There was so much running around online before this episode of Raw. Between people complaining about the Anonymous Raw GM, and that he'd been named two years ago, so why were they bringing it back, to people claiming that it was going to be either Stone Cold Steve Austin or Sting who popped out to take out the Anonymous Raw GM, or be announced as the Anonymous Raw GM. Well, none of that happened, and the Anonymous Raw GM was barely used on the show, and even after I programed my writing program to give me, "Cole – Can I have your attention, please. I just received an email from the Anonymous Raw GM! And I quote," but typing only three little letters! I thought I was getting ahead of the game, but in the end I only used it once! I'm not complaining, because Cole needs to stay neutral working between King and JBL.
This week Gesus picked up a few segments for me, just to help me get through the RIB before midnight. I have to admit that I would have graded those segments as low as he did. They really weren't that great.
In Ring Segment > B-
Straight up, this was just way too long! This segment went on for about 25 minutes, longer than a typical Trip opening segment. This was not good for the flow of the show, and hurt the show from the start. Yes, you need to be vested in the wrestlers and the segments to move forward with the feud and the storyline, but this was stretched out too long and hurt the show, both in the short term, and long term. Besides taking up too much time, and boring the heck out of us, they had to find ways to shoehorn commercials in later, and that meant that we lost more than six minutes during two separate matches (Tag Team Turmoil and Main Event). Normal commercial breaks during Raw are about three minutes (when I'm behind I hit the fast forward button six times [30 seconds each time] to catch up), but at least one of the commercial breaks during a match was at least four minutes. To me that is taking wrestling away from the fans, during a wrestling show. Yes, we tune in for the storylines and feuds, but we also tune in to see what's going on in the ring. If they had cut this segment by five minutes, which would have been easy, and then cut out at least one of the recap segments about this segment, we wouldn't have lost the minutes of wrestling that we did. We always lose some wrestling to commercials, it's just the way things work, but to lose those minutes to a segment that didn't need to be anywhere near as long as it was only hurts the show as a whole.
I will admit that it was fun to watch Cena make Rollins so uncomfortable, make him beg to get The Authority back, and Cena cutting off the Anonymous Raw GM made it so that we didn't have to deal with anywhere near as much as we would have otherwise, and the fighting at the end of the segment was solid, the slough in between all that could have been seriously cut down.
Tag Team Turmoil Match for #1 TTC Contendership – Dusts vs A New Day (to start) > B+
I'm going to split this into each separate match, that way each group gets the grade it deserves, not runoff from the rest of the wrestlers.
I always enjoy the Rhodes brothers, and always have. Cody and Dustin work their bums off as Stardust and Goldust, and the fans love them that much more for it. I know that this will run its course at some point, but I think Cody's fans will always have this time to look back at, to remember how great the brothers were working together as these strange and quirky characters.
I'm loving A New Day. They're fun, exciting, and seem to be putting a lot of themselves into these characters and their work. I've only seen as far in McMahon's podcast as to see him say that the roster just doesn't have the drive that they did in Austin's day, and I have to agree with McMahon on this, with these guys in that group – specifically Kofi. I think if Big E had put more of himself into his previous character, really pushed himself, he'd be much further along than he is. The same for Kofi, even though I'm not sure he has the personality to go too far. Woods is too new to tell, and he's been bounced around too much to really show us what he has. I loved Woods as Consequences Creed. It was obvious that he had real potential, but was just quite young.
Those things being said about the members of A New Day, I think this could be just what they need. They're all strong in their own right, but are missing something that the others have. Kofi has springs in his feet, is loved by fans, but lacking in the personality front and not on mic at all. Big E is strong, loved by fans, but hasn't been able to get his foothold and hasn't been able to show personality through mic work. Woods is solid in the ring, great on mic, but he's still new to fans and hasn't developed into someone truly loved. Putting these three together makes perfect sense, and while I think the blue is a bit much, I love the cohesiveness of their ring gear, but how each outfit works perfectly for the wrestler wearing it. I think the dark blue needs to be much darker, but maybe that will happen when they turn heel at some point in the future? Either way, I'm loving their start, and thought they worked quite well with the Dusts here.
