What a week for the WWE. It appears as though things might finally be turning around, that the WWE might finally be coming back from the serious slump they have been in for way too long. While I know this appears to be a storyline that we've seen before, mostly because it really is at this point, but all storylines are rehashed versions of different storylines – it's just the way it is. The thing is that it's been long enough since we saw this storyline, and while some of the players are the same, their roles have grown and changed though the years.
I could go on and on about SummerSlam and all the things that went down, but so many people have been talking about it – and I talked about it during SummerSlam in the Live Blog with some fantastic wrestling fans – so I'm going to jump right into RAW... Or I was. I was having troubles focusing and not getting distracted, so I decided it was one of those days to re-watch RAW to keep me focused. I already had Hulu going (had been watching lost), so I went to watch RAW there. First off, a 90 minute show, so I know things are cut out, and I will have to refer back to the RAW Results, but the opening with Maddox introducing his RAW wouldn't have been bad if the boy could find clothes that fit! I know he likes trim fitting clothes, but his buttons were gaping! He looked worse than ever, not at all what you want representing your show!
In Ring Segment > A-
I loved how the fans first hated Cena when he came out, I mean really hated him, even though he lost cleanly to Bryan in a great match at SummerSlam, and made no qualms about it. Cena was honest and endearing in what he said and how he said it. It's about time he takes some time off and heals himself, mentally as well as physically. Honestly, Cena is very lucky that he's still on his feet after what's been going on with his elbow. It's been quite swollen and filled with fluid for so long that he could have been in serious trouble infection-wise. I read that his doctors were worried that his whole arm might become infected, and looking at his elbow, he has to be on some serious antibiotics to avoid a systemic infection. That Cena has been working through that injury, through the pain he must be dealing with shows me that. I know (most) wrestlers work through a lot of pain quite often, but I'm floored by what Cena can and has done. In some ways he will be missed, in other ways, I think the fans could really use this time away from his corny one dimensional character. Not that I see his character changing much when he returns, but this time without him will be good for all of us. I will say that I thought Sam was going cry when she heard Cena was leaving the WWE. She thought he was really leaving until I explained, but then she heard that he would be gone 4-6 months, and was in shock. I explained that he needs surgery as well as time for his entire physical and mental well being. That Bryan came out right after helped her realize that the rest of her faves will still be around.
I loved the way Cena announced Bryan to the ring, but it was the way he handed Bryan the mic and stepped away, a sort of passing of the torch. Bryan has 4-6 months to prove himself worthy of being the face of the WWE, even though in many ways Orton is the face right now. Bryan needs the rating to go up, and it's the right time of the year for that. He also needs his merch numbers to go up. Those things will prove that he really is the man, not just the most over Superstar in so many years. Bryan is lucky in that he has Cena's ear, and someone to help him above and beyond those backstage. Trip had it in HBK, now Bryan has it with Cena. One last thing about this segment. I love the way Bryan channeled Jericho in his abuse of Steph on mic. Calling Steph trash and standing up to her was perfected by Jericho, and it was nice to see Bryan using that to continue getting over.
Sandow vs Cody > B+
There's some complaints about the WWE showing these two in the ring together again, but I thought they looked solid at SummerSlam, and it was one of the better matches on RAW. I enjoyed watching Cody and Sandow work the ring together, even though I'm the one who said it was too early for them to face off. I think it's now time for them to step back from the ring and work their feud and storyline some more. Cody has been able to get the upper hand, now it's time for Sandow to get over on Cody a bit. I think these two are going to go back and forth until the case is up for grabs at a PPV. I wasn't sure that these two would be able to carry this feud as the creative hasn't been fantastic, but they've really stepped things up this week.
Winner – Cody (10:40)
In Ring Segment > B+
Heyman on mic is one of the best things on RAW. Further, Heyman's feud with Punk is one of the best storylines, leading to one of the best matches at SummerSlam. Heyman making this all about family and his relationship with Punk made this segment into something that much more than a feud, he made it into reality. As I keep saying, the best feuds are the ones between the closest friends because there's real emotion there, and these two are great at bringing that emotion to the surface!
