I have a confession to make, I didn't write this! Honestly, this should be published under Jesse Sherwood's name, but being one of my closest friends, he wouldn't hear of a such thing. That's just the way he is. On Monday I asked Jesse, and any other WWENews writers who were interested, to write whichever segments of the RIB they wanted to write, because I was going to spend much of the day on the road going to and coming from a medical appointment. Well, on my way home I found out one of my Writer's Group, and (local) besties was in the Emergency Room, and there alone. I stopped there to be with her, also I have a lot more medical experience and know the right questions to ask. So I spent the rest of the day with her. I would have felt a bit guilty that I wasn't at home writing, even with a very ill friend, but Jesse kept updating me and kept writing. By the time I got home (9pm EST), he had written the majority of the RIB for me. One of our newest WWENews writers, Wyatt Leves wrote one segment, and I wrote the main event, but otherwise, this is ALL Jesse Sherwood, and he deserves huge props for it. I love you, Brother.
Orton vs. The Authority: A- and D-
Now that was a pop! Orton is one of the last people that I like to see on a mic, especially to open a show, but considering Fast Lane, he had to because it would turn the crowd hotter than Hades. And what a refreshing change of pace for Orton! The rage fueled, maniacal, snake-in-the-grass Orton that EVERY single fan in WWE today loves and expects from him. And once the Authority came out, we knew what the pitch was going to be. But while it was predictable, every person in the promo played off one another perfectly. Even Show and Orton made a point to play off of the crowd, which was a nice spot of improvisation. And once Steph went B**** mode and brought up Orton's past with the McMahon family, it became something magical. Sadly, though, this segment fell off the rails and killed Orton's momentum for the rest of the night when Orton agreed to the "business meeting". You could hear the crowd die for him, it was that bad. Way to bury your returning talent WWE! The first grade was for the work of everyone in this segment, the second was for creative's direction.
Bad News Barrett vs. Dolph Ziggler: B
Wade Barrett... I'M AFRAID I'VE GOT SOME BAD NEWS!!! While you are a technically sound wrestler and fantastic mic worker, you are nothing better than a jobber now! I mean seriously, how many time can you go under cleanly as champion? Barrett is a perfect example of a champion without protection. For Freya's sake, they don't even have the champion with the belt right now! And when you are going under guys almost exclusively reserved jobbing, such as R-Truth and Sin Cara and having you promos interupted, that just shows your status. It's been nice knowing you Wade. However, after Ziggler taking the pin from freaking KANE at Fast Lane, it was nice to see him pick up a win here and be thrown into the IC Championship chase to WrestleMania. It may not be a big push, but it is better than nothing. Truth was actually refreshing on commentary, until he went off the rails during the latter part of the match. His yelling at Cole was just stupid. As for the match itself, it was exactly what I expect a Ziggler match to be, and not really much more. At this point, if Dolph puts on a bad match, I have to wonder if it was the opponent who caused it. But what redeemed this from being a run-of-the-mill, typical Raw segment was Ambrose. That man is turning anything he touches to gold, and it's like he isn't even trying! From the way he sauntered down the ramp with the title, to how he talked down to Barrett in the corner, all the way to the shoulder bump with Ziggler, he oozes charisma and personality. He is his character, inside and out, and it shows.
The Business Meeting: C+
Rollins set Steph quickly into full on B**** mode! And Kane didn't help matters any! But this segment had to be one of the daftest creative decisions WWE has made in the past year, aside from putting the WWE Championship on Lesnar. They found the best way to subdue every bit of a face reaction he could get last night by saddling him with the trainwreck that is The Authority again. All the fans want to see right now is Orton hunting Rollins. And while Orton may be "keeping his enemies closer", all this is really doing is bogging down a hot feud.
Sheamus Returns Vignette: A
These videos have a very heelish vibe to them. The last time he was frequently calling himself the Celtic Warrior was as a heel, and the militaristic march in the music being played makes me feel that if they were going to do it, now is the time. Sheamus has always been a favorite of mine, (My next tattoo is his cross with my oldest son's name on it.) and he has done well as both a face and a heel. But at this juncture in his career, if he were to return as a face, he'd be coming into a flooded card and be lost in the shuffle. As a heel, he can easily be at the top, as the only full time main event heel right now is Seth Rollins.
