I'm going to keep this short, sweet, and to the point tonight, as Sam's Spring Concert is this evening, and I want to get this out to you before I go. As a change of pace, WWENews.net's Casual Observer, Andrew W. is joining me with this RIB. Please give him at least the same respect you give me, if not more.
Andrew > B-
In Ring Segment
Okay, any who have read my work in the past knows I have little love for the antics of the Authority, but I have to admit the opening to this weeks RAW was a decent build; and yes I'm in shock saying those words, because I wanted the fiasco known as the Authority over as much as some – or everyone, really – want John Cena to develop a new presence, or new lines, but hey in the Champ's defense, he does have a new move – but I digress...
I think what appealed to myself as an opening segment is that you can and do see raw emotions, staged? You can believe that. But it was delivered well enough that we got a decent preview of what to expect from the performers at Payback. I'm sure some felt like they could offer more and I'm sure they could, but they've lit the fuse on a hopefully big barrel of gun powder that we'll see at the pay per view ahead.
Overall, I hope that with the COO, Triple H, back in business then we can hope for not just a decent Payback, but a better product for the entire universe of fans, casual or otherwise.
KB > B
I thought Rollins handled himself quite well with the chants from the fans. They really only wanted to see Ambrose, and let everyone in the ring know how they felt with a couple of the loudest "Asshole!" chants I've heard (on TV) in quite a few years. I know the WWE wants to be PG through and through, but sometimes the fans take over a show and make it that much more interesting, and less PG. Sometimes it works, and last night it worked really well.
I'm sure all the chants made this segment run long, but I thought everyone in the ring handled it well. Beyond all that, I wasn't really overly thrilled with this segment. What happened to that Trip who knew that on that Raw after WrestleMania? He needed to impress the world as the new leader of DX, and he threw all of himself into that. It really seems as though that Trip is lost to time. While he so obviously has the heart for the industry as a whole, and WWE in particular, it's almost as if those 20 minute Trip promos killed part of what made Trip on mic so great in the first place. He's no longer that man, and it showed in this segment.
One last little note, a part where they all did a great job, even Trip, was when Noble got all uppity at Trip, standing up for Rollins. Noble on mic was great, and how Trip handled J&J was very DX Trip. I think it's time for HBK to make an appearance and remind Trip of how good he can be on the mic.
Handicap Match – Dean Ambrose vs Joey Mercury & Jamie Noble > B
Every once in a while the hometown boy wins, and when he does it in such a solid way, it gives me hope for the next hometown matches – though few actually pan out. I will say that Ambrose was an even more Lunatic Fringe Ambrose in this match. Sitting on announce the way he did after he clotheslined Mercury and Noble over the table, his facial expressions, the way he worked the fans – he was really on for his locals, and gave them every ounce of himself. Many wrestlers do this, but on Ambrose it looked organic and not forced. Also, if I hadn't been looking for it to write this, I'm not sure I would have noticed the difference in him. Kind of like watching him in backstage segments with Renee, I look for the smiles, touches, and anything else between them that shows their real feelings.
I understand why they booked Noble and Mercury in this match, but they looked even more bumbling than I expected. I know that they're playing the role of the Stooges, but they both looked terribly rust. Yes, it was a platform to make Ambrose feel good, but that only goes so far when the people he's working with just are not up to par. Ambrose was great, but if his opponents had been solid as well, the grade would reflect that.
Winner – Ambrose (5:18)
Ziggler vs Bad News Barrett > B-
This was a decent match, but, as I've said numerous times, I just cannot see Barrett as a viable long term wrestler who is more than a lower mid-card nuisance. I've seen more promise from Slater on mic, and working with big Superstars, legendary Superstars, than I've ever seen from Barrett. Add in that he's always injured, and dealing with another injury right now, I just cannot accept the man as anything great, and especially not KOTR!
Ziggler, on the other hand, shouldn't be lowered to dealing with Barrett week in and week out. I know he's 'feuding' with Sheamus, but he spends more time working with Barrett. Ziggler is better than all this, and his roots have gotten to a point that he's not being lazy, but it's a look, and I can deal with that – for now. Either way, with Bryan out (so sad), it's time for Ziggler to grab the strap and run with it.
