So many people are hating on the WWE right now because The Authority's back. Many of these people hated on McMahon as Evil Vince, but look back at that time as some of the best of the Attitude Era. Also, if so many people are hating on The Authority, then they're doing their job! I'm not defending The Authority, or bringing them back so quickly, but we're starting on the Road to WrestleMania, the biggest time of the year for the WWE, and the WWE always fares better when there's a heel in control of Raw and Smackdown. It's just the way things have almost always been in the WWE, and there's only so far you can go with Special Guest GMs each week. Without focus, this is where we end up, right back where we started.
The crowd was quite dead last night. I'm not sure what the reason behind it was. There's a lot of factors that could have led to that, and I will go through most of them in each segment of the RAW Is Blogged, but I will admit that seeing older episodes of Raw, during the AE, I'm reminded of how wild the fans were. All those signs, the screaming, the chanting, singing at Angle that he sucks! We're just not responding the way we used to, and it's because the overall product isn't as good as it once was. McMahon says that the WWE has competition from all other entertainment, and tried to push off Austin's question that way, but watching Monday Night War has reminded me that it really is the direct competition the WWE needs. When they were working against WCW, they were pushing each week to put out a better product, work harder, and those who put it all out there and showed the passion and drive got ahead. Many of them are resting on their laurels, and I'm not just talking about the Superstars and Divas, I'm talking about the writers, creative, and bookers as well.
Music & Pyro! > A
For years I spent the last thirty seconds before Raw trying to figure out if the show was going to start with something in the ring, or with music and pyro. I'd just been saying to Stacy recently that it's been so long since Raw started with music and pyro. It's great that they went back to old school with the first Raw of 2015.
In Ring Segment > C-
I found the start of Raw very, very strange. Okay, I can see The Authority wanting all the Superstars in the ring and around it to start Raw, but why did Cena have to get all snotty on mic? I don't know, for some reason it rubbed me the wrong way. I will say it was nice to see Darrin Young in the ring, looking healthy with a new look, and it's great that everyone got a show bonus last night, but beyond that, I expected more with everyone out there.
We've been waiting for Rollins to be added to the WWE WHC at Royal Rumble, so I'm glad they finally got there. I thought they had better openings prior to this, be if Rollins had his way into the match, maybe he'd have been less likely to force Cena to return The Authority to power.
Yes, this shows a continued lack of direction, and I really think that they need to bring In someone to focus on storylines, and give the WWE a direction on TV. There's been too much nothing, too much bouncing around, and too much lack of caring. As I said before, after TLC certain feuds were blown off without any real ending, while others kept going when they should have obviously been finished. Add in the issues between Trip and McMahon, and more tension with NXT, and you're bound to get a less solid direction, and the best ideas are being glossed over. They went for a while without a strong roster, and blamed that. The roster is far from weak right now, it's time to give them some serious direction, reasons for them to feud, and reasons for us to give a shit. I'm talking about the Divas as well as the Superstars.
I also have to mention Steph's outfit. Normally I think Steph has been dressing too staid on the show. She's on TV, not in the board room, and should be dressing accordingly. That is until last night. Don't get me wrong, I love Steph's outfit, and I wish I had the thighs to pull it off, but it seemed a bit too hoochie for what she's been trying to put out to the fans lately. I know thigh high boots are in – I've had to explain to Sam why I don't think it's appropriate for a 6th grader to be wearing short shorts and thigh high boots to school, because someone in her class does – and if I had the money, and a great place to wear them, I might just do it. I know I've been wanting Steph to loosen up with her wardrobe, but I thought she looker more Pretty Woman than successful businesswoman loosening up.
IC Championship Match – Dolph Ziggler (c) vs Bad News Barrett > B+
While this match made a lot of sense, I have to agree with what JBL said about Barrett. I was watching this match, just waiting for Barrett to get injured, yet again. I know it's mean to say, but it seems as though Barrett has been injured more than not. They claimed that Ken Anderson was snake bit, but it's Barrett who has a glass jaw and cannot seem to stay on the roster for very long. Also, it's true, Barrett didn't actually lose the IC Title, so he deserved this match. Well, he deserves a clean match, or Ziggler did, but that's all storyline, and Kane did a great job of being the lacky for The Authority. It is what it is, and they had to get the strap off Ziggler before the end of the show, for obvious reasons.
