My first thoughts on Raw were that it was a great show, and parts of it were, but looking at the numbers, I'm not as impressed. Read through and see if you agree with me.
A lot of people don't like that it's Reigns and not Bryan going into WrestleMania to face Brock, but I'm glad it's Reigns and not Bryan. I love Bryan, and he should be in a singles match at WrestleMania, but he's freshly back from injury, and not the biggest guy on the roster. Cena was tossed around by Brock as if he was a rag doll. Could you imagine what Brock could do to Bryan in the ring? Brock doesn't give a flying fig who he hurts, and I really don't think that's the best place for Bryan, or someone of his size, at this point. Nothing against Bryan, he's one of the toughest guys there are in the industry, but I think that Reigns' body is built better for working with Brock. Honestly, I don't want anyone to have to get into the ring with Brock again, he's too dangerous. The octagon is one thing, the ring is very different, and it's time for him to work with people who are willing to do what they do in MMA, and that's not what the WWE is all about.
In Ring Segment > B+
I was a bit annoyed by how Raw started, as I'm more than over seeing The Authority, or any part thereof, in the ring to start Monday night, but I thought everyone involved did a solid job of selling every bit of it.
Rollins continues to impress me week in, and week out. While I enjoyed him in ROH, he's really blossomed in the WWE. From people worrying that he'd get lost in the shuffle after The Shield broke up, to being one of the top guys on the roster. Rollins continues to impress, and I cannot wait to see what Rollins will give us when he moves on from The Authority. The biggest question is, which of The Shield will be WWE whc first?
Love him or hate him, Big Show has worked the horrible had of too many turns he's been given, and had more heat in this segment, just by taking the mic, than anyone but Rollins. That says to me that Big Show still has what it takes with the fans.
Kane was fine here, and I loved the way he slammed Big Show in the middle of it all, but he was little more than background noise, and that sucks, because I'm a huge Kane fan. I'm just not a fan of Kane in dress pants, no shirt, and being a patsy rather than the Devil's Favorite Demon. How the mighty have fallen!
I love Jamie Noble, and always flash to two specific characters of his from when he worked the ring. In WCW he was Jamie-San as part of the Jung Dragons, where he had to wear a hood because he was the only one of the team who wasn't Japanese. And then there was his time running with Tough Enough season 1 winner Nidia, as trailer park trash who come into money when an aunt or someone died and Noble inherited serious money. In other words, I really enjoy Noble, and I'm thrilled to see him back on TV, and think he's fantastic visually, as well as the short bits he's on mic. He's grown and matured so much that his mic work is better than ever. No mic rust on him.
Then there's Mercury. I really never thought much of Mercury when he was in MNM with John Morrison and Melina, and I surely never thought he'd be the one still with the WWE and working on TV. Now, I have to say that I love that MNM existed because it's the only way to sneak WNW signs into WWE shows, but that's about all I can say about the group. I won't get into Melina – though everyone else has – and won't even discuss how feline whipped JoMo is, though I will say I thought he'd man up, move on and return to the WWE in some capacity before now, but I guess that won't be happening. Anyway, I really liked that Mercury was too choked up to speak. I never thought much of Mercury on mic, but I think he's grown quite a bit visually, and sold it well here. I was quite impressed with his sorrowful eyes and hangdog face.
Orton played this well, didn't back down, and wasn't worried about what he'd have to go through, as long as he got his hands on Rollins at WrestleMania. I always set up my action figures and take pics of each match for the WNW Predicts WrestleMania. The matches that are already cemented were photographed over this past weekend, just so I could get ahead. I also photographed Orton vs Rollins with J&J Security on the outside, because I know it's going to happen, it needs to happen, at WrestleMania. It didn't hurt that I just got a Rollins figure and I needed to set him up with my way too young Orton figure, but mostly because this is a match that has to happen at WrestleMania.
