While not the strongest Go-Home Raw, there were some really strong matches and segments this week. I don't think the show was as strong as last week, but I think they did a solid job of setting up for not the best card for HIAC. During Raw this week Jesse stated he wanted a specific segment, and I'm all for it as when Jesse wants to write a segment, he brings such passion to it. Trust me, he did just that in the wonderful segment he wrote for us today.
In Ring Segment > B
I'm over the 20 minute Trip rants to start Raw! We saw them for how long, and now that he's The Authority, he's back to doing it again. I know it his favorite ego stroke, and that he really is great on mic, but so much talking! I will admit that I liked the back and forth between Rollins and Orton, but it still wasn't enough to suck me into this segment. Also, Steph wasn't out there, so the eye candy was at a minimum.
Sheamus & Usos vs Dusts & Miz > C+
I'm so over the WWE having two tag teams in the Tag Division, and them trying to make them look that much greater because they keep adding different people to their match each week. It's obvious what they're doing, and they need to either team up more people, or stop putting the two teams in the same match each week. Honestly, the only saving grace to this match was Sandow, and he's been the saving grace for a lot lately! Honesly, I might have busted this down to a D if not for Sandow.
Winners – Dusts & Sandow (9:49)
Backstage Segment > B
This segment was odd. I didn't quite know where they were going with it, which set up well for what was to come. I wasn't bad, just odd.
DEP! > B+
They're still kicking these videos along, and kicking things up a notch each week. I'm getting excited again for these three, though I wouldn't have to be excited again if they hadn't dropped the ball with them in the first place.
AJ vs Fox > B
For a Divas match, even one with Fox, I really liked this. Fox is still too loose and reckless in the ring for my taste, but these matches are telling stories, something few Divas matches have recently. While not a long match, a story was told, and the work was hard hitting. It seems as though some of the Divas are getting some attention lately, and it's great to see. It would be better to see if the Divas Division was culled of those who cannot hold their own in the ring, and really given the push those who are really strong should be receiving. Ah, pipe dreams.
Winner – Fox (4:16)
Backstage Segment > B
Interesting segment between Orton and Rollins. Made me wonder what issues will be coming between them, I didn't at all expect what Rollins did later in the night. I thought that was still a month or two out.
In Ring Segment > B+
As someone who was born in Quincy, Mass (just south of Boston), I get annoyed when people say I was born in Boston. Boston is physically a tiny city, and I think that's why so many of the suburbs get linked in with Boston. I understand why it happens, but I personally find it annoying. That's why the skin crawled up the back of my neck when Orton ripped on Cena's Boston roots. West Newbury is halfway between Boston and where I grew up in Maine, it's not really part of Boston in any way. West Newbury is a lovely, high end bedroom community to Boston, but it's not Boston.
Okay, sorry about that rant, it's one of those things that really irks me.
A lot of people saw this segment as Orton getting flustered and falling apart. I saw it as Orton finally worked with what the fans were giving him. I've said over and over that the the WWE has been too polished, not enough grit in anything they do lately, but Orton getting frustrated with the fans chanting over him for the Royals brought out the grit they've been missing! It was lovely to see Orton address the fans the way he did. He went full on heel on their asses, and they fed off it! I loved it. Yes, I said I loved something Orton did! Further, his line about being in the World Series and winning are two completely different things was beautiful!
This bitchy Orton was a great nastiness for Cena to work off. I've been dreading everything between these two, yet again, but I thought this segment was almost refreshing from them. Okay, it wasn't fantastic, but it was so much better than most of what we've seen from them together this decade, and possibly longer. I'm not saying I'm looking forward to their HIAC match, but I was pleasantly surprised by them here.
And then there's Heyman! Heyman took this segment to a whole new level, as usual. The reaction he had climbing in the ring as he looked up at the cell above him. I went to look up Heyman's age to comment on the bump he took,and I was shocked. I thought Heyman was well into his 50s, but he's only 8 years older than I am! So, Heyman is only 49, but he's not in ring ready health. Yet Heyman still takes bumps when he needs to, and does so in such a great way. I think of the RKO as the rotten little step-child of Austin's stunner, and a move that can be hit on almost anyone, and has. (Don't get on me for the step-child comment, I have three, and they're the light of my life. Well, two of them are.) I love that almost anyone can take an RKO, like the stunner, and all have their own way of reacting to it. Though I have to say I feel less great about my life knowing that Heyman is only eight years older than me.
