I was quite wordy and hopefully don't go where you think I will with some of Raw last night, so I'm going to dive right in. Let me know what you think and why you disagree!
In Ring Segment > B+
Now this is the way to start Raw! I was so excited to see Rollins return last night, and he looked great. The fans loved him here, and I'm hoping for great things for him because that freak accident really struck him down in the middle of an amazing run. The fans wanted him back so bad and gave him a beautiful homecoming. We didn't know what we had until it was gone and we were stuck with bleeping Reigns and his horrible push/direction. Hindsight is 20/20 and we so loved to see Rollins back, and then he went nuclear heel on us and it was perfect. Few Superstars can heal up, come back after an injury, and heel up as well as Rollins did in this segment. As much as I complained about Rollins channeling Trip in his 20-minute segments, they were still better than Reigns as Champ!
When Reigns came out, I groaned. I thought he was going to totally kill this segment, as he usually does, but Shane came out and made their match for MITB. I guess we all expected it to happen since Rollins returned Sunday night, but it was nice to see it set up early. Hopefully, there will be a lot of fighting and crankiness between the two of them between now and when they officially face off at MITB.
MITB Qualifying Match – Sheamus vs Sami Zayn > B
Sheamus might talk smack about Sami, his skipping to the ring, and his hat, but Sami was all over Sheamus from the start. I think Sheamus is the only one on the roster who makes Sami not look like a ginger! Actually, I think it's cool to see two gingers in the ring, it's not the norm in the WWE.
This was a solid match, but nothing too exciting. Sheamus just brings everything down lately. He's so boring! Sami looked great in there, but one can only do so much in the ring with Sheamus. I guess the thing is that we knew Sami would be winning this match and going on to the MITBLM, and so while the announcers were shocked, I wasn't. I will say that Sheamus made the ending look good and sold his angst of losing this match quite well. Hopefully, this will be some sort of change for Sheamus to become something more than the one note heel he's been for so long!
Winner – Sami Zayn
Social Outcasts vs New Day > B+
1,200 episodes of Raw. I will say that I love how New Day acknowledged that a cake is never safe in the WWE. Social Outcasts had to break up all the fun Big E was having in the ring with that cake at JBL and Byron's expense (though that little boy in the front row smiled and stared Big E down in a HUGE way. It was obvious who was missing from Social Outcasts, but I've been expecting that since he popped his Wellness test and made an ass of himself of Twitter over it. The arrest was the last straw, and they still didn't release him! I have no clue what THAT was about.
I have to admit that I'm thrilled to see Social Outcasts working the ring and not missing a beat as 3MB 2.0. Actually, as long as we get to see Social Outcasts, I'm happy. I'm loving all three of them in this faction – even though Slater took much of the abuse in this match. It's Slater who I think is extremely underrated and should be pushed further.
Now that was a face full of cake! I love to see the food fly in the WWE, even though it makes it more slippery for others out there. Slater took it well, but I wonder what JBL has been imbibing! Has he been APAing it all day? That was NOT a double layer ice cream cake! That was a single layer yellow sheet cake. Idiot. (I have to say the grade is for entertainment value, not wrestling skills.)
Winners – New Day
MITB Qualifying Match – Miz vs Cesaro > B+
Cesaro was all over Miz from the start, but so was Maryse, so I guess Miz is used to wearing others as clothing. Honestly, right after the list of qualifying matches were announced, I was sure of who would win most of the matches listed for Raw. Yes, much of it is knowing who I'd like to see in the next MITB, but also looking at the direction the storylines have been going lately. After that Fatal Four Way at Extreme Rules, I'm really excited for the MITBLM. I know the Superstars in that match will be different, but some of them will be the same, and those are some of the best for that type of match. That and I'm chomping at the bit to see who will win the MITB Contract and how he will wield it through the year until he cashes it in. it's something that leaves every PPV with a question hanging over it until it's cashed in, then we go through it again next year. Every win is different, and every person carrying carries it differently every time.
I have to admit that Miz has more than made up for his early push where he was WWE Champ, after winning against Cena at WrestleMania. It seemed to me that the rest of his career he'd been coasting down from that, but lately he's been working hard in the ring, showing that he really can go and that he's not just good on the stick. Not sure how I feel about Maryse being by his side all the time, but she does add some dimension to his character, even though I've never been a fan of her.
But then there's Cesaro who is poised to explode to the top. He's been on the edge of that explosion for quite a long time, but I really think it's possible for it to happen soon, even if he doesn't win the MITB Contract. Though I knew he'd beat Miz here. And while it's good for Cesaro and the MITBLM, what does it do to the IC Championship that had been gaining some steam?
Winner – Cesaro
Backstage Segment > B+
Rollins is going great on mic, then looks like someone kicked his puppy when Steph would only shake his hand. So much interesting going on with Steph and Shane!
