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The WWE Roster Rundown: Raw SuperShow 2/6

James GrubeContributor IIIFebruary 8, 2012

The WWE Roster Rundown: Raw SuperShow 2/6

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    Hello!  My name is Trevor, and I am a brand new contributor here on Bleacher Report.  Like so many of you, I simply love wrestling.  It's consumed the last few years of my life, and though I'm a late-comer, I've dived in with both feet. 

    I've seen that there are tons of recaps for Raw and SmackDown and all the other WWE content.  Matches are dissected move by move in exacting detail, and promos are retold for the benefit of those who simply don't have time to watch.  All of it excellent content.

    I'll be taking a look at each wrestler and how they contribute to a given show in terms of several categories: their in-ring work, their mic work, their charisma and audience connection, and the quality of their gimmick/character.  Each will be graded on a standard A to F scale.  Think of it as a wrestling report card.

Triple H

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    In-Ring: Perhaps a poor way to arrange my first slide, starting off with assessing a non-active wrestler’s ring work, but that’s how the cards are dealt.  N/A.

    Charisma: You can say a lot of things about Triple H.  You certainly can’t say the crowd doesn’t respond to him.  He got one of the bigger pops of the night, and with 15 years of legacy behind him he does deserve it.  He radiates confidence and, in this case, arrogance, and sheer charisma is practically the bedrock of his entire WWE career.  It’s no surprise he’s rated highly.  B+.

    Mic Work: Again, Triple H has 15 years of work in the company and he’s gotten comfortable on the mic in all that time.  I could do without him undercutting last week’s entire plot hook of the night with a simple “whatever,” put it’s hard to say how much his hands were tied by keeping the Laurinaitis Mystery (is that really a thing we need?) open, so I won’t grade him too harshly on that.  And if his angle with the Undertaker is going in the direction I think it is, he did well carrying it off, but I’ll discuss that a bit more in the next segment.  It must be said, though, that he went on a little long and seemed to drag near the end.  He needs to reel it in and not just enjoy hearing himself talk so much.  B-.

    Gimmick: It’s hard to say what to think of Triple H’s character at the moment.  He seems to be shifting gears from dominant authority figure into his feud with the Undertaker, and it’s put him in a bit of a precarious position.  My assumption, and my hope, is that he’s supposed to be sliding into a heel roll opposite Taker after months of playing the top authority babyface.  If so, well done on a gradual turn.  If not, someone needs to address the content of his speech, because it can best be summed up as “Smug smug smug smug smug.”  With the feud in it’s early stages and his character at a nebulous point, it’s a little difficult to grade him, but I’ll be optimistic.  B.

    Overall: It was a rather strong night for Hunter, which shouldn’t come as a surprise since he’s in what will probably be the number-two angle in the WWE for the coming months, and mostly all he had to do was talk.  He’s a legend in the WWE for a reason and though I feel his COO work has been rather hit-or-miss, he pulled it off without too much fuss this time.  Let’s see if he can keep it up, and hopefully keep from trading too many juvenile barbs with Johnny Ace.  B+.

Big Show

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    In-Ring: While the Big Show doesn’t seem quite as athletic as he once was in his prime, he’s still one of the better big men in the business, period, and is still out there showing them how it’s done.  He manages to walk that thin line of selling Bryan’s offense as a credible threat while also still looking overwhelming in size and power. 

    He also has one of the best spears currently out there, and why it isn’t his finisher compared to a right hand, I’ll never know.  But he seems to lack the stamina he once had, seeming more sweaty and blown up in just a few minutes than he used to, and it seems that age is just catching up with him.  I imagine he has a few good months left in his career, maybe even a year or two, but we’ll see how it goes.  Also, it must be said, that kick to Daniel Bryan outside the ropes was dreadful.  B-.

    Charisma: The Big Show always gets a big [no pun intended] response from the crowds, and it’s easy to see why.  He’s another legend in the industry who has earned it from constant hard work, and his genuinely pleasant demeanor has helped him connect strongly with the fans.  His subtle moments of exasperation and frustration when faced with Daniel Bryan are played well.  All in all, a good night.  B.

    Mic Work: None to speak of, this week, but it’s a testament he gets so over when he simply comes down to the ring, passes out his massive cap, and does what he does in the ring.  N/A.

