As always, the WWE overseas produced an interesting show for the locals, but I cannot say it's the best show we've seen recently. This time of year always produces a lull in storylines and creativity, but sadly it's returned the WWE to their slipshod booking of matches that don't make sense, and feuds that don't benefit anyone. Because of this I brought in WWENews writers Wyatt Leves, and Andrew W., also known as our Casual Observer.
In Ring Segment > B
The only thing they liked from Cena was him saying WrestleMania should be in England. And while I agree that they deserve it, I cannot see any way to make it viable because of the time difference. It's hard when they have WrestleMania in California, because it's almost impossible to wait for it to be dark enough for certain entrances.
I will say that Cena handled himself quite well for the amount of abuse he took Monday night. For being the biggest face in the company, he gets more heat than almost anyone. Barrett, on the other hand, looked downright giddy at the reaction he got from his country. He's not used to the pop he was getting, and really looked shocked and sheepish about it. Barrett was the best person to face Cena on Raw, and his mic work brought this entire segment around. It was really fun to see Barrett look so happy out there.
US Championship – John Cena (c) vs Bad News Barrett > B+
It was nice to see Raw start with a solid match of a decent length. It wasn't so long that we got bored with Cena and Barrett, even though Cena's added to his five moves with that lovely springboard stunner. In fact, with all the noise from the fans, and the fact that we haven't seen Cena and Barrett in the ring together in quite a long time, this match came off quite well, and looked better than most of the rest of the matches on the card. I won't say it was the best match of the night, as that honor goes to Ziggler and Neville, but it was much better than most on that show, and better than most of what we've seen from Barrett in a long while.
Winner – Cena (9:51)
In Ring Segment > B-
I broke this off from the match so it could get its own grade. The fans were thrilled to see Lana, as they should be, but I have to say that the chain thing makes little sense. I know that they need to come up with extreme matches for Extreme Rules, but Cena hasn't used a chain since he was all Thug Life, and we've never seen Rusev with one ever. So while they needed something, I wish it had been more organic than suddenly Rusev has a chain.
Divas Battle Royal > B-
What a mess of a Battle Royal. Most of the Divas in there are beyond useless in the ring. There were only three who are allowed to look at all good in the ring – Paige, Naomi and Nattie – even though Emma is a lot better than we've seen on WWE TV. Fox is dangerous every time she gets in there. Summer Rae might be getting better at acting, but she's not Stacy Keibler, and never will be. And then there's Cameron and Rosa who really are so clueless that they shouldn't be in the ring. Besides, what happens when Rosa gets hit in the face and all of that plastic and chemicals go to mush?
I really enjoyed the work at the end between Paige and Naomi, the two who should be fighting over the Divas Championship, with Nikki out of the picture. But, there is the fact that Paige is leaving to film a Christmas movie with Miz, so I don't see her winning the strap anytime soon. When Paige returns, I want to see a great feud between her and Naomi, and I think the Divas Division will only benefit from it. Comparing them to the Bellas, these two are better in the ring, and on mic than either of the twins.
Winner – Paige (3:55)
In Ring Segment > B+
It was great to see Paige on the stick, though it would have been better if it had been anyone but Byron. I don't get why that man is given a mic, ever! Coach was better from day one, and Byron will never be Coach. The WWE needs to realize this and move on.
Paige was great in front of her locals, talking up family and friends. She didn't mention her mother, only her father and brothers, so I wonder if she wasn't there, and why. But it was great to see Paige being more endearing and real in front of her own country, it really felt right, especially after she won at home!
Then there was Naomi's attack. I thought that attack looked great. It was stronger, harder hitting, and more realistic than most of what we see from the Divas normally. Naomi has some size on Paige, and she really used it to her benefit. If they do go with this 'injury' storyline to send Paige off for her movie, they're setting up for a huge feud with Naomi when she returns, and hopefully Naomi will finally be Divas Champion by that point, as she more than deserves it.
DEP! > B-
Coming off some of Wyatt's best promos, this was one of his worst in a long time. Much of it was unintelligible, too quiet, or not picked up on mic. What he said continue to leave us confused and slightly creeped out, as they should, just that this one wasn't anywhere near as strong as we know he's capable of.
