This summer I've spent more time than ever at SCA events. (Medieval reenactment, very different from Ren Faires in so many ways, check us out.) One of the comments that come up a lot is when something (like a car parked in the middle of a place that it shouldn't be) happens is, 'It's harshing my medieval buzz.” Now, I've used that phrase in a joking way, because I like my amenities, especially my tall metal cup with lid and straw full of the best latte (local cafe, local roaster here in Maine), and the plastic handle on my favorite loom, as it's easier to handle than the wooden knob. But, late last night, the WWE Network harshed my 2002 buzz. I was moving on to the August 12th Raw, just after we found out it was Trip the person who attacked HBK in the parking lot, which ended up setting up their SummerSlam match that really started their great feud that lasted for so long until they were besties again. The problem is that the WWE Network showed me a commercial for an Austin podcast. That completely snapped me out of my 2002 WWE buzz and brought me back to 2016. Now, I know advertising is part of the WWE Network, but this was the first time that it really snapped me out of what I'd been watching and reminded me that things are now very different, especially since that was the summer that Stone Cold Steve Austin walked out of the WWE without a word, and really set the whole thing on its ear. It was such a great summer for the WWE, including the first brand expansion, the way this summer has been great, but there's one thing missing that the WWE did then that I think they need to do now, or soon, to bring things full circle and even out the disparity between the two show, but I'll address that in the Post Show segment, just to keep you on your toes and reading...
In Ring Segment > A-
Jon Bon Jericho? That's fantastic. It's great to see that Enzo and Cass are getting into a feud with a solid name, even if Jericho is a few steps slower than he used to be. Y2KO? JeriKO? Makes sense to me, until one turns on the other. Honestly, seeing Cass and KO in the ring together makes me giddy! Almost as giddy as Jericho bringing up Jimmen Marvinluter again this week, and not messing up the name. But, to be honest, KO's mic work here made me about fall off my sofa. The chemistry between the two of them was great, but it was KO's mannerisms and relaxed way of working the mic was so different from Enzo that it added a very different layer of flavor to the dish that was the opening segment of this Raw. Now I'm hungry, and not just for more of these four. How you doin'?
Jericho vs Enzo > A-
Not a bad match between the two. Of course, it was going to get in DQ setting up for SummerSlam. I love how Cass got up there and demanded the tag match. They all handled this match perfectly showed off the talents of all four of these guys, and really did a great job of both telling a story, and setting up for SummerSlam. Even if I wasn't excited about this match, because of who they are, I'd be excited for how they set it up.
I have to mention that when KO and Jericho were on stage, KO told Jericho not to touch him. Some of the guys thought there might be real issues between them, others said that KO is that deep into his character, and always in character when he could be seen, that the camera is always on him. I have to run with the second group because KO really is that great.
Winner vs DQ – Jericho
Backstage Segment > B
Foley in a suit with his clipboard, lying about using the tablet. But it was Foley with Sasha that was great to see. He gets along with, and goes above and beyond with the women, treating them with the respect that few other have in this industry. Finally, women are getting the respect Foley has been giving them all along. I love seeing that soft side of Foley, even though his decision was a little less warm and fuzzy than he usually is as a person.
Strowman vs Jobber > B
I love this kid's interview before the match. Stacy asked me if I thought that Strowman will do any better than all the other big monsters who have been built this way? If he'd asked that before the brand split I'd have said no, but seeing what he has done since being split off They Wyatt Family, I think he might. He has speed and strength, all he needs is a bit more personality and a good first feud, and he might make it far.
One of the announcers asked, “How do you stop Strowman?” Don't plug him in at night? Stacy said that the way his hair is braided it looks like a cable coming out of his head.
Winner – Strowman
Backstage Segment > D
Puff Daddy? P-Diddy? Who is he this week? I have to admit that I'm not a fan of his. Maybe it's an age thing, or maybe it's something else, but I've never been big on him, and really didn't get much of what was going on there. I knew none of the names he mentioned, but I did notice the New Day lunchbox, and I NEED one! I already found it on the WWE ShopZone and made sure Stacy knew it was there. That's so my next purse!
Young vs O'Neil > D
So it's okay for Young to cheat and not O'Neil? I know Backlund wasn't watching, but still, will it really matter to him? To me, the way to make Young great 'again' is to get rid of Backlund and give him a solid character and storyline. I think Young can handle it at this point, but this crap doesn't fly for me at all.
Winner – Young
In Ring Segment > A-
Rollins on mic is so much more than what he was in the Shield. I loved Tyler Black in ROH, but I didn't know then what greatness he would become as Seth Rollins in the WWE. He's one of the few who can stand in the ring, by himself, and drop a promo like this. There were many before him who could, but right now, on the Raw roster, he is the man who can do this. Okay, at one point, I thought he was going to say that he's the Game, which this is a bit too close to, but I understand why. He's very Trip in many ways, and his promo delivery is very like Trip's, which is why he can do these on his own, but too many of them get monotonous. I'm so excited going into SummerSlam and this new Universal Championship, and that's because Rollins and Balor are so great, and not the typical musclebound freaks that McMahon likes so much.
