Less than a week before Elimination Chamber and the WWE does all they can to push the PPV, and push forward toward WrestleMania. Richard thought they did a solid job of setting up for Elimination Chamber, I think they ended up falling a little short. Don't get me wrong, compared to a lot of the other go-home episodes of RAW, this was stellar, but this is Road to WrestleMania, and I really do expect a lot more from the WWE and the Superstars. Most of the Superstars really stepped things up, and that was fantastic, but something still didn't fell quite right overall. Maybe reviewing the show I'll feel differently, but as of this moment, only a few great moments are standing out to me, rather than thinking about what a great show it was overall.
In Ring Segment > B+
Sometimes it's nice to see a little glitch on RAW, it reminds me that the production crew is fallible. Seeing that little shot from Orton vs Cena being shown when it wasn't supposed to be actually made me smile. I talk up the production crew almost every week, because they usually do something worth talking about each week, so I have to mention when they have a glitch.
I wasn't thrilled when Cena came out, it made little sense, other than being happy that it wasn't another RAW starting with Orton and The Authority. Bryan was fantastic throwing the catchphrases of the other four at them, it worked quite well and brought me back to my favorite Kane moment when he did that to Hogan and The Rock backstage before they tagged together. Actually, it all came together in the end, and set up well for both RAW and Elimination Chamber. The one thing that did bother me was that Kane was put in charge of RAW to rectify his mistakes. So, Trip and Steph were actually there, and they don't like what Kane's been doing, but he's in charge of the show anyway. Um, huh?
Christian vs Bryan > B+
I've been saying that Christian has been a bit off since his return, but in this match, he returned to the Christian I know and love. I guess he just needed to get in touch with his heelish side to bring back that spark. Honestly, turning Christian heel right now makes a lot of sense. Christian has been blah since his return, so being a heel makes a lot of sense to spice things up, but also, the fans are starting to fall in love with Cesaro, so to balance the Elimination Chamber it makes sense that Christian turns heel.
I really enjoyed how vicious Christian looked in this match. It's something that makes him a great heel, and he showed us that he might not be as young as he used to be, but he's sure looks ready for the Elimination Chamber.
Winner – Bryan (8:26)
Bryan vs Kane > B
We all know that this wasn't much of a match, but it was well executed. The feud between Kane and Bryan has been inevitable since they broke up as Team Hell No, but I wish the feud wasn't happening right now. No offense to Kane, most everyone knows that he's on my top ten list of faves, but I don't think it's a great match for Bryan at WrestleMania. This should be his WrestleMania, yet it's Batista's. It honestly makes little sense to me why Batista, a man who they're struggling to get over each week, is in the main event when Bryan, the man who has brought back Rowdy interaction like we haven't seen since the AE is going to be a mid-carder. That's not what's best for business in my book.
But I do have to give Kane huge props for his, "Yeah, I know I'm disqualified." He was so deadpan when he said it that it turned the comment into so much more. That man is genius, and I'd still love to see him face his brother at WrestleMania. To me that would be so much better, so much more interesting and realistic to see them fight than watch Taker try to not get injured by Brock.
Winner – Bryan via DQ (3:51)
Backstage Segment > B+
The cracks are growing wider in The Shield. I thought that they would be breaking up The Shield, but right now it looks as though Ambrose is the odd man out. It appears as though Ambrose's craziness is really settling into his mind and alienating his close friends, or at least Reigns. Rollins, sadly, seemed to be the weakest of the three here. Oh how things change in a year!
Fandango vs Santino > B-
I have to say that showing that video of Emma in NXT helped her get over with the fans who haven't seen her in NXT. She seems to really work well with Santino, and her power walking to the ring with him made Stacy laugh. I think this is a great way to bring her up, introduce her to the WWE as a whole, and start her feud with Summer Rae for a larger crowd. I'm excited to see where this will go for all four involved, and it's great use of all four of them as well, even though Santino got kicked rather than kissed. And while I'm on the subject, for being the Superstar version of a silly old man, Santino sure gets a lot of Divas to date – at least on screen.
Oh, I have to mention Fandango's finisher! He'd been using his left leg drop, and I love that move, but this modified suplex that Fandango used on Santino was a lovely change. He had briefly used a swinging reverse STO when he came up, but stopped it pretty quickly, most likely because Bray Wyatt now uses it as Sister Abigail. This modified suplex he used on Santino to finish the match looked solid, and a nice change of pace.
