BrayRoman

On the day after Wrestlemania, I spent hours sitting in front of my computer sifting through the myriad complains of the NAIborhood, and, if I'm being honest, offering many of my own.

Why did Brock Lesnar so handily defeat Dean Ambrose?

Why did WWE build up the Shane McMahon story only to have Undertaker win?

Why did The Rock put Bray Wyatt over verbally, but not necessarily physically?

Basically, the world wanted to know What in the blue hell is going on?

 

With last night's RAW in the rearview mirror, I can't look at you and say all of those questions have been answered.  In fact, I can't look at you and say that ANY of those questions have been answered.

What I can do is look at you and say. . . Who cares? 

 

The two RAWs coming out of Wrestlemania have been fantastic, WWE Payback looks like it is going to be an amazing Pay Per View, and even some of the most fervent critics of WWE (Hi, Laz!) have been, at least temporarily, silenced.  As Pope of Positivity, I am feeling pretty darn good right now about my wrestling experience.

Let me share some of the moments that made me smile most.

 

Shane McMahon continues to do a stellar job running RAW.

I don't know how long this storyline is going to last, I don't know where exactly it's going to lead and quite frankly, it doesn't bother me in the slightest.  Shane coming out and seemingly being "The People's Authority" has resulted in some fantastic television, and I'll enjoy it as long as WWE goes with it.

 

Kevin Owens might be my perfect wrestler.

I love technical wrestling, I love the ability to mix power and aerial ability and I LOVE Wrestle Silly.  What about that is NOT Kevin Owens?  While Bo Dallas will always hold a special place in my heart, I don't think I can consider him my favorite wrestler right now while KO continues to turn in such epic performances.  Nobody I can think of would take the time to stop, pick up JBL's hat, put it back on the announce table and apologize for knocking it over.

 

PPV Quality Matches on a Monday Night RAW.

Someone on Twitter didn't really know what to make of Zayn vs. Styles, which could easily have been a main event matchup on pay per view.  I think they felt like it was wasted on a RAW.  How could it be?  With the depth of talent we have in WWE right now, EVERY show should feel like a PPV, match-wise, and let the storylines be darned.  I loved AJ vs. Sami, and that's all that matters.

 

Dean Ambrose is back where he belongs.

While the Wrestlemania loss will still sting for a while, I think, when push comes to shove, I am really just angry with myself for having such irrational expectations as to think Ambrose could feasibly beat Brock.  I fell victim to my own fantasy booking.

Now Dean is back where he belongs, FINALLY coming back to address the "feud" that started way back at Night of Champions.  He and Jericho are going to do amazing work (the Highlight Reel-turned-Ambrose Asylum was particularly stellar) and Dean will be stronger for it.

 

Bray-May-Zing!

I spent a good portion of the morning fanning out with fellow Bray Bo-Lievers (See what I did there?) Shannon Scott and Whitney Harris, and I think we can all agree that last night ranked among the best all-time moments for Bray Wyatt since joining WWE.  Everything he did was terrific - The interactions with LON and Reigns midway through the show, his promo before his entrance was thrilling and he might have just redefined what a "hot tag" can be.

Perhaps this has been what's wrong with Bray this entire time - He's meant to have the WWE Universe in his hands.  As a "babyface" (using this term VERY loosely), it's entirely possible that the sky is the limit for Mr. Wyatt.

 

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Wrestlemania 32 might be one of the all-time question marks in wrestling history, but that's exactly what it is right now. . .  HISTORY.

 

 

MizIC

Last night the craziness of Wrestlemania weekend caught up to me and I fell asleep midway through RAW.  In fact, the last thing I remember is The Miz coming out to challenge Zack Ryder for the Intercontinental Championship.  Come to find out when I awoke, we once again have a new IC champion, thanks to the returningish (full time?  just this once?) Maryse.

A lot of people are up in arms questioning the decision, wondering what the entire point of Ryder's win was if he was just going to drop the belt 24 hours later to The Miz.

Here's the thing, though: This (both Mania and RAW) was the best option all around.