Sheamus vs Cesaro > A-
While not a fast-paced match, it was well executed and told a story. I thought the ref was going to call the DQ on Sheamus after his cheap antics, but he counted the three for Cesaro instead. I liked that, but I also liked the lead up to that moment. It really looked as though Sheamus, after much back and forth, was going to pull this out, until he went dirty and messed it all up for himself. It's nice seeing Cesaro getting ahead, but he really does need to be on SmackDown, where he could get a better push and really push for the top. With a smaller roster, Cesaro could really shine. He has it in him but needs to be on the right show, not getting lost in the shuffle on Raw. Not that he's gotten lost yet, but he's spent so much time lost in the shuffle already that I worry he will be right back in there quickly and easily, even though he's so much better than that.
Winner – Cesaro
Video > A&F
I normally don't comment on these videos, but when I do, it's for a reason. As I said at the start of this RIB, I'm watching the summer of 2002 in the WWE, which is when Brock, Orton, Cena, and Batista debuted. It's so much fun looking back at this changing of the guard. The torch was only starting to be passed, and these guys were part of that over that summer and the following couple years and this video showed that part of things, but also what a tool Brock is, and what a snot Orton was. Orton not liking that Brock decided he didn't like people (and the travel) really pissed off a lot of fans, but it had to hit him and Cena hard, as he was the top of the three of them coming in that year, and did so well until he took his ball and went home. That left that open spot for them, but also made everything they did look a little more suspect, a little less real and realistic to those looking in, and I'm sure that hurt them all backstage even more than it hurt the fans. And then Brock talking about how Orton's a star and Brock is so much more than that, I was disgusted. Yes, Orton's bad attitude held him back, but that's not at all what Brock was saying. Brock was saying that he's so much more than the WWE, is so much more because he left that little WWE company and did things so much greater than the WWE, and now he's back to grace us with his presence and Orton should be kissing Brock's feet for returning and looking down on Orton enough to let him even be in the same ring with Brock. Everything Brock said their rubbed me the wrong way and show exactly why he shouldn't be collecting this huge paycheck from the WWE for doing little more than nothing for, or within, the company. The WWE and WWE Superstars are too good for Brock Lesnar.
Dudley Boyz vs Neville & Sin Cara > D
Well, that was little more than boring. Neville has to have more personality than this! And it's time, especially after those seeds that were planted, for Bully Ray to step up and show that he is Calfzilla!! This run has been downright boring and made worse by them not using tables. I know that they are more than just tables, but (again), watching 2002, even when they were split onto different shows, tables were a big part of who they are, and shouldn't be taken from them. They are not advocating bloody, hardcore head shots by using them, but they are bringing entertainment to the fans, which is something they've not done this time around.
Winners – Neville & Sin Cara
In Ring Segment > B+
I love the dress pants and vest on Rusev with the strap over his shoulder. Lana's dress is almost exactly (real silk, not cheap satin that they wouldn't mind getting covered in cake) what I'd hoped to get married in, right down to the floral and pearl tiara when I was 12 and dreaming about my big day. That being said, there've been few times in my life that my body would have looked decent enough to pull that dress off. Dang, she is beautiful!
Reigns was really strong on mic here! He seemed comfortable in his own skin here, which made this segment so much better, especially when he told Rusev to put the beef away.
But it was Lana who made this segment fully rounded and fun. We knew the cake would be all over the place, and all over at least one person, but Lana did such a great job of smooshing herself into that cake all over herself and getting so much red mixed into the white. I'm really blown away at how much she did when she was face down in that cake!
Backstage Segment > A-
I loved Lana and Rusev screaming backstage. Foley did well at not laughing at them and give Rusev exactly what he didn't want, all the while with Lana behind them even more covered with cake – if that's possible. It must have been the backstage lighting that made the frosting all over Lana's hair, face, and body look even redder than the dark pink she was covered with in the ring
Sasha Banks vs Dana Brooke > B-
This match wasn't bad because Sasha was in it, but if Dana had been in the ring with someone who wasn't as fantastic as Sasha, it could have been an epic mess. Like Aksana, I wonder how long it will be before Dana really hurts someone she's in the ring with. She's just not as safe as she needs to be, and she has more mass behind her than many of the Superstars she faces in the ring. Other than Charlotte and Nia Jax, most of the female Superstars are very petite little things. Now, I'm not at all trashing on Dana for her curves, in fact, I think she has one of the best bodies on the roster. She's more real, showing that strong and powerful women don't have to be waif thin. It is something I want my daughter to learn from because seeing too many very thin female Superstars isn't the ideal I want Sam to think is the norm.
