I have to wonder how this WrestleMania is going to pan out. It seems as though each year we become more and more worried about WrestleMania as it approaches, and while some matches help save the show every year, it seems as though they're missing the ball more and more. We all know who I like to blame for this, and I think I'm correct in that. All you have to do is watch NXT to see how fantastic it is compared to what we get every week on Raw, and sometimes (but less so) SmackDown. I hope things change soon, because these three hour episodes of Raw with questionable Creative and booking leave me with a bad taste in my mouth more often than not, which is that much worse because this is supposed to be the best time of the year for the WWE.
Video > B
I normally don't comment on opening videos, but they do them so rarely lately, that I thought I would. Of course they have to start Raw with this after all that went down last week, and the production crew did a stellar job, as always.
In Ring Segment > A
Unlike the real world, Foley is out to the ring and not fired. If this was reality, Foley just wouldn't be back, and no one would mention him. Yes, we all know this is storyline, but still, it doesn't jive. Foley was so passionate that he almost dropped some serious language, and whether on purpose or not, Foley after he ripped up the index cards is exactly why I've always adored him – passion. The cutting of the mic is something we haven't seen in a long time, and it just added to the excitement of this segment, as did the fans who were all love for Foley.
Of course, Steph had to come out and be a total ass to Foley, but that's what she's great at. Further, she channels her father wonderfully when firing people, but it was Sami who blew me away. That's something I wasn't expecting, and was thrilled to see. I was worried she was going to fire Sami too, but then it could free him up to go to SmackDown, and that would also be great.
Sami Zayn vs Samoa Joe > A-
Finally these two get to show us how great they are in the ring together in the WWE. I find it interesting that most of their matches together from the majority of their careers have been in NXT. That they finally got some time this week to really work the ring, going back and forth, not just a squash match, makes me feel that much better about the direction Sami is going. He's such an underdog, but it appears as though he's going to be getting some sort of push – yay!
Winner – Joe
Backstage Segment > A
So many feels for Foley! It was great to see the love from so many, especially Sheamus! Obviously they're all in for it being Foley guys, especially Bayley, but that's how Steph rolls. Of course Trip had to be a total ass to Foley, but that's something he's good at. The man plays heel better than most.
Update > F!
Why the heck do they put such dishwater doctors on TV? Either he is the doctor, and they should have gotten an actor, or he's an actor and they should have hired a better one. This was just horrid.
Dana vs Charlotte > B-
I was hoping that Dana worked hard improving her ring work while she wasn't on Raw, and while the match started with too much punching for my taste, she looked better from the start than I expected her to be. While there were a few issues from Dana, and she didn't win, I'm not sure all those issues were Dana's fault. One looked absolutely like Charlotte was off her mark. Beyond that, I thought it was a pretty solid match for Dana, especially considering how green she was when she first came up to Raw. I'm hoping she will continue to get better, because she has a great look, and works hard when she's out there. To be honest, if this was ten years ago, she'd be over-qualified, but now the women are so athletic and skilled, only the top workers can hang in the ring with them.
Winner – Charlotte
Backstage Segment > B+
Of course Bayley is going to catch every bit that Steph can throw at her, now that Foley's been fired. It's not cool, but that's how heels in charge of a show, or company, roll. Of course that's going to make the Road To WrestleMania that much harder for Bayley, and I'll be shocked if Bayley isn't in a Fatal Four Way at WrestleMania. As much as I enjoy her as the Raw Women's Champion, I'm thinking this could be the best women's match ever held at WrestleMania!
Highlight Reel > A
Jericho is bloody amazing, but I more than that, I love the blurred lines. That pic of Kevin Owens in the Y2J shirt from 2000 was perfect. Sami said you shouldn't meet your idols, but he was glad he did, well KO should be thrilled that he did too, because Jericho did some seriously great things for KO's career. Not that KO needed it, but it pushed him that much harder. Jericho is gold on the mic, and, like I'll mention later, the younger Superstars really need to learn from him. I'd be shocked if Jericho would turn down helping anyone who asked, as he's in the WWE to help other Superstars get over, which is so commendable of him. He's taken a point in his career where people could be saying that he cannot let go of the fan adoration, and making it into something great for everyone he works with, something he really doesn't need to do with all the other projects, and Fozzy, going on. He really is the GOAT!
