What an wild week! First all those rumors of Taker possibly appearing sometime soon in the WWE, and those rumors were everywhere! My youngest, Sam, was away at camp, only had her phone at night in her bunk, and she still knew Taker was rumored to appear. Yes, she's a great little smark, but still! Then all that went down on Raw last week with the NXT Divas being called up to the main roster, effectively changing the outlook of the Divas Division for years to come. Followed by all the greatness that went down at Battleground. Yes, I was upset about Ryback's staph infection, and that we didn't get to see him defend the IC Championship, but at least Miz got knocked out. Owens didn't beat Cena for the US Championship, but dang, that was an impressive match. We didn't get stuck watching Brock Lesnar destroy Seth Rollins for way too long, because GONG! And who didn't mark out at GONG? I'm thrilled to have Taker back, especially knowing that he's in really great shape. I always worry after every WrestleMania that we might not see him in the ring again, so him returning in the middle of the summer is a beautiful gift from one of the men who turned me into a lifelong wrestling fan. Even though I don't want to see him working with Brock in any way, shape, or form, it seems as though Brock has been working more carefully with Taker, it's a great way to keep the strap off Brock, and I love solid storylines that last for years (if it makes sense), so I'm feeling a bit better than I would have been otherwise. And, lastly, when I was driving to an appointment and I saw Tony Atlas helping a gentleman who was having some issues walking, get up the street. I looked over to wave, and he recognized me and waved before I even had a chance to call his name. Tony's smile always makes me feel that much better about everything.
GONG! > A
What an amazing 24 hours. The WWE as we know it has been tossed on its ear. From Rollins, Ambrose, Brock, and Reigns who have been at the top of the food chain for much of this year, but the return of the Deadman and all that has changed. I'm normally against part-time wrestlers, but Taker is in a different grouping all together. He's like Jericho, Trip, and even HBK before he retired. He's not like Rocky or Brock, he does all he physically can for the WWE, has been a company man all along. Further, Taker got on mic in the ring, and gave us something we haven't had as much as I'd have liked, in years. He let it all out, explained why he destroyed Brock, and did so in that sexy, gravelly voice that no one but Taker could make work.
That man is beyond a legend, and each time he returns, I feel lucky that he's healthy enough to give us just one more time. I look at each time Taker takes to the ring, these days, as his last time, so each time he returns it's a beautiful gift. I honestly thought after his WrestleMania match with Brock was going to be the last one, and I wasn't shocked by that, as I wasn't at all happy about them facing off. I still don't trust Brock with anyone's life in the ring, even his good friend Taker, but he did something in the later segment that really caught my attention, but I'll bring it up when I get to that segment.
Backstage Segment > B+
Sometimes Steph and Trip are so bad on mic that I have troubles not groaning, but this way great for them. Since Michelle basically stood up and forced Taker and Trip to discuss their issues, and with Steph backing her up, the guys had no chance. You don't mess with powerful women like Michelle and Steph, especially when married to them. Since then Trip has shown his awe toward Taker, revered the man as he should be, and without his personal issues getting in the way. He did it here, and the segment was really solid for it.
Charlotte vs Brie > B+
From Taker on mic in the ring, a short backstage segment with Trip and Steph, and onto this! I knew at this point that this episode of Raw was going to be something to write home about. I will admit that I was a bit bummed that Charlotte was facing Brie, but this is the storyline of the moment, and we need to work through it. Having an NXT Diva in the ring with a Bella absolutely raises the level of work in the ring. I shudder to think of what it would have looked like with Brie in the ring with someone of Charlotte's skills five years ago, but at least now she's not making a total ass of herself trying to keep up. I have to admit that after watching Brie work Battleground with Charlotte and Sasha Banks, I wondered if the stiffer working NXT Divas worked even that much stiffer with Brie. Just the way Brie was acting in the ring, checking her nose for blood, and holding her abdomen as if her guts were going to come out of their own volition if she didn't hold on for dear life, it made me think that the NXT Divas might have been taking out some of their anger toward the Bellas in that match.
Honestly, none of the stiff work matters, as long as the Divas Division keeps moving forward, going in the direction it's going now, not the way it was when McMahon brought in bikini models for their looks, not caring if they could actually work the ring. Yes, beauty can be important, but personally, I think Kia is one of the most beautiful women in wrestling, because she's true to herself, her character, and works the ring hard. Banks, Lynch, Charlotte, Paige and Naomi all give me the same vibe, and that's why I cheer them on in all they do. Finally the WWE Divas are worth watching again!
