I want to start this by commenting all the crud that's been flying around about Ziggler, the claims that he bladed at Payback, and his following tweets. I'm completely floored that people took his tweet that he had actually bladed! I get it, people want to see rule breaking at every turn, and are always looking for reasons why Ziggler isn't getting pushed the way we really think he deserves to be pushed, but to take this following tweet as an admission is ridiculous! Yet, I was sent a link to another site, not to be named, where the comments following a posting with this tweet, showed people believing it was an admission of guilt from Ziggler.
">May 18, 2015
Blading is illegal in the WWE for good reason, the diseases alone are enough to scare wrestlers from this barbaric practice, but if not, have you looked at the foreheads of Dusty Rhodes, Tony Atlas, Ron Simmons, Ric Flair, and so many others? Then there's the Wellness Policy to look at. Further, the WWE is under a PG initiative, and while they went way too far with it for a couple years, they've tempered it now, but that doesn't mean they should be showing gushing blood at every turn. We've learned a lot since the days of blading and crimson masks, and I don't believe that most wrestlers would think it's a good way to go these days. Further, all you have to do is look at the video of when Ziggler was busted open. As soon as he was opened up the hard way, he quickly touched his head with his fingertips to see if he was bleeding. How he could have bladed in that moment is beyond me.
In Ring Segment > B
Starting in my normal way, I have to mention Steph's outfit. While she looked great, and has an amazing body, she needed more support to hold up her tatas. It is what it is! She's had three daughters, in her late 30s, and the bigger they are, the harder they fall – even implants.
Steph really knows how to work the crowd and get them riled up. It doesn't matter whether she's a heel or face, she makes the fans react the way she wants them to react. Yes, she grew up in the business, and there's certain things you learn that never leave you, no longer how much time you're away. I learned that last week when I took my yearly foray into the family business to help out when we're most needed. It all comes back to you, even after years and year. In other words, Steph was great and worked it well.
I was a bit shocked by the lack of reaction from the fans when she removed the shroud, but they'd been sitting there watching it for at least twenty minutes, so they knew exactly what it was by then.
The love-fest between Steph and Sheamus was a bit creepy, to the point that it makes me wonder if Steph had a hand in the changes of his hair and face fur. Beyond that, I wasn't overly impressed by Sheamus. He hasn't grown on mic since very early on, and basically has two characters – a face and a heel. How exciting! Ryback, on the other hand, has grown and developed so much recently. He's still rather wonky on mic, but it's his character. He can talk, get the point across, has charisma, and is a lot of fun, but like Scott Steiner, he will never be the cookie cutter wrestler character.
Ryback vs Sheamus > C-
Ryback was still obviously hurting from the back senton he took from Wyatt off the apron. They went back and forth, proved their strength, and worked the ring, but there really wasn't anything exciting in this match. Honestly, when I tried to think back about this match, I got nothing. I know they faced each other, but I recalled nothing about the match before re-reading what I wrote about the match. Sheamus' fake eye issue came back to me, but the rest of the match doesn't ring a bell, even after reading about it.
Winner – Sheamus (10:09)
Backstage Segment > B+
That was a great way for Ambrose to demand a Championship match from Rollins! Huge creativity points from me. Further, it was fun watching Ambrose work Kane's insecurities. Rollins was normal Rollins, and Ambrose was normal Ambrose, but I have to admit that I really enjoy Ambrose's character and never knowing what's coming next from him. The same with Kane, he's going to snap, it's only a matter of when. The issue I have with Rollins' character is that it hasn't changed much from when he joined The Authority. I expect it to happen soon, and I hope they do, as Rollins has been exactly the same for a while now and needs some freshening up.
In Ring Segment > B-
Neville was cute on announce, but I wonder when he's going to be more than the adorable little eager beaver with adorable ears who can fly like no one else. He really needs to develop into more if he's going to keep the fans interested. Even Bo, who's gone nowhere since coming up from NXT, has more of a character than Neville. I know it can sometimes take a bit, but they'd better get on it soon to keep him rolling in the right direction. I do like that he's a face with a bit of a cocky smirk.