Kidd & Cesaro > B-
Did I miss something here? When did Cesaro and Kidd get together? It makes some sense, though I have to wait and see how they meld. While I want Cesaro to be a singles competitor, and know he has all it takes to be a top guy, he just hasn't reached that point yet. Kidd could be that much better with a partner, and the Tag Division could use a solid team like them. The problem is that this section of the match just didn't have the oomph it needed to compare to other parts. Kidd and Cesaro have the ring work and physicality, but they're just not getting over that hump with the fans.
Usos > B
The Usos seem to be able to take any tag match and make it that much better. Their work is top rate, and they need a solid Tag Division to work with to really shine. This match was built for them, and they made it that much greater for being there. I'm really hoping that when A New Day turn heel, they have a great feud with the Usos. The teams have Division gold written all over them, and will be amazing in the ring together. I will say that Cesaro and Kidd stepped things up in this part of the match, but still were not up to what I know they're capable of. Hopefully they will meld sometime soon.
Rose & Bunny > B-
I was very unhappy that JBL announced the match to be over, completely forgetting that this team was rounding out the match. We all pretty much knew that the Usos were going to win this match, and this segment helped push Rose and Bunny further, really setting up for their feud, but this wasn't great. It was too predictable for me. Don't get me wrong, Rose is doing a downright wonderful job of turning heel right before our eyes. His growth and change has been interesting to watch, I just hope they reveal who the Bunny is before it's all said and done.
Winners – Usos (17:20)
Backstage Segment > B
I have two things to say about this segment, beyond how beautiful Naomi is, and how amazing her body is. First being that Miz mentioned voting for Naomi before anything was mentioned about voting for who was going to tag with AJ later in the show. Now, I could have missed something somewhere, but I absolutely don't remember seeing anything about voting before Miz said he was voting for Naomi.
The second thing being Mizdow. That man is jaw droppingly great! The way he presented Naomi with a business card that wasn't there was just perfect. No matter what he has to do, he makes it work. I cannot imagine how Miz feels through all of this, but he sure isn't the star of that team! Further, Naomi played along with Mizdow just as well. The whole thing really worked well.
Promo > B
I know a lot of people don't like celebrities on Raw, and most of the time I agree. Grumpy Cat should not have been on Raw, and Larry The Cable Guy was a joke, but sometimes things work well. Hugh Jackman did a lovely job of working with Ziggler, and Freddie Prinze Jr. was fulfilling a dream after working on the writing team for so long. I'm a huge Seth Green fan, and I have been since he was on The Byrds of Paradise in 1994. I completely agree that he shouldn't have been in the ring when he was guest hosting before, but hosting the Slammy Awards is something totally different. He's not running around trying to create matches, or be in the ring himself, he's playing Neil Patrick Harris for the Slammys. I'm all good with that, and cannot wait to see what Slammys they're going to give away this year. Shucky ducky quack quack!
Backstage Segment > A-
I have a couple things to say about this segment. The first being that I found it interesting that Tom conducted this interview, not Renee. Are they still going with Rowan trying to find Renee? Or has that been put on the back burner? Or has that be completely forgotten already?
The other thing that jumps out at me is something that came up in a recent interview of mine. Now, the interview I'm mentioning will be posted on WWENew.net as soon as it is edited and pieced together. I was lucky enough to interview George Murdoch, otherwise known as Titus in TNA, or Brodus Clay in the WWE. When asking him about his characters in the WWE, he said that the WWE didn't know what to do with a very intelligent big man. That struck me as quite interesting, and in talking with him, it was obvious that he was hugely more intelligent than any of his characters showed is in the WWE. The way he watched the crowd, took note of everyone and everything, and the way he spoke to me, I was blown away by the man. So when suddenly Rowan is borderline genius, is an award winning vintner, a classically trained guitar expert, and solves the Rubik's Cube so easily, I was thrown back to my interview with George
Now, I'm thrilled that Rowan is sliding so beautifully into this character, he's playing it well, and showing us that he is not going to be thought of as playing second fiddle to Harper in any way. I never thought much of Rowan until he joined Team Cena and really started showing personality. Now I think the man has a huge future in front of himself if he continues pushing his character, and he's able to evolve with it, but I have to wondering if maybe George has something to do with where Rowan is going these days.
