I have to say that I really enjoyed RAW last night. While there were a couple of questionable moments, I thought a lot of RAW. I think they're doing a strong job of setting up for both the Elimination Chamber and WrestleMania. While, as always, I have so much to say, I'm going to jump right in and say it there.
Video > B
I know I complain up and down about TNA/IW starting each episode of Impact with a recap video, but what irks me about them (most of the time) is how badly produced, how long-winded, and overly telling they are. This was well produced, short, but still a bit overly telling. I liked the way they quickly cut from the video to Kane with the ambulance which quickly foretold of so much more to come later in the show. I know a lot of people aren't happy with the direction of Kane's character, but I'm loving it. I've been a huge Kane fan all along, from when I first saw him, and I'm thrilled to see him both masked and on the evil side of things, even though the fans are loving how he's abusing Cena. So interesting to have a character who is basically a heel, but the fans love him for abusing a wrestler who is basically a face. This is not the way things usually go down and I'm loving it!
In Ring Segment > C-
Why? Just, why? Why did they feel the need to talk so much about the RAW Elimination Chamber Match? Okay, the grade was lower, but Gesus reminded me of a couple things. First and foremost, R-Truth was fricken hysterical and did a fabby job of holding his own and staying in character. I can understand why VKM is behind R-Truth right now. I also have to say that Kofi impressed me. We hear very little from him, but he looked and sounded good last night. Miz was very Miz and in some ways out Jericho'd Jericho! I know I'm going to get abused for THAT comment. Honestly, I expected less from Miz, but maybe it was him taking the ball and running with it, showing his hunger to be there – other than the whole cookie ice cream bar thing. Punk was Punk who is always wonderful, but more low key than most last night. Dolph, sadly, wasn't memorable for me. I really think he has what it takes to be a star, but there he got lost in all the strong personalities, but I do like that they teased a feud between R-Truth and him. Doesn't surprise me as I doubt R-Truth wants to work with Miz right now – no matter what really happened last week.
Kofi vs Jericho > B+
I really enjoyed this match. I had hoped that Kofi would win it the way he had been at house shows, but I understand why Jericho got this one. Kofi looked very strong here, more like the main eventer that I think he's capable of being. I love that his character is becoming stronger, I just hope they manage to keep him as sweet and cool as his character grows and develops. I was nice to see that he could hold his own with Jericho, even though I know they've been working the ring together and have learn how each other work. This makes me that much more interested in Kofi in the Elimination Chamber.
Winner – Jericho
Backstage Segment > A+
I always love seeing Trip and HBK together, but the simplicity of the way they interact, that they are so willing to hug in such a macho industry, that they have no trouble showing their love for each other, it's just beautiful. I wish more people in this world could be as open and loving as they were in this moment.
Backstage Segment > C+
This segment between Cena and Ryder absolutely foreshadowed that there was something horrible to come. Ryder played pathetic wonderfully here.
Backstage Segment > C
I have no issue with this segment by itself, but they did nothing with it later in the show to move this along. The way Otunga was talking, it was like he was really scheming, but this was all we learned and I was left hanging. Sad to say that I wanted more of Laurinaitis, but he's really great in how horrible he is.
Announce Segment > C+
Stacy said he wanted a gross of Cole's action figures as they'd be fun to dismember and do horrible things with. Now I know I need to get myself one to play with and one for Stacy to abuse!
Big Show vs Orton > B-
I know a lot of people were not happy with how Big Show took the first RKO in this match. In fact there were some rather nasty chants about it. I'm floored by this as these two are consummate professionals. Everybody screws up sometime, if they don't then they're not trying hard enough at life. Okay, so that first RKO wasn't great, okay, so the second RKO wasn't perfect, but that top rope DDT was tight. Setting up for that DDT, Big Show getting his legs right, not so great, but it happens. So this wasn't Big Show's best match, it wasn't Orton's best match, but it was better than them standing around the ring playing switch! D-Bry's involvement was pretty decent in that he didn't only cost Big Show the match, he further pissed off Orton, setting up for possible problems between them down the road.
I have to say that Cole was playing the true heel in kissing up to D-Bry when he was right there, but then right back against him when he left announce – well done, even for Cole. I also have to say it was smart keeping D-Bry off announce while he was sitting there. I think it would have taken a lot from him as he's not the best on mic.
Winner – Orton via DQ
In Ring Segment > A
I know a lot of people are not going to agree with me that Trip and HBK were wonderful, but it's their chemistry that really made this work. It had a wonderful feel from the start as HBK sets the tone for segments like few others. Within 30 seconds of HBK being in the ring I was whining to Stacy about how much I miss HBK being on TV on a regular basis. No offense to him, but I won't be tuning in to his hunting show. The only shooting I do is at the range.
