I have to start this by apologizing for the look of the RIB last week. I put the title together because of what Strowman's jobber said, but I put the pic in for Bayley's debut. I didn't realize how it would look on WNW. Bayley with that smirk and her thumbs up and the RIB title across the front of her was funny, but maybe not how she wants people to think of her. Hey, I don't know her, so I can't say, but the overall look wasn't what I was going for, but I giggled when I saw it, so I had to leave it. Did anyone else notice how funny it looked?
RIP Mr. Fuji > A+
Video > B+
Reviewing the Balor injury. The more I see that throw, the more it looks like Rollins screwed up, and should not be using that move any longer. Great video, but too many injuries at the hands of Rollins.
In Ring Segment > A+
KO is gold on mic, and stole the show! But then Cass came in and slapped him down hard with the comments about Jericho writing all of KO's material while KO shops for scarves. So much greatness in that ring, and that's just talking, not even bumping and throwing moves. Rollins looked a bit like the yippy chihuahua in this segment. While he can talk wonderfully, he was truly out-classed by KO and Cass, so what he did fit perfectly. Then Reigns did exactly what Reigns should do more of, let his actions speak louder than words. He's a powerhouse, so let him be the heel and fight.
This segment worked to all their strengths and set that tantalizing morsel in front of us, whetting our appetites for their match later tonight. Now, I expect it will be the main event, because this type of match should be the main event, but will that segment keep the fans excited enough to sit through the next two and a half? I know it will for me, but I'm here ever week for work. Will the casual fan stay? Only the ratings will tell, but I'm not sure, as great as this was, that it's enough. If Raw was two hours, there would be no question, it's that extra hour that keeps screwing the WWE on a weekly basis!
Backstage Segment > A-
Jericho on mic is always great. Not sure how I feel about the backdrop for this interview, but all eyes should be on Jericho, because he's so great in this character, as usual!
Neville vs Jericho > B+
Jericho is so good at telling a story, further creating his character as he works the ring. He's slowed down quite a bit, but he sure makes up for the personality that Neville is devoid of in the ring. Neville's ring work is jaw dropping, but he really doesn't seem to be able to emote in any way, and that just makes a wrestler that much flatter. No matter how great he is in the ring, I just don't feel Neville. They really need to do something to help him over that hump, and he'd be virtually unstoppable. He could be as beloved by the fans, especially the kids, as Rey was, if he had personality.
Winner – Jericho
Backstage Segment > A-
Bayley with New Day was fantastic. Honestly, Dana was really great in character here. She spoke well, threw attitude like the meanest mean girl in high school, and dripped arrogance – as well as showing off bodacious tatas in that jumper that looked amazing on her. That was possibly the best outfit I've seen on Dana so far. It really suited her figure. I'm quite excited to see their match later tonight.
Nia Jax vs Jobber > B
They let the jobber talk, but she didn't have a chance. I wonder if we're going to see a Cena-esque jobber come through for Nia or Strowman. You know, one that looks like a jobber but ends up actually becoming something big.
Winner – Nia Jax
Video > B+
I love these Anderson and Gallows videos. I know a lot of people don't like their flat delivery, but I find it more deadpan than flat. They have Stacy and I laughing aloud. Stacy even said, “That was fairly good.” He doesn't like the backstage segments and vignettes as much as I do, be he really liked that. I thought Dana was a bit flatter than Anderson and Gallows, but the way she snapped that rubber glove, which we all got what that meant, was a great was to end it.
Sami Zayn vs Jinder Mahal > B
They made this match look a lot more realistic than I would have ever thought possible. Mahal is less than a glorified jobber to me, on the same level of Ryder before this past year, yet he was still booked to actually look like he had a chance against Zayn. Zayn beat KO after a fantastic feud back and forth. Zayn is a great wrestler and Superstar and should be treated that way, not like he's lower-mid-card and would never have a chance at being the Universal Champion.
On the other hand, I've been asking for unexpected matches, and people facing off with people they're not feuding with, so I'm not at all complaining that they faced off, because I think that's great. I'm complaining that Mahal was booked to look so much better than he's ever been, or could be.
Winner – Sami Zayn
Announce Segment > D&A+
At least Charlotte wasn't yelling? I will give her props for that, but otherwise she's devoid of anything interesting, unlike Banks who has personality oozing from every facial expression, body movement, and word she speaks. She's so amazing.
