I fully admit it, RAW got away with me last night. I don't know what it is about Laurinaitis talking, but my fingers stop working correctly. I think it's his voice. Okay, maybe not, I have the same trouble with VKM and Cena talk. I don't know what it is about the flow of the way they speak, but I have issues keeping up with them. Before RAW goes to three hours I will have my desk set up, so it will be easier to write than with my netbook in my lap – promise!
While some people will complain about this episode of RAW, you can't please everyone all the time. Personally, I thought it was a solid show without only one thing missing, and I think most of us were upset it didn't happen. If the WWE wasn't such a hugely successful company at the hands of VKM, I'd wonder where his brain is. He loves both the Cole and Laurinaitis characters, and those are the two that so many fans really hate. I don't mean hate like you hate the heels, I mean absolutely don't want to see on your TV and will turn the channel if they're booked for too long. I really question his taste sometimes. The other thing I have to question is how he buttered up the crowd in Hartford with a couple lines he spoke. I know the WWE is headquartered in Connecticut, but it felt like something other than that. I don't want to come off as cynical, but it felt to me as if VKM was putting forth a commercial for his wife's political aspirations. I could be very wrong, but that's the feel I got from it, and it made me itch.
In Ring Segment > B+
While I can't stand Laurinaitis, listening to VKM list his shortcomings – storyline and real – was so enjoyable. Even funnier was how Laurinaitis couldn't even get out a very important line without massively screwing it up. That he said 100th episode was just another horrible gaffe on his part. My biggest worry is that VKM will take the reaction from the fans last night as Laurinaitis is such a huge heel and he needs to be kept around.
I'm still shocked that Laurinaitis has been kept around in the WWE in spite of his shortcomings. That Laurinaitis was actually bringing in the wrong one legged wrestler. While Steve Chamberland does wonderful work helping kids with prosthetics, but he sure wasn't a scrawny 19 year old kid when this all went down.
This next bit is something I wrote up a couple months ago as part of a Laurinaitis bio I'd been, but hadn't fully put together. Then there's the issues that came about when the WWE pulled out of DSW. Booker T had opened his Pro Wrestling Alliance school in 2005, then made all the necessary upgrades for the WWE to use his school as their developmental promotion. Where better to have the future of the WWE trained but under a five time, five time, five... you get my point. Everything appeared to be all set until Laurinaitis met with then road agent Steve Kiern. Kiern pitched setting up his own school and promotion in Tampa, Florida. While there are a lot of older wrestlers who have retired in the Tampa area, the school and promotion would have to be built from scratch. Booker's school was up, running and had developed a favorable reputation. Laurinaitis went with FCW, even though the building didn't have restrooms and it would be quite a while before they could put on shows. Further WWE pulled out of OVW which left FCW with over sixty wrestlers. Too many wrestlers, not enough ring time, not enough training time, not enough time for anyone, even though Booker's PWA was still right there and all set up to go. This was a sticking point for Booker and one of the biggest reasons Booker ended up leaving the WWE for a time. The big question is why did Laurinaitis decide to go with FCW when it would take a number of months and a lot of money to put together over Booker's school that had been up and running for a couple years? I read a couple places that Laurinaitis likes to party in Tampa. Mixing business trips with partying pleasure? As stiff as he is, I wonder what type of partying he does. (Please remember that this is me writing this, not Richard. If you have a beef with what I wrote, take it up with me.)
That Laurinaitis was removed as Executive Vice President of Talent Relations on the corporate page makes me think he might finally be on his way out. I really don't want to continue seeing Laurinaitis on WWE TV. VKM hit it on the head when he said no one can understand Laurinaitis. Only for VKM, and how fun Sheamus was, did this segment not suck eggs. And honestly, after as sick as I was last year, and how hard it was to get around after surgery, it about killed me to see that mobility scooter go off the stage. Sometimes the way the E throws away money rips at my insides. But even after all that, I was happy to see VKM back on RAW.