Rusev vs Big E > C
Not the best of matches, but better than a lot we've seen from Rusev, and a heck of a lot better than what we've seen from Big E lately, which is virtually nothing. I'm still high up on Big E, and would love to see him in a solid feud and continue moving forward, rather than standing in stasis the way he has been for too long. I also have to mention how bad the timing of commercials were during this match. Almost half the match was missed for commercial time, and there was less than a minute of the match after the commercial before Big E tapped. This was just bad timing all the way around, and not the way to treat their wrestlers.
Winner – Rusev (7:32)
In Ring Segment > BAKA/B+
I'm going to get the worst part of this segment out of the way right off the bat: whoever tried to mock up the "Service Member's" uniform should be fired immediately. That was an absolute travesty to look at. They took a completely wrong colored and printed camouflage, tried to make it look like the current C/BUs with the Velcro in the somewhat correct spots, managed to botch the flag placement on the uniform, as Old Glory was facing backwards, had no name tapes on it despite having the Velcro in place for them, and used desert boots with an incorrect olive drab! Yes, I know they can't use an actual current uniform due to federal laws, but they could have at least made an honest effort. It isn't that hard to go to an Army Surplus store or any off post uniform supply store and get a uniform that is either close to or is correct! But, other than that one glaring issue, the segment as a whole was fantastic. Lana was as on point as always, and Rusev, while not great on the mic, is showing that he can at least cut a promo if need be. Then when Big Show was on the Tron with his big goofy grin, the bad week I had up until then melted away. The man is infectious with his smile. I will say that Rusev was a bit careless with the super kick, as he did bloody the actor, but that in a way only further added to the fire of the segment. I literally dropped everything to watch what was going on at that point, which was WWE's aim. Going to commercial there and coming back with the angry and emotional Big Show in the ring afterward was a stroke of brilliance on Creative's part, as it further sucked me into the segment, and Show's words struck home. And while it ended up with Big Show finding an empty locker room, Big Show going on the warpath after Rusev sold the match at Hell in a Cell perfectly. Now, I have two matches I can look forward to on the PPV!
PS: I have to give WWE and Michael Cole some credit here in being sure to reaffirm the fact that no one should ever rush over the barricade or the ring. While it shouldn't have to be said, it has happened more than it should over the last couple of years, and it's good that WWE addressed it, even in passing.
Backstage Segment > A-
I really enjoyed the banter between Ambrose and Cena, and loved the cheap plug for See No Evil 2. I thought the Superman/Batman thing hit quite close to reality, though Ambrose can be very Joker-ish as well. I'm not sure I'm going to get the image of Ambrose as Batman out of my head. Cena is already Super Cena, so little will change there!
Video > A
I'm very excited for Stephanie McMahon winning the 2015 Eisenhower USA Fellowship. She's taken her spot in her family and worked hard to prove herself in the business world. I'm very impressed how that young girl who bounced down that ramp in that green top has grown into such a strong and powerful businesswoman.
Brie vs Summer Rae > C+
I wasn't overly impressed with Summer Rae in the ring. It seems to me that she's been wrestling quite a long time to be as average as she is in the ring. Brie, on the other hand, is looking better and better. I like how the fans are behind Brie, going all "YES!" "YES!" "YES!" with her as much for herself as for her husband who we want back in the ring.
I have to say I prefer Nikki watching Brie's matches backstage, and not saying anything. Nikki looked the beautiful bitch on Raw, as usual, but that dress was impressive! Nikki looked mean, and hot!
Winner – Brie (3:40)
In Ring Segment > A-
I've seen a number of people trashing on this segment online, but I really loved it. This segment was fun and silly, but also strong and served a purpose. Ambrose is gold on mic, and while he struggled at times to find what he needed to beat up 'Rollins', he sold it all well. The puns were fantastic, though there was so much he could have done with that cheese greater! The tongs are a classic, and I loved how Ambrose stated as much.
Even if I hadn't been behind, and had Foley's appearance spoiled by certain people posting it on Facebook, the way Rollins was talking about Ambrose becoming a comedian made me think of Foley. Also, this is HIAC, and my mind always goes to Foley when we're talking HIAC!
The fans popped for Foley the moment his music hit, and continued to show him love through the whole segment. Who better to bring into this segment than Foley? Foley has the most scars from the most memorable HIAC ever, and I'm hoping that Ambrose and Rollins are going to give us a HIAC to remember. Prior to the WWE, Ambrose worked some seriously hardcore matches, and so seeing Foley and Ambrose talking in the ring, under the cell looming above was epic. I truly hope that Ambrose and Rollins are allowed to give us a true HIAC, because they're capable, if given the all clear.
