Raw was a little better than I expected in some ways, disappointing in others. Some of the work that lacked luster at Elimination Chamber came back to impress on Raw, which is great, because the matches in question were terrible!
I'm keeping this a bit short so I can get it out at a reasonable hour, as I have been lately. I'm trying really hard to get the RIB out for you by 9PM EST, as it doesn't seem fair to wait until late in the night, if at all possible.
In Ring Segment > A-
Just because we knew The Authority and Rollins would be starting Raw and demanding Ambrose give the strap back doesn't mean this segment was at all predictable. We all pretty much know that The Shield is going to be reassembled at some point this summer, or, that's the plan the last I knew, but the biggest question was, how would they do it? I honestly couldn't figure out, but they started it here with Rollins going off the rails at everyone and giving Ambrose his rematch, verbally attacking The Authority the way Rollins did, calling the Big Red Curmudgeon a seven foot piece of crap, was a step in the right direction. Not sure how he will align with them again, but he's causing issues with The Authority and staff.
I love the pop Reigns is getting, and all because he's running with Ambrose again. While Reigns has grown by leaps and bounds – his relaxed work on the mic in this segment, and through his backstage segments showed that – he still has a long way to go, and putting him with Ambrose was the best thing they could do. Yes, much of Reigns' pop was obviously female, but so was Rocky's back in the day, and much of it still is. There's no way Reigns should recuse the pop just because it's mostly female, he just needs to grow on it.
Barrett vs Reigns > B
While not a bad match, putting Reigns in the ring with someone as lackluster as Barrett doesn't help him look that much better. It wasn't horrible, just nothing thrilling, especially considering how much others stepped up their game in this Raw.
Winner – Reigns (14:12)
Reigns' Backstage Segments > B+
Of course one match wasn't going to end things between The Authority and Reigns, or even two. That's just the way the McMahons work. Trip and Steph did a solid job in these short segments with Reigns, and Reigns handled himself strongly as well. I quite enjoyed their brief banter in each segment.
Backstage Segment > B
I thought Nikki was better than normal here, but still not great. It was typical Bellas when Nikki talked about what Paige thought she was owed, even though she did win the Divas Battle Royal for a Divas Championship Match. With all of this, and how Paige was acting, I'm not sure who's heel and who's face here.
In Ring Segment > B+
I brought this up in my Elimination Chamber Rapid Reacts article late Sunday night, but as it's a Premium article, I have to mention it here as well.
We all know that Ryback and Punk had a lot of issues with each other within the WWE, and that they both had huge egos and neither would back down. Now, Ryback has fully admitted that he's grown a lot since being injured most recently, and being out for a bit, but the change seems like a lot more than just Ryback eating a heaping helping of humble pie while sitting at home recuperating and rehabbing. It seems as though maybe a huge part of Ryback's ego issues were exploited that much more by Punk being there. Now that Punk is no longer in the WWE, I've heard nothing about Ryback issues. Maybe it was just timing, but I'd be shocked if it wasn't more.
IC Championship Match – Ryback (c) vs Miz > B+
I wasn't at all thrilled with Ryback lowering himself to facing Miz in this match. He needs to be looking up, not sliding back, which really is what Miz is these days. Normally I'm annoyed with a scheduled match that never happens, but this one was handled quite well. Big Show never staying as a heel or a face for very long brought so many questions. Further, when Big Show hit Miz, we all thought he was turning face, but then he was right back to heel when he said that he was going after Ryback and the IC Title. This new feud was creative and well executed. Bravo WWE and Big Show!
In Ring Segment > A-
Normally Cena on these tears annoys the heck out of me, but it's rare that he's working the mic across from someone who can keep up with him. Now, I wish there was more banter between Cena and and Owens, but they both got their say, and both brought the fans to the brink of feeling with their words.
Owens did a great job talking about his career, how he got there, how he felt talking to his wife after beating Cena, and how his son brought him down. I thought it was a wonderful way to captivate the fans, and go after Cena in the best way for Owens' character.
Then there's Cena who brought tears to my eyes during this segment with, "If that were true, he's have an Adam Rose t-shirt, still love the Funkasaurus and want to grow up to play in the XFL! Your son feels the way he feels because, like those kids out there in the Cena shirt, that kid in the Cena hat and sign that says, 'I am beating cancer!'" Now, I still love George Murdoch, no matter what character he's playing, and think it's fantastic that he would spend time to be interviewed by a housewife in her 40s. But, you know what touched me the most. That little boy who is beating cancer. I could tell from his rounded face that he's on Prednisone, one of the many meds prescribed to cancer patients, but his smile through his tears made me remember all of Cena's greatness. That man does so much, and I wasn't at all shocked to see that he brought the child into the ring after Raw and posed. That's why I needed to use that picture this week for the RIB.
Kofi vs Ziggler > B-
I can't say this was a great match, but it wasn't horrible. It did more to set up the next match than anything.
Winner – Ziggler (3:14)
New Day vs Ziggler & Prime Time Players > B+
I really enjoyed watching the Prime Time Players and New Day go at it inside the Elimination Chamber, and the addition of Ziggler made this match that much better! Young has really stepped things up in the ring, and O'Neil is so captivating that even when his moves are not as clean, you cannot help but watch him and be impressed. I think it might be the time for the Prime Time Players!