Sheamus vs Tensai (9:28) > B
I have to say that I'm both impressed at how Tensai looked in this match (compared to his most recent WWE matches), and how much time the WWE gave these guys to work the ring. This might actually be a good side of RAW going to three hours if we get longer matches with more chemistry and psychology.
I can't say that Tensai was wonderful in the ring, but he was a heck of a lot better than he had been. I think there's a couple reasons why this match came off better than his previous matches since he returned. First off, he didn't seem as rushed in this match. It seems as though he's trying to hit his moves so fast that he blunders them. It's as if he doesn't think he has enough time to do all he wants, needs or is booked to do, and then he makes hash of it all. Also, I don't think working with the likes of Cena doesn't show him off to the best of who he is. Sheamus can be much more versatile in the ring than Cena, can roll with the punches really well and that's something that Tensai needs right now. Wrestling in Japan is much different from in the WWE and he's just trying to get back in the groove. If he continues along this path, he'll be just fine. The fans in Hartford gave the loudest 'Albert' chants that I've heard since his returned. While they have slowly been repackaging Tensai, I think they need to do much more with him. I also want to mention that it was nice to see that Sheamus had a few drops of blood on his face and only used his wrist band to wipe it away. Gone are the days of the spazzes with the white towels? We can only hope!
Winner – Sheamus
Backstage Segment > B
Always have to love it when Laurinaitis looks like an idiot at the hands of Vickie and Teddy! What's even funnier is how everyone feels the need to kiss up to VKM, but Teddy. Also it was a nice little tease that Dolph might have a chance. So many of us think he has it in him and want to see him get that chance, and this was a nice little spark, a bit of hope.
In Ring Segment > C
While this was a step in the right direction of repackaging Tensai, the way Sakamoto was slammed into the barrier made me ill. That little man was tossed like a smelly bag of used kitty litter, and it was very uncomfortable to watch.
Video > B+
I might be biased because I'm a huge Seth Green fan, but the beautiful way he spoke about his night in the WWE and how much it meant to him was go great to hear after how goofy he was in that match.
Backstage Segment > A-
That was a great way to write R-Truth off so he can recover from his foot injury, and further push Big Show as a big scary giant.
Mixed Tag Match (2:54) > B-
I might tick some people off by saying this, but I really enjoy Ricardo and would much rather watch him than ADR any day of the week. The man is silly, funny, entertaining, and from what I understand is quite a decent wrestler. He works off Santino so beautifully, but also worked off Beth wonderfully too. The man takes a pratfall better than anyone else in the company and does so in such an effortless way. People get so upset when Santino faces other wrestlers, but I think a bunch of short matches with Ricardo could be great for both of them – hello, Justin Bieber! Even though it's the first time we've seen any Divas lately, they at least got to hit some solid moves through the fun. The head scissors Layla hit on Ricardo, and the glam slam looked really solid.
Winners – Beth & Ricardo
Backstage Segment > B+
While I love how VKM ripped down Otunga and lawyers, especially since his business would be nowhere, and he might have been in jail, if not for lawyers. I'm specifically talking about the 1993-1994 steroid trial.
Kofi really impressed me here. He came in with a totally different attitude and did a lovely job demanding Big Show and staring down Laurinaitis. There appeared to be real animosity between Kofi and Laurinaitis, but that wouldn't surprise me with Laurinaitis.
In Ring Segment > B+
While Punk and Bryan were really good in this segment, I'm worried that we'll have too many of these too long talking segments after RAW goes to three hours. This was a really good segment, but my brain and fingers have troubles keeping up with what they're saying. Their history together is what made this work so wonderfully. They know each other so well, and how the fans think of each of them, so the jibes were perfectly calculated. I loved the goat face comment!
I have to say that I'm surprised at the number of people who don't like AJ in this storyline. She's proven to have acting chops like few Divas before her. I'm completely blown away. She works her face and body in ways that few can. AJ has developed quite the character for herself and added such a lovely spice to this feud between Punk, Bryan and Kane. She brings a meanness out in Bryan, a sexy smile and lovely want in Punk, and such sexy confusion in Kane (hey, you know Kane's on my top 5 drool list!). That she works so wonderfully off each of them, and changes who she is when she looks at each of them makes her so much fun to watch. When AJ first showed up on NXT, I really liked her, but now that we're seeing how creative she is as an actress, I'm blown away.