Rowan vs Big Show > B
I liked Big Show on mic on his way to the ring. It didn't take up too much time, but he got the fans pissed off at him, and fired up to see Rowan kick his ass. That the match went back and forth, neither of them really getting the upper hand over the other. The only real issue I have with this match is how it ended. I don't understand why Big Show dropped the stairs where he did. From where I was sitting, it was too close to Rowan, and why they bounced into Rowan's head the way they did. I haven't heard anything otherwise, so I'm guess there's nothing wrong with him from taking that bump to the head, but it could have been quite bad. Beyond that, both men sold well, and really worked their characters in this match, and that will absolutely help Rowan in the short and long runs. Seeing Big Show with this way with Rowan gives me hope for the future of the WWE.
Winner – Rowan via DQ (4:20)
Backstage Segment > A
First off, I love McMahon's tie! What a lovely tie, and he's the type who can pull off a look like that. He's always dressed well, but it seems as though McMahon has really enjoyed fashion and the creativity of it that much more this past decade. His suits and styles have grown and changed with his age, and I'm very impressed with what he's been wearing. He's so much less stuffy than he was when he was in suits prior, basically the way Trip's been dressing. Now all he has to do is get Trip to loosen up, and he'll look as spiffy.
The biggest thing about this segment that left me smiling was McMahon's goofiness. He was so obviously looking forward to that podcast with Austin, and it showed. He was goofier than I remember seeing him in a long time, and he carried that over to the podcast (what I've seen of it so far), which made it that much better. Seeing McMahon like that brought a smile to my face, and kept it there for the rest of the night.
Fandango vs Swagger > D-
There was a count out. I am not really sure what they’re trying to do with the Fandango character. I would believe trying to kill it a slow and agonizing death. The poor excuse of repacking him is laughable and humiliating as a fan to who watches and defends professional wrestling. I will admit I was confused by Swagger’s music playing and nothing coming out. The third time it happened and we saw the camera backstage I finally had my attention captured. I was really confused on why Fandango would attack Zeb but hey, maybe they’re finally making a storyline for Fandango. Then I hear Rusev’s music hit and it took everything in my power to not change the channel. For one interesting thing to happen in an entire segment that immediately didn’t matter is the reason this segment gets a D-.
In Ring Segment > D
We come back to commercial and we see Lana cutting a promo. While normally I would love to care and have enjoyed what she had to say, lately WWE has cut the legs out from under her, made her get surgery, return early, and run the ropes...metaphorically speaking of course. Her promos have been so watered down that the idea of sitting through one and having it be mildly entertaining is a fallacy or the more mainstream wrestling fan. We can only hear nationalism so much for any country before we want to see an ounce of character progression. They change the words around to the Pledge of Allegiance and tried to get heat. Funny thing though, they are so far beyond cheap heat it’s not even fun. As soon as you know it Captain American Jack Swagger is running out and a battle ensues. Could it be that we get to see them feud again? How not exciting. This feud went nowhere fast the first time when seemingly little limits on topics they could touch. Now Lana and Uncle Zeb have their hands tied and nothing interesting will be said.
Mizdow vs Fernando > B-&A
While Mizdow was great in this match, much of the focus was on Miz on announce. That's just going to irritate Mizdow that much more, leading to him snapping on Miz at some point. The other major issue I had with this match is that we weren't told if it was Fernando or Diego who was working the match. I know they're masked and haven't been on TV much, but they still deserve the same attention to their names as everyone else.