    Gimmick: As the gentle giant, Big Show has always worked.  He can play face and heel easily, as proven by his career, with his sheer size bringing intimidation when necessary, but he knows how to be humble, approachable, and humorous quite easily as well.  It comes natural to him, and the way he seems so concerned for AJ’s safety is bringing it along nicely.

    I feel like his feud with Daniel Bryan is running its course and, for better or worse, Shaq coming to Raw soon should bring an end to it, but I think it’s been a strong series for both men.  It’s brought out the heel in Daniel Bryan, and given Big Show that overwhelming crowd support.  Let’s see what they do with it.  C+

    Overall: The Big Show is a trustworthy main event face who can step up when the need arrives, and this show proves why.  He’s simply over, a guy fans love to cheer because he seems like a genuinely nice person.  His ring work isn’t perfect and the Daniel Bryan feud is starting to get played out, but I imagine it’ll come to an end after Elimination Chamber and Show can move on to feuding with the next heel working up the ladder.  Seeing him go against Wade Barrett, perhaps, or Cody Rhodes would be a refreshing sight.  B-.

Daniel Bryan

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    In-Ring: You know, and I know, that Daniel Bryan is one of the best wrestlers in the world.  If you’ve seen his ROH matches, and even his series of matches last year with Dolph Ziggler, you know that such a statement isn’t really up for debate.  But looking at him strictly in the context of his recent matches with Big Show and Mark Henry, well, he hasn’t looked so impressive. 

    There’s just not much he can do to the two giants.  Locking them into submissions is all but impossible given the size difference, and a man of his stature taking down the Big Show with stiff kicks looks ludicrous to the average audience.  But I’m pleased to see that he’s been getting stronger and more versatile every match, recently. 

    His chokeslam-into-guillotine counter was beautiful, and the knee-wrench-drop [really, what do I call that?] he pulled out was like nothing I’ve seen before.  He’s not up to his ROH days of versatility and arsenal, but it’s better than when the only moves he pulled out were the crossface and occasionally a guillotine choke.  Hopefully Smackdown’s match with Randy and the coming Elimination Chamber will really let him cut loose.  B+.

    Charisma: Let’s be honest here, fellow smarks.  Charisma has never been one of Daniel Bryan’s strong suits, on the indie circuit or in the WWE.  He is a master wrestler, but like Dean Malenko and Chris Benoit behind him, it seems to work in inverse proportion to his ability to speak confidently and emote.

    All the more reason I’m pleasantly surprised by the latest turn of his character.  The crowd boos him vehemently, and I’m pretty sure I heard someone shouting “Jay Lethal is cooler than you” as he made his way to the ring, so it seems he’s turned even the ROH crowd against him.  Impressive.  He sells his character hard, with his annoyingly over the top mannerisms and viciousness in-ring work combined to make a compelling heel.  B+

    Mic Work: As said, Daniel Bryan is not a man born to talk in front of large crowds of people.  It’s simply the truth.  But, as also said, he has come into his own in this new heel role and people are responding to it.  I didn’t feel this promo was one of his best, but he still got the point across and got some heat out of the deal.  C.

    Gimmick: To be honest, I was never thrilled with the idea of Daniel Bryan turning heel.  When faced with monsters like Big Show and Mark Henry, making him an underdog babyface seemed like the most obvious idea in the world, and for weeks I was utterly bewildered at what WWE were possibly thinking. 

    But, frankly, as the conniving, ruthless schemer he’s become, he’s really playing it to the hilt, and I’m impressed.  He’s different than the usual smug coward who plays to the crowd with easy heat from arrogance and running from the top face.  He’s willing to get in there and hurt people, shouts at giants to get their hands off of him, and his use of AJ as a tactic is slimy as all hell and unique, too.  He’s definitely growing on me in the roll.  B.

    Overall: My fears about the train wreck that Daniel Bryan: World Heavyweight Champion would become have been largely allayed in past weeks.  I’m becoming increasingly optimistic that we won’t have another Jack Swagger situation on our hands, and that he can keep his place somewhere around the top of the card for months to come after this.  I’m not crazy about him trying to twist his veganism into CM Punk 2.0, but the raw power of his wrestling ability and the unique storyline he, Big Show, and AJ are playing out makes up for it.  I just look forward to someone new stepping into the picture, ideally Sheamus gearing up for Wrestlemania season.  B+

John Cena

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    In-Ring: Another week without Cena wrestling.  It still feels strange to say that, but it’s becoming increasingly common.  One has to wonder what that means.  Are WWE trying to see if someone like CM Punk can carry the product more heavily on his shoulders?  Or are they simply hoping that keeping Cena away from the ring will pop WrestleMania buys for his proper return against the Rock?  I wouldn’t mind seeing them try that, as having Cena less over-exposed is always a good thing.  But I’m rambling, so let’s move on.  N/A.

