Two weeks in a row WNW has been buzzing after RAW. Heck, not just WNW, but the whole IWC for the second week in a row. Whether you're happy about the decisions WWE has made with wrestlers, their characters and how those characters are portrayed, they have us talking. In my opinion that's something we haven't had in a while and something the industry needs. Further than having us talking, they're creating a storyline with two different wrestlers. We don't know what the plans are with either, but they have so much room to grow and change as the fans react. We don't know what the long term plans for these characters are, but it's very obvious that they're going somewhere with both of them. This keeps us tuning in to see what each of them will do next. For me, that was one of the biggest reasons I tuned in every week during the Monday Night War. Not all of the wrestling was very good, but the characters grabbed my attention and I needed to know what they were going to do next!
Jericho has been shaking things up and keeping us questioning without even saying a word, two weeks in a row. I'm not saying what he's doing is good or bad (here), but he has people talking and wondering, both what's going on in his head and where his character is going. Most of us have wanted Jericho to return since he last left. Others of us have been champing at the bit to have him back since he finished Dancing With The Stars. Either way, we have have watched Jericho grow from his days in the WCW. He's no longer that silly kid with the long hair and that silly pug on the top of his head. He's been a silly face to a nasty heel and taken them all in stride. Who he is now, we just don't know yet and that's what's both interesting and exciting!
Then there's Brodus Clay. I really didn't believe Laurinaitis' kayfabe Twitter account when he said Brodus was going to be debuting on RAW this week. We've been jerked around so many times on this that it had become a joke. Even further, I was worried that Brodus' debut being pushed back so many times that he'd be pushed back into future endeavor land. Last night I was shocked to see Brodus, even more shocked to see Brodus as the Funkasaurus - yes, it's been spelled different ways all over the web, but this is how WWE.com has it written, so I'm hoping they're sticking with it. Honestly, I didn't even think it was really him at first, but he looked great! He's obviously worked hard and lost some serious weight. I won't give my judgment of Brodus here, but I will say that if he had come out as the obligatory heel – as his debut videos had suggested – I don't think he'd be as interesting right off the bat. I don't think we'd be talking so much about him if he came out as a monster. Think of Snitski, Mike Knox and so many others who were monsters and little else. Further, right now we have Mark Henry who is a straight up monster heel, Kane who has made a monster return, even though he's not yet a straight up heel (I'm not quite ready for Kane to be full on heel), and a monster who has seemed to go soft and lost that monster about him – even though he can still be big and scary – in Big Show. Another big monster very easily could have gotten lost, but we won't soon forget the Funkasaurus!
Opening In Ring Segment
B > I have to say that I thought Kane going on and on was a bit much. I'd hope by now everyone knows what a huge Glen Jacobs fan I am, but this was just too much. Kane spoke a lot and it felt a little forced. I'm not saying I've lost any love for Kane, nor am I saying that it was as bad as TNA/IW drawn out opening segments, but that the segment was too long and wasn't as exciting as he usually is.
What saved it was Cena coming out and their fight. Not only did they set up the outside setting, but it foreshadowed what could be coming later in the show. Also, the way Kane disappeared after knocking Cena into the trash was great. Kane and the WWE have really been sticking with the mysterious and magical ways that helped make Kane and Taker's characters so interesting and mysterious. They might want to think about doing some flashbacks for Kane, and Taker if he returns, to show the newer fans the mystery and the magic that surrounds the Brothers of Destruction. I'm willing to bet many fans don't know anything about Taker's urn and where the brothers came from and why they're so mystical and mysterious. Just a thought.
Sheamus & Santino vs Wade & Mahal
C+ > I'm not thrilled with Sheamus getting saddled with Santino, though they do work very well together. On the other hand, I see less than nothing in Mahal. He worked fairly well when Khali was around, but now he has no spark, no pizzazz! I want something from him other than the brooding mad guy. I know nothing about him other than he was Khali's brother-in-law. Who is Mahal? It's sad to say, but when Mahal comes on TV during SD, I use that as a potty break or time to get a drink. I'm more interested in Drew than Mahal! If I'm talking this much about the other three in this match, that doesn't bode well for Wade. He faded into the background here and did so little work. While this was cute and fun, it wasn't a good thing for the heels in any way.