When Miz gave Naomi the business card, I didn't think much of it. Honestly, I think writing the Raw Results had me so focused on what I was writing that I didn't see where this was going. I should have, as Miz and Mizdow are Tag Team Champs, and the Usos won the Turmoil Match earlier in the show. So, that was my bad, but I have to say that this added bit of interest to the Tag Division will add that much more interest to the storylines. They won't just be fighting because the Usos won a match, they have issues beyond that – Naomi – and that will make the fans more vested in all that happens. Add in what might, and hopefully will, go down between Miz and Mizdow, at some point, also adds a lot to the storyline and starting feud. The Usos are very much the top tag team in the WWE these days, but they need more than that to hold the gold, or be fighting for it. Bravo WWE creative for bringing Naomi into all of this, even if it's just one more way to tie in a Total Divas Diva into a storyline.
I have to give Jimmy an A for hitting Miz the way he did. Sometimes blows like that don't look very good. They get one chance to get it right, and depending on where people are standing, and there the camera is, things just don't look right. This one punch, on the other hand, looked great from where I was sitting, and I have to give both of them huge props for this.
Winner – Mizdow (2:25)
R-Truth vs Bray Wyatt > C-
I really do like R-Truth, but this was nothing for him. The only thing to note for R-Truth in this match is that his hair has gotten longer since I last remember seeing him on Raw. Bray was really solid, and quite creepy in this match, but it wasn't enough to make this match anything I'd care to ever watch again. It just wasn't very good.
Winner – Bray (4:22)
In Ring Segment > B
Jacob's ladder, what a brilliant idea! Bray's use of biblical themes is fantastic, and while Jacob's ladder is quite obvious, he made it work. I like that while he went on for a bit, it wasn't forever. Some of his promos are too long, but this one wasn't. It felt like it could have been if Ambrose hadn't cut him off, but that cut was perfectly timed, and therefore brought the segment to a whole other level than if Bray had been allowed to ramble.
The attack on the chair by Ambrose was lovely, but Bray's reaction to it was priceless! That chair is one of Bray's favorite things since letting Harper and Rowan loose, and since Ambrose destroyed it, Bray might just lose his mind!
Bellas vs AJ & Naomi > B
I know the fans love Nattie, I do to, but I was surprised that the spread between Nattie and Naomi was as close as it was. I thought Naomi would get at least 60% of the votes for this match. I will fully admit that I voted for Naomi myself.
While I cannot say this match was as good as I know it could have been, but it wasn't as bad as if Fox had been in there! The work was decent, though we didn't get to see enough of Naomi's power moves. It was nice to see AJ and Naomi at least getting through the match without issue, and AJ looked good taking out Nikki.
Winners – AJ & Naomi (3:25)
Backstage Segment > B+
Noelle is a real beauty, and Foley is a fantastic Santa. I'm not big on the holidays, and try to go about them as simply as possible, though that's hard with kids. Normally I avoid most things Santa and Christmas, other than the longest running and most obvious. The only caveats I have to that is my collection of WWE Superstar Santa hats I wear from Thanksgiving to Christmas, and that's more because they're wonderfully warm, and I love wrestling. I'd wear them all winter if I could, because they're just that warm and comfy. All that being said, I plan on buying Foley's Santa documentary to support one of my favorite Superstars of all time. Beyond that, I think it's great that they brought Foley and Noelle in for this segment. I wish I'd known, I'd have worn my 'Mrs. Foley's baby boy's baby' girl t-shirt!
Announce Segment > A-
I do vaguely remember Heyman man saying, about Austin years ago, "He who has the gold has the power, and he who has the power has the gold." While the one with the gold has the power, there are those who have power without gold, and one of those is Heyman, when he's on mic. That man works the mic like few others, and rarely fails. Between rescinding his apology acceptance from Rollins, to mocking Cena for his comments about Brock Lesnar only coming around once a year, Heyman hit this one out of the park. Reference to Christmas and WrestleMania were just perfect for this! Many fans are disgruntled by Brock holding the strap, and being gone for so long, myself included. At least when Rock did it, he was working the red carpet, and on the media circuit with the strap over his shoulder. He brought the strap to the fans at every turn. Brock holding the strap is completely different. I honestly cannot say I've seen him anywhere but on Raw with the gold, and haven't heard of him pushing that he's WWE WHC in any way. So why Heyman is great on mic, it will only quell the fans who want to see the WWE WHC so much.