Bo, on the other hand, is so annoying. I know, that's his job, and he's doing great with it, but it's also time for him to evolve a bit to grow and entertain the fans. All in all, this segment wasn't as great as it could have been if Neville had a character to work with.
Neville vs Barrett > B-
Bo was rather odd on announce. The whole Mr. T thing at Booker was really odd. I know he said it was out of respect, but the whole thing was quite strange. I loved it when Cole asked Bo where he developed his voice, and Bo was confused by what Cole was asking.
Neville sold the knee injury from Payback wonderfully. Some wrestler only sell their injuries when on the mat or floor, but the way Neville took that tumble from the top rope and landed all akimbo was unusual, and not how most wrestlers would handle selling an injury – but Neville went all out for it. That impressed me more than most of the match, which wasn't fantastic, mostly because I don't find Barrett that interesting or entertaining in the ring. Normally I can appreciate a wrestler even if I don't like them, but I'm finding it harder and harder with Barrett.
Winner – King Barrett (7:18)
In Ring Segment B+
This is what we've been waiting to see for quite a while; what was going to break up Lana and Rusev. Personally I thought Rusev handled this segment quite well. With comments like, "I speak your stupid American language perfectly!" Rusev proves that he can handle the mic by himself and still be entertaining. He's working the accent and the language issues more than he actually has, but that's what the acting part of this is all about. Even his non-verbal acting was exciting to watch. He was also a real jerk and demeaning to Lana, all things that help her with her face turn.
Lana sold everything quite well. Even when she wasn't talking, she was speaking volumes! It was great that Lana told everyone that Rusev said, 'I quit' in Bulgarian, as we figured it's what he said, but couldn't be quite sure if she was turning on Rusev, or going with his actual words. That she told us he did say it adds that much more to the storyline. She sold the segment perfectly, and has the entire WWE 'Universe' behind her at this point. It's going to be fun watching her blossom into a face.
Ambrose vs Wyatt > A-
These two worked their bums off in that ring. I really wonder if there's been a match that Ambrose hasn't given everything he has to. That man has a fantastic work ethic and does all he can for the fans. He works hard on his wrestling, his character development, and every little aspect of who Lunatic Fringe Dean Ambrose is in the WWE. The same can, and should, be said about Wyatt. He's on point with every little bit of his character and his ring work, even though his character has become a bit boring and stagnant since they broke up The Wyatt Family.
I really didn't know who could win this match cleanly, as both would be terribly hurt by a clean loss. I thought it might go to DQ, even though I wasn't sure how that would work out. Having J&J Security come out was odd to me at first, as I automatically think they are always protecting Rollins, but it was nice to see them working for The Authority in more ways than only being Rollins' Stooges. They were the perfect way to end the match so neither Superstar lost anything in the loss, and that's hard to do.
Winner – Bray Wyatt (13:13)
WWE Tag Team Championship Match – New Day (c) vs #Truth > B
I'm over Cesaro and Kidd not having a team name! What other top tag teams were nameless? It's just preposterous! I'm over it, so until the WWE gets off their asses and give them a name, I'm running with what Jesse Sherwood has been calling them, #Truth.
I expected New Day to do everything screwy in their power to retain the Tag Team Championships, to the point I even called (in my crazy predicts for Extreme Rules) for Kofi and Woods to use twin magic to win the Titles. I was right, just a month too soon. I was shocked and impressed that Woods was banned from ringside during this match, though it didn't matter, as it appears Big E and Kofi can handle themselves quite well.
I will say it was nice to see Big E helping Cesaro through their moves together, as he's appeared to be either sandbagging Cesaro lately, or if he just figures that Cesaro is strong enough to do the majority of the lifting, even though Big E is a beast of a man. Either way, it actually looked as though he was helping, and working with Cesaro here.
