I had high hopes going into this show, especially knowing that Shane was going to be 'running' the show. Obviously, they're building toward something, and we will just have to wait and see what's going to happen and when. With the way things are going, I'm hoping this is a long slow burn with Shane 'in charge' of Raw because this second Raw was that much better than last week, and both were better than I lot we got on the Road To WrestleMania. As it's late I'm going to dive right in, after one brief thing.
I know so little about the Bullet Club, Anderson, and Gallows since he left TNA, so I asked a couple of the other WNW writers if they'd help me out a bit. Zack wrote up the segment where Anderson and Gallows attacked the Usos. Please give him the respect he usually affords, because he truly does deserve it.
In Ring Segment > A-
Shane sounds horrible, maybe a cold or a throat issue of some sort? Either way, he came out saying what we wanted to hear and kept it short. None of these 20 minutes The Authority segments than make the start of Raw painful almost every week. We needed short and entertaining, and Shane was giving us that. The entertainment level went up when KO came out and the banter between them made this segment that much better. Owens needs someone to banter with, and if not Sami or Cesaro, why not Shane? Shane's great on mic, so this left me smiling going into Raw, and not just because of the matches and storyline starters he gave us.
Cesaro vs Owens > A
KO has a thing for JBL's hat, and I love how he is always touching it, moving it, talking to it, about it. It adds so much to his matches, even though it has nothing to do with a wrestling match, it creates more depth within KO's character. Someone with character like Owens is perfect to put in the ring with Cesaro. Cesaro has the personality and character, but every time he's started to develop it McMahon pulled him back. I'm not saying Cesaro is Ambrose, but he sure isn't Dean Malenko (who I love and adore for more reasons than he looks like my sister's husband)! Cesaro deserves a chance, and putting him in matches with guys like Owens is a great way to showcase his talents. Further, these two have worked together as far back as 2006, so why not continue? It was a thrilling opening match, and I cannot wait for them to be in the ring together again.
Winner – Cesaro
Backstage Segment > B+
Charlotte's whining backstage makes me want to turn the channel, but then Dr. Phil came onto the screen and I would have changed the channel if I didn't have to write this segment. Yes, Flair is a great and loving father, I'll agree with that. I was shocked to hear Phil say to Charlotte and Flair what we've all wanted to say ourselves. It's so beyond time. But then Phil actually won me over (for this segment, not for life) with his 'wooooos!' at Flair. That was bloody fantastic!
Backstage Segment > B+
Again, great work between
KO and Shane, but you know that KO is going to 'return' to the arena to cost Sami his match later tonight. Or, he will, at least, try to cost Sami his match.
In Ring Segment > B+
Solid segment for them as they're Tag Team Champs and won't be in the tourney. They're so charismatic on mic that it's a shame not to use them each week. Zack said something in the Open Thread Discussion about cosplaying New Day, and I have to say that it sounds like a terribly lot of fun.
Lucha Dragons vs Dudley Boyz > B-
I was excited that this tourney would pit different teams against each other, but they started out with the Dudley Boyz, the team I was most hoping wasn't is this tourney. Why the hell is the Ascension in there? There're so many teams who could be together in this tourney, but nope. And then there's the fact that Kalisto was out of pretty much the whole match. I wasn't shocked that the Dudleys advanced, especially with Kalisto down.