Backstage Segment > D
I'm really not impressed with the Bellas and the Dactyls on mic together here. It felt flat and not at all interesting. They didn't even address Brie's loss at SummerSlam, and where's Natalya? The whole thing was disjointed and made little sense.
Dactyls vs AJ & Layla > D-
The only things good about this match were AJ's submission work, and the the Dactyls won. This was a complete mess and had little to do with anything going on in the Divas Division. I'm so not impressed with the crap we saw in the ring, and what makes things worse is that both AJ and Naomi know how to work the ring, and can work it really well.
Now for my big issue with what happened in this match – more botching! Yes, Layla kicked out too early and that made the ending look like a total mess, but the ref made it look that much worse. At least he called for the bell this week, but he struggled and looked completely confused before doing so. He made such a huge deal on FB last week about him being this great WWE ref and indy refs need to shut up about things they don't know about, but in making a mess of things for a second week in a row, he looks like he's the one who doesn't know what he's supposed to be doing. I honestly wouldn't be half as mouthy about this if he hadn't opened his mouth on FB and made himself look like such a jackass, then follow it up with another messy ending.
Winners – Dactyls (2:18)
Ziggler vs The Shield > B+
Ziggler handled himself much better in this match than I thought possible. He hit some solid moves with both Rollins and Ambrose while managed some ground and pound with Reigns. He also took some solid bumps and helped make the match look solid. A body drop,b drop kick, famouser and the way Ziggler reversed on Reigns into that DDT was just lovely! The arguing between Cole and JBL on announce was rather annoying and took a lot away from this match, but I cannot penalize the wrestlers for JBL and Cole returning to the school yard for a verbal tussle.
This showed that the fans were behind Ziggler, and brought them back from the Divas match. I don't know where this leaves Ziggler's connection with Kaitlyn, or his feud with Big E and AJ, but it does set him up to be an underdog with Bryan, someone who the McMahons don't like, don't think has the star power to be a top guy, and wants to keep down. They were obvious about taking Ziggler down in this match, but it's another sid storyline that will be built up so that Ziggler will have a reason to join in the fight against the Corporate Evolution. Ziggler by Bryan's side at some point in the future could be really great to see!
Winners – The Shield (6:07)
ADR vs Sin Cara > F!
Are you kidding me? Again? Sin Cara is on his 4th injury since joining the WWE. They fired Anderson for having a glass jaw, but Sin Cara is absolutely snake bit! Further, I cannot blame ADR for being pissed about this. Cena has been working the ring with a torn triceps and that huge mass of fluid, yet Sin Cara broke a finger and called the match. Austin had a broken neck and finished. Trip pulled that muscle in his leg completely off and finished. There have been so many solid injuries in the ring and some of these wrestlers have finished matches. Even if it's a short ending, they didn't call for the match to end! I'm not saying it's the smartest thing for them to do, but a broken finger? Now, I don't like to say someone should be fired from their job, but it appears to be that Sin Cara isn't the right fit for the WWE and should return to Mexico to work there. As much as I complain about ADR, he was in a bar brawl and still showed up and worked his bum off at SummerSlam. His eye looks terrible, but he was there and worked through it. I guess I'm just more than done with Sin Cara, and think it's time to give someone else a chance. I always liked Hunico...
Winner – ADR via DQ (0:52)
In Ring Segment > B
I had to break this off from the match because Ricardo and RVD deserved their own grade. I loved how the fans were chanting for Rey to come out and join Ricardo. I think, when Rey is ready to return, he will join up with Ricardo, until then RVD was a nice little swerve, and a good direction for both of them. Hopefully RVD will be able to bring something out in ADR that he has but rarely shows us. Maybe he won't be able to phone it in in the ring with RVD. Also, now that Ricardo is away from ADR, maybe we will see some El Local? One can hope.
