Seeing Evolution looking spiffy en masse this week kept me thinking about where they could go. Obviously they're going to help get The Shield over that much more, but beyond that, where will they go as a group? Times have changed, and it seems, at least right now, that Flair might not be part of the group, or at least won't be around other than possible special events. That coupled with Batista needing to take time off after Extreme Rules to promote his next movie, Evo will be left looking rather lean. Back in the day, Flair was the legend, Trip was the top guy, Batista was the muscle, and Orton was the up-and-coming Superstar. I also have to mention that they all had hair back in the day also, and now, other than Flair, there's nary a crop of locks between them, but that's neither here nor there. What will happen when it's down to Orton and Trip again? Personally, I think it's time to bring in a new member of Evo. The Four Horsemen had numerous incarnations with a variety of wrestlers, and it seems to me the perfect time to bring in a new young buck would could do well by being part of such a faction. I have two Superstars in mind for this. The first being most obvious, because he's one of Trip's guys, Sheamus. I have been saying that Sheamus needs to be heel to get back to where he was previously, and how better to become heel than join such a great heel faction? I think it could only help Sheamus. The other Superstar that I think would fit well with Evo is Sandow. I know I'm always looking for something for Sandow to be doing, something bigger and better than he's doing now, and I think this could be the perfect place for him. What do you think Evo should do as a faction going forward?
In Ring Segment > A
I was driving home from some errands when I found out that Bryan's father had suddenly passed. After I made sure it was posted on the site, I sat back and thought about what an emotional roller coaster this past couple weeks have been for Bryan. He had a fantastic WrestleMania, won the WWE WHC, then married the love of his life, had his honeymoon where he stepped away from being connected to the fans, and then came back to his father passing. I cannot imagine how he's feeling, or what he's going through right now, but I give him huge props for be at RAW for the fans. Very few fans would have said much about Bryan not being on RAW this week, and those who would, could get bent, but Bryan is the consummate professional, and he was there.
I have to say that I'm impressed with the WWE. They changed around RAW so that Bryan was beaten down at the start of the show, rather than facing Kane later in the night. They got Bryan and Brie out of there as quickly as possible so they could go be with Bryan's family and grieve together. Further, no one would bat an eye if Bryan didn't return before Extreme Rules, because of the 'beat down' he took at the hands of Kane. I give the WWE huge props for this.
When Bryan came to the ring, his eyes were red and wet, he was very obviously struggling, but the simple way he said, "Thank you" off mic before getting into the ring touched me. He knew the crowd was there for him for more than just because he's a crowd favorite, and the Champ. Seeing him with Brie in the ring was sweet, and endearing, and obviously a direction they will be going, but she was also out there to be there for her husband. Everything in this segment seemed to work perfectly, and while I don't know how Bryan did it, he gave the fans everything while he was hurting so much himself. I cannot say enough about Bryan, Brie, and even Kane in this segment.
Bad News Barrett vs Sheamus > A-
Barrett has been on a role since returning to action a few weeks ago. The crowd has been behind him and his ring work has been better than it has ever been. This match was back and forth the entire length and even had the crowd chanting, “This is awesome” at one point! Sheamus has kind of been drifting into oblivion as of late, so it’s nice to see him getting a pretty solid reaction to some truly exceptional ring work. Both men hit some great hit spots (including Sheamus jumping from the top rope to the outside on Barrett). This entire IC tournament has been hard to call because all men in it have been so deserving of a push and gold around their waists.
In the end, Barrett was able to win with his bull hammer thus putting him in the finals next week. With the consistent ring work, mic work and crowd reaction, Barrett has everything needed to be shot to the moon. I’m rooting for him to go all the way to Extreme Rules and deliver some BAD NEWS to Big E and take his IC strap!
Winner – Bad News Barrett (10:37)
Video > B
I thought it was an interesting way to re-introduce Hugh Jackman to the WWE 'Universe'. I love that him and Ziggler getting over things, and then him getting into it with Sandow all played out on Twitter. It's just another way social media is changing what we see in the WWE.
DEP! > A-
Other than the fact that Bray keeps getting that song stuck in my head (and Matt hasn't been helping with the situation), he is so fantastic on mic. I know I say this each week, but he's gold on mic, and he's so lucky he was able to get past Husky Harris to become one of the biggest thing in the WWE these days. This man will be WWE WHC at some point, no questions asked, and his feud with Cena is finally making Cena more than the corny mess he'd become this past decade!