Winner – Charlotte (9:02)
Backstage Segment > B+
Trip ignoring Miz about had me on the floor laughing. I'm not a huge Miz fan, and that's because there's so many things he does better than play this character and wrestle in the ring. Just go watch Tough Talk after Tough Enough, and you will know what I'm talking about. I'm over Miz, and it's time the WWE find him a role outside the ring.
Prime Time Players vs Los Matadores > B
I really love Young, and have come to love O'Neil, and I used to love Primo and Epico, but as Los Matadores, they have lost my vote.
As usual Young takes the brunt of the match, and O'Neil comes in for the hot tag, taking care of everyone else in the ring, and they'd have won if not for New Day. Of course we all knew this was coming, New Day isn't about to stop chasing the Tag Team Champs, and will stop at nothing to get the dirty penny belts back. I thought this was kind of a boring way to do it, and expect much more creativity from them in the future if they want to keep my interest in this feud.
Winners – Los Matadores (4:04)
Miz vs Big Show > C-
Big Show can still go, and go better than most of his generation, even though Big Show's body shouldn't be able to handle his size by this point. There was no question that he'd make short work of Miz, but it was his little speech after the match that got to the point, and brought the grade up for me.
Winner – Big Show (1:27)
Backstage Segment > A& B+
The A is for the piece of artwork shown. I really liked it, and thought it was a great display of Cena and his logos, but also very interesting and creative. It's not really balanced, but I think that's what makes it work so well.
The rest is for Trip and Steph, their reactions, and how they handle Heyman. It's also for Heyman and his reactions to them.
Backstage Segment > B-
This segment was a bit cliché, but also something we haven't seen much of since the AE. Actually, much of this episode had a very AE feeling, and in the best way possible. Not all of the AE was good, by any stretch of the imagination, but much of this episode brought me back to some really good parts of the AE.
I also have to mention that Steph has some great lungs when she needs them, and I'm not talking about her implants.
In Ring Segment > A
Now, this was the segment that really brought me back to the AE. The AE was famous for having wrestlers that couldn't be pulled apart, who kept breaking away from those holding them, as if that was the only way to set up for the best PPV matches. They used it so often during that time that it became a joke, but it's been so long since we've seen two guys go at it like this, that I found it refreshing. I will also admit that I'm thrilled that they don't do that very often, because it put me way behind time, but I thought it was more important to catch the nuances of this segment than keep up on time.
Heyman on mic, as always, was fantastic, but it was the work between Brock and Taker, before security broke them up, that restored my faith in this feud. If you didn't notice, the blows Brock threw on Taker when Brock was on top on the mat, were absolutely pussy. He was barely touching Taker, and that shows me that Brock is actually willing to work carefully with someone, and I'm thrilled that person is Taker. I think Brock was freaked by how concussed Taker was at WrestleMania, and he's being more careful because of it. That shows me that Brock isn't a complete tool box.
Those two men really left it all out there, gave us one of the best never-ending fights that we've seen since the AE. If you can think of one that was better, please bring it up for debate, as I'd love to know what you're thinking. Further, I was really impressed with the Superstars who rushed out to the ring to help. Viktor, Konnor, Jimmy Uso, Fandango, Henry, Los Matadores, Axelmania, Bo, O'Neil, Sandow, Slater, Woods, Kofi, Big E, Swagger, Cesaro, Barrett, Rusev, Lucha Dragons, Young, Rose, R-Truth, Ryder, Owens, Sheamus, and Brad Maddox really worked it to make the segment look that much better. Then there's Triple H. Honestly, I thought Brock was yelling, "I will kill you!" at Trip more than Taker when he did it, because Trip was working so hard to keep them apart. I also have to say that I think Trip did a better job of yelling at Taker and Brock to get apart, and all the play he did out there, better than Vinnie Mac. Yes, I said it, I think Trip trumped the big man this week.
Backstage Segment > A
I think I might shock you about why I gave this segment the grade I did. Of course Taker and Brock, and all the other Superstars, were fantastic, but it was Brock and R-Truth who completely sold it for me.
First off, it felt as though R-Truth broke kayfabe, and was protecting both Brock and the guys who cuffed Brock. R-Truth was completely focused on making sure no one got hurt due to Brock being so riled up. R-Truth showed who he is as a human being, and showed me that he's someone with a heart bigger than most. I'd love to hang out and have a beer with him.
