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Tryout #2: Matt Bolin

WWE RAW – August 19, 2013

I want to let everyone know that I am open to feedback as to what you look for when you read these things. I am not much of a play by play reviewer. I prefer to discuss the story being told in the ring when I recap matches; however, I have a feeling that most of what we see tonight will require something closer to a play by play format given the nature of WWE TV and there is not much more you can do with promo segments besides calling what you see. A few years ago, I decided to follow the trend of not rating matches below ***. In these cases, I will highlight the things I found positive about matches that might have been just below that mark but I also want to say that I can be stricter at times than the general consensus. (Point of reference: I’d probably give Punk and Cena’s RAW match earlier this year closer to ***-***1/2 as opposed to the MOTYC status most people seem to place upon it). Keep in mind we watch to ultimately have fun, and I do still generally enjoy the show.

- Live from Anaheim, CA which was the home for Wrestlemania XII

- We start with a recap from SummerSlam two main events. My thoughts on the show last night echo that of what else has been said elsewhere. CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar right now is easily the WWE’s Match of the Year as that was a fun car wreck to watch live; however, the results of the main event have almost made it an afterthought for discussion. John Cena and Daniel Bryan delivered a strong main event that injected some nice pieces of puro vibe throughout them. The Spider Superplex into the diving headbutt might be the spot of the year, and I loved Cena’s Hansen lariat. The match nearly went south when Cena almost dropped Bryan on his head, but both guys recovered and delivered a strong finishing stretch. The HHH/Orton heel turn has been telegraphed for awhile, and Daniel Bryan is honestly more believable right now as the little guy chasing for his glory atop the mountain more so than work horse WWE champion who has to get creative against bigger, stronger opponents.

- Cena opens RAW to display his disgust about the post-main event shenanigans. The Anaheim crowd decides to have none of it and continues to boo him out of the building. Cena puts over Daniel Bryan for being the better man that night and then announces that he has torn his tricep and will be leaving for surgery and will be gone for four to six months. He honestly has needed this time off for a couple of years. The crowd responds to Cena leaving with a vocal “YES” chant. Cena introduces Daniel Bryan on his way out of the ring. The crowd shows Bryan some love, but Stephanie reigns on his parade before he can say the first word. Stephanie explains that HHH is the COO of the company and what he did was best for business. She wants to lower Bryan’s expectations and let him know that he’s not “face of the company” material. Bryan references HHH’s D-X days, stating that Hunter was a rebel and going corporate has changed him. He then brings back the Attitude Era trend of calling Stephanie a prostitute and slaps the microphone out of her hand a few times. Stephanie finally has security escort Bryan out of the arena.
This was the right way to handle the first segment after last night in front of a lively smart wrestling fan crowd. Stephanie has never been great on television and really zapped some of the energy, but the crowd really gave it to her and kept this segment going. In a more Mark-friendly city, this segment would have been a lot less than what we got here.

- Did You Know? WWE likes to brag about their social media accomplishments through random metrics!

- Damien Sandow vs. Cody Rhodes: No television entrance for either guy as this is billed as a rematch from last night. Sandow pounces early as both guys work a frantic pace early and rush through the opening sequence, which suggests this will not get much television time. Cody takes advantage and drops Sandow with a front suplex. Rhodes continues his onslaught with a clothesline to the floor and a snap suplex on the padded floor. Sandow fights back out of a hammerlock and shoves Rhodes out of the ring. Sandow drops a knee to the face and then drags Cody from the top rope with an overhead wrist toss (I have not been a nerd about wrestling moves in quite awhile). Back from commercial, Cody fights out of a rear chin lock to have his momentum derailed by a kitchen sink knee to Rhodes’s gut. Sandow hits the Elbow of Disdain. Cody returns to the offensive with a crisp moonsault that nearly overshoots Sandow for an awkward landing. Quick offensive flurry leads to a Cross-Rhodes attempt that gets countered. Cody shortly after hits a Disaster kick for a nearfall. Finally, Rhodes wins with a sunset flip counter into a victory roll for the victory.
Considering these two are in the middle of a program, this seemed like a thrown together t.v. match booking-wise. Crowd was apathetic towards both guys and cared more about Cody not having his mustache anymore, and the match had no real heat segments or structure to tell even a brief engaging story. Overall the intent of this match was clear: quick, inoffensive T.V. match to continue this feud.

