I have to start this with the end of the show. It seems as though the WWE doesn't have much of a sense of humor most of the time, but I am blown away with what they did with the contract for the contract signing to end RAW. When I saw that Richard had posted something about a humorous inscription on the contract, I thought one of the wrestlers had written something silly instead of signing, but then I saw what was written and I got the giggles. Bravo to the WWE for having some fun with a contract signing, above and beyond what we saw on the screen. I have to admit that I thought they'd lost most of their silliness, and their grittiness, but this has renewed my faith in that side of the WWE.
Videos > A+
The WWE always does the right thing when it comes to holidays, especially when it comes to the US Military and our veterans, but I have to say that these videos weren't really up to their normal quality. I thought it strange that they showed a Civil War picture with a Norman Schwarzkopf quote over it. I cannot say what was really wrong, it just felt like a strange direction to go with this.
In Ring Segment > B
I understand where Trip and Steph are trying to go with The Authority. I've been watching the 1998 WWF PPVs this week, and it seems like everything they're doing goes back to the way McMahon was treating Austin. The Special Guest Ref, Special Guest Timekeeper, Special Guest Commentator, etc., all things McMahon did. The way they are treating Bryan is very similar to Austin, and it makes sense because of how over Bryan is, but they're missing the ball in a big way. I cannot put my finger on why things are not working as well as they should be, because Steph is very much her father's daughter, and Trip has the muscle and ego, but it's just not working to the extent that it should be working. I think part of it is because the fans are so sick of Trip's 20 minute tirades on mic, and that they just don't have the power behind them that McMahon had, because while we know they are taking over, they haven't completely done so just yet.
Okay, going along that mental route, does that mean that Kane is Big Boss Man? As much as I loved BBM, Kane is absolutely the man! His career has been long, and amazing.
RVD vs Cesaro > B+
Goodness, RVD actually hit rolling thunder! I don't know what was up last week with him calling for it, but not hitting it last week. RVD looked stronger, and more like what I expect from RVD, even after all these years. Then there's Cesaro who is so much fun to watch in the ring, no matter what he's doing. I enjoy watching him in the ring, and I loved his interaction with Sheamus after the match was over. Being a Paul Heyman Guy, he has a huge future, but I know he'd have it anyway, this is just a faster track.
Winner – Cesaro (9:39)
Eva Marie vs Summer Rae > B-
Stacy asked me if the announcers were calling her Evil Marie during this match, but I told him he has to be too used to us calling her that around the house that he's hearing it everywhere. What I will say is that Eva Marie looked better in this match than ever before. After what she said on Total Divas about most people spending two years in developmental, and she was there all of a month, should show us how little she had to work with, and it showed. We all know that Total Divas is a staged reality show, like they all are, it's obvious that she's really trying to better herself in the ring. I'm not saying she's very good, but she's absolutely advancing. Then there's Summer Rae. I cannot put my finger on why I don't like her, but I think much of it is because she reminds me of a former friend who wasn't much of a friend and acted a lot like Summer Rae's character does on RAW and Total Divas.
Winner – Eva Marie (1:56)
Backstage Segment > B
The Brotherhood really went in there with some force, and I liked it. What bothered me was that Orton was so well spoken, and Batista could only barely mumble. That being said, I could see a solid feud between Cody and Orton at some point in the future, and for the first time, I could see Cody holding his own against Orton, and that's why it could be fun and exciting.
El Torito vs McIntyre > D
What a mess! Yes, this was supposed to be funny, and we were all supposed to be worried about what McIntyre could do to El Torito, and it was McIntyre who was dealing with pain backstage. I hope McIntyre is okay, and that he doesn't have an actual injury. As I said, this was supposed to be funny, but the only thing I found funny in it all was Hornswoggle pulling off El Torito's tail. Those two work the ring so well together, and I think there should be a few more midget wrestlers brought in for these two to work with, but they're doing so well between them. After what they did at Extreme Rules, I'm really looking forward to seeing them at Payback in their Mask vs Hair Match.
Winner – El Torito (2:25)
Backstage Segment > B
I have to say that this segment worked really well. The doctor not knowing what to do for El Torito's missing tail, and then slapping a bag of ice on his ass about had me on the floor laughing. They all handled it really well.
DEP! > A
I have to say that I really enjoyed this segment above almost everything else on RAW. So many people claim that this PG Era is nothing compared to the Attitude Era, but looking at this segment, I see a lot of what made the AE so great. First off, you have an over-the-top character with amazing charisma and mic skills. You have that man going after one of the top Superstars, trying to take him down from all angles. That right there is a wonderful thing, but in this segment they took it completely AE by dragging King into it. Now, King back in the AE was a total ass heel, but now, after his heart attack, he's kind of untouchable, even though he does work the ring at certain events, and has fairly recently. In some ways he's JR, because you really shouldn't be abusing him, and because the fans love him so much, they don't want to see anything happen to him. So you have the big bad guy, who is becoming beloved because the fans are sick of the face, really threatening to hurt the most loved announcer who shouldn't be touched.
