– Comments, shares, likes, and what-have-you are appreciated. Do me a solid. I’m writing a lot of words for your enjoyment.
– If you’re going to WrestleMania this year … hey, so are we! Me, Best and Worst of Impact’s Danielle, GIFmaster General THESTINGER and pretty much everyone else from the online wrestling world will be there, so if you will be too, let one of us know. We’ll do a thing. Even if that thing is “make sure we all sit together at Chikara.”
Please click through to enjoy the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for February 25, 2013.
Best: Raw Opening Segments That End In Blood
Here’s what I wrote in last week’s Best and Worst of Raw report regarding the prospect of a Paul Heyman/Vince McMahon street fight:
Of course, this is all a pretty clear lead-in for Brock Lesnar to re-arrive and attack Vince, only to get bailed out by the I LOVE YOU POP EXPRESS. And as cool as Brock is, Inappropriate Buzzcut Theater is not something I’m emotionally prepared to deal with yet.
Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened. Paul Heyman came out for the fight overconfident because he knew he had Brock Lesnar waiting in the Vanilla Gorilla position. Vince, bad hip or not, got his shots in on Heyman to lure out Brock, because the entire “fight” challenge had been a plot to lure Lesnar out into the open and run him over with the storyline mack truck that is Triple H. It made sense, it was exciting, it ended in a little bloodshed because Brock Lesnar never figured out how to pretend to wrestle, and guess what? It worked. The WWE Fan Nation video even switches to black and white like it’s Kill Bill.
My biggest problem with Triple H angles is Triple H having to explain every aspect of them to us via 20-minute in-ring conversations with himself. I’m assuming we’ll get that next week. This week, we get the WWE’s most celebrated “legendary ass-kicker” showing up to kick the ass of its most legitimate physical threat to set up a big showdown at the biggest show of the year. Next week, we’ll have Triple H holding the microphone in his mouth, pointing vaguely at the ground and explaining how THIS WAS ALL A SET-UP and how he’s OUT FOR REVENGE for what Lesnar did to him and his family, and THIS BUSINESS and THIS BUSINESS AGAIN and all the shit we figured out from the blood and the punching. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the last physicality the feud sees before Mania, because there are THREATENING WORDS to be had, or whatever.
But hey, we’ll Wait And See Where It Goes™. This is a lay-up, guys. Just have them fight and make each other bleed until one of those fights (spoiler: the WrestleMania one) has to end in a pin.
Worst: This Segment Being Replayed In Full Six More Times On The Same Episode Of Raw
Not a good sign.
Best: Triple H Peed His Pants
It looks like he filled up his pants with This Business.
Best: Dolph Ziggler Deserves An Emmy For This Match
It wasn’t the best match on the show — that was the main-event, obviously — but my FAVORITE match on the show was Dolph Ziggler versus Ryback. “Dolph Ziggler is good at bumping” isn’t a new thing to say, but this might’ve been his master class. He made Ryback look like the most unstoppable, powerful, monstrous dude in the WWE, something I didn’t think was possible after Failing To Lift Tensai-Gate. Watch him go Full Batista when he tries to kick Ryback through the ropes and gets shoved backwards across the ring. Watch how his jumping DDT stalls, not in the bad, PWG way where the physics are wrong, but in that cool way where you know the impact is inevitable, and you’re forced to wait for it. Watch how he manages to get spinebustered like three different times during one spinebuster. His Stinger Splash into a brick wall. Holy shit, Dolph.
I really hope WWE finds a way to formally turn Dolph face, because I so badly want to cheer for him and his hapless gang of racially-diverse friends. AJ and Langston are basically the least-effective familiars in wrestling. At the same time, Langston looks (and sounds) great whenever he’s asked to do something, and AJ is still gorgeous and healing from her yearlong stint as WWE’s Whore Joke. If Ziggler can do a few noble things, keep bumping like he bumps and keep his friends through the transition, WWE’s got at least 5-10 additional $35 t-shirts out of me.
Worst: CM Punk Skips The Rap References And Goes Straight To Letting Jerry Lawler Be Upset About God
Remember back when CM Punk was running down the Rock and whipped out “your arms too short to box with God?” Remember how great that was? Remember how Jerry Lawler whiffed that quote’s context in its rap, James Weldon Johnson or Broadway usages and kept murmuring under his breath at the ends of sentences about how he thought CM Punk had just called himself God? Remember how stupid we thought he was for just hearing a word in the sentence and assuming its inference?