- RAW G.M. Brad Maddox announces that he will punish Dolph Ziggler by placing him in a handicap match with The Shield for his negative comments in regards to HHH after last night. The lesson here kids: do not talk negatively about your job on Social Media.

- Paul Heyman decides to hold a wounded victory lap promo to remind the crowd that C.M. Punk was defeated by Brock Lesnar. Heyman commends Punk for his effort. Heyman wants to end his family feud. Heyman tells Punk that he will accept him back into the fold if Punk apologizes to him. Heyman admits that he still loves Punk and wants to take Punk to the main event of WrestleMania.

- Meanwhile the Bellas and Funkadactyls remind the audience that they have a reality tv series on E. Naomi and Cameron will be in a tag match tonight.

- The Funkadactyls vs. Layla & A.J. – The heels pounce early. AJ works over Naomi and ends Naomi’s attempt at a comeback with a nice spinning high leg kick. AJ’s offense consists of chin locks and hair pulls. Naomi finally counters with an enziguri and gets a pick roll up of Layla for the victory. That ended up being what you would have expected and leads to I guess a perfect time for a B.A. star ad!

- Dolph Ziggler vs. The Shield – The Shield are held to tag rules for this three on one contest to give Ziggler a glimmer of hope. I love wrestling logic! Dolph outwrestles Ambrose early with his collegiate background but loses the size game and gets backed into the corner and tags in Seth Rollins. The numbers game takes its toll after Roman Reigns decks Ziggler with a lariat. Ziggler fights off the numbers games and keeps things one on one for awhile. Hits a Rocker Dropper, sends one to the floor, and attempts a corner splash on Reigns only to be speared in mid-air. The SHIELD triple powerbombs Ziggler post-match. Entertaining handicap match that told a decent story and gave the crowd a small glimmer of hope that Ziggler might beat the odds.

- Alberto Del Rio vs. Sin Cara – Another WWE message for the children courtesy of Alberto Del Rio’s eyes, stay out of bars and bar fights, kids! Seriously, his face looks ugly. Del Rio attacks early but Sin Cara counters with an arm drag. Tope Suicida to the outside leads to both guys colliding heads. Sin Cara singals to the referee immediately and stops the match. That looked like it could be bad. Del Rio frustratingly gets some cheap heel heat by attacking Sin Cara which has the referee go off on him. Del Rio cuts a promo about being the best World Heavyweight Champion of all time. Ricardo Rodriguez makes his return and says he’s grateful to not have to represent Del Rio anymore. He now represents Rob Van Dam. RVD attacks, looks for the five star frog splash, but Del Rio escapes to safer ground.

- Team Real Americans (Antonio Cesaro & Jack Swagger) vs. Prime Time Players – Zeb Colter continues to cut generic negative Conservative stereotype promo. Dirty Dutch is great and at times very believable in his role. Darren Young gets a small offensive flurry before tagging in Titus. JBL quickly puts over Titus O’Neill as a future WWE Champion. Titus answers to that compliment by claiming the baby face in peril role. That is kind of random considering Titus has the size and strength in the tag team. Painful looking spot with a vader bomb and double stomp spot on Titus. O’Neill finally escapes the heat segment with a NOT QUITE MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER! Hot tag to Darren Young. Northern Lights suplex gets a near fall. Ring clears of the teammates. Gut Check gets the three count to earn Primetime Players the victory.
I am a huge fan of the southern tag wrestling formula, and this served its purpose. It does not get much play, but the WWE has one of its deepest tag team divisions in ages. The tag team division just does not get the treatment that it did years ago. I guess this also marks the beginning of Darren Young’s push.

- Renee Young interviews The Big Show about tag teaming with Mark Henry to win the tag team championships from The SHIELD. Brad Maddox punishes Show for negative HHH comments with a three on one match against the SHIELD with all three members allowed in the ring at the same time.

- Zack Ryder gets actual air time on RAW to advertise for WWE’s Footlocker campaign. FAAAAAAHN DAAAAAHHHHNN GOOOOO crashes the party and decides he wants to dance in the shoes.

- Another video recap of last night’s main event. Meanwhile, Ryback continues his anti-B.A. star campaign by bullying some poor jobber.