The post-match was actually a lot more interesting and exciting than the actual match, and brought the grade up quite a bit. All the wrestlers in the Elimination Chamber Tag Team Championship Match getting involved was great to see. I have to admit that in the Open Thread Discussion during Payback, we'd been discussing how much fun it would be to see J&J Security in this Elimination Chamber Match. Watching them locked in a pod together, then being unable to get out would be hysterical. If they are going to be the Stooges 2.0, then they should be going all out. But, as we could see, it's going to be New Day, #Truth, Los Matadores, Lucha Dragons, The Ascension, and Prime Time Players. All that being said about J&J Security, I'm ecstatic to see that the PTPs are finally in the ring and doing something more useful than being silly backstage. In fact, Young looked particularly great in this segment.
Winners – DQ? (5:59)
US Championship Open Challenge >C-&A
I'm so terribly sick, and so over Cena on mic in these segments, but was over the moon to see Kevin Owens in there with him. This was a tremendous way to push NXT:TakeOver this week, and Owens has proven so much in his short time with the WWE. I loved watching Steen and El Generico in ROH, never expecting to see them in the WWE, but now that they are, I'm giddy! Who knew Zayn was so yummy under that hood?
But I'm getting off track. Cena's Open Challenge mic segments have been the same boring rhetoric over and over again, but the matches have been EPIC! I've been giving Cena's matches an A of some sort each week that he faces an NXT guy, and I never thought Cena's matches on Raw would be earning grades like that! These NXT guys are taking over Raw, and stealing the shows. I'm shocked that McMahon is letting this happen, but thrilled to see Trip really taking things by the reigns and giving the fans what we want to see. Yes, I know a big part of it is marketing, showing the non-subscribers what they are missing on the WWE Network, but it's also giving the casual fans a taste of so much more, of something we've not seen since the Attitude Era – and I don't mean blood! I'm talking about some of the most beautiful wrestling. We saw some of the most talented wrestlers really work the ring hard in those days because of the competition between the companies. The lack of competition had been hurting the WWE, until they found this competition within, and it's a beautiful thing to watch. I love that Trip has developed NXT into something so exciting that it's turned into internal competition for the WWE. Who would have thought during the McMahon/Helmsley Era that this would develop between those two people who were playing at being married, and playing at running the WWE.
Ziggler vs Stardust > C-&A-
Well, that was a heck of a lot of nothing! Why did they squash Stardust so quickly? That's absolutely horrid! He deserves better than that, but I will say it stomps out the rumor that Ziggler was going to be in the doghouse again for blading! In reality it was all a set up to get Ziggler in the ring for what was to happen next, I just wish Stardust wasn't the one getting slapped down in the process.
I was confused about Cole in the ring talking to Ziggler, why did Cole need to tell Ziggler in this way that he was being added to the Elimination Chamber IC Championship Match? But then Lana came out and got all lips with Ziggler and things made a lot more sense. I honestly had no idea which face Lana should be hooked up with, but Ziggler makes absolute sense. He is the one to steal girlfriends. Further, I have to say those kisses were hot. Yes, in real life Lana and Rusev live together, but on TV, Lana and Ziggler were steaming up the screen. And then there was Ziggler getting the upper hand on Rusev! Finally it looks as though Rusev might not be unstoppable, and that will be great for his character and his future.
Winner – Ziggler (1:26)
Backstage Segment > B
The grade her all evens out. Kane was fabulous barking orders about the red carpet needing to be sparkling. But then Rose and Rosa sucking face nauseated me. Leave it to Kane to bring things back with his facial expressions. I know his character was under a mask for a reason, and I'm begging for him to be masked again, but Kane's facial expressions tell such a story when he really puts it out there, like he did here.
Ryder & Fandango vs Rowan & Harper > C-
Ryder and Fandango? That's an odd combination. Honestly, they had no chance against Rowan and Harper, but they needed a team to make Rowan and Harper to look that much stronger against as they newly back together, and Fandango and Ryder are jobbers these days. I feel bad for them both, but especially Fandango as he keeps getting somewhere, then pushed back to the bottom of the barrel. I have no problems with Rowan and Harper being pushed, just if it's at the detriment of two other wrestlers who keep getting slaughtered over and over, especially when there's been almost no wrestling involved in the burying.