New Day & Bayley vs The Club & Dana > A-
New Day and Bayley are a perfect fit. They have a similar vibe, and so much silliness, but also can work the ring as the best of them. And her ring gear almost matches them. So much iridescence! Bayley is great in the ring, but all over Anderson was that much more fun. Actually they seemed to have a real blast out there, right down to beating down the other team so they could dance into commercial. She fits their dynamic better than anyone else on the roster, and I'm shocked I hadn't thought of it before now.
We got to see the best of Bayley in this match, really showing the WWE fans (the pro wrestling fans already know her) who she is, and not giving us two over-the-top silly matches in one show. I actually thought that Dana looked quite good in the ring with Bayley, not green and slightly dangerous, like she normally does. Anderson and Gallows work so well with Big E and Kofi that, while I hope they don't drag on forever, I'm good with them feuding – for now. I just wish The Club would let whatever it is that made them great in NJPW out so that we could see it and love them too.
Winners – Bayley & New Day
Backstage Segment > B+
Cesaro is so good on mic. He has a quiet charisma that few can pull off. He doesn't have to be loud and over-the-top to get his point across. I think that's why McMahon hasn't thought Cesaro could get over all this time, but in reality, he oozes charisma and the fans love him for being so different. It doesn't hurt that he looks amazing in a suit! Such a dapper looking man.
Best of 7 – Sheamus vs Cesaro > B-
Sheamus owned the fans after that 'What?' chant! That was lovely!
I loved their match before this one, but this one really felt like a bit of a sleeper to me. I really expect a lot from Best of 7 Series, because we've seen some great ones. Benoit and Booker T had two of them. One for the WCW TV Championship in WCW, and then for the US Championship in the WWE! There was also a Best of 5 Series in TNA, I think it was between MCMGs and Beer Money, but please correct me if I'm wrong on that.
This just wasn't that great, even with Cesaro in the match. Further, if they want to push that Cesaro's back hit the corner post, don't replay the segment from an angle that shows he absolutely didn't hit the post with his spine at all.
Winner – Sheamus
Video > A+
RIP Mr. Fuji. Beautiful video of a man who will live on in our hearts.
Strowman vs Jobber > C+
Americo's answer to Byron was great. Byron has improved so much since JBL was moved to SmackDown, and he's great interviewing these jobbers. I actually kinda feel bad about this jobber. He looks as though he weighs less than Rey, and possibly as tall. The removal of the hood bothers me a bit, just because that's not cool, but I'm sure the kid knew it would happen before he went out there.
Winner – Strowman
In Ring Segment > A
Steph screwed up saying that they're going to have their first Universal Champion. Um, the first Universal Champ was Finn Balor. Oops! But a bigger oops than that is Heyman cutting Steph off the way he did. I know it's storyline, and he's been around since she was a little girl, but that took some stones! Steph then did a great job with the 'ECW!' chants. Then an even better job when she slapped the cash out of Heyman's hands.
Dang, Heyman went off and was astonishing. He is good, but at times he's at the pinnacle, and tonight is one of those summits. Even after Steph 'accepted' his 'apology' Heyman was still right up there with his facial expressions and reactions. Though, I have to say the way Steph reacted and stomped out was rather anticlimactic after all the posturing in that ring. It came off as very strange, and makes me wonder what's next.
Young vs O'Neil > F-
Wait! What? Again? Really? Why?
What was Young supposed to do when he was whipped? I don't think he was supposed to go over and out the way he did. And I'm sure the camera that was broken wasn't at all planned. I know, poo happens, but still, that looked rough! Young was selling after he was brought back into the ring, but the way he was laying outside the ring, it was obvious that he really didn't want to move from that spot, for at least minutes, if not hours. That was not comfortable.
And Young won? That was the slowest count! Was Young supposed to win? Do I really care? Does anyone really care? What a kerfuffle, and I feel horrible for O'Neil in all of this, because this is possibly the worst thing they could have done to him.
Backstage Segment > B
Steph keeps saying that this is the first Universal Championship winner. And there was a lot of love for Steph here. Between believing he should have been in the ring when Steph dealt with Heyman, and that huge hug Rollins gave Steph after saying he'd bring the strap home. Rollins still seems to think The Authority is alive and well, and he's the gold carrier for the group.
