I missed Raw on Monday night because I had been under anesthesia for testing earlier in the day and needed to sleep it off. I'm fine, everything came out as expected. That means I'm watching Raw on my DVR, but I'm typing the RIB as I watch, so it's basically going to be the same as I write during the live viewing, as I've not seen spoilers, and I'm giving my reactions as I go along. Now, I am writing this part during a commercial, and I've already hit on a couple of rants, so please don't think I'm reviewing and writing, this is all flowing out as I watch Raw the first time through. I think my first reaction to the show is most honest and therefore gives the best RIB. I hope you enjoy!
Video > A-
Normally I love to trash Raw for starting with a recap video, especially when it's a PPV recap video, but with everything that went down in the main event at Payback truly set up for everything to come in the coming weeks of Raw. Raw is usually best when led by a heel unless that heel becomes too powerful. McMahon needed Stone Cold Steve Austin to temper his power. The McMahon/Helmsley Era needed Foley to come in as the Commissioner. Bischoff needed Stone Cold Steve Austin as the Sheriff. The list can go on and on. Recently The Authority has been destroying all that's good in the WWE, and the shows have been severely suffering for it, so an injection of Shane is truly needed to save the business as a whole. Yes, he left, but his return was needed, and while I'm willing to bet that family relations are strained right now, especially since Paul Levesque did one of the best things ever for the WWE (besides DX and pulling the WWF out of the hell WCW was driving them into), was create NXT. We all know that McMahon isn't happy with Paul's success with NXT, especially since the following could break WWE's, but Paul did that and has more than proven that he's a force to be reckoned with within the company, but he cannot do everything, and neither can Steph. Even when McMahon was running the WWE himself, he would gather his cohorts around the pool in Connecticut and discuss storylines, pushes, and visions of the future. Well, McMahon has lost a lot of the insight he did have, and that's because the future is online and he's not grasping that. Luckily his children are, and while I really thought that Paul and Steph could do it all, it's obvious that they cannot, and they need Shane in there to balance their vision and push forward, as well as help buffer with McMahon who is so set against any of Paul's NXT wrestlers getting to the top of the WWE.
All that being said, I love the way the main event was handled at Payback was handled, even though they claimed that they were doing this for the new era of the WWE, yet it's so Attitude Era in the way it was handled. Some people hated it, but I loved it because it pushed AJ and Reigns to work harder and show that Reigns can work, and AJ is strong, even if in the ring with a larger guy like Reigns. Some say it was over-booked, I say that the excitement built to a crescendo, and we didn't end up with a badly created DQ mess like too many PPVs have ended since the WWE Network. For me this was a huge step up to solid booking and the creative team couldn't get away with another lazy ending. That's also why I liked this opening video, it set up for things going forward, and hopefully things will continue to look up for Raw, the WWE, and for the diehard fans who complain no matter what, but will always tune in. It's time for a new era of wrestling for the fans to truly come back and love the product the way we used to, not just tuning in because we wish things were as great as they one were. And, remember, not everything in the AE was great, we always look back at it with rose colored glasses. That being said, it still was a lot better than the chaff they've been trying to feed us the past couple years.
In Ring Segment > B+
Steph has gotten so much better as a character, on mic, and even the way she moves in the past fifteen years, and the way she walked to the ring showed that in a huge way. She can also work a crowd so much better than ever, and the chemistry with her brother is just fantastic. They've had such an interesting relationship on camera through the years, love and hate, but because they're sibs, they have chemistry that few others can give us. The picture of Shane with McMahon was just darling. It makes me think of that pic of Steph with Andre from WrestleMania (the first one).
Nothing like taking chemistry and adding that much more with Owens. That man is gold on mic, and should be going after the WWE WHC, not the IC Championship, and I know I'm not alone in this. I also wonder about the WWE using the James Bond circle of light. If they're not using it legally, it could get ugly. That being said, I'd be shocked if they aren't using it legally, but I didn't think the people beyond Bond let others use that so freely.