Oh, I also have to say that ADR still wasn't getting solid heat when he was on mic. There was still some people cheering for him, some booing for him, but in the long run, the man just isn't getting the reaction that a top heel and WHC should be getting. When is WWE going to figure out what to do with this man, or repackage him in some way that actually works? In all reality, I shouldn't be blaming these issues on the WWE, but on the man with the strap.
The Real Americans vs Prime Time Players > B
I want to say that Cena's comment about race, creed or appearance seemed as much for Young as Bryan, and that's cool after some of the things that Cena's said in the past that could be taken badly by anyone LGBT. I was really impressed that Young got the solid ring time he did, and while he looked a bit frenzied, trying to get all his moves in, he looked better in his moves than he has in the past. I knew when I heard that Young had come out of the closet that the Prime Time Players would be in line for a face turn. There's no way they could leave them heels after that announcement. I don't know what the future holds, but right now they should be heels, and it looked as though they were going in that direction even before Young's announcement. I don't want to make this all about Young's sexuality, and after this segment, I won't be talking about it, because in reality it's Young's personal life and has no bearing on who he is in the ring, or in the WWE, and I hope they don't make it into a huge storyline, unless it is well executed and done tastefully.
Winners – Prime Time Players (4:48)
Backstage Segment > B-
Big Show was great, especially in how he handled Maddox, but then there's Maddox. The man is barely a glorified errand boy with all the power or McMahon, Steph and Trip running around in front of the camera, so I wonder why even bother with him? Maybe they will bring him back into the storyline, but right now he's more of an eyesore on camera than Bryan!
Backstage Segment > F
What was that Footlocker mess? I guess I know what they were after, but that was a travesty!
Backstage Segment > F
Other than King commenting on the B.A.Star program, I see no reason behind Ryback bullying all the smaller guys backstage. I'm not impressed and really wish it would stop.
Big Show vs The Shield > B+
The Shield really showed how tired they were in this second match. Obviously Big Show has a major size advantage, and much more ring history than the other three, and that showed in this match. Big Show looked great upon his return, and will be a big help when Bryan needs his backing. Reigns looked as though he was a hurting unit when he was outside trying to relearn how to breathe! Though, even though he was still hurting, he managed to get in the ring to hit his spear, then bomb Big Show. The same has to be said for Rollins who looked as though he was hurting since he was dumped outside badly earlier against Ziggler. I will admit that I questioned why Henry didn't come out to help Big Show, or at least try to help him in some way. That was confusing booking to me.
Winner – The Shield (4:31)
In Ring Segment > A-
I don't know if Punk verbally attacking the fan for booing him was scripted or not, but it didn't feel scripted which made it that much better. Even though Heyman commented on the fat guy in the stands, he's so good that he could have been working off Punk's comments, even if they weren't scripted. Punk really went off, was believable, and that's the type of segment that makes Punk a top guy on mic. He was great spewing venom all over the place and really letting everyone have it. Fantastic!
In Ring Segment (6:29) > B+
I timed from Axel getting into the ring to Punk's music starting. I have been worried about Axel getting pushed aside, yet again, but he really stepped up in this non-match and looked really strong doing it. I was impressed with the moves he hit, and the serious bumps he took with Punk. Axel looked solid in the ring with Punk, really held his own. Axel has it, now they need to really push him. I don't know what the plans for the future are but I was impressed with how these two worked together and the emotion added to it all between Punk and Heyman. That final stare between those two men was jaw dropping!
Bray vs R-Truth > B
Not much of a match, but Bray showed just how dedicated he is to his character and how he works it to his tippy-tippies! That man puts every ounce of creativity into this character and it shows. The problem with this is that R-Truth can't keep up with Bray the Kane can, so it didn't hold up the way the SummerSlam match did, but Kane was dragged out, so who knows when we will see Kane, and if he will be brainwashed.
I do have to mention that I loved the way R-Truth was danced around the ring by Bray, but even sicker was the way Bray slammed the side of his body into R-Truth gut as he ran the ropes. That looked really rough!
Winner – Bray (1:37)
Video > F
Maybe Primo and Epico needed to be repackaged, but Los Matadores? Someone please take the stereotype and cliché drugs away from creative!
