Last night I had a dream that I'd posted this RIB without any opening, just jumped right into the show. Now, since I didn't write any of this last night, I have no idea where the dream came from, but I guess wrestling and WNW has become so pervasive in my life. Not complaining at all, just find it interesting that it's happening.
RIP Rowdy Roddy Piper & Video > A+
My heart is truly broken over the loss of Piper. Meeting him was on my bucket list, and I thought I had well more than a decade before I even had to start worrying about time. This has shown me that it's time to step up and approach George 'The Animal' Steele, as I want to interview him about his career, his double life as a teacher and wrestler, but also how he worked through his dyslexia and Crohn's Disease. Losing Piper is a horrible thing for everyone who has loved him, both personally, and as a fan, and I hope his death is a reminder that we don't live forever and to do the things we want to do before it's too late.
I also want to mention that I found out this morning that both Trip and McMahon stayed out on the stage after all the other Superstars left, and they watched the Piper video together. I think that is one of the sweetest and most respectful thing I've seen from the two of them in a very long time.
In Ring Segment > B+
Rollins normally gets nuclear heat, and for great reason, the man knows how to be a heel, and how to work the fans to make them LOVE to HATE him, but breaking Cena's nose has made him a hero! Yes, I get it, the fans are so over Cena on almost every level – other than his charity work – but to be so driven against him is a bit of a shocker, even to a long term fan such as myself. I know wrestling fans have a blood lust, otherwise ECW would never have gotten off the blocks in the huge way it did. Hey, you know what I mean. Guys like Sandman, Raven, Spike, Dreamer, all led by Heyman wouldn't have had the careers they did if not for the blood lust of us fans. The Attitude Era wouldn't have been what it was if not for our blood lust, but I thought we'd all mellowed a bit with age and wouldn't be so wild over something that was absolutely an accident.
Honestly, Rollins looked a bit shocked at how over he was for that simple knee that smooshed Cena's nose. Now, I didn't need Rollins' description of how Cena's nose felt against his knee, and the noise it made when it broke, but this is wrestling, and I shouldn't expect anything less than gore at times.
From there I thought Rollins handled himself well. He was believable when he announced the WWE WHC Open Challenge, and even throwing Cena's phrases out there, giving them his own inflection and spin. We should have known there was more to it, and having JoJo come out to get the real info worked well. JoJo is so different from Renee and Eden, but I like how meek she is on mic. She's tiny, so her demeanor comes across well.
Rollins was great mocking El Torito, then selling his shock at Neville coming out to face him. Personally, other than the Divas and Hornswoggle. Primo might be under six feet, he's over 200lbs. If I hadn't KNOWN Rey wasn't back, I might have gone in that direction, but honestly, I didn't think about Neville being that small. He's such a huge personality, and flies so high, I don't think of him as being that small.
WWE WHC Open Challenge – Seth Rollins (c) vs Neville > A
Rollins and Neville put on a truly beautiful match. They went at it the way they did in NXT, and that's exactly what the WWE needs these days. There were a few little glitches in this match, and I honestly don't know who is to blame for the big one, where Neville really did have Rollins pinned for three, but the ref didn't count it. That was a bit screwy, but I have to remember that those things happen, even to the best of the best.
Some of the moves hit in this match left me with my eyes bugged out, jaw hanging open, asking Jesse what certain moves actually were. These two were great, and filled the niche that had been held by Cena and whichever young wrestler he faced on any given week. It was very smart of the WWE to realize that it's been Cena's matches stealing the show, and that they needed to continue giving us some of the best matches we've seen on WWE TV in years. Finally TPTB have realized that we really do want to see fantastic wrestling, and have given the best on the roster the freedom to give us these great matches that they're capable of giving us. Thank you WWE, and thank you to these fantastic wrestlers who give us all of themselves the way few have since the AE. Watching matches like this, I'm brought back to E&C facing the Hardy Boyz, and that's something that's been missing for so very long.
Winner – Rollins (13:14)
Lucha Dragons & Los Matadores vs New Day & The Ascension > C-
From so great to so ugh! Don't get me wrong, there were some solid wrestlers in this match, the problem being that they were being overrun by crap. I've not been impressed by Epico and Primo since they became Los Matadores. The Ascension is just horrible. Sin Cara isn't living up to his potential, and Kalisto isn't given the time and freedom to do what he does best. Big E and Kofi are getting better and better with New Day, but in a match like this none of the goodness shows through. Prime Time Players on announce, and Woods yelling his head off was the most entertaining part of this match.