I cannot say that was Ziggler's best match, and it sure wasn't his worst. Same for Barrett. I don't know where they're going with the IC Title, Barrett or Ziggler, but I'm worried that the PTB don't know either.
Winner & New IC Champion – Bad News Barrett (12:46)
Video > B+
I love this video of Cena, but it's something Stacy said after watching this that caught my attention. I actually had Stacy text me some notes on this segment so that I wouldn't lose my train of thought, and the overall feel I get from this video.
While Cena is the top guy in the WWE, he's the face of the company, but he's is no longer young and hungry, they way he was back then. Yes, he was trying to get in, make a name for himself, and get to the top, but it seems as though he's lost what pushed him to get to where he is today. He is still enthusiastic, but he's not hungry, because he's achieved his goals. He's done almost everything there is to do, other than beat Flair's Title record. You cannot see the desperation in his eyes that he had early on. He's now working a job, not striving to reach for more. Yes, he loves what he does, more than most will ever love what we do for our careers, but he's comfortable in his role and doesn't need to push, and because of that, he feels like he's missing something when he's playing his Cena character.
I keep saying that the WWE Network has been hurting the product they show us each week on TV. We can so easily go back and look at the best shows, the greatest moments, and even when the biggest guys were just starting out. The full segment this clip was taken from is something I've watched a couple times since the WWE Network started, and I'm always impressed by how strong and passionate Cena was that first time on WWE TV, but then I see him now, and he feels so fake and flat. Please remember that I'm talking about the John Cena character. John Cena, the man, is someone we should all recognize for the great work he does.
Backstage Segment > C-
I loves me some Reigns, he's one sexy beast, but he really does need some time to grow into his role, and this segment didn't help him at all! He was goofy, but not in a good way, and while trying to make himself look strong, he just looked as though he was trying to hard. Don't get me wrong, I know Reigns has what it takes to be a top guy, and he will get there, but he needs to be allowed to be himself, just on a grander scale. I've been saying the same thing about Big E. you'd think the WWE wouldhave learned after the great heights of Austin, Rocky, and Cena, but it appears they still need a rectal cranial extraction.
DEP! > C
This was more of the same crap from Wyatt. He's better than this, and has shown better than this. McMahon said that Superstars need to step up, and I think Wyatt need to step up with his mic work. He's got a good voice, solid cadence, but his mumbling and saying the same things are hurting him in a huge way. Yes, some of that is the writers, but the rest is Wyatt, and he's just not working up to his potential.
The Ascension vs Baba Ganoushes > D
First off, for those of you who didn't watch Sunday Night heat, or remember Al Snow on announce, he always called no name wrestlers Baba Ganoushes. No clue why, but it's always stuck in my head. I asked Jesse during Raw if the readers would understand what I was talking about. He wasn't sure, but I didn't hear any crap about it, so I went with it. Back in the early days of Raw, it seemed as though most of the wrestlers faced Baba Ganoushes, other than when they were in a big match with another big name. The WWE has stepped away from it quite a bit, and it's something I think they should do more of this. They never know what local shining stars could come out of it. I do understand that the Superstars might not be thrilled with that, as getting into the ring with an unknown can be dangerous, but I think that sometimes it can be used to help elevate Superstars in a great way. That didn't happen here.
Between the sloppy ring work, and the much less than stellar mic work, The Ascension is in deep trouble. Bringing up Demolition and Road Warriors made sense in some regards, but serious daft in others. JBL was right, these guys cannot even carry LOD's bags. They really screwed the pooch in how this team was brought up from NXT – partially the fault of booking, the rest on The Ascension – but this only gives steam to McMahon's fight against NXT. Honestly, I don't know why the PTB thought The Ascension could get over the way they've been presented, but whoever is behind this needs a good swift kick in the slats.
Winners – The Ascension (0:40)
Backstage Segment > C-
Putin, Putin, rah, rah, rah. Yawn. I'm over it. Lana gets over on mic in the ring because, well, look at her! Having her give that little speech backstage kills everything that gets her over. Further, Rusev went from not being able to speak English to being able to speak quite well. Few can do that as quickly as he has, so why are they letting him talk so much if he needs Lana as a mouthpiece? So much that doesn't make sense, but that's more of the WWE not thinking things through, but they're becoming famous for that lately.
