To be honest with you, I'm much more interested in attending a Raw after WrestleMania than being in a crowd of people to watch WrestleMania. The Royal Rumble is my favorite PPV of the year, and to be honest, other than sitting in the front couple rows, I wouldn't be interested in going to WrestleMania. At a show, I like to be able to see the ring, and while the camaraderie is great, it only goes so far when the Superstars only look three inches tall. While I sometimes take issue with the fans hijacking a show, especially when they're being asses through a solid match. I loved seeing the sign that said, “Don't mute us, we paid to be heard!” The fans at Raw after WrestleMania are the hardest of hardcore fans, and they show that in their reactions. These are how the majority of the fans were back in the AE, and while they are known for hijacking the show, it seems to me as though not enough fans attending the shows are getting their voices heard. Look at the lack of signs and the sign censoring by the WWE. Fans aren't as apt to bring signs these days both because they're not as invested, but also because they don't want to put tons of work into a sign only to have it confiscated on their way in. I want to bring MNM and Queen signs into a WWE show, but I know they will take it because they will think I'm trying to push WNW and not Mercury, Melina, Nitro, and Sharmell. Now, maybe I could see why they might think that way, but after some of the signs that I saw through the AE and later, I think I would be the least of their worries.
I have to state that I didn't write most of this during Raw this week because I was so sick I could barely keep up with the Raw Open Thread Discussion. I don't think my feelings have changed about much as I'm watching this through a second time through and writing about it, but my writing is a vast improvement over what it would have been if I'd actually written during Raw.
In Ring Segment > A!
I really thought that we'd see McMahon at WrestleMania and was shocked when he didn't, but starting Raw was kinda epic. I know he thinks that the WWE fans are insane idiots and that the fans who attend the first Raw after WrestleMania are the most insane and most idiotic, but I don't think I've ever heard the WWE fans singing McMahon's music like that, and it brought a huge smile to my face. My smile widened more when McMahon brought up his grandsons accompanying Shane to the ring. McMahon was glowing as a grandpa should, and I have to mention that Linda looked lovely at WrestleMania when she helped her grandsons over the barricade to sit with her and Marissa. Speaking of which, I'm impressed to see Marissa on WWE TV, she's worked hard to avoid that. Anyway, I loved seeing the love and respect between McMahon and Shane. You could see how much McMahon felt about Shane's work in the HIAC at WrestleMania.
McMahon did well, but it was Shane we all wanted to see and did he sell it. Yes, I'm sure he was in some solid pain, but he was selling a lot too. The look of the bruises on his face and neck looked ugly, but they should after what Shane did. Now, I was shocked that the lock-box was so quickly and easily swept away, and Shane was put into a leadership role. Now, I know Shane about killed himself diving off the HIAC, but for McMahon to change his feeling on Shane running Raw so easily just felt like terrible and weak booking. Shane was so choked up and was obviously moved by the fans and the love they gave him, I was choked up watching him. Now, McMahon's, 'Nobody upstages me!' was fantastic, but still too easy. Michael Hayes might have talked up the writers in his HoF speech, but when we get writing this lazy, I cannot hold the same respect for them he has.
League of Nations vs New Day > B
New Day on mic starting this were fantastic. Big E talking about twerking with HBK, and Wood talking about taking the stunner and how amazing it was, they were on point – as usual, though I'm not sure I like little Francesca. But then League of Nations came out and things took a turn for the worse.
I will say that Sheamus impressed me with his improvisation. He's very obviously been learning from Trip. I've not been a Shane fan for quite a while and feel as though he's been pushed down our throats in a character that doesn't work for him, all because Trip wants to see Sheamus as a top guy. Something like that cannot be forced, as we've seen from Reigns, but that's what they've been doing with Sheamus, ADR, and Rusev. League of Nations isn't working and it's time to cut bait, but in saying that, the way Sheamus stopped the fans wave was brilliant and well executed, and I will give Sheamus serious props for doing exactly what he did. That's working off the cuff in a way that few Superstars are willing to try, but what's truly needed in the WWE to bring the fans back to giving a flying poo. We want those characters that are real, and that's the realest we've seen from Sheamus in years!