Shane is right about things being taken care of in the ring, and it was great that the In Ring Segment didn't take a Trip twenty. I've been watching so much WWF on the WWE Network, and it seems as though those opening segments only get longer and longer. Heck, it seems like all talking segments are getting longer, and I think that's because most of the segments are talking, rather than the vignettes and skits they used to do between matches. Just this morning Stacy asked me where the twenty-minute speech between the matches went. He loved that Steph was covered in beer on Raw, then mustard on SmackDown, and then had her top pulled off in the ring later on SmackDown. The storyline moved forward, used a quarter of the time, made sense, was fun, and didn't bore us with endless yammering. I told him that a big part of it was that creative was really on the ball, these Superstars were actors as well as wrestlers (though KO and Cesaro are great actors as well as wrestlers), and Raw was only a two-hour show! Having so much time has really hurt Raw in a tremendous way, and I still feel they need to go back to two hours.
Owens vs Cesaro > A-
Putting Kevin Steen and Claudio Castagnoli in the ring together is always a fantastic plan. Wait, what? This isn't ROH? They are in a WWE ring and killing it? A few years ago I'd have said this would never have happened, but now, I'm so excited to see these indie guys in the ring on Raw every week. Now what they need to do is actually push these guys to the level they should be. The level these two, and so many other indie wrestlers who have become Superstars haven't been pushed as hard as they should because they weren't built by McMahon, and that's an issue I have with the present day direction – or where it had been. These guys are as good, if not much better than some of the top guys in the WWE (especially Reigns). Yes, Rollins got the push, and AJ is right up there, but there's so many more who are as great and deserve to show what they can do within the WWE.
I was annoyed that Miz was on announce as it was obviously going to end in a DQ, but when Sami Zayn came out to join the fray, I was thrilled. Sami is another on that list of indie guys who I adore so much. Looking at the IC right now, this could be a lot of fun. Fatal Four Way coming soon? The fans in attendance sure thought it was a great idea when Sami picked up and held the strap.
Backstage Segment > A
Steph with Ambrose was fantastic. I can see Ambrose going all Stone Cold Steve Austin on Steph soon, and I cannot wait to see it! Open forum on Steph? Ambrose Asylum is going to be so much fun tonight! But even more than that, Ambrose's facial expressions are brilliant. Yes, some were behind Steph's back, but the ones she saw, she so obviously couldn't read into. I love that her character is supposed to be such a successful businesswoman, but cannot read people in any way, something that's of incredible importance in business.
Backstage Segment > B
I love R-Truth's selfie branch! And Dingle-Dust? Too funny! Sorry, around my house we refer to the local boy as Dingle, as Fandango is a place to check for movies. Personally, I loved this segment, and I cannot wait to see where they go with these two funny teams. Maybe not as Champs, but at least for entertainment, something we can use right about now.
Backstage Segment > B-
AJ was solid on mic here when talking to Anderson and Gallows, and decent facing Reigns. He seems to be getting a push on mic and stepping up to it. He's so much better than he was in that Dixie-led travesty.
Goldust vs Breeze > C
Breeze looks so much like he's Ziggler' brother that I have troubles taking him at all seriously. He just seems too silly to demand any respect. But it was Goldust who was too silly in this match. He couldn't keep his mind in the game, but that's Goldy for you. I love his work, and he's looking great lately, so I'm loving the silliness. That being said, this was only average silliness, so not really high up on my charts. Goldust and R-Truth were solid, but the other two bored me.
Winner – Breeze
In Ring Segment > B+
I give New Day huge props for talking about Enzo, showing the injury, saying that all the tests were clear, other than a concussion. While a concussion isn't good, compared to what we saw happen to his body, a concussion isn't terrible. I was wondering if he was going to live through the night at some points. The tweet of Enzo out of the hospital was also great to see. New Day did right by Enzo in a huge way, and it's great to see them showing such support.
Vaudevillains are heels, and they played it up really well on mic here! English has a lovely voice, and I wasn't expecting that! Gotch has a lisp! Seems like there's a lot of lisps in the WWE, and he's not bad on mic with it. Dusty paved the way for lisps.
