What the heck have they done to Raw? This Brand Extension has totally screwed Raw over. The three hour show is looking that much worse. Add in the fact that the number of commercial breaks, and the number of commercials in each break, have gone up quite a bit – and not just last week – Raw is that much harder to watch. To be honest, most of the guys (and two women who join in and make me feel less alone in my femininity), only stayed in the Open Thread Discussion and hung out because of the main event. Monday night we had the fewest comments posted in the Raw Open Thread Discussion that we've had in a couple years. There was less than there usually is on Mondays that are holidays in the USA! Further, a few of the guys came in late and asked what they missed, everyone said nothing, other than the CWs. That shows really what a sad state the WWE is in right now. SmackDown is the better show week in and week out, and Raw is going to continue losing viewership until the powers that be pull their heads out of their asses and actually do something about it!
In Ring Segment > B+
Reigns is back to getting monster heat. Last week he did pretty well with the pop, but I guess that was locational. Heck, I hope the fans are better this week because they were total jerks and idiots last week. Yes, I said it, and I stand by it. They were as clueless as my cauliflower-eared cat who taunts my service dog, just to try to get the dog in trouble when he barks.
Lana is definitely a great way to get Raw started! But I must I loved when Reigns came back at her after every comment she made, really playing the edgy face, trying to be the funny good guy. Lana, on the other hand is the hottest heel we've seen in years, and she's fantastic at it. That outfit is jaw dropping, and I miss the days when I could wear things like that, but we can't all be young and hot forever (sigh). She did a fantastic job of standing up to Reigns, really taking none of his quips, and getting emotional over the man she loves. It's great when a married couple is in such a role, it feels realer to the fans. I loved it.
Cole, as usual, knows nothing about moves or anatomy. I actually really like Cole on announce, but that man verbally botches more than JR and Adamle together! A knee? Nope, that was a boot. To the Adam's apple? I don't know where your Adam's apple is Cole, but dang! Beyond that, I loved the fighting between Reigns and Rusev, though I had hoped this feud was blown off when Reigns won the US Championship. I guess they have nothing more for either of them. That being said, I'm excited to see these to in a HIAC! That could really be an interesting match, as long as they let it go. Not saying blading, but letting the color go if it happens naturally. I'm actually kind of excited for this!
TJP vs TBK > A-
I've been watching The Brian Kendrick's debut in the WWE this weekend, and while I knew he was there to tell Taker that Big Show was, “Really, really sorry!” but I didn't remember the orange sweater with the white flower on the front and the back, the streaking, and who knows what else he did (I'll be getting to more of it after Raw tonight) to get his job in the WWE, because he said he'd do absolutely anything. That being said, I was bummed when he was released from the WWE in 2009, because I've been a fan of The Brian Kendrick from, “Oh, he's really, really sorry!”
I have not come up with a grading system for the CWs on Raw. As I said before, almost every match will end up earning an A of some sort, so I need something else for them. No clue what that should be yet, but something to break the actual match down to a more precise grade than basic letters.
I love their different styles in the ring. Kendrick is much more vicious, and obviously more seasoned in the ring, and in the WWE's style of ring work. JTP is a bit more wild, more free-form, and more of the high-flying we think of as the CW style, but he has his own way of doing it, so he's that much more interesting.
Now, I'm not usually a fan of having someone go over the Champ, but this is going to be a hugely back and forth feud between them, so TBK getting the win doesn't bother me here.
Winner – The Brian Kendrick
Video > D+
They are airing a pre-taped interview between Cole and Rollins? Yes, I know Rollins was knocked around, and there's questions about him being cleared to be in the ring, but they could still do a live interview and not end up with Rollins taking bumps. This is laziness, through and through. The only times that things like this are okay are when the whole state, and surrounding states, have been shut down due to a monster blizzard. Oh, wait, even when that happened most of the interviews were done live, or at least close enough that it didn't feel lazy. In fact, it was impressive that they were able to do all that they were able to do with the mess that was happening outside. This, on the other hand, is really lazy feeling. This should be on Superstars, or WWE.com, or even on the WWE Network. Not Raw! Not saying it was bad, just truly lazy.
Strowman vs Jobber > B-
Jobber sounded like he didn't think he was going to be destroyed in the ring by Strowman. I'll give him props for that. Strowman was great yelling about Jobber being the best they could send him. I do worry that these Jobbers don't normally work in the WWE and they don't know how to work with Strowman, who really appears to work stiff. As long as no one hurts, I guess I can't really complain. He's getting paid, and exposure.
Byron is actually better in this role than I thought he ever could be on mic. He truly looked nervous and played it up well. Not bad for the guy I didn't think had ANY personality at all. But the big question is, who will Foley feed to Strowman next week?
Winner – Strowman
Backstage Segment > B+
Bayley and Sasha felt a bit forced here, but I'm thrilled to hear that the big main event they'd been talking about was the women! They so deserve to be in the main event, especially over a lot of the things we've seen in that slot over the years. I'm sure it will be fantastic, but I hope the ending is solid, and not something that leaves us with a bad taste in our mouths.