Winners – New Day
In Ring Segment > A-
It was more than time Barrett was booted from League of Nations, though I thought they'd carry him for another month, getting him closer to his release date. League of Nations did handle Barrett really well, but it was They Wyatt Family that made this segment that much better. Finally, They Wyatt Family are turning face, as they've needed to do something to evolve, and finally, it looks like they're getting their chance. The only thing that stays the same is that there's constant change, but too many WWE Superstars haven't been changing or evolving the way real people evolve and change over time. I'm not the same person I was two weeks ago, and the Superstars should also be evolving, but too many are terribly stagnant – the worst being Cena, but not going THERE tonight. That the fans were chanting, 'Thank you Wyatts!' should show just how little the fans care/hate League of Nations. It's that line between heat and X-Pac heat, and it doesn't seem as though McMahon understands that there's such a thing as X-Pac heat and that the fans are pretty obvious about who is over and who isn't. He has employees who read our site and others, they know what we really think about the Superstars, yet they keep feeding us the same crap over and over.
Backstage Segment > C+
When McMahon told Shane he could run Raw, we all thought it was for one night only. That there wasn't anything that told us differently. In this segment, McMahon was 'leaving' so he didn't have to watch the ship go down. The man who won't let go, won't let Superstars and storylines flourish in a way that is logical is now 'leaving' Raw? Sorry, but I cannot suspend my disbelief enough for that one. I wonder how long 'temporary' will actually be, and how long until Steph and Trip return.
Sasha vs Summer Rae > B
Summer Rae is so unlikeable and so unbelievable on mic. It just wasn't good to watch. Sasha, on the other hand, exudes personality and charisma like no other female Superstars I can remember. I was thrilled to see Sasha in the ring and she worked it, I just wish she hadn't been in the ring with a poor man's Stacy Keibler who is only moderately better in the ring than she was. I'm shocked that Summer Rae is still around, other than McMahon's need to have a vacant leggy blonde around to play the girlfriend of whoever will take her. With so many strong female Superstars on the roster, I don't see where Summer Rae fits in, and it was great to see Sasha destroy her.
Winner – Sasha
Tyler Breeze vs Apollo Crews > B+
Last night someone in the Open Thread Discussion said Crews look like the love child of Bobby Lashley and Shelton Benjamin. When Crews' huge personality was brought up, it was added that the Big Cat Ernie Ladd would be his uncle, we all pretty much agreed. It's great to see such a strong, athletic, nice looking guy with such charisma and personality come up through NXT so quickly. There're so many feuds I can see in Crews' future, if he stays healthy, he could be an epic force to be reckoned with. I'm not saying to push him out of the blocks, but that he's an impressive guy who could really take the WWE by storm.
While some might feel bad for Breeze, he's been the Raw jobber since a couple weeks after he was brought up. His character just isn't translating to WWE TV.
Winner – Crews
In Ring Segment > B+
Some might disagree with me, but I thought Reigns did a solid job here. He didn't cower from the heat, but also didn't apologize in any way. He said it like it is, and his smirk was much harder and less happy-go-lucky than it used to be. I think he might have a chance going forward if he relaxes into it and doesn't try to force anything.
I was shocked to see Jericho come out and get in Reigns' face until AJ came out. Jericho just isn't WWE WHC material any longer. He's more than carved out his history within the industry, but now is not the time for him and I saw no reason for him to be out there. AJ coming out made more sense, but I knew there was no way he'd be #1 contender! It wasn't until KO came out that I really saw things shaping up for Reigns' future with the strap. Then Sami came out and we all saw where the #1 contenders match was going. This was so glaringly obvious that it hurt but was also very exciting because this is 'Shane' putting the new guys who haven't been getting the chances they deserve with McMahon at the helm. Two NXT guys, one of which very new to the WWE roster, as well as AJ Styles, to me that's something I honestly never expected to see in the WWE, and I was brimming over with excitement when I saw it. I knew Jericho wouldn't win (with Shane 'in control'), so I knew one of these great Superstars would be heading into the main event circuit. This is what the WWE needs on every level, and these are great guys to see going into the main events.
There was a huge question that came up during this segment and from it a huge debate. Some said that McMahon's voice broke through here and he said, “I like that!” I listened to it over and over, and I have to say that I'm not sure. To be honest, I cannot see the WWE making a mistake like this, but Jesse was sure it was McMahon's voice that said it. Others in the chat thought there was no way it could have been McMahon and had to be JBL. Honestly, I'd have agreed that it was McMahon's voice if I'd heard it on any other day, but JBL's voice was so pooched from WrestleMania that he sounded deeper and more gravely than ever. I truly believe it was JBL's voice that said it, and I'm going to stand by that until there's proof otherwise.
