How quickly things change within the WWE. It seems as though things are going fine with one Superstar or another, and then they're either in the dog house, or injured and out for six months. What I'm specifically referring to is Cesaro and Kidd as a tag team who never really got named. It appeared as though the WWE was going with Brass Ring Club for them, and possibly adding Adam Rose to the mix, yet, for some reason, that never came to fruition.
Last night during Cesaro's match with Cena, the screen went black, blocking out something that was done by Cesaro. People thought at first that Cesaro was giving Cena a Stone Cold Steve Austin single finger salute, but now it appears (from what I've read, I cannot guarantee) that Cesaro was pointing to his finger, the thing he and Kidd do to show they're Brass Ring Club. Not sure what's up with that, and if Cesaro will have any troubles backstage, but I think he's a very cool man for showing respect to his injured teammate, whether he made that motion or not, by wearing that white on white arm band. Kidd tweeted that "Guy is a class act through and through" I completely agree.
In Ring Segment > C+
I have to admit that I was a bit shocked to see Noble out there with the rest of The Authority. I know he was a wrestler for years, and knows how to work through pain, but he's not an active Superstar, and doesn't take a lot of bumps, especially bumps like that from Brock. While Noble looked sore, he seemed otherwise fine. I was honestly worried that he might miss a week for this, I'm impressed that he continues working the way he would if he was a Superstar on the roster.
Were they cross promoting with Apple and Cadillac, or what? The way Rollins kept pushing the brand names, over and over, it was almost worse than all that $9.99 crap they pounded into our brains for over a year. But the worst part of all, beyond Noble leaning on the car horn incessantly, was Rollins sending Kane to Hawaii! What about Kane screams a vacation in Hawaii? It's because of all the advertising and the strangeness of Kane going to Hawaii that this segment didn't go over very well for me.
Henry vs Big Show > B-
With this match, Raw was off to a rough start. There wasn't much to this match, and while I know both of these guys are older, they can still go much better than this. Looking at the rest of the night, I'm glad they kept this short, even if it wasn't very sweet.
Winner – Big Show (1:24)
Miz vs Ryback > B
This match was better than I expected it to be, as Miz has been struggling and floundering since he came into the WWE, and even worse since he proved that he not Champion material, even though he beat Cena for the strap at WrestleMania a number of years ago.
These two men worked a solid match, and worked their characters as well as their moves in the ring. But speaking of moves, Ryback hit a few we hasn't seen before, and he looked solid while doing them. This was another short match, but at least it told a story, and rounded out the Ryback/Miz/Show story for the night in a clean way.
Winner via Count Out – Ryback (5:06)
Paige vs Fox > B+
I'm not a huge fan of Fox, as I always think she looks reckless and dangerous in the ring, more so than she needs to be, but I have to admit that I think she's a great addition to the Bellas, and it helps change out who is in the ring, as it was getting old only seeing the Bellas facing Paige. I will give Fox props for her northern lights suplex, and she always hits it perfectly and makes it look quite scary – even though she really seems to be in control of it all.
This was another solid singles match, and it continued to tell the story of Paige feuding with the Bellas without boring us with the same match over and over. Fox has a different skill set from Nikki and Brie, and is more willing to really put it all out there, so this match was solid to watch. This, and more, is what I want from the Divas Division. They showed us that they can do it, they just need to keep doing it, and round out the roster with more solid wrestlers. That being said, I like that they're not pushing this Divas Division storyline too quickly, yet not letting it drop. The announcers mentioned a couple times that Paige is trying to rally the Divas against the Bellas, so they're keeping it going in a subtle way.
Winner – Paige (9:34)
US Championship Open Challenge – John Cena (c) vs Cesaro > A+
What is going on here? It seems as though since Cena's feud with Rusev ended, and Cena started the US Championship Open Challenge, his matches have been better than most everything he's given us through much of his career. I'm blown away with his matches with Owens, but then there's Neville and Sami Zayn as well. It seems as though these newer guys are pushing Cena in a way that guys like Orton, Sheamus and Miz never could. Between Cena adding moves to his repertoire, and him not being on mic tonight, this was the best outing Cena's had on Raw in a while. Further that modified Canadian Destroyer was epic! Seeing Petey Williams hitting the move on someone else of a size is one thing, but to see a guy like Cena hitting it on a guy who is almost as big as him, that is bloody amazing!
