What a wild and Legend filled show, but I have to admit that there was one person missing who would have made the show much more complete – though I'm sure he'd have taken over the show in a huge way. That Legend would be Stone Cold Steve Austin. His name was dropped, but it's been too long since we've seen him (other than on Redneck Island, and Broken Skull Ranch), and he really needs to have a huge final match. I just think they should have had him on Raw this week with the rest.
My daughter Sam was so excited that Scott Hall was going to be on Raw this week. I told her she could stay up for the first half hour of the show, then watch the rest when she got home from school on Tuesday. She was cool with this, and sat watching intently with her Scott Hall action figure in hand. Sadly she didn't get to see him before going to bed, but as soon as she got home from school. She, as well as Jesse, have put in their two cents about a certain segment in this RIB.
Video > A+
The WWE always does a wonderful job with the opening video dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Actually, they do quite well with a lot of the holidays with someone, or something, important and touching, but not religious, but this video was possibly the best I've seen from them on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. There's been a lot of turmoil and unrest in the world between religions and races, and a lot of the time it feels as though it's not really close to home, but this past year there's been a lot of racial unrest in the United States of America. We need to do a lot at home to heal as a country, and really need to remember all of what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did, and what he gave up for our country. I love that the WWE branched out with this video to remind us of all the smart and brave people who have done so much for us, no matter what their race, or religion. Adding in Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, Condoleezza Rice, Nelson Mandela, Jesse Owens, Thurgood Marshall, Muhammad Ali, and Barack Obama was fantastic. It gave me the perfect platform to talk to my daughter Sam about the few people she didn't recognize in this group. I thought the WWE did a lovely thing here. I know this is a wrestling site, and I don't want to get all political here, but it's about time with think before we act, and remember that we're all on this big ball of dirt together. I'll get off my soapbox now.
In Ring Segment > D+
I will say that Brock was a little better starting this segment. I like how he cut Heyman off, and took control, but honestly, he's still not that believable. As I said last week, I liked Brock back in the day, and thought he had all that was needed to really succeed, but now, it's only about fighting and money, and that's not enough to be a WWE Superstar, never mind the WWE WHC. But I'll blame that on the PTB, because they're the ones who strapped a man who's rarely seen on WWE TV, and never outside of it.
Brock calling out Rollins worked for continuing after last week, but the strange dance they all did once The Authority got to the ring was kind of absurd. Actually, even before the dance, when Steph had to come out and save her husband, that's when things went from bad to worse. Honestly, the more I look at this segment, the more of a kerfuffle it appears!
Rollins hides backstage. Steph and Trip need Kane and Big Show, just in case, and Cena only makes it halfway down the ramp before he's verbally accosted, and put into a tailspin. I wasn't shocked that they threw more crap at Cena, and used Ryback, Rowan and Ziggler to mess with his head, but it was Cena's facial expressions and reactions that made me want to crawl out of my skin. He's so stuck in that rut that I'm not sure he could find his way out with a map and a Sherpa! I say that, but the only line that really sticks out at me from the whole segment is Cena calling Trip and Steph ash-holes, but even that goes back to his character and the huge lack of change we've seen from him in so many years.
Wyatt vs Bryan > A-
While Kane and Bryan know each other quite well, and therefore put on solid matches together, Kane just doesn't work the ring the same way Bryan does. Not saying that's a bad thing, Kane is a workhorse, can work with just about everyone, but he has a style, and the fans who are loving on Bryan, really want to see him working the ring in a certain way. Wyatt is very free-form and creative in the ring, and while he has signature moves, he moves differently and that's exciting when he's in the ring with someone else who is interesting and creative, like Bryan.
These two men work wonderfully together, and their work together is indicative of the group of wrestlers who are heading to be top Superstars in the WWE. They have a different flavor, a different vibe, from the Superstars of the 80s, or those of the 90s, of those of the Attitude Era, and from those of the PG Era. They are very different, in a very good way, and because of that, they're making a place for themselves within the WWE, and reaching for the top together. These guys are always giving us the best matches of every show when they work together, because they feel each other, understand each other, and have a sort of symbiotic relationship when they're in the ring together. I'm excited to watch these guys progress to the top of the company and give us all they have, because what they've shown us from their start in the WWE has been great, and only gets better by the day. This match showed us exactly that, and that the WNW readers were commenting before the show, because they were expecting so much from it, just shows the direction of the WWE and the Superstars. Now the writing needs to step up and keep up with what they can give us!
