Welcome to Raw Is Blogged! Kendra is out this week preparing for a medical procedure, so I am taking it over. She will be back next week with her regularly scheduled blog. I also apologize for this being posted later than normal, as I had issues in my own life pop up that prevented me from having the quality of work that you have come to expect from WNW, so I scrapped my first draft to give you what you deserve. As usual, I will be keeping to her scoring system and breaking it down by the different segments. Also, CJ Blaze and Jamie Welton will be joining me for a couple of segments.
I do want to preface this week and say that I will NOT be addressing anything relating to Hogan's comments that have made the news the past few days in this blog tonight. I will address them tomorrow in the opening of Tough Stuff.
Normally I would rail on WWE for opening with a recap of last week's show, but when it was for something as awesome as the Deadman and Lesnar's brawl... I can't exactly blame them. That was easily some of the best TV they have done in a while, and I have to agree with Kendra that it harkened back to the best stuff of the Attitude Era. the video itself was artfully done and is of the quality work we've come to expect from Production for these big time feuds.
Authority Opener: A-
Well, looks like we are starting with our weekly promo to open Raw. I get sick and tired of this each and every week. Unless it is a big name who doesn't appear that often to open, like Taker last week, it really just bogs down the show. I have to admit, though, I've missed HHH and Steph giving in ring promos. They have something, just like Heyman, that no one else in the locker room can seem to capture. HHH confirmed 4 hours for SummerSlam!!! WOOO! It is WWE's 2nd largest PPV, so why not make it as big as WM? And Lesnar vs. Taker will easily put butts in seats. I have to admit, I had to look back in the history books a bit to confirm if Ambrose and Big Show had ever squared off in singles competition on TV. And in the nearly three years Ambrose has been on the main roster, they haven't faced off one-on-one on TV. They've done it twice on house shows in March of 2014, when Dean Ambrose was still US Champion. Boy, that's been a long time! However, Paige vs Sasha Banks isn't a first for WWE TV, as they faced off against each other on the March 13th 2014 episode of NXT, when Paige was the NXT Women's Champion! Owens vs. Orton should be excellent, and Nikki and Fox vs. Charlotte and Lynch should be pretty good, as long as Fox stays on the apron. I have to say, Rollins has one thing down that few other do, and that is a subtlety of character. He rolled perfectly through HHH and Steph's 4 minutes of talking and as they were announcing things, without pushing himself to the forefront, he showed an array of emotion. Disgust when Taker and Lesnar were mentioned, surprise at the four hour announcement, and acted impressed as they kept going down the Raw card. But as soon as he was to move to the forefront, he did it perfectly, and with the sliminess we've come to expect from him. I do have to say, Dad HHH is kind of funny to see, but sweet at the same time. He truly looks like a proud father anytime he's in the ring with Rollins. Oh wonderful... Cena... I'd much rather have HHH vs. Rollins at SummerSlam, but it looks like yet again VKM changed his mind on the Authority imploding. I have to give credit where it is due, and say Cena cut a good promo here. He was serious, and kept it short. Which was good, considering the segment had hit the 8 minute mark at this point. The Authority of late have been very face in how they interact with the crowd... Well, until they trolled them here! Of course we weren't going to get a WWE WHC title match on Raw. That hasn't been done in over two years. But Cena vs. Rollins for the US Title should be interesting. I just wonder how they are going to justify putting it on the PPV for the WHC after giving it away for a lower card belt on free TV.
SCSA Podcast Promo: C
Paige? I guess I see why they are choosing her, to encourage and increase TE viewers, but the only thing I think could really be a benefit to this interview will be an insight to how it would be to literally be raised in the business. I just want to know where our promised Sting and Undertaker podcasts are?
Dean Ambrose vs Big Show:B+
I'm not going to deny Miz's talent, but DANG! Does he have to go to 21 every time he has a live mic? It's like there isn't a middle ground with his character. He's always tries to be the most petulant child in the world. Shirtless Dean! I bet every woman watching swooned as soon as Show ripped the shirt off. OUCH! I have more respect for guys taking show's chops after TE last week. And Ambrose taking one coming off of the top rope had to hurt that much worse. Ambrose was a fantastic punching bag in this match. He sold everything Show put him through beautifully, and WWE did right by making Show look like a monster through this match. I do like that they ended it in a countout, which helps protect Ambrose, and he was elevated slightly because Dean got the better of Show in the end. Dean may have lost the match, but won the war.
Winner: Big Show (Countout)
Neville vs. Fandango and Stardust Promo: B
Wait, is Fandango supposed to be a heel again? When did that change? Of course, it was little more than a squash on Fandango, but the little offense he got in looked good. Especially the submission. I'm glad that they are using the Arrow/Stardust feud to help elevate and keep Neville relevant. Speaking of that feud, at this point, there is no question WWE has to be pulling the trigger on it. Stardust is so engaging in this role... That you can't help but be completely captivated in his gravitas. Embrace the strange!
