RAW Is Blogged – The Fightingest Little Garden Gnome

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Okay, what is going on in the wrestling industry? TNA acknowledges the death of Nelson Frazier Jr. and the WWE doesn't? What is this world coming to? I'm very confused. Plus, by the time we get to RAW Black History Month will be over, and no videos about the big man of many names who did so much for the WWE through so many years? Very confused, I am. Actually, I should say, very disappointed in the WWE, I am. Then again, I'm disappointed in the WWE for a lot of reasons today.

Pre-RAW

WNW reader Ashley was lucky enough to be at that fantastic episode of RAW. She said that all through the very first Pre-Show, the fans started chanting for "Flair" and "Josh Matthews" who were on the panel, as well as for "CM Punk" because it's almost obligatory right now, but that the "YES!" chants ended up taking over every time. The fans do love Bryan, even when he's not in sight.

RAW Starts

In Ring Segment > A-

Aside from Hogan's one little bobble, I thought he was fantastic. There's lots of guff going around about Hogan returning home, even though he's left numerous times for other wrestling companies, but in the end, it was Hogan and the WWF that made something beautiful, and propelled the wrestling industry into something we know and have loved for many, many years. We all have seen that Hogan can do when allowed to run rampant in a wrestling company, and it hasn't been good. That's why I think the WWE is the best place for the Hulkster because there's McMahon, Trip and Steph to keep Hogan in check. Without the ability to hold the future of the company in his hands, he can do quite well and really help during this turning point in the industry. He came out, said what he was scripted to say, bobbled by saying it was the start of the WWE 'Universe', not the WWE Network, but he pulled back and recovered gracefully. Honestly, the only thing missing with Jimmy Hart. I didn't expect to see him out with Hogan, but I was hoping we'd see him at some point during the show. The man is an icon, and since he was there, he should have been on air. Maybe a manager for Cesaro? Nah!

ADR vs Batista > F+

Please, someone shoot me! I'm so disgusted by these two men and that they're being forced down our throats. Neither are great in the ring, and even worse on mic. Okay, maybe Batista is worse in the ring than on mic right now. They weren't even two minutes into the match and Batista was so winded that he looked like he might just keel over. The man lived up to the two major chants the fans threw at him, "You can't wrestle!" and "Out of shape!" If Batista's cardio is this bad, how is he going to survive WrestleMania? We saw what happened to The Rock with his lack of cardio, you'd have thought Batista would have learned something from that. Guess not!

Winner – ADR (9:49)

In Ring Segment > D+

If they're not careful, Orton is going to end up being the face in all this! I'm one who's really against heel vs heel matches, because they rarely work – The Wyatts vs The Shield being one of the few that worked beautifully. But that PPV stealing match is an oddity, and something that Orton and Batista wouldn't be able to pull off on a good day, never mind at WrestleMania where the fans want so much more – or at least something very different. It didn't help that Batista was so winded here he could barely choke out the words he was scripted to growl.

I'm just not impressed, but I do feel vindicated. I said, quite often and loudly, that Batista might get a good reaction the first couple weeks, but after that the fans would turn on him and they'd have a mess on their hands. Well, I gave Batista's run longer than he got, but that's about it. And to say he's a scapegoat for what the WWE is doing to Bryan is total bull. I completely believe that the fans would have turned on Batista no matter what was happening with Bryan, or anyone else. I don't think that Batista could have carried a positive fan base for any length of time because of who he is, not because of what's going on around him in the WWE. Batista's return was just a bad decision the whole way round, but TPTB couldn't see it because they're so blinded by the hopes of a muscled savior for WrestleMania. Sometimes this is so frustrating!

I have to explain why I gave this segment a D+ and not an F. Certain things that Orton said, specifically, "ADR beating you in that fashion right now, that’s one of the funniest things I've seen. You know what else is funny Dave? The way the WWE ‘Universe’ has reacted to your triumphant return. Yeah, see, I don’t know if you can sense it or not, but they don't like you very much. They've been booing the hell out of you Dave, and I wouldn't even doubt that you're sorry that you came back." Okay, most of what Orton said work. It's was strange, he actually had some solid inflection in his voice, something he rarely manages, but gave in spades here. I'm shocked to say, but Orton on mic is what brought this segment up from an F.

