Ryback's match with Cesaro wasn't very well met with the fans in attendance, but I have to say I was quite impressed. Again Cesaro hit a couple of moves that I've not seen from him, and I'm thrilled each time he branches out, but it was Ryback who impressed me. Early on, when Ryback was basically playing Goldberg, I kept saying he was much better than that, and had so much more ability than he'd been showing. I was knocked down each time I said it. People here kept telling me that Ryback was a Goldberg, and that was it. While this wasn't the most graceful match, Ryback proved my point of a couple years ago, he can go in the ring more than just a few moves, or a few more with weapons added. I was also slapped down when I lost my faith in Ryback, but I think I had good reason for it. His ego was getting him into serious trouble, and almost hurting others. It seems as though Ryback is doing so much better, and closer to what I knew he was capable of. I'm thrilled when wrestlers work out the way we all know is possible. Now Ryback just needs to prove he can eat at the grown up table.
Again, this week, I will be joined by Joshua Tucker and Jesse Sherwood. Make sure you show them big love for the time and work they've put in.
In Ring Segment > B
I took a couple little notes about this segment through this segment that I need to mention now.
I loved that Trip brought up that he and Steph are playing the exact same character at Evil McMahon. It's something we all know, though it seems as though Trip likes trolling us with those comments.
I also have to mention Trip saying that the fans cannot decide who is in the main event, that it's all up to The Authority. My first thought to that comment was, tell Daniel Bryan that! It's more of Trip trolling the fans, especially the IWC, and I have to say he's doing a solid job of things on mic, and sells this better than I ever thought possible.
I have to say that Trip using the word literally annoyed me. He used it a lot as its new meaning, which is completely opposite of what the word truly means, and it's just annoying to me that Trip is perpetuating the new use of the word, because as a writer, it's still very wrong to me.
And then there's the use of decimate by both Trip and Steph. I know it means – to destroy a great number or proportion of, but in my mind I always go to the other definition – to select by lot and kill every tenth person. I'm not a math person, but I see or hear deci, and I know it means ten, therefore my brain goes in that direction.
I know it's all in the changes of the use of certain words in the English language, and this is a wrestling site, not semantics, or a study of the changing of the definitions of words over time. But this is an evaluation of this episode of Raw, and these words and the use of these words by Trip and Steph jumped out at me in such a glaring way that it took me out of the flow of the segment, which is never a good thing, and hurt the segment in the process. That is why I've brought it up.
Lastly, Ryback was solid here and got great pop for it. He's grown so much, and we are all winners for it.
IC Championship Match – Ziggler (c) vs Harper > B+
This was a really good match. Had a great story with Ziggler getting beat up yet fighting to defend his championship. I know a lot people hated the fact that Harper won the championship, but that was only really because it was against Ziggler. Harper is a fantastic talent and deserves the win. Plus this sets up a redemption story for Ziggler as faces tend to be better off chasing the championship then holding it. I support the decision for WWE to strap Harper here. If the Championship is defended in great matches and with great stories as it has been then the championship comes out more positive. I also think this is not the end for Ziggler either. I'm now thinking about potential feuds for Harper. Ones that come to mind are The man that never lost the Championship he just won, Bad News Barrett, Sheamus if healthy, Swagger and others. This may be the day we all look back someday and say that was it boys and girls, that was the night Luke Harper became a star.
Winner & new IC Champion Luke Harper! (8:32)
Backstage Segment > Inhumane
I'm not a fan of guest spots on Raw, as most of you are not either. Most of the time, they eat up a lot of unnecessary time that could be used to forward an existing storyline or added to a match. But last night's multiple segments with Grumpy Cat were down right deplorable and inhumane. That cat was utterly miserable and exhausted in every one of these pre-taped segments. She was being held into an awkward position on the table so they could get maximum exposure for the face of all of the memes on TV, and being a ragdoll type cat, it basically went kind of limp when it was held like that. The fact is that the owners of that cat should be ashamed about forcing it into that position for so long. And you could tell it was being held like that by the way it's hindquarters moved during the segments! And on top of that, WWE should be ashamed that they let it go on. One look at the animal and you could tell that it was miserable. After the first segment, they could have just as easily rewrote the script in famous VKM fashion so the cat wasn't being cruelly treated. By the final segment, the cat was sleeping, and they WOKE IT UP just to plug the product. That is absolutely intolerable. Yes, the owners are the ones who should take the heat for this, but WWE was complacent in it as well. Other than the animal abuse, the segments themselves were somewhat cute, especially Miz kissing Grumpy. Rowan's child like state continued in the second one, and I really hope that WWE takes it in a positive direction. This is a gimmick that has fallen through the cracks on many occasions, but Rowan seems more like a gentle giant than anyone else on the roster.