Then there's Brock. Brock was riled up, wasn't in any condition to be touched, and I get that, but it's the fact that Brock knew that he wasn't in any condition to be touched, and told everyone that that really impressed me about him. He earned a bit more of my respect there.
Backstage Segment > B+
Steph and Trip handled the fight between Brock and Taker really well here. Of course Rollins was a total ass, but that's just saying he was playing his character well, and selling it for all he's worth.
DEP! > B
Wyatt's backstage segments have been struggling lately, but Harper helped in a big way. Harper was the best part of this segment for me.
Harper vs Reigns > B+
Having Ambrose out there was great, and it's obvious that they're adding him and Harper into the feud between Wyatt and Reigns, but I still think this is a kick in the teeth for Ambrose, especially knowing that Cena is heading back into the WWE WHC scene. Ambrose is one of the best on the roster, and should be working at the top. Actually, I have to admit that the WWE roster has gone from very, very thin to overflowing with greatness. It's amazing what a couple of great Superstars pushing so hard does to push the rest of the roster. That is making all the Superstars step things up, and making the mid-card that much more interesting. Even though I'm not thrilled with it, I know that Ambrose, Reigns, and Harper will make as much of this feud that they can, and I will give them props for that.
Winner – Reigns via DQ (13:11)
In Ring Segment > B
Of course Rollins had to come out and give his 20 minute promo, but he is following in Trip's footsteps!
I will admit that I was a bit shocked that it was Cena who came out and got in his face, but Cena does have to beat Flair in number of times with WHC title reigns, so they have to get him in there in some way. As I keep saying, I want it to be Ambrose, but if wishes were horses... Honestly, Ambrose would be a great US Champion. Just a thought.
I will say that Rollins needed someone to work with, and Cena is the face of the WWE. Actually this could be great for both of them, and while not something I would have expected to be excited about, the more I think about it, the more I think this could be fun. Also, we know that Rollins will pull the best out of Cena, who has been growing a lot lately working with the younger guys.
Paige & Becky Lynch vs Naomi & Sasha Banks > B+
Naomi was solid here, but still the weak link. I was high on Naomi until she turned heel, then seemed to lose a lot of what made her so great. Her timing has been off, and she's just not been as strong in the ring. Hopefully she can pull herself up by her light up shoes and step up to work with the newest Divas. Beyond that, this match was stellar, and I had troubles keeping up with their moves as they worked the ring. I am thrilled by this, and the Divas matches had been such a snore! Further, the Divas had over twenty minutes of ring time this Raw, and that's something that's amazing to me. Even better, it wasn't 20 minutes of loo time. I'm finally excited by the Divas Division again!
Winners – Sasha Banks & Naomi (12:44)
Backstage Segment > B-
Summer Rae just doesn't do it for me. As I've said before, something in her personality reminds me of a foe I went to school with. We tell our children to ignore their bullies, but sometimes they stick with you in some way for the rest of your life, and I think that's why I cannot get past Summer Rae's faux, plastic personality.
I give Lana huge props, as she works her tippy-tippies, especially her eyes, but I cannot say the same for Rusev. His eyes are so obviously only for Lana, no matter what he does. He so obviously loves her very much, and cannot get past that, even when he's supposed to be hating her. Even though he's breaking kayfabe, it's sweet to see how much he loves her, and that he cannot even act like he doesn't, or, his eyes can't.
John Cena & Randy Orton & Cesaro vs Kevin Owens & Rusev & Sheamus > B
Well, that heel team didn't stick together very well. It was an easy way for the faces to go over, and typical for heels, but they really imploded more than I expected possible.
Sheamus just isn't doing it for me lately. I love him, and I really want to see him succeed, but he's being completely out-done by a lot of the younger talent. Cesaro, Owens, and even Orton completely out-worked Sheamus in this match, and it's been happening on a regular basis.
The end of this match was fun to watch, but it's always fun to see a bunch of wrestlers having fun hitting their finishers on a deserving heel at such a fast speed. It brought the match and the show together as a whole.
Winners – Cena & Orton & Cesaro (12:04)
I'm sorry this was so late. I've had a rough week with my health. Nothing to worry about, and I hope to be back in the saddle with my norm next week. Thanks for understanding.
Queen of WNW