One last thing I have to mention is Bryan's hair. I was worried that he was going to be working the ring with his hair in a bun, as he'd been wearing it to the ring, but he came out with the front of his hair pulled back into a braid, looking suspiciously like HBK's hair style at various times in his career. I mean, it does make sense with their history, but that their hair color is so similar, and Bryan following in HBK's footsteps, I couldn't help but smile.
Winner – Wyatt (16:07)
Backstage Segment > A-
Hall came off clear of eyes and mind. Honestly, he looked great, and seeing these guys all together. They so obviously love each other dearly, because they're so much better together then not. You can see the love between them, and they have no trouble ripping on each other when they feel it's needed. Yes, the show is scripted, but you can tell they love riding Trip over his suits. They are all very different men in many ways, but their similarities are what made them family. I'm always smiling when I see them together, it's almost impossible not to smile.
Now, because I write the Raw Results, I don't always focus on the TV screen as clearly as I should. It's because of this that I didn't realize that it wasn't X-Pac right from the start. Once X-Pac stepped into the shot, I realized it was X-Dow working as X-Pac. X-Dow really has a gift doing this, and he worked it well. Yes, Miz was annoying, and I want to see Mizdow take him apart, and hopefully that's in the Royal Rumble Match, because Sandow is truly a Superstar, and over in a way Miz never has been, and never will be. I'd have given this segment a B+, but X-Dow brought the grade up that much more.
Legend's Panel > B&D-
Byron Saxton? Really? Really? This would have been the perfect spot to get Renee out from backstage and save us from bleeping Byron! I know Renee caught a lot of sexual harassment from Flair last time she was out there with him, but honestly, is it really sexual harassment when it comes from Flair? He's a lecherous old man who couldn't even follow up with any innuendos he might be able to put together in his addled brain, and remembered long enough to actually say them. Okay, I'm being quite politically incorrect, and mean to Flair, but it's Flair, and everyone should know where is stand with Flair by now.
Getting away from all that, I was a bit shocked by who they picked to win the Royal Rumble Match. While all the names mentioned – Wyatt, Bryan and Ambrose – are all on my short list of who I might have picked to win the match, I was a bit surprised to hear HBK mention Wyatt, and Flair mention Ambrose. I liked it, just a bit surprised. Further, I loved the mic work between Hogan and HBK. Bringing up SummerSlam 2005, and HBK being both silly, but also willing to back down and stay out of trouble. So many can't seem to do that! Wait, that brings me right back to Flair!
Jesse and I talked about this right after Raw aired. I was shocked that McMahon let Flair take a bump like that, but Jesse thought that maybe someone else was supposed to do it, but Flair jumped in and stole the moment. He heard HBK tell Flair to stay down after the KO punch. Honestly, with the first chop Flair threw was possibly worse than something Sam could throw, and no, I don't think I'm being cruel. I know I've been really harsh about Flair and his work in the industry for years, and I'm going to explain exactly why I have issue with Flair working the ring in any capacity. It dates back to 2004, Taboo Tuesday, to be exact. The main event of that experimental PPV was Flair facing Orton in a Steel Cage Match. Honestly, that match impressed me. I was shocked Flair looked as good as he did in there, to a certain point. I re-watched the match last night in bed, just to make sure my memory was what I thought it was, and it was. Flair didn't take any real head shots that were above and beyond, and while he was busted open, so was Orton, and looking back, Flair really was one of the best bleeders in the industry. He gushed blood just enough to saturate his blond hair, but not enough to make a huge mess of the ring, it really is a fantastic thing for when he was a top Superstar. But in this match, both Flair and Orton had crimson masks, and they sold that serious match, though it was after the match was over that scared me, and changed my thoughts on Flair in the ring. After the match was over, Orton gave Flair serious props, but Flair wasn't in there. His eyes were open, but he was looking at Orton as if he was something he'd never seen before. He was like an infant looking at the strangest thing on earth. It was unnerving, and scared the heck out of me. Re-watching the match, I was that much more freaked out by Flair and how gone he was, even though he didn't appear to be concussed, or injured in any way that would compromise his cognitive functions.
Now, when Big Show came out, especially after the way he set up last week, talking about how he started in the industry by defeating Hogan for the WCW WHC – though through dubious means at best – I thought they might be setting up for Hogan to have his last match with someone truly meaningful, while still keeping Hogan safe. Who better to be Hogan's last match than Big Show, someone who faced Hogan in his own first match? Further, while Big Show is a giant, he's a gentle giant, and he wouldn't let Hogan get hurt if he had any possible way to keep it from happening. Then, there's flashing back to WrestleMania III, where Hogan body slammed Andre. When Big Show first started as The Giant in WCW, he was billed as Andre's son; it all just seems to fall into place. I'm not at all interested in seeing Hogan return to the ring for any reason, but if he was going to, I think this is the perfect scenario, and the perfect person, at the perfect PPV.
