Maybe I've been watching too much of the WWE Network, too much of the Attitude Era through the invasion, but I'm starting to see patterns. More than just little things like Heyman calling Angle 'Lunatic Fringe' when he went after Raven for taking Austin's place in a tag match, more than Shane's little dance, more than Steph growing up from a wild screaming, slapping ho to a poised screaming, slapping married mother of three. I'm seeing in Superstars what I'm seeing now, and the same issues that glare out at me from 2001 are the same issues that are pissing me off each week now, but on a bigger scale. I will admit that watching all of this WWE TV straight through means I don't have a week to mull everything over, and it's not sticking as well in my memory, but certain things are jumping out to bite me in the arse.
The first thing being what a great roster they had at that point, and how screwed they would have been if they'd gotten all the big WCW names when they were first bought out. There would have been too much greatness for one company. Stone Cold Steve Austin, Taker, The Rock, and Triple H were great to lead, with guys like Jericho, Booker T, Eddie, Benoit and others to be right under that top tier, but more than mid-card wrestlers. A number of those guys moved up to the main event quickly and really helped carry the WWE. It was great for them, but right now they don't seem to have much of a top tier, only that just below the top tier, and those few guys who have been top tier for too long, Cena, Orton, Brock Lesnar, Trip, don't seem to be willing to let anyone else up there with them. Rollins forced his way in through a great storyline, but other guys who should be there aren't getting that chance. There's a number of guys who should be fighting for the WWE WHC who just aren't getting a shot.
Another issue I'm seeing on a weekly basis that they used to have Championship matches pop up on Raw and SmackDown, something that never happens these days. Those Championship matches were usually great matches where nothing major changed, but every once in a while there was a huge swerve that left us all in awe. It was those matches and those swerves that kept us tuning in each week. Well, those and great storylines played out by great characters. There was so much more showing than telling going on at that point, and that made the shows that much greater. It's time to bring more challenge back to WWE TV.
The other biggest, and most glaring thing I've noticed, and I think it's because the roster was so strong at that point, is that the Superstars without great character, personality, charisma, all stuck out like sore thumbs. Two names in particular stick out in my mind as guys who had the build and the look of top Superstars, but because they just couldn't exude that special something, that charm to the fans. Both of these guys had solid careers, but neither reached their full potential for their looks, size, and ring work. Any clue of who I'm speaking of? These two guys have me thinking of the Usos and how they're just nothing beyond twins. Now, the two guys who are sore thumbs to me in 2001 are not related, but they were missing the same things the Usos are missing. So, tell me who you think missed the ball with personalities around that time, and next week I'll tell you who are sticking out to me. Post in the comments as I'd like to see if we are on the same page.
In Ring Segment > A-
Fighting polar bears? Paying it forward? Jericho is the biggest dork since Angle? Speaking Spanish? Sami is a paperboy? Cesaro speaks how many languages? And Jericho never won one! Apple. This really sounded more off the cuff than anything, and it worked so well. Again, I'm sure Jericho had a lot to do with the writing of this segment, and I have to hope that he let some of the other five in the ring with him help. It would be nice if more than Jericho got a chance to push forward and prove they're more than pretty faces. This was grittier, more real, more of what I've been begging to see. Yes, it was so obviously set up for them to be on ladders, but I loved the quirkiness of that. Not every promo has to be given with all feet in the ring!
I loved me some Teddy Long, but that wasn't a great return for him. He's so much better than he was here, and I hope he gets a chance to come back, even if just for a short time. He's such a delightful man, and always seems to be on when he's at an event.
I guess that's the dancing from Steph we didn't get last week.
Jericho vs Cesaro > B
JBL started this off with the best Teddy Long spoof. I was so floored by it that I missed much of the first part of the match. No, wait, it was Cesaro having to work at Jericho's speed that made me bored and not really care about the first part of this match. Is it just me, or has Jericho had some work done on his face? Now, I know that he's 15 years older than the show I was watching this morning, but the whole shape of his eye area has changed. Yes, I know I don't look the same as I did 15 years ago, and I have more wrinkles, but there just seems to be something odd with Jericho's eyes. Yes, I commented on them a couple weeks ago when he seemed to be nodding off talking to Steph backstage, but since then I've really looked at Jericho's eyes, and something seems strange, different.
From there the match started picking up, and the match was more of Cesaro's pace. I love how Jericho reversed the big swing into almost three. It was unexpected, and something I want to see more of. I mean unexpected moves, not Jericho going over Cesaro. Cesaro coming back from the walls was equally unexpected. Really liking this match, though no group of fans are ever able to count the swings. While I love the neutralizer, I love it even more when Cesaro shows his heart for TJ by using the sharpshooter.