Winners – Dudley Boyz
Stage Segment > A-
I loved the banter between the Dudleys and Enzo and Cass because it was solid. Bubba Ray and D-Von can be fun on mic, especially working with kids with such charisma and mic work. I'm excited for Enzo and Cass. (EDIT – As I was fast forwarding to watch the main event as I missed it live, I stopped to see what might have happened to Kalisto in the match, and stopped again to see this segment. I didn't care to see Reigns on mic, and I only watched the Ambrose Asylum, even though Jericho was quite good, I wanted to see Enzo and Big Cass. Those two are so much fun on mic, and they've given us the first promos since Rocky and New Age Outlaws where we say everything with them. Many are saying that Enzo and Cass are one trick ponies, but I have to disagree. When I see Road Dogg, I talk right along with him. I was [and will get back to] watching 1996-2000 and didn't get tired of 'Oh, you didn't know? Your ass better call someboday!' I heard it at least once a day, if not more, all through the height of their time together, weeks of hearing it, and I never got tired of hearing it, or saying it. I'm sure Stacy heard it in his dreams because it played so often when he was sleeping. I see Enzo and Cass being New Age Outlaws, but I doubt Cass will forget his lines and end up with almost nothing to say for screwing it up the way Billy Gunn did. In other words, I'm excited to see what these two have, and I am excited to hear it in the weeks, months, and years to come.)
In Ring Segment > B-
I have to agree with Zack in saying that I wish the fans would be dead quiet for Reigns, it would show McMahon how we really feel. Reigns was actually doing a semi-solid job on mic, then League of Nations came out and screwed up everything that was at all decent. I'm so over League of Nations and anything they might do other than disband and go back for repackaging.
While They Wyatt Family coming out to take out League of Nations makes sense, having them not attack Reigns after their never-ending feud, is downright daft. I liked Shane coming out and making the match so we could see facial reactions, but it's one thing to turn Bray, it's another thing to side him with Reigns in a tag match.
Women's Championship Match – Charlotte (c) vs Nattie > A-
All this greatness, so much change, and still crap endings. I feel like maybe Zack should be writing this RIB, because he said that Shane should have come out, said no, and made things right. I'm all for that, and what I was hoping to see. Of course, Phil was out there for this match, and I was hoping that we would finally be rid of Flair, yet, alas, the fogey cost another fantastic female Superstar the Women's Championship. I'm so over Flair and everything he represents. I'm so over Flair that I skipped over the Four Horsemen segments in the 1996 Nitros I was watching last night. That I'd rather watch bleeping Hogan in the nWo than Flair more in his prime should show how over Flair I truly am.
I know it's storyline that Sasha and Becky lost at WrestleMania, that Nattie won here, but all three of those Superstars deserve to be strapped. Speaking of which, Nattie is the veteran of the group, and has both ushered in a new era, and has helped teach younger female Superstars along to work the ring.
Winner via DQ – Nattie
Backstage Segment > B+
Neither Sami or AJ are great on mic, but I really liked that segment between them. It was open, honest, and felt like it came from the heart. Both of them showed solid passion in their faces, something I'm a sucker for.
Usos vs Axel & Slater > C
Rose looked like the Cookie Monster in that coat, but he can pull it off. On the other hand, lineage is not character. There's only so much I can care about the Usos when they're nothing more than Rikishi's sons! It's more than time that the Usos have some sort of character, especially when almost every other team has some character, even if it's boring (League of Nations) or lame (Dudleys). Even each of the Social Outcasts have killer character and personality all of their own, so why not the Usos? Ugh!
I knew the Usos would win this as the Social Outcasts are nothing more than jobbers, but the Social Outcasts actually have personality, so why not actually push them a bit?! The Bo-train alone is enough to entertain, much more than the Usos have done in well over a year.
Winners – Usos
In Ring Segment > B- with timid anticipation
Anderson and Gallows made their debut by attacking the Usos. A lackluster debut for one of the most anticipated teams in Pro Wrestling today, but it’s still early. The Bullet Club is known for being a modern version of NWO, even rocking the “too sweet” hand gesture. Kevin Nash has been quoted saying that The Bullet Club is a more athletic version of the NWO and that there is loads of mutual respect between the two teams. If WWE takes any notes from the NWO days, they won’t go right into a Usos/Anderson and Gallows rivalry. Instead, they’ll have Anderson and Gallows come out on Raw and Smackdown and just attack anyone and everyone. WWE knows how to do this as when The Shield debuted, they were very similar. It will be interesting to see where things go from here with the team. Keep in mind both AJ Styles and Finn Balor are former Bullet Club members.