Fatal 4 Way (12:21) > A-
This match was great! Okay, Khali was in the match and he was the reason ADR had to be removed from the Title match and why this match was held in the first place, so that bothered me, but they did well to get rid of him fast. That Khali concussed ADR so completely with his hands just blows my mind. Yes, he's a big man, but still! Also, they didn't mention before this match that it was an elimination match, so I was a bit confused when Khali was pinned and gone, but also thrilled!
I read what Richard wrote about possible plans for coming up with the #1 contender, so I'm glad they went this way. I loved that Dolph eliminated his 'partner', then went on to have a wonderful time in the ring with Christian. They went back and forth so much, spent so much time with the question – will VKM let Dolph go over here? - that it added a lovely suspense to the match. A number of times I really thought that Christian might get the win, but in the end Dolph sealed it. Now, I hope he can put on a great match with Sheamus and continue to prove that he does have what it takes to be at the top.
Winner – Dolph
Backstage Segment > B+
Wow, that was quite the segment! Between a whining Natalya, then the Funkadactyls, ending with Ryder. VKM so rarely does bit like this, but when he does, he goes all out. Watching that old man dance had me laughing so loud that I had to stop typing. Then how he ended with a shocked Ryder – they did a great job with it without dragging it out too long.
Ryback Vs Presidents (1:41) > B
His matches are above average, well above deserving a C, but there's so much more I expect from him. The 'Goldberg' chant was hysterical, and I liked the way they changed this match up with one of the presidents fleeing, but there still needs to be more, so much more. I will give the WWE writers props for their interesting and creative ways of presenting these local jobbers each week. The big question is, when will he be moving on to more than just jobbers?
Winner – Ryback
Backstage Segment > B
VKM and Hornswoggle were funny, especially with the hat. Cena and VKM were solid, and as expected. VKM with Otunga was fun, especially having VKM use a word that I'm sure many people had to look up (I did, just to make sure, and will fully admit it). But the clincher for me was Regal. I understand why he's not used very often, as he's not a young guy and has to Wellness strikes under his belt, but he's just so great! He said so much more without saying a word than Otunga could in a week of talking. Regal needs to be used more and I think I might be starting a campaign for such a thing. Anyone want to join me?
Steel Cage Match (7:33) > B
While I understand why they put Kofi in this match as R-Truth is injured, but I hope now that Orton has turned into persona non grata that Kofi will get more of a chance. He sure showed a different side of himself in this match. He brought me back to that night in MSG when he had that great match with Orton, just before Orton turned traitor and complained to TPTB that Kofi wasn't ready – even though he more than proved himself. In this match Kofi proved to be more than a tag wrestler, he proved to be a badass willing to go into a cage with the now-scary giant. The abuse he took in that cage impressed me. It wasn't as if it was a two minute match either, he took Big Show for a decent amount of time.
While I know a lot of people think Big Show is better when he's a heel, they're treating this heel turn as if Big Show has never been a big scary monster before. Yes, he's done a lot of silliness, but he hasn't always been a face! It wasn't that long ago that he and Jericho were Tag Team Champs, and full on heels together. Wasn't he heel when he came over from WCW? He was working with VKM against Austin, to me that screams heel without even doing any research.