AJ vs Nikki > B+
I was really quite impressed with this match. I don't know what happened, and if they were just perfectly connected last night, but Nikki looked better than ever, and AJ worked off that to make them both look that much better. With Nikki in control of much of the match, AJ worked with that, sold well, and helped make Nikki's moves look that much better.
Nikki doing pushups in the center of the ring made me think it was an homage to Scotty Steiner, but who knows. I will continue to think that unless told otherwise.
Even the arm drags were well executed, and most of which looked downright beautiful. Nikki's fireman carry take down was well executed, all the way into the short clothesline on AJ. Even Nikki's arm buster looked really solid.
AJ came back with a great splash, and then crossbody off the top. AJ's drop kicks always look strong, but in a match when most everything looks better than what we're used to seeing, it looks that much better.
I'd like to complain about the work outside the ring between Brie and Paige, as it would take away from the ring work, but it was all of two moves, and continued the storyline going into WrestleMania. All in all I thought this was one of the best Divas matches we've seen in a long time, and I hope the WWE continues in this vein, as the fans will respond to great wrestling from these talented women. Yes, I'm a bit surprised I'm calling Nikki talented in the ring, but she's really stepped up her game the past couple years, as has Brie. It's obvious that they've been training with their significant others, and pushing themselves to improve their moves, not just their boobs and abs.
Winner – Nikki (11:13)
Backstage Segment > B
I'm going to write these segments between Rollins and the rest of The Authority as if I don't know what's coming at the end of the show. I think it will more clearly show my thoughts and feelings as I watched Raw, as I think we were all feeling a similar thing through much of these segments.
I want to see Big Show and Kane really let each other have it! I know that no matter what happens, Big Show will not get a win at WrestleMania. Sadly Big Show has a terrible record at WrestleMania with 4-10, but it's not stopped him from being over with the fans. I'm quite impressed with how the fans hate Big Show, even though he's the one who is seeming to turn on Kane, and will end up being the one to turn if it actually happens, making it number 35(?).
I love the banter between Big Show and Kane, but even better was seeing Big Show and Kane stand together against Rollins. I cannot get over how much crap these veteran wrestlers have been taking from Rollins, and for how long. I've been wondering when they would crack and tell him to pound sand.
Ryback vs Miz > B
The growing tension between Miz and Mizdow is fantastic. Normally I'm bummed for whoever is stuck facing someone in a match when the storyline has nothing to do with them, but Ryback is so over with the fans who love to chant "Feed me more!" so I think this worked out well for everyone.
I was really hoping that Mizdow would hit Miz, but we are still building. I thought it was going to happen at the Royal Rumble, setting up for them to feud at WrestleMania. I worry that they missed the timing and really screwed over this feud that could have been so amazing. At this point I guess it will all go down in the Andre The Giant Battle Royal, and they will feud from there on. I think this really sucks, because the fans were ready for this to pop two months ago, but the WWE dropped the ball on Sandow – again!
Winner – Ryback (1:54)
Contract Signing > F
I just told someone that I thought this segment sucked festering and rotting cheese, and I stand by that statement!
Yes, I'm proud of my country, and stand up for our freedoms and all we have worked so hard for as a country, but Cena's speeches are getting so cliché! We know how Cena feels, and we know that this an an USA vs Russia feud. There have been a number of great USA vs other country feuds in the WWE, and Rusev has played this quite well, sadly the same cannot be said for Cena.
I was so excited to see that evil side of Cena emerging these past couple weeks, and then he bounced right back to the goody-goody corny Cena we all know and are so terribly sick of! He regressed, and it was downright terrible to see. If Cena is going to progress, and not fall back into the same pickle he's been in for ten years. Cena could continue to get growing pop from the male fans if he had continued pushing his character. He doesn't have to go full on heel, but he has to grow and change as a character, and we know he can do it, he's just been playing it too safe for too long that he's afraid to change in any way. For a man who screams about hustle, loyalty, respect, that's something he's not given us fans for a very long time. He hasn't respected the fans enough to believe in him if he changes in any way, shape, or form, and that really pisses me off. I tweeted that to Cena, not that he will notice or care, but I had to get it off my chest. I'm just so bored and over it all.