Bubba Ray came off as too much of a face in this segment, but it made sense after what happened at Payback. He did a great job getting up in the Vaudevillains' faces.
Simon and Garfunkle, call Mrs. Robinson and say you'll be late for dinnuh! Cass is fantastic on mic! His pop culture references, and calling out Bubba Ray's stuttering from 1999 was hysterical! (His Hey Arnold comments at Payback had us all in the Open Thread Discussion on a nostalgia fix, until Enzo was hurt.) But, as soon as he came out, I saw that there would be an eight man tag match coming about.
Vaudevillains & Dudley Boyz vs New Day & Cass > B+
As I said, this one was obvious, and I knew he'd want to get into the ring with Gotch after Enzo was injured, but this is a business, and he didn't take out any extra ire on the much smaller man. Of course, as is expected, Wood was outside with his trombone, even though he was actually in this match. Speaking of which, this RIB might be later than I'd like because I get to go to the Spring Concert at the middle school to see Sam play her trumpet with the rest of the band. At least there won't be any recorders this year!
Normally I try to ignore JBL on announce, but him laughing about a bar fight with the Dudleys and not knowing if it was taped or not. He was talking about D-Von and a beer tab. And then Botch Kingston landed a drop kick right to D-Von's face. Some look good, some look like crap, and some so obviously land on the wrestler's face. This was another Kofi crap move.
I have to admit that I love the issues between the heel teams. Not wanting to tag the other team in made for much crankiness there, and a more interesting story within the match, but didn't make the match that much better. In all honesty, I'd love to see Cass working against either member of Vaudevillains to get some retribution for Enzo, but maybe they will go there on SmackDown. When the heels got on the same page, they did well against New Day, but once Cass was in, he was all over the Vaudevillains. English took much abuse, and looked great taking the bumps. I wanted to see how Cass would take a Bubba bomb, but he took out D-Von to end things and it looked great. I was going to give this match a B until Cass tagged in. he's a great big guy who really looks fantastic in the ring. I don't like to look at the WWE like McMahon, but Cass is a force to be reckoned with.
Winners – New Day & Cass!
Announce Segment > F!
I wasn't going to comment on this segment until they got to Lil Naitch in WCW. What a bloody mess the Women's Championship Match was at Payback, and I'm disgusted that Bret was brought back for that shit.
Becky Lynch vs Emma > C-
Wow, I don't know if it was me, but Emma seemed really floppy and off her mark. I wanted to love this match, but I really didn't. I know Emma is better than this match, but this wasn't a good showing for her, and because
Winner – Emma
Ambrose Asylum > B+
Ambrose calling Steph a boiling pot of woman rage was great! I think that can be used to describe me during most episodes of Raw over the past couple years. But, Ambrose isn't buying that Steph is all of a sudden nice and happy with everything – from being speared by Reigns at WrestleMania to Shane returning after seven years. Ambrose really did a great job of getting under Steph's skin, pushing all her buttons, trying to make her crack. I have to say, it must be hard for her personally as well. Yes, they're pushing her character, but personally it has to be hurting as well. I wonder how much she's able to compartmentalize and keep her personal feelings out of her professional life.
So much for another match not meaning anything with Jericho getting the Highlight Reel back on Raw. Some of the punches from Ambrose looked weak, but he is working with someone who's not as used to working the ring day in and day out lately.
Poor Mitch! He did nothing to deserve being used as a weapon! Yes, I'm adverse to cutting down trees for our own personal enjoyment at Christmas, and I get rose bushes from Stacy for my rose garden, rather than cut flowers for any given reason. I do have issue with Mitch being treated that way.
#1 Contender Battle Royal > D+
They give O'Neil his own entrance! Nice to see he's back from his totally BS suspension. Also great to see Kalisto on announce for this Battle Royal, as he should be on Raw more often as a strap wearing Champ! Now, if only Sandow was in the ring for this match! I was shocked to see Corbin eliminated! I thought he had a reach chance in this one, especially since he had a televised entrance. I also wasn't thrilled that there was a long set of commercials in the middle of the match.