Primetime Players vs. The Ascension: D
Every time WWE gives The Ascension the Goldman Box for a promo, I want to rip my eyes out and stab my ears with the tines of a rusty fork. They sound like the cheesy first boss in an anime or video game. Overly gravely, forced growls, and completely unbelievable. And while I am excited that Darren Young and Titus O'Neil are back together, this match was bowling shoe ugly. It was pretty much nothing but strikes and a few double team moves by The Ascension. The only thing I can say I enjoyed here was that The Ascension finally lost, and to a team that hopefully will finally get a chance at the Tag Titles.
Roman, Bryan, and Heyman: A+
Roman Reigns... I have been a very critical detractor of his since his return before the Royal Rumble, mainly due to how he has been booked with the Jetpack to Infinity. But over the last couple of months, once we got past the initially awful promos and saw some of his real personality shine through, once he started showing he could go in the ring for 20+ minutes and not have to rely on super momentum to get over, and once he proved that he could put himself over with the fans further than what we get out of the midcard guys, I have to say that he has finally won me over. He may not be the most deserving of his current spot, but he is more than making the best of the chance he has been given. And his improvement in those areas shone through tonight on the mic when working by himself and with Heyman. And he also showed growth in something a lot of the boys struggle with: dealing with the crowd. When they started booing when Bryan mentioned Reigns winning the Rumble, he just smiled one of the most honest smiles I've ever seen in that ring and shrugged it off. Bryan's resounding endorsement of Roman Reigns was a great way to further put over Reigns with the crowds that will come on the Road to WrestleMania, and his impassioned speech about the guys with Reigns' size but none of the heart he has was a perfect way to set up his next feud, as he can face someone he sees as soulless to the business. But what truly made this segment a classic was when Heyman resoundingly endorsed Reigns... Up until he talked about his client, Brock Lesnar, who no-showed despite being advertised. Heyman's loudmouth played a perfect foil to the strong and quiet Reigns. And as soon as Reigns spoke, it was lightning in a bottle! He performed arguably his best promo ever in WWE. It was perfectly timed, pitched, and worded. If he can keep this up, he is a perfect guy for the top of the card.
Tag Team Championship Match - UpperFACT (Kidd and Cesaro) © vs. The Usos: B
Overall, this match was great. It showed the teamwork from both tag teams that we don't tend to see too much in the tag team division as often. These two teams, The Usos and Tyson Kidd/Cesaro, have both shown cooperation between one another. As Michael Cole was saying, for only being a tag team for a couple of months, Kidd and Cesaro are quickly showing their association with each other. They seem to be "linked together" just as well as The Usos at this point. Also, this even gives a slight setup for a storyline feud between Natalya and Naomi. In the end it didn't matter what the outcome was as much as how the competitors performed in the match.
Miz and Mizdow: B+
Oh great... Thanks to Miz, we now know that the Andre the Giant Battle Royal is back, and that Miz is in it. That mean that we will most likely have to wait until Extreme Rules to get the final payoff between The Miz and "Miz"dow. I'll admit that disappoints me heavily, as Sandow more than deserves a WrestleMania moment after what he has been through since losing his MITB briefcase. But that also means we get even more interactions between the two, like this one! Mizdow's excitement that he has been "cast in a commercial" and Miz's disdain for it were pure gold, as was Mizdow's hatred for lint rolling Miz's coat. They work extremely well off of one another, and have revitalized each other's careers in ways I never expected from Miz. That just goes to show, given the right chance, he can shine to that major star talent we thought he once was.
Bray Wyatt Recap and Segment: A
Bray has been an absolute monster in his promos the last few weeks as he is in pursuit of Undertaker's soul. Every time Bray speaks, it has a passion and conviction behind the words, to the point that one has to question if it is truly just a character or if there is a little bit of "The Man of a 1000 Truths" deep inside of Windham Rotunda's soul. Regardless of the fact, this is quickly becoming my most anticipated bout on the card, if it does happen, even beyond Sting and HHH.