Winner – Barrett (6:00)
Rowan vs Fandango >C+
I'm really bummed that Rowan is heel again. They dropped the ball with Rowan since the breakup of The Wyatt Family, and I blame Creative for this. They started building a great character for him, put him with Ryback and Ziggler, and things were going well. Yes, Ziggler is now with Neville, and Ryback is dealing with Wyatt, but to turn Rowan back to lump him with Harper for no obvious reason, especially after he showed such skills in character building, working the mic as that character, and really building who he was as a singles competitor, is just horrible for any momentum he had prior to WrestleMania.
I understand why the announcers were betting on the length of this match, and it saved me from timing it, but it took away from anything that might have actually happened in the match. It also made Fandango look like a more pathetic jobber than Slater! Not cool!
Winner – Rowan (0:37)
WWE Rewind > A
I normally don't comment on these WWE Rewind segments because we've seen it all before, and it's usually been graded on by myself of Jamie, but I had to go there with this one. I've been in awe of the way Sami Zayn worked the ring against John Cena last week on Raw. It was such a beautiful display of heart, determination, and serious ring work.
US Open Challenge > C+
I know this is Cena's schtick, but, as I say every week, I'm over it! He says the right things, gives everyone who deserves it the right pops (Zayn), and he is building toward his Payback match against Rusev. While I don't know how I'm going to predict that match, but if Super Cena loses, I'll be absolutely shocked. The Open Challenge has been working really well, and is so different from when Angle did it, as he was a heel at the time, and Cena, while loathed by many, is still a face. I hope the Open Challenge continues after Payback, but without the lengthy speeches before each actual match.
US Title Match – John Cena (c) vs Neville > A-
When this match was almost coming to an end, I told Stacy that while I couldn't give this match as solid of a grade of what I gave Cena's match with Sami Zayn last week, but that this was absolutely much better than much of what we see from Cena usually, unless he's in with a young opponent who really pushes him.
I'm not sure I've heard one of Neville's matches that doesn't end up with chants of, "This is awesome!" since he was called up to the WWE roster. Think about it, since his very first WWE match he's been receiving these chants. That has to say something about the man and the direction he's leading within the company. Also, while a lot of wrestlers are big, Neville isn't a huge guy, being billed at 5'10", but I don't think it will hurt him much other than when he's in the ring with the biggest guys. Rey Mysterio is a guy who could make his work look viable with almost anyone he could end up in the ring with, and he's all of 5'6", and the same can be said for the tougher than nails Spike Dudley who is only 5'8". What I'm saying is that Neville might be shorter than most, his ring work is getting those reactions each time he's in the ring, and that's setting up for a HUGE future in the WWE.
Winner – Neville via DQ (14:52)
Kane vs Reigns > B
Not really a match, but this sure pushed Reigns for his Payback match. Going toe to toe with Kane, even without a bell, is quite the feat, and they both made this look really solid. I have to say that Reigns is good at selling the big moves, and selling after big moves, and the way he sold standing on announce was superb.
Brie vs Tamina > B-
The last time Tamina was in the ring she was solid, but always seemed to be slightly off her mark. This time around she's so much better in the ring, and really sold her work. She worked hard with Brie, it all looked solid, and pretty good. I won't say it was anything great compared to Naomi, but Tamina hasn't been in the ring on WWE TV in just shy of a year (May 30, 2014 – losing to Paige in a non-title match). It's looking as though Tamina could be a force to be reckoned with, and teaming her with Naomi is going to be great for both of them, giving the Bellas a team to work against. Very excited to see what they do from here, hopefully strapping Naomi very soon.
Winner – Tamina (3:34)
Video > B+
I don't know what the plan for Sandow is, but he's really stretching his creative wings and showing he has mad skills in all he does. The man seems almost unstoppable, yet never seems to get anywhere doing it! Now, I'm not going to compare Macho Man Randy Savage impersonations, but Jay Lethal was so much better as Savage. But Sandow gives his all to everything he does in the WWE, and seems to have no embarrassment line that he crosses and loses what he's doing. Because of that, I think he will continue to succeed, no matter what they hand him.
Axelmania vs Macho Mando > B+
I love Sandow, and it seems that no matter what he does, he blows it out of the water and makes the fans love him that much more. As Mandow, he was a blast to watch. I cannot get over how good he was. Further, he helped elevate Axelmania to a whole new level. I'm excited to see these fake Superpowers together going forward.