There, I just went and looked, Big Show debuted as part of VKM's Corporation at St. Valentines Day Massacre : In Your House during VKM's cade match with Austin! (See, not all of my memory has disappeared!) Running as 'Big Nasty' Paul Wight, he came up through the canvas and into the ring to attack Austin. He caused VKM the match as he threw Austin into the side of the cage and it broke, so Austin fell to the floor and got the win. A few weeks later he was renamed 'Big Show' Paul Wight. Over time his actual name disappeared and he went simply by Big Show. He feuded with Foley, trying to help VKM against Rocky, but after a sick Boiler Room Brawl, Big Show turned face and sided with Foley, Test and Ken Shamrock to fight against the Corporation. That's just one of Big Show's stints as a heel. In 2004 Big Show was a big time heel feuding with Cena, only to lose the US Title to Cena at WrestleMania. Big Show proceeded to be mean and nasty, he claimed that if he didn't win against Eddie that he would leave the WWE. Eddie planted a wrench in Big Show's boot and he lost the match via DQ. Big Show thought Torrie Wilson had laughed at him for this and flipped her car. He went and talked to then Smackdown GM Kurt Angle, but they ended up arguing on a ledge and Big Show threw Angle off. Angle had not been working the ring due to injury, but then sold a broken leg and that his head was busted open on the cement. I will say that Angle sold that segment well, but more importantly, Big Show was a big time heel at that point and they're acting like he's always been silly and goofy. I know wrestling usually thinks the fans don't have brains, or memories, but WWE, and especially VKM, are the worst for this.
Winner – Big Show
Sin Cara vs Hawkins (2:29) > B
Short, sweet and to the point. I love that we're seeing more of Hawkins on RAW. He's really seemed to step things up and looked solid in with SK. SK, as always looked sick in the ring. He hits moves that leave me with my jaw hanging open. I almost always go back to watch SK's matches because I know I miss too much the first time through, even if I am writing the play-by-play. I have learned that I'm not going to get every move of his and just go with the ones I can catch without too much trouble.
During this match I heard a fan yelling something specific and I made sure I put it in the play-by-play last night as I found it quite interesting. "Get me Mysterio right now! This (either man or f***ing) sucks!" I also heard something about the lighting, but it wasn't clear enough to understand. I found it interesting that this man was so put out by SK. Personally, when it comes to Mexican wrestlers in the WWE, it's ADR who I don't want to see. Yes, I feel bad for the man for what he's going through right now. I wouldn't wish injury or health issues on anyone, especially brain injuries and the more we learn about concussions the more we learn about how they really mess with the brain.
While I don't dislike SK, I don't think he's had the time to develop his character and has a long row to hoe if he expects to get anywhere near the level Rey has achieved in the WWE. This past week I completely changed my feelings about who should be pushed out of the Mexican wrestlers in the E. Last week I watched Superstars Toyz (I loathe the use of the letter Z in this way), for the first time. I can't say I thought much of Hunico before this, but I wanted to see his mask collection, but I was blown away by the young man talking about his masks and his work with other luchadors. What a sweet, humble and polite young man. I want to see him go further than he will riding around on that bike with Camacho. His ring work is more than solid, he just needs a character that's not so boring that people forget about him ten minutes after his match is over. There's lots of talent, they just need to prove they have the hunger.
Winner Sin Cara
Backstage Segment > A-
I love segments when characters, especially VKM, acknowledge something that was screwed up, or happened online. When someone proves VKM wrong, then it's spoken about. Just one of those things I enjoy.
Video > A
Again, I'm biased as I loved Heenan on that first RAW. Heenan was fabby on mic, but that night he was in such amazing form and silly in a way that works. I could see many of today's fans watching, but it seems like people don't like silly in wrestling as much these days. I find that odd as it was a big part of what the AE was all about and what so many fans want back. I love it that Dolph picked the first RAW and Heenan as a favorite. It endears me to him that much more. If you haven't watched the first RAW, you should go watch it. If you haven't watched it recently, you should go back and do it again. It's been over a year for me and I plan to re-watch it before the 1,000th episode.
Slater vs Vader (3:32) > A!
Vader might be a little lumpier (not any heavier), and a little slower, and it was a bit harder for him to get to his feet, but man was it great to see Vader in the ring again! I was floored when he came out and thrilled to see him work, even going over Slater. While it's not good for Slater to go under a fogie, it had to be a kick butt time for him in the ring. For a young guy to face a legend like Vader has to be so cool. I hope this isn't the last we see of Vader this summer, and I hope we see a lot of other unexpected surprise wrestlers heading to the 1,000th episode.