Rose vs Kidd > C+
So suddenly Kidd is being nice to his wife? I haven't been watching this season of Total Divas, so I don't know what's up with that, but Kidd had been so nasty it seemed like a sudden switch for him to suddenly hold the ropes and be so sweet with her. But then there's Rose and the Bunny. Rose is showing that side of him, possibly a little Leo Kruger, is fantastic! Rose is really hitting this character change hard, and killing it. This man has serious skills. The adding a little more eyeliner each week adds so much to his changing attitude. It's like Steph in leather, it's showing so much more than telling!
Winner – Kidd (1:51)
In Ring Segment > B
I love Bray Wyatt, but his ramblings are getting to be more than a bit much. He's really good, and I know he's the cult leader, preacher type, so it makes sense for him to go on and on, but he's getting somewhat boring in his promos. Luckily Ambrose was there to shake things up. Actually, I quite like how the segment was executed, and that Bray seemed to be thrown off his game by the attack. He sold that better than I thought possible. He really is very visually expressive, he just needs shorter promos with better enunciation.
Picture it, Raw, episode 311, May 10, 1999, Vince McMahon and the Union was feuding with Shane McMahon and the Corporate Ministry. Union in the ring, with three officers in riot gear. They were quite outnumbered by the Corporate Ministry on the stage. Then HBK came up on the tron, as the Commissioner, he was changing all the matches, and trying to sway the scales to McMahon's side. He put together all these matches, and they are FAN-FRICKEN-TASTIC matches – Taker, Triple H and Shane vs Rock, SCSA and McMahon, just to name the main event. HBK was supposed to be 2000 miles away, and they timed the conversations between Shane and HBK perfectly. HBK then revealed one officer as Patterson, the other as Brisco. The middle officer was none other than HBK himself, and named himself Special Guest Ref for the main event. HBK used that amazing bit of magic we all know as tape delay.
As soon as Ambrose started talking on the tron last night, I was almost positive that we were going to have another tape delay moment, and I was thrilled. It's something the WWE has used through the years, but really does a solid job of not over-using. I love that I was brought back to another wonderful use of that magic, and have to thank the WWE Network for reminding me of such a fun moment, and giving me the tools to easily look back, find the episode, and re-watch the segment whenever I want.
Video > D-
Larry The Cable Guy on Raw? Please, world, open up and swallow him before I have to write those results next week!
Cesaro vs Ryback > A-
What a match between these two. It wasn't all Cesaro either. Ryback has gotten much better in the ring and it is showing. What's better is they aren't having him squash enhancement talent or having squash normal talent. They are having him put on good matches that are going quite some time. This match was over 14 minutes and might be Ryback's best Non-Stipulation singles match he's ever had. I said it in the OTP that perhaps the best thing that could have ever happened to Ryback was partnering with Curtis Axel. Axel if nothing else is a good wrestler and it looks like Ryback studied while teaming with him. And for those that are surprised by the pops Ryback is getting just remember that just before his time off for surgery the fans were starting to cheer for him. They wanted to cheer for him and the reboot and return to the Feed Me More Big Guy Ryback has allowed them to do just that. The IWC may not like Ryback but the WWE universe does. And that is all that matters in the end.
Winner – Ryback (14:14)
Backstage Segment > C
Eh, another angsty Cena segment. It was needed to push the storyline forward for the night, but beyond that, nothing special at all.
Rusev vs Slater > B-
While an absolute squash match, Slater was really solid on mic. I love Slater, and think he has so much more potential than he's allowed to show on a weekly basis. I know it can be hard to find a slot for certain people, but Slater has so much greatness in him, and he just hasn't seemed to be given a chance, other than working with the legendary Superstars a couple summers ago. Hopefully he will grow to be more than a jobber, though I worry that he might be a bit in the doghouse after cussing on mic.
I also have to mention Slater's vest. It was lovely, and would have looked so much better if he hadn't had to wear that tacky jacket over it.
Winner – Rusev (0:29)
Big Show vs Sheamus > B-
Sheamus and Show seem to have a chemistry in the ring together. They always seem to have a good match with each other. Sheamus hit the Electric Chair Spot on Show again just as he did a few years ago when he hit one during their world title feud. Watching the show live I thought maybe Sheamus got hurt during the match for real when he tumbled out of the ring and hit the apron with his shoulder. But re-watching it I realized it happened really early in the match and Sheamus still hit several big power moves from his move-set plus the Electric Chair spot. I guess everything went according to plan then and they gave us quite the surprise at the end of the show.
Winner – Sheamus via DQ? (11:19)
Nikki vs Brie as AJ > B-
AJ on announce was one of the best parts of this match! AJ talking up Brie dressed as her, and looking better in the outfit was such a real and honest thing to say, and the way she said it was so real as well. Also, the way AJ talked about how Nikki thinks of the Divas Title as an accessory, not as what it really is, what it really means. Honestly, I enjoyed the way Brie fought back, and the beating the Bellas took after the match more than the actual match.
