I am going to try to keep this short, sweet and to the point. I want to say that my heart goes out to those who are dealing with Hurricane Sandy. While we're getting some rain up here in Maine, I'm also watching the news and seeing what happened in New York and New Jersey. My older daughter Ellie was showing me pictures of sharks in the streets in New Jersey during RAW last night, something that I've never even thought of. I specifically want to send out well wishes to WNW reader Andrew who hung out in the Live Blog with us during HIAC. He lives on Long Island, so I'm sure he's dealing with a lot right now. He's a very nice young man, and in our thoughts though this natural disaster.
Now onto the meat of what is RAW Is Blogged. I am still not sure how I feel about all that went down at HIAC, and in some ways it felt like a cheap fix that any hack writer could have pulled out at the last minute, but I do have to admit that I was not expecting the swerve they gave us. I had not thought of Brad Maddox much since Punk freaked out on him over the 'blown pinfall' issue last month. I do have to say that Maddox looks more like a young Bischoff than Garett does. He really reminds me of Bisch, and I'm wondering if they're going to give him a bit of Bisch's swagger. Actually, I'm wondering how long it will take for everyone to 'find' Maddox. Hopefully they don't drop the ball with this one.
Video > B
Of course they had to start with still from HIAC, this was absolutely expected.
In Ring Segment > B
I really expected more from Punk, and Foley here. Punk was decent in claiming he had nothing to do with Maddox's actions at HIAC, though no one believed him – obviously. But Foley fell flat for me. He got his cheap pops as usual, but when he wasn't getting the reaction he seemed to want, he got louder rather than more creative. I'm one of the biggest Foley fans out there, Foley is in my top three favorite wrestlers, and top three sexiest wrestlers (you all know I'm strange, just don't question it) – but he sucked it up big time here. It felt like he was phoning it in. It just wasn't the Foley we know and love. BUT, and this is a BIG BUT, Foley lives on Long Island, New York. He had to have not been in Charlotte mentally. That Foley was in Charlotte is very impressive. I hope he, his family and their home have not been effected too badly by Sandy.
Ryback vs JTG > C
If they wanted to continue to make Ryback look strong, feeding him JTG wasn't the way to do it. Sadly JTG has turned into a nothing on the roster. He's barely enhancement talent, and I usually forget he's even still employed by the WWE until he shows up again. I think they needed to feed Ryback some much bigger and stronger than JTG after HIAC, this was just pathetic.
Winner – Ryback (2:02)
WMD Videos > D+
While I know this video clip was very short and tucked in covertly, they showed it way too much. The slo-mo was a great addition as this was hard for me to catch during the actual match, but in true WWE fashion, they so overplayed this video that by the time Sheamus came out I was over him, and Big Show.
Barrett vs Orton > B-
Again Barrett looked stupendous! That man left with the elbow dislocation as someone I didn't care if I ever saw in the ring again, but he's returned as someone I'm salivating to see in the main event scene. For me Barrett completely out-shown Orton in this match. Lately Orton has been a bad imitation of Super Cena, and that's saying something. I'd hoped that he'd come back from his suspension and have a better outlook and more variety in his ring work, but no, he's the same Super Orton he was. Yes, a certain segment of the fans love Orton, and I understand why, but knowing what we know of his arrogance, and that his ring work has fallen so Flair, I mean flat, I'm burnt out and not at all interested in seeing him work. Though I will say that Orton facing Barrett is so much better than Orton facing ADR who also has such a boring set of moves that the two of them together made me want to cry during HIAC.
Winner- Orton (10:06)
Backstage Segment > B
Finally we get to see AJ dressed as AJ, making her look like the girl we all fell in love with. She also played off Vickie quite well. The only thing that bothered me is the plot holes. AJ was always in trouble for her abuse of authority, yet Vickie is much worse and she gets away with about anything. As a writer, that pisses me off to no end.
Team Hell No vs Prime Time Players > B+
I think Young worked the ring much better than he has in the past. I'm still not very impressed with O'Neil, but he's been looking less sloppy as time goes on. All that being said, they were just the base for THN. Bryan and Kane are so creative working together. I don't think anyone even thought that these two could be such comedic gold. That their chemistry would be so astounding. I know Kane has proven that he works wonderfully with almost anyone, but with Bryan, Kane has been brought to a whole new level. I have to say that the way they've been handled gives me hope that creative isn't completely burnt out, though these two could be handed about anything and make it work. BTW – the grade is as much for the entertainment value of this segment as the actual ring work, possibly more so.