One last thing here, the B includes Reigns. I really like that they're letting Reigns be more what feels like naturally him, but more so. They pushed him in directions that didn't feel right for him, and he couldn't sell it. Reigns is still young and still has a lot of growing to do to be a top guy, but letting him be more himself feels right, and he's coming across so much better because of it.
Backstage Segment > D+
I really like Renee. She's so much better than so many backstage interviewers they've had. She doesn't come across as a dumb blonde – like that one in TNA – and while plays things a bit timid sometimes, she's obviously a strong woman. She'd have to be to date Ambrose. Just seeing him in the ring makes me nervous, and I don't have a romantic interest in the man.
And then there's Cena. I know his schtick is never give up, never surrender, hustle, loyalty, respect, but sometimes you don't always feel that upbeat! It's all part of his stagnant character. He's upbeat going in, then whines and wallows when he doesn't win. Over it! It's time to shake things up! Not saying turn Cena heel (though he played one pretty well on Total Divas this past Sunday), just saying his character needs to evolve. I really feel like a broken record. I swear my fingers type the same words week after week, and I don't have to even think about them. That's boring for me, boring for you, and we haven't been doing this for years and years, the way Cena has!
Barrett vs Ambrose > B+
Ambrose is just fantastic! That man is amazing in the ring, looks great in all he does, as he stays in character through it all. I used to be amazed at how Eugene stayed in character, no matter what. Eugene isn't an easy character to play, but the only time I ever really saw him break character was when he had seriously injured his knee in the ring, and that always impressed the heck out of me. Ambrose has as much, if not more dedication to his character, and that's something that blows me away.
But then there's Barrett. He's not bad in the ring, and has a decent character, and even the reason he was re-strapped makes sense (both that he didn't lose it, and that they needed to get the strap off Ziggler so he could be fired later in the night), but he just isn't living up to his potential. Now, the fact that he's losing all these matches since he won the strap isn't really on him, it's on the storylines and booking, yet, I don't understand why they would strap Barrett if he was going into a losing streak, it hurts the IC Championship in a monumental way. It's horrifying to see how little the WWE respects their titles, and it's only become worse this past year. But this is about Barrett, and while I hate to say it, each time he gets in the ring, I am waiting for, and expecting him to get injured in some way. It's not a great way of looking at things, but it's happened enough times that I really wonder how long it will last until the next time it happens.
Honestly, it was Ambrose that made this match worth watching, but it's rarely been anything different for him lately, other than when he worked with certain people.
Winner – Ambrose (8:19)
A New Day vs Kidd & Cesaro > D+
I have to admit that I loved what Woods said on mic on their way to the ring. He said that A New Day is always happy and smiling because when they're not, the rage comes out and the whole roster ends up in the hospital. That was a great line for the upbeat team, but also sets up for them turning heel in the future. Brilliantly executed line. Sadly little that came after that line was brilliant.
I thought the match was sloppy, and didn't make anyone look very good. This is only hurting Cesaro, and possibly Big E. I know Cesaro is a much bigger Superstar than this, and I think Big E could be too, with the right character, direction, and if reminded to slow down in the ring, and pay attention to what he's doing. I always feel that Big E is rushing things, and that's what's hurting his ring work. Honestly, I think Kidd could do well with the right character as well, but right now he's just pulling Cesaro down. All six of them are a kerfuffle bomb waiting to go off.
Winners – A New Day (3:15)
In Ring Segment > B
First, I guess they couldn't afford to pay Hogan again for his time. At the very least, if you are going to send out Hall, Nash, and X-Pac, send them out in Wolfpack shirts. But beyond that and the lack of the black and white effect for the entrance, I was quite happy to see them in the ring together. Hall keeps looking better and better every time he makes an appearance on WWE TV, and was in classic form on the mic. And while Kendra may love herself some silver Big Sexy Kevin Nash, I am of the opinion that he should have dyed his hair before tonight. He looked like the grandpa of the group. And add in his flub on WWE Network, and we were one step away from him tearing a quad by speaking. All jokes aside on that though, I'm glad that he was able to attend. Nash and the rest of the NWO ushered in the most iconic era of this sport, and for part of that to be missing would have been shameful. And X-PAC!!! I don't think I've ever heard him get a pop like that! But then we had things fall off the rails. The Ascension has had NO impact in the short time, and for that I am thankful for the segment that followed. Viktor wasn't bad on the mic, but Konnor is obviously not suited for this tier. WWE, do yourself a favor and cut bait with the boy. I should have expected right from the outset, though, that JBL was going to get up and be involved! The weeks of railing against them, even as a heel announcer, it was perfectly done. And I understand JBL's ire!!! The Ascension are 3rd rate knockoffs. All of the originality the gimmick had 2 years ago is gone. But I will admit to marking out to JBL pulling off the business shirt to show an APA shirt underneath! And that would have been perfectly fine by me, but then we got a little Road Dogg in, and the stuff flew. Yes, afterward, when we got a NAO vs Ascension match, their involvement makes more sense, but it started to get overcrowded. And it felt even more so once the action hit. But JBL told us he had one more Clothesline From Hell in the tank, and I'm more than happy that he decided to use it here! Ascension, welcome to the wasteland of jobbers!