Then there's that train wreck of a fake lawyer. I don't know who hired him, or what backwoods theater they pulled him from, but everyone involved should be slapped across the bum with a ruler, because he was downright awful! He looked the part, but beyond that, he had no control over the situation, and really didn't seem to understand what he was supposed to be doing out there. Further, that accent was an absolute kerfuffle! I'm blown away that the WWE ended up putting something that bad out there on Raw two weeks before WrestleMania 31! This is no 1984, but that fake lawyer played it that way. I hope he took his paycheck and ran, never to admit to being on this episode of Raw to anyone, ever. Not even his own mother!
A New Day vs Kidd & Cesaro > C+
I have to start this by saying just how hot Nattie looked in that skin tight jumper! I know jumper means different things in different parts of the world, but in the USA, it's a single garment that is shorts or pants, with a top attached. Jumpers are very hot in fashion right now, to the point that big name movie stars are wearing them on the red carpet for movie premiers and other events, but I cannot think of anyone who's rocked a jumper the way Nattie did that black pleather last night. She has all the right curves in all the right places, and she shows that sexy is a state of mind, not being a stick figure. Even in that outfit, she's someone I'd be proud to have Sam look up to.
I know what they were trying to do with this match, but I felt as though it all happened too fast, and not enough of it was absorbed by the fans. It was the second match in a row that didn't even last two minutes, and if it wasn't for Nattie's outfit, and what happened after the match, I wouldn't remember that it actually happened.
Unlike the IC Title Ladder Match, I'm nowhere near as invested in this going into WrestleMania. It further worries me that Jey is hurt and could bring this down to three teams. I've seen some great Fatal 4 Way Tag Team Title Matches at WrestleMania, but I don't think this will be one of those, and I feel for all of the teams involved.
Now, for what happened after the match. Cesaro really impressed me with how he threw his own body from standing in the middle of the ring through the ropes to the outside when he was hit with what should have been headscissors from El Torito, but obviously wasn't as El Torito's legs weren't anywhere near each other, or Cesaro's head! Things happen, and I understand that, which is why I'm giving Cesaro props for taking what happened and selling it beautifully.
Winners – Cesaro & Kidd (1:52)
Backstage Segment > B+
I thought Noble did a great job working against Rollins, really giving him what for, and telling him exactly how it is. Noble was strong, and took the bitch slap well, but it was Mercury continuing to not say a word that made this segment that much better. Mercury is selling better than I ever remember him selling as part of MNM.
Video > D+
This was a solidly produced video, but it's Brock saying the same couple things he's said since returning to the WWE, and especially since becoming WWE WHC. I remember the days when Brock was interesting, and really worth watching, not just for his ring work, but for his character, but that ended with WrestleMania XX.
I know Brock is a badass, but all he said here was that he wants to hurt people and enjoys doing it. The problem I have with this is that it's not a character, it's just Brock being an ass and doing as little as possible to collect millions of dollars. He really doesn't care about anything but the paycheck, and cannot be bothered to do anything above and beyond to actually earn that money. I understand why McMahon brought Brock in when he did, but Brock has proven to be nothing but a whiny princess who does the bare minimum. I'm over it and think it's time the WWE moves on from a man that a majority of the fans don't want to see, and the WWE spent way too much money on in the first place.
I think it shows just how little Brock cares in that he cussed twice, but they just bleeped him out. Part of the character? Maybe, but I think it's that Brock just doesn't give a shit, and couldn't be bothered to try to do it again without the cussing.
Big Show vs Rowan > D
I don't like how Rowan is being buried. He's so much better than that, and had been gaining momentum since his return with Ryback and Ziggler, yet now he's absolutely nothing. Rowan has an interesting look, a great character, and more charisma and mic abilities than I thought he could possibly have, and it hurt to see him buried for no obvious reason. If I'm frustrated, imagine how he feels!