There's a number of moments I thought were particularly interesting in this segment – even though these long-winded segments are what puts me so far behind with my play-by-play!
I found it interesting that they did they crossed their arms rather than crotch chopping, but it was showing for things to come.
HBK said he stood by Trip through everything. I'm figuring he meant the Curtain Call incident at MSG.
I laughed when HBK referred to Steph as that chick Trip married!
Trip is impressive that he can put that power, that tension into his body, even when staring down someone he holds so dearly. The shaking of his body and the flaring of his nostrils are such nice touches to HBK calling him a coward.
The reaction from the fans, the way they held their collective breaths, then gasped when Trip actually voiced that all of that would be his someday. We all know that he and Steph will be taking over for VKM at some point, doubtfully fully before VKM is six feet under, but he's never actually voiced it in front of the fans and it was a shocker. I'm very impressed with how he said it and how it went over with the fans.
I liked how Trip talked about Taker as a brand and how ending the streak is bad for business. Of course those things go through their minds, but hearing him say those things is such a change from the days of protected kayfabe.
Yes, Trip, HBK and Taker are the end of an era, but Kane, Jericho and Big Show were also of that era and they're still around, but I do understand what he was getting at.
Of course Trip had to make the jab at HBK for not getting the job done, but Trip hasn't been able to get the job done himself.
I was very impressed with Trip looking HBK in the eye and saying no.
The way HBK stepped back, looked his best friend up and down in disgust, then walked away the way he did – just perfect. Then the look between them when HBK was on stage, just before the video started – again prefect.
It's all these points that made that segment so amazing. I am blown away with these two in the ring, but I hope we don't have another uber long segment with them talking like this as they're terribly hard to write in time!
Video > A+
These Taker videos have been fabby! I know I hadn't addressed Taker's wig here, but I don't think it's that big of a deal. Glen is also wearing a wig and that blew over after I positively stated that yes, he was wearing a wig. Neither of these men have naturally black hair, and as you age it's harder to grow your hair long, so it makes sense that they either wear wigs or have shorter hair. When Taker returned at WrestleMania as the Deadman, he didn't have a lot of time to grow it out and had a very Beatles' type mop on his head. I know a lot of people want Taker to return as the American Bad Ass, something I don't understand as it makes much more sense to me that he ends his career as the iconic Deadman. That one GONG at WrestleMania. The way the fans about blew the roof off that arena was sick and sealed it for me that there's no other way he should end his career. I will say I loved the use of a straight razor to 'cut' his hair.
Dolph w/ Vickie vs R-Truth > B
While I loves me some R-Truth lately, this wasn't his best match, nor Dolph's, it was entertaining. Dolph standing on his head, then R-Truth getting the quick win. While it wasn't the best heading into Elimination Chamber, it was a good way to get everyone involved in matches in the go home show.
Winner – R-Truth
Backstage Segment > C-
I love Santino, and garlic, but that just blew. I do say that garlic flavor sheets would be very cool for those of us who have been known to carry our own crushed or powered garlic in our purses.
Slam of The Week > F
I really am very unhappy about Eve's nose being broken being the Slam of The Week, but Miz is chin deep in heat for the R-Truth incident. What's the double standard?
Tamina vs Brie > D+
I am not a Bella fan. I just don't see their ring work as up to par. I'm glad we're finally seeing something of Tamina, other than her flying, but the way she comes off the corner makes it look like she should be flying from six feet higher. She's so tall that it looks like she's holding back in a huge way. I'm still not sure of her ring work as I've seen so little of it, and that she's just a filler for Beth waiting for Kharma to return to full time. She's so different from the Barbies that she's great for Beth to feud with, I just hope she's not just brushed aside when Kharma returns.
Winner – Tamina
Video > C+
That Rocky video was wonderfully produced, enjoyable and made me smile, but it took too much time away from the show. I know why they did what they did, but it doesn't annoy me any less. Rocky is a huge draw and will be the biggest draw at WrestleMania, but I want to see more than Rocky's publicity tour, I want to see him on RAW. Plain and simple, either say you're coming back and do it, or don't make promises you can't keep.
Backstage Segment > B+
I really want to know how many takes it took to get this segment right. First off, Eve scrambled up into the ambulance, but Kane wasn't really after her when she did it. Then someone poked Kane in the elbow to close the door at the right time. Eve wasn't screaming at all when she climbed in. Cena to the rescue, but couldn't get the doors open. Of course there was the little fight to set up for the Elimination Chamber PPV, but Kane running to get into the driver's seat made me giggle. Some people just don't run in a graceful way, and Glen is one of those people.