Cesaro's superplex from the second ropes where he lifted Cena from the apron and executed the move in one graceful movement, as if it was nothing! Cesaro has more strength and power, pound for pound, than anyone else on the roster. That man is a beast, and can go in the ring in a most beautiful way. Why Cesaro hasn't been pushed to the top isn't beyond me. I know he's had troubles connecting with the fans, but every time he's on that path, they throw a swerve in his direction. I loved him with Tyson Kidd, even though I wasn't really for it early on, and seeing him wearing that Kidd arm band in the ring, and using the sharpshooter, shows the friendship and respect for the two men. Kidd is going to be out for quite a while, and Cesaro is over with the fans, this might be the time to really push him. Cesaro has mad skills and should be pushed when he's doing so well in the ring and with the fans.
I do have to trash on one move. That springboard stunner was horrid! I blame both of them, and it's something that I cannot unsee, but in the grand scheme of things, it was one botched move in over twenty-one minutes of greatness.
Winner via DQ – Cena (21:05)
DEP! > C-
While Wyatt mostly got his point across, it was again quite hard to hear him, and he was saying basically the same things he says in every promo. Time to move on and get a new line.
Lucha Dragons & Prime Time Players vs Bo & New Day > B
Putting Bo with New Day made a lot of sense, and Bo put on quite a show of his anger and viciousness, something I didn't know he had it in him. This was the best I've seen of Bo on WWE TV, and he's the standout from his team. On the other team, I was impressed with all four, but Young took a beating and kept going, being creative with his moves. But in reality, it came down to O'Neil in this match. O'Neil is so loud and over-the-top that you cannot help but notice him. He's grown a lot in his ring work, and is less obnoxious than he used to be. Honestly, I didn't think anyone could out-shine Kalisto, and Kalisto's moves were far and away better than everyone else in the match, but it was O'Neil who stole most of the spotlight.
Winners – Lucha Dragons & Prime Time Players (17:30)
In Ring Segment > B+
I really enjoyed seeing Ziggler acting all emotional and giddy over Lana. He was very cute, but his 'ums' were a bit much, even for the feeling he was trying to emote here. His 'honesty' was endearing, but it was how he moved and reacted to Lana physically that said so much more. Ziggler was so sweet and attentive to Lana.
Lana was also solid on mic here, really working her new big changes, but through the old accent. Rusev sold everything well, but he seemed off in some big way. And then there's Summer Rae. She just comes off terribly every time she's on mic. She never sounds right, as if she's forcing out every word she says, and it's not a good sound.
I had just recently spoken with Jesse about whether he thought Lana would be working the ring anytime soon, because of what was starting between her and Summer Rae. Jesse said she was more of a valet than wrestler, but I had a gut feeling she'd be getting into a few fights soon. Looks as though I was right this time Jesse!
Backstage Segment > B+
Rather than going with the traditional promo for Terminator Genesis, putting the Lunatic Fringe in there the way they did was brilliant. I know the only reason they're pushing this movie is because McMahon and Schwarzenegger are such good (rich and political) friends. Yes, there's that Arnold is in the WWE Hall of Fame, but much of that came about through his friendship with McMahon. You cannot trash nepotism when it's so profitable.
Okay, getting off my political soapbox, as this is wrestling and not politics. Ambrose is incomparably preposterous, and that's just one reason why he's a main event player. He mad this segment into something memorable. Reigns, while improving by leaps and bounds on mic, and in the ring, was not properly micced, and was hard to hear. Like with Wyatt, you really cannot blame him for these issues, but it sucks that a production crew that is normally so great in almost everything they do cannot manage to get the sound right in certain backstage segments after all these years.