In Ring Segment > A
Jericho with his clipboard, taking names as he heads down the ramp is hysterical! This man continues to be brilliant in ways that few other Superstars have ever been. Who, other than Taker, has evolved through the years as seamlessly as Jericho? If you can come up with someone, please, tell me, I'd love to hear it, know who you think can rival Jericho's evolution. Actually, looking at KO's career, he's evolved a lot himself, but I mean specifically in the biggest companies. Jericho did a great job of it in WCW, and even better in the WWE. He's amazing!
KO's laughter at the chants of, “Stupid idiot!” was great. Yes, it was dropping kayfabe a bit, but he covered and made it work off the cuff. That's something that makes for a top Superstar. Only the best seem to be able to work off the cuff, work the fans whatever they do and say, and make things that much better. The WWE really dropped the ball not bringing in KO well earlier than they did, but I guess timing is everything, and he's so great now with Jericho.
New Day was on like always, and really did a great job of working it with KO and Jericho. Too much funniness, and too much greatness. What a wonderful segment with the comments flying between the two teams. I'm still smiling, and I just watched the backstage segment that comes after this, and I'm not a perky person tonight!
Backstage Segment > A-
This is exactly what I was hoping for from Cesaro and Sheamus. Okay, maybe it's a bit hipster compared to Benoit and Angle, but times have changed and they need to make things work for the times and the fans watching. I loved the arguing, the throwing of the suitcase, and the downright crankiness between them that led up to the, “I'm telling!” moment that will continue to happen between them while they're together.
Sami Zayn vs Titus O'Neil > B-
Why is someone the caliber of Zayn stuck facing O'Neil? Now, I like O'Neil as a human being, but not as a WWE Superstar. He's boring, has been poorly booked, and really has been treated and used so terribly that I'm continued to be shocked that he's still on the roster. Zayn on the other hand, should be in the Championship run, or right close to that, all the time. He might not be a huge guy, but he's great in the ring, has charisma and talent that so few have naturally. The fans love Zayn because it's easy, and a natural, to love him. If O'Neil had gone over here, I'm not sure I could have abided by it, and I might have crumbled.
Winner – Sami Zayn
Backstage Segment > B+&F
The difference between this storyline and the one between Benoit and Angle is that this time around they feel that they need to explain every little thing to us as it happens. There's only so much supposition that the fans can take before they're so done. We are not THAT stupid, and shouldn't be treated as such! They didn't explain things to us during the AE. They didn't explain things to us when Kane attached jumped cables to Shane's testicles! So why do they think we need it now? It's total crap! So while I'm loving this storyline, I don't like how stupid they're treating the fans. I'm not three, I don't need it explained to me what their issues are, and why they don't get along perfectly. This is such bull and greatness in one!
Golden Truth vs Anderson & Gallows > B
What I just saw from Anderson and Gallows on mic before this match has made me lose faith in the human race. Talk about boring! I can only stand up for them for so long before wondering why they're still being pushed the way they are.
On the other hand, much of the wrestling in this match looked solid. R-Truth looked decent, but Goldust with both Anderson and Gallows was great. The moves looked solid and worked well together. Or, they did until R-Truth tagged in and it was over. I really want to know what's happened between Japan and here for those two.
Winners – Anderson & Gallows
Backstage Segment > A
Ashton and Danny with Jericho and KO was exactly how segments like this should be handled. It wasn't drawn out, the chemistry was stellar, and mostly it worked because Danny and Ashton get IT! They really do get IT, and because of that, I was floored by how well this worked.
In Ring Segment > A
Cass looked like he just got out of work and McDonalds and threw that T-shirt on so he wouldn't be in uniform. In other words, those pants are horrible! He should never wear pants with pleats. Most people should never wear pleated pants, but especially someone his size!
They don't have Cena on Raw to do this, so why not get the best talkers they have? Makes sense to me. Really a bummer that they don't have a direction right now, but dang were they great here. Talk about showing heart, compassion, and making everything work, even when things don't work as well as they'd like them to.
New Day vs Jeri-KO > A-
KO jumping over Woods had me laughing, as he wanted us to laugh. Much of this match was focused on Ashton and Danny on announce before the commercial, but the work was great. After the break the work was stellar. These four together are amazing in the ring together. Honestly, it's nice to see Woods in the ring over Kofi. Nothing against Kofi, but Woods doesn't get the ring work as much, and I feel he's rather underrated. Then again, I thought that when he was in TNA as Consequences Creed.
Wait! Rollins! What? That's how to distract KO in his match! I know he was there to distract KO, but how badly the super kick was on Big E had me question who botched that one. He basically caught Big E in a boob, rather than the chin. Further, why has Jericho been using the lion tamer lately? I have no issue with it, just interesting after all these years.