Winners – THN (4:26)
Video > C+
Of course they had to recap Punk and Foley from the opening segment, and they didn't over-play it too much, unlike with the Sheamus/Big Show, but with all the recap videos, I got a bit burnt on them all.
Video > C+
The same with the stills and clips of Maddox's attack and quick count on Ryback, it got to be too much with all the other recap videos.
In Ring Segment > C+
Vickie worked really well with Cena, but Cena was a bit flat here. He really didn't have his heart in it, and it showed. I know VKM is testing Cena, and I think Cena failed this test. I just didn't feel the heat, the spark from Cena that we should have felt from him being accused of this affair. AJ has shown passion, both in denying the accusations, and possibly having feelings for Cena, yet Cena hasn't shown any passion behind his words. Might we be seeing the downfall of Super Cena? I doubt it.
Cesaro vs Kofi > D
This is the second RAW in a row that Kofi's been in a match that was a complete throwaway. Last week it was against McGillicutty, but all the focus was on Miz talking on announce, and the same thing happened with this match. Honestly, I couldn't tell you anything that happened in this match off the top of my head, but I can tell you what Miz and Cole talked about. This is an absolute travesty and shows me how little they value the IC Title, something that truly sucks after all the work Cody did to bring the Title back up to some level of respectability. I'm completely floored at the booking of Kofi and hope someone pulls their head out of their bums backstage, as this is a total insult to everyone who puts time and heart into a match such as this without anyone caring. Why is Miz on announce so much more important that Kofi in the ring? I thought this was a wrestling show! The only thing worth anything was the ending, but after that match I had troubles caring at all.
Winner – Kofi via DQ (2:32)
Backstage Segment > B+
Again the chemistry between Vickie and AJ was solid. AJ really played up her crazy here and I thought worked really well. They're really setting up for some lovely arguments between them in the future.
Behind theMusic > D
Other than Mahal saying that he's the class clown of the group, then giving such a stern look to the interviewer, I thought this sucked. They have the look, but they need to work on how they come across. I just don't believe them yet. They're close, very close, just not quite there. I think Slater has it down, but this has been his character for a while, and Mahal seems to be falling into it pretty well, it's Drew I'm having some issue with. He has the look, and he sounds decent, but he doesn't seem to believe it himself, and that comes across in a big way. I hope they pull this together as it could be a lot of fun. Or they could turn into 3 Count. I loved JR saying that this was possibly the worst interview he's ever seen on RAW, he's so much fun!
3MB vs Ryder & Santino >
So Ryder and Santino are CoBroski? I know I heard something mentioned during their match, but I missed it. Does this mean that they're going to be a team for a while? Guess the WWE is going all out Tag Division right now, though Richard mentioned that VKM is already losing his interest in the Division. I will say that I'm liking how 3MB works together in and outside the ring. They could really do well in tag matches with one of them outside to cause problems and distractions. I just hope they're not forgotten. Oh, and Santino hit a sweet hip toss that sent Slater (I think it was Slater) flying through the air that was just lovely. I know some people think of a hip toss as a simple move, but I love the way Santino makes it into so much more.
Winners – 3MB (3:51)
Announce Segment > A+
King returns in two weeks. I'm so excited to see him back. I hope JR sticks around for a bit, I think it would be nice to see the old team back together for a bit until King is ready to return full time.
AJ vs Beth > B
I have to admit I'm giving this a better grade than it probably deserves because we got to see Beth back on RAW and in the ring for one last time, something I didn't expect, and we got to see AJ back in the ring showing skin. Yes, it was nice to see AJ working the ring, but she was more flailing than actually wrestling, so I can't give her props for that, but she was in character and sold her character wonderfully. Beth looked strong, as she always does, and really worked well with AJ who is so tiny. I loved the small package finisher, it worked really well.
Winner – AJ (2:11)
I was not at all surprised to see Vickie come out and restart the match. She has to keep the upper hand on AJ for a while, and what a great way to do it, and get even more heat for herself. It was also nice to see one last glam slam from Beth.
Winner- Beth (0:15)
Announce Segment > B+
I loved hearing JR talk about how much fun he had doing the voice over segments for WWE 13 with King. You could hear the love and excitement in his voice, and I'm sure it comes through in the game. I can't wait to play.