Let's talk Wrestlemania first, and let's talk about the intelligence of the WWE powers-that-be.  They knew that a lot of the Wrestlemania booking was not going to satisfy the vocal social media fanbase.  Brock winning handily, Shane losing, Roman Reigning - All of those were not going to be popular choices.

So what did WWE do?  They picked the one guy - In fact, he might be the ORIGINAL guy - that the IWC rallied behind, and they gave him an all-time Wrestlemania moment.  In 15-20 years, when we think back to Zack Ryder, almost all of us will picture him atop the ladder, IC belt in hand, huge smile on his face.

That's all that matters.  Once that moment occurred, there wasn't a whole lot of reason for Z-Ry to keep that belt.

Why, you ask?  Who was Ryder going to face?  

Seriously, who are the mid-level heels in WWE right now?  Sheamus and the League of Nations?  Baron Corbin, with his ATG trophy and one WWE victory?  Bo Dallas?  There is NO bigger Bo Dallas fan in the NAIborhood and even I know that's not going to happen.

Zack Ryder as your IC champion is a lovely notion, but a dead end street.

The Miz, on the other hand, has lots of options.  He's someone for Sami Zayn to feud with. . . Or AJ Styles, once this silly "main event" business is over with. . . Or Apollo Crews. . . Or Dean Ambrose. . . Or Cesaro. . . Heck, even John Cena, who has never held that belt before, could be a viable option. . .  None of those guys make a lot of sense feuding with Zack Ryder.

Embrace the Hate, friends.  The Miz is the best choice to be IC champion right now.  Bask in his awesomeness!

 

 

 

The general consensus from last night's RAW was that the show was a dud.

Well, that's not entirely true.  Most people will admit that the show was decent enough, but it paled in comparison to what many believed the penultimate RAW before Wrestlemania "should be".   I can understand where those people are coming from - the lack of Lesnar, Undertaker and Shane-O-Mac was pretty evident.

However, let's focus on the show for what it was, not what we wanted it to be.  Yes, friends, I'm donning my #PromotingPositivity Pork Pie hat and sharing with you the things I think you should be excited about from last night.

Roman Reigns Silently (and from the Ramp!)

Roman Reigns catches the arm of Stephanie McMahon on Monday Night RAW

What I expected to be yet another incredibly annoying promo by Stephanie McMahon wound up being far more than I could have hoped for with the entrance of Roman Reigns, from the ramp no less!  Sure, he's got the Shield music, sure, he's got the Shield outfit, but just a new way to the ring alone is enough to get some people popping.

Then he got to the ring and. . . He didn't act like The Rock.  He wasn't trying to be a Jericho-type "cool guy".  He spoke softly AND carried a big stick, and by stick, of course, I mean his serious presence.  It couldn't mean anything else, right?

#DCisUncomfortable

It seemed like the Philly crowd helped us figure out what's really going on with Roman these days.  People inherently like him, especially when he acts the way he did, so the initial reaction is to cheer him.  Then, after that first burst, people realize that "it's cool to hate Roman" and THAT'S when the boos come.  It's not legitimate, it's an artifice.  I expected better, Philadelphia.

Styles and Owens, part 2

If it was up to us, NAIborhood, I'm sure we'd let them have a best of 70 series - I didn't catch their Smackdown encounter but this match was everything I hoped for and more.

Food for thought - Has Kevin Owens had a bad match in WWE yet?

Even the ending was fine by me - Yeah, it was a repeat of what happened on Smackdown, but that's going to be what happens until Shane McMahon wins at Wrestlemania and Smackdown becomes a WWE / NXT hybrid show.

If I say it enough, it will come true.

Battle of the Beasts

In a ROH review I wrote yesterday, I mentioned an encounter between Moose and Kongo, and bemoaned the lack of Rusev being used as the monster that he is.  He might not have won last night, but at least the match was more along the lines of what I was thinking.  He and Big E had a chance to tear the house down and while their stables got in the way, they did just that.  I enjoyed that contest, and I hope it's not the last time we see them in a match.