I don't get why Joe was out there, other than to distract Jericho enough for KO to leave Jericho laid out in the ring. It seems as though Joe being used as The Authority's muscle in a rather haphazard way, which isn't great for the booking of Joe. They seem to be throwing his appearances and direction together as they go, and without a real plan for him, things could really crash and burn for one of the most impressive Superstars on the roster. There's so much he could do for the WWE, if they handled him well, but since he's on Raw, McMahon is using him badly.
TJP vs TBK > D
Yawn...Wait, what, they actually booked this match AGAIN? This was what started the Cruiserweight Division on Raw, and we are still seeing it. There's more than just five guys on the roster, but McMahon doesn't seem to remember that most weeks. I'm so bleeping bored, and I think that's what McMahon is hoping for. He doesn't have Rey Mysterio, hasn't given the Cruiserweight Division much to work with, so he's trying to make them fail.
Winner – The Brian Kendrick
In Ring Segment > B+
This segment would have been better if The Brian Kendrick wasn't so winded from his match, but it was the right time to do it. I love where they went with this, and almost looks as though they're poking fun at McMahon's good friend Trump! I laughed, but only because I'm so tired of being so mad at Trump 24/7.
Backstage Segment > C
Reigns looks good, and is more believable as a heel, but we need more than this, much more! I know Reigns is going to be a natural heel, but he needs to be his own self as a heel, organically. It worked for Rocky, and I have the gut feeling it will work for him too. Further, after he defeats Taker at WrestleMania, there's not going to be any looking back, he will have to be heel for quite a while, the fans won't accept anything else.
Bayley vs Nia Jax > B+
Going into this one I knew that Nia would be winning it, because it makes sense to add her to the Raw Women's Championship Match at WrestleMania. Personally, I don't think she's ready for a singles match at WrestleMania, but the Fatal Four Way could be solid for her. She and Bayley did a solid job of working back and forth, making this match look viable, even though Nia very obviously have a size and strength and strength advantage over her. On the other hand, Nia is rather green, and Bayley is top notch in the ring. All in all I thought this worked quite well, and I'm that much more excited for their WrestleMania match, even though it's basically going to end up being Bayley against three heels.
Winner – Nia Jax
Mae Young > A+
I loved Mae Young and all her crazy antics. She was a groundbreaking woman who should be applauded for what she did for all women, but especially what she did for female wrestlers. I'm so glad the pendulum has swung back to the women actually wrestling, the way she did in her prime, not all the slap and tickle it was for too long.
In Ring Segment > A+
Not sure I feel about Trip being interviewed in the ring in this way. It feels awkward. Yes, Trip is one of the best on mic, and doesn't get his due, mostly because of all those 20 minute promos, but he can make the fans feel what he wants them to feel. He also has some of the best in-ring psychology of any Superstar, all the while being one of the safest in the ring. He really needs to be spending every waking minute teaching the younger Superstars how to do what he does, but with their own personalities, their own characters, their own storylines. Yes, being nervous in front of all those fans has to be hard, but either get over it, or you're not meant to be there.
I love how Trip ripped on Rollins for pandering to the fans when that's exactly what he did in this segment. He's so fantastic at twisting everything and making it work so well. Trip really gets the industry and what the fans want, and it's obvious when he's in charge of something compared to his father-in-law. I know it's hard to turn over the reigns, but, after seeing this segment compared to the tag match...