Winner – Fandango (2:42)
Backstage Segment > B
Henry might not be the best on mic, but he's one of the few who can get over as a face while sounding like a heel. It impresses me that he can be all house of pain while being a good guy. It's a talent that few have.
Reigns vs Henry > B
I was wondering what they were going to do with this match. Henry is such a big man that it's sometimes difficult to make matches look realistic. I have to say that Big Show is one of the best big men for making matches look realistic, but Henry, not so much. Reigns was the one who impressed me in this episode. He held his own from the start, and then really showed what he's made of. That Samoan drop was sick! I know Henry helped, but he's a big man and lifted Henry fairly high. Then he made that superman punch look solid, then that spear. For what it was, it was quite a solid match.
Ambrose attacked Henry after the match was funny, but nothing compared to the look Reigns gave him for the attack.
Winner – Reigns (2:49)
In Ring Segment > B+
I love the teasers that the WWE has given us between The Wyatts and The Shield. Their match at Elimination Chamber should be, better be, fantastic. The way they've been leading us on, teasing us by all this talk, and putting them in the ring together, this should be an amazing match. This was a lovely way to set up for Elimination Chamber.
Backstage Segment > B
I know it was just a way for them to advertise their new toys, but I loved seeing Cody and Goldust together in such a way. That's the Goldust I know and love. I love his freakiness. Normally I am quite against Bad News Barrett, but I thought he came across much better here.
Swagger vs Kofi > B-
It's been quite easy to tell when the fans in attendance are not into a match, they start chanting for other people. With Emma at ringside, and the fact that their match was so short, Santino and Fandango were not subjected to it, but putting Swagger in a match with Kofi, for even less than five minutes, is a recipe for "JBL!" chants. Of course they threw in the obligatory "CM Punk!" chants as well, but someone in the production truck had their finger on the button and turned the volume way down on the house mics. It was fairly obvious that they were killing the "CM Punk!" chants all night.
I think that I'm writing more about the chanting than the actual match shows just how little excitement there was in this match. Kofi is a fantastic wrestler, but other than that, we know little about the man. He doesn't really give us more of himself than high flier. Who is Kofi Kingston? Then there's Swagger, someone we know too much about, and I personally don't like. The man needs to get his ego in check, and learn to be humble, though I don't see that happening anytime soon. Because these two men were in the ring together, they might have given us solid wrestling, but they didn't give us anything of them. There was no feeling, no emotion, very little of who they are. Daniel Arda is a writer on WWENews.net, and he wrote a wonderful article about what I'm talking about here, The Business of Being A Superstar and I think it's a fabulous read.
Winner – Swagger (4:54)
Big E vs McIntyre & Mahal > B
First off, where was Slater? I know having Zeb out there on mic made is so Slater wouldn't have been able to get a word or move in, but I missed seeing his silliness! I understand what Zeb was trying to do, and why, but I wanted to hit the mute button and enjoy watching Big E really show himself off. It's a bummer that McIntyre has gone from being a real possibility to being a jobber we rarely see, but that's just another reason to read Arda's article.
I thought Big E looked decent, not his best, but decent. I enjoy watching him work the ring, no matter who he's in there with. I wasn't as impressed with his mic work, but I really feel like the WWE is holding back a man who could be a powerhouse on mic. Big E has great comedic timing and a great personality, but they keep holding him back.
Winner – Big E (4:18)
Video > A+
I have been waiting for them to show us the Black History Month video for Ron Simmons. I've been a huge fan of his for many years, and even love the little 'Damn!' moments we still get from him now and then. What was almost better than the video was to see how JBL was grinning, glowing on announce after watching that video about his good friend and former partner.
Backstage Segment > B
Typical Cena promo, but I like that Cena is acknowledging the young wrestlers and the next generation of wrestlers. He's aware that no matter how much he loves the WWE, he's not going to be the top dog forever. He's not willingly giving up his seat, but he's not at all acting like they aren't there nipping at his heels. I'm honestly excited to see who's going to be challenging Cena at WrestleMania 40, who he will be passing the torch to.
