To me, the unsung hero of the night was AJ. Not only must it be hard going to work every week when there's such issues between her employer and her husband, but with WWE being in their hometown, there has to be a lot more pressure on her this week. Yet AJ goes out, continues to prove that she's the top Diva on the roster, and does so with class and dignity that so few other Divas possess. AJ really is a remarkable young woman in a tough spot and doing a great job with it all. I tune in each week hoping that she will be on Raw, and excitedly watch as her character grows and changes with each new swerve.
Jesse joins me this week with a very special segment that touched him in a way few of us could understand. Please make sure you check out what Jesse has to say about Ambrose.
In Ring Segment > A-
I have to admit I was annoyed when the started Raw with Steph and Trip in the ring. I was expecting another twenty minute diatribe, but was gladly presented with a segment that ran around in circles and did some lovely, creative, and unexpected things.
Heyman cutting off The Authority is always great, and Heyman was wonderful on mic, as usual. Heyman, who really should have been on Raw last week, stepped up and really went after someone unexpected in Rollins. Of course it makes some sense, but wasn't where I thought they'd go with it. I love that Heyman skirted the line of attacking The Authority, but it was Rollins who came out and smoothed everything over. He worked the political side of things, and sold his mic work and character as stronger than ever, though Trip had to have the last word with Heyman.
I really thought Steph was going to admonish Rollins for his comments about them being out there to chastise Ambrose for him. It looked as though The Authority might slap down Rollins, just to remind him who really is in charge, but they either weren't going to do that, or Ambrose got in the way of it all. It was great that they started setting up for what else might be in the case beyond the contract, as it foreshadowed what might be coming later, but not in any overt way.
That they set off to find Ambrose, but Cena jumped Rollins added that much more to the segment. As I said, it went around in circles, but it was creative, well executed, unexpected, and seemed to work quite well from the outside looking in. Looking back at it, I'm more and more impressed with the segment and the work the Superstars did within it.
Backstage Segment > B-
Why Noble and Mercury, but not Finlay or BG James? Only two stooges? Finlay is much stronger and more willing to fight? James is Trip's good friend, so it would look stranger for them to have a relationship like this? Noble and Mercury come off as bumbling idiots more than Finlay ever could? Whatever the reasons, it really does make sense to go with the two of them over Finlay and James.
Triple Threat IC Championship Match – Ziggler (c) vs Cesaro vs Miz > B
I really enjoyed much of this match. I loved how well they all worked together, but something felt slightly off in some way. We have complained about how the IC Title has been bounced around these past couple weeks, but I would have been fine with Cesaro winning here. I'd much rather see Ziggler and Cesaro feud over the IC, but Miz in the middle also makes sense. In the real world, storylines and fights are rarely between only two people, so I like that they're mixing this up the way they are, I just wish Miz was stronger in the ring, able to keep up with Ziggler and Cesaro.
Winner – Ziggler (9:53)
Backstage Segment > B
I said a few weeks ago, when Cena locked Heyman in his locker room and put Khali on the door, that this was the perfect role for Khali. I've said this for a long time, and they used him again to wonderful effect. Khali is funny, and telling Noble that he's too short to be heard was just fantastic!
DEP! > B+
I like that they've gone back to Bray Wyatt's disjointed videos that he started with. This video appeared to be focusing on Harper, which I'm all for, as I think he has a huge future ahead of him. No clue where they're going with this, but since Bray's promos had been going downhill, I think stepping back to what worked so well from the start was a brilliant idea. Wait, did I just say that WWE creative did something brilliant? Well, even a broken clock is right twice a day.
Backstage Segment > B-
Noble and Mercury are getting more face time on Raw than they got when they were Superstars! I also want to know if all the producers come to the shows in suits. We've seen Noble, Mercury and Finlay in suits recently, but I cannot see BG James coming to work in a suit each week. He might, but I just cannot picture it. Maybe the WWE is trying to show that they're a more professional company compared to TNA? I don't think we've seen Al Snow in his on-camera roles – other than during Gut Check – in even a suit jacket. Either way, Noble and Mercury seem to be turning into The Authority's stooges. They've been following McMahon's character line in a lot of ways, so why not bring in stooges as well? Personally, I think Noble and Mercury are doing a solid job of it, I just wish I'd picked one of them for our WWENews.net Fantasy Wrestling League!