Winner – Vader
Video > B-
I know a lot of people are pissy about the B A Star program, but the way they're going out to talk to the kids means so much. The WWE is fiction and people have to realize that. Yes, there's bullying in the WWE shows, but there's also bullying on iCarly! No matter what the kids are watching, they will see bullying. It's that the WWE is doing something to bring the issue to light and work with the kids actually does mean a lot.
Backstage Segment > A
The looks Punk gives AJ are just so great. He takes her acting ability and brings it to a whole new level in the way he reacts to her crazy. They just work so well together. I don't think the WWE had a clue what a big star they were getting in such a tiny package with AJ.
AJ & Punk vs Kane & Bryan (5:36) > A
The overwhelming comment about this match that I read in RAW Results and other spots on WNW is that many men wished they were Kane last night. Of all the male wrestlers in the WWE, I think Kane has had the strangest relationships of all. First there was the Katie Vick thing which played out very differently from Journey Into Darkness, but that's back to the WWE thinking we don't have brains or memories. It's actually not a bad book and worth the read (I know, I know, I keep pushing this book, but it's decent). Then he had his relationship with Tori before X-Pac stole her away. And we all remember Kane's absurd time (I didn't do it!) with Lita. Now Kane is completely befuddled by AJ, but is getting the most action of the three of the guys. Honestly, I don't blame the guys who commented about wanting to be Kane. AJ is one hot chick who endears me even more as she's a gamer geek. Still trying to find out if she's just into video games or if she likes tabletop RPGs as well.
Anyway, I think they handled this match wonderfully and set up for quite a few possibilities at NWO. I hope the end doesn't come down to AJ as these three deserve more than that in a PPV match. Okay, on RAW, now and then, it's one thing, but PPVs should be immune to crap like that.
All that being said, this match was solid, interesting and creative. It's nice to see things shaken up, not the normal single sex matches we normally see. Yes, there was mixed tag earlier, but not the same. For me this worked wonderfully and Kane sold it better than either of the other two guys, though they were all topped by AJ. Wait, get your mind out of the gutter!
Winners – AJ & Punk
In Ring Segment > C+
As I said from the start, it felt as though VKM was giving a bit of a political speech, or setting something up for Linda here, and I didn't like it. I love VKM, but that rubbed me the wrong way. I'm not saying whether I agree or disagree with VKM's political views, just that I don't like him using RAW as a platform for her. I'm a bit surprised as Linda's been dealing with controversy over the WWE. Heck, I could be reading into the whole thing terribly wrong, just stating that it's the feel I got from the start of this.
Laurinaitis ticked me off in this segment, but he ticks me off almost every time I see him on TV. On the other hand I enjoyed bits of Big Show. The way he called Cena VKM's 'golden boy, golden goose, white knight, cash cow' made me giggle because it's all so true. And then Cena came out and was right on the money with Big Show's complaints and deflections of late. It worked.
While I was really ticked that VKM didn't fire Laurinaitis, I honestly didn't expect it. It's been pushed off, but I don't see Cena winning at NWO as it gives him a great way to take some time off, but we've been saying that for quite a while here and it hasn't happened. Cena needs to take some time off. I understand needing to work through this difficult time in his life, but his body isn't going to hold out. It's time and who better than Big Show to take Cena out for a bit. It will help both of them in the short run and the long run.
I wasn't surprised by Big Show attacking Cena, nor was I surprised with VKM being punched out by Big Show, it was Cena's reaction to VKM's being laid out on the mat. I also don't like that the ref threw the X. It's been used as a work too many times lately (by more than the WWE) and I think it's very wrong. But I will say that VKM is really good at playing knocked out. He sold it beautifully, as always.
There were a couple of great moments on this show, but the rest was just sort of average. To me those glowing moments were during the Fatal 4 Way, Vader, AJ and her guys. As long as the WWE gives us more of those moments and less blabbering, especially from Laurinaitis, when they go to three hours, then it might be decent, though I admit I am quite worried as by the time the last segment came along the group of them seemed out of sorts and not as cohesive as they should have been. If creative is able to be creative without VKM second guessing everything until the last moment and they put together solid matches, then the move to three hours might not bee too bad.