I was expecting a lot from this episode of RAW, but they really dropped the ball this week. The talking segments were too long, drawn out, and somewhat superfluous, and too many of the matches between were too short and had little meaning. Not every mic segment was a waste, and not every match was short and bad, but enough of both were a mess that the entire show felt disjointed and confused. It was one of those episodes that felt re-written five minutes before RAW went live, and that's a terrible thing less than two weeks out from WrestleMania. The WWE really needs to tighten things up, or they're going to bomb WrestleMania again this year, and this is a biggie.
This week both Matt Kunka and Jesse Sherwood will be joining me in the RIB. You have been reading my thoughts on RAW for years now, and I think shaking things up is a good thing. Please be kinder to them than you are to me, and let us know what you think about our review of RAW.
In Ring Segment > D
I normally don't like to give such a segment a bad grade, especially since they were trying to move the storyline forward, but this was just horrible. The fans didn't want to listen to them, so they went to the obligatory "Boring" and "CM Punk!" chants to show their displeasure. Steph is a strong heel, but she just couldn't keep the fans invested in the segment, and they were even more unhappy seeing Orton come out. It was when Batista came out that things really fell apart. The fans wanted nothing of him, yet he kept babbling.
There were more things wrong with this segment than I could count, so I'm going to point out the few shining moment. The first being Steph saying, "Go ahead, yes, yes, Daniel Bryan, Daniel Bryan, , it's not gonna work." It wasn't just what she said, but also how she said it. The deadpan voice and the roll of her eyes sold it perfectly. And speaking about selling a line perfectly (and I loath to give Batista any props for anything), but when he said, "Actually, I think Steph's been drooled on a lot!" The growl in his voice and the way he looked at Steph was just fantastic. The third thing that I loved was Orton's reaction. It's rare to get such an honest feeling reaction from Orton, but his laughter was great. He really seemed to not be able to control himself, and was in the moment, something Orton rarely provides the fans. The last thing that had me smiling wasn't exactly a good thing, but it left me grinning, was Batista splitting his jeans in spearing Orton. Batista wasn't even in his skinniest of jeans, but he sure blew them out from crotch to halfway down his thigh. It wasn't as great as Trip peeing his pants, but this couldn't have happened to someone better.
Fatal 4 Way > B+
It has been a good, long six months since we have had an opening contest that captured the attention of the Universe like this one did. Sure, there were blatant issues in the match, such as ADR's botched Flash Kick and the poor strikes between Sheamus and Christian, but all four men in the contest showed why they have been in the main event picture over the last 3 years. And add in the fact that these obvious upper tier talents are battling over a chance to face a secondary belt champion like Big E, and it shows that WWE may finally be trying to balance things out a bit. All four men gave the fans in Brooklyn everything they had, and while I did not like that Christian was the one who went over, as Dolph has a backstory he could have played into with Big E, it at least gives Big E a credible opponent to face on Main Event this week.
When I think about the WWE mid-card and who is the top of the list; these four men come right to the top. All of them have been champions and have proven their in-ring work over the years. Also, at least for the most part, they have the crowd support, too. It is almost a shame that all these former champions are vying for the Intercontinental Championship in this match but it also makes the IC belt look better having big names going for it.
Throughout the match, there were some amazing bumps and kick-outs from finishers that got the crowd completely jacked up. At least twice, I heard the crowd chanting, “This Is Awesome!!” However, Alberto Del Rio had to go and ruin all that for everyone. Del Rio went for his signature enziguri move on Ziggler and completely muffed it up. This isn’t the first time that Del Rio has botched a move to the point where the other man is grateful to still be healthy. With Ziggler’s recent concussions, I always worry when he hits his head (which looks more than it really is because of his style). Del Rio used to be a champion and with his recent surge of botching moves, I’m surprised he’s even still a part of the mid-card. Gillberg and Crash Holly were more accurate than he is. I don’t like to discredit anyone’s work in ring because they made it to the top; but Del Rio needs a serious demotion. Maybe he could be a referee for the Divas matches for the remainder of his contract.
Through all the botching of Del Rio to the grandma-like speed in the back and forth quasi fists from Sheamus and Christian, Christian was able to win the match. He will now go on to fight Big E for the IC belt at Main Event.
Winner – Christian (12:00)
Backstage Segment > B+
Bray is the mast of the mic in this character, and he only gets better each week. He can turn a simple phrase and make it either creepy, or dangerous. It's a joy to watch him, and great to see how Harper's mic work is growing as well. I'm still not sure about Rowan, but it's obvious that there's two great Superstars coming out of The Wyatts.