While we're on the subject of New Day, two quick points off the #PromotingPositivity podium.  First, what the hell were Big E, Kofi and Xavier talking about last night?  Is this what we're going to get out of a "face" New Day?  If so, please turn them heel again as soon as possible.

Secondly, Rusev has outgrown the League of Nations.  His Twitter feed alone should be enough to get him back into the mid-card singles title market.  Why he's not part of the IC ladder match is beyond me.

Ok, let's get back to the column proper.

Bo Flippin' Dallas

If you were to check out my DDTwrestling.com profile, you would notice that I have listed Bo Rida as my favorite current wrestler.  That's probably not true, but I'd be hard pressed to find a guy more entertaining on a regular basis than Mr. Dallas.  In fact, let me be bold.

Bo Dallas is performing, character wise, on a level very close to one Kevin Owens.

He might not be getting as much of a chance to shine, but in my mind, Bo Dallas is the leader of the Social Outcasts (in fact, I find Heath Slater to be the least entertaining of the bunch).  Every little thing he does is magic.  Go back and watch him try to beg off of Kane - Totally hilarious.

I'm pulling for Bo Dallas to win the Andre the Giant Battle Royal, and then I want his cheesy smile bronzed and put in Andre's place.

Fandango had a match!

His hair might have been terrible, but at least we saw him.  I was beginning to forget what he looked like.

The IC ladder match.

I'll be honest - This is not the match I was hoping for.  No Harper (though since he apparently got injured, that's probably for the best), no Rusev, obviously no Titus O'Neil.  I had originally expected Stardust to be a part of this, so that was nice to see.

Despite my minor disappointment, it's not like this match is going to be terrible, folks.  Owens and Zayn can tell their stories, Ziggler and Miz are always dependable for some entertaining action, Sin Cara will dive off of stuff and Zack Ryder will be so legitimately happy to be on the Mania card that we'll be pulling for him the whole time.

Plus, there's always the chance (not really) that Cody Rhodes makes his return.

Heeeeeeeere's Roman!

Young Mister Reigns continued to be the badass we all have wanted him to be by slowly (ssslllooowwwlllyyy) appearing from beyond the garage door and battling Triple H backstage.  Once again, no talking, just brooding, exactly what we fell in love with when he was with Rollins and Ambrose.

This is what we've been asking for, folks.  Stop moaning that "it's too late".  Give him the cheers the last two weeks have earned.

Women's Wrestling

Charlotte and Natalya got the chance to have an actual wrestling match, not a 3 minute hair-pulling contest.  I know this is becoming much more of the norm thanks to the Diva's Revolution, but it's still worth mentioning.  I get why Natalya can't force her way into the championship triple threat, but it's delightful to see her mattering in WWE again.

Ambrose bringing Hardcore back

Terry Funk might not have had as perfect a moment as Mick Foley did last week, but it was nice to see old Chainsaw Charlie back on my TV screen.  As for the main event - I'll admit it, I went to bed after Vince's pretty underwhelming "big announcement".  Braun Strowman just doesn't make me want to stay up until 11:00.

I did enjoy hearing that Ambrose got himself disqualified, though.  There's no way Dean can beat Brock in a one-on-one contest.  I better be seeing Ambrose drag a hot dog cart AND a shopping cart full of weapons to the ring in Dallas.

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Like I said when this column began, I get it.  Last night was not the explosion of excellence we all expected.

But it was a good RAW.  Plenty to enjoy.  Wrestlemania weekend is going to be a fantastic time.

”Man plans. . . God laughs”

Maybe it’s been reading Shawn Michaels book on faith, but that quote resonates with me as I sit down to write this column.  I was all set to do another running diary of Monday Night RAW, but for some reason, I couldn’t get into it.  Maybe it was the early hour of the morning, maybe it was being distracted by other matters, but I wasn’t finding my quasi-witty one liners and potentially interesting anecdotes flowing as freely as I usually do.  I was stuck.