Neville vs Sheamus > B+
This match was actually better than I expected. Sheamus usually seems to work better with bigger wrestlers, but he worked it with Neville, and made it look believable that Neville almost beat him, for a second time. Neville seems to be able to work with anyone and make it look great. That man has all the makings of a legend. He's the high flier that the WWE needed, and has taken things to the next level. I have to admit that Neville made Sheamus look that much better in this match – great for Neville, not so much for Sheamus.
Winner – Sheamus (12:49)
Backstage Segment > B
I really thought that something was going to happen to J&J's Caddy here. They're doting on it in such a huge way that I was sure something would happen to it. I'm figuring at some point something will happen to that car, and I give the WWE huge props for drawing out this storyline longer, making it into something more than a one night thing. Because they didn't trash the car, I'm hoping it happens at an unexpected time after they really pour themselves into it. I also hope something fun happens with Kane's Hawaii trip. This reeks of Trip and Steph at the reigns, not McMahon and his need to rush through everything for the quick laugh. This is so refreshing!
King Barrett vs Swagger > D-
I have to admit that the Raw Open Thread started an injury countdown. Between Barrett having a glass shoulder (body), and Swagger's predilection for injuring people – whether on purpose, or not – I was shocked that both of them walked out of this match under their power, and had all their wits about them.
Between Barrett not being able to get over, and not lasting long in the ring between injuries, and the rumors flying around about Swagger being an absolute primo uomo backstage to get out of his contract, I have to wonder why they put these two together in the ring. Yes, the shorter matches of the night weren't the best, but this was absolute crap! Time to release Swagger to the wind, and find a desk job for Barrett.
Winner – Barrett (1:46)
Roman Reigns & Dean Ambrose vs Seth Rollins & Kane > A-
They all really worked this match, but I didn't expect anything less from them. These men give their all to us every week, rain or shine, healthy or not. They are relentless in what they give to us, their passion, and their bodies. We talk about injuries, short and long term, but when they aren't injured, we might cringe at certain moves, but in reality much of what they do is dangerous. It's a choreographed dance, but that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt. These men impress the heck out of me more and more each week, and that Kane keeps up with them, the way he does, is even more impressive. Kane is old enough to be their father, being eighteen or more years older than the other three in the match, yet he works as hard, taking bumps with the best of them.
These guys are raising the work rate in the WWE, and looking great while doing so. They're all working their own characters, building them into something more than just two names, and pushing their characters and creativity to something few others in the WWE are doing. Not only are they pushing their characters on mic, but in the ring they're building layers of characters with their moves, and it's a beautiful thing to see.
Winners – Rollins & Kane (14:47)
In Ring Segment > B
I broke this off from the match as it deserved its own grade. Or, actually, the match deserved it's own grade.
I thought they did a great job of making Reigns look as strong as possible, needing the four of them to take Reigns down and keep him down, leaving his body for Wyatt. Personally I don't think they made Reigns look too strong, but along the same lines as Brock, which is where Reigns needs to be for his career moving forward. Reigns is doing well not being pushed to the moon, and things seem to be falling into place for him, other than this feud with Wyatt. That's just a sloppy decision that will only make them both look bad in the long, and short, run.
Usually I add up the times of the matches when the show feels really light on wrestling, but I knew this week would be heavy as there were a number of longer matches Swagger vs Barrett, Big Show vs Henry, and Miz vs Ryback were all short matches. The Divas topped out at almost ten minutes. The main event with Rollins and Kane vs Ambrose and Reigns, along with Neville vs Sheamus were in the low teens, but it was the 8 Man Tag Match and Cena vs Cesaro that really brought the numbers up. Neville and Sheamus were over seventeen minutes, and Cena vs Cesaro over twenty-one minutes long! I'm blown away with the numbers in this episode of Raw, and the flow of the show was fantastic. I have to admit that I'm wondering if McMahon was away from Raw again this week, because it was the second solid Raw in a row. They keep this up, and Raw will be as much of a destination as NXT has become. I wonder if McMahon is finally seeing the light and stepping back from Raw? I doubted it would ever happen, but looking at how much better Raw is, I have to hope that Trip and Steph are able to continue along the path they're building within the WWE.
Queen of WNW