Big E vs Cesaro > B+&D

There were some fantastic moves in this match, and some very scary moments. I've been saying for a while that I see Big E as a big Champ within the next five years (along with Reigns), but I didn't say that he's ready now, and he proved that in this match. I will fully admit that I didn't watch his match very closely at Elimination Chamber, but with the Live Blog going on, and the terrible feed I had, so I can't say what happened there, but he really dropped the ball a couple times in this match. I see big things in Big E's future, but he needs to listen and learn, and not fall into the ego trap and end up hurting someone else (ala Swagger), or even himself. Ashley texted me and said that Big E was escorted up the ramp by a trainer, and while walking on his own, he was holding his neck. He's lucky that he was just holding his neck after not protecting himself in the Cesaro swing, and taking the neutralizer so badly, or that Cesaro wasn't injured after being dropped on his neck. Maybe that bump will knock some sense into his head.

I have said over and over that Cesaro should be in a feud with this person, or that person, because he's on the cusp of something huge. It's time for him to move on from Swagger, change his affiliation, become chaotic good, and go all wild on those bad ogres in the dungeon! It's more than time for his push, but I don't know who he should be feuding with. Who's a good bad guy who will help elevate him to that next level? I actually just went to pull up the Superstars list on dot.com, but then realized that I want to see him fight Ambrose at WrestleMania. I know there's other things in store for The Shield right now, but I think it would be great for both of them to face off for the US Title at WrestleMania. It would fit into Cesaro's character, and it would be an extraordinary match. Okay, pipe dreams, but still, I think it would be fantastic all the way around, and possibly a show stealer, especially the way the card is shaping up.

Winner – Big E via DQ (16:38)

In Ring Segment > B&F

I thought Cena was strong on mic, not his best, but strong. Bray, as usual, was fantastic on mic. That man has taken his character and run with it. Bray is the epitome of becoming a character, and many other young wrestlers need to watch and learn from him. Putting Bray and Cena together in a match at WrestleMania will be great for Bray, and a comfortable spot for Cena. Maybe Punk should take notes that not everyone, even the face of the WWE, have the biggest matches at WrestleMania.

Honestly, I couldn't see that anyone did anything wrong when Cena tweaked his knee. The biggest wrong that happened was that Cena wouldn't back down, and pushed the segment through to the end. He didn't know what had happened to his knee, and really could have hurt himself badly by not being tended to. I know he thinks he's super-human much of the time, but he still needs take care of himself. I'm glad Cena's not really injured, and hopefully the plan can go on as expected, I just hope he plays things smart and safe.

Christian vs Sheamus > B

I loved the ending to this match, and I have to say that they've done a solid job of organically building this feud. These two facing off for the next 40 days, then culminating in a blow off at WrestleMania makes a lot of sense. These two work solid and hard, as well as having great chemistry in all they do together. I'm expecting solid hijinks over the next month, and hope there's a lot of creativity mixed in for fun.

Winner – Sheamus (16:05)

Backstage Segment Video > C-

I have to say that Bryan felt really forced in his verbal attack on Trip and Steph. The only thing that felt real here was Trip derisive snorts about facing Bryan at WrestleMania. I know why they're doing what they're doing, but I don't have to like it.

Black History Month > A+

I have been waiting to see the video about Tony Atlas, and I'm thrilled that they put him together with Rocky Johnson for it. The two of them were the first African American TTCs in 1983. In watching this video I realized that Atlas has always been the total goober I've got to know recently. He's always making funny faces, silly comments, and doing anything to make people smile and laugh. These two men were and are fantastic role models. Atlas has done a number of speaking gigs at local schools, teaching kids about self esteem, to no bully others, to respect their parents and teachers, and to look toward their futures and what they want to achieve. Atlas is a lovely man, inside as well as out, and while I'm sure Johnson is too, I speak from personal experience when it comes to Atlas.

Backstage Segment > B+

Rollins came off really well at Elimination Chamber, and did a lot to show his charisma as well as his ring skills. It has felt as though Rollins has been holding back some of who he is, and not letting the fans get to know him, and I think that's been hurting him moving forward as a possible singles competitor. That he's stepped up these past couple days and has shown more of who he is will only help his position when The Shield actually does split. Rollins also came across really strong here, and Ambrose looked a bit like a whiny little boy, but that works for his emotional character. Then Reigns stepped in to deal with Bray, it felt natural and organic.

Superstars Panel > B

This whole thing is new to me, and while I've enjoyed it for the PPVs, it's going to take a bit for me to get used to if for RAW each week. It makes perfect sense, and a natural progression of things, as well as being a great use for Superstars and Legends who are no longer able to work the ring, or even manage. And I know you've never heard me say this about Flair, but he was totally adorable when he started that "YES!" chant.

Bryan vs Kane > A-

This match was just lovely. The back and forth work between them was something I've been itching for since Team Hell No broke up. This is exactly what these two needed, and I'm glad they didn't drag it out to give us at WrestleMania. This match on this episode of RAW was just fabby. I'm sure they're going to continue tossing Kane at Bryan, especially when it becomes obvious that Bryan isn't going to back off from Trip. The matches will continue to get uglier, and better, until Trip finally agrees to face Bryan, with some sort of stip, at WrestleMania. Either way, I love watching Bryan work with Kane, and can't wait to see what else they have between now and WrestleMania.