Backstage Segment > B+
Miz cannot even pronounce Audi! And then there's Maryse's voice that I'd forgotten how grating that is! Though, I have to say they work so well together, and for good reason. As annoying and grating this segment was, it was also bloody hysterical. The end when she was screaming at Miz that he'd sipped domestic water and he did the spit take, I was about on the floor laughing. I've been saying that Maryse backing Miz could work really well, as little as I like her, but after that segment, I'm thrilled and exciting to see how far those two can take their obnoxious annoyance to the fans. Looks like Miz's career is on a resurgence, and with the PG initiative, I imagine McMahon will make sure she doesn't wear any crotch revealing outfits to ringside and bend over to give the young boys in the front row too much of a show. (Yes, I saw that live, and that's when I lost any interest and it all turned to disdain.)
AJ vs Sami Zayn > A
What an epic match between those two, not that I expected anything less from them. These two are just amazing in the ring and beautifully matched. They worked it hard for us, leaving everything in the ring, and all I can say about this match is that you have to see it to believe it. They were both so on, so willing to give it all, as if it was WrestleMania for them, even though it was a simple Monday Night Raw match, and not even the main event (sadly). The only thing that was off in this match was when Sami landed on his head, and while it made the ending look that much more realistic, I don't know how he didn't seriously injure himself with that landing. It was a simple rotation issue, but he landed on the top of his head, bounced off and landed on his feet. I'll be shocked if he's not, at the very least, concussed, but I'm hoping for the best, keeping my toes crossed.
Winner – AJ
Backstage Segment > A
The props that Shane gave AJ and Sami was great, but Sami crying was the best. Yes, I think Sami always crying is a sweet thing, it shows his deep emotion toward the industry and what he does in the ring, and while some might find it wimpy, I find it endearing and sweet. I've always been a HUGE Sami fan, but what he shows means that much more.
Highlight Reel > A-
“It's not Raw without a monologue!” said Pedro in the WNW Open Thread Discussion, and I had to laugh, because it's so true. But I have to say that this is a better monologue than those given by Trip too often. Jericho is so good, but I have to say I was thrilled to see Ambrose come out with a potted plant in hand, being so careful to put it under the rope without injuring it. Even better was trying to find a place to put his plant.
You didn't get the memo? Ambrose Asylum? Yes! I WANT more Ambrose Asylum! It had a very Piper's Pit feel to it, and I think that's something the WWE needs right now. In fact, other than Miz TV, there isn't a 'show' put on by a younger Superstar, so I think bringing out the Ambrose Asylum is a fantastic idea. Okay, I'd rather see Ambrose pushed to the top and take Reigns out for the WWE WHC, and then feud with Owens as KO fights to win his first WWE WHC. Then maybe KO will have it when Rollins comes back from injury. Pipe dreams, but I think Ambrose Asylum is a fantastic ideas.
Backstage Segment > C
We all expected Phil for Golden Truth, but I didn't expect that!
Apollo Crews vs Adam Rose > B+
I cannot get over how great Apollo looks in that ring. When he gets past his winning streak – which I'm not going to compare to Goldberg, because Apollo doesn't deserve that – I'd love to see him working the ring against Big E. I think the two of them could be jaw-dropping in the ring together, because of their size, speed, and ring work. I'm expecting something explosive from them, and am excited to see it come to fruition within two years. Beyond that, I'm annoyed that another member of the Social Outcasts had to job in this episode of Raw, but I get why, and I get where they're going with Apollo. I'm very excited about this young man and his future entertaining us.
Winner – Apollo
Reigns & Wyatt vs League of Nations > C+&A-
I missed this match as it aired live, and when I came back I saw Reigns hit a fantastic spear and I thought that this match had to be great, but then I saw what the guys in the Open Thread Discussion were ripping this match apart, specifically saying how Bray Wyatt looked like a main event Superstar compared to the rest of the guys in the ring with him. I've not yet watched the match, but I wanted to get that out there before I was tainted by what I saw.