Usos vs 3MB > B-
The Usos are looking better and better each week. I was worried about those two before they faced Rollins and Reigns before MITB, but now I know if they continue on this path they're going to be just fine. It's Slater I wish was getting more of a chance. With the Tag Division getting a better push right now, he and McIntyre could get a chance, I just wish Mahal would go away! I think both Slater and McIntyre could have a really solid chance as a tag team, if booked to show their skills, and this appears the best time to do it with the Tag Division stepping up again.
Winners – Usos (5:24)
Miz vs Barrett > C+
After spending big parts of SummerSlam setting up for Miz to face Fandango, they put him in the ring with Barrett? That made no sense to me. Further, what is going on with both of them? Neither has a direction, or a clue right now. I'm okay with them building a feud between Miz and Fandango, and it could help them both, but this match was a waste on so many levels. I don't know why they needed this match as a bit backstage between Miz and Fandango could have done so much more, and we wouldn't have been stuck with Miz's fig 4!
Winner – Miz via DQ (4:51)
Backstage Segment > D-
Wait, if Bryan was tossed from the arena, but somehow he got back in? So he got back in and we didn't get to see how? Then there's Maddox being a tool again, such a waste of space!
In Ring Segment > A
The similarities between Bryan and Austin are really interesting when you look at them. Starting out there's the fact that Bisch didn't think Austin has any personality and couldn't handle the mic, but then Austin left WCW and proved that he has fantastic personality, charisma, and can really work the mic to get over with the fans. When Bryan was in ROH he wasn't the most charismatic man, and his mic work wasn't great, it was a worry of the WWE's when he came in, but then he started blossoming and becoming something few of us expected. Further, look at how Austin was able to get over with two simple things, '3:16' and 'What?' Then there's Bryan who has been able to get over with two of the simplest words in the world 'Yes!' and 'No!' I honestly don't know any other wrestlers who have been able to get over with simple words like these two have.
The subtleties that WWE creative have learned over the years is really fantastic.
I also have to say that the way Steph was dressed showed her change before she even opened her mouth. Gone was the soft and drapey pants suits, slightly lacy camis, back is the black leather. Not the leather pants she used to stalk around in, but that leather skirt was very telling. It's much more hard edged than the bit of lace, or sheer, under her blazer that had been showing up, but not as rebelious as the black leather pants she used to run around wearing during the McMahon/Helmsley Era.
But it's not just what Steph was wearing, it was everyone in that ring. Trip was in a power suit, showing his position in the company and how much control he has over everything around him. There's also the hair, but I really do think he was ready to chop it off and move into the next part of his life. Long hair can be a total pain, as I've been learning the past couple years. But then there's McMahon and his creative and stylish suits in interesting colors and combinations. To me McMahon looks like a high end retired Florida businessman, or what he looks like when he's not on the golf course of hanging out with the grands. He carries himself like the business genius he is, but dresses like he's hanging out at the club with the other men of his socioeconomic class. He's enjoying that he's not the one making the actual decisions, even though he really is the one pushing the buttons and pulling the strings.
Orton was in his ring gear, not even wearing a t-shirt, but carrying the big chunk of gold and leather to show that he is the top dog. He's the front man, the visual muscle of the team. It's also interesting to note that Orton has picked up his slower, more graceful way of moving that he has only when he's full on heel. While Orton always moves slow, he's the master of subtle changes between his heel character and his face character. The Shield might be McMahon's muscle, but they never stepped into the ring, they always stayed a level below Trip, Steph, McMahon and Orton.
Then there was Bryan looking shaggy as ever in his t-shirt and jeans. There was nothing interesting or stylish about what he was wearing, or how he was wearing it. Simple guy without any frills or even the look of a Superstar in their professional eyes.
The hug between Steph and Orton was a bit corny than it needed to be. I thought she was a bit silly in how she handled it, but that was a brief moment in a stellar closing segment. The way McMahon, Orton, Steph and Trip stood over Bryan prone on the ring was meant to show something huge and they did it, but that the cameraman wasn't just lower than them, but looking up from a spot even lower than the level of the mat.