That’s when I saw John Cena lock in the STF on Alberto Del Rio, and an idea popped into my head.  All of a sudden, I was brought in a completely new direction, which is what you’re (hopefully) about to read.

2016 Wrestler Resolutions

What should our favorite talents be aiming for in the new year?  Let’s find out.

John Cena -  Use the STF a whole lot less, and the Anaconda Vice a whole lot more.

This is a weird one to begin with, I grant you.  To my knowledge, Cena has never used the Anaconda Vice ever in his life.  For all I know, he’d have no idea how to apply it.  But he still should use it, and here are some reasons why.

Number one - It’s a really good submission move. - As evidenced by the #NAI150 (which will soon have its results revealed to you - Patience, NAIborhood), submission moves are all the rage, and it is my firm belief that every wrestler should have one.

Truthfully, the best person to have this move is Bo Dallas, so he can look down on his opponent and encourage them NOT to tap out.  But that’s a pipe dream at best.

Number two - the STF is terrible - Particularly Cena’s application.  Let Ambrose use the Regal Stretch, which is a much better version of the move.

Number three - It’s a slap in the face to CM Punk - To have the ultimate “WWE guy” using Punk’s pet move would just be entertaining to me.

Alberto Del Rio - Remember that every match you’re in can be a main event match

Del Rio, like Randy Orton, seems to perform best when the spotlight is on him. He needs to remember that the best way to keep that happening is to steal the show as often as possible (provided your name isn’t Dolph Ziggler).  Less of his Kalisto nonsense, more of this.

Roman Reigns - Remember what got you over with the fans

No, it wasn’t making fun of people, nor was it coming up with clever synonyms for body parts.  People started to cheer for you when you got angry and started beating the tar out of people.  I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again, but it bears repeating.

YOU’RE NOT THE ROCK!  Remember that, and 2016 will be a banner year for you.

Kevin Owens - Keep doing what you’re doing

Each and every week, KO continues to be one of the most compelling talents AND characters we’ve seen in a very long time.  People forget that he’s only been in WWE for about 6 months, and (Spoiler Alert!) he’s been voted by the #NAI150 as having the Match AND Feud of the year for 2015.   What’s going to happen when he has a full 12 months to leave his mark?  Magic. . . That’s what.

Dean Ambrose - Feud with Kevin Owens for as long as possible.

Jason Moltov said it best with his tweet last night - Kevin Owens is beating the boring out of Dean Ambrose.  Not since he was crawling out of the trunk of a car have I been this invested in Dean.  I’m not sure how long they drag this feud out, but the longer it goes, the better Ambrose’s career will be for it.

Sheamus - Continue to invest in any substance that will keep the ‘hawk growing bigger

Gels, sprays, whatever it takes.  Sheamus’ return to main event status had a lot to do with injuries, sure, but it also had to do with his total commitment to embracing his new look.  He didn’t complain about it on Twitter, he didn’t bemoan it on Instagram, he ran with it, and now he’s a TRUE former WHC (not counting the brand extension titles).   Good lesson for a lot of superstars out there.

Speaking of which…

Dolph Ziggler, Curtis Axel, and basically half the entire roster - STOP TRYING TO USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO GET OVER!

It rarely, if ever, works.  In fact, I’d argue that WWE punishes those who try to rally supporters via Twitter.  That’s not how you play the game in McMahonLand, folks.

Rusev - Stop living in Sheamus’ shadow. . . And keep coming out on your own.

While it wasn’t the most popular storyline in WWE history, the #LoveRhombus worked for a while because, as the most successful gimmicks do, art imitated life.  We saw Rusev get jealous because Lana was more over with the fans than he was - And that was exactly what was happening, and will continue to happen so long as she keeps walking out with him.

Rusev will never be as big a star as he could be if he continues to be defined by the people around him - First Lana and now the League of Nations.  If he wants to contend for the World Title in 2016 (and I’m making a #PreDCtion that he will), he needs to come out completely on his own.

OK. . . He can bring the tank.

The Miz - Build up your Talent Agency and become the best manager we’ve seen this century.