The Ascension vs Lucha Dragons > B
Lucha Dragons looked really solid here, yet Konnor looked like he could barely keep up with his own partner, never mind the team they were facing. The Ascension really brought the Lucha Dragons down here, making them look like so much less than they really are. I still cannot keep up with Kalisto as he works the ring, my fingers just cannot type fast enough to keep up with his moves, and I'm okay with that, as I'm going to work hard to keep up with him – I just hope that the other wrestlers do the same. I loath saying that one wrestler is the new other wrestler, but Kalisto could really be WWE's new Rey Mysterio, something they need after what a bloody mess Alberto Del Rio turned into!
Winners – Lucha Dragons (2:15)
In Ring Segment > B
I personally loved this segment. Yes, it wasn't a match, but it showed development. Development on the mic by Roman Reigns. He's been judged in the past for having too much mic time when he's not as good on it as other superstars or managers, such as Ziggler, Cena, and definitely Heyman. These people are given mic time, and definitely prove why they're provided with it. Reigns has definitely shown that he deserves his given mic time.
Honestly, the Big Show interference killed Reigns' speech. He was doing awesome, and I didn't mind the fact he was on the Titantron, but when he came out attacking Reigns, causing another Big Show/Reigns feud, it got boring. We've seen it one too many times. Yes, it's livening, but just too many times have we seen it play out.
I personally like Roman Reigns, and how he's proven almost all of his non-believers wrong, with his outstanding performance at WrestleMania and leading up to it. He should receive a better and more intriguing storyline, especially after proving most people wrong and going toe-to-toe with Brock Lesnar. He has many things in the future waiting for him to grasp and I can't wait to see what's in store for him.
Orton vs Cesaro > B-
I want to see a real feud between these two. Facing Orton in a feud could only help Cesaro who while holding a strap, really seems to be at a standstill in his career. Beyond that, it was obvious that this match would go to DQ, so I don't know why they would have organized this match in the first place. To me it's sloppy booking as means to get to an end. If it was only for the ring work, the grade would be higher, but this was sloppy creative that made less than no sense.
Winner via DQ – Orton (2:19)
Cesaro & Kidd vs Orton > B+
This match was short, sweet, and to the point. Though, compared to most of the matches, this one was downright long! The work from all three wrestlers was fantastic, and I was impressed with how Orton worked against both Cesaro and Kidd in a style that worked with their own individual styles. It was lovely to watch, and I only wish it was longer.
Winner – Orton (3:44)
Backstage Segment > B
I am really enjoying watching to see how far Kane can be pushed by everyone around him, right down to Noble. It's great to see the classic Kane under there, just bubbling and festering, wanting to come out. I've found that this suit wearing Kane is really annoying, and I want the Devil's Favorite Demon to return at least once before this workhorse has to retire from the ring. Not saying it will be soon, just that I want to see it, and him to have a great run with it, before he can't go there any longer. I hope this is building to classic Kane returning, and wearing a mask that doesn't abrade the bridge of his nose, the way his newest mask does.
Rose vs Ambrose > B
Rose had no chance, no chance in hell, no chance...against Ambrose. It is hurting my heart to see Ambrose wallowing in mid-card purgatory. The man is better than that, and deserves to be going after a strap, carrying a strap, or in some fantastic feud. Nothing against Harper, he's great, but he's not on Ambrose's level at this point. Further, it's more than time to change up Rose's character. He's better than the jobber that he's been for months now, and Exotic Express was a great way to get a bunch of local talent on Raw in the UK, that only goes so far when such talent is being wasted. It's time the WWE step up with the guys who continue to prove themselves, and let them reach for that brass ring.
Winner – Ambrose (2:11)
Backstage Segment > B
I honestly don't get why Big Show is still with The Authority, as he doesn't seem to fit into the mix, except when they need him to. It feels really wrong, and fake.
Stardust vs Fandango > B
It's about bloody time – cha, cha, cha! This match wasn't anything to write home about, but (my) local boy turning back to the character that served him so well is. I talk about my friend Larry now and then when Fandango does something very cool, but it's because I can see Larry in the roots of who Fandango has become. Larry is a great guy, and a fun wrestler, but his biggest thing is character. Cousin Larry is a character that all local wrestling fans know and love, and because he's the one who started Fandango on his path, I see so much of what Larry instilled in Fandango when he's all cha, cha, cha. Further, I've been invited to visit Larry's wrestling school, NAW Camp, to check it out, and I'm very excited.