    Charisma: Frankly, an awkward week for Cena in his only new segment of the week.  His acting with Captain NASCAR there [I just rewatched the segment and have already forgotten his name—it's not a sport I follow, forgive me] was worse than it’s been in the entirety of the Kane storyline.  He just seemed off his game this time around, and hopefully he’ll get back in gear next week.  D+.

    Mic Work: As said, not his best.  A short segment in a poorly played out situation is all we get.  D+

    Gimmick: Well, it looks like the Kane storyline is turning out more and more pointless.  For someone close to embracing the hate, Cena seemed pretty chummy with his race-car driving new friend, and waving the flag at the Daytona 500 isn’t the action of a tortured man.  As always, the problem with Cena is that nothing seems to bother him long term, and he’s always back to the same smiling nice guy he always is.  Let’s look forward to seeing Cena ship Kane off in an ambulance at the Chamber and move on like nothing ever happened.  Or not.  D.

    Overall: I’m really not that much of a Cena hater, I think he’s better in the ring than people give him credit for and a genuinely nice guy.  This was just a terrible week, and it’s getting tiresome having WWE tease us with the idea he might finally change his tune after, what, seven years of being the same person?  Only to pull the plug and have it all turn utterly meaningless.  Kane can talk all he wants about having Cena close to giving in, but unless Cena actually plays the part, then it’s just a big waste of time for Kane’s potentially final run.  D.

David Otunga

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    In-Ring: While I take strong issue with Lawler even suggesting Otunga is better in-ring than out [and I am fully confused he is supporting a heel in that way while Cole is cutting him down on the other end], it wasn’t a bad showing.  He’s definitely still miles away from main event talent, but I think people largely overlook that he has been improving.  His DDT to Sheamus looked nice and he’s a solid seller.  C.

    Charisma: Whether it’s because of a natural gift, his connection to John Laurinaitis, his perception as undeserving of a push earned thanks to his famous wife, or simply being a lawyer, David Otunga is a distinctly detestable man.  He works perfectly as a heel and is a man fans will always cheer to see his ass soundly kicked.  His Tebow-pose was, if I might say, utterly flawless, and as long as they keep his segments short and to the point, I’ll enjoy each and every one of them.  B.

    Mic Work: On the flip-side, while he might play his role well and make someone easy to hate, he’s still not great on the microphone.  He sounds stilted and unsure of himself, qualities that I imagine he’ll shed over time if he’s given more of a chance to put them to the test, but you’d expect a lawyer would be better at speaking in front of a crowd.  Perhaps it’s just acting that’s not his forte.  I’m still optimistic that he’ll get better, but he’s still in a rough patch.  C-.

    Gimmick: Honestly, I’m one of the people who loves David Otunga: Lawyer.  It gives him a defined character that he can relate to as a person, it keeps him largely out of the ring for big matches to cover up his greenness and flaws, and it makes him so utterly easy to hate.  It’s frankly a win in every direction.  I’d love to see more mid-carders with genuine gimmicks that he’s managed to snag himself.  B.

    Overall: I have a personal fondness for Otunga that I can’t really explain, so maybe I’m softer on him than some people.  Still, I enjoy his gimmick, and the mere fact that he even has one, and I think he’s been slowly getting better in most areas week by week.  I don’t foresee a world championship in his future, unless something goes horribly wrong, but a consistent mid-card presence and role as Authority Figure Lackey would hardly go awry for him.  C+.

Sheamus

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    In-Ring: Sheamus is a solid and dependable workhorse, and that’s what’s gotten him into the mess he’s only just started pulling himself out of.  You can throw him in with anyone and he’ll pull out a decent match, and look strong doing it.  This wasn’t a fantastic contest by any extent, but it got him over as a dominant face and that’s all that can really be expected.  Hopefully we’ll see him in some long-form, top quality matches to come, but this wasn’t bad for what it was.  B-.