It's gone from the Tag Division being crap because there wasn't any tag teams to being crap because there's just too many crappy tag teams. For so long the Usos ruled the Tag Division, and it was getting a bit old, but now I want them back so Prime Time Players will have someone decent other than New Day to work against. The rest is just chaff taking up space. I'm so terribly disappointed. To be truly honest, I got more excitement from the Lucha Underground commercial that came on in the middle of this match than I got from this match itself – and ADR was prominently seen in that commercial, and we all know how I feel about THAT man!
Winners – New Day & The Ascension (8:38)
Bellas (Nikki & Brie) vs Submission Sorority (Charlotte & Becky Lynch) > B+
I actually saw someone on Facebook trashing the Divas Division, because they're still not up to what happened in the ring during the height of the Divas Division, meaning when Trish and Lita carried it with their amazing work. I don't understand people who cannot look at what a huge turn the Divas Division has taken lately and not be thrilled for what we are finally seeing, and the direction they are going. The Divas Division cannot be perfect overnight, but holy crap look at the beauty we're getting every week compared to the Kelly Kelly and Melina BS we were fed between the Golden Era of Divas and now! This match was five seconds longer than the opening match between Rollins and Neville! When, prior to Steph pulling up the NXT Divas, has something like that happened? I can tell you that the only match that sticks in my mind was LayCool in a Tables Match, but that was on a PPV. This is a great time of growth and change, and these Divas are giving all they have! I also have to admit that while the Bellas are not top notch compared to most of the rest, they are doing all they can to hang tough with the younger generation coming in, trying to bump them off.
Winner – Charlotte & Becky Lynch (13:19)
Backstage Segment > B
Again, I was impressed with JoJo's meek demeanor. She never would have lasted in the ring with these Divas, but on mic she's showing that she can hold her own, even if she isn't as knowledgeable as Eden and Renee, she has something that works quite well. I never thought we'd see three female backstage interviewers who were as good as these three.
I do have to mention that Sasha Banks was the best in this segment, but few Divas have the personality of Banks, and few will.
Miz TV > B+
I love how Miz started the show, all full of piss and vinegar, going off about how all other shows came about because of Piper's Pit, but the final line of his opening, "From the bottom of my heart Roddy, you will be missed!" was so heartfelt that I choked up. I never thought Miz would give me the feels.
Owens is terrific on mic, always is, but it was Cesaro who impressed me here. Cesaro has been slapped around backstage for not connecting to the fans, yet every time he's pushed, they pull him back just as he's starting to connect with the fans in each new and different way. I adored Claudio Castagnoli in ROH, and while his first couple characters in the WWE rotted, he really has connected with the fans, and gets better each time he's out there. When he razzed Owens for the chair not letting him go, well, it didn't go over over as well as he obviously hoped, but that he was willing to ad lib shows that he's much more comfortable in front of the WWE Universe.
I think this feud between Owens and Cesaro is a great thing for both of them, and if they keep going the way they are, the sky is the limit for both of them.
Video > A
Watching Ronda post-match was so touching. It shows how far-reaching Piper was in life.
Rusev vs Henry > C+
I know Rusev spent months as unstoppable, but making Henry look as sad as they did here was just sad. I know Henry isn't as young and spry as he used to be, but he is sure as heck better than he was in this match! Neither of these guys have much of a direction. Rusev is waiting to see what will happen with Ziggler, and Henry has no direction, but they're still better than this!
Winner – Rusev (2:03)
DEP! > B
This was one of Wyatt's best backstage segments in a very long time. The mic work was great and Wyatt wasn't left to ramble without a direction. This is how Wyatt should be handled in these segments. Harper is fantastic on mic, and Sheamus stepped up to work the mic quite well with them. I loved Sheamus', "Outta nowhere." Nice little slap at Orton's and it worked perfectly!
Ryder vs Barrett > D-
I don't know who I feel worse for – Ryder or the legacy of the KoTR. Both were screwed in this match, and it was almost painful to watch. It was bad enough that the KoTR winner got into that silly feud with R-Truth, but then facing the lowliest jobber (sorry Ryder) on the roster? It's horrid. What has happened to the days of Harley Race, Owen Hart, Triple H, Stone Cold Steve Austin? They were elevated as KoTR, it was the next step toward the top. But now it's a joke, and not even a joke worth repeating.
Winner – Barrett (1:54)
In Ring Segment > B+
Don't fall over in shock here, but I really enjoyed watching Brock in this segment.