I have to say that London was the perfect place for Fandango to turn back into what the fans all know and love. And while I should wonder what the plan for Rosa is, honestly, I hope this means she doesn't return to the ring!
Winner – Stardust (1:07)
Backstage Segment > A-
It was wrong that we didn't get to see Bryan in the ring in London, but was he impressive on mic with Kane backstage. The fans chanting for Bryan almost made him illegible on TV, but I didn't have issue with that because this segment was so fantastic. I've been hoping they'd get Bryan and Kane back together in some way, and this was perfect timing. Kane and Bryan have the chemistry of Trip and HBK, and because of that, no matter what they do together, they're truly on point.
Andrew > C-
Rollins vs Kane
At around two hours into this international event after Randy Orton wins – surprise? No. Even the Casual Observer knows well in advance there's a snake in the Authority's garden. Before I even touch on the match I'd be remiss not to comment on the buildup on the match billed by Rollins as quote, what's best for business.
The face of the Authority has clear disdain for the Director of Operations in Kane and even wants Jamie Noble to take a fall for him, but when even Noble starts singing. Kane's praises... Well we're off to a decent start in building the breakdown of the Authority.
No choice? Put the mask on Kane and go back to the depths we loved you for, or at least laughed with as we watched you go to anger management with Daniel Bryan. Even Big Slow pitches in for morale which is cute considering how many turns he's had. And way to undo the therapy sessions Goat, I have to admit I'm enjoying the conflicted Kane – even if he does look constipated.
Kane needs his Pyro, because sadly, I'm already unimpressed. Okay so J&J got heat and Rollins on a clothesline threat... Building and building the dissension. The choke slam that could've been... Sigh... Another RAW were I'm fed the same crap that they've been building long enough, oh well... There's a Viper in the grass.
I give this match a C- because in truth, I'm ready to see this drama to be over. They'll continue probably till Extreme Rules or longer... And people wonder why I'm the Casual Observer.
KB > F
What an epic mess! As if the 'finger poke of doom' wasn't bad enough, they had to go there in England? Okay, so at least Kane fought back some, and struggled with himself, but in the end, it was Kane playing Nash all over again. In fact, Nash is going to be at a show I'm attending this weekend, so if I get a chance, I'm going to ask him what he thinks about the 'finger poke of doom' still being mocked so many years later. Honestly, I hope this leads to something good, because so much bad from one faction needs to lead to something good.
Winner – Rollins (4:33)
WWE Slam of the Week > B+
I normally don't comment on the Slam of the Week, but I have to give someone unexpected props, and this is the best place to do it. I missed this segment of Smackdown last week, but when I saw it recapped, I was floored. For the first time ever, Summer Rae was truly believable. I never thought I'd say it, but she was really quite great in kissing Mizdow, and how she reacted to the kiss. She was better than I thought ever possible, and she deserves the props for it.
Miz vs Mizdow > B
I will also give Summer Rae props for how she worked this match. I can't say she didn't look like a cheap version of the Bellas in her outfit, but she handled herself well.
These two really need a solid feud, and not these little couple minute matches. I want something big from them. Okay, maybe Mizdow should 'injure' Miz so he can go off and make his Christmas movie with Paige that I will review with my youngest daughter Sam when it comes out in December. Either way, something big needs to happen to push this feud off, or blow it off. Sandow deserves more than being bleeping Mizdow forever!
Winner – Mizdow (2:03)
Backstage Segment > C+
Okay, Prime Time Players' version of El Torito was cute, and finally it was said on WWE TV that Los Matadores have nothing to do with where Primo and Epico are really from, Puerto Rico! I don't know where PTPs are going with this, but they need to get there and quickly, as they're running out of teams to mock.
Ryback vs Harper > B
So much for a real match! This is another in a long line of too short matches on Raw this week. Further, why did Harper need to cheat? Yes, Ryback is a big guy, and quite over with the fans, but it wasn't really a need to win match, and yet Harper cheated. It really didn't make a lot of sense to me. So while the work looked solid, the end of the match really made no sense. More booking on the fly.
Honestly, the best part of it all was Ambrose attacking Harper after the match, and the way Harper tossed the chair back into the ringside area after.