- Big Show vs. The SHIELD – Show takes care of all three members and lets Roman Reigns discover the receiving end of a spear. The crowd popped big for that one. Ambrose tries to regroup by going for a sleeper. Show falls backwards to kill that attempt. Show then stands on Rollins’s back. Show continues to fight them off, but the numbers game gets the better of Show as Reigns returns with a spear of his own. Seth Rollins hits a flying knee to Show’s head off the top rope. Triple Powerbomb is enough to keep Big Show down. The SHIELD continues to be one of the better booked aspects of the WWE right now. For another short t.v. handicap match, Show’s size did a great job of teasing the great equalizer.

- Did You Know? The WWE still prints a Magazine!

- It’s CM Punk promo time! Punk sells last night’s match on the way to the ring. Punk starts talking about last night, but then gets annoyed by an obnoxious fan in the crowd. The crowd pops huge for Punk putting the guy in his place. I love that Punk is going for being in a shoot foul mood. Punk admits that he is not cleared to fight tonight, but he is in his gear because that is all he knows. Punk then invites Heyman face to face to receive his apology. Heyman comes to the ramp with Curtis Axel at his side. He apologizes for not injuring Heyman further than he did last night. This feud really has brought the best out of Punk, and Heyman is the ultimate shill guy. Heyman tells Axel to prepare for a fight and then also acknowledges the guy in the crowd (plant?) as we go to commercial.
Back from commercial, Punk strikes Axel with knees early. Punk’s injuries get the better of him as Axel begins to work him over. Axel sends Punk into the barricade and strikes away at a downed Punk. Punk finally backdrops Curtis Axel into the time keeper’s chair, fakes going after Heyman, and then turns around and dives back at Axel. Punk gives Axel the ring bell to the midsection, looks for the Go To Sleep but Axel counters and chops at Punk’s knee. Axel works over Punk’s knee. Axel looks to Pilmanize Punk’s knee with the chair as Heyman screams to break his leg. Punk gets out of the way and fights off Axel with the steel chair before tossing him twice into the steel steps and using the Steps in place of his knee for an emphatic Go to Sleep. Heyman glares at Punk as the segment ends. These two continue to be the only highlight of RAW not involving Daniel Bryan.

- We get our ‘x’ reminder that Randy Orton’s coronation as WWE Champion will be tonight.

- Bray Wyatt vs. R-Truth – Is it me or does Truth’s hairline suggest that he needs to change his hair style away from the dreads? Truth strikes away early but Wyatt quickly takes advantage and screams to the crowd to “Witness the new face of Fear!” Bray continues to sell the gimmick. Bray finished Truth for the win. Standard Squash stuff here to put over the Wyatts.

- We get the first promo video for Primo and Epico’s repackaging as Los Matadores.

- 3MB (Heath Slater & Jinder Mahal) vs. The Usos – Heath Slater decides to do a couple of leaping air guitar taunts in the early going. Quick tags by the members of 3MB work over Jimmy Uso. Mahal provides most of the offense and hits a small flurry of knee drops. Enizguri by Jimmy Uso allows for the hot tag to Jey Uso. Flying Shoulder Tackle by Jey Uso followed by a butt bump to Mahal in the corner gets a near fall broken up by Heath Slater. Side kick takes out Jinder as Jey tags Jimmy while performing a tope to the remaining 3MB members on the floor. Jimmy Uso performs a top rope splash finishes off Mahal for the victory. I am amused by Heath Slater and 3MB for about thirty seconds. After that, their matches feel like an eternity. This match was no exception to that rule.

- The Miz vs. Wade Barrett – Barrett kicks Miz to start and works over a headlock. Barrett continues with a shoulder block and allows Miz to get a brief exchange of his own before Barrett takes back over with a boot for a two count. Miz sold that awkwardly. After Miz lands awkwardly on his neck, Barrett begins to work it over and then knees Miz in the head a couple of times before booting him out of the ring. Back in the ring, Barrett gets two and then works over a chin lock. Comeback segment for Miz allows for a modified sunset flip for a two count. Miz begins a comeback with a running crossbody and a clothesline. He drapes Barrett’s leg over the second rope and works over the hamstring. A quick exchange of both guys leads to a figure four. Fandango ends the match with a leg drop off the top rope to give Miz a DQ victory.
These two had a good TV match on the RAW after Wrestlemania. At times, you could see glimpses of that chemistry. All in all this was too short to really mean much and featured too many chinlocks for a match this length.