Winner: Neville (Pin)
Diva's Promo: B+
STEAMPUNK GOGGLES! I may have a new favorite Diva! Becky Lynch is really reminding me of a ginger, Irish, female Edge, and that is a great thing. Charlotte's been doing fantastic as well. I'm extremely proud of what WWE is doing by giving these ladies not only a stage to perform on, but the time and opportunities they deserve. And at every turn, they are proving why they should have had it a long time ago. This, honestly, was possibly the best Divas promo we've had on Raw in years. I just hope Vince doesn't drop the ball now that he has it hot again.
Paige vs. Sasha Banks: A
I asked to give my thoughts on this segment for this weeks RIB, because right now I am really loving the rejuvenated and revived Divas division. Since the arrivals of Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and Sasha Banks on the main roster the standard of matches for the Divas has risen above levels many fans could ever have dreamed of. Gone are the days of that being the ‘bathroom break’ because fans no longer want to miss the action. Paige and Sasha Banks are two of the top Divas in the division and they had one heck of an amazing match here. Paige gave a super account of herself as usual and showed why she needs to remain a mainstay in the main event scene as she was simply faultless, but hats off to Sasha Banks for her stepping up and giving a top quality performance in this one as well, although given her amazing matches in NXT that isn’t really a surprise. I was a little surprised to see Paige tap out as opposed to being pinned dirty by Sasha, but I can’t let that little thing take away from what was a truly outstanding Divas match. The #GiveDivasAChance movement lives and should be proud of what these ladies have accomplished. A great match and a very big win for the NXT Women's Champion.
Finally, before I end my guest appearance, don’t forget to check out my audio interview with Paige’s dad, ”Rowdy” Ricky Knight here. It’ s a revealing listen and we cover a lot of subjects, including Paige. I’d appreciate it and your thoughts on it too. And also don’t forget to join me Friday for the Smackdown Breakdown.
Winner: Sasha Banks (Sub)
Seth Rollins Interview: B+
I like how Seth approached the interview. He did it exactly how a heel should, and I love that he took a few shots at the IWC in it. Yes, he has been booked rough from the get go. He didn't have hardly any clean wins. He looks weaker than a WWE Champ should. But the character he plays rolls so well into it, it really shouldn't matter too much. I also like how he derided Cena's US Open Challenge as it being "The Best of What's Left". While Cena has been in some high quality matches of late, arguably the best of the last 5-7 years of his career, most of the people he's faced in these challenges have had no direction, rhyme, or reason. Overall, it's a fantastic spot by the top heel in the company.
WWE2K16 Video: A&F
First off, I have to say I like the video itself. Going back to an iconic scene from Terminator 2 was a great way to promote this, and this little info spreads on each Superstar and Diva were fun and interesting. Also, Finn Balor being in the background of it is a very good sign for him going forward. But that being said, 2K Games have jumped the shark here. Seriously? The Terminator as a playable character? Why don't we get Rhonda Rousey, Vegeta, Robocop, Chucky, Donald Trump, and every other one off celebrity appearance in the game? BAKA!
Rusev, Summer Rae, and Lana: C
I hate to admit it, but Summer rocks a business suit. AWWW! A cute puppy! Rusev had some issues with this promo, but that tends to happen when he talks for an extended period. He recovered fairly well with the fish part, but damage had already been done. I love how Lana came out this week and defended herself. And especially rocking a similar suit as Summer. It really hammers home the point that she made, that Rusev isn't really over her in storyline terms. Lana is slipping a bit on her accent! She's letting CJ come out more and more, and I kind of would like to hear her talk without it at all. Darn!!! I was hoping to see a fish slap! Instead, Summer got it smeared on her and Rusev got slapped! All in all, it wasn't bad, but at this point, I want movement on the feud. Ziggler needs to resign, and SOON.
Lesnar/Taker Recap: F
Ok, we had this at the very start of Raw. and there is absolutely no need to recap it here, except to try to further sell the main event of SummerSlam in absentia of the two of them not being at Raw this week.
Lucha Dragons vs. Los Matadores > C+
Much like the Divas Division, the tag team division in WWE can change course very rapidly... This tag bout was hyped almost as a number one contender's match. Immediately I began to groan at the thought of yet another filler multi-team match at a Big 4 pay-per-view.
What saved this grade was Sin Cara and Kalisto. They are so fun to watch in the ring. Diego and Fernando are talented too, but their time is long gone. Before Kalisto scored the win for the Lucha Dragons, The New Day had to come out and taunt the Prime Time Players, who were on announce. What does this tell you? It's almost a sure thing we are getting a fatal four-way Tag Team Championship match at SummerSlam. And it will most likely take place on the kickoff show again!
We need Jey Uso, Tyson Kidd, and Erick Rowan to be healthy again. Those three teams bring so much to the tag team division. Vince needs to learn how to build his tag teams instead of throwing together a pointless multi-team match every few months.