6 Man Tag Match – 3MB vs Los Matadores > B
About once a decade midget wrestling returns to the WWE, and now is the time. It was 2005 when Palmer Cannon was the voice of the 'network' and instituted the Juniors Division that we last saw any major matches, but it makes perfect sense to bring it back now that Hornswoggle has someone to work the ring against. I was impressed with their work on Smackdown, and further impressed in this match. Honestly, I have no clue how Hornswoggle ended up with 3MB, and now they're really 4MB, or would that be 3½MB, but it really seems to work well. Hornswoggle with his tattoos and longer hair works well with them, and it's about time he drop the silliness and go heel. I didn't think 3MB or Los Matadores were going to get far, but I'm liking this storyline, and think it could be good for all involved.
Winners – Los Matadores (2:47)
In Ring Segment > B
Triple H was definitely channeling Christian Bale’s Batman with his hoarse voice tonight. Trips, Orton and Batista all cut promos on The Shield talking about their destruction and how they have no idea what Shield is getting in to with the dominance of Evolution. I love this promo. It’s nice to have a dominant heel faction. When The Shield (and Wyatts) are straight up heels, they still have crowd reactions loving them. Evolution doesn’t really have that. So many people hate Orton and Batista of late and then Triple H cutting heel promos on Bryan has given him some nice heat.
The Shield comes to the ring, causing Evolution to retreat, and I tell you, these three guys (Shield) are cementing their upper-card status. We’ve known for a long time these three were going places, but being against the top 3 in the company in the direct follow up to WrestleMania is HUGE. This is going to be a feud that will be talked about for a while. Perfect booking on everyone here. Their Extreme Rules match is going to be so awesome!
Announce Segment > B
I normally try to avoid commenting on announce segments, unless it flows into a video, or something else pertinent, but I have to comment on this one. I really liked how they pushed the HOF speeches that will be on the WWE Network this week. I wasn't sure what they were going to do to keep us interested between PPVs, but with Legend's House, and now these HOF speeches, I'm both interested and excited. I will state that I'm loving the WWE Network. I'm working my way through WCW PPVs, and have so much more to watch! The network has so many hours of wrestling that I haven't seen in so long, and I can't help but watching. I start each morning watching the network on my phone while getting ready for the day, and I end each day continuing with what I watched that morning, getting ready for bed, and even watching in bed before going to sleep. It's been more than worth the cost for me.
Usos vs The Brotherhood > A
This is the tag team match that should have taken place at WrestleMania XXX a few weeks ago. Both of these teams are on the top of their game. They prove this week in and week out and yet WWE puts The Usos vs other random teams (which are all good in their own respect, but Brotherhood works together so much smoother). On commentary this match was Rybaxel. Ryback gave a really cool shout out to Razor Ramon which I thought was really nice. Ryback has certainly become much more tolerable lately.
The tag match was a short lived one with The Usos coming out on top, but not after some pretty high spots. After the match, some possible dissension between Cody and Goldie. Rybaxel then attacked Usos, possibly setting up an Extreme Rules match. I have no clue where the booking on this is going. Before The Brotherhood is broken up, I’d like to see them capture gold at least once more.
Winners – Usos (3:16)
Emma vs Layla > C+
I’m absolutely loving Layla coming out with Fandango now. Summer Rae did nothing for me. With that said, I still hate Emma coming out with Santino. I’m over their week or two of fun quirkiness and am ready to see Emma truly spread her wings. This match wasn’t too beautiful. Emma and Layla missed some spots and just looked clumsy in the ring. The match ended with Emma using a pink cobra…booooooo. Seriously, this girl is such a talented wrestler who tore the house down with Paige in NXT and now she’s doing crap like this? I can’t wait for them to break apart.
Winner – Emma (2:20)
Backstage Segment > D
John Cena is usually one to deliver some really great promos. Love him or hate him, the guy gets a reaction that no one has ever had, or ever will. With that, I hated this promo SO much. He played like he was scared of the Wyatt family and apprehensive to fight them. It’s like…John, you gave an Attitude Adjustment to Big Show AND Edge at the same time; these guys don’t’ scare you. I do appreciate the rub he’s giving the entire Wyatt family, Bray in particular, though. John Cena has helped launch the Wyatt family into a top spot. Bray has taken what Cena has thrown at them and ran with it. The crowd now eats up every word Bray says and the matches reflect that. Truly looking forward to their cage match at Extreme Rules.
In Ring Segment > A-
Heyman is always great on mic, and Cesaro is lucky to be the newest Heyman Guy, but there was a glitch here. For the first time I've noticed, someone went to WWE App segment before the show went to commercial. It appeared to me that Heyman got the cue to start talking before RAW went to commercial. This is the WWE production crew, and they so rarely make mistakes like this, which is why I'm mentioning it. The crew is so fantastic that I'm in awe when there's such an obvious glitch. Other than that, Heyman is gold.