    Charisma: In a show featuring Triple H, Chris Jericho, CM Punk, Randy Orton, Big Show, and even the Undertaker [almost], Sheamus still manages to get one of the bigger pops of the night.  I think that about says it all.  A-.

    Mic Work: Of course, we didn’t exactly hear much from him.  At all.  But I understand that, ultimately, he is a SmackDown guy and that is where we will see the brunt of the attention put on him.  I wish we could just have a little more, though, given he’s the Royal Rumble winner, but oh well.  N/A.

    Gimmick: Hard to say anything about his gimmick or character this week, since he just walked down to give Otunga a stiff beating.  Still, his roll as sort of the Punishment Face that unruly heels are fed to in order to take their lumps has been strong for the past few months, now, and while I am eager to see him move on to a proper feud, in the main event no less, he sells it well.  As a brash, friendly, and deeply likable brawler who will take on all comers, he is perfection.  King Sheamus, be forever forgotten.  B.

    Overall: A bit of a weak night for a fresh Royal Rumble winner, but with the Punk-Jericho and Taker-Trips stories taking precedence, I can hardly say I’m surprised.  Giving Sheamus a dominant win over a mid-card heel seems to be the WWE Bookers’ favorite pastime these days and I can’t entirely argue with it.  I just hope that the status quo changes before his strong babyface cred starts to fade.  Given him the title, guys.  It’s time.  B-.

Wade Barrett and Cody Rhodes

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    Wade Barrett

    In-Ring: I tend to feel like Wade Barrett is a man who gets overlooked in terms of ring work.  He’s not one of the most superb wrestlers on the roster, no, but for being six foot six and only having, what, two years in the WWE proper?  He looks pretty damn good more often than not.  He spent most of the match selling, though, so it’s hard to really say much about him here.  We’ll see what SmackDown offers up.  B-.

    Charisma: I’m surprised by how little crowd reaction he got coming to the ring this week, but perhaps I’m just too deluded from SmackDown’s audio sweetening.  He’s always seemed to ooze vile confidence and I’m a huge fan, myself, but in terms of crowd connection this past Raw he just wasn’t there.  Strange.  C.

    Mic Work: Despite the promo-heavy nature of the show with video packages and Triple H and Jericho getting lengthy segments, there wasn’t a lot of mic work here to evaluate among the regular wrestlers.  Shame.  N/A.

    Gimmick: While I like Wade’s general character of the cocky and rough-edged British brawler, something must be said.  His music is terrible.  It doesn’t fit him at all.  It’s music for a young twenty-something punk kid more of the D-Generation X style than someone like Barrett.  Either play him as more aggressive, or more cultured.  Either way, this one isn’t cutting it.  C-.

    Overall: Not the best week for Wade Barrett.  The crowd didn’t give him much, and the booking of the match didn’t, either.  I like him, but I have to admit his performance this week’s Raw was mediocre and little stood out about it.  Other than his terrible, terrible music.  C.

     

    Cody Rhodes

    In-Ring: People have compared Cody Rhodes to Randy Orton, and not unfairly, for his recent work.  Their shared time in Legacy and Cody’s feud with Booker coupled with his work eliminating all the Legends from the Rumble have definite shades of Randy’s star-making gimmick.  They can be compared in another way, though, with solid and energetic ring-work that shows that Cody is definitely going to be in some great matches in his career.  While he spent most of the time selling this week while the faces dominated the tag match, his excellent drop-kick and his always wonderful to watch Beautiful Disaster kick put him high up there.  It doesn’t hurt that he sold the Brain Chop to perfection.  B.

    Charisma: Now Cody has hit the crowd where it hurts.  All the things he’s doing as of late, he’s doing right, and his push to defeat Booker T and all the way through the Rumble has done wonders for his career.  He’s one of the few men who really came out of the Rumble looking good, where a lot of the emphasis seemed to be on cut-rate legends and announcers, and he’s one of the best men to give that kind of support.  He is a star in the making.  B+.

    Mic Work: As above.  N/A.

    Gimmick: Now Cody Rhodes, I am firmly behind.  It’s been very interesting seeing his full evolution from Dashing, to Disturbed, to just Damn Entertaining.  He’s unusually vicious for WWE heels of this current era, as I feel like we get more heels who are cowardly and weak than strong, and it’s a pleasant surprise.  While he’s less of a stand-out character than he used to be, he is still well-defined and by dropping the mask has likely stamped his own ticket to the main event in coming months.  There’s not much to say about this show in particular, but since it’s my opening column, here’s just a little chance to gush.  B.