I was thrilled that Kalisto was on announce, but then he wasn't very chatty. I had higher hopes for Kalisto on announce, but he fell flat. And speaking of falling flat, Sin Cara seemed to be holding his knee as he hit the floor. I truly hope he's not dealing with the curse of Sin Cara, because he's so much better than the original.
I had wondered if League of Nations was going to come together when it was down to them and Ryder, but they impressed me by not swerving back together. I was shocked that Ryder lasted until the end, but I didn't think there was any way Ryder would win this. It makes a lot of sense to send Rusev back into the US Title mix with Lana at his side. I feel bad for Kalisto going forward. Lastly, I have to admit that I avoid much social media, but I do follow a few friends and Superstars on Instagram, and Lana is one of my favorites to follow because she shows such beautiful pictures of herself. She's stunningly beautiful.
Winner – Rusev
In Ring Segment > B
Some women shouldn't wear extremely thick false eyelashes, and Charlotte is one of them. She has beautiful blue eyes, but under that thick layer of fake lashes, they're almost hiding. Charlotte thinks she's the Queen? Sorry, that spot is reserved for Sharmell and myself! Honestly, I'd hoped that we'd never be reminded about the Lil Naitch thing again, but here we are. I know they like to recycle storylines, while hoping we forget what they want us to forget. And honestly, I'd have forgotten if not for the WWE Network!
The best part of this segment was Nattie and how she didn't take anything from either Flair. Almost better than the sharpshooter was Nattie with Flair's biscuit and HoF ring. The other great thing was Nattie's ring gear, few women could pull that off and look that amazing. She deserves that strap, and I hope she gets it soon. The only reason I didn't fail this was for Nattie.
Backstage Segment > B+
Submission Match at Extreme Rules? I love that the female Superstars are being booked in matches that require strength, skill, and serious work. Even better is Steph banning Flair from ringside. That's not Steph being The Authority heel. Interesting that she's the one who set that up. The best was her trying to get a 'Woooooo!' from Flair, but it wasn't the right time. Too much fun!
AJ & Anderson & Gallows vs Reigns & Usos > B+
The back and forth between these two teams were fantastic, but it really felt as though Bulletproof was running this match and the other three were just trying to keep up. Now, I don't know how bad of guys they were in NJPW, but it seems as though AJ isn't as up on being the heels that they are. Plus, AJ doesn't need the fine for an unprotected head shot. I was shocked that the Usos broke out the chairs first, but AJ finished the matter with them. All that being said, Reigns seemed to be more the heel than AJ here, and the fans were dead for it. I didn't like the way AJ was thrown into the ropes before being kicked out, it looked a bit reckless for my taste. But then the monitor casing (now plastic cases around flat screens that fit into the slots in the table for the full monitors) broke in Reigns' hand! That was one of those things that so rarely happens in the WWE these days. All of this to show that Reigns is strong and dominant, and the fans were basically dead for it all. And, lastly, where were Anderson and Gallows through all the abuse AJ took? They just seemed to disappear into thin air. Yes, they were beaten down, as were the Usos, but not really enough to keep them down through that attack. #WWELogic!
Winners – AJ & Anderson & Gallows
I missed SmackDown last week, but I'm thrilled to see that League of Nations fell apart. They weren't helping each other in any way, and laughable as a faction. I've been saying over and over that I want to see more strong factions, but League of Nations wasn't a strong faction, they were a hot mess. Now that they've crumbled, we need some real factions that make sense!
Lastly, where the heck is Sandow? He could have been in that Battle Royal, yet no sign of him. He could have been shown talking to Shane backstage, being inserted somewhere that makes sense, bringing him back into the fold. Isn't that what Shane said he was going to do, bring back Superstars that are talented and not getting the TV time they deserve. I have no clue why Sandow hasn't been brought up as he's one who was heading for the WWE WHC, and then, after losing to Cena in a most fantastic match, has been pretty much nothing since. The man is a great talent and deserves so much more than he's received within the WWE. It's time to bring Sandow back in a big way with a huge push!
Queen of WNW