Winner – Brie (2:10)
Video > B+
Other than the pleated pants, I was thrilled with Big E's promo video. Hopefully this will be the character change that will push Big E to the next level. He has what it takes, if only he's allowed to put more of his quirky self into his character. I'm very excited about these three being together, and hopefully pushing forward. Honestly, it might be the only way Kofi could push forward. While the man appears to have springs in his feet, he just doesn't have the personality needed to move forward. Woods and Big E, on the other hand, have personality in spades! Hopefully Big E's size will balance out the other two, and...you see what I mean. I think the three of them will work really well together.
Backstage Segment > B
No one can remember The Big Guy? It's a creative way of cementing it in our brains, and it's not as annoying and corny as Dolph Ziggler introducing himself to everyone he met every week! Beyond that, I really enjoyed the chemistry of Ryback and Cena. Cena can work with almost anyone, but Ryback has had serious ups and downs in his career. It seems as though Ryback has finally settled into himself, and has found a balance. Ryback has really grown by leaps and bounds, and I'm excited for his future.
Usos Los Matadores vs Dusts & Miz & Mizdow > B
The WWE is doing a great job of building Sandow. The avoidance of tagging him in, then tagging him right out when the fans pop for him is genius! I'm blown away by this man who's taken what could have been an absolutely lame character, and turned it into something everyone is talking about. Many of us have been rooting for Sandow since early on in his WWE career, but most of the time he's been going in fits and starts. No matter what he's handed, he makes it fantastic. Like this match, even with solid wrestlers, and personalities like Goldust and Stardust, it was Mizdow who stole the show. I don't know what the plans for Mizdow are, but I'm excited, and hopeful they don't screw things up with him, yet again.
Announce Segment > B
I have to admit that I was wondering if Sheamus has actually been taken away after the bump through the table. Further, it set up for a lot of questions going into the contract signing. This was a lovely little piece of drama without taking up much time.
Contract Signing > B+
Trip did a solid job of selling his heart and love of the WWE at the start of this segment. I also loved the emotion passing between the Levesques. Sometimes the two of them look at each other and sparks fly in a beautiful way. Their chemistry is almost tangible. It's great that their daughters will have some of these moments on film to look back at, and to show their children when they are running the WWE.
Sometimes Cena on mic is a gloriously perfect thing, and this was one of those times. He worked the crowd well, he worked Steph and Trip well, and he did a solid job of setting up for Survivor Series. I will admit that I was sometimes annoyed with this segment, but it was in writing it word for word on a new keyboard a half hour later than it should have been posted. I didn't realize that my new keyboard had been sitting in my mailbox until Stacy brought it in after he walked Dragon. As my space bar was all but broken on my old keyboard, I knew it would be easier to start late and try to catch up with the new keyboard. Or, I thought it would be until Cena started talking in this segment! Cena was crisp, on the ball, and worked off what he saw, as much as what was scripted. He's one who works well improvising with what's around him.
I loved the way he talked about Kane's professional history, then mentioned that he now looks like a bootleg Drew Carey without the glasses. I almost spit Mt. Dew all over my computer with that one. Then there was the swamp in the pants comment that had me giggling, and Trip almost being asleep on the the top buckle. Finally Henry is embracing Sexual Chocolate as something that will live forever, and not get really pissed about. Then there's the bleached blond brunet with the fetish for latex. It's the twist of a phrase that's not corny, but not so AE that he needs to be bleeped, like Slater managed earlier in the show!
Steph's slap was great, but she was great through much of the segment. She sold visually, and better than she did not that long ago. Though the last thing I want to see is Steph looking like the new guy, puking her guts out in the corner.
I knew that Team Cena would be joining him, and it would be done in a creative way, but they further impressed me with how they did it. Ziggler selling his injuries, but also with his hair tied back in a look we don't usually see from him. Then, of course, Big Show being Big Show. I will say that Rowan was shocking, and Stacy didn't get it, but it made perfect sense to me with Harper being on Team Authority. I think they will add a lot to their Survivor Series match.
Cesaro's music was quite shocking, but I loved the tease. They all did quite a great job of selling the shock, confusion, and then humor at pulling the wool over everyone's eyes at the same time. I thought it was really well executed, though I'll admit that I had hoped Cesaro had thrown a true swerve and had jumped ship to further his career. Oh well, I'm sure it will happen in due time.
We all knew that Ryback would be joining Team Cena, just didn't know when or how. With the pop Ryback has already been getting, when he's the last man standing at Survivor Series, his stock will continue to rise in a huge way.
After all the crap I gave Trip and Steph at the start of the show for their word choices, I have to give Steph huge props for her use of the words tantamount and myopic in this segment. I'm always thrilled with the creative use of words, when they're used correctly.
What a wild roller coaster Raw was last night. They did a solid job of setting up for Survivor Series. It was a bit strange adding Rowan in, but I liked it and the possibilities. I also like that Harper is strapped. Normally I'd be complaining about Ziggler losing the strap in such a way, but Harper could to it on his own, and it was the best way The Authority could give the new guy a dose of self esteem going into Survivor Series. I'm actually getting excited about the free PPV, but only time will tell.
Queen of WNW
KB, Joshua & Jesse