Winner – N/A
Hall of Fame – Larry Zbyszko > A+
While the epitome of heel for much of his career, Larry Zbyszko was great at what he did. I hope to get an article up on WWENews about his career before WrestleMania (not necessarily written by myself), but will admit that I learned a lot about Zbyszco in the video they showed. I think we all should learn more about this great wrestler, beyond the fantastic video the WWE put together for him.
Battle Royal – Ryder & Fandango & Goldust & Axel & Slater & Swagger & O'Neil & Young & Rose & Kane & Henry > C-
I know this wasn't a real match, the bells didn't ring, but I timed it anyway. That this was shorter than those two really short matches early in the show really annoyed me. It did what it needed to do, got a lot of faces in the ring, pushed Kane who thought he had it in the bag, and added Henry into the match at WrestleMania, but it showed how little the WWE really cares about this match, compared to the time they gave a match that hasn't even officially been confirmed, as of this writing, in Orton vs Rollins.
Winner – Henry (1:26)
In Ring Segment > A-
Many people say that Heyman has carried this feud going into WrestleMania. While I agree that he's carried Brock's side of the feud, and carried it all early on, I think Reigns has really stepped up and grown working the mic against Trip, Bryan, Rollins, and Heyman.
Heyman has been everything Brock has never been and can never be, one of the best talkers in the industry, ever, and Brock is lucky to have Heyman for that reason. Heyman has been working the mic harder than ever, picking up the slack for Brock, who cannot be bothered to do the work himself, even though he does have the ability – or did back in the day.
While Reigns had trouble finding his groove, I think he's coming along quite well. He's sweet, endearing, and honest in talking up Heyman's mic work, but also has that hard edge that shows that he's not going to be pushed around. His mic work has really stepped up, and this character feels like it's Reigns, but a bit more. I think as he goes along, he's only going to get better and better. It's not an automatic thing for everyone, and he wasn't seasoned the way his other Shield members when he came up with them, but I'm enjoying watching him come into his own in front of us. I loved the way Reigns stopped talking to Heyman, then turned and looked to the camera to address Brock. I thought this whole segment worked really well, and helped push this feud forward, even though the Champion couldn't be bothered to show up and participate in any of the storyline to speak of.
Backstage Segment > A
Heyman is just fantastic, and I swear he's better now then he's ever been. I always say that some nights he's on, and some night's he's not so great, but this was one of Heyman's best night on mic.
6 Man Tag Match – Barrett & Harper & Stardust vs Bryan & Ambrose & Ziggler > A-
This is how to promote a match going into WrestleMania! I know a lot of people are annoyed by the strap stealing, but it's kept this match and all involved in the forefront as you never know who's going to end up with the strap, how, and what they're going to do with it. R-Truth has barely been in the ring, but has been the most creative with the strap. I loved the way he had it clipped to the collar of his suit jacket and skirted the ring, keeping his back hidden, so no one in the ring would see it before he got to announce.
The whole thing is kind of silly, but it's brought our attention to the IC Title, and has us talking. Have you seen Ambrose's Raw Fallout video about the IC Title? He's so excited about getting someone actually winning the strap and being Champion. It's a lovely slap to Barrett who's done virtually nothing with the IC Title, other than physically lose it to whoever has the whim to steal it at that moment.
I really enjoyed the work in this match, and that's just setting up for an even better match at WrestleMania. These six, with R-Truth in tow, could leave us with a match we'll never forget. Fingers crossed. And, thinking about it, some of these guys could have been working for the secondary Title, if the WWE hadn't taken it away and handed the major Title to the one person who gets paid the most for doing the least.
I'd have thought this would be a great go-home match to WrestleMania, so I wonder what they'll have in store for us next week to continue building this for WrestleMania!