Fatal Four Way Elimination Match for Universal Championship – Roman Reigns vs Seth Rollins vs Kevin Owens vs Big Cass > A+
I'm writing this before the match actual starts, during the commercial, because I want to get it out before anything happens. While I think it's WAY too early to pull the trigger on Cass, I don't think it's too early to put him in main event matches, even matches for the Universal Championship, because they need to see how he will do in the big money matches. They need to see how he will handle himself when the pressure is really on. I'd love to see Cass win a smaller singles Championship, and possibly the Tag Team Championship with Enzo, showing just how strong and over he is, then have him win the MITBLM 2017, or the Royal Rumble Match 2018. At that point he will be more than ready, and we will be itching to see him as the Universal Champ.
I think Reigns jumped up and back faster than Cass thought he would, because Cass seemed to go over the top faster with that big boot than he expected! But that started a beautiful chain of moves and high flying. When I guy like Reigns can fly like that, I'm always in awe. (I'm not comparing him in any other way, so don't jump on me for my next comment. There's NO other similarity!) Seeing Reigns fly like that reminds me of Taker. It's the dark hair and black ring gear, but also their side and the way they fly. (I'm only talking that one move, nothing else!)
Cass had a beautiful showing in his first singles championship match. He was first eliminated, as it should have been, being the newest and greenest in the match, but he owned Reigns for big chunks, and really did a beautiful job in the ring. I'm so excited for his future in the WWE, and even more thrilled that in a couple years that we will be able to look back at this match and say, I remember when… We can say the same for the other three in this match, because while not as new, they're not old guys who shouldn't be in the ring. These are the New Era, and these guys are what are making the WWE worth watching. 'This is awesome!' chants were quiet, but right on the money. This match is awesome, and these three are really well matched. So much greatness, and so much future greatness. Finally, it's not just Cena and Orton fighting for the championship, whichever championship it is, there's a wider field of top-tier Superstars, and we are lucky enough to see this new turnover of bright, young Superstar.
Me, pumped? Absolutely! These men are the best on Raw and I'm so excited to not only watch them fight, but to be able to write about it as it happens. Hearing the chants of 'This is awesome!' grow louder as the match goes on is thrilling. The back and forth between these three guys takes my breath away. Just when you think one of them is out, he comes back and almost eliminates another.
Trip? That's something I didn't at all expect! We all KNEW it would be Rusev that distracted/took out Reigns! What a fantastic swerve! Of course, why wouldn't Trip come back and help Rollins win the Universal Championship? But wait, no! What a swerve! That wasn't at all what we were expecting (except possibly Zack), but left us all cheering. The WNW Raw Open Thread Discussion was kicking along at a good pace until Trip came out. It got very quiet, then very busy in there. I'm willing to bet that we got a third of all our comments in the last match, because it was that great.
“This might be the most shocking moment in Raw's history,” said Cole. He went on to say that Trip almost handed KO the Universal Championship, as if nothing like that had ever happened on Raw before. Nothing like, say, Bischoff handing Trip the big gold belt (the original one with the bent top from WCW) for no reason, other than the original Brand Extension, and like this one, SmackDown got the big important championship, so Raw had to do something. That something was hand Trip a championship for doing nothing but being there, so I wonder if this was some sort of extension of that. Okay, I know I'm reaching, but I see such similarity.
The WWE took something horrible (Balor' injury) and made it into something stupendous (the ending of the main event). I'm blown away by what Trip did in this match. This feels fresh, unexpected, and one of the best endings to Raw that I've seen in a long time, and I've watched a lot of Raw these past ten months. This was well wrestled, had great spots, showed off everyone's best skills and moves, pushed each wrestler physically as well as in the eyes of the fans, and then the swerves left us all in awe. This was possibly the best thing they could have done after Balor's injury, and I'm in awe that they pulled a quick trigger that worked out so beautifully.
Winner & new Universal Champion – Kevin Owens!
I was totally going to try something new in this section of the RIB this week, but that ending was so epic that I just can't do it. So I'm going to hold off and start it next week. I have it all written out and ready to go, I just can't bring myself to do it. So, on that note, you should just go back and re-watch that main event again, because it really was that grand. I'm going to re-watch it myself, right now!
Queen of WNW