Part of this isn’t up to him - There really haven’t been a lot of great managers in the 2000’s (remember, Paul Heyman is an Advocate), so he doesn’t have to do too much to earn the billing.  Regardless, Miz is one of the best in the world at what he does - Stand around looking ridiculous and be irritating on the microphone.  What better role for him than as a manager?  Gather a stable of lower tier guys, put them with Miz and I guarantee that one of them gets over in a big, bad way.

Doesn’t need to just be guys, either.

Sasha Banks - Ditch Team BAD, join up with Miz, take over the world.

As popular as Sasha is with the fans (and really, the IWC), there might not be a better heel in WWE than Sasha. . . Except for Miz, of course.   With their powers combined. . . There’s no stopping her.

Charlotte - Run as far and as fast as you can away from your father.

As long as Ric Flair is on camera, the focus is going to be on the 16 time World Champion.  Charlotte just becomes his latest arm candy, in a creepy, but totally true way.  If Charlotte wants to recover the huge amount of momentum she has lost in the last few months, she can find it anywhere that her daddy isn’t.

Becky Lynch - Realize that the only way you get truly over hasn’t made his WWE debut yet.

We joke in the NAIborhood all the time about the savior that Finn Balor will be, but in this case, it’s completely true.  Unless we see a Balor / Becky power couple, Lynch will ALWAYS be an afterthought in this division.

Bray Wyatt - Less preaching, more beating

I love the promos of Wyatt, but they have gotten him nowhere.  Time to take a page from the Roman Reigns guide to getting over - Silent and Deadly.  Bring your family, ditch your family, it doesn’t matter.  Just start causing as much destruction as possible.

Vince McMahon - Continue to guard the secret of your Lazarus Pit very carefully

You have to be a superhero nerd to understand the reference - The Lazarus Pit is just a darker version of the Fountain of Youth.  Either way, Vince has one, as he looks as good (maybe a bit more wrinkly) as he did in the Attitude Era right now.

Keep bathing in those waters, Vincent.  You’re the key to WWE success in 2016, and I mean purely as an on-screen character.

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What do YOU think?  What should WWE talents have as New Year’s Resolutions?  Be Heard

Taken from WWE.com

After spending the last 60 hours or so trying to sort through the IWC’s bi-polar responses to Battleground and RAW, I’ve realized once again that in wrestling, just like life, you can’t please everybody.

RAW was great, except it sucked.  Battleground was awesome, until it was terrible.  JBL is an awful announcer. . . .Well, I suppose that’s the general consensus - Hey! Something we can all agree on!

Time to dust all the old favorite.  Let’s get to #PromotingPositivity, people!

UnderBatman

First of all, RAW didn’t begin with an Authority promo, so right off the bat, we’re starting positive!  Logic or no logic, reason or no reason, I enjoyed seeing a REAL Undertaker entrance, which really hasn’t happened since Wrestlemania 30.  If this wasn’t a Promoting Positivity Piece, I’d go into a rant on how much I disliked his entrance at this year’s Mania.  If Taker comes out in the daytime, he better be riding a chariot with a vulture on it.

Undertaker seemed to be channeling Christian Bale a bit with the uber-gruffness of his voice (I wanted him to just randomly say “I’m Not Wearing Hockey Pants!”), but I dug his promo.  What I especially liked was the rationale he gave for his appearance.  Sure, I’d have appreciated at least a shout out to his brother, but it made sense to me.

This is the Old Dog in the Yard, he’s not going to mind if he gets beaten.  He does mind when you spend too much time crowing about it.  Now, while that should mean we’ll see Taker vs. Heyman at Summer Slam, I still am OK with this reasoning.  It explains (enough, anyway), why he and Lesnar didn’t have a face-to-face at Wrestlemania, and I’m good with it.

Yes, Mark Calaway is a 50 year old man who looks even older.  There’s no getting around that.  But he still captured my attention and made me interested in this renewed feud - What else do you want?

Divalution

I’m glad that portmanteau hasn’t taken off.  I really figured it would.

