This episode of Raw was so much better than the past two weeks, but it surely wasn't up to snuff. The grades might not seem too bad, but thinking about it, I think they are the way they are because Raw's been such crap lately. Actually, WWE as a whole, minus NXT, has been rather crap for a bit now. Yes, SmackDown is better than Raw, but after the MITB PPV, I can't even say that everything there is very good either. It's time for the WWE to step the heck up and start making some sort of sense!
In Ring Segment >
Joe's mic work here was great, and Reigns wasn't too bad, but there were serious issues with this segment. Rather than diving into them myself, I'm stealing Zack's words from the Raw Open Thread Discussion last night, because he hit the nail on the head more concisely than I could here.
Here's why people hate Roman Reigns (booking) because last week Joe went after Lesnar with no fear! He wanted to rip him apart. This week he backs down from Roman after one punch? F*CK. THAT.
Hardy Boyz vs Anderson & Gallows > B+
Anderson looked really good in the ring. Wish he was that exciting all the time. I still struggle with Wolfpac hand signs, but I'm a hardcore Kliq fan, and loved The Outsiders. I know they're all cool with certain superstars using the hand-sign, but it tweaks me a bit. Not even going to go into how I feel about Young Bucks using it, even though Nash told them they were welcome to.
The fans really seemed into this match, and the visual of the audience seemed to mesh with what we were hearing. Matt taking the hot tag and working over Anderson was great to see, though Matt's glaringly white armpits look strange compared to his orange body. It was distracting enough that I felt I needed to write about it.
Is it me, or has Jeff's swantons looked really off since returning to the WWE? I've always loved that move from him, but he's seemed to be way off hitting it since returning.
Winners – Hardy Boyz
Shattered Dreams Production > B
Only real issue I have with these segments is that they were obviously filmed all at once, so there's no true urgency from either man as this grow to an actual meeting between them. It's just a feel that's been missing, and that's what I need to chalk it up to, because we know how solid Goldust is, no matter his character.
In Ring Segment > B+&F
So Samson in the ring with his guitar is usually great, getting solid heat, but then Balor out and nothing happens between them. I don't get it, and it seems like a total waste of time for both of them.
If it's show bonuses, then have Samson do something, actually do something, rather than the whole heck of a lot of nothing!
Bo vs Balor > B+
Finally we see Bo back in the ring, but his ring gear doesn't look very conducive to being part of The Wyatt Family. The hair flying wild and the beard make him look so much more like his brother, but the singlet isn't a great look on Bo for being part of the family. It does physically look good on Bo, just not if he's joining Bray.
Balor looked great in this match, but it's Balor, he always looks great in the ring! Now he just needs direction, a feud, something!
Winner – Balor
Backstage Segment > B
Corey and Angle are in this together? Interesting!
Angle promises that by the end of the night we will know? It's Rikishi! He did it for Rocky. Wait, we've done that one already!
In Ring Segment > A
Yes, Rollins, we gave you a second chance, and did so because you're really so great at what you do, heel or face. And now Rollins is THE man? And Reigns says he's THE guy. So what is Wyatt? THE carrion? Follow the buzzards! Sorry, I was in rare form live tweeting from the @WNW_Universe account during Raw and that came to mind. Actually, I tweeted a lot of things that were borderline mean to a number of people, but it's not the official news account, so I can get away with being a little sillier and opinionated than at @wnwnews.
Rollins and Wyatt are both so great on mic, and so when two guys like them come together in a feud, it's a treat for the fans. Who doesn't love a great storyline, especially when the mic work is so great? So much greatness between the two of them, in-ring and on mic.
Backstage Segment > B+
Balor is so much fun to listen to! A bit of drool going on for his accent, but nothing compared to the love of Samson attacking Balor from behind and D-Von showing up to check on Balor. So much fun when we get to see the backstage guys who used to be top superstars. D-Von, as always, looks great.
TJP vs Akira Tozawa > B+&C-
O'Neil did a solid job of getting the fans going for this 205 match, but the fans were done when O'Neil was done. The fans got back into it again for Tozawa, but not much. Neville helped bring the fans into it, but he cannot be present for every match. They're doing a solid for Tozawa by bring the Titus Brand in to want to work with him, but that's not the Cruiserweight Division helping themselves, that Titus Brand helping the Cruiserweight Division. I know, I know, get my Cruiserweight Division article written! I'm still researching weights of superstars past and present. I've not forgotten, I'm working on making it right.
On paper this match should have been great, but I just didn't feel it. I was left wanting more. I don't know what it needed, but there was something about the match that didn't pull me in. Personally, for me, the best parts of this match was the mic work from O'Neil and Neville.