Winner – Bryan (15:47)

In Ring Segment > B+

It took a bit for the fans in Green Bay to get behind Bryan in his challenging of Trip, and I understand why. We want Bryan to be in the main event, become the WWE WHC, but that's pretty much not going to happen unless they throw a major swerve at us. Bryan was fantastic in this segment, even though it doesn't feel completely organic. It would have made sense a couple months ago, but right now it's an afterthought, and a way to poke at Punk for taking his ball and going home the way he did. There's a lot of other matches I'd like to see Bryan in at this point, but I also know that Bryan vs Trip will be fantastic, because they won't let it be anything less. I'm hoping this is the next step in something big for Bryan, I just wish that something big was going to be at WrestleMania.

Emma vs Summer Rae > B-

I have to say that it's a fantastic gimmick, have a wrestler who is a klutz. Even better that it's a Diva, someone who's supposed to be graceful. Emma plays the role perfectly. She is gawky and falling down when need be, but that finishing submission was strong and got the job done. Her facial expressions through it all is what ties everything up in a nice little blonde package. She was made for this role, and plays it to her tippy-tippies. I'm quite impressed with Emma, and hope that bringing her up is the start of more solid wrestling from the Divas, and less of them prancing around showing off (less of) their wares. I miss the days of Trish and Lita, though I don't miss the days of the Divas being around just to show off in the tiniest bathing suits. (Watched Royal Rumble 2000 last night, and those were some skimpy suits.)

Winner – Emma (3:29)

Usos vs New Age Outlaws > B-

The fans in Green Bay did not like the Usos cutting Dogg off in the middle of his famous schpeal. They got over it pretty quickly, but they were not impressed in that moment. I'm hoping that these two team give us a fantastic match at WrestleMania, and that the New Age Outlaws put the Usos over in a huge way, with their father in attendance. It would be the right things to do, and at the right time.

Winner – Usos (1:14)

Bray vs Reigns > B+

I'm sickened by the way the fans treated Bray and Reigns in this match. This was another heel vs heel match that worked because the fans like these guys just enough to make them not true heels. That the fans took this match, something that was really a great match, and pooped all over it really bothers me. I'm all for the fans being able to express their feelings, but they usually stick to doing it during crap matches, like ADR vs Batista. These men are the future of the WWE, and have been proving it over and over, especially at Elimination Chamber, but also in this match.

I was quite surprised when Ambrose appeared to help out Rollins outside the ring, but less surprised when he cost Reigns the match against Bray. This is just one more crack in The Shield, and what's going to end up driving them apart. I like that they're not just quickly ripping them apart for no apparent reason, then sending them on their merry ways. This slow, but creatively sound, direction is working quite well.

Winner – Bray via DQ (13:54)

In Ring Segment > A

What an inspired way to end RAW. I'm still not thrilled with Taker facing Brock at WrestleMania, but that's my issue, and I guess I just need to deal. Honestly, I hope Brock has the respect and reverence for Taker that he won't do anything stupid and injure him by being reckless. I mean, it is Taker, hello! I will give Brock huge props for how he worked against Taker in this segment. Between the back and forth they did, the pen in the hand, and then the chokeslam through the table, Brock was really solid. After that I do have higher hopes.

But then there was The Phenom. All it takes is GONG and the fans go wild, and for good reason. The man that doesn't have to say a word to say everything, and he does it in such a forceful way, like no other. I'm always thrilled when Taker returns, and worry every year that it will be his last, yet he keeps returning. Taker has been, and will always be one of my favorites, the one who made me stay when I wasn't sure, made me get up early on Sunday mornings in college just to see the recaps of the week. Okay, so I'd rather see him against almost anyone else at WrestleMania, but I'll suck it up to get my yearly dose of Taker, and if this is the first taste, we're in for a fun ride!

Post Show Wrap Up!

I have to say that much of this episode of RAW was quite strong. I'm going to try something different this week and see how well it work, for all of us. I'd like to know your thoughts. Okay, I always like to know your thoughts, as long as they're constructive and not just downright mean for the sake of being mean.

Pluses
Hogan
Big E vs Cesaro
Bray and Cena on mic
Sheamus vs Christian
Black History Month video
Bryan vs Kane
Taker's return

Minuses
ADR vs Batista
Batista on mic
Cena being a numb nugget about his knee
Bryan verbally accosting The Authority
Usos vs New Age Outlaws

Queen of WNW
KB

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