To me, all that screams AE!
So, not only is King being threatened, but JBL, who hasn't been in the ring – other than hitting a clothesline from hell at RAW 1000, and that horrible debacle at the Royal Rumble – since 2008 suddenly growing a set to defend the man he argues with on announce every week. The announcers are being threatened in a huge way, and everyone is worried about King being really hurt by this crazy man. This is the epitome of what made some of the best segment in the AE. Yes, there were a lot of different types of segments, but this was a biggie of that era, and they executed it in a most wonderful way. The WWE is doing right by this storyline, and letting them run a bit wild with it, and that's why it's working so well. Just when you think they've gone as far as they will go within the parameters the WWE has laid out of the past couple years, they step past them and put together something as beautiful as this! This is what's going to bring the WWE to the fans who are becoming disgruntled by the creative issues, most likely caused by the different visions between McMahon and Trip. They need to look at why this worked so well, and go from there for more of the shows.
I also have to give mad props to JBL who's landed a few moves since retiring from the ring. He took that clothesline like a trooper, and sold it as well as anyone could. He annoys me on announce sometimes, yet gives me more titles to this and RR than anyone, and worked that move like he'd never left the ring.
Ryder vs Rusev > D+
Only Lana and Big E saved this match, and Big E didn't come out until after the match was over. I honestly don't know where they're going with Rusev, but I'm terribly bored and disgusted with Rusev being a heel because of where in the world he's from. I thought we were beyond these cliches, even in the WWE, but I guess not. I liked how Big E was finally able to gain some ground over Rusev, but otherwise, I'm so over it all.
Winner – Rusev (0:38)
The Brotherhood vs Orton & Batista > B+
That Justin only announced after the match that it was an elimination match also brings me back to McMahon feuding with Austin. These are the exact things McMahon did – changing the match when it wasn't going the way his character wanted it to go. When Trip said that this match was going to be interesting, I knew he was up to something such as this. That all being said, this first match was really solid, and showed just how strong Cody is, and Goldust still is. The Brotherhood looked quite strong, just not quite strong enough.
Winners – Orton & Batista (10:14)
No Holds Barred Handicap Match – Goldust vs Orton & Batista > B
This on the other hand, was just two bullies beating up on Goldust – and people say that today's product is nothing like the Attitude Era!
Winners – Orton & Batista (2:35)
Bo Dallas vs Sin Cara > C
I think the biggest thing this match proved is that Bo just doesn't have the charisma of his brother. He's working hard in the character he has, but I cannot see it going very far. Maybe I'm terribly wrong and something great will come of this, but right now all I see is Taylor deeply in Windham's shadow.
Winner – Bo (2:44)
In Ring Segment > A-
I love how Steph is trying to be her father, and running with her version of his Evil WWE Boss role, and in some ways she's succeeding, in other ways, she's dropping the ball. She was too nice when she fired Maddox, didn't have that gravel in her voice that her father is so great with, so I thought she was going in a different direction with it, but when threatening Brie, she put in that gravely timber and made it work. Steph is a softer version of her father. It's just the way things are, and not just because she's female. Steph is a beautiful woman who learned a lot about business because of the family she grew up in. I know that I learned 99% of what I know about business from my father, and being right there watching him run his company. Very little of my knowledge came from a classroom. I cannot imagine what it was like at the McMahon dinner table – when they were able to all sit down and eat together; some of those evenings had to be amazing! McMahon didn't grow up in the business the way Steph did, and I think he learned a lot of it the hard way, where as Steph had it all in front of her. Yes, she had to work harder at certain things because she's the boss' daughter, and for years everyone thought Shane would be the one taking over, but she's still a softer character than her father ever was, and I think that's why her feud with Bryan works so well.
Bryan isn't Austin, and while the fans are behind him, he's just a quieter person. I think because he's a quieter person, and Steph comes off as softer (not when it comes to business acumen), that this is working so well. Steph and Trip are each taking aspects of McMahon's feud with Austin, and reinventing them for their feuds now. I don't think Steph would do as well trying to work against someone much teller than her, and with an Austin attitude, but Bryan is sweet, has a lovely gentle side, and very much not the type to flip Steph off and chug beer in the ring, and I think that's why it works so well between them.