Winners – Ambrose & Ziggler & Bryan (17:43)
Backstage Segment > B+
More abuse on Rollins, and it was great! I have to admit that I was shocked that Trip didn't rip Rollins a new one, and that he willingly let Steph step between them – but I've always wondered who really wears the pants in that family. I have to admit that I was thrilled the world was crumbling around Rollins' shoulders.
DEP! > B
This would have been so much better than it was if they were able to record Wyatt correctly. Yes, I still think part of it is Wyatt's fault, but I also know a big chunk of it is the mic work backstage. When Wyatt is on stage, or in the ring, he's mostly understandable, yet backstage he isn't. So it's a mixture of the two, and something I should be used to, as many Superstars through the years were both loud and soft when speaking – Macho Man Randy Savage is one who I've noticed did that quite often, and he's one of the biggest names of all time.
Orton vs Rollins > A+
I rarely give something a perfect grade, but a HUGE swerve like this followed by Sting, it deserves an A+.
I was so sure that Rollins was finally getting what he deserves for the way he's been acting toward everyone, even The Authority, yet, they swerved us. That they thought this one through so well and executed it throughout the entire episode, something the WWE hasn't done much of in a very long time with their slap-dash theory on throwing together episodes at the last minute. Other than this swerve that ran through the show, I know the WWE would do better if they hired my WWENews writers than if they continued on with what they're doing now. At least my writers, who are from all over the country, and the world, have diversity, creativity, and are on the pulse of what the fans want to be seeing. I know they could handle it beautifully.
This big swerve brings me back to a certain point during Evo when it looked as though Batista was turning on Trip, things getting uglier and uglier, and at the end of the episode, Batista was playing us the whole time, and everything was right between him and Trip, and even then I think it was to the detriment of Orton! (But I could be wrong on that one.) Anyway, I love when there's a thread of storyline through a whole episode, then, in the end, nothing is as it's been built. It shows that they're actually putting thought into at least one storyline, I just wish it was a storyline that didn't involve The Authority.
And then there was Sting. I love how he was handled and appeared. It was beautifully executed, and I think the best part of it all was how Orton sold it. That look on Orton's face was priceless! If he'd been selling like that for the past decade, he really would be the face of the WWE! Further, I'm thrilled that Sting appeared to work with Orton, rather than appearing to work with Cena in some way. It seems like it's always Cena who works with the legendary wrestlers, so it's about time Orton have one of those jaw dropping moments with one of the biggest names in the industry, ever! Orton handled it well, and worked really well with Sting. I was marking out through the whole segment, and I was even marking out for those who were working the ring with Sting. Big Show worked with Sting in the WCW, even holding the TTCs with him, and while Noble was in WCW, he never worked a match with Sting, so this was new to most of them. Maybe it was less special to some of them as they've known Sting, or knew Sting back in WCW, but all in all, I'm sure they understood what a wild moment in wrestling history they were living through in that moment. Further, I'm jealous for the fans who were in attendance, because they not only got that moment, but they got Sting on mic after Raw was over. What a great time to be a wrestling fan!
So, two matches never happened, and both of those involved members of The Authority. Three matches were less than two minutes total, and one of those was dressed up to look like a Battle Royal. The Divas really impressed with over eleven minutes of ring work, and only three minutes lost to commercials. Then there's the 6 Man Tag Match that was almost eighteen minutes, with six minutes removed for commercials. While the Divas Match and the Tag Match were both really strong, ending up at almost twenty-nine minutes, which is great, but the rest of the matches combined from this three hour episode of Raw only lasted less than five minutes. Normally Raw has about an hour of wrestling time, but this week, two weeks out from WrestleMania, and there was just shy of thirty-four minutes of wrestling. While much of the show had some really strong moments, and many people are applauding those strong vignettes, the Divas Match, and the 6 Man Tag Match, as they should be, what was missing is now glaringly obvious to me. I was really impressed with this Raw, certain segments specifically, but then I looked at the numbers, and it's not just the contract signing that's leaving me unhappy about what went down at Raw last night, or actually, what didn't.
Queen of WNW