Big Show vs Reigns > B-
Again, I didn't expect this to go to a clean ending, but they need to shake things up. The same old, same old is something we've seen from Big Show, and they need to find new ways to keep him and Reigns fresh.
I did like the back and forth between these two men, something that's hard to make realistic with someone the size of Big Show, but that's something he's always been good at doing. The worst part of all of this is that neither of these wrestlers are getting anywhere with this feud. They're putting out solid work, but the fans just are not reacting. Reigns isn't getting the pop he had been getting, and Big Show just isn't getting the heat. A big part of Big Show not getting the heat is that he's bounced between being heel and face so much that no one feels either side of him, or believes it. Too much, too often, and he's lost any reaction he could get on either side. And then there's Reigns whose face character has been changed so much that it's hard to know who he is. It goes back to what I said, they need to let Reigns be who he is, but ramped up to 11. I think if we got that, it would be believable, and propel him up. It would also help his ring work because he'd have the confidence to continue pushing. I see that drive in Reigns, that drive that I mentioned in regard to Cena earlier, but the industry and the WWE are so different these days that I'm not sure how that translates to the PTB. Basically, as I said earlier, the PTB need to step back, remember what worked for some of the best, and let the Superstars run with it. Yes, Taker is a character that's a big step from who Mark is, but there's a part of Mark in Taker and that's part of what made that character work for so long.
Winner via DQ – Reigns (5:32)
Nikki vs Nattie > D
What a bleeping curfluffle! Now, I've not caught much of Total Divas lately, basically because I never know if it's going to be clean enough for Sam to watch, and she's the one who pushes to see the show. Personally, I thought it was strange that Paige was going to be on Total Divas, as it seems like it would kill the mystique behind her character, but maybe that's just me. I guess I need to start watching Total Divas if I want to have a clue what's going on with the Divas, beyond the three minutes, max, that they get in the ring each week on Raw! Honestly, this match was total schlock, and what makes that so horrid is that Nattie is great in the ring. Or, she was great in the ring, her work recently with the Bellas has been less than stellar.
Many of the Divas have huge potential, yet McMahon thinks the Divas need to be pretty, and sexy, while still being PG. That means we don't get any decent wrestling from them, even though the height of the Divas was when -
1- Sable was kicking ass and looking hot.
2- Chyna killed men in the ring, as well as women.
3- Jazz was scary.
4- Molly was hard hitting.
5- Victoria was psycho.
6- Trish decided she wanted to be more than just T&A!
7- Lita hit moves in the ring that many men avoided.
Then, when that was winding down, we got Kelly Kelly and Candice Michelle. I cannot say things have gotten much better in the ring, but the caliber of Divas can give so much more. So bleeping frustrated!
Winner – Nattie (1:16)
Backstage Segment > B+
As with Wyatt's segment, Ambrose said that this is the end of their feud. Honestly, it's one of the best feuds going on in the WWE right now, and to end it at this point, they better have something great on the horizon for these two, or at least Ambrose. These short endings to feuds are messing with my head. These two needed a 3 Stages of Hell Match to round it all out. It would make perfect sense, but this is the WWE we're talking about, and they've done little that makes sense lately!
RIP > A+
It was sweet to see the honest love from Cole, JBL, and Booker T for Stewart Scott from ESPN. While WWE announcers and commentary are reporting on scripted events, they're still very similar to what the ESPN guys do, so I'm sure they feel some familiarity to them. Scott was great at what he did, and it was great to see the WWE announcers say such lovely things about him.
Rowan vs Harper w Special Guest Refs – Jamie Noble & Joey Mercury > D+
I know that this match was meant as a slap toward the NFL's bad call in the Cowboys/Lions game the other day, as well as screwing over Rowan for being on Team Cena at Survivor Series, but J&J Security looked like bumbling idiots, more than they're are scripted to look. Honestly, this looked like a bad Patterson/Brisco segment, and some of those segments were the worst of the AE. The WWE wants to look better and better, but with segments like this – I don't even have the stomach to call it a match – I wonder why they even bother to write schlock like this. The only good things about this segment was that they set up for what was coming later while continuing the storyline against Team Cena, and it was short. Beyond that, I cannot say anything nice, so I won't.