I was behind with the RAW Results last night, mostly because of so much talking, but also because I was dealing with a few computer issues. Jesse sent me an IM that he had a theory about why they were doing what they were doing with Bryan and Steph here. Stacy, my wonderful boyfriend, was fielding my IMs for me so that I could try to catch up with the results. Jesse said he had a theory on why they did what they did with Bryan, but before I allowed Stacy to read Jesse's theory aloud, I state that they were playing the waiting game on Bryan's neck, and I wondered if Brie might be pregnant. Turns out Jesse had exactly the same theory. Now, please remember that we are not Richard, and going on our guts, not on any solid proof. During Total Divas this week Brie very specifically stated that being a wife and mother was more important to her than being a top Diva. I love that Brie knows what she wants in this world, and while she loves the WWE and being a Diva, she also knows that it's not forever, and that family is. Maybe it was foreshadowing for things to come? If that's what makes them happy, then I hope our theory is correct.
Fox vs Emma > B-
Finally we get to see Emma in character and really work the ring. I was quite impressed with what I saw from her in this match. She looked more well versed than previously, but then she looked tossed around by Fox, and like there was no care being taken with her body. It felt as though Fox was a loose cannon out there, and not in a creative way, but as if Fox wasn't in control of what she was doing.
I really enjoyed Fox's first hissy fit, because it felt like a shoot. Then Fox won and celebrated so wonderfully that it was exciting and fun. This time around felt forced and almost uncomfortable to watch in places. I spent more time wondering if Emma was hurt, and not feeling as though this was coming from where the first two spectacles came from. I was a bit shocked by the way Fox really reacted to the fan who was yelling at her, and wondered if TPTB would love how she handled it, or hate it. I haven't heard anything about it, so I guess they weren't at all upset about the way Fox addressed that specific fan. I hope if Fox continues in this vein, she brings back the spontaneity that she had previously, because this felt too scripted and not at all realistic.
Winner – Emma (2:10)
Davy Crockett vs Adam Rose > B
Now, I have no clue what I missed. I don't know why Sandow was Davy Crockett this week, but I thought it was interesting how they handled things, acting like he was part of Exotic Express. Honestly, I had a flash back to Big Show trying on other wrestlers' personas, because he didn't have his own personality. I don't know what the plan for Sandow is, but I was more impressed with Rose when he was dealing with Swagger than working against Sandow. I think his silliness could work, then he really snaps and shows his abilities. I was impressed with Rose's actual work when he got down to brass tacks.
Winner – Adam Rose (1:37)
ADR vs Sheamus > B+
For the first time in a long time, I was actually impressed by ADR. He got right into it with Sheamus, really looked like he was going to rip Sheamus' head off because he was so pissed. I finally felt like ADR actually cared about what was going on in that ring. It was really nice to see, but I also think it's too little too late.
And then there's Sheamus who really sold, but didn't oversell, his possible head injury. Sheamus throwing wild blows, and being vacant eyed was great. I forgot how well Sheamus can sell in the ring spots, and he did a great job with it.
I have to give Cesaro props. I always love it when he hits the neutralizer. It's one of my all time favorite finishing moves.
Winner – Sheamus (9:53)
Contract Signing > B+
I loved how The Shield tossed everything out of the ring as members of the group talked. It brought a whole new feeling to a simple contract signing. To start the Open Thread Discussion about RAW on WNW, Jesse was playing the odds of who would be going through the table, but no one went through the contract signing table, and that was beautifully unexpected. The way Trip talked big, but The Shield had no troubles signing the contract. Then how it was thrown at Evo's feet. It was all a beautifully choreographed dance, and that's usually what you see with the moves in ring. Everything was played out precisely, and I have to admit that I really didn't expect Evo to get in the ring and get into it with The Shield. I know contract signings end in fights, but I thought that this one was so different that it might not go that way.
There were a couple of fantastic moves in this fight, but one that I can't neglect to mention. Now, we all know Rollins is fantastic, and I also have to give props to camera placement with this move, but when Rollins flipped over the top rope and out of the ring, he basically landed between Orton and Trip, who both threw themselves back in such an overly dramatic way that the move was sold like few others. All three of those men deserve props for that move, but mostly Rollins who threw himself over the top rope and landed on his feet without much issue. Okay, yes, he ended up crashing into the barricade a bit, but when you have that much momentum going, it's really hard to stop on such short notice. That move was the epitome of choreography, and they all played it perfectly.
Watching America's Got Talent, one of the performers was wearing a Santino shirt, but by the time he made it on the stage, his shirt was inside-out. Honestly, it was Stacy who noticed the shirt, so basically, I'm a horrible wrestling fan.