We got not one but TWO solid Diva’s matches, and I got a lot of pleasure out of watching my Twitter feed explode last night because of it.  I couldn’t be happier to see Charlotte AND Sasha get the win in these matches, and while I doubt we’ll get my 9 Diva Triple Threat Tag match at Summer Slam, we’re going to get something worth watching, and that in and of itself is a Revolution.

I’ll also give credit to the Bellas for doing their part in putting over the new talent on commentary during the tag match.  I wasn’t totally listening, but even at half-attention, I could tell they were doing well.

Here’s an odd thought - Had Bayley not broken her wrist, where would she fit into this mix?  Would she be Bayley Bella?

 Ole?  Oy vey.

We’re obviously heading down the road to a multi-team match for the tag belts at Summer Slam.  I was hoping the Matadors wouldn’t be involved, but they seemingly will be after defeating the tag champs (Titus, no less) on RAW.  I’m all for parity, and I’m glad they’re getting some sort of shot, but. . .

Look, Primo and Epico are two solid to above average wrestlers, saddled with a well below-average gimmick.  Can’t they just be. . .You know. . Themselves?  Where’s Carlito when we need him???

The Brawl to end them All

This was a great segment, and while I wish Taker had been able to break free a little more than he did, it makes sense why Brock would physically dominate.  Mark Calaway is feeling this, far more than he seemed to be feeling his feud with Bray.  I won’t say he was just going through the motions, but there’s a distinct difference between The Undertaker of July and the one from March / April.

I found it interesting to see which wrestlers were part of the posse to break up the fight and which were not.  More on that later.

Families United

It might not be The Shield vs. The Wyatt’s all over again, but there is certainly something similar and comforting about the fact that Summer Slam will likely feature Bray and Harper vs. AmbReigns.  Some people were complaining that this made Dean seem like Roman’s lackey, but I don’t see it that way at all.

Go back and watch the promo from the Wyatts.  Luke Harper had almost as much to say as Bray did - These two are on far more equal footing now than they ever were last year.  This is about four men and their issues, not two men and their associates.

Plus, now we can spend 4 weeks wondering who turns on who.  Does Dean abandon Reigns and join the dark side?  Does Reigns sign a deal with the devil to finally reach the success he’s been after?  Do we see more Wyatt Family members?

I’m locked in, and I’ll be watching this storyline very closely leading into next month’s event.

A Sign of Things to Come?

As much as we’ve enjoyed the John Cena Open Challenge (and we have, its been amazing), we all knew it wasn’t going to last forever.  Cena was still going to have a couple more main event runs in him, and by confronting Seth Rollins last night, he assured himself of one of those in the latter half of 2015.

A lot of people seemed to completely forget the last 6 months of greatness with that one promo, which I find a bit hasty.  Here’s what we know so far.

John Cena has done an admirable job elevating talents during the US Open Challenge, and even beyond.  You might not like how it was booked or anything, but the main event of RAW featured Rusev, Kevin Owens and Cesaro - All guys who have worked with Cena in the very recent past.

Cena has elevated his in-ring game, and unlike Brock Lesnar, will be an opponent that Seth Rollins can match up with physically.

Summer Slam, as I mention on this week’s #NAIborhood podcast, is the card where John Cena loses.  If Rollins were to beat Cena, it would be a big feather in his cap, certainly moreso than defeating Randy Orton or his Shield Brothers would do.

Put those three things together, and the time might just be perfect for a Cena / Rollins match.    Or, this is just a slow start to something that could happen at Night of Champions, which logically, would make more sense.

Truth be told, what else should Rollins be doing right now?  Lesnar’s busy with Taker, Reigns and Ambrose are caught up with the Wyatts, what other challenger is there besides Cena?  Orton?  Sheamus?

Everyone take a breath and relax, friends.  This is not the end of the world.  Have a little faith.

The Enemy of my Enemy is. . . Still My Enemy.

The biggest story coming out of the main event is the dissension amongst the heels, as Sheamus, Rusev and Owens all seem to have unfinished business.  Or, at least, the Irishman and the Bulgarian have issues with the French Canadian.