My biggest question from this segment is, why did Trip destroy Miz the way he did? They've built Miz's character as a Hollywood Superstar, and we all know that it's tongue in cheek, but trashing him with the straight-to-DVD comment was rather nasty. Miz isn't the lowly reality star he was when he was he first came into the WWE, and he's more than paid his dues. I'm not saying that Miz should be WWE WHC, and much of his career as mid-card lameness will be paying back for him winning over Cena at WrestleMania to become Champ.
Rosa vs Layla > F
What a curfuffle! Layla is better than this, and she tried in this match, but being in there with Rosa who can barely keep her own feet under her, never mind throw wrestling moves and take serious bumps. Rosa is such a mess in the ring that I wonder why they're even bothering. Yes, I know she's on Total Divas, and that's why they did this match, but putting Rosa in the ring, and having Nattie arguing with TJ outside the ring made for an absolute confusing mess. The saddest part of it all is that TJ is only getting on TV because he's married to Nattie and has a storyline on Total Divas, never mind the fact that he is a great ring technician. I also have to mention that Layla and Summer Rae looks just like LayCool. When are they going to start picking on Nattie for not being as skinny as they are? Though, I have to admit that Layla has a lot more curves than she did when they did the Piggy James storyline. Don't get me wrong, I think Layla looks great, even better with her badonkadonk, and more feminine curves, but the WWE seems to have issue with Divas who are not perfectly thin.
Winner – Layla (2:56)
In Ring Segment > A+
I'm not big on giving many segments an A+, but Ambrose deserves it with this one. Ambrose, alone in the ring, stole the show with this segment. Yes, there were others involved in this segment, and I will not be taking anything away from them, but it was Ambrose in the ring, all by himself that captivated us, and drew us in. It was Ambrose on the mic, all by his lonesome, that brought some of the best lines of the night. It was Ambrose, only his face on camera, which captivated us, and made us smile along with him.
I don't know why he needed to trash Sheamus, but after offering up t-shirts for one dollar, American, Ambrose decided that Sheamus' shirt was only worth a quarter. Not sure, but I think that was a bigger slap than Trip gave Miz! And while he offered up Cena's shirts for a dollar, the way he did it was quite derisive.
But, the comment of the night has to be, "They sent the Cruiserweight Division out to get me." Noble and Mercury did a great job of working off Ambrose, but they also showed why Ambrose is heading to the top of the roster, and they're both now booking. While I have to say that the quote above was the comment of the night, Ambrose did follow it up with, "I forgot what I was charging for these things. I stole them all anyway, so, you want them for free?" Yes, the words are great, but he further sold them with his inflection and expressions. And then he did a great job of distributing the shirts in a joyous and silly way, with just a touch of Lunatic Fringe!
Then Rollins came in and added that much more to the segment. The way he handled the case, then reacted to the green slime explosion was marvelous! Rollins' hissy fit was great, but the look of shock on Ambrose's face, that slowly slid into that childlike smile almost had me on the floor, I was laughing that hard. Honestly, I'm still in pain from laughing so hard last night.
My only question about all this is, why was the slime explosion DX green? I know it's a great color for such things, but it makes me wonder if there's an ulterior motive behind it. Maybe I'm looking too much into the color of the slime, but it is what I do!