Kendra & Sam
Normally I'd leave this all to Jesse, as he specifically asked for the segment, but Sam's favorite wrestler is, and has almost always been Scott Hall. She's not seen a lot of his work, but everything she's seen, she loves of the man. All she cared about when she got home from school was seeing Hall's segments, yet the first thing she said when he came out for this segment was, "Scott Hall really looks old." While yes, he does, she also understands that Hall has done a lot, put his body through too much abuse, and is honestly, lucky to be alive. She loved this segment, and said, "I love Scott Hall. There needs to be more Scott Hall!" Coming from an eleven year old girl, I think that's rather kick ass.
My one little quip about this segment, beyond all of the Sam stuff. I thought that, after APA came together, the way Booker T was talking on announce, and how The Ascension ripped on WCW tag teams, that we were going to see the reforming of Harlem Heat. I honestly thought, before New Age Outlaws came out, that we were going to see Stevie Ray. To me, that would have made so much sense, and while this segment was great, I was sad to see that this didn't come to fruition. They were in Texas, and last I knew Stevie was helping Booker T run his wrestling school, so I'm honestly a bit confused about why he wasn't there. And thinking about that, I know Harlem Heat was never in the WWE, but when are they going to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame?
Backstage Segment > B+
I loved the drummer! No clue who he was, but he did a fantastic job. Okay, he looked really out of place in that coat, as if he was a wrestler who was also a band geek. He did a lovely job, and worked really great with Steph and Trip.
After this segment Stacy told me that what Cena should do is to go takeout Big Show and Kane, attacking them from behind, that way he'd only have to deal with Rollins out there. I just looked at Stacy like he was crazy, but I have to admit, I would have loved to see it happen. Even just a forklift in front of the locker room door to keep Big Show from making it to the ring, because that's never happened before! It all goes back to Cena's boring character.
I have to mention that pic of Trip breaking kayfabe, consoling that little boy who was so upset about Cena being put in that handicap match. I thought that it was so sweet that Trip cared more about that crying little boy, than he was staying in character. It shows the type of father he is, and the type of human being he is.
Fox & Summer Rae vs Paige & Nattie > C+
There were some really great moves in this match. Normally I rip on Fox, but her northern lights suplex is a thing of beauty. It's scary looking, but she executes it beautifully each and every time. Her partner, on the other hand, is all arms and legs flying around that ring, and none of it looked graceful, or at all decent.
Then there's Paige. Her moves are so lovely, graceful, and technical. That single foot drop kick off the ropes was lovely! Nattie is fantastic as well, and looks great in the ring, but none of the Divas can lock on a submission hold like Paige. They are a team to beat all other teams in the Divas Division right now, and should have actual competition, yet there isn't any. Maybe turn Naomi heel and match her up with Charlotte? That would be some ring work worth seeing!
Like everyone else, I want to see the Divas Division become something great again, but it seems as though the PTB just don't care. They have a couple of Divas who who really can work, but beyond that, not much. There's so much emphasis on the fake hair, fake tans, fake eyelashes, and sometimes even fake boobs, but there isn't enough emphasis on the actual ring work. It's so sad to see what the Divas have become, and it's proof that the PTB really don't listen to the fans and what we want to see.
Winners – Nattie & Paige (2:58)
Rusev vs R-Truth > D
Whoomp, there it is? What is this, 1993? Well, that is when Raw started. I don't know, but what I do know is that jamming this tiny match in where they did, for no obvious reason, other than to remind us that Rusev exists, and remind him that he can be tossed out over the top. This was a ridiculous mess, and R-Truth entrance took at least five times longer than the actual match. To me this was an epic fail all the way around, and I feel bad for all three involved. I put this one on McMahon and Trip's heads.