Now, I don't know how to say this without it sounding bad, so please bear with me, and take nothing from it other than me being impressed. Wrestling seems to be more Caucasian in the USA than many of us would like to admit, so seeing five African American men fighting it out at the end in the Tag Team Elimination Chamber Match was great to see. Further, seeing those same five in the ring on Raw, and working it hard, made me that much happier. Hopefully things will continue in this vein for these men, because they are really leaving it out there for the fans.
Winners – Prime Time Players & Ziggler (5:34)
Reigns vs Henry > B+
I mentioned it in my Elimination Chamber Rapid Reacts article, but I have to mention again how great Henry looks now. He's obviously been working hard to lose weight while he was out, and it shows! Beyond that, I wonder how long he's going to be remaining in the WWE. He looks a lot slower, and really hasn't done a lot of work, even though he's obviously in solid shape. He's not as young as he used to be. So while short, his work with Reigns was solid. I also like the way he further 'injured' Reigns in this match, so before the main event Reigns' eye was bothering him, and then his ribs.
Winner via Countout – Reigns (3:45)
Video > B+
I'm loving the Meta Powers. I know they're calling them the Mega Powers, but they really aren't, no matter how great they are in the characters. They were great here, but what really got me was how small the shake cup looked in Big Show's hand!
Divas Championship Match – Nikki (c) vs Paige > B
I was very confused about Nikki tying her hair up, but obviously we figured out that's the only way they could pull off twin magic. Actually, it's a bit shocking as their outfits are so different, their hair so different, and their bodies are so different, but they thought they needed to go there. The problem being that Nikki didn't need twin magic here! Unlike at Elimination Chamber, Paige and Nikki looked really strong in the ring – especially Nikki compared to what she once was. What the heck is up with these Divas? Put them in a PPV and they suck, but on Raw, one on one, they look really solid! I honestly don't get it.
Winner – Nikki (5:44)
Orton vs Sheamus > B+
Sheamus and Orton are going into a feud? Not sure how I feel about this. There's really nothing behind the feud, no reason for it. I want more than two guys being thrown together for no reason because they have nothing better to do. That's lazy creativity in my book, and it's that much worse after seeing what they did with Ryback and Big Show.
Now, the match between the two was solid, and I liked the way it ended, even though I'm terribly burnt out on screwy endings after the recent PPVs. Sheamus came off wonderfully strong by beating down Orton, who everyone is loving lately. It could be a great feud for both of them, I just want more meat on the bones of the story.
Winner via DQ – Orton (13:04)
Backstage Segment > B+
Rusev was wonderful here! He lost another big chunk of his accent, but it was the perfect time for him to do this. Between the wallowing in self pity, and then the way he bounced back and got really riled up, I see a huge future for Rusev.
Bo vs Neville > B
Bo on mic was so different and so much better. This is a Bo I think the fans will love to hate!
This is the second match of the night that was so much better than it was at Elimination Chamber. I know these two were screwed at Elimination Chamber because they went after Owens and Cena. There was no way to follow them and look at all decent, but the problem was, they didn't look at all decent, not even half bad – they sucked. But in this match, they held my attention and impressed me with both their passion and their work.
I have to admit that even though I've seen Neville do a lot in a ring, that float over into back flips across the ring left me with my jaw on the floor. He might be littler, but his athleticism is shocking. Like something we've never seen in the WWE.
Winner – Neville (3:11)
Reigns vs Wyatt > B+
To start off, I have to say that I loved how Reigns sold his growing issues from his previous matches. His eye really seemed to be bothering him, and he sold his ribs hurting in a huge way. That was a big step for Reigns and he continues to impress me. I feel horrible that Wyatt has become someone who fills into a spot, rather than has a direction of his own, but that man can work the ring with anyone! Fingers crossed that they find something for him soon.
I loved how Ambrose showed up at the right time, and on announce. Further, the way he worked with Rollins was great. Ambrose and Reigns are great together, and while I know Rollins will be joining them at some point, I'm so enjoying just the two of them that I'm not at all caring about Rollins' swerve yet. Straight up, Ambrose and Reigns are so cute together, and know how to work together in a way only some of the tightest teams do – like DX – that I'm excited to see them together at any time right now.
Winner – Reigns (15:14)
They surround the ring, ready to attack, but Ambrose's music hits. Everyone is looking for him, then he's suddenly on announce! Into the ring and Mercury takes a huge spear. Rollins in, Ambrose tosses the strap at him. Rollins grabs it, then eats dirty deeds. Reigns grabs the strap and tosses it back to Ambrose. Steph and Trip out to the ring. Steph screaming down at Ambrose. Ambrose and Reigns flee into the stands as Trip stomps to the ring.
Backstage Segment > A+
I haven't had the chance to watch this as I've been on the road all day, but as soon as this is posted, I'm going to curl up in bed to watch. I'm so excited to see Austin with Heyman. From the very first time they worked together in ECW, they have been fantastic together, and I doubt this was any different. I've very specifically avoided WNW, and haven't spoken to any of our writers, and only looked at specific spots on Facebook when I was waiting to see my doctor, because I didn't want this podcast spoiled in any way. Normally I don't care if a show or movie is spoiled, but when it comes to wrestling, I avoid spoilers at all costs. To the point that during Elimination Chamber I was behind, so I refused to update the WNW Open Thread Discussion for fear of the main event being spoiled in the minute before I saw it with my own two eyes.
Again, sorry that some of these segments were short, but I didn't think they needed more than I gave them this week. Thanks for reading, and I'll see you next week.
Queen of WNW