Winner – Tozawa
Truth Productions > B-
Of course he accepts Goldust's challenge, but again, I didn't feel the build from R-Truth either.
Backstage Segment > B+
So Axel and Miz are all there for Bo? Wait, Miz is there offering help to them? Interesting! The building of a faction by Miz is a great idea. Further, I love that Miz is embroiled in a couple of storylines, because people don't only have one thing going on in their lives at a time, and marital issues are always hanging over our heads. I love that they're doing so much with Miz on Raw, because he's more than proven that he's over with the fans (one of the few true heels that works hard to get over, and is good at it), and has really grown into an amazing superstar. I'm hoping his faction grows into something interesting while bringing TV time to superstars who have proven that they can do more than job to whoever the flavor of the week might happen to be. Only thing missing is Sandow!
Backstage Segment > B+
Joe has gotten so much better on mic. He has worked hard his whole career, but his time in the WWE shows that he can talk when well scripted. Like AJ Styles, he obviously works better from a script, compared to the bare ideas they were sent to the ring within TNA. Shows just how bush league Impact Wrestling is, and how wrestlers were basically on their own there, compared to worked with within the WWE.
Joe vs Reigns > A-
This was fantastic! The ring work was really solid from both of them, and they hit each other with everything. I wish Joe had been in the WWE five years ago, even though things would have been so different. He's a top superstar, and has been since he more than proved himself in TNA. There's no way he should be going under Reigns, for any reason. Joe needed to win this match cleanly, and this was clean enough for me! Yes, Reigns was distracted by the ambulance on the Titan Tron, but it wasn't like Strowman actually got involved with the match. This way McMahon was able to keep face with his beloved Reigns, and Joe went over, as he needed to do going into Great Balls of Fire.
Winner – Joe
In Ring Segment > A-
Strowman deserves his own segment and his own grade. Many of us have been sitting on the edge of our sofas waiting for Strowman to return and take Reigns out again. Strowman should be in the Universal Championship Match at SummerSlam, making it a Triple Threat Match, because he deserves it, and I'd love to see him trashing and destroying both Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns in one match. Further, Strowman would be a better Universal Champion than Reigns has ever been. Strowman might be a heel, in theory, but the fans love to see him destroy Reigns, and putting him against Brock would be epic fun as well. Yes, coming from me, the most anti-BL writer on the WNW roster. So much potential and now it's time to let hm run with it, because this is what over actually looks like.
Miz TV > A
I really thought that Ambrose was going to be in the box this time, and pretty well figured that the bears were Axel and Bo after earlier. Though I have to say that Bo in that costume without the head on looked very strange. Axel didn't look that far out of the ordinary, but dang Bo looked odd.
Loving the storyline with Maryse. She's playing this quite well, and working as hard as Miz is to get over with the fans. She's better at this than I thought she was, but it doesn't mean I don't have continuing issues with how she's handled things in the past. No matter what Miz does, he's constantly screwing up when it comes to Maryse, and that's such the way of the world. A storyline that makes sense to anyone who has ever been in a relationship, which is why it works so bloody well. Thank you to whoever is in charge of this storyline, because it's brilliant. Actually, Miz's storylines as a whole are brilliant right now, and he's doing better with them than anyone else on the roster could.
Sheamus & Cesaro vs O'Neil & Crews > B
Someone (sorry I cannot give credit where due) said on Twitter that this Titus Brand thing is starting to look like he's building his own Heenan Family. Big M agrees with me that this is a fantastic idea. I've been saying that we need factions again, and they had started a bit, but then pulled away from them again. O'Neil building this faction is something I've been against since it first started, because O'Neil was acting like such an idiot, and not at all the greatness he actually is! But recently, specifically last week with Tozawa, I jumped on board in a big way. O'Neil has huge charisma and personality, he also has a great look, isn't bad in the ring, and his mic game is right up there. He has what's needed to get over, and can work the ring as well as grow the Titus Brand. I think this could be a great thing, especially with Miz also growing his Entourage. Two factions growing at once, I'm absolutely giddy over this!
This was a decent little match, but nothing overly exciting. I think more of it is how the Titus Brand is growing and antagonizing those they don't get along with, like Neville. Only time will tell, but I'm excited for what might be!
Winners – Sheamus & Cesaro
Banks vs Jax > B
I was actually quite impressed with how Jax and Banks worked together here. It's hard to make a match between someone tiny like Banks and some voluptuous like Jax, but they did a solid job of it. I was flashing back to Awesome Kong vs Gail Kim in TNA. They put on some of the best matches, despite their size difference. I'd love to see Jax and Banks do the same in the future. I'm not comparing Jax to Kong, yet, she still has a lot to learn, but each week she looks better and better, obviously working her ass off for the fans, which is something I really respect in a superstar. Seeing growth and change from a young superstar shows me just how much they respect the industry, those they work with, those who came before them, and especially, the fans.