Winners – Sheamus & Santino
B- > Laurinaitis and Otunga trying to make jokes is just hysterical! They're so bad that it works. I can't admit that I'm finding Laurinaitis worth the time, but he has moments that his horrible work is just beautiful. Also, I don't quite get why the heel GM isn't helping out heel Miz. It's interesting, but goes against the norm. I guess that's a good thing. We're actually being kept guessing which is so much better than much of the boredom that seems to fall over the WWE through late spring into summer. Things are picking up again and RAW is getting interesting again, but not enough that Laurinaitis is actually good enough to have to watch on a regular basis!
A > I was hoping that Edge would be headlining the Hall of Fame this year. There's many deserving people who should be inducted into the Hall of Fame on their own merit (Arn Anderson), but the way Edge's career was cut short and he's still fresh on our minds, so it is the perfect time to induct him.
C > Sad that Mason Ryan has been reduced to shrugging and wandering off without saying a word. At least we don't have to see him screwing up in the ring?
B > More Ryder and Cena? I know they want to continue to push their friendship, but the way Ryder seems to grovel at Cena's feet really annoys me. They're making it feel like Ryder's success is all due to Cena, as if Ryder didn't take his success into his own hands. I really liked Kane skulking around the shadows. This is working really well. I like that the old Kane is back now that he's masked again. I have to admit that I was worried that re-masking him might not work well, but it does. It's like he's climbed back into his favorite sequined dress after not fitting into it for years, but now he's stepping back out on the dance floor to show how pretty and confident he is again! Hey, it works in my own head!
Kofi vs Bryan
B+ > Well, they did a great job of making Bryan look strong, something he's been struggling with, but sadly it was at the expense of Kofi. I will say that Bryan is doing a great job of turning heel, I just wonder if Cole will continue to hate him the way he has. Also, Bryan did a beautiful job of turning green and looking sick when he found out that he would be defending his Title in a No DQ, No Countout Match on SD. He's doing a really good job with his changing character.
Winner – Bryan
Brodus vs Hawkins
Well, I have to say Brodus made quite the debut! There's so many ways that they can go with this character. Either he can continue as the Funkasaurus, or they can change up his character every week. I remember, quite a while ago, when Big Show was trying to find himself and came out as a different wrestler every week. My favorite was when he came out as Piper, but that might just be because I like men in kilts. Either way, I'm blown away at how Brodus got over with his dancing and gyrating! I really knew nothing about about Brodus other than him being big and kind of scary. Now I know that he really can be funny. Not only can he move better than I thought possible, but he really seems to be able to laugh at himself. On top of all that he really looked solid in the ring with some creative moves. Brodus impressed me last night and from that short match, I can't wait to see where they go with him next. This was so much better than him coming out as a big scary monster without a personality. I'm actually excited about Brodus finally making his debut, even if he did remind me a bit of Dusty Rhodes.
B+ > Ryder brushing his teeth isn't something I really want to see on TV, but he was so cute and goofy while Kane malingered barely out of sight. They did a really good job continuing to foreshadow what Kane was leading to.
Punk w/ Laurinaitis vs Swagger w/ Dolph & Vickie
A- > Yes, I know Laurinaitis wasn't there with Punk, but the fact that Laurinaitis didn't completely screw Punk over was a big step in the right direction for Punk. I really thought Laurinaitis was going to do something while ringside, or at least more than text and talk on his phone, but he's a boring guy, so I guess I expected too much. Punk looked really strong last night, as the WWE Champion should. It was nice to see a straight up and clean match for Punk where no one gets involved other than his opponent.
I really don't know what it is about Swagger. He's a good sized guy, he has the look, he has ring skills and he's not horrible on mic, in fact I think his lisp it kind of cute, yet he's just not making it as a big Superstar. He seems to have that undefinable thing, but it's not working. Honestly I don't know what Swagger needs to do to get past this mid-card slump he's been stuck in, but I hope he does as I think he's a really good performer. I think he could do wonderfully, even with Angle's stolen ankle lock. Sorry, I had to comment on it. Angle is so whiny sometimes. Either way, this was a solid match that reminded me that Swagger is darn good in the ring, even though Punk's good at making most other look good in the ring with him.
Winner – Punk
C- > Well, I guess it's a job for the Bellas to hang out backstage and argue with others and each other as now they're suddenly needing to be all over ADR now that he's gone. Makes total sense to me. At least it's keeping them out of the ring. Now if they could find a way to keep them from talking...