Heyman, as always, was terrific, but it was Brock, even though he didn't say a word, who made the segment that much more entertaining. The way Brock stalked around the ring, and then rather than his normal way of jumping up on the apron, throwing the stairs in the way he did. I was a bit surprised that he didn't go through his normal routine, but the way he stood on the stairs in the ring was kind of hysterical. The way he was up there so proudly, his shoulders back, that grin on his face. He was more animated and interesting to watch than he's been since he's returned. It's nice to see. I still don't trust the man in the ring, especially with Taker, but he's finally getting back into the grove of things in the WWE, and it's great to see.
I do have to say that I wonder what his relationship with Heyman is right now. Their handshake/hug was more than they've touched in the recent past, but it was still really brusque.
WWE Rewind > A
I honestly don't recall when the WWE Rewind was video of something that happened earlier in the night. Yes, they've been showing the Divas more and more, but the fact that they took video from the first Divas match of the night really impressed me, and showed just how dedicated they are to the Divas Division moving forward.
Paige vs Naomi > B+
At the end of this match the Divas were only two minutes short of ring time for the night. Meaning the Superstars had only worked the ring (less than) two minutes more than the Divas by the end of this match, even though they'd had four matches. The first Divas match of the night was the longest match until the main event, and six minutes of that match were taken over by commercials.
I was quite impressed with much of Naomi's work. She had seemed like the one who hadn't been adjusting well, but she looked so much better here. Well, she did other than one move. I don't know what was supposed to happen, but when Naomi fell back and Paige bounced off to the side, something looked really wrong there. The way Paige landed and rolled under the ropes, barely moving for a couple moments, it didn't look good. Then the look on Paige's face when Naomi started stomping her, it was obvious that Paige was a hurting girl. Paige is a worker, she muscled through it, making the rest of the match look as great as the rest, even though after the match she was obviously struggling. She looked fine talking to Austin at the end of the show, so I guess she's fine, but she did look quite uncomfortable from that one move.
Winner – Paige (10:48)
Backstage Segment > B
I have to admit that I giggled a bit seeing Stardust and Eden together in this segment, even though there was little interaction between them here. Stardust was great here, losing his spot, not being able to rhyme with meander, it was fun.
RIP Rowdy Roddy Piper > A+
I loved seeing that the MSG marquee had a tribute to Piper up. And even though I was behind at this point, I stopped and watched this video again. RIP Piper.
Backstage Segment > A-
This was fantastic, and made all of them look great, and in the best light. Ambrose, as always, was fabulous! I have compared Ambrose to some of the best wrestlers of the past, but I had never compared him to Piper, even though they have a similar look, and similar characters in many ways. Seeing Ambrose in a jacket similar to what Piper wore, with the addition of Ambrose's logo, my heart was caught in my throat. Further, Ambrose giving his spin to one of Piper's most famous lines, I was both giddy and torn. Ambrose really is poised to be the future of the WWE, if only he was put in the right spot to do what he absolutely can do better than most else on the roster.
Reigns was very much himself, and worked it well. Calling Ambrose Crazy was casual, yet hit all the right notes. Further, Reigns saying, "It's time to get rowdy!" was a touching and creative tribute.
Orton was perfect, better than I thought he possibly could be only a year ago.
Orton & Reigns & Ambrose vs Wyatt & Harper & Sheamus > B+
I really enjoyed this match. These six really put out in this match. There were so many beautiful moments in this match. All of them hit the best of their best in this match. All of it was great, but that was one of the best endings I've seen in a long time. Sometimes when a multi-man tag match turns into finisher upon finisher upon finisher, the whole thing looks like a convoluted mess. These six put together an ending sequence that was just wonderful to watch. I actually went back and watched it a second time, just to make sure I got it all in order, and to enjoy just how well timed it all was.
This match, and the backstage promos earlier, made me feel a lot better about both Sheamus and Orton. Both of them have been floundering, so it was great to see them involved in creative ways that made sense.
Winners – Ambrose & Reigns & Orton (16:51)
Podcast > ?
I haven't seen the podcast, because I was behind last night, and I had a lot of weaving work to do after Raw was over. I'm excited to see what happened between Paige and Austin last night, hopefully will get a chance to see it tonight, but I have to say that Paige looked quite comfortable talking to Austin before it started, and that's always a great sign.
The opening and closing matches of Raw were the longest, other than the Divas matches, and the best. During the show, the Divas matches were the ones that actually carried the show. This is a change of pace, and one I love. I do admit that I wish the other matches during the show were better than they were, but at least the four matches mentioned were great, and that's a solid step in the right direction for both the Divas and the WWE as a whole. Heck, anything they can do to get our minds off Tough Enough is a good thing.
Queen of WNW