    Overall: I won’t lie, I’m among the marks for Cody Rhodes and I am watching his career eagerly.  This wasn’t a stand out show for him by any respects, but he put on a good performance and he got the crowd firmly against him.  That’s all you really need.  Plus, he managed to make the Great Khali’s offense look good.  How many guys in the locker room can say that with a straight face?  B.

Great Khali and Randy Orton

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    The Great Khali

    In-Ring: What can I say about The Great Khali that hasn’t been said before?  The man moves like an arthritic ent and looks like if he takes a bad bump his legs will break in half.  The Brain Chop in mid-air was a pretty good moment, though, I’ll give him that.  D.

    Charisma: The crowd was behind him this week, it seemed, at least until he started chopping back at Randy.  Really not much to say about it.  There wasn’t much there.  Which tends to be the story with Khali’s charisma, in my experience.  C.

    Mic Work: Even if he’d been handed a mic, what could I say?  N/A.

    Gimmick: The Great Khali’s gimmick has always basically been, “Hey look at that really big Indian guy.”  Well, he played it just fine here.  It’s interesting to see him trading hard blows with Randy Orton, and I’m apprehensive but curious about where this will go.  Hopefully away from the Khali Kiss Cam, and the World Heavyweight Championship.  D+. 

    Overall: Why the Great Khali is an ex-World Heavyweight Champion will be a mystery for the ages.  Still, his chop that nearly sent Randy flying off the ring was actually an entertaining moment, and the mid-air chop to Cody was quite good, even if I hate to see Cody pinned by him of all people.  A better night for Khali in my eyes.  Which isn’t saying much.  C-.

     

    Randy Orton

    In-Ring: Really, I think everyone knows by now that Randy Orton is one of the top guys in the company today for pure wrestling talent.  He can be relied on to come out and do solid work every week, and that’s more than can be said for some.  He hit his high-spots, he sold well in the few instances that he had to, and the sheer fact he can hit an RKO on the Great Khali is impressive.  Well done.  B.

    Charisma: I’ll never understand it myself, not being a huge fan, but the crowd always responds to Randy Orton.  He’s definitely improved in my eyes since they took him away from the mic, and getting back into being his more Viper-esque character than a top babyface has alleviated some of my boredom and dislike.  B-.

    Mic Work: And again.  N/A.

    Gimmick: Randy Orton lives his character.  When he’s in the ring, just the way that he moves and carries himself is so unique.  His nickname of Viper is well-chosen, as he really does have a reptilian look to him at times.  He’s definitely better off now that he’s returned to his sociopathic loner character who can snap at any moment.  Hopefully we’ll never have to see him do jumping splits again.  B.

    Overall: I have mixed feelings about Randy Orton in general, but he’s a reliable wrestler who you can always count on to get the job done.  I don’t really have much to say about him aside from that.  I am, however, quite looking forward to his match with Daniel Bryan.  That one should be good.  B.

The Miz and R-Truth

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    The Miz

    In-Ring: Miz, Miz, Miz.  Honestly, he started off the night well in the ring, selling hard for Punk and pulling out opportunistic shots when he could.  But when he botched the dive spot, or when Truth botched it, it seemed to come apart.  Missing the clothesline exchange with Jericho looked terrible for him.  I wouldn’t be surprised if knowing he hurt Truth ruined his composure, but still.  C-.

    Charisma: While the Miz doesn’t seem to have the intense hatred that he did when he was carrying the title, people are definitely still against him.  He was right behind Bryan and Rhodes in terms of boos.  Decent, but not his best night.  B-.

    Mic Work: Nope.  N/A.

    Gimmick: It’s seemed twice now like they were going to change up the Miz’s gimmick, with the possibility of a dangerous outsider thug in Awesome Truth and the brief flickers of a ruthless Iceman after he took out Morrison, but neither of those have come to anything.  He’s more of a character than a lot of guys on the roster, but just shouting Awesome and Really at the crowd is getting stale, even I have to admit.  He needs to change it up.  C.