MITB Qualifying Match – Apollo Crews vs Jericho > B+
Jericho looked silly with all his band-aids, but I get it. The problem I have is that Jericho only screamed landing on his back when he was really getting beaten down, not when he simply took a slam or delivered one. Yes, I'm picking on Jericho, but he's really been off with this run and he doesn't need to be back right now. Further, it seems as though Crews is going to be feuding with Sheamus very, very soon, so why is Jericho out there covered in band-aids? All that being said, Jericho is out there and taking those bumps after what he did on Sunday night. As I said in Extreme Rules Rapid Reacts, Jericho has never really been a hardcore wrestler, but he took those tacks like a pro. He has to be hurting, but he got out there and worked with this young wrestler without much personality. Wait, if Crews is going to be feuding with Sheamus, why will we care? Neither has personality or has given up muck of a reason to give a bleep about them or why they're fighting. Great booking plans WWE!
This match lasted much longer than I thought it would, and I'm a bit shocked Jericho won, or, going into this match I thought Crews would win, then I realized he'd be feuding with Sheamus, so my mind changed. I'm just not sure Jericho should be in this MITBLM. He announced the first one as his own idea, but that was quite a while ago. I guess only time will tell how he works out at the MITB PPV.
Winner – Jericho
Video > D
The last Young/Backlund video was so good, but this one was so bad! Something came up in our WNW Raw Open Thread Discussion that made me want to bring it up here, for those of you who don't hang out with us on Monday nights. Watching Backlund I've always wondered what's off with him. Early in his career, he seemed quirky, but mostly normal. Somewhere in there, he went from being a solid wrestler to being downright crazy. We were wondering if he's dealing with neurological issues. Whether he has sustained too many concussions, or something else happened during his time in the ring. Honestly, I wish I'd spent the time and energy to meet him when he was in my area doing a short run with NWA On Fire up here in Maine, but at that point I was too afraid to approach wrestlers, and he truly scared me back then. Thoughts? What do you think about Backlund and his 'quirkiness'?
Backstage Segment > B
People say that Corbin doesn't have personality, but I see that he has one, it's just quieter than most. Crews and Sheamus are boring, but I think Corbin has something interesting in there, more than just the, 'looking like some sort of hipster Frankenstein on tranquilizers' that Ziggler said he was. Yes, the hat and vest give him that look, but he's so much more than that. I know he's not dialed to eleven, but I like him more after this segment, even with his hipster hat.
In Ring Segment > A
When Cass came out and then pointed back toward the entrance, I whooped loudly before going into a 'YES!' chant. I was so excited to see that spastic little guy running around Cass. I have been really worried about Enzo, especially when we hadn't been getting updates about him, but he seemed right back to his normal self. When Enzo said he forgot to pay his electric bill, I was about to hit the floor I was laughing so hard. This was the perfect line for him, and to follow it up with him having a dime for each time he got knocked down and not getting back up, he's got no dimes! In the Open Thread Discussion, I heard that these two are pretty much like this, and Enzo would look the exact same way even if he wasn't in the WWE. I had mad respect there. The best characters are the ones who are the person dialed up to eleven, but I'm not sure this is Enzo at 11, he might only be at 7. I also have mad respect for Enzo because I'm still getting asked when I'm going to grow up and stop dressing the way I do. Even my daughter Ellie is embarrassed by my style. I will never be a traditional soccer mom, and proud of that.
Cass vs Bubba Ray > B+
Of course, D-Von distracted Cass by knocking little Enzo down, but did he have to pop his nose in the process? Not sure anything was actually injured, but Enzo was checking his nose for blood after he hit the floor with his face. I love watching Cass in the ring, but the way he threw Enzo at D-Von was just beautiful! Cass was great with Bubba Ray in the ring and they gave us a short quick match, which is exactly what we needed from Cass with Enzo by his side.
Winner – Cass
In Ring Segment > B+
I have to admit that I think that was Charlotte's best promo so far. I have three big issues with this segment. Now, I will say that Charlotte's voice, as usual, was grating, but a few of the lines she delivered should be screeched. Now she just needs to get a handle on not screeching her whole segment. I really didn't like that Flair was so drunk that he could barely get the words out. He was slurring and a total mess. When he had the mic in his hand and was trying to talk, Charlotte was obviously trying to get the mic from him. She looked worried and mortified as she watched her father. Because he was so drunk out there, I'm not sure he was completely and fully aware that this was not 100% real. Something in his eyes made me truly wonder. Lastly, I think the dead comment was way too far. After Flair losing his son a couple years ago, I'd tread lightly there. Also, when Stardust threw the same promo at Dusty, it was Dusty's last TV appearance. So yeah, that was a bit much for me, and hits a sour note of worry.
I know a lot of people are very unhappy and found this segment disgusting, but this is the WWE and I've been asking them to step things up, give us grit, make us care, make us feel something – anything! I've also asked for skits over them telling us everything they're thinking, planning, wanting, etc. Further, this chock full of emotion, didn't hold anything back. They went there, someplace they've rarely gone, and haven't gone to this extent in about a decade. Yes, as I said Stardust did this to Dusty, but it was as heart wrenching and didn't give the feels the way this did. Dusty was more pissed and sad, Flair was crushed! Whether Flair was selling or feeling, this whole thing was well executed and actually felt like sports entertainment, it was gritty and dirty, not the watered down 'oh gosh' segments we've been getting for too long. This almost had a WCW, Bischoff being a total tool feeling, and while it might have gone a bit too far for some, I'm just thrilled they jumped in full on and went there.