Jesse > A+
As most of you know, I had an accident a number of years ago that causes me to have blackouts. There are a wonderful litany of ways that can cause me to pass out, but my favorite one is when I feel any sort of extreme emotional response. Be it anger, sadness, joy, or laughter, they all cause the same thing: me in a semiconscious state on the floor. And it has been a very long time since something on WWE has done that to me. In fact, I can remember specifically the last time it happened. It was in 2009, when Big Show was feuding with Cena. He was heel, but had pulled out the comedy shtick a bit and rolled into Fat Bastard for part of it. And there is something about Show being goofy that makes me laugh uncontrollably. But I got to laughing a bit too hard at it, and the next thing I remember is that my now ex-wife was standing over me panicked because she heard the thud across the house. And last night with Dean Ambrose was one of those special moments. From him poking fun at the merch stands and his own gear to calling Noble and Mercury the Cruiserweight division, all the way to the sliming of Rollins, I was cracking up. But it was the expression on Ambrose's face after the explosion that set me over the edge. I couldn't stop laughing at it, and I passed out yet again. I know it sounds bad, but that makes the segment an instant classic for me. I will never forget it now.
Video > A
I'm very excited for the 15th Anniversary episode of Smackdown. I've been watching some of the oldest episodes on the WWE Network, but it didn't click that the show is coming up on 15 years. Compared to how hard it was to find wrestling on TV back when I was a child, Raw, Nitro, Thunder and Smackdown changed how we all watched wrestling.
Backstage Segment > B
More bitching about having to fight Rollins' battles, so it really looked like they were setting up for something with this, until they screwed it up in the final segment.
Honestly, during Raw, I was ready to rip creative apart for the buzzing case. I didn't see how Rollins would have had time to put his "electric razor" into the case, but then Jesse reminded me that Ambrose said he found some interesting things in the case, and that while they were close in The Shield, he never knew Rollins had that side to him. So, I guess, whatever was buzzing in the case was there from before Ambrose stole it. I will admit that I loved the look Steph got when they were trying to figure out the buzzing, and she sold that in a very McMahon/Helmsley Era way that I miss from her. I'm excited to see where they will go with 'this side' of Rollins, if they remember to continue with it in the weeks ahead. I'm worried that this will be another thing that creative will forget about before next week.
Bo vs Henry> D
Henry and Bo were both solid on mic. Honestly, on mic is where Bo shines, because his ring work leaves a lot to be desired. Henry and Big Show are two of the best at making smaller wrestlers look viable in the ring, but this was a farce. It was glaringly obvious that Henry was the one who did almost all the work in that Bo-dog finisher. Bo has screwed it up more times than not, but it was well executed here – because Henry was the one who did all the work, Bo just put his feet in the right spot.
Winner – Bo (1:43)
Backstage Segment > C+
They needed to do something after that display in the ring. I thought Henry sold his ire beautifully, and Bo took some serious bumps from those anvil cases.
Backstage Segment > B-
Um, huh? I know that they are pushing Stardust to be even more out there than Goldust, but these segments are getting terribly hard to understand. It's not Cody's lisp, his father is one of the best talkers out there, and he has the same lisp, the problem is that Cody isn't enunciating. I don't understand what he's saying half the time, between lack of enunciation, his quiet voice, and the way he moves out of range of the mic, and it's making his vignettes much worse than they actually are. When Goldust is the one who easily understand, there's an issue. I'm loving Cody as Stardust, and he's selling it beautifully. Cody has proven that he can do almost anything, and his work as Stardust is downright amazing. It would only be made better if his vignettes were clearer.
Brie vs Cameron & Eva Marie > D
Brie carried this match in a huge way. Cameron, as usual, looked like a train wreck out there, and even though she has had less training, Eva Marie looked stronger, yet still not great. Brie looked stronger than ever, and made this match look a lot better than it should have. She hit a couple of lovely moves, and while they might have been simple, like her arm drag, they were so beautiful in the middle of such curfuffle, that they still stand out in my mind. These moves and how Brie handled herself is the only reason I didn't fail this Divas match as well.
I wonder why Cameron is still on the roster, other than that she's on Total Divas. Honestly, certain Total Divas should only be on the show, and not in the ring, but two of the biggest offenders were in matches this week! And then there's the question as to why they keep giving Nikki a mic after proving week in and week out that she really can't talk or emote in any viable way.