Winner – Cesaro
Video > B+
This was a solid video setting up for the WWE WHC match at MITB, but it doesn't replace seeing Rollins live on Raw. The same can be said for not seeing Reigns on Raw. I read that it's been three years since the WWE WHC has been defended on Raw. Compare that to when it was defended once or twice between each PPV, and we are absolutely not getting the same bang for our buck. Yes, I know that the whole format for the WWE has changed over the years, and the WWE Network has changed things dramatically, but that doesn't mean that they cannot defend Championships on Raw. Further, it was bad enough when Brock Lesnar was WWE WHC and we never saw him, both because of his contract and because he really didn't care to show off the WWE WHC socially the way Rocky did when he was WWE WHC and not around on a weekly basis. I'm not at all for a part-timer being WWE WHC, but at least Rocky showed off the WWE WHC everywhere he went, really pushed the WWE and the WWE WHC. But now Reigns is WWE WHC and because he's supposed to be face, and Rollins is supposed to be heel, but the fans want nothing to do with that plan, they're keeping both of them off TV, possibly until the MITB PPV, just so that the 'wrong' person doesn't get pop or heat. I understand that things aren't exactly happening the way they want them to, but to hold them off TV for that reason is just daft, and in both the long and short runs, it's hurting the WWE as a whole. They really cornered themselves this time, and I think the only way out of it is to strap Rollins and inject MITB winner Ambrose in to put The Shield back together for a time to help bring Reigns back up to snuff.
Swagger vs Rusev > D
I don't get why O'Neil was on announce, or why he saluted with Swagger. Further, I don't get the ending the way it was. So while not a terrible match, it didn't make a lot of sense all the way around. I hope O'Neil isn't going to be saddled with Swagger, someone I thought should have been let go with the last round of releases. In all honesty, the best part of this match was O'Neil on announce, and how he had troubles staying on his feet in the ring in his snazzy dress shoes.
Winner via Count Out – Rusev
In Ring Segment > A
Cena did well here, really stated it the way it is, talking about those moments that are few and far between. (Zack said in the chat that KO was cussing Cena out backstage after what he said about Rocky and AJ, and I agree.) Cena was right, I never thought we'd see AJ and Cena in the ring together, because Cena will never leave the WWE, and AJ was ingrained in TNA. Even after he left TNA, I honestly never thought I'd see him in the ring with Cena until they were too old to do anything really good about it. Yes, they are both older than they should be facing off, but that's the way of the industry, and I get that.
And Cena says it again when he talks about how dated his jorts are. Yes, this is the same thing most everyone says to Cena when they get him face to face. Cena has more than proven that he's more than 5 moves of doom, especially when he was working the US Championship Open and working with KO and the NXT guys. Cena is the man on mic, in the ring, and has the charisma and look. I like how this is going with Cena, he's really great on mic here, even if he trashed Reigns in the process.
AJ was pretty solid volleying with Cena, especially about burying guys like AJ, which has been too true through the past couple years. AJ has been known to struggle on mic, but he was spot on here, and didn't stumble or crumble at all! I really liked this segment and where it went, I just hope that New Day has a chance and that Cena gives AJ a chance in the ring at MITB.
Vaudevillains vs Enzo & Cass > A&C+
I really don't like where this storyline is heading, makes me worry that Enzo will be hanging out with Moppy very soon. Further, Gotch botched from word go in this match and looked as though he was working terribly stiff. Okay, I've thought he looked too stiff in their PPV match when Enzo's injury occurred, and looked it again here with Enzo. It was Gotch that injured Enzo, but here it was English who tried it. Now, I give Enzo huge props for selling it, but English was so far from the ropes, unlike Gotch's botch in the PPV match, that there was no way Enzo could get hurt in that way. Enzo sold it outside, but it was scary Cass who really proved it in the ring. I like this side of Cass!
Now, this segment gets two grades because Enzo and Cass on mic deserve their own grade for their mic work, and that's where the first grade came in. I love the Ali tribute, and they were honest and believable in what they said and how they said it.
In Ring Segment > C-
That was just embarrassing. Not sure who was worse there, Steph or Teddy. Oy!
Sami Zayn vs ADR > D-
Sami with a jobber entrance and ADR with the upper hand? I think this is total bunk and McMahon's doing. If ADR goes over here, I'm going to be one pissed off fan-girl! Sami could be huge if only McMahon would pull his head out! Sami, Ambrose, KO, Cesaro, four of the guys who could be WWE WHCs in the future, all in the MITBLM, yet McMahon sees little in Sami? Sami is one of the hardest workers there is, and is because he knows he's an underdog. He might not have the same charisma that Daniel Bryan has, but he has that thing that makes a star. Sami has the personality and charisma. The fans know who he is, and have great reason to get behind him. Yet McMahon doesn't see it in him and really buried him here. This match sickened me. Many will think that because it's ADR, but that's only part of it. I believe in Sami, and have since he was under a hood in ROH. I'm a huge fan because I know he's so much more than a B+ player.