In Ring Segment > B+
Sheamus struggled to get the fans really behind him, but I found him truly endearing in this segment. Some will hate on Sheamus' cheery disposition, but he's not as goody-goody as Cena, and has an edginess to him. I think Big Show handled himself well, but the reason I gave this segment such a high grade is for white noise. Sheamus hit white noise on Big Show at HIAC and it looked great, but the way Sheamus ginger snapped him up like he was Rey Mysterio impressed the heck out of all of us here. While some really prefer Sheamus as a heel, I know he's going to be a big Superstar for quite a long time and continues to prove that in creative and interesting ways. Oh, and Sheamus should not be running around in white ring gear. Against his pale skin tone it makes him look like he's wearing white nylons. Just not a good look.
Backstage Segment > B
As much as I hate to see Beth go, it was nice to see her having a final break with the WWE on TV, rather than her just leaving without a finish of some sort. The firing of Beth was pretty much a given, we all know her contract is up and not being renewed, but I'm impressed with the WWE giving her closure on TV.
Rey & Sin Cara vs Team Rhodes Scholars > B+
I have to say that I'm more and more impressed with Sin Cara's ring work. I think working with Rey, someone who understands how the WWE works, understands how luchas work, and is bilingual, is the best thing they could have done for Sin Cara. His work is more fluid and he seems to be working with his opponents better. I know he's being attributed to the botch at HIAC, but I haven't gone back to watch is, so I can't say myself. Those two working with Cody and Sandow was just great for all involved. I can't say it was the best match, but I found it solid and looked really great for a long match.
Winners – Rhodes Scholars (14:39)
Backstage Segment > A-
I love it when Foley works with the Divas. You can see how much they enjoy Foley's company, but it was his chemistry with Heyman that made this segment golden. It was still obvious that Foley wasn't all there mentally, but Heyman drew that sass out in Foley. Their history added so much to this segment, and gave them something great to build on.
Komen for the Cure > A
Cena handing over the check to Komen was a bit over the top, but he glowed with an honest smile. Sometimes you can see it in Cena's eyes when he's not feeling it, but he was very happy about this segment and because of that he about glowed with pride. It was lovely to see.
ADR vs Gabriel > C-
Between Gabriel being a bit off his mark and ADR being terribly boring in the ring, this match wasn't anything to write home about. Honestly, I am shocked they let ADR go over, even over enhancement talent like Gabriel, after his blown spot at HIAC, and how his stock is dropping like a stone. Couldn't be happening to a better guy. Sorry, I was all for ADR early on, but he's done a great job of alienating me at every turn, and all of those turns have been boring!
Winner – ADR (5:20)
In Ring Segment > B
I was not looking forward to this segment. This Survivor Series Match felt contrived from moment one, and I didn't like it. I know they have to go about it in some way, but this felt like a terribly fake creation, not at all organic. I see what they were trying for, but it fell flat for me.
All that being said, I thought they both did a decent job of announcing their teams. Of course they're made up of feuding Superstars and Teams, but I kind of like the teams. The best moment was when Foley turned the tables on Punk, but I really didn't expect to see Foley in this match. Putting Ryback in as the final team member sets up a solid way for him to face Punk without actually having to face Punk. It also makes it so Punk does not have to defend his WWE Title at Survivor Series, that way he can sail through another PPV without worry as the Royal Rumble looms closer and closer. I'm one who absolutely wants to see Punk face the Rock at the RR, so I see this as a good thing, and a semi-decent way to work around the way the WWE so badly booked themselves into a corner recently.
I can't say that this was the best RAW we've seen, but I think it was better than the go home to HIAC, and it had some better highs than last week's show did. Hopefully the shows will continue to improve as they really seem to have hit a low with last week's RAW and much of HIAC.
I do have one question for anyone who might have been at HIAC. Okay, two questions. First off, did that cell look as imposing in person as it did on TV? That thing looked insanely HUGE! The second thing I've been wondering about is Punk laid out on top of that cell. How did he get down off the top of the cell while still selling the abuse he took up there? I honestly couldn't think of any solid way for Punk to get down while still selling his 'injuries' from that shellshocked.
Again, I want to say that my heart goes out to everyone struggling with Hurricane Sandy.