    Overall: Truth’s bad night seemed to have the same effect on Miz, and without the microphone and with his poor booking as of late, his credibility as a heel has tanked.  If he really is being punished for Survivor Series and now Truth’s mishap on top of it, his career is going nowhere fast.  He does have potential so I hope he can pull out of this, but I’m wary to see where things go.  C-.

     

    R-Truth

    In-Ring: It’s hard to say how well Truth did or didn’t when the match was clearly cut short for him.  I’m not sure, personally, who was more in the wrong with his botch with Miz but either way, it’s good that they got him out of there and to medical attention quickly.  I’m also glad to hear that he wasn’t genuinely hurt.  From what I saw he was doing moderately well prior, a middle of the line performance, and that’s likely how it would remain.  C.

    Charisma: Well, for one thing, there were clearly Little Jimmy signs and I saw a few people wearing his new t-shirt, so he’s got at least a few fans in the audience.  Still, it’s seemed for a while that people weren’t taking to him as a babyface compared to his heel role.  I like his work, but it’s just hard to cheer for the dangerous schizophrenic, isn’t it?  C.

    Mic Work: Sadly another victim of the lack of mic-time going around.  N/A.

    Gimmick: When I heard that there were plans to turn Truth babyface, I was worried we’d see him back in the roll of bland babyface rapper that he’d toiled in for so long.  Happily, that didn’t take place, and I’ve been loving his delusional gimmick for as long as it’s been going on.  It definitely makes him stand out from the crowd, and while it’s hard to get totally behind him as a babyface, he is always entertaining regardless.  B+.

    Overall: Naturally, not a great show for R-Truth.  His new character is still entertaining but he just wasn’t given much to work with this week on Raw, and when his time was cut short thanks to an accident, that just gives him even less.  All told, he’s one of the weaker challengers going into the Elimination Chamber and it’s a shame, given the good work he’s been doing as of late, but this show wasn’t the top of the list.  C+.

Kofi Kingston and Dolph Ziggler

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    Kofi Kingston

    In-Ring: Kofi always goes out to the ring and puts everything he has into a match, it seems to me, so it’s no surprise he did the same this Raw.  His Trouble in Paradise to Miz was one of the best I’ve seen, and the exchange he had with Dolph near the turnbuckle earlier in the match was great.  It’ll be quite an interesting showing to see him in the Chamber, and I’m sure he’ll pull off some of the high spots in that match.  B+.

    Charisma: Kofi is just one of those guys who’s always going to be over with the crowd, but never going to get very far despite it.  It looks like he’s getting a slight push, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it putter out after a MITB match at WrestleMania.  He’s like the Ricky Steamboat of the modern-era: a persistent babyface in the midcard scene, and nothing more.  B.

    Mic Work: None.  N/A.

    Gimmick: Really, what does Kofi have at this pointy beyond smiling faux-Jamaican?  It clearly works, as it’s gotten him a strong and consistent crowd response, but I’d like to see more depth from him all the same.  Give him some time on the mic – he’s not the next Rock, but he can carry his own if he’s given the chance.  C-.

    Overall: As said, Kofi is exciting in the ring, and is dependable for when you need a strong babyface who can carry some big spots.  He’s been pretty much locked into that role in the company since he got here, and it’s nice to see him getting some time in the main event even if I doubt it will go anywhere in the long run.  Do I think he deserves a main event push?  Probably.  But what I want and what the WWE want are often at odds.  B.

     

    Dolph Ziggler

    In-Ring: Dolph is well known for stealing the show as of late and while he didn’t quite do that on Raw, he was still damn good in the ring.  There really was quite a lot of solid wrestling in the Six-Pack, once you got beyond the botches and the cluttered nature of the match itself.  An Elimination match would have served much better, but what can you do.  It doesn’t hurt for him that he sells the GTS like a champ every time.  Not one of his best showings, but he did good with what he had.  B-.

    Charisma: He’s not the most over heel of the night, not getting the reaction that Daniel Bryan or Cody Rhodes did, but Dolph Ziggler’s swagger is incredible and his confidence is almost infectious. He’s taken to Show Off role well, and he acts one perfectly.  B-.

    Mic Work: Very little, though I did enjoy his words on his way to the ring.  In case you missed it: “Who’s better than me?  Nobody!”  N/A.