Then suddenly the siren came on and Eve was able to get the doors open, even though we hadn't seen her through the windows trying to get out through any of that segment. As soon as Eve landed in Cena's arms, I knew they were going to kiss and get caught. But day-um, that was a KISS! No stage kisses for those two! Hope John told Mrs. Cena that he was sticking his tongue down a coworker's throat, as I'd hate to find out watching it on TV – even though they are all actors. Then there was Ryder's reaction to it all, but Eve didn't move away from Cena and toward Ryder in any way.
As I was talking to different people today about this segment (everyone I spoke to today about wrestling talked about this segment and how HOT it was), the thought came up that maybe Eve will be going heel. That she's been with Kane this whole time and doing all she can to cause trouble between Cena and Ryder, to further push Cena to embrace the hate. It could be interesting to see where they go with Eve through this, and I hope they don't drop the ball on it!
Backstage Segment > B-
That Eve gave Ryder the 'just friends' speech further makes me think she could be working with Kane. Nothing like ripping Ryder's heart out as he is ready to profess his love for Valentines Day.
Miz vs Punk > B
I have to say that when Miz fumbled his first moves with Punk, I thought he might be mentally thrown off his game, but he pulled it out. Miz wasn't completely dominated in this match, as I thought he might be. He had some dominant spots, but there was no way he was going to win this match. I found it interesting that Punk hit that fast scoop slam. Is that something he's been doing all along and I'm blanking on it, or is this semi-new to his repertoire? Also, I have to say, I love Punk's Savage elbow. I know the WWE will never call it that, but that's how I always think of it. All in all this was a decent match, solid, but not Punk's best, though I really enjoyed the reversals at the end. He's always great to watch and he really has me excited for the Elimination Chamber PPV.
Winner – Punk
In Ring Segment > B-
I was really not really looking forward to Cena being out there talking. It wasn't how I wanted to spend the end of the show, but it wasn't bad. While Cena might be saying he's rising above this all and referring to 'those people', he looked a bit strained. Either he was tired, not feeling well, or it is getting to him. There is the possibility that he's selling better than we ever thought he could, but I doubt that. It was just around his eyes that looked like he was wearing thin.
Ryder coming down to the ring on crutches was painful to watch. His legs aren't injured, but he was walking like they were. Also, the crutches were just too short for his size which made everything that much worse. It was nice to see Ryder stand up to Cena, but it was also great to see Cena ready to fight back.
I really loved when Kane came on the tron and said Cena had sunk to depths that Kane could only dream of when Cena stole his only friend's love, but all I could think of was Katie Vick and how parts of storyline history can be forgotten. What made it even funnier for me is that I am reading the WWE novelization of Kane's life, Journey Into Darkness (so much better than Big Apple Takedown), and I'm reading about Glen and Katie as teenagers right now.
When Kane came out, I knew Ryder was in for it. Anyone in a wheelchair on the WWE is fair game for being pushed into something or off something else. At first I thought Kane was going to push him down the ramp and into the ring at full speed. I was a bit shocked that he went off the side, but big chunks of RAW were throwbacks to the Attitude Era, so it wasn't enough to throw me out of my seat. I know Foley was not happy with the risk that was taken with Ryder, but I have to say that Ryder took the fall/landing well and I know (anonymous source) that Ryder is just fine. Foley has grown so much over the years and he knows how beaten up his body is and doesn't want anyone else to end up in the shape he is in, so I understand where he's coming from. Personally, I was shocked they took the risk as well. That Ryder was not injured does not mean that the incident was right to do. I thought the WWE was against taking risks like that these days.
Back to the fallout. I thought it was interesting that Cena went and grabbed the trainer and sent him to Ryder, as if the trainer wouldn't have gone on his own. I have to say that the fans were really on Cena when the EMTs were working on Ryder. They were on Eve some too. It was an interesting choice to have her go out there and bet there for Ryder. That brought so much heat onto Cena, more than all the other attacks on Ryder. Creative is doing a great job with this storyline!
My favorite parts of this show was – Trip and HBK, Cena and Eve getting hot and heavy, R-Truth's insanity in the debate and Kofi proving that he's not an afterthought. While there was some seriously low points in this show, I thought it was a solid go home to Elimination Chamber and has me getting even more excited for WrestleMania – except for Rocky versus Cena.
I'm sure a lot of people will have a lot to say about this episode and I think it's great, just please be nice to each other. We can get some great debates going here and there will be a lot to talk about heading to WrestleMania, but no attacking each other or me. Strong personalities are great, being mean and nasty is not. Please be kind.