Backstage Segment > B
As I said, we knew this match was coming and I hoped for more from Shane. That being said, the fact that Shane was standing was impressive, so I'm not going to rip on him too hard unless he doesn't start making more of a show of appearing on Raw in the coming weeks. Honestly, I want the Shane who would come out and announce some great matches at the start of the show to get us hooked, and then roll with the punches through the show to make even more riveting matches. If done right, this could be the start of something beautiful.
Ziggler vs Corbin > B+
A little too Bray for my taste. He looks so much like Bo with that hair and the slightly loose skin around the waist. Now, I'm not trashing on him for not having the best-toned waist, and he's in better shape than I've ever been in, and could ever be in, I'm just commenting on a similarity. I don't need more comments like the ones I got about being jealous of The Beautiful People in TNA! But more than looking like Bo, Corbin has cold eyes like Bray. He looks like the middle brother between the two, and his personality didn't do much to make me feel very different as I watched him work the ring with Ziggler. Heck, even end of days is very Bray Wyatt. A lot of people thought that Corbin would be a solid addition to They Wyatt Family, and I have to agree, other than the fact that Corbin is obviously a natural heel and They Wyatt Family is starting to turn to tweeners with more of a face outlook because that's what the fans want from them.
We all knew that Ziggler was out there to make Corbin look good on his debut, and he did a solid job of it. Now, Corbin did a solid job of starting thing off on mic before the match, but the fact that Ziggler didn't over-sell in this match helped Corbin look that much better. Ziggler was the perfect person to put in the ring with Baron Corbin on his Raw debut, and did a fantastic job putting him over. I won't say I was overly excited about this match at certain points, as it felt as though things were going at a strange pace, and I don't know what the 'You sold out!' chants from the fans were about, but then they got back on track and really made things look great.
I've been screaming for grit and Corbin has grit coming out his pores! He's not afraid to take things out of the ring, and not afraid to place the blame on anyone else, even the ref, when things don't go his way. Lastly, I love his big moves along with the names of them. Sometimes the WWE comes up with the lamest names for moves, but deep six and end of days are both great.
Double Count Out
IC Championship Match – Ryder (c) vs Miz > C+
Lilian botched Ryder's entrance, his only entrance as IC Champion, and that really sucks. (EDIT – Richard reported that someone was pounding on the mat to stop her from finishing her announcement of Ryder as IC Champion. That makes so little sense.) I loved the pic of Ryder with Razor Ramon from WrestleMania X, and then again after WrestleMania 32. I'm thrilled Ryder got his WrestleMania moment, even though I'm not a fan of him. That moment is something he will never forget, and that he was able to do that with his father was that much sweeter. All that being said, this Miz thing was a bit of BS. I'm not sure what the plan is going forward, but I hope this isn't it for Ryder. I'd love to see a feud between Ryder and Miz with Dad and Maryse in their corners. Ryder's father looks great and can obviously sell his personality and emotion. While I've never been a fan of Maryse, seeing her in her husband's corner, standing up for the man she loves – while never wrestling herself – could be interesting if done for a short term thing.
I hope there's going to be more to this than Ryder going back to jobbing. As I said, not really a Ryder fan, but the heart he's shown could make for a solid little feud with Miz. Both can talk, and both have someone backing them, so I'm interested in seeing if they run with this.
Winner – Miz
Backstage Segment > B+
Owens on mic, ripping on Sami and talking about Reigns is great. Owens is so well rounded and knows how to work it so much better than most of the guys who have been in the WWE so much longer than he has. I don't want to say that working the indies is the only way to get seasoned, but there sure seems to be quite a discrepancy between the homegrown guys and those who were seasoned outside the company.
In Ring Segment > F&B+
The B+ is for the heart of it all. The fans with that 'Women's wrestling' chant was beautiful. It's so nice to see these women getting what they've worked so hard for. Nothing against Keibler, Wilson, Runnels, Mrs. Lesnar, but it was a different time in the industry. What I didn't like was how the chant derailed Charlotte. She's the first Women's Champion of the modern era, yet she cannot even get out a decent promo or not keep her focus on what she needs to say. In the Open Thread Discussion someone said her promo skills are better than Reigns, but I highly disagree. Charlotte is worse on mic than Lita, and she's always been hard to listen to. Coming off Summer Rae (who wasn't very good) and Sasha on mic earlier, Charlotte was a total mess and they need to fix that fast – though if she hasn't got it in her DNA, and hasn't learned it from her father, I don't know if she will ever get it. That being said, I'm excited to see Charlotte feud with Nattie again.