Nikki – Speaking of Daniel, it worked out so well for you that he's sitting home recovering. Let's be honest Brie, you didn't quit for Daniel, you quit for the attention of all these people who are uglier trolls than your stay-at-home
Winner – Brie (2:55)
Video > A
O'Neil has done so much above and beyond what he does in the WWE, but because he's not Cena, we hear about very little of it. You'd think the WWE would love to show off all O'Neil and the other Superstars do beyond the WWE for others, but they don't. I loved the way O'Neil talked about his grandmother last year during October, and he further touched my heart here. I wish more people knew what O'Neil and the other Superstars were up to in their spare time.
Slater & Gator vs Los Matadores > D-
Okay, Hornswoggle in the gator suit was adorable, and he sold it well, but it's more of this silliness that only goes so far. Between the Exotic Express, Rose, The Bunny, Los Matadores, El Torito, Slater and Gator, and Hornswoggle, there's just too much silliness going on. These are the normal teams that have the comedic matches, but having them all out there at once was too much for me. Further, to have all this going on with Rev. Jesse Jackson in the front row to celebrate with O'Neil over the award he recently won just felt terribly wrong.
Winners – Slater & Gator (2:06)
In Ring Segment > B
I loved Big Show's Big Lebowski comment. For those who are not in the know, or not from Chicago, the comment might not have made sense, and I think that's what I liked about it. It wasn't the normal cheap pop, and because it was Big Show, it worked really well. Speaking of working really well, I love Big Show's facial expressions and body movements when he was 'sneaking up' on the Russian flag. He is so great in segments like this, and sold it wonderfully. I know a lot of people love Big Show as a monster heel, but I think he glows when he's a comic face – except when he's doing fart and potty jokes, those are rarely done well by anyone.
All that being said, I was thrilled to hear Rusev speak for himself, and it seemed as though he was putting on a thicker accent, and dumbed down his English speaking skills. I'd been wondering for a while how fluent he was in English, and it appears that he's a lot more fluent than they had been letting on. Personally, I loved Rusev's comments on what he was going to do to Big Show, and since he's finally talking, I think his character will grow quite a bit. I'm excited to see him advance, as he's been in a bit of a rut lately. It's time for him to move on.
Backstage Segment > B+
Ambrose took this boring segment and made it into something fun, and worth watching. I'm almost always bored by Cena with Renee, because it's the same thing, every time! But the way Ambrose came lurking in, acting all aloof, but also menacing, he sold it and made it into something so much greater than the sum of its parts.
AJ vs Fox > B+&D-
While pairing Paige with Fox, now that she's in a full on feud with AJ, make sense, I'm not at all thrilled with Fox's ring work. Her work is much better than most of the rest of the Divas Division, the problem comes with how stiff she works. She works stiffer than Chyna ever did, and because of that, I'm worried that someone is going to get seriously hurt. Unlike Aksana, Fox at least has a clue what she's doing in the ring, but that doesn't mean she's not dangerous. That last kick to AJ, after the bell, was just sick, and terribly dangerous. Yes, a lot of what they do in the ring looks a lot more dangerous than it actually is, and that's one of the reasons we watch, but Fox has has been dangerously stiff in the ring. The first grade is for the segment, the second grade is for Fox's terrible stiffness.
Winner – Fox (1:25)
Sheamus vs Sandow > C+
I wasn't overly impressed with this match. I'm a fan of both Sandow and Sheamus, but this was lackluster, and overshadowed by Miz on announce. Miz is a better character and talker, than he is in the ring, and I think they need to find a spot for him there. I know his rookie has stepped into a speaking role over a wrestling role, but I think that's where Miz needs to be too.
A number of WWE's roster really needs to be repackaged, and Sheamus is close to the top of that list. While I'm not thrilled with Damien Mizdow, at least he's doing something different and creative, what has Sheamus done lately that's been interesting or creative? I'm waiting. See, that's what I'm talking about! It's time to shake up Sheamus' character, turn him heel, give him something more than being the fighting Irishman. It works, but he needs a lot more than just that to get over with the fans.