Sandow vs Sin Cara w/ Scooby Doo > C-
I have to say that I think Hunico has found his true calling in WWE under the Sin Cara hood. He is leaps and bounds better than Mistico ever was. But oh how the mighty have fallen... This time last year, Sandow was beginning his rise, showing the WWE Universe just how great he could be. Six months ago, he cashed in MITB in a losing effort on Cena, and showed that he could put on a 5 Star match with some of the biggest names in the business. Now... He's jobbing to Sin Cara to promote the Scooby Doo movie. And he wasn't protected in the loss at all. He looked weaker than Zack Ryder on any given week. I hope it is just the fact he is lost in the Mania Shuffle again, but at this rate, we will see yet another promising star be washed by the wayside.
Winner – Sin Cara (1:09)
Los Matadores vs RybAxel > D
Was there really any reason behind this match? We understand that RybAxel can't get anywhere unless they're doing work for Kane, so why should we expect they'd be able to go over even Los Matadores. It's really sad to see how the mighty wannabe has fallen. Even worse is seeing how the one with all the potential in the world cannot connect with the fans, and it's killing his career. I really wish the best for Axel, but it seems as though he just doesn't have that spark he needs to get over with the fans. It's really sad to see.
Winners – Los Matadores (0:34)
In Ring Segment > D-
Cole interviewing Trip on RAW would have made sense if it hadn't been Trip giving us another famous 20 minute segment that does little more than give Trip a chance to listen to his own voice. Yes, it was Trip pushing his character and his match at WrestleMania, but he didn't say anything that we haven't heard before. To be honest, I haven't watched Trip's interviews so far because I see it as a way for Trip to continue to be in front of a camera. Don't get me wrong, I'm a Trip fan, just not when he takes big chunks of time out of a show just so he can hear himself talk about himself. It didn't work ten years ago, and it doesn't work now.
Fandango vs Cody w/ Goldust > B
I'm wondering where they're going with Fandango and The Brotherhood, but I have to say it's fun seeing Goldust being his old silly self. I have always really enjoyed Goldust, and his work with his brother is turning into that much more fun. I'm not sure what the plans are for this, but I'm expecting some great fun on the way.
Winner – Cody (2:46)
In Ring Segment > F
Ok, I've been nice since HH returned to the WWE and have tried to hold my tongue on my disgust for the man. Let's face it, he is, regardless of how I feel about him, the biggest icon this business has ever had. But this segment... He easily went overboard in it. I can excuse the trip down memory lane on WM 1 and hyping up the battle royal, but HH was brought in tonight mainly so the NY crowd wouldn't boo Arnold Shwarzennegger and Joe "I look like a generic action extra." Mangeniello. Then... We got the love-in. Arnold apparently decided he had to publicly proclaim Hulk Hogan as his "Man Crush Monday" winner. Seriously, did we really have a celebrity hype up Hogan? And then Joe had to follow suit for both of them! But it couldn't stop there, oh no! Then we had to be subjugated to even more as HH and Arnold reminisced about Andre! By this point, I thought, surely this can't get any worse... But then we got the tease of Arnold and Joe entering the battle royal, and Miz's thousandth heel turn. I swear... The man can't keep an alignment to save his life. And then getting crushed by blows that looked worse than any Sin Cara botch... and the words just fail me. I don't know whose Cheerios Miz pulled an Orton in, but at this point, I'd prefer him on commentary.
O'Neil vs Big Show > C-
This was not much of a match, and I honestly don't know why they spent the five minutes it took from entrance to end. This time could have been better spent actually pushing something for WrestleMania, not just flailing around for no reason.
Winner – Big Show (2:24)
Backstage Segment > B
This segment made sense, and set up for what was to come, but it felt rather blah. I loved Reigns' simple mic work, but he was the only one who was really very strong here for me.
Backstage Segment > B
Cena seeing things in the mirror that isn't there is something we've seen before, but Cena sold it pretty well. I like that Cena is finally not strutting around and acting like he knows he's going to win, but he's also not whining either. It finally sees as though we're seeing a new facet to Cena's character. It's about time!
Cena vs Harper > A-
In a rematch from their match on the previous episode of Smackdown, Cena once again squares off with Wyatt member, Luke Harper. Their match on Smackdown wasn’t really anything special. I know that both men are capable of better things so to see them have a second chance, in front of live cameras (pressure!!) was an awesome treat to the fans. This match lived up to any expectations you would have after seeing the Wyatt’s work the last few PPVs. Harper proved that he is ready for the big time and one day will be able to have a successful career outside the wings of Bray Wyatt. Until then, we’re left with some great in ring psychology and even better matches.
With Captain Hawaiian Shirt and SheepMan on the outside of the ring watching, Cena and Harper hit each other with every move in their arsenal. There was one scary spot where Harper hit a very cool suicide dive and the back of Cena’s head hit off the barricade like a ping pong ball at a college party. Luckily, it seemed that John-Boy was okay and everything continued without a hitch.
Harper was able to reverse or kick out of a lot of Cena’s big moves (of course, Cena was able to kick out of Harper’s moves) but the match looked like it was going in Cena’s favor. Then, out of nowhere, the lights turned off! Was it the Brood? Was it the Ministry? Was it The Undertaker? Nope! Just the Wyatts. Once the lights came back on, Cena was tied in the ropes with the sheep mask on and all 3 Wyatts looming over Cena.