Video Promo > A
I'm so excited to see the VaudeVillains being called up on SmackDown. I'm thrilled they're coming up and think they could do quite well in the Tag Division, which has been sorely hurting until this episode of Raw. I'm a huge fan of their work, and always giggle when I see them because I think English looks like he could pass for Cesaro's brother while Gotch looks like he could be a Guerrero. Even funnier is that English is married into the Guerrero family. Small world or happy coincidence?
Backstage Segment > C
AJ just doesn't have that thing that makes for a great talker, but I still adore the man. I thought there was no way he'd be the one winning the #1 Contender Match, but that he's in the WWE and getting put into these matches is great! I think AJ needs a friend, valet or manager to do the talking for him, and maybe trim his hair.
Video Promo > C
Someone said that this video promo for Primo and Epico looked a lot like Razon Ramon's promo videos. I said the same thing when the Carlito promos started, so why should I be shocked that his brother and cousin are getting the same reboot. I was never a fan of Los Matadores, thought it was stupid that two Puerto Rican guys would be bullfighters, and they never really got far with it. Honestly, they were best off when they were with Rosa, and that's not saying much. I honestly am not sure they will be able to do much more than pad out the Tag Division. Even though they're so young, they've been so borderline and repackaged so badly that I'm not sure they have a chance. Sniffing the flowers the way they did didn't help them at all.
Usos vs Dudleys > D
I mentioned a lack of changing and evolving, the Usos have that and more. The more being lack of any actual character above and beyond being Rikishi's twins and part of the Anoa'i family. There's little to distinguish Jimmy from Jey. One is married to Naomi, but other than that, I know nothing about the boys, their personalities, or even if they sound different.
All that being said, why were we stuck seeing this match another time? This is just lame! We've seen these guys face off in more matches in the past couple months than we saw Cena and Orton face off. Okay, not really, but you know what I mean, how I feel. This is lame, boring, and we are so over it. It's time to bring in new teams for the Tag Division, because if I have to watch another match between these two teams, I'm going to skip writing about it, skip grading it, and just flip it the bird here in the RIB and move on. I'm that done with this mess!
Now, I have to say one thing about Bubba Ray, and that is that I think his character has worked so well through the years because it's so close to who he really is. When the ref screwed up, dropped the ball, and called this match over, called for the bell, Bubba Ray wasn't putting up with that shit. Now, Bubba Ray went off on the timekeeper, but it was the ref who called for the bell and should have received Bubba Ray's ire, but it was great to see that he wasn't willing to take a win until he earned it.
Winners – Dudleys
Backstage Segment > B
Sami looks like a bobblehead in this segment, but he's still one of the cutest Superstars on the roster. I loved him as el Generico, and I love him even more without the hood, but his head was bopping everywhere here. All that being said about his head bopping, he's still better on mic than AJ. Further, I love the feud between Zayn and Owens. They know each other so well that they work together better than most. They are Trip and HBK, and because of that they can give that much more to the fans. They work stiff because they know each other so well and have worked together for so very long.
In Ring Segment > A
It made little sense for the Dudleys to still be out by the ring, until Enzo and Cass came out and tore the house down. Stacy had never seen these two, so seeing Stacy sit there and watch the fans stay with Enzo word for word, the way they used to with some of the greatest of all greats, he was in awe. He didn't know that there was anyone who could capture the fans so tightly in the palms of their hands that they said everything they said along with them. The last time he saw that happen was with the New Age Outlaws, and with how much I've watch the AE, I swear Stacy hears Road Dogg in his dreams these days. Stacy was in awe of Enzo's look, Cass' size, and how the fans were so there. He asked if they had stocked the audience with NXT fans. I had to remind him that the fans at this specific episode of Raw are there because they are the hardest of hardcore fans and were there for WrestleMania the night before. He then sat back and enjoyed Raw in a way that I've not seen him enjoy in quite a while. This is personality and charisma, and you can't teach that!
I was shocked to see D-Von being the hot head here and Bubba Ray holding him back, but when Bubba Ray said, 'Yeah, let's go!' had me giggling, until they pussed out. Enzo and Cass are going to add so much and change the Tag Division. Some say they're one note, but time will tell how the WWE Universe takes to them. They about stole the show so far, and made Raw really fun, finally.