In Ring Segment
B > Ricardo is funny! I have to give this segment to him and his singing. Okay, I can't give the whole segment to Ricardo as R-Truth was great too. I never thought R-Truth could ever be as good as he's become. I gave much of R-Truth's charisma and ability to get over to Miz previously, I now know I was wrong. R-Truth has finally broken through that shell that was holding him back. I honestly never thought he could be half this good, so I'm soaking up every little nuance he gives us. After a RAW house show I claimed that R-Truth was one of the physically ugliest men I have ever seen in person. I still hold to that, but what he does with his face holds me in awe. He's so expressive and blowing me away with his character. I can't wait for him and Miz to have it out. I don't like that R-Truth has a Wellness strike, but it was great for his character to be broken up with Miz!
In Ring Segment
A- > Jericho with a whole new live crowd that loved him, but he confused us all yet again! What a brilliant segment, other than his inability to get real tears to roll. He was trying so hard, but they didn't happen. I can't think of many other people who could do this as well as he is. When I first told my daughter Ellie about last week's segment, I didn't tell her who it was returning. She said that Edge was retired, so other than him it had to be Jericho. Very few could play this as well as he has. I can't wait to see where this is going!
Eve vs Beth
B- > I'm so glad we didn't have to watch this match! I do have to say that Ryder ran to the aid of his lady quickly and got her out of there, but the way she was screeching at him to hurry with the tire, I just wanted to slap her. Actually, him too. Rather than stay there and change the tire, just run for it and get out of the area. I know the storyline wasn't set for that to happen, but the tire and her screeching was too cliché.
D > And more of Eve screaming and Ryder fixing the tire. I will say he did a good job of changing the tire, or whoever helped him did a good job of it. For me what killed it was Eve's screaming at him to hurry up. Why couldn't she get her well formed bum out of the SUV and help him? Ugh!
Cena vs Dolph w/ Vickie
The way this match started really upset me. Normally only the people who don't have names or are jobbing in a big way – such as Curt Hawkins against Brodus – don't have their entrance shown on air. Dolph was already ringside when RAW came back from Ryder's tire changing and Eve's screeching. I find this greatly troubling as Dolph is #1 contender and should be treated better than this. It might seem like the merest slight, but this is the type of thing that sticks in my mind as a wrestler is getting a push into a possible Championship role. Doesn't bode well in my opinion.
I thought Dolph did a great job of holding his own with Cena in this match. Even better was Dolph's grandstanding in the ring. He's come so far from the overly spazzing Nicky he was in Spirit Squad. Yes, I watched the first disk of the DX DVD from 2006 and giggle through the whole thing. Actually, Stacy and I both giggled and he finally understands why I point and laugh at Dolph and call him a glorified cheerleader sometimes.
While putting Kane's attack on the tron for Cena to see is very AE, it worked to make sure neither Cena nor Dolph looked weak, something very good for Dolph going into the Royal Rumble. On the other hand, the way Kane chokeslammed Ryder off the side of the loading doc looked horrible! Ryder obviously didn't fall the whole distance to the wooden pallets bellow as his flopping arms and legs showed he was much higher. If I hadn't seen so many of Kane's chokeslamms to hell I wouldn't be this bothered, but I've seen Kane's chokeslams off the ring, off announce, off the stage, off loading docks, off loading docks into construction dumpsters, off loading docks into construction dumpsters set afire, and off so many other interesting and creative high places. This one just didn't look as good to me as so many others have, so I have to complain a tiny bit. Other than that the outside segment went off very well. Cena sold well and Ryder looked wonderfully broken down below on the wooden pallets. My only question is – what happened to Eve after RAW went off the air? I'm game for a good old fashioned Brother of Destruction kidnapping, but that's just me. I'm not sure Eve could play it off as well as Steph did so many years ago.
I really enjoyed this episode of RAW. They've been stepping things up a bit as they start toward the Royal Rumble and onto the road to Mania. This is always my favorite time of year for wrestling as they pull out the big guns to drive up the buy-rate for the grandest stage of them all. Yes, I'm getting a little silly and giddy, but have one last thing. I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I was getting WrestleFest. Well, it was a comedy of errors getting it home (black ice, but no crashes or injuries). Two flights of stairs down, squeezing it into my mother-in-law's Rav4 (not built for such things, but bigger than our cars), Stacy riding home almost kissing the windshield and then convincing the teen boys that they really did want to help get it into the house. While it looked good sized in the hall it was in, it looks huge in my living room, something I really don't understand. Our youngest is the best playing it, by far and Stacy has been having fun finding info online and learning how to tweak all the little parts to make it look better. One of my cats is very upset that we put the whole thing back together, but likes hanging out up top, or sleeping on the deck between the joysticks.