Stardust vs. Jack Swagger: B-
First off, I want to commend Jack Swagger for his tweet that was featured here, even if it was WWE directed. "A man without a family is like a man without a country." As someone with very few member of his blood family remaining, it hits very true to me, thus why I branch it out to my friends. (Hi Kendra!) As for the match itself, it may not have been the best technical masterpiece, but it did a good job of forwarding Stardust's descent into madness with his own identity and his feud with Goldust. My only complaint is that Stardust tapped WAY too quickly when Swagger put the Patriot Lock on the second time. It wasn't even cinched in when he tapped!
Cena, Lana, and Rusev: A-
Wait, I've got something positive to say on Cena? Yes I do! Other than botching The Accolade the first time he said it (The Acolyte, LOL! He had a few too many with JBL Sunday night.) and the fact that there have been others to break through The Accolade, he put over Rusev in a major way, while doing something he very rarely does: look human. He looked like a man that was beaten, a man that doubts himself. And Rusev more than held his own here! He cut a good promo, and showed why WWE brass are putting so much faith in him. He, unlike most of the "foreign monster" heels they try to build, is evolving his ring work and mic work. He is making an honest effort, and it shows each passing week. And even when he goes into Bulgarian/Russian, it feels natural and necessary. While some may decry Cena's history lesson, it fit perfectly with his character and the timeframe (J-Day). And after this segment and the match they had at Fast Lane, their rematch at WrestleMania (You know it is going to happen!) may be a show stealer!
Rollins and Orton Locker Room Segment: C+
Orton's jabs at J&J Security were priceless! But otherwise, this was a tepid segment that served little purpose than to show that Orton and Rollins were trying to get on the same page and that Rollins is WAY too trusting of a man that just 2 hours earlier was wanting to kick his head in. Basically, it wasn't anything we haven't seen countless times before.
Main Event – Bryan & Reigns vs The Authority: A-
Looking back at this match and I'm hit by the group dynamics and the creative way they used it against each other, and against the fans. We all spent the entire match waiting for Bryan and Reigns to turn on each other, and for Orton to turn on The Authority, especially Rollins. That Orton started the match as the most over face of the night, and left the show with everyone questioning his character, direction, and entire belief system, was extraordinary! We were left with more questions than answers when it comes to Orton and how he's going to handle Rollins, the one person he was dead set to take out, and who we thought would be facing at WrestleMania. I still fully believe that will happen, they're just being more creative about it, and for that I'm thrilled. I am rarely this excited about anything to do with Orton, but I'm thrilled right now. Rollins and Orton at WrestleMania could be a show stealer. Yes, that's coming from me, KB, and that's with Sting vs Triple H on the card! I fell that strongly about Rollins, and I know Orton can deliver when the cards are really down, such as at WrestleMania. That they didn't go the obvious route, as they didn't with Reigns, leaves me that much more excited moving forward with this storyline.
Speaking of Reigns, I thought he was fantastic on this episode of Raw. I loved him on mic earlier, something I might just have to write an actual complete article about soon, but I also really enjoyed him in this match. Reigns seems much more confident in himself after Fast Lane, and it shows. We watched through this whole match, waiting, just to see if either Reigns or Bryan would turn on the other, even after their match at Fast Lane, and their earlier segment on mic, but what we were met with was solid tag work, and when Bryan stole the tag at the end, Reigns sold his amusement perfectly as a young face. He wanted to be annoyed at first, and that briefly played across his face, then he broke into a wide smile and ran with it. That he could sell those quick little moment so well with just his facial expressions shows me that he really does have what it takes to be a top guy – at least when it comes to selling facially.
Just to tie this up, I have to say that Paul Rathert was supposed to write about the Divas Match, but he was so taken with the travesty that he ended up writing an entire article about the Divas Division and what's going on there. Please check out his article HERE. And, not to be outdone, Jamie Welton also stepped up and wrote an article about the Divas Division today. Please check out his article HERE. Until next week, thanks for your support and kindness.
Queen of WNW
KB, Jesse & Wyatt