Fatal Four Way #1 Contender Match – AJ Styles vs Jericho vs Kevin Owens vs Cesaro > A
Most of us in the Open Thread Discussion wanted to see Ambrose added to this match when it was obvious that Sami wasn't going to be able to compete. Bummed that Sami wouldn't be in this match, but breaking it up this way so it wasn't two on two in this Fatal Four Way was smart. We wanted Ambrose in a huge way, as he's been so screwed over, but when Cesaro came out we were so excited and thrilled to see him, and see him in such a big match as the main event of this Raw. I thought he looked great in the suit he came out in, but I was floored at how well the suit hung on him when I saw that it was tear-away! Whoever made that suit and made it tear-away deserved a huge raise, because that was beauty that's extremely hard to achieve.
AJ has worked with Owens before, and Owens has worked with Cesaro before, but Cesaro hasn't worked with AJ before, so the way they stared each other down before they fought in the ring was quite the moment. (I will fully admit that they might have worked together at some point, but not in any promotion I've been able to find. They seem to have passed each other, but not been in the same place at the same time. If you know of a time they worked together, please let me know. I just tweeted at Cesaro to ask him, but who knows if I'll hear back on that.)
To be honest, I knew Jericho wasn't going to win this, it's just not his time. I knew AJ wouldn't be winning, he's too new, and just lost to Jericho at WrestleMania. That left either Owens or Cesaro, and I was great with either of them winning. Then AJ won and I'm ecstatic! I highly doubt he will be Reigns at Payback, but this is an exciting and unexpected move that I didn't think the WWE would ever take. Honestly, I'm so over the top about this that I don't know how to put it into words. I cannot wait to see what the WWE with Shane at the helm might give us.
Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Charlotte, Tyler Breeze, Apollo Crews, Baron Corbin, Enzo, Big Cass, Cesaro, Aiden English, Simon Gotch. This show was stacked with returns and NXT Superstars. Some have been around for a while, but none of them have been around for long enough that they've become boring, and these were the Superstars who rocked this Raw. It wasn't the exciting Raw following WrestleMania that we've all come to know and expect, it was a bit of a sleeper, and people wondered where Shane's finesse fit into it all, but looking at that list, this is exactly what Shane said he wanted to do, and what the fans have been begging to happen on Raw. This is a great step in the right direction, and other than Cesaro, these are all new and hungry Superstars. And, I'm hoping with Shane's fingers in the mix Cesaro will finally get what he's worked so hard for and not have it pulled out from under him every couple weeks when he's just starting to get his feet under him.
My only worry is what will happen to certain guys, specifically Rollins, when they return from injury. Will they still have the chance and momentum they once had? Rollins is a main event guy, but will his injury hurt him in more than a physical way? And what about Ambrose who should have been pushed over Ambrose but was left sucking air in suplex city? Too many worries in my head about these Superstars who should have been pushed before these new guys were pulled up.
I just heard that JCPenney and JCP.com is only selling men's WWE Tapout gear, what's up with that? I was planning on hitting up our local Penney's to see if they might be carrying the WWE Tapout line as I'm a regular Penney's shopper. Well, I don't see myself shopping at Penney's anytime soon over this one, and I'll be complaining quite a bit to anyone and everyone who has anything to do about this.
Since I'm complaining about clothing, I have to mention a few things I saw at WrestleMania and on Raw that bothers me. Now, I've trashed on the WWE seamstress for years. I know she recently left, but I need to know who took her place. Or, if not a new person, who made Charlotte's new ring gear and Sheamus' new ring gear. Both of them have VERY badly fitting bottoms that make them look as though they're wearing padded ring trunks for any possible accidents. Neither are cut well for their bodies and neither were cut well to make their bodies look good. They bunch, gap, and make them look like they're in training pants. As if that wasn't bad enough, Charlotte spent more time in her WrestleMania match fixing her top so her tatas wouldn't fall out than any woman should ever have to spend adjusting. Her new top has absolutely no support and because of that she couldn't completely lose herself in her ring work, she had to be conscious of not falling out at all times. I'd love to know who made the new ring gear for Sheamus and Charlotte because they shouldn't be making ring gear for anyone, and I have no troubles being vocal about that.
Queen of WNW