I'm sure I'm going to catch crap for my grade of this segment, but I truly thought it was well executed, and a lot of fun while both setting up for HIAC, and bringing Foley back into the WWE fold. There was a while there he was quite unhappy and critical of the WWE, but to see him back with the company warmed my heart. I especially loved how he didn't give the $9.99 plug, but instead said of some undisclosed amount.
Cesaro vs Ziggler > A-
This was the technical match of the night, by far. While Ziggler was great in this match, it was Cesaro who put my jaw on the floor. Cesaro hit some moves that I don't remember seeing from him before. The one that comes to mind is Cesaro bouncing on the middle of the middle rope before flying onto Ziggler. It was different and exciting. Cesaro should be at the top of the card with Ambrose and Rollins, because he has what it takes to be there. Hopefully he doesn't continue to get lost in the shuffle, because it would be a waste for him not to be up there, showing us his mad skills, flashing serious gold around his waist.
Winner – Cesaro (9:38))
Backstage Segment > B
This further set up for what was to come in the ring. I have to admit that while they're building a storyline, I'd rather Rollins was working against someone other than Orton.
Video > B+
I normally don't mention anything about these short videos, but I like that they went 'by the numbers' for HIAC. I really enjoy the 'by the numbers' videos they do for the Royal Rumble, and I'm thrilled that they broke it out for another PPV.
Announce Segment > C
They showed Hogan talking to Renee off mic. I guess Foley's segment went over time and they didn't have it for Hogan. So sad. Actually, I enjoyed Foley's segment so much that I'd completely forgotten that Hogan was supposed to be on the show. I guess they could have put Hogan on instead of Cesaro vs Ziggler, but that could have really hurt the flow of the show, and removed one of the strongest matches of the night. I'm not complaining at all that Hogan was bumped, even though he's so much easier to write than Foley.
3 On 2 Handicap Street Fight – Cena & Ambrose vs Kane & Orton & Rollins > A-
Why the heck were they tagging in and out for a street fight? That's one of the daftest things I've seen in a while! I really don't understand why they change the rules in ways that make no sense. While I usually do understand why they do things, here it made no sense.
I enjoyed chunks of this match, and toward the end, after General Korporate Kane had called for the cell to be dropped, I saw things that excited me. Ambrose did things that just scratched the surface of what we could see in his HIAC match with Rollins. There was only one chair, two tables and two kendo sticks used, but I feel that this match was closer to the hardcore matches of old that made me cringe at every turn. I'm not saying I want to see wrestlers put their bodies on the line each week, and shorten their careers for us, but every once in a while it's great to see a couple of amazing wrestlers go all out in the ring. the way E&C, the Hardys, and 3D gave everything for us in TLC matches. The way Foley told Taker her wanted to start their HIAC up top and Taker didn't really want to, but Foley was out first and climbed, so Taker had to go up there. Taker thought it was over after Foley flew the first time, but Foley kept going. They knew they were giving us something we'd never forget, and while I wish Foley hadn't put his body through all he did, but he did it for us, and we need to honor him for that. There's so many men and women who gave us so much in ECW, and in the WWF, and they're rarely mentioned. The WWE might not have the hardcore matches they once had, but when there's two guys who really have it in them and can give us a show like that, why not let them do it in HIAC? The match between Ambrose and Rollins could be epic, and this match gave us just a taste of what I hope will be Sunday night.
I also have to mention that I hope Orton is okay. Ambrose really wailed on him in this match. It might not have been smart to go so hard so close to HIAC, but I'm sure Orton will be fine. He's too ornery not to be!
Winners – The Authority (18:49)
A Go-Home Raw should make you itch for the impending PPV, whatever it is. Many people have been critical of the WWE not having the WWE WHC at HIAC. I've thought long and hard about this, especially after reviewing this week's episode of Raw, and I think not having Brock Lesnar at HIAC is a good thing. I'm rarely for a part-time wrestler holding the WWE WHC, but at least The Rock was on the media circuit and pushed the WWE while he carried it. Brock isn't doing anything of the sort. But Brock's matches have been brutal messes, with Cena having no chance of gaining the upper hand, so why do it another month in a row? It's time for us to focus on the younger guys coming up, and while there's a lot of established wrestlers on the card, there's some younger guys too, and two of them are in the match I'm most looking forward to. I'm not overly thrilled with much of the card, but certain matches could make HIAC the PPV to watch.
Queen of WNW
KB & Jesse