    Gimmick: I’ve heard that they changed his music and his gimmick to draw him away from the Mr. Perfect comparisons that were driving him crazy.  Whether it’s true or not, I’m glad he changed things up.  Taking the traditional arrogant heel role and turning it up to eleven has made Dolph Ziggler a star in his own rights.  While it seems his main event level push has stalled once more, the fact that he’s opened two years straight wrestling for World Titles says something in his favor.  If he keeps up this Show Off gimmick, and keeps showing off when he’s given the opportunity, I see big things in his future.  A-.

    Overall: In the sea of competitors, Dolph got a little lost in the shuffle this week, but that’s hardly a surprise when they’re pushing towards a WrestleMania match that he’s not in.  He did what he was supposed to come out and do, and there’s no shame for him in taking the loss to Punk like he did.  B.

Beth Phoenix and the Divas

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    In-Ring: As always, Beth was the best-looking Diva in the ring.  Her power and her technique are really the best in the WWE, and with not a hint of Natalya’s actual wrestling to compare it to this week, she shined the brightest.  Eve didn’t look too bad, though one wonders how much of her work was selling versus genuine given her broken nose.  A shame.  Brie seemed to be handicapped by Eve’s injury, too, as her offense was gentle and hesitant.  Tamina has gotten good at doing her two moves, as one would expect.  All in all, a short affair, and it didn’t come out looking too good with Eve’s accident, but the finish was good.  C-.

    Charisma: It’s hard to tell if any of them even have charisma when they have so little to do.  Eve looks to be solidly over with the crowd thanks to the pop her music got, but it’s hard to tell.  There was zero response to Beth or the heel divas, either.  I’m enjoying the rough and self-interested edge to Beth’s character, though, and she is playing it well so far.  Hopefully she’ll have a chance to go somewhere with it.  Tamina seems solidly confident, too, at least in her current “Samoan Drop, Superfly Splash” style of wrestling.  It’s nice to see Diva’s hitting big moves, and maybe we’ll have a chance to see her actually wrestle soon.  At the Chamber?  Who knows.  C-.

    Mic Work: You expected them to be on the mic?  Beth had her little interview and her acting is quite strong, but no one else got to speak at all.  D.

    Gimmick: Does anyone have a gimmick or a character at this point?  Really?  Tamina’s attempt at a legacy character is at least a start, though I want to see more from her than hitting her father’s signature moves.  Beth the arrogant champion is at least a role to be played, and she is working it well.  Other than that, well, at least there wasn’t any farting this time around.  C-.

    Overall: I’d love to say more than this about the Divas, honestly.  I want to support them.  But there is just so little that WWE gives me.  We had an eight-diva tag match and only four of them got in the ring, and the match was settled in under two minutes.  This is ridiculous.  And is Tamina the next challenger for Beth’s crown, or are we going to see Eve go after her again?  It’s hard to tell.  I’m pretty sure that I’ve put more thought into this rating already than the creative team put into the whole segment, anyway, so I’ll wrap it up.  D+.

Kane

13 of 16

    In-Ring: Nothing.  N/A.

    Charisma: Say what you can about the Kane-Cena storyline, and you can say a lot, Kane is an intimidating man when he puts his mind to it.  He can dominate any scene he’s in by force of presence alone, and as a sheer silent performer he’s one of the best in the WWE.  This week’s little vignette, if really creepy, showed what a terrifying presence he can be.  A-.

    Mic Work: While Kane has always been ever as a silent force than as a talker, I feel like he’s been doing a lot better recently than he used to.  His performance this week was chilling and his line that he is afraid of himself certainly sets up an interesting hook for next week’s show and what will happen at Elimination Chamber.  When Kane’s scared of what he’s going to do, what does that say for Cena’s chances?  [Oh, wait, Cena has to win so he can go to WrestleMania.  Disregard that.  Still a good line, though.]  B.

    Gimmick: Wrestling needs monster heels from time to time, and Kane is and always will be one of the best in that role.  Picking back up his mask is a great way to cap off an impressive career, and bringing back the monster fueled by hate that he was at the start is excellent.  It’s a shame he’s wasted in a melodramatic storyline because he’s doing some great work on his own.  B+.

    Overall: How Kane turned it around between WrestleManias from blowing an imaginary horn with Santino to being one of the most terrifying presences in wrestling is astounding.  He’s found the magic for his character and every time he’s on screen there is a promise of violence.  While the subtext of his vignette with Eve seemed a little bit overt and unnecessary to me, it’s definitely got me wondering about what he has planned and just how far he and Cena will go in their ambulance match.  B+.