Jericho took that pedigree in a really wimpy way, but he's taken more of them than almost anyone else on the roster, so I guess he's allowed to take them the way he likes. I also have to say that I really enjoyed Ashton on announce. Danny is obviously the quieter of the friends (like most of my friends when they're around me), and he held his own on announce, but it was Ashton who really sold it. This is the type of thing Ashton does well with, so I'm not surprised that he was so comfortable out there.
Winners – New Day
Backstage Segment > C+
Charlotte started off not screeching here. The way she was talking lower, and more quietly really worked for her. But then she got louder and more screechy, and my head hurt. Charlotte had moments of fantastic mic work here.
Backstage Segment > A-
Steph doesn't get to tell Rollins what he can do anymore? Right, she isn't his boss any longer, so he doesn't have to do what she says. Wait? Oh, yeah! Actually, Rollins was great pulling the legs out from under Steph by ripping on her marriage to Trip. Sometimes going back to the old, reliable low blows works the best.
Swann vs Nese > B+
I wonder if TNA had Sandow shave his beard because Tony Nese looks too much like a smaller version of him. Just a thought.
I really hope they build these CWs up, give them characters, storylines, and feuds. They need something to get the fans excited and into these matches for more than the high spots, because CWs are more than spot monkeys. The fans in LA seem more into this than they were last week, but I already trashed the fans from last week.
This was a solid match, and they showed a lot of personality as well as great work, but it just wasn't as exciting or fun as the rest of the CW matches I've seen lately, which is why they got the grade they got.
Winner – Tony Nese
Video > A
Mil Mascaras was a great Latino wrestler to be recognized here, and the video was great.
Sheamus & Cesaro vs Jobbers > B
Of course they had to one up each other, that's what's going to make this that much more fun! I'm excited for this teaming!
Winner – Cesaro & Sheamus
Video > A
What a fantastic setup for the main event. These two women have a fantastic history, and while it's not as long term as Sami Zayn and KO, it's as heartfelt, because they are a key part of the change that has come to the Women's Division in the WWE. This was so enjoyable to watch, and makes me want to go back and watch their roller coaster ride in NXT again.
Backstage Segment > A
Oh no, Dana screwed up again, and now she won't be ringside to make sure Charlotte can't retain. Honestly, I loved that Bayley just sucked it up, was the good girl she always is, until Dana stepped over that line, then she snapped. I love Bayley, as does everyone else I've ever spoken to, because she's so cute, so up-beat, but also because she isn't afraid to get the job done, and that's exactly what she did with Dana, who more than needed to job after what she's done – patting Bayley on the head like that.
WWE Women's Championship Match – Charlotte (c) vs Sasha Banks > A
To be honest, I'd have given this match an A+ if Charlotte had hit the corkscrew off the corner, if Sasha hadn't hit that suicide dive, and if Charlotte hadn't botched the way she did. There was so much greatness in the ring for this match, so I sat back and watched, enjoyed all these two beautiful women had to offer. Not only do these women go out there night after night and kick ass, they do it while looking beautiful, staying in character, making sure their ring gear fit perfectly – something that's so much harder for women – hitting and taking bumps the same way, but also in different ways from their male counter-parts, all the while having their hair in their face and their makeup set perfectly. Much of the time I can barely get my lipstick to last through a trip to Target, never mind how it disappears through a conversation! Yet Sasha was in there with the perfect shade of lipstick, her hair and makeup perfect, and she kicked ass. Charlotte sweats more than some of the other women, but that just adds to her charm. She looks more real, yet she still has her hair and makeup perfect as she does everything the guys do, and sometimes more, all the while not falling out of her top (which is better constructed than the one she wore at WrestleMania!).
What I'm getting as is that a lot of these women have to work a whole other level beyond the guys, all the while not getting treated as well. These two women owned the main event. The ring work was strong, the facial expressions, their reactions, the body language, how they never dropped kayfabe, they owned the main event, and I don't know anyone who wasn't thrilled to see that these two were the Raw main event! They deserved it, and it was beautiful to watch. Yes, there were some serious issues, and I'm worried that these serious issues are a growing trend within the WWE right now, but beyond those issues (which I will be addressing soon in a separate article), this match was stellar, and exactly what I expected from these two in a main event match.
Winner & new Women's Champion – Sasha Banks!
Again this episode of Raw had many segments and matches that were solid, sometimes even stellar, but there was so much raging bullshit between these moments. This would have been an absolutely amazing two hour show. This could have been a tight, well scripted, wonderfully executed show, but it was three hours and the filler made Raw almost unwatchable at too many points. They have proven they can put on a great three hour Raw, but this sure as hell wasn't it, and they haven't been able to do it other than the first couple episodes since the brand extension, and they sure struggled with it for a couple years before the extension. I truly hope the WWE figures it out before they're in such a hole with Raw than they won't be able to drag the fans back in.
Queen of WNW