Winner – Sheamus (5:25)
Video > A
I normally don't write up about promos like this, but I was blown away by the video for The Best of Sting DVD. I was impressed with how loyal Sting stayed to WCW, and love how they pushed that in this video. It's kind of ironic that it's the WWE putting it out, but things come full circle, and it's time for Sting to round out his career and go into the WWE HOF. I'm so excited to see what the E will do with Sting, as he's been one of my favorites for as long as I can remember loving wrestling. He's one of the classiest men in pro wrestling, as well as one of the best entertainers in the business.
In Ring Segment > A
I have said over and over that I'm not a big Hogan fan, and never have been. I think the WWE relies too much on Hogan's name, rather than pushing the younger wrestlers needed to fill the roster. Back when Hogan turned to the dark side, and WCW was killing WWE in the ratings, the WWE pushed younger guys hard to see where they might go, and it worked with the likes of SCSA, Rocky, HBK, Trip, etc. I don't understand why they are sliding back to their old ways. I know it's easy, and comfortable, but it's not what's going to keep the WWE moving forward, and bringing in the fans they need to keep the ratings up and the Network making money.
On the other hand, Hogan did a fairly solid job of talking up Susan G. Komen, Courage, Conquer & Cure, and going pink for October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Cena is the obvious choice, but he's done it in the past. This was a solid way to use Hogan, and he only screwed up his speech a couple times, and none of them were so horrible that we will still be making fun of him for it in six months. Honestly, isn't that the most we can ask from Hogan these days?
Backstage Segment > B
Steph told Orton and Kane that they've lost what made them so scary, but honestly, Orton did that a long time ago, and Kane is never as scary when he's not masked. In fact, sending Kane to the ring to work in dress pants pretty much makes him look like a corporate pansy. Kane is still the workhorse, but his look is suffering in this role. The Viper lost his bite after his feud with Trip when he was attacking him and Steph at their house. They removed his punt, and he lost his bite. I will say that I like Steph in this role of telling others the things we all have been thinking, and yelling at the TV screen, for years.
Ambrose & Cena vs Kane & Orton B&A-
This was the typical match, someone (Cena) gets beaten down, and then someone else (Ambrose) gets the hot tag to clean house, while the original beaten down guy is suddenly fine and gets back into the fight when the other team gangs up on the hot tag. In that regard, it was the boring same tag match main event we've seen more often than not, and Rollins' attack to cause the DQ has happened more often than not, so that wasn't anything interesting or exciting either.
It's what happened after the match that made this match so much interesting, great, and annoying. Kane and Orton have spent the couple weeks bitching and complaining about how they're sick of picking up Rollins' messes, and then they take Rollins' orders for what to do to Ambrose and Cena, from each move, to holding them down for the curb stomp. Great creative continuity WWE! When they do things like this, I just want to slap them! But then Rollins hit the curb stomp on Cena, and the fans all chanted, "Thank you Rollins!" and I was in awe. All this about Cena being the face of the company, and the fans are in love with one of the biggest heels on the roster for destroying that face. Oops! Are we seeing the changing of the guard? I don't think just yet, but I see Ambrose having the ability to edge Cena out of that top spot, possibly more than anyone else on the roster.
Winners – Cena & Ambrose via DQ (10:46)
When was the last time a faction debuted and each member of the faction will end up being WWE WHC at some point in their careers, barring any major injuries or stupidity? There have been factions formed of champions, or of champions and up-and-comers who become champions, but none that have come in together and all have an honest chance to be at the top of the roster before too long. I'm more and more impressed by Rollins, but it's Ambrose who is stealing Raw whenever he's on screen. As I've said from day one, Ambrose exudes personality, and works every inch of his body when he's on the screen, and never forgets that he's on camera. In my opinion, Ambrose is the man who can step into the spot Cena has been for a number of years, and start the new generation of wrestlers.
Queen of WNW
KB & Jesse