I was so bummed when I saw it was going to be in this match, rather that Rusev who I think is a better choice. Then again, I'll pick almost anyone over ADR. I say ALMOST anyone because Flair is at the top of my sh!t list. I would have loved seeing Braun and Rowan beating down ADR ringside! While there wasn't anything inherently wrong with this match, it just wasn't a main event match. After watching Sami Zayn and AJ Styles, heck, seeing them come to the ring almost everyone in the Open Thread Discussion couldn't understand why they were not the main event, and I agree, until I saw the very end of this match.
Where Reigns, Sheamus and ADR looked like solid mid-card wrestlers, when Bray got that hot tag, he was the true Superstar in that ring. He was Cena, Austin, Trip, and Hillbilly Jim all in one. Bray commanded the ring, the wrestlers he was working with, and most of all, the fans. I'd waned on my feelings toward Bray because his character hadn't evolved in any way, his promos have become monotonous and boring, his start of a storyline/feud was always the same, they took his family away and gave it back – both for no obvious reason, he's been crapped on by too many big Superstars for too long (proof that sometimes the win/loss record does mean something in the WWE Road Dogg), and he's been treated as though he's a mid-card nobody rather than the man who could very well be a creative boon along the lines of Taker of handled correctly. There was so much promise in Bray from day one as Bray (not as bleeping Husky Harris), and he's been so badly booked that it almost hurts. Reigns might be the WWE WHC, but Bray was the main event Superstar in this segment and I hope that TPB took notice. This was a showing from Bray that I wasn't expecting, especially hearing that he's dealing with back issues, but he took that ball and ran with it like I've not seen by anyone (other than the newest from NXT, they're in a whole other boat right now) but Ambrose and Owens give us as much as Bray did here, and he's the one who earned the A-.
I'm shocked that McMahon doesn't have any issue with Bray's fingers pointed like a gun, the way he did at Sheamus as he came in the break the ending count, when Reigns hit that fantastic spear. It's very in Bray's character, but still shocking as they removed all that stuff after the Benoit tragedy. Be interesting to see if that sticks around or disappears. Personally, I have no issue with it, but Sam is 12 and isn't as impressionable as a lot of the younger kids who watch the WWE.
Winners – Reigns & Wyatt
Personally, I thought this was a pretty solid episode of Raw. We still haven't seen Sandow, and I'm going to complain here every week until we see Sandow on a regular basis in a solid storyline. What we have seen is more new faces, some more from the new faces from last week, and a Tag Team Tourney that I'm excited about. It used to be I'd groan with each announced tourney, but with the new faces coming up, and hopefully taking out teams like the Ascension, I'm excited. Even though the show is being put together by the same people backstage, and I'm annoyed that Shane lost his match but is actually 'running' Raw, this was a huge step in the right direction. So many great matches, Superstars stepping up in a huge way, and storylines that are making some sense. Okay, at first I wasn't thrilled with putting Reigns with Bray as a team, but that's exactly what can make for great TV, and exactly what I've been begging for – a shake up! So while my gut reaction was what they were expecting from the fans, but my well researched and overly watching brain saw that this is some of what I love most about the Attitude Era, and have been asking for. Since they went there, I want more. I want more of the confusing matches that actually work out and make sense on certain levels. It's time the WWE not only step up with the fresh faces and solid pushes to the best workers, but also add some depth back into the creativity. I like being a thinking fan, and the main event has had my mind reeling since it was first announced. 24 hours later and I'm still excited about it, and the same can be said about the booking of Sami and AJ. Not what I was expecting, but it stole my heart, made solid sense, and gave us an epic match without a KO run in, which is what we all expected when he was escorted out. I'm actually excited to watch SmackDown this week, and I honestly cannot think of the last time I cared this much about the WWE, and it sure wasn't before WrestleMania this year!
Queen of WNW
KB & Zack