To be honest, I had more issues with Owens being part of the scrum during the Lesnar / Undertaker brawl than I did with him tapping out last night.  They didn’t even seem to address it all that much, which is what Liam seemed to believe would happen on the Battleground post-cast.

I noticed that Ambrose, Reigns, Wyatt, Harper, Cena and Orton weren’t part of the crew breaking up the Beast and the Deadman.  Didn’t see Rusev in there, either.  Why was Owens there?

While WWE midcard is greater than NXT main eventing, purely just based on eyes on the talent, its still not what I think any of us expected.

Still, if we’re heading to a Sheamus / Rusev / Owens Triple Threat at Summer Slam, I’m more than OK with that, especially if Owens can goad Sheamus into putting the briefcase on the line.

Mr. Money in the Bank, Kevin Owens?  Sounds about right to me.

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What do YOU think?  Best parts of RAW?  Be Heard.

This morning, like most recent Tuesdays, I was awake before the sun.

This morning, like most recent Tuesdays, I sat down to watch RAW.

This morning, UNlike most recent Tuesdays, I didn’t have to squeeze it in before work.

So for the first time in forever (You’re welcome to all those people now singing a song from Frozen), I watched 85-90% of RAW.  Sorry, D-Jay, but even all this free time isn’t going to make me watch the Bellas vs. Naomi and Tamina.

Thus, I present to you NAIbors, a RAW response in just about its entirety.

Heyman Promo

You can tell that Heyman’s been sitting back and watching wrestling these last few months, notepad in hand, just waiting to unleash the genius that we witnessed last night.  I’m all for Lesnar being a more frequent presence on WWE television, but personally, I’m even happier that we see Paul Heyman more often.

Also, was I the only one chanting “Hug him!  Hug him!” when Brock Lesnar circled the announce table, heading towards Michael Cole?  That was a great moment, though not the best one that featured ‘Maggle’ and a muscular blond.

Dean Ambrose vs. Kane

Maybe it was because of the early hour, or maybe it was just because I sat back without Twitter and actually watched RAW, but I found myself asking very odd questions, such as. . .

Isn’t it weird that both wrestlers come out of a single entrance?  I mean, they’re obviously back there in relatively close proximity.  Shouldn’t some of these matches start backstage?

as well as. . .

The rules of wrestling are bizarre.  Throw a guy into the stairs, and it’s OK.  The the stairs onto a guy?  Disqualification.

The biggest, and saddest, thing that came out that match is a simple fact, one you all have known for months (if not years), but now that I’m actually watching closely, I noticed.

Kane just isn’t very good anymore.

He’s obviously in preservation mode, so he’s taking weak bumps, landing on his knees all the time, and he’s protecting opponents as well, as evidenced by one of the worst chokeslams, top rope or not, that I have ever seen.

At what point Michael Cole said “Kane has been very inspiring in this match.”  I think all of us, including Ambrose, gave that comment a solid

Prime Time Players vs. The Ascension

Over the last few weeks, Titus O’Neil has been the standout of this team - In fact, he pretty much won the tag titles singlehandedly at MITB.  I was glad to see Darren Young get a chance to shine, and he was really impressive.

Still, I have to ask - Is WWE refusing to mention DY’s homosexuality on purpose?  Do they think its not PG?  Cole mentioned how Darren is “inspiring” just like Titus, but didn’t go into any specifics.  I wish WWE would just own it, like Young is doing.

Sheamus vs. Roman Reigns

Again, I found myself echoing a question I’ve heard online repeatedly.

Is there any point in watching the first segment of these matches, before the commercial break?  It seems all the good stuff happens afterwards, anyway.  Before the break, this match was just “eh”.  Following the commercial, it got good.  Why am I watching the opening minutes?

Meanwhile, Bray continues to get better and better.  Again, like with Taker, when he finally is saying something, its genius.  Loved the Tea Party, loved the singing, and totally loved the creepy thriller-movie way the room was decorated.

Anyone But You - Bray is now the voice of the WWE Universe circa January 2015.