Winners - Lucha Dragons (Pin)
The Family is Back Together: B+
I have to say, while so many others are getting tired of Bray Wyatt, I find him still captivating. Maybe I hold a deeper connection with the type of character he portrays than most, but there is something about him that draws me in. Honestly, he reminds me of a great literary character, which they ironically indirectly referenced in this segment: Randall Flagg, aka The Man in Black, made famous all through Stephen King's works. He's charismatic, dark, demands unwavering loyalty, and will drive you straight to your doom if you let him. And Harper has came into his own, even if it is under Wyatt's banner. I just hope that this feud continues to put out the quality we have grown to expect from all four men.
Charlotte and Becky Lynch vs. Nikki Bella and Alicia Fox: B-
Talk about a surprise! They name dropped AJ Lee! Granted, they are talking about Nikki approaching her record, but it still is a great thing that she isn't as burned from history as she once was. I love that WWE is giving these women long matches, typically long enough they have commercial breaks, and there are at least two per Raw now. And it feel I have credit where it is really due tonight. Team Bella hasn't shied away from this change, but embraced it and took the chance to show they are much better than the tripe they normally put on. And this match was just another example of it. All four women worked their butts off and it came out looking great for the most part. And I say for the most part, because of one factor. Early in the match, right after Alicia tagged in, Charlotte made a critical BOTCH. She sweeped Alicia, and it didn't look like she gave Fox the chance to protect herself. Fox ended up concussed. And everyone on WNW knows concussions are my pet peeve! Alicia was clearly dazed, but she kept up and finished the match quite admirably. Kudos to her, even if it was unsafe.
Winner: Charlotte and Becky Lynch (Sub)
Kevin Owens vs. Randy Orton: B
Sheamus is on commentary? This is sure to end screwy. Wow... It never gets old, seeing how small Owens is compared to some of the more "traditional" WWE superstars. But dynamite comes in small packages, and Owens and Orton more than brought their A game. Normally I have an issue with guys that have similar styles facing off with each other. But Owens and Orton seemed to gel together perfectly, even though this is their first ever singles match against one another. And Owens shows through almost every action and opponent he faces that he is easily the best pure heel WWE has had in a very long time. From the trash talk all through the match to stealing Orton's taunt like this is a WWE2K game to yelling at Cole, he shows every time he steps between the ropes that he belongs at this level. Just like I thought, Sheamus got involved and caused a DQ, furthering his and Orton's feud. But it was nice to see Cesaro attempt a save and take a Pop-up Powerbomb from Owens. This may seem like a step down for Owens after being in the US Title hunt against Cena, but I see it as a lateral move. Cesaro really stepped up with his two matches against Cena, and I have a feeling him vs. Cesaro will become an instant classic.
Winner: Randy Orton (DQ)
Cena Interview: D+
Renee looked off, and obviously flustered to start this interview. I don't know what happened, or if this was a second or third take, but WWE should have done a better job on the editing. Cena's promo was his typical spiel before a big match such as this, and thus I'm not going to get in a tizzy over reviewing it. Let's just move on to the match.
United States Championship Match:
John Cena © vs. WWE World Heavyweight ChampionSeth Rollins: A
I think everyone knew from the moment this was announced as the main event for tonight that we were in for something special. Cena has been putting on the match of the night every week of late, no matter who his opponent has been. And Rollins is clearly one of the best in this business today. And this match told a story from start to finish. They started it slow and made sure they paced all of the big spots into appropriate moments and areas. The tornado DDT helped escalate things quickly, and from there, it just seemed to only get better and better... Until that errant knee strike from Rollins SHATTERED Cena's nose! Cena is a tough SOB for finishing a match like he did, especially when you saw the blood just pour out as he was in the corner. And you could tell Seth was concerned after he went into the corner too. As JR would say, this ain't ballet folks! And that nose was crushed and disfigured. It was almost as bad as Joey Mercury taking the ladder to the face years ago. I want to point out two things here as well. First, the ref failed to wear gloves, which has been standard practice any time there is blood for years now. Second, I have to commend them for stopping the match for a minute to let the trainer check on Cena. Personally, I think they should have thrown an X and cut it short, but we all know Cena wouldn't let it happen. And after that, they only turned up the heat further, with Rollins going for a set of rolling suplexes and a Phoenix Splash! When was the last time he used that? Of course, Cena had to come out on top here for the feud to continue, but at this point, there is simply little room to improve on what we saw here. Not to mention, will Cena even be cleared by SummerSlam?
Winner: John Cena (Sub)
Looking back at the matches tonight, it's looking like WWE is listening more and more to the fans. We had 69:27 of wrestling across 7 matches. If you take out the squash, that is about 11 minutes per match. Plus, the Divas had a combined total of over 20 minutes of that! I think this may be the start of a WRESTLING revolution. Let's just hope it sticks.