Winner – Harper (1:09)
Backstage Segment > B-
So many stories and questions swirling around about Naomi and Total Divas, but that makes for good storylines. A worked shoot? Honestly, anything that gets Naomi working real matches, I'm all for. Sadly she's stuck working against Fox. Naomi was obviously wary of Fox here, but Naomi also seemed a bit off. The way she was dealing with her bangs was adorable, very real, but beyond that, she didn't seem like the lovable Trin we got to know on Total Divas. Yes, I know, she's Naomi, not Trin on Raw, but Total Divas showing us Trin made it so we knew that Naomi is better than the most amazing body and a dang good wrestler. The problem is that this segment didn't show that, and that sucks.
I have to admit that the rest of the Divas looked great coming to Naomi's rescue. We don't get to see Emma in sexy dresses often, and she looked smoking! But, and I can't believe I'm writing this, Cameron stole the very end of this segment. Yes, she was there with Emma and Summer Rae, but her squat and disdain for her former partner was fabby! Cameron looked great, and with a simple sneer and eye roll told more of a story than we've ever seen from Fox!
Ambulance Match – Dean Ambrose vs Bray Wyatt > A-
This match made Raw worth watching. Okay, this match made this match worth watching. These two men are gold together, and really deserve to have one more match, and what better than a 3 Stages of Hell Match?
The high and low points of this match for me? I loved watching every bit of this match, I honestly cannot come up with much negative, other than Ambrose losing, and I have to say that Wyatt needed a solid win after some of the big name losses he's had. Honestly, I don't think this loss hurt Ambrose in any way, he's able to bounce back anything. He is Austin and Foley, mixed together, for this era, and it almost appears that any poo flung at him just slides right off. That being said, I was quite impressed with the way he sold the knee through the entire match, and didn't forget that his knee was supposed to be injured, like too many Superstars do in their matches.
Even if you were only listening to this match, the chants of, "This is awesome!" and "Holy shit!" should have been enough to tell you that this was something special. Then again, Ambrose's name being attached to the match should tell you that this was something special, because he's something special!
I also have to mention those two Sister Abigails Wyatt hit. Both of them were beautiful in how they were hit. The first SA into the ambulance doors was solid, but the second one, from inside the ambulance to the floor outside was so fluid and beautiful. I know that the move takes both wrestlers to make it look so perfect, and so they're both getting serious props from me for all the work in this match.
Winner – Bray Wyatt (19:39)
6 Person Mixed Tag Team Match – Naomi & Usos vs Fox & Miz & Mizdow > B
Not the best match, but the head scissors Naomi hit on Fox was SICK! And right after talking Naomi up, I have to slap her down a bit. When she was on the apron and Jimmy almost slammed into her, it almost looked like a mistake, not scripted. Naomi didn't sell it well, and the whole thing looked a big confusing, rather than a big and exciting moment. No sure who's to blame here, but I will point at Naomi not selling it in any way.
Other than that, this was the typical match between the Usos and Miz with Mizdow. I'm just hoping that it's at Royal Rumble that Miz and Mizdow start crumbling. I'm not sure Mizdow can get much bigger in this role, and it's about time for him to flip and change the dynamics. When this explodes, it will change the whole Tag Division, and them losing the TTCs was a big step in this coming to fruition.
Winner – Miz & Mizdow & Fox (4:10)
Handicap Match – Ryback vs Rollins & Kane > B+
I think that Ryback's speech on Raw last week was cathartic for him, and it showed in his work this week. Not only did Ryback hold his own quite well with Kane and Rollins, but he look better than ever in doing so. It's Ryback's work in this match against a legendary work horse, and the future of the WWE, that made this a solid match to watch. Honestly, I never thought I'd be saying these things about Ryback, but he really seems to have come full circle. If Ryback can continue with this energy, this lightness of soul, I think he could have a great career. He might not be at the top of the card, but he will be remembered for more than that guy who got the 'Goldberg!' chants.