Winner – Rusev (0:44)
Backstage Segment > B+
This was the best we got from Brock, which is interesting, because I thought his mic work backstage was his best last week as well. In fact, I think the chemistry between Brock and Rollins is something fantastic. Brock hasn't been anything but a beast in the ring since returning to the WWE, but when he's face to face with Rollins, he's actually interesting, and somewhat exciting. This tension and chemistry could make the WWE WHC Match at the Royal Rumble could be that much better that when it was just Brock vs Cena. I'm getting more and more excited for it the more I see of Brock and Rollins together.
Miz vs Jey > D
What a mess! I'm more than over Miz working with the Usos. Mizdow's work outside the ring, and the way he reacted to Miz claiming he has two chances to win the Royal Rumble Match because of Mizdow, is all that makes Miz worthwhile being on TV. I think we are all hoping that the Usos will retain at the Royal Rumble, and Mizdow will turn on Miz during the Royal Rumble Match, because if we're stuck watching more of Miz working with the Usos, I might just start skipping that part of Raw. Or, I might just stop writing about it in the RIB, other than to give it the grade it deserves. (Please realize that the only reason I didn't fail this is because of Mizdow, and Jey's splash off the top.)
Winner – Jey (2:54)
Backstage Segment (Earlier) > B-
Hogan has to stick up for his shadow. Okay, I know Cena isn't Hogan's shadow, but he sure is very much Hogan in so many ways. Just like Hogan, Cena hasn't evolved beyond a certain point. And since I don't see Cena turning heel, ever, he's just sticking in Hogan's good guy rut. Of course Hogan's going to like that. Hustle, loyalty, respect is just Cena's version of take your vitamins and say your prayers. See, very little difference between the two men, other than age.
Cena vs Rollins & Big Show & Kane > B
The actual match part of this match was exactly what I expected, right down to Cena winning, and that's why I'm splitting this into the match, and the outside the ring happenings. Each deserves its own grade for what it was, and what it did for the show, and the Road to WrestleMania, as a whole.
I have to agree with the majority of the hardcore, long term WWE fans, Cena continually changing his merch, and showing it off so much on his way to the ring, is totally annoying. It seems as though, to those kids who worship Cena, there's a need to have the newest merch every time he changes colors and designs. I have to say that I'm lucky that Sam prefers the merch of other wrestlers most of the time, and willing to wait for things to go on sale, normally. Sam is all about the aqua color of Cena's newest merch, and looked to me all excited when she saw it. She loved it until she saw the front of the shirt. She wasn't thrilled with that, but really wants a cap and set of wristbands. This is the first time she's asked for WWE merch as soon as it came out, so I will be watching for sales and coupons.
Now, about the match. As I said, it was exactly what I was expecting, right down to Cena winning. I'm not sure The Authority will initially bring Ryback, Rowan and Ziggler back, but they will be forced, as they did agree to it before hand. I expect to see them back and in the Royal Rumble Match, but we will have to wait to see what goes down on Smackdown for the final answer to that. Because of all this I have to change one little thing in my Royal Rumble Match prediction, but only a few little words.
Winner – Cena (13:15)
In Ring Segment (Brock) > B+
I was quite impressed with Brock's ring work here, but it's Brock, and he's a beast! With Cena in the stands with his fans, of course it was Rollins to take the brunt of Brock's ire, but that's what they've been building toward for a couple weeks now. Having Raw end with this was a fantastic way to finish hooking the fans into watching the Royal Rumble.
In Ring Segment > A+
I'm not sure which image from The Authority will stick with me more, Trip standing on announce screaming for Sting, or Steph standing below him with her hands on her ears to block out the chants of, "We want Sting!" Both were beautiful to see, but not as beautiful as seeing Sting.
I had a gut feeling before Raw even started, with all the legendary wrestlers scheduled to be there, it seemed like a natural to bring Sting in. Further, this was the Raw go-home to the Royal Rumble, so when better to further the Sting storyline? This was beautifully executed by all involved, and just as beautiful in what what Sting wore. That coat was just jaw dropping.
The only issue I have with the whole thing is that they're building toward Sting vs Trip at WrestleMania, and I had hoped for something completely different. I guess Trip's clout is getting him exactly who he wants at WrestleMania.
While I agree with Richard's rant about the WWE needing Legends to have the best episodes of Raw, I disagree about the WWE not having Superstars rising to the top. Starting and stopping all the time hurts them tremendously, but the best of them are cream and doing what cream does. I will continue to blame these Superstar issues on McMahon, because until he stops second guessing every storyline and decision that isn't his, and needing to rewrite every show, just to make sure he's the one with the final say in absolutely everything, there will continue to be serious issues within the WWE.
Queen of WNW
KB & Jesse & Sam