Neville vs. Kofi Kingston

I was one of the many who believed it was not the right time to take the belts off of New Day at MITB, thinking that without the titles, they would suffer.  Not so.  If anything, they’re even better now than they were as champions.

I totally lost my mind to Kofi’s way of skip/clapping to the ring, and Big E and Xavier were GOLD at ringside.  I wish the announcers would just stop talking during New Day’s matches and just let Woods and Company do their thing.

King Barrett vs. Zack Ryder

He’s only been on NXT twice now, but we’re seeing the “Developmental Bump” (aka, the Tyson) with Ryder right away.  He got WAY more offense in during this match than I think any of us expected.

As for Barrett, I think last night proved that his time in WWE should be coming to an end.  The crowd was absolutely dead for everything but the Bull Hammer from Bad News, and they didn’t seem to care all that much that he won.

Wade, trust me when I tell you, you’ll have a much better time and a much better career if you take your talents elsewhere.

Cena / Owens Promo

First of all, John, you can’t “welcome” Indianapolis to RAW 2 hours into the show.  It’s just chronologically impossible.

How do we know that Cena and Owens are on fire?  Their promo had more of my interest than any other match up to this point, and now that I’m writing this in hindsight, I can say it was the true “main event” of the card.

Jason Moltov may have called Kevin Owens the walking ATM, and that’s true, but let’s not count Cena out of this equation.  The two of them are on the top of their game right now, and it’s a lot of fun to watch.

Ryback vs. Mark Henry

Rapid fire thoughts here, because my level of actual caring is minimal.

Big Show is great on commentary, and should have a successful career as an announcer when he’s done wrestling.

Adding The Miz to the IC match at Battleground means I will actually watch that Triple Threat, and I’m making an early prediction that Miz wins the title.

Ryback impressed me with his top rope splash, then depressed me by so obviously reading from cue cards during his backstage promo.  This is worse than Brock Lesnar circa Smackdown: Here Comes the Pain!

Aside: I appreciate that nobody has called me to the carpet for misremembering the name of that Smackdown game during episode 2 of the NAIborhood podcast.

Dolph Ziggler vs. Adam Rose

Again, are we seeing a bit of the “Tyson” bump?  Rose was part of NXT over the last couple weeks and now he has a chance to cut a promo (doing a not-too-bad job at it) and then has a match that was competitive?  If I’m Sandow, Axel, Slater or Swagger, I’m insisting I go down to Full Sail and capture some of this magic.

I like everything that’s happening right now with the Ziggler / Rusev / Lana love triangle, though we might need to call it a Love Rhombus now that Summer Rae is involved.  I dig Lana’s slow transition away from her look with Rusev, I absolutely adore Sad Rusev and I think a Rusev / Summer tandem will be fun.

Though, was I the only one hoping the woman walking up to Rusev was Charlotte?  Those two seemed like they’d make a great pair.

Rollins Promo / Main Event segment

The injury to Jamie Noble aside (I’m disagreeing with Jason here, this is a legit injury. I saw a stretcher during a quick camera cut, and then WWE went out of their way not to show the entrance ramp area again.  If this was Kayfabe, we’d have watched Noble wheeled out.), I liked what happened here.  Going after Brock’s legs is exactly the strategy a guy like Rollins should have.

Warning: Fantasy Booking Ahead

I’m guessing Brock takes next week off from RAW, and perhaps even the week after that.  If I’m WWE, I’m having Rollins unveil a new leg submission move while Lesnar is away, showing the developing strategy he’s bringing into Battleground.  My pick?  Let’s go for another HHH favorite and have Seth use the Indian Deathlock.

Now, all of a sudden, there’s just the slightest shimmer of doubt that Brock will wipe the floor with Rollins, which is really all you need.

Overall

Good show, but not great.  We were missing the edge of your seat matches that I’ve started to expect from RAW.  Hopefully this was just a “story building” week, and we’ll get back into fun contests next Monday.

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What do YOU think?  Best parts of RAW?  Be Heard

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