While I loath The Ascension, and all they've done on WWE TV, but what they said on mic here had me giggling. This could be a fun little flash from the past portrayed by the future. (3:17)
In Ring Segment > A
I'm sad, and I was brought back to Edge, though Edge's ending speech was final. I hope Bryan isn't done, but I'd rather have him healthy to be there for Brie and their children to come. I'd like to say that it's great Bryan had his taste in the WWE, and was WHC, something few indie wrestlers will ever do, few Superstars will ever do, but it doesn't mean I don't have a heavy heart over this all. I'm going to play the wait and see card on this, and will hope that Bryan will be able to return, but I'm not going to bank on it. What I will say is that it's great how he touched the fans, that he was able to create two single words catchphrases, the likes of which we've never seen before. Most phrases are at least two words, even the infamous, "Hey yo!" The only one I can actually think of off the top of my head is Stone Cold Steve Austin's, "What?" And I have no troubles comparing the two in many, many ways. I think there's an article in that, and one I need to write.
All in all, I'm hurting, but was so impressed with how Bryan handled himself, even though his red eyes and tears told us exactly what he had to say, even before he said a word.
Big E vs Cesaro > C+
What a kerfuffle! The only great thing in this match was Cesaro. I've always been a Big E fan, but as I've been saying, it seems as though New Day really does suck. They're all seeming quite off their marks since joining together. It just seemed as though Big E wasn't working well with Cesaro. It seemed as though Big E wasn't helping Cesaro much, and almost landed on his head in a very bad way for it. Cesaro is a very strong man, scary strong, but Big E is a big, and musclebound man, and muscle weighs more than fat. Scary! Honestly, the only reason I didn't fail this match was for Cesaro.
Winner – Cesaro (8:54)
Announce Segment > ?
Wait! What? Another PPV is being added to the schedule? It's two weeks after Payback, which is really a nothing of a PPV, and not really well built toward – other than the Fatal 4 Way WWE WHC Match. I have to say I really don't know what the WWE is trying to do, unless they are planning on making the B level PPV into something less than what they are, and add more of them to entice people into buying the WWE Network. That might make some sort of sense, but it really messes with the platform they created so many years ago on how shows worked, and the building toward PPVs. I guess only time will tell.
Backstage Segment > B+
I thought the Prime Time Players were quite strong on mic here, possibly the best we've seen from them in these little skits. They work well together, are funny, and O'Neil is so strong on mic, while Young is quieter, he still is very funny. I want to see them expand these segments into something bigger that will push them into something greater than they've been before.
In Ring Segment > D
Feed him fear!
Good night I'm already bored... Giant versus Spider, and I'm sorry but Ryback needs a damn cape more than Neville needs a last name, if they keep building this as Good versus Redundant – I mean Evil – honestly Wyatt to me, no matter how great his mic work, if you hear something long enough? You just hear a dead TV signal.
Clearly Ryback has been prepped to take on the white noise, but can I just get some ear plugs already? I want to save my ears from boring and see more action from both of these performers, and I'd like to see it sooner rather than later.
Overall? Sorry not sorry... D. For sticking out like a sore thumb and not athletes we deserve to watch.
Orton vs Rollins > B+
This was exactly what they needed to do going into Payback. It was great to see Orton and Rollins one on one on Raw, and they sold every bit of it. I knew there was no way that either would go over the other clean, so something had to happen. J&J Security were the perfect something to go down and end the match with more questions than answers.
After Ambrose won his match early in the show, I told Stacy that there was no way Ambrose would be the one man left standing at the end of Raw, and I'm glad I was wrong. It used to be that whoever was left standing at the end of the go-home Raw wouldn't be winning at the PPV, but times are seriously changing. I have to say it was a great way to show Ambrose respect at home, and that he really could be walking into the push he has deserved for the past year.
Winner – Orton via DQ (15:13)
That was a decent go home with only a few real glitches. I'm really looking forward to Payback, and hope the matches are as strong as they look like they could be on the card. Keep checking back for WNW Predicts, as I have a feeling it will be quite the interesting episode.
Queen of WNW
KB & Andrew