a quip, and less sure of his mic work. His eyes still looked strong, stronger than they have in a while, but he just didn't come off as quick as he used to. Then again, he also didn't come off as half drunk as he was known to appear much of the time. We all slow down, and Piper hasn't been in the Piper's Pit on a regular basis in a very long time, and he is 60 years old. Further, he's 60 years old after working as a wrestler for so many years when we didn't know what head injuries could do to someone. That he's doing as well as he is should be heralded.
I have to say that Lana has worked the ring with some of the biggest names in the industry as Rusev's valet and mouthpiece! She's in an envious role, and continues to end up with some of the industry greats. She's been in the ring with many of today's Superstars, but she's also worked the mic against Sgt. Slaughter, Jericho, The Rock, and then Piper here. All of these big names in the past two months, and that's not including Dutch Mantell She not only sells the gimmick, but she works the mic against all of the biggest stars, and doesn't look at all starstruck while she's doing it.
Ryback with the bow was a bit goofy, but it worked for what it was for.
Santas Helpers Divas Match – Fox & Emma & Naomi vs Cameron & Summer Rae & Paige > B-&B+
I ripped on Nattie's match with Brie earlier in the show, but this match was quite different. I cannot say much good about Summer Rae or Cameron, other than Cameron took some solid bumps from Naomi. Emma took the majority of the abuse in the start of the match. The fans chanted for and loved Paige, even though this wasn't her best match. Naomi hit at least three moves I've never seen from her before, and again proved why she should be Divas Champion, no questions asked. Then there's that new finisher from Fox. Okay, maybe she's done it before and I've missed it, and maybe it was Cameron's sloppiness setting up for the finisher that really caught my attention, but Fox actually made it look great, and not like she was going to rip Cameron's face off in the process.
The first grade is for the actual match, as much of it was solid, other than Cameron and Summer Rae, but it was Paige being the solid spazz she is, Naomi's stellar ring work, and Fox's finisher that earned the B+! It's more than time we see a real feud, between real female wrestlers who are willing to go out there and really kick each others asses, for the actual strap. I'd prefer it wasn't something with a pink and purple butterfly on it, like some sort of tampon box, but that's McMahon for you!
Winners – Naomi & Fox & Emma (4:17)
Miz vs Jey > B
At least it wasn't Rikishi's ass that was bared to the world? Wait, Rikishi's ass has been bared to the world way too many times through the years. Actually, the last couple times I saw him live, he was wearing spandex to his knees and looking great. Anyway, I wasn't blown away by Miz's match, but it's hard to be with Mizdow selling every little bit of it outside the ring, better than Miz is selling it in the ring! I'm just waiting for Sandow to have enough of Miz, setting up for Miz to be flattened at WrestleMania. I'm expecting Sandow to get one of the biggest pops of the night at WrestleMania after this build.
Jesse was a couple minutes ahead of me – though with all these matches I managed to catch up quite well from the opening segment, then again after Piper's Pit, and ended up at 11:08 at only 38 seconds behind – so he sent me a message that Jey would be losing his shorts, and that it would be censored. Of course, I was a couple minutes behind here, so I was expecting Jey's shorts to actually hit the floor somehow. I laughed when the whole screen went black because Miz pulled tights, only to bare Jey's ass to the world. The best I can say for Jey is that at least it wasn't full frontal, and was on a night that many fans were out rushing around for last minute gifts, or maybe partying with others and not watching Raw alone like the rest of us.
Winner – Miz (3:30)
In Ring Segment > C-
I've been saying for a while that Bray's mic segments have been going downhill and the fans are not really impressed. This segment perfectly showed that. It's fun to pull out your phone and be a part of Bray's thousands of fireflies, but listening to him ramble, and he's getting harder to understand, the most excitement the fans were getting was flashing back to Austin and his infamous "What?" Beyond listening to the fans mock Bray, this segment was a mess. They were chanting, "We want Ambrose!" before Ambrose's music even started and Bray was still trying to bask in his glory. Oops!
I'm always talking about characters evolving, and how Bray's career will be great if he's able to continually reinvent himself, grow and change before he gets boring. Personally it's time for Sister Abigail to be added into the mix. I think the Road to WrestleMania is the great time to bring Kia Stevens (Awesome Kong, Kharma) back to the WWE, and possibly a great role for her. While Kong never spoke, Kia is extremely well spoken, and could do amazing things in this role.
Miracle On 34th Street Fight – Ambrose vs Wyatt > A
This, on the other hand, is where Bray is excelling. Putting Bray in the ring with Ambrose, especially in a gimmick match. I'm normally against gimmick matches, except certain people can take a gimmick and make it into something fantastic! Look at Razor and HBK in that first Ladder Match, the TLC Matches between the Dudleys, the Hardys, and E&C, almost any HIAC with Taker, especially the one with Taker and Foley. They're all great matches because of what they were and the people who were in them. All of those men gave great matches with each others, but those gimmick matches were all something truly extra special.
These two guys left it all out there, used the weapons creatively, and gave us all they had. Ambrose opening that monitor, then deciding not to use it after that happened at TLC was just fantastic. It was also great when the fans were chanting for, "One more tree!" so Bray sent Ambrose into the final Christmas tree ringside. There were a lot of great moves in this match, and they did everything they could for us in the longest match of the night, but there's one moment that shows me so much more than every move they hit, and every bump they took, and it was after the match. Ambrose got back at Bray for Bray's win by putting Bray through a table, using his own body to do so. After they were both on the floor, laying on a pile of broken table pieces, Ambrose was very obviously in pain from what he had gone through, but he was also giddy. Ambrose was all smiles because he's the Lunatic Fringe, but even more because he knew that match with Bray stole the show. A mixture of pain and happiness, but he should be proud, because he's proving himself and taking himself to the next level through all he does.
Winner – Bray (21:25)
I had Jesse run the numbers for this show, and wasn't surprised that there was 71:40 in matches, the problem was that there were ten matches in that time. One was sixteen minutes, another about twelve, and the main event over twenty-one minutes. That means that seven of the matches were worked in just over twenty minutes. That's piss poor time management in my book. Honestly, they could have gone with fewer matches that were actually meaningful, instead of cramming a boatload of shit into the show. I know they didn't want to advance any storylines, but the fans do react to great wrestling quality over wrestling quantity. That's why I watch so much of the WWE Network, I'm looking for good work, not an overload of BS without meaning.
I hope everyone is having a great holiday season, no matter what it is you celebrate, but most importantly, surround yourself with those you love, and call those you're unable to get close enough to hug.
Queen of WNW