This angle is getting very interesting and I love it more each week. Ending the segment with Cena in the sheep mask could very well be a preview of what would/could happen at Wrestlemania XXX in less than two weeks. The Wyatts have literally mastered in ring psychology and getting the rub of a program with top dog Cena only legitimizes it more. I am so excited for their match at Mania.
Winner – N/A (11:58)
Naomi vs AJ > D+
First off, we got no indication this was a Divas Title Match until AFTER the match was over! Josh, in his introductions for the match, said this was "A Divas bout, set for one fall." I'm all for Title matches on Raw, especially the secondary belts, as it gives fans a reason to tune in. But to shoehorn in a Title match with no prior hype or indication that it was one... That should show fans just how much WWE cares about the division. It's things like this that make me glad Paige hasn't been called up yet. And I can't believe I'm saying this... But Vickie completely saved the segment from just being craptastic. Her calling AJ a bitch and referencing their prior issues was a nice breath of continuity and edgy in this PG era. But what followed Vickie's good moment honestly sickened me, as we saw just how big, and talentless, the current Divas roster is. We saw Layla on TV again for the first time in months, but when you look across the stage, at least half of the ladies on there don't deserve to be. Heck, about half of them we only see when the Bellas or Nattie need someone to squash!!! Add in the fact we have no idea of what the match will be, and we have a guaranteed clusterfluff on our hands. I just hope Aksana and Tamina don't injure anyone in it.
Winner – Naomi via Count Out (1:11)
HOF Video > A+
I'm thrilled that Razor Ramon is being inducted into the WWE HOF. I've always been a huge fan, and my daughter Sam is ecstatic over it. It's going to be a wonderful weekend for Scott Hall and Jake 'The Snake' Roberts, and DDP by extension. It seems very fitting that both Roberts and Hall are being inducted this year, as they're doing so well and overcame so much with the help of DDP.
The Shield vs The Real Americans > B+
I found it very interesting that the fans were chanting "We, the people!" when Cesaro was working the ring, but the shut up when Swagger was tagged in. I hope that shows TPTB just what's going on with this team, and who the fans really care about. Cesaro is ready to be a huge breakout Superstar, but they need to get him away from Swagger. Swagger is dragging him down, really holding him back. I was thrilled when it looked as though they were going to break up, but I didn't want to see them blow off at WrestleMania, so in some ways I guess I'm glad they pulled that back a bit. After WrestleMania would be a great time for Cesaro to take out Swagger and go off without him. The fans are loving Cesaro, and it's time for a face turn, though it seems that he's more face than heel these days, even though he's in a heel team.
The Real Americans work really well with The Shield, no matter which two are in the ring, but it was great to see Rollins step things up just that much more. Rollins reminds me of some of the best high fliers from WCW in 96-97 (I started watching WCW PPVs on the WWE Network, starting with Hogan in nWo and I'm into 97 right now), or even better. He's a solid worker and I'm thrilled that he's doing so well. Ambrose was hard hitting, but also silly in this match. That man is a Superstar through and through.
Winners – The Shield (14:09)
Stage Segment > B+
I broke this off from the match because I have to talk about how great the New Age Outlaws looked in suits. I'm so used to them looking like ruffians, but with Kane they looked stellar. After the attack on The Shield on Smackdown last week, I said that this should be the match for WrestleMania. I've complained about how the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal has hurt the WrestleMania XXX card in some ways, but this is a match that really helps the card along. I'm not saying it's the best match for The Shield, but it's better than nothing, or the Battle Royal for these great Superstars.
In Ring Segment > A-
It's been so long since we've seen the druids bring a casket to the ring, and it was a thrill to see. I have to admit that I saw the ring skirt wiggling a bit on the left side of the screen, and I told Stacy that Taker had climbed through the false bottom of the casket and under the ring. I don't think casual fans would have noticed, but I expected it, so I was looking for it. The only thing that would have made this segment better would have been Paul Bearer. Thinking that gave me a heavy heart, even while watching this segment.
I'm not a Brock fan, but I thought he handled himself really well in this segment. No clue why his voice cracked at the end of his first line, but it killed some of the venom in him when he sounded like Peter Brady. All that being said, Brock brought it right back in the way he was kicking at the casket, then finally opened it. His ire grew through each moment, and he was the one who really heightened the tension. Heyman helped, but I think Brock did most of the work there. I know I get pissy about Brock, but he was a big part of what made this segment great, and I'm not at all adverse to giving props where they're due.
I really hope that the WWE can pull things together before the go home RAW. This is not just WrestleMania, but WrestleMania XXX, and they need to pull out something outstanding, and unlike last year. They have a lot to live up to after 30 years, and a short time to really pull everything all together. I'm not going to pass judgment until after RAW following WrestleMania XXX.
Queen of WNW
KB, Jesse & Matt