Cesaro & Sheamus vs Enzo & Cass & Anderson & Gallows > F
Obviously Anderson and Gallows screwed themselves with this one, and the whole thing looked rather lame to me. I know heels are heels, but attacking others only to screw themselves is not how a normal person thinks. Normally they'd send the faces in to do all the work, and then steal the win and act like they did all the work. They could have done that, it would have made more sense, and they still could have screwed it up in the end and lost the match, then turning on Enzo and Cass and blame them for the loss. I cannot blame the six in this match, I blame whoever okayed this match. So yeah, that would be McMahon.
Winners – Cesaro & Sheamus
Backstage Segment > A-
They actually went there, but did so in a way that was discreet and left things open to interpretation for those who don't know what's been going on this past week. I give the WWE props for mentioning it, but doing so in a clean way.
Kofi got the best line of the night, because he knows not to trust Orton after what Orton did to him years ago – derailing his career, because Orton was a raging pussy who would rather whine than work for it. And because he was destined for greatness (sorta) he got away with being a total tool to many, many people for way too long. And, every time I think Orton has finally grown the heck up, he proves me wrong. He's been good for a while now, but only time will tell if Orton is actually acting like an adult, or biding his time until he acts like a spoiled brat again.
A Double vs Tony Nese > B
Aries looked a little better than last week, still not as on his mark as we know he can be, but he has almost two weeks before WrestleMania, and we know that match will be amazing! It about kills me not to write all the most wonderful things about Aries, but it know it's just because he's been out of the ring for so long and needs some time to get back in the groove.
Winner – Austin Aries
In Ring Segment > A
Aries on mic is always stellar, and Neville has finally found his niche, but I'm not sure I believe that purple belt. I don't know why over Neville's shoulder it's screaming at me, but tonight it's really garish.
I love how Aries handled Neville as if he was still working announce and hadn't just finished a match. Neville was so annoyed by this, making him that much more of a heel. Neville is so great in this role that it's almost impossible to remember just how horrid he was as a face. They say certain wrestlers are better at one than another, and Neville has more than proven that!
Video > F
Emma? Really? Why now? How long will we have to wait this time? If it's until Dana is heel again, then that would make sense, but now that Dana is face, I guess, then I don't get it. I know she's getting paid her downside, but it cannot be fun to be sitting around while these promos play for, what, another twelve weeks?
Reigns vs Strowman > B
I wasn't happy about this match. There's no question that in the grand scheme of things, Strowman should be working major matches, not being a pawn for Reigns. Further that this monster heel is being booked to go under a heel that, according to the WWE, isn't a heel, make less than no sense. I don't like seeing Strowman not being booked in a WrestleMania match, even though he's so obviously over. It feels as though the WWE is dropping the ball with him. Unless he destroys everyone in the Andre The Giant Battle Royal, I will continue to be upset over how the WWE handles him through WrestleMania.
I have to say that I was thrilled to see Taker, even though I'm incredibly worried about his health. I was shocked that he was willing to take a spear this close to WrestleMania, but I guess if he feels up for it, it's a great way to have Taker around for the short time he will continue to be on WWE TV. I'll admit I was a bit worried about him after the spear, but when he sat up, I was giddy.
As great as all of that was, the way Reigns' lip twitched when he saw Taker had sat up was crazy selling! Big M and I talked about what it meant, and personally, I have that same twitch when I'm trying to contain extreme anger, but I'm wondering what his meant, exactly. To me it looked like anger that Taker didn't just stay down, but who knows. The fact that he did such a simple thing at the perfect moment said so many things that he could never have articulated verbally.
Winner – N/A
And now for something completely different. I spent a bit of my day on Monday talking on Facebook with Tony Norris, aka Ahmed Johnson. Now, it wasn't an interview, so I'm not going to mention what was discussed, but I will say that he was just lovely. I've been watching a lot of his work in the WWE recently and have been blown away by his passion, but how nice he was to me online on top of that left me feeling like I wasn't a total fangirl. I always feel bad approaching any wrestler as I don't want to infringe on their personal time, but he left me with a huge smile on my face, and that's one of the best things I can say about any human being.
Queen of WNW