I love that Jax fed Bliss to Banks. That everyone is turning on Banks, which she did first, advances the storyline, and leaves Bliss all alone, out on her ass. So much fun in the Women's Division right now, but I do have one complaint – why was this match so late in the show? The last hour loses the most ratings points. So either they put the women on later to keep the fans interested, in which case the should have advertised the match earlier in the show, rather than leaving us hanging, wondering if we were going to see them, or they were an afterthought and shoved in wherever. Either way, the WWE screwed this one up big time. These women deserve better. (Speaking of deserving better, make sure you check out the article Big M and I wrote about the Women's MITBLM!)
Winner via DQ – Jax
In Ring Segment > A-
Bayley really went full out in this segment! This is the Bayley that needed to be in the Russo-esque match at the last Raw PPV! She was strong, hard hitting, and not taking shit from anyone. It was what Bayley should be, and should have been all along. Hopefully this is a step in the evolution of Bayley, though I have to wonder if and how Corey is going to fit into all this.
Actually, seeing all the women hitting hard and giving their all brought a smile to my face and warmed my heart. THIS is what pro wrestling is all about!
In Ring Segment > A-
Most of us knew it was going to be Cass who attacked Enzo, and this segment felt very Attitude Era, but without that extra tinge of excitement. I like that Corey got involved in this, because, as I said before, it's been a while since an announcer has been involved in a storyline. Corey is fantastic on announce, and a real loss to the ring, but I see no reason he shouldn't be involved in a storyline or three – which is where he is now with Cass, Angle, and Bayley. This is some fantastic work, and stuff he would be doing if he hadn't retired from the ring. Such a loss for him and the fans, but I give him huge credit for caring for his health over his love of being a pro wrestler.
Angle is doing a great job as Raw GM, and did a solid job of it here. He had all possible suspects in the ring and worked them over the way he should. It did leave one major question in the air after his questioning. Does this mean Big Show is moving to SmackDown? He said he didn't want to work on Angle's show, and I thought he was not planning on retiring just yet. He absolutely deserves another solid run, especially the condition he's in now.
Revival looked good and sounded better. Excited for how they were brought back, and that they will be back in the ring soon continuing their push where it left off. Them being back makes the Tag Division look that much more viable. Enzo and Cass were never a great tag team, so them breaking up doesn't really hurt the Tag Division, but Revival adds so much more.
The thing I have to comment on, the thing that touched me the most in this segment, was the feels. I know I harp on family and besties giving us the best chemistry of all feuds and storylines, but Zo and Cass proved it here. Cass brought out all the venom he had toward Zo, really gave him the shaft where it would hurt the most, in the heart (get your mind out of the gutter!). Not only did Cass rip him apart verbally and physically, he made it hurt as much as possible when he did it.
But the feels wasn't one sided. Zo dropped an honest tear in this segment. His facial expression told it all, but he worked it hard in this segment and dropped a tear from his right eye. That one tear sealed the deal for giving this segment an A. It would have been an A- otherwise, as I thought it dragged a tiny bit, but that tear made this segment into something so much bigger. Now I hope they don't drop the ball with the fight between these two, or with either of these superstars. Zo might not be the best wrestler (he's rather dangerous in the ring), but he has something few other superstars have, charisma and mic work of few in the history of the industry. And Cass is seven feet tall and has a great look. I think his ring work will only improve in singles matches when he doesn't have to look out for Zo. I'm excited for the future of these two. Fingers crossed that they do right by these two!
I loved the tweet from Carmella after Raw went off the air. It was smileys with hearts in their eyes connected to a short video of Cass taking out Enzo. Watching Twitter is a blast during shows because the tweets that go between wrestlers, active and legendary, is some solid entertainment. I will admit that I'd love a button that tells the poster, 'Piss off you ignorant git!' but that's just because there's certain former wrestlers who take their time during live shows to put out some of the stupidest shit I've ever seen. I know that Glenn Gilberti (Disco Inferno) pisses people off, but he's obviously doing it to get a rise out of people. Further, he's so disliked by his peers that his peers step up and slap him down enough on their own. The one former wrestler, who I will NEVER refer to as a legend, because he's not one, is Virgil. He's the one I need that button for, because his tweets are nothing more than him being a pathetic twit (change the third letter in that word to get my true feelings) who can only get any reaction from the pro wrestling fans by being such a raging twit.
Sorry, had to get that off my chest.
Queen of WNW