Winners – Rowan & Harper (3:27)
Backstage Segment > B
And we are back to the Bellas catching crap from Steph again. While the Bellas on mic is rarely a good thing, using Bryan against Brie is a wonderful way to keep him in our minds and hearts when he can't be in the ring. I really hope they show us Brie's 'counseling sessions'! Those have proven to be great in the past – Bryan, Kane and Ambrose of late – and I'm hoping they're able to use Bryan in them with Brie. I think it would be lovely to see Bryan on WWE TV, even if not in the ring, while they sort things out. Heck, Lita was never great on mic, but they put her on announce with Al Snow on Sunday Night Heat on MTV to keep her current!
Divas Championship Match – Nikki (c) vs Naomi > C&B+
The Divas were all off their mark in their match at Payback, but they seemed to have pulled it together in this match. They weren't their best, and weren't anywhere near perfect, but they were leaps and bounds better than Sunday night! The biggest issue I actually had here was the pops and heat, as well as the ending. When Naomi was announced she got almost as much pop and heat as Nikki did when she was announced in the ring. If your over-the-top heel is getting the same reaction as your face, there's a serious issue. Further, this is the second DQ of the night, add in the couple of short squash matches and this looks like a rather craptastic Raw on paper!
Honestly, the best part of the night was Paige's return and how she took out both Naomi and Tamina, the turned on Nikki. The anti-Diva is back and ready to fight!
Winner – Nikki via DQ (3:37)
Backstage Segment > B+
Owens is facing Cena at Elimination Chamber? I'm over the moon! These NXT wrestlers are doing so much and making NXT the wrestling destination, so why not put the top NXT guy in the ring with the top WWE guy? I think it would be great, as long as Owens is given a chance. They've both been wrestling for about the same length of time, though took so very different paths, so they should give us a fabulous match. I have to admit that I worry that Owens will be buried by Cena, but maybe Trip's pull will make it a more fair fight.
In Ring Segment > C-&B+
It felt as though this ending segment was terribly long. It felt too horribly wrong, and like one of Trip gratuitous twenty minute segments, until Ambrose came out and started causing issues. I don't know who went to TPTB in the WWE about Ambrose, it's said that it was a top wrestler and a top producer. I'd like to think that the top wrestler is Cena, but as for a top producer, there's so many it could have been. I knew all these names were producers, but seeing them listed all together, there's a great number of former wrestlers who are producers in the WWE these days, and so many of them carry serious weight within the WWE. So, while I don't know which producer it was, I'm thrilled that they stepped up for Ambrose. Whenever Ambrose is on the screen, he's captivating. I've said it over and over, but every little move he makes, every little facial quirk, he is the Lunatic Fringe and proves it. I was honestly hoping he'd win the WWE WHC on Sunday night, all in an attempt to put The Authority over a barrel through the summer. Well, it looks as though Ambrose will be a thorn in The Authority's side moving into the summer, and I'm excited.
Ambrose pulls out all the stops in this segment, right down to the cinder blocks. Ambrose was all over everyone but Trip and Steph here, even Rollins who had to be screamed at by Steph to get Ambrose. It almost seemed like a comedy of errors, J&J Security, Rollins and Kane the Keystone Cops, and Ambrose in control of it all. From the way he keeps offering Rollins a rematch with him, but only if the WWE WHC is on the line, to being willing to slam a chair into Rollins' head, even though it seemed as though he was getting what he wanted. Right up until the end, Ambrose was in control. With Rollins getting the final blow, and it being the pedigree, there's so much more to come between these two!
Sorry about so many double grades this week, it seems to me that the wrestlers who deserve to get the props should get them, but the ones who don't, shouldn't. There were too many segments that were horrible, yet made great by some other wrestlers' work. All in all it wasn't a bad Raw, but looking at it in the light of day, it wasn't as good as I thought it was last night.
Queen of WNW