6 Man Tag Match – Cena & Ziggler & Ryback vs Rollins & Kane & Harper > B+
Two sets of commercials in one match. We only saw about seventeen minutes of the work in this match because there was so much commercial time. I think the worst moment in it all was also one of the most impressive moments. Ryback struggled to get Harper up the first time, but rather than letting his ego take hold, he went right back there and got Harper up in the delayed vertical. They went to commercial at that moment. Not my favorite, but I understand they need to do that from time to time. Being behind on writing up the show, I don't watch the WWE App during the commercials, so I have no clue what went down in the match during the break, but that they came back with Harper back up in the air, being held by Ryback, made me wonder what they were up to. It's been years since they've tried to act like commercials weren't there, or, like TNA, acting like a taped show isn't so they can cut out chunks of matches to make more room for talking. Basically, I'm saying that it's odd to have them come back from commercial with the wrestlers back to where they were when the show broke.
The back and forth between the wrestlers made for a really solid match. Unlike a lot of these, and a big part of it is because The Authority is no longer there warping the matches, it wasn't obvious who was going to win this one. I really enjoyed it as a main event, and thought it was a solid ending to a roller coaster of a show.
Winners – Ziggler & Cena & Ryback (25:48)
In Ring Segment > A-
Normally if it's just fighting after the main event, I won't split it off, but I think Rowan deserves to have this split off this week, and 95% of this grade is for Rowan in this segment.
I will fully admit that I was wrong about Rowan. I didn't think he would be interesting or exciting after splitting from Bray and Harper, but I was completely wrong. I really didn't think Rowan had much personality, or direction, but now he's the most exciting of the three. Okay, Harper is the most exciting to watch in the ring. Bray might be creepy and a bit scary in the ring, but it's Harper that will take everyone down through his power moves and clotheslines. But Rowan got his foot all the way up there to take out Big Show! How is that possible?
Rowan returning with the stairs is a sort of poetic justice that the WWE rarely indulges in! If they do indulge, it takes months to do, not later in the same episode of Raw! Maybe with three hours of Raw we will be seeing more of that? Doubt it.
Beyond Rowan with the top of the stairs, he really sold his character well in how he handled shaking Cena's hand, and even more so when he stood over Big Show while rubbing the huge knot on the side of his head. Something about the look on Rowan's face, the way he moved, and how he was rubbing his face, head, and that huge knot from the stairs bouncing earlier in the show. While Harper's ring work, yelling and eyes are getting him over with the fans, Rowan's childlike character, and how he moves and talks whenever on the screen, is going to get him over quite quickly. I loved childlike Abyss in TNA (heck, I adore Abyss), and I got that feel from Rowan when he was hunting for the unnamed blonde (I mean Renee), but I'm almost falling in love with Rowan's childlike ways more than Abyss! Abyss is still in my top ten favorite wrestlers, but something about Rowan, something about his eyes, he's selling childlike in a most beautiful and believable way.
I've only seen part of Stone Cold Steve Austin's podcast with McMahon. I wasn't able to get right on it immediately after Raw because I was still in the process of getting the rest of Raw Results up. Because it was new, I couldn't play it on demand on the WWE Network. When I got up today I started the show, and was loving what I was seeing, but the RIB needed to get out, so it was put aside. Putting it aside was one of the hardest things I've had to do in conjunction with wrestling, but responsibilities come first. Just because I haven't finished it doesn't mean you cannot go check out what Joshua Tucker wrote about the podcast here. Or Jamie Welton's thoughts on the podcast here. Or even go to check out what Mark Moore wrote about Punk's interview here!
Queen of WNW
KB & Gesus