Winners – Kane & Rollins (11:59)
Rose vs Big E > C-
I'm so over Adam Rose with the Exotic Express, it's time for him to go all bad ass heel and show us what he can really do. The bleeping Exotic Express was clapping along with A New Day, rather than supporting Rose, who they were there with! That being said, it looks as thought A New Day isn't going to turn face as quickly as I thought if we're going to see Rose teaming with Kidd and Cesaro. That's what I took away from this segment.
I have to say that I'm really not happy with Cesaro tagging with Kidd. I think they could be great for the Tag Division that needs a lot of help, but this will only bring Cesaro down. Cesaro is better than this and should be pushing for the top, and I honestly expected him to be pushing for it after his little speech last week, but he's not. I'm a huge fan of his, and have been since he won my heart in ROH, I just hope Cesaro comes out of this better than he is right now, but I'm worried for him.
Winner via DQ – Big E (1:51)
In Ring Segment > B-
Cena didn't say a word in this segment, yet he still annoyed me. Something about his kicked puppy dog look here that just ticked me off. I'm bored with this Cena, and I need something more. We all need something more. The fans, other than kids and a few women, want something different from him. I'm not saying he needs to turn heel, just that he needs to shake up his character. As I said earlier, he doesn't have the drive and hunger he used to have when he was at the bottom.
Steph was very much in bitch mode, but the sexy and coy way she told Cena that he's her hero, about had me on the floor laughing. She threw a couple of early 20s Steph faces in this segment, expressions that we haven't seen from her in years, and it was nice to see her being more diverse than she had been the past couple years since she returned to TV. She's grown so much since that little girl who dated Test, was kidnapped by Taker, "married Trip" to lead the McMahon Helmsley Era, feuded with Jericho, and used everyone so she could run with a strap. Some of her young work was downright horrid – though we will never her bouncing to the ring in that green snakeskin backless top – but she's become so stiff and sometimes painful to watch because she's so focused on being a businesswoman. It's nice to see her loosening up a bit with her character, and relaxing into some of what made younger Steph endearing and entertaining to watch.
All that about Steph being said, she sure does a great job of channeling her father. She loves firing people on air in the same way her father did whenever the mood strikes her. The Authority told Team Cena that if they lost, everyone but Cena would be fired. Yes, Team Cena won, with help of "that painted up goof, Sting" so it does make sense that with The Authority back, they fire the rest of the team who didn't turncoat and side with The Authority. I will say that this isn't a plot hole, and will admit that I'm impressed that they remembered something that happened over a month ago, and came full circle with it. For the WWE, that's something that so rarely happens.
Speaking of doing things right, the amount of confetti and balloons they had falling on a broken and emotionally destroyed Cena was fantastic. They didn't go halfway with it, and I think that's the most hoopla I've ever seen in the ring for any fired Superstars. I have to admit that I thought they were going to get slimed, pooed on, or something else equally disgusting, the way The Authority left the ring and made their way to the stage before finishing things, but after a "firing" like that, confetti and balloons are so much nastier than anything disgusting they could be covered with.
Thinking back to Raw last night, I didn't think it was too terrible. But then I wrote the RIB and realized just how bad it was. Going through the show segment by segment really makes me analyze the show, and the grades I had to give each segment, I realized that it was nowhere near as good as I thought it was before writing this.
So, it was a three hour show with only 59:02 in matches. Three of the matches made over 40 minutes of it. When Ambrose/ Wyatt happened, it about equaled what had happened before. That's not great for a wrestling show, in my book. The more time they have for Raw, the more they piss it away. There was so much wrestling last week on Raw, but this week they really dropped the ball with it. I tune in for storylines that make sense, characters that I want to love, or love to hate, and to see wrestlers give us great wrestling matched – both the Superstars and the Divas. The WWE just continues to drop the ball. All of the issues are fixable, especially now that the roster is really becoming quite solid. McMahon might not think so, but they need a reason to strive to be the best, and not just because they're the top wrestling company out there and can sit on their hands and watch the money roll in. It will catch up with them if they don't fix the problems. They fixed their cartoon character problems and ushered in the AE, letting WCW crumble under their own issues, becoming stronger because they were pushed to do so, now it's time to actually LISTEN to the fans, look at the issues, and fix them, for the betterment of the company, the Superstars and Divas, and the fans who are there week in and week out, spending their hard earned money to support the thing that they love so much, the WWE.
Queen of WNW