The fans are totally dead as ADR beats down Sami and gets the win. That SHOULD show McMahon what the fans really want, yet he will blame Sami for how dead the fans were, even though they were chanting for him to win.
Winner – ADR
Backstage Segment > D+
Ambrose is more off the deep end than usual? How can anyone tell? Two really solid talkers going at it, and it was good, but not great. I can't say what was missing, but something was. I wonder how much better that segment could have been with writers who actually cared what these two did, cared how far they went in this company. I wonder how much better that segment could have been if they'd been given guild-lines and told to let it all out between them. It might have been a couple takes, but I'm sure KO and Ambrose could have ad-libbed something so much better than that!
Ambrose vs Owens > B
Now KO gets the jobber entrance? What is up with the WWE tonight? They have three hours for Raw and they cannot be bothered to show Sami's entrance and KO's entrance? Have I started too many segments with too many questions? The WWE has really pissed me off tonight, for a lot of reasons, and most of the questions (other than the opening segment) were asked because I'm so shocked by the asinine ways they are doing things tonight. The fans are dead, even for this match. So they're either not a loud group (though they sang well for Cena, and were right there for Enzo and Cass), or they, like me, are so over this episode of Raw that they just cannot believe what they're seeing.
These two men should have the fans on the edge of their seats, but they're just not getting the reactions they should be getting. These two on an off day, which they're not perfectly on, but not that far off, should be able to steal any show on any given night. This just wasn't that thrilling, and part of it was the fans being dead. No clue what is killing this Raw, but there's a lot of negativity flying around that arena!
They got more reaction after the match was over! It was stated in the Open Thread Discussion that the crowd is booty, and I have to agree, though I think McMahon and creative are booty as well.
Winner – Ambrose
Video > F
Backlund had one good video with Young, and hasn't lived up to it again. Why is walking eight hours going to make Darren Young great again?
In Ring Segment > D-
Having Charlotte explain herself to her father in this way totally kills all that she said two weeks ago. Charlotte was so off in this segment, and as much as Nattie and Becky tried to get the flow back, Charlotte was just too far off for them to help in any way. With Charlotte being so far off, it set everyone else off kilter, and Becky ended up tripping over Nattie when the blows started flying. Honestly, the best part of all of this was Dana's facial and body language. She said so much without saying a word. Further, the way she patted Nattie on the head at the end was so patronizing that I couldn't help but laugh.
A much better outfit for Dana this week. She doesn't look chunky here, just a solid and physical woman, as she should look.
Video > D
I thought they were done with this shining star stuff. And here we are getting more. #WWELogic!
Breeze vs Goldust > D-
Shaving Fandango's back? Fandango is giving Maine a bad name. Actually, nothing here did anything I was interested in seeing. The best of it all was Golden Truth's entrance.
Though Teddy Long was pretty funny too. He's trying and failing miserably. I thought he was thrown out before this.
In Ring Segment > C+
Steph talking up herself running SmackDown, but if she's running SmackDown, then who will be running Raw? And the last time she ran SmackDown she lost her job when her father beat her in an 'I Quit' Match. All that being said, Steph was fairly strong on mic here, but not enough to carry a three-hour show.
Video > A+
RIP Mohammed Ali.
I interrupt this RIB > F
It was at this point that we found out that Kimbo Slice had passed away. We were not 100% sure until Richard asked CJ to post the news on WNW, as CJ posts all news on Monday nights. My heart goes out to his family, friends, and fans. RIP Kevin Ferguson.
New Day vs The Club > B+
New Day didn't even get pop from this crowd, so they are really leading for the Most Dead Crowd of The Year Slammy! Yes, there were a few chants here and there, but nothing compared to what New Day is used to getting at most every other location. I can't say this match was bad, actually, it was quite good, especially after Wood took the clash outside the ring. Kofi and Big E came back with a new level of vengeance we've not seen from them in the past. I really like it, and it really made the match so much better than it ever would have been if Wood hadn't been taken out. I'm getting excited for MITB as more matches are added, but beyond the MITBLM, this Fatal Four Way Tag Team Championship Match has me giddy.
Winners – The Club
What an utter disaster! Raw last week was really solid, much better than what we've seen in a while, and it was a Memorial Day show, they are famous for being bad! I really don't understand how they can mess up so badly over and over again. It's not like this is their first rodeo, they know how to put on solid shows, they just haven't been doing it in quite a while. I think it's more than time they look back at what worked and what isn't working now. Oh yeah, they also need to bring back Sandow.
Queen of WNW