- Brad Maddox informs Stephanie McMahon that Daniel Bryan has returned to the building.

- Main Event McMahon Family Celebration Time! The Shield represents your security/bouncers for the evening by guarding the ring as the other WWE Superstars stand on the ramp. Vince McMahon makes his first TV appearance of the night. Vince commends HHH for doing the right thing and seeing the light. Crowd gives it to HHH with “You Sold Out” chants. At least this crowd is awake. They have not had much to cheer about with this show. HHH explains his actions as trying to preserve the WWE long term. He is about continuing the McMahon family legacy. Hunter says he is a fan of Daniel Bryan. He did not like doing what he had to do. He calls him “a very good little technician” and he “deserved to win.” HHH says he has a hard time picturing Daniel Bryan as the face of the WWE and WWE Champion. Hunter says that this crowd deserves A plus. What do you call most of this show tonight, Hunter? I think I will go with about a D plus. WE DESERVE BETTER!
Hunter admits burying his hatred of Orton to do what’s right for business. He still has no love loss for Randy Orton. HHH introduces Randy Orton as the “coal that has now become the diamond.” Stephanie and Orton embrace, which is rather creepy given the history within the realm of the WWE history. Orton says he warned everyone they would not see it coming. He admits to owing all of his success to HHH and then orders the crowd to show him some respect. HHH offers Daniel Bryan to come meet him face to face and have a good cry. HHH gets the crowd to start a “Yes” chant and play his music. The Shield attack Bryan as he tries to enter the ring. Bryan fights off, but the numbers game takes its toll. Bryan destroys Rollins with a head kick and then stalks his way back to the ring. Reigns performs his third spear of the evening as The Shield all attack Bryan. HHH stops The Shield from doing the triple power bomb and begs him into the ring and references “fighting spirit.” As soon as Bryan makes the ring, he eats an RKO from Bryan as the McMahon family stands victorious atop of Daniel Bryan. Remember kids. B.A. Star!

- Final Thoughts: I honestly cannot say that I blame Scott for finally throwing in the towel. This show feels even longer when writing about it. I think it is easy to see that WWE Creative is a little lossed when it comes to piecing together a strong show right now that does not involve CM Punk/Paul Heyman or Daniel Bryan. Most RAW’s could afford to lose the third hour. Tonight’s show would not have missed ninety minutes worth of it. The crowd had to find ways to entertain itself throughout the night, and this RAW lacked the one decent work rate 20 minute match in the second hour that normally helps.

The Shield stuff was fun for Roman Reigns trifecta of spears, and the McMahon/Daniel Bryan stuff began its build to where we figure it will go: Daniel Byan’s chase for glory. John Cena deserves the time away and has for a solid two years to recover, but the WWE is hurting for top level talent right now once you get passed CM Punk and Daniel Bryan as the top two active babyfaces (that is awkward in itself) and Randy Orton as the newly established top heel. I guess Vince needs to find a scapegoat for when Monday Night Football returns and RAW’s ratings begins to drop further.


  1. I liked the review

  2. I'm sorry you lost me at 3 and a half stars for Cena Punk from Raw.

    Caliber this guy's taking your gimmick brother!

  3. This wasn't as bland as I thought it'd be, but I'm honestly not sure if it should be you or PG taking over. Maybe both, because you do deserve shots, and at least with Scott's blog you are assured of people reading your work for the most part because of the community it has.

  4. davidbonzaisaldanamontgomeryAugust 20, 2013 at 12:19 AM


  5. He lost me at "deep tag team division."

  6. Hate to be a part of groupthink most of the time... but yup.

  7. Uso, Real Americans, PTP, the Shield, 3MB, International Airstrike (whenever Tyson recovers) and whatever extra guys they can throw together?

    That's not a bad division dude.

  8. Reign on his parade? Lol next!

  9. Caliber_Winfield_The_3rdAugust 20, 2013 at 6:01 AM

    Don't worry, I've got Jackie Chiles on the case.

    Although to be fair, my gimmick is over-rating.

  10. Big fan of the review.

    Might have to get used to your rating policy but the read was good.

  11. Deep doesn't always have to mean great. But great's easier to find/create when you have more options to work with.

  12. they have had options since 2001 and done fuck all with them.