Chris Jericho

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    In-Ring: Jericho just didn’t get to seem to do much in the Six-Pack challenge, which isn’t actually a poor idea.  Keeping him away from big wrestling events will keep it all the more exciting and fresh when he does get involved in the Chamber, and even more so when he gets his big singles match at WrestleMania.  All the same, we got to see flashes as he missed a Lionsault and locked Kofi into the Walls.  A taste of what he can really do, and it only makes me hungrier for more.  B.

    Charisma: He said it himself.  He trolled the audience, and he can do that because he oozes charisma and knows how to get into the audience’s head.  Sure, a lot of us hardcore Internet fans figured out pretty easily that he was just trying to go babyface so far that it turned him heel, but the simple fact is, there were still arenas of people cheering for him for weeks, and know they’re booing him fiercely again.  Like he himself said: he manipulated all of us without speaking a word.  Few guys can do that.  A-.

    Mic Work: What can be said?  He’s the best in the world at what he does, and what he does is talk.  Very, very well.  Not a revolutionary promo, but full of scathing hatred, ludicrous arrogance and a few solid points disguised in the heeling madness.  Not bad at all.  A.

    Gimmick: Honestly?  A bit of a disappointment this week.  I mean, Chris Jericho is still a fantastic performer, and I’d never want to take away from his ability in any way.  I’m glad he’s back.  But after weeks of phenomenal video packages and his promise to bring the End of the World, he’s basically back to what he was before he left, isn’t he?  Hardly a shakeup of the WWE landscape.  Still, Jericho is a better character than most other guys on the roster, so that still puts him out in the front of the pack.  Just wish we had a little bit more from him.  B-.

    Overall: With a big WrestleMania match just around the corner, is it any surprise that Jericho had a strong match?  He got the most mic time next to Triple H and he got the pin in the main event.  What more can you want than that?  Sure, the way his storyline is turning out is far from as revolutionary as we were expecting, but everyone knows it’s going to lead to a PPV highlight, so how much can I really complain?  A-.

CM Punk

15 of 16

    In-Ring: It’s hardly shocking that CM Punk was one of the top stars of the night.  He got probably more ring time than Jericho did and as everyone knows very well by now, he’s the Best in the World.  You get what you pay for with a CM Punk match and that is quality and some savage spots.  That tumble from the top of the turnbuckle after he missed his knee was nasty.  He’s done better and I know he can do better, but when the six of them have another match in two weeks and are working under such messy rules, I think he came out quite well.  B.

    Charisma: Remember how I said there are few who can manipulate a crowd silently?  CM Punk is one of those people.  His wordless pipe bomb leveled on Jericho was pitch-perfect.  One of his best moments in weeks.  He’s one of the hottest commodities around, WWE just needs to keep doing it right.  A.

    Mic Work: None at all, and that’s what made it perfect.  N/A.

    Gimmick: Best meets Best in the feud that a lot of people expected and were eagerly awaiting.  Punk said nothing this week, but sold himself as the arrogant loner who does what ever he pleases and doesn’t care whose skin he gets under in the process, as well as proving he’s the best in the world instead by not giving in to Jericho’s taunts.  While it wasn’t his strongest showing, it was definitely interesting.  B-.

    Overall: Punk is one of the biggest stars in the WWE right now and his performance on Raw was proof of that.  He got the better of Jericho in a battle of wits without ever speaking a word and dominated the main event match, even if Jericho stole the win from him.  It seems that worries of WWE losing faith in him aren’t entirely to be believed, and as long as they keep giving him a chance to be strong and make his mark rather than turning back to tried-and-true Cena, they could really have something special on their hands.  B+.

Conclusion

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    While this week's Raw had entirely too many promo packages and an overbooked main event that just had too much action going on at once, I feel like the individual performances themselves stacked up well on the card. There were just too many pieces moving at once without enough time to do them all justice.

    If I had to grade the entire show, I'd give it a C+—not entirely mediocre, with a few high spots, but not fantastic either, especially compared to last week. Let's hope they take it up a notch for the go-home show before the Chamber.

     

    And that's it for my first ever Bleacher Report column! I imagine that the formula will take a few tweaks in coming weeks as I get myself a formula going, and I look forward to hearing from all of you how it turned out.

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