Winner – Sasha Banks
Video > B+
Interesting that they did Balor's promo taped, rather than live in the ring. Yes, it makes sense with the stills they injected and the smoky surrounding him in the dark and strangely lit set he's sitting in. I like it, and I think it works. It allowed Balor to not have to be in front of the huge crowd, and get him used to being a big fish in a big pond, rather than a big fish in a little pond. Lastly, the fact that Balor wasn't even in the country for Raw this week made it a bit hard for Balor to be on Raw live this week
Video > A
I was snorting from the start of this video. The straight faces they delivered their lines with were great. They showed that they do have personalities and senses of humor! I have been BEGGING for vignettes like this. Little skits are part of what made some of the greatest storylines and feuds that much greater. Think about the backstage DX skits between HBK, Trip and Chyna, they were hysterical! More recently, the Muppets with the Superstars had me on the floor laughing, especially Sheamus and Beaker. There's so much they could do that they hadn't been doing,
Gallows vs Kofi > C
Kofi really didn't have a chance in this match, but I love how Wood wasn't going to let Kofi have his stones slammed into the post. That's a true friend. Otherwise, this wasn't a great match, just middle of the road. I really enjoyed the skit from The Club, which I know a lot of people really didn't like, I'm just thrilled to see them doing something beyond the boring nothing that The Club has done from day one in the WWE. Fingers crossed that their matches get more interesting.
Winner – Gallows
Video > C+
I really need to get the new Scooby DVD and review it for WNW, and sooner rather than later. I love R-Truth and Goldust together, and they were perfect to put in this segment with Scooby. Even though these two can go in the ring as well as ever, it's great that they're doing the things that most other Superstars would be rolling their eyes at, because they'd rather be in the ring. This gives them their show bonus, but they get to do fun things each week.
In Ring Segment > B+
Foley with Bryan is fun, but it seems as though Foley might be a bit more heelish each week, whereas Bryan would have to do many horrible things to ever be heel again. Bryan is more over, and gets more pop, than, many, if not most of the wrestling Superstars on both rosters, so it was great that he was on Raw to help with the number of Superstars who are on tour on the other side of the world. Bryan helped give Raw star power tonight.
It was interesting to see Rusev kissing up to Foley, even if it was just to get out of his SummerSlam match. I love that Bryan seems to have no filter, he says what he see, and how he feels, no matter if it's kosher to do so, or not. That he said Cesaro would be better on SmackDown made me happy, meaning they are still working that angle. I'm thrilled that they are, but I thought they really needed to do more in the ring, between Foley and Bryan, because Foley making this main event match for Cesaro left the reason Foley called Bryan to Raw hanging in the breeze. Does that mean Foley will be on SmackDown so they can finish their discussion?
US Championship Match – Rusev (c) vs Cesaro > B+
I didn't think there was any way Cesaro was going to win this match at this point, but I have to say it was a better match than I thought it was going to be. Cesaro is so great in the ring, and Rusev is getting better and better. He's the best unintentionally funny guy on the roster, and while that was obvious in his segments with Lana earlier, watching Rusev more closely in the ring, he's really becoming quite expressive and interesting to watch. At first he was all grrrr and boring, very Goldberg, but now he's relaxing into his role and becoming someone I really think could be a top guy in the WWE. He might not have a meteoric rise when he 'outgrows' the US Championship, but I think with his awe-inspiring wife by his side, Rusev could very well be the sleeper Superstars we never thought would come out of that man. He was great with Cesaro, who is so wonderfully expressive in his own right, and with Sheamus getting involved, they really told a story and set up for SummerSlam. This feud has had a solid build, and hasn't just been about the two of them facing off in the ring over and over, another issue the WWE has a problem with that I've been highlighting week after week here in the RIB.
Winner – Rusev
After the start of the first Brand Extension, when they screwed up so badly with placing the Superstars, giving Flair (scripted as 50% owner at that point, that he bought all the stock Shane and Steph sold to get to monies needed to buy WCW and ECW) a mic on Raw and confusing a number of feuds, storylines, and matches, by not saying all he needed to, and setting up too many #1 contenders going into a PPV. After THAT Flair debacle (among so many debacles Flair has caused by opening his mouth) is when McMahon brought in Bischoff to be GM of Raw and Steph (who lost a Loser Leave WWE Match, having been pinned by Trip) to be GM of SmackDown. When McMahon did that, he also opened up the contracts of all the Superstars on both shows. The GMs started scheming, playing dirty, and luring Superstars away from the other shows. This helped even out the rosters and made the storylines heading into that SummerSlam jaw dropping. You never knew who was going to jump from one show to the other, or how they might be lured away. This lasted a bit, until the Superstars on the shows were worked out, and both shows felt better with the right Superstars. I think, after SummerSlam, they should do something along those lines, that way they can get Cesaro to SmackDown, where he really needs to be, and iron out some of the kinks they created with this draft.
Lastly, they need to get Sandow back, put him on SmackDown, and bring All Good Anthony Greene into the WWE for the Cruiserweight Division. Both of them would be huge assets to the company, and shouldn't be overlooked.
Queen of WNW