    Countless tag teams have slipped through their fingers.

    They had broken them up or just wasted them.

  13. I am open to rating everything, but I have found people may skim for star ratings and not read thoughts. I can enjoy a match giving it a higher rating and that sometimes can get lost by people who are more looking for star ratings.

  14. THIS! Deep and Good are not necessarily the same thing. There have been periods over the last ten or so years where the WWE has had two permanent tag teams and then had to throw guys together inorganically to get a "tag title match" on the card. Keep in mind some of this period was when you had TWO tag titles as well.

    With the rare exception, the WWE thinks that the tag titles need to be this bottom of the card title, and I have always been a fan of say the '90s All Japan format. You may have a couple of upper mid-card guys who are not in the midst of a program or adding a tag team feud to the mix deepens the program. If you treat the tag titles as a 1a or 1b in these instances, you get better matches and fix some of the issues with guys wondering around aimlessly on the card while waiting for Creative to give them something interesting.

  15. Charismatic e-Negro Jef VinsonAugust 20, 2013 at 7:48 AM

    Actually, I am the opposite. Unless I missed the show I like to get the writers opinions of what he thought worked and what didn't. This was a good start.

  16. Granted, we are talking about a match that was six months ago; however, I think people get caught up in the "OMG piledriver!" or "OMG 30 minute TV Match" too much to be fair to that match. If I remember correctly, both guys had trouble finding their footing in the opening third and the match became big spot, big spot, big spot from a flow perspective. Did the match have big fight feel? Yes. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Was it close to either guy's best match with each other? Not really. I think all three PPV matches are above it with the Night of Champions match maybe being as good as the Money in the Bank match. I also think this match doesn't get the same love if it's on a pay per view as opposed to free TV.

    I think Punk had a better free TV match with Jericho earlier this year, and I have largely disliked their matches with each other. I also think a lot of the Shield free TV trios stuff has been better.

  17. Thanks! I tried to not be terribly sarcastic or snarky because I was not trying to portray that in an initial writing. I think too much of it can come across as mean spirited. The other aspect was that this was one of the worst RAWs I have sat through this year, so I did not have much to show enthusiasm about as well.

  18. I think you have potential, I'd just do a little more proofreading (of note: I am a pedantic asshole with a journalism degree) to avoid stuff like "Creative is a little lossed", "given the history within the realm of the WWE history", "once you get passed" or the aforementioned "reign on his parade." Overall, good job.

    As for the actual show, I'm really excited about the possibility of Daniel Bryan tearing through this new Corporation one by one. I'd have him go through Rollins, Reigns, Ambrose, HHH and then finally Orton in that order if it were up to me. I'm sure it's not going to go down quite like that, but even something half-way resembling that would be great.

  19. I think this was my one regret that I didn't do much revision-wise. I am working on my Master's for teaching English, so I am also a stickler for English. By the time I had finished this, it was nearly midnight (I started RAW an hour late), and I was looking at revising 3,000+ words. I also have the writer's curse of self loathing after I have finished writing something. I appreciate the kind words and the insight!

  20. I like the segment by segment breakdown and match reviews play by play. Similar to Scott's style. Helps because I don't watch the shows, but read the reviews. Good job.

  21. Scott was the first "ranter" I really started reading about eleven years ago. I like the structure of his format while trying to keep my input as original as possible.

  22. The amount of teams or the quality of teams?

  23. I think you have enough teams to constitute an actual tag division. There are many years where that may not be the case.

  24. Matt, I dug this! I'd absolutely read this week in, week out.

  25. Pretty good review, straight forward and accurate. I was a little peeved at "reigns" because I thought it was a typo, but now I'm thinking it was a play on her being the Princess of the WWE. If so, then you might want to use quotation marks so that people don't find a reason to hate you.. LOL

    I usually like reviews with more humor in them, but this one was perfectly acceptable.

  26. I think either/or could fit. It probably would have made more since if I had said "reigned over his parade" which is a better usage when using "reigned" and "rained on for the rain." That's half the problem with not cleaning up something because I had already written it so late (for example I had typed lossed when I meant to type lost and just didn't catch it). You live, you learn, you correct, and you move on to being better in your next attempt.

    As for humor, I interject sarcasm (sometimes a little dry). With this being my first writing, I did not want to go overkill and come across as mean spirited.


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