Some might say that they went too far with Bryan, that he doesn't look like he has a chance in the world of getting through those top four, but I disagree. This was the first episode of RAW after the forming of what I've been calling the Corporate Evolution, and there's so much storyline to unravel. This is the very first moments in this novel, the hook that draws us in and makes us want so much more. Bryan is the underdog, but so was Austin. Think about how much fun it was to watch Austin claw his way to the top through McMahon and everything McMahon put in his way. Heck, think of the fun their matches were, and that's why I'm hoping we will be seeing Trip and Bryan in the ring together at some point. Last night I was talking to Ryan Fox (Facebook friend and WNW reader) about all of this, and he said it would be great to see Bryan have to face Trip for his Royal Rumble spot. I think it's a fantastic idea, and a great reason for them to get into the ring together. Some will balk, but to me this is so much better than Trip getting in the ring with Brock for his own ego, this is Trip helping Bryan climb and grow, stepping to that next level. There's so much coming, and it's about time. Further, I think it's great that it's Bryan who is the man in the leading role, if anyone deserves it, it's him.
Last night after RAW Gesus and I spoke briefly about the show, and he didn't have the same outlook on it that I do. Because of this I offered him to opportunity to finish off this week's RIB. Please bear with him as he has an injured finger, but unlike Sin Cara, Gesus bucked up and got some work done.
I am apparently at odds with many people in the Open Thread Watch Party for WWE's Raw last night. I figured I'd use this to briefly state my case for why it was garbage. It started out hot as Raw ever was. My issue is then it went sharply downhill. Why would they make Daniel Bryan leave the building, not to see of him again until the end of the show? Killed that pop and seemed to really kill the crowd. Heyman coming out was a nice segment, but people were slightly confused and mad that there was no Punk. Then we moved on to Jobber entrances for Sandow and Rhodes in a match that crowd saw 24 hours ago. No matter how talented they are, why should the audience care? Is this TNA? Then there was a Divas match. If the crowd wasn’t dead yet, the Divas made sure of that. Then there was the handicap match. While I think I understand the match, the crowd was pissed. Why put heat on all these people? That is a bit too much for the audience to understand. The Shield beating up 1 guy who WWE is trying to build as a top face makes no sense, but okay let’s see where it’s going. While they felt confused on why that match was there, they decided hey, let’s pick up this energy with ADR. His surprise opponent will be none other that Sin Cara. Again, E capitalizing on all that post SummerSlam energy there. No one cared! The only genuine excitement from this segment was RVD coming out with a new manager. The tag team match was fine, but didn’t hurt or help. Still solid. Then we move on to terrible backstage segments. Ryback's segment was just stupid. No one cares. The match with Big Show and The Shield finally put me to sleep. 64oz Mountain Dew I drank during Raw, and it put me to sleep. This match was just dumb, yet again. They powerbombed Show how many times? Then Punk comes out. Finally we get to hear the crowd go nuts. First time since the opening segment. But it was brought down by him belittling a fan. Nothing like WWE's love to booking all their faces like heels. A gripe for another time. Then followed 3 forgettable matches. Bray people were excited for, but no one cares about R-Truth. Usos are energy, but at this point the crowd is on the ropes. Then to further make sure the crowd doesn’t care they have Miz vs Barrett. Like I said forgettable.
Then there is the ending. Yes I get it, I have been reminded 15 times 'it’s just like Austin.' I get it, the issue is, as good as Daniel Bryan is, he is no Austin. That's not a knock on him. I just think the amount of heat they got last night and the fire they had going into this show that the entire show, and the ending was bad. Expectations might have been high, I just don't think they booked a good show. This show would have been fine, but did numerous segments and little things that really killed my interest. Yes, the ending creates some interesting television so that much is a success. I just think for what WWE can do, especially with this much passion after last night, the entire Raw was a let down in comparison to the hot Raws prior.
Queen of WNW
KB & Gesus