Cena vs Cesaro > A
I normally don't give matches such grades, but this was a match of the year candidate, and I knew it was going to be just because of who was in it. I've said over and over that I want to see a feud between Cena and Cesaro, and that's because of those glimpses of amazing they've given us. Okay, I've said that about Cesaro and a number of wrestlers, but it was with Cena that I saw that first beauty of Cesaro with a main event wrestler. Cesaro is starting to be more of a face because the fans are falling in love with him – though I was in love with him since he was so I guess
The beautiful work and creativity showed in this match left me tweaking. The way he took Cena flying through the air at him and seamlessly turned it into a tilt-a-whirl back breaker was sick! I actually jumped back 10 seconds in the match so Stacy could see this move. It was just lovely, and not the only moment in this match that left me in awe. Cesaro is really stepping things up in a huge way right now, and this is the time of the year to do it. He could be sealing the deal for a fantastic 2014 of growth, and a big 2015 WrestleMania match? (cheap plug for Chris Surrency & Matt Kunka) There's actually two great articles about Cesaro up on WWENew.net right now. That two articles have been posted in two days about Cesaro, Hail Cesaro and Thoughts On Cesaro. People are definitely talking about him, and after that match, he's going places.
Winner – Cena (18:20)
Backstage Segment > B
I love that at one moment it looks as though The Authority is supporting Orton, then the next moment it's quiet questionable. It's that play that has actually made Orton's reign more exciting than who he's faced in the ring.
Backstage Segment > C+
O'Neil has mic skills, but it feels as though he's pushing beyond his own limits at the moment. He's trying too hard to get over and we're losing who he is in the process. The barking always annoys me, but now more than ever it feels really at odds with his character.
6 Man Tag Match > B-
Even though The Wyatts were in this match, it wasn't very good. It was obvious that The Wyatts were going to win this match, but putting them in the ring with Los Matadores and Sin Cara made it almost silly. I wasn't at all impressed with how mismatched these teams were, and it threw the groove of the match away. This was a throw away match in so many ways, and not where The Wyatts should have been for the go-home to Elimination Chamber.
Winners – The Wyatts (5:34)
Billy Gunn vs Jey Uso > B
I have to admit that I found Dogg and Jimmy on announce quite distracting during this match, but I also think that Jimmy came off better than Dogg, and that's impressive. I loved the whole age conversation, and while Dogg made jokes about it, Jimmy was all smiling when he talked about his father, Rikishi, beating up New Age Outlaws back in the day. In the ring honestly wasn't as great, and I think it was Gunn who looked a bit off. I don't know if he's used to working tag matches right now, or what, but he seemed to be struggling in there. What I will say is that all four stayed in character and did a great job of moving everything forward going into Elimination Chamber.
Winner – Jey (3:32)
Backstage Segment > B
Sheamus isn't fantastic on mic, but he's so much more interesting that Byron that I'm thrilled to see him when Byron stops talking! Actually, I loved the way Sheamus didn't want his comedic side to take offense, but that people think his aggressive side is his best side. I love his comedic side, but I understand why fans like his aggressive side better, and the way he addressed it was a lovely bit of self-awareness.
Sheamus vs Orton > B+
They did a great job of going back and forth between them, but honestly, after Cena vs Cesaro, this match didn't have a chance of measuring up. What does that say about Orton and Sheamus? Or does it say something big about Cesaro? I think it's the latter, personally.
The big question for me is, why did The Shield attack when they did, and who they did? With this loss, Orton only went cleanly over Christian in this Gauntlet. Did The Authority sends The Shield out to make Orton look that much worse going into Elimination Chamber? So many questions, but for someone who's not an Orton fan, I have to say I was grinning a bit at his loss. I know it's almost obligatory that they end certain go-home shows with a full ring fight, but this one felt too staged to feel right. And the only real question I'm left with is why did The Shield attack Sheamus? I feel like I should have more questions than that.
Winner – Sheamus via DQ (15:00)
Looking over RAW, I can see that it wasn't as bad as I thought it was, but still not as good as I expected it to be. I'm excited for the Elimination Chamber, and hope this PPV is as good as it should be. There's so much riding on this one, more than just being on the Road to WrestleMania, it's also the cusp of the WWE Network. A huge time for the WWE! Make sure you join us for the WNW Elimination Chamber Live Blog, it's always an entertaining time.
Queen of WNW