Winner – Ryback via DQ (1:48)
Backstage Segment > B+
Naomi showed more versatility here than I thought she had. We've seen so little of Naomi on mic, and while there, she's usually a face who's being treated like crap by other Divas. She played coy well, then completely turned heel. I'm excited to see where she's going from here, and what that means for her working with her husband. After she beat down Paige ringside, she threw off her Usos shirt, so I'm guessing that means she's stepping away from them to work on her own for a bit. I'm excited for her and her future. She has everything needed to be the top Diva, and without AJ and Paige right there taking the airtime, it's time Naomi grab that brass ring and hit everyone else over the head with it to get where she needs to be.
Ziggler vs Neville > A-
Ziggler on mic was bloody fantastic! He was relaxed, creative, and proved again why he should be at the top of the roster. Ziggler has what it takes to be WWE WHC and carry the company. He keeps touching that brass ring, but right when he's there, someone pulls it away from him for some reason or another. While I agree with Cena, on Jericho's podcast, that a lot of the Superstars are afraid to really put themselves out there to get to the next level, I don't think Ziggler is one of them. Ziggler continues to put himself out there, reaching, grasping, doing what needs to be done, yet right when he's there, something, or someone, happens, and he's right back where he started from.
I was thrilled to see Neville come out to face Ziggler. Honestly, I was much more excited to see Ziggler face Neville than Ziggler face Rollins in a match we knew he'd lose. Neville, on the other hand, really needs to not lose every match going forward – though I will say that every match I've seen him in has left me breathless with finger cramps, and that's one of the highest praises I can give anyone in the ring.
All the wonderful things I said about Ziggler, I mean, but I have to wonder if Neville is going to come in, fly to the top of the card, and leave all the other young wrestlers in the dust. Now, so far, he's been all ring work and no character, but he's only a few weeks into working WWE TV. I'm very excited for his future after seeing what he can do with guys like Ziggler. The back and forth between them was great! Ziggler's DDT, Neville off the apron, then off the barricade, and making these moves all look as though they were nothing. I hate to compare Neville to a young Jeff Hardy, but seeing Neville come off the barricade like that, I cannot help myself – but Neville makes Hardy look like a child trying to play at being a wrestler. Hardy is a daredevil, Neville shows grace, poise and creativity that is rarely seen in the ring. He does things that don't seem possible, and makes them look easy. I'm in awe watching Neville, because he really is one of the best I've ever seen flying through the air.
Winner – Ziggler (9:39)
In Ring Segment > B
I know the fans are having a blast abusing Sheamus, but I'm so thrilled he's a heel with a new look. He'd been so stagnant for so long that it was almost pathetic. The new look is different and unusual, something that's needed in the WWE, as too many wrestlers look too similar. All the creativity is gone. Not saying I want cartoon characters again, but I want more than black tights!
In Ring Segment > B
I had hoped this would be so much better than it was. It wasn't a bad segment, and the way Rollins was reclined in that black leather chair was really showing, but the mic work and writing wasn't the best. Honestly, I think Rollins is having a bit of 20 Minute Trip Syndrome. Too much talking each week will turn the fans off. I think if you added up all of Rollins' mic time Monday, it would be a lot longer than you'd think it was – even though it wasn't in a big chunk at the start of the show, like Trip is want to do.
Orton was fairly decent on mic here, better than he used to be; much less robotic, but still not as natural as others. Also, his facial expressions were more realistic than they used to be. It's as if he's had lessons on how to be a real human being. Or, he's taken acting lessons.
I will say I like both of the stips for their match. Taking away Orton's RKO makes sense, the way Vickie took away Edge's spear to try to handicap him in his matches. But the best way to trump that is to take away ALL of Rollins' weapons. I'd have preferred it be a HIAC, that way J&J Security, Kane and Big Show couldn't get involved in any way, but this way they can still help Rollins out, muddling Orton's stip in some way.
Eleven matches, and all together it added up to 43:25. Now, I know I had to bring in a math tutor for Sam, but that doesn't mean I cannot add up simple times of matches. I'll fully admit that I could be off here, but not by far. This means that there was at least fifteen minutes less in the ring than normal, even though they got as many wrestlers working the ring in front of the London fans as possible. I get why they did what they did, but in the long run, good creative trumps shotty thrown together late booking. This really wasn't a great show, even though there were a number of great moments.
Queen of WNW
KB, Wyatt & Andrew