Lastly, I'm sure I'll catch crap for this, or be told I'm jealous of her body, or something. What I want to say is that I with Dana would dress better for her build. It seems as though much of what she wears isn't flattering for her build. Now, I know how hard it can be to dress for her build as I've been built almost the same way (less muscular) for much of my life. I'm either too thin due to being sick, or built exactly like her, so I know how hard it can be to dress in a flattering way.
MITB Qualifying Match – Ambrose vs Ziggler > A-
This was the only MITB match I was worried about, and that's because I want to see Ambrose win the MITB Contract this year. He's crazy as it is, imagine what he could do walking around with a briefcase for months on end? Can you imagine what that case would look like after months of him carrying it around? This is one person I knew had to win his MITB match from the start, but Ziggler helped him make it look great. The back and forth between them was better than I expected, and I want to see more from them in the ring together. They have this level of freeness working the ring that is rarely felt these days and I want more of it. A feud between the two of them would be fantastic – even though I think Ambrose should be in the hunt for the WWE WHC.
Winner – Ambrose
Backstage Segment > B+
ARN! Was Flair smiling at first? I will have to go back and look, because I'm not the only who thought he looked like he was smiling. If he was, I feel even less bad about liking that In Ring Segment. EDIT – Looking back, Flair really did look like he was smiling, which means to me that he was thrilled with how the segment came off.
In Ring Segment > B+
One of the better men AJ's been in the ring with? Reigns? Really? Really? I know it's scripted, but I didn't think even AJ could get that line out without laughing! He's impressing me more and more on mic. He's surely better than he was in TNA. Gallows is also so much better than he was in TNA. Gallows didn't have much of a chance to talk in the WWE, so I can't rip him for that. The Club is breaking up? Already? Gallows really held this segment together, helped AJ along, and sounded great doing it. I was shocked that Gallows and Anderson left without touching AJ, but they will be back to cost him his match against KO very soon!
MITB Qualifying Match – AJ Styles vs Kevin Owens > A-
Going into this match it's pretty obvious that The Club is going to cost AJ the match, setting up for them to feud, and possibly Balor to be called up to get in the middle of it all. Even though AJ would be great in a MITBLM, this doesn't have to be his only shot to be in one! We know he's further along in his career, but he's not as bad off as many others who have been working as long as he has. AJ still has time, and this feud is much more important at this point in his career.
But, as Big M said in the Open Thread Discussion, I'm going to enjoy every bit of this match until that happens. And enjoy this match I did! From what I can see, and I only briefly looked at the most reliable place to find this info, AJ and KO have only faced off one on one a handful of times, and most of those have happened in the WWE.
While I know AJ is Phenomenal, seeing him over KO for much of this match was a bit shocking. KO dominates because of his size, but that wasn't how this match played out. Only when AJ was powerbombed onto the stairs did KO get the upper hand, but didn't stop AJ, and didn't keep him from being on top of KO at almost every move. This is the best of TNA, the best of ROH, and all in the WWE – so the video quality is worthy of watching.
KO has such personality and charisma, the likes of which we rarely see. He's right up there with Ambrose, which, in my mind, makes them the Stone Cold Steve Austin and Rocky of this generation, as both of them are so off the cuff and say what they feel, even if not scripted. KO yelling at Cole to shut up, because KO could hear him from the ring, was just fantastic.
I'm honestly shocked that KO won this match clean. Yes, he could and should win it clean, but after what happened with AJ and The Club, I expected them to get involved and really push that starting feud. Guess maybe they are going to hit this with a slow burn? I truly hope so.
Winner – KO
I wrote 97% of this RIB during Raw last night, but I wanted to stew on the Flair segment over night to see if I might have changed my mind. I was one of the few who wasn't mortified during that segment as we watched it, and sometimes a night to mull over these things change my mind about things, but sleeping on it changed nothing. I say again, I've been begging the WWE to step up and show us some grit. Some of the matches we've seen recently have seem stronger, more interesting – specifically Sami vs Sheamus, Ambrose vs Ziggler and AJ vs KO. Cesaro vs Miz was solid, but just not up there with the other three. I also have to say that the way Cass worked with Bubba Ray and tossed Enzo around was more interesting and creative, which basically leaves Jericho vs Crews that was sub-par, even though I have to say that Jericho is the man for getting out there. Those matches with the emotion of the show – Rollins' return and then turning heel, Steph taking Rollins down a few notches backstage, and Charlotte trashing her father – really worked well to give us a solid and well-composed Raw. This Raw was so much better than the previous three to four episodes of Raw, and better even than Extreme Rules – other than the Fatal Four Way Match, which was stellar.
Queen of WNW