RVD vs Cesaro > B
Honestly, I expected so much more from this match. I might catch some crap from people for this grade, but think about how great this match could have been compared to how it actually played out. The start of the match showed the two of them bumbling around, and not really looking strong or overly talented. They started evening out, but I didn't see the stellar match I expected from these two. Now, I will say that RVD isn't a kid any longer, and he's very set in the ways he does things, and that looked to be part of the problem, and Cesaro's style is a bit different from many others, so I do understand why they looked a bit rough around the edges. It looks as though these two will be feuding in some way, so I'm expecting their matches to get better and better.
Winner – RVD via Count Out (12:48)
Backstage Segment > F-
Cesaro and RVD are so terrible on the mic. I hope WWE learned their lesson after this week and will never put a mic in front of either man EVER again. All RVD ever says is “R. V. D.”. Thank god for Paul Heyman. Even with him, though, this segment was just completely pointless and clearly thrown together to fill up a few minutes. The only thing that was cool was RVD said not to trust Heyman with your money, house or future. Nice heel heat for Heyman there. Overall, this was the worst part about Raw.
Paige vs Aksana > B
Why do they keep putting Paige in the ring with Aksana? It seems daft to me that they take Paige, who is an extremely talented wrestler, and put her in the ring with someone who's known for her curves and injuring people more than anything. Yes, McMahon likes Aksana, but by putting her in the ring with Paige over and over, they're taking away a lot of what makes me want to watch the Divas in the ring.
It's time for the WWE to book Paige in a way to really show off her skills, not just watching her turn into Super Paige after being beaten down by someone who just doesn't have the ring skills that she has. It's rather sad, and hopefully isn't showing us what the future of what will happen to the Divas who actually have solid ring skills.
Winner – Paige (4:41)
Rusev vs Sin Cara > D
Seriously, who saw Sin Cara winning this? WWE needs to REALLY be careful here. Unstoppable wrestlers have come, pushed like Rusev with pointless squash matches and then boom, they’re bottom of the barrel before you know it. We’ve seen it with Ryback most recently. Fortunately, he’s at least been able to redeem himself. I don’t see Rusev going far the way he’s being booked now. Lana can only help him so far. WWE has cornered themselves into carbon copying Rocky IV here with Ivan Drago and need to do something to rectify it quickly. Like Ryback gets “Goldberg” chants, Rusev is a few matches away from “Drago” chants. It’s an insult to the man, who is pretty talented, and bigger insult to WWE creative (who are capable of so much better).
Still, HuniCara was able to get some offense in, unlike previous Rusev victims. No one thought for a moment he’d win, but it was nice to see it not be AS squashy of a squash match.
Winner – Rusev (3:02)
Cena vs The Wyatts > A
Of course the fans were going to pick Cena facing all of The Wyatts at the same time, but what impressed me was the voted that Harper got on his own. The fan vote called for either Harper, or all of The Wyatts, but not for Harper and Rowan together. Harper is really standing out as the strongest wrestler of the group, and with his crazy eyes, he has a huge future ahead of him.
But then there's Bray. That man put on such a show in this match. It was a work of art, something many actors cannot achieve. Every move he made, ever facial expression he gave, continued to build more and more of who Bray Wyatt is. Too many wrestlers forget that people are watching them when they're on the apron, waiting to be tagged in, but Bray is constantly on, and giving the fans as much as the wrestlers in the ring are giving. Your eye is drawn to him, even when Rowan and Cena are working the ring, because he gives so much to who Bray Wyatt is. In this match Windham gave a clinic on how to completely embody his character, and all young wrestlers should have to watch his work as Bray Wyatt to learn. We talk about how wrestlers need to watch as much of wrestlers past to learn how to do things, and it's rare that we say that about someone in the industry as it's happening, but the Bray Wyatt character, played by Windham Rotunda, is such character. And I hate to say it, but Taylor Rotunda, aka Bo Dallas, really needs to watch and learn from his big brother. The moving way Bray cradled Cena's head while he sang, and seemed to lose his mind just that much more, showed so much more than any character could actually tell us. It's a moment of genius that will be remembered.
I love that the fans are liking Bray and The Wyatt Family more and more, even though they're the heel faction. They're saying all the things that have been bothering us about the John Cena character, and getting over with the fans more and more. The way the fans in attendance clap along with The Wyatt Family's music, and sing along with Bray, it's more telling than almost anything else.
Winner – Cena via DQ (16:12)
I have to comment on one specific move that caught my attention on this episode of RAW, but Matt wrote about that specific match. Cody came off the top with a missile drop kick that I thought was so beautiful that I just could not let it pass. We've all seen great drop kicks, and horrible drop kicks, but this one touched me in the way music or a piece of art might. I'm not sure which of the Uso twins took the drop kick, but the way Cody flew, and the way his feet touched the brother, it was (to be cliché) poetry in motion in a way that left me breathless. Usually it's big moves that get people talking, but when someone can hit what is now a mundane move in pro wrestling and make it into something the way Cody did with this missile drop kick, that is something truly special.
Queen of WNW
KB & Matt