Yeah, CM Punk just straight-up ended his promo with I’M GOD YOU GUYS, and now Lawler gets to close his eyes and shake his head derisively because there’s only one God, ma’am, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that. Does Jerry get to be WWE’s authority on God because he’s the only guy on the payroll who died and got to keep his job?
Worst: Whoever Let Donald Trump Into The Hall Of Fame, You’re Fired, Get It
A few truths:
1. The honorary celebrity wing of the WWE Hall Of Fame is a courtesy thing, and we should never get offended if, say, they want to put Jeremy Piven in it for his outstanding service in the field of Getting SummerSlam’s Name Wrong. They just want Jeremy Piven to show up at WrestleMania and wave to folks. Relax.
2. If Donald Trump is going to be in the WWE Hall Of Fame, he should also be in the Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling Hall Of Fame for that one time when Big Bad Mama tried to trick Daisy into thinking Trump wanted to hook up with her. If you don’t get that reference, you should really watch more G.L.O.W.
3. Never forget the best no-selling of a gimmick in WWE history:
Worst: Fandango’s Finally Debuting, And It’s on SMACKDOWN?
You’re kidding me. I sat through 50 Fandango commercials on Raw, sometimes two at a time, and now you’re gonna debut him on SMACKDOWN? Great, now I’m going to have to start reviewing Smackdown. For everyone who asks me to do a Best and Worst of Smackdown, here’s every imaginable report:
Best: Fandango, probably
Worst: The canned crowd noise, where they go AOOHHHHHHHH for Tamina Snuka headbutts like they’re watching El Generico top rope brainbuster somebody at the end of a 30 minute match. That noise is the worst. You could add canned crowd noise to the best matches of all time and I wouldn’t be able to sit through them. That’s the peril of attending so many live shows, I think … you get attached to the ebb and flow of how an actual wrestling crowd reacts.
Worst: 120 minutes of Smackdown being 40 minutes of commercials, 70 minutes of Raw recaps and 10 minutes of Great Khali dancing with Hornswoggle. That is seriously how I see Smackdown in my head.
… and that’s it. It’d be even worse if I tried to do Best and Worsts of Impact. One week I’m going to switch columns with Danielle Matheson. Here’s a preview:
Best: Joseph Park
Worst: every second Joseph Park isn’t on screen my brain is doing that thing that happens when you hold the gas for too long in Excitebike until you crash end-over-end and slide off the track.
Best: Mark Henry, Effortlessly Splitting This Guy’s Wig Again
Mark Henry is f**king awesome.
Worst: Okay, Sorry, Here’s The Longer Version Of That
As good as Mark Henry is, I don’t know what they’re doing with him. Do THEY know what they’re doing with him? He came back strong, got booked into the Elimination Chamber and destroyed EVERYBODY. Three top WWE Superstars had to team up to keep him down for a three count, and everyone else had to team up to beg him to leave without claiming their lives. It was awesome. Then, on Raw, he rolled out of the ring to avoid a confrontation with The Great Khali. Now he’s just trouncing Khali in a minute, as expected.
So what’s going on? I know the WrestleMania card is filling up quickly and the average WWE fan’s idea of how the main-event should go does not necessarily sparkle with my idea of having Henry squash Rock and Cena with a double World’s Strongest Slam, but there’s got to be something more for him to do than lift a guy whose lifting is technically impressive, but happens all the time.
Are we doing the “freak of nature” match at Mania? Khali, Mark Henry and Big Show, with Ryback thrown in to pick them up and throw them all around? Because if we’re doing that, we need to do something besides have Khali pretend he can dodge quick attacks for 60 seconds every Monday. He doesn’t even have his farting lady/man-child posse anymore. Poor guy.
Best: MizTV Works If Miz Doesn’t Talk Or Do Anything
I’m not sure whether or not I liked this MizTV segment yet, but I did like that The Miz made a small attempt to let people talk and say what they came on the show to say instead of immediately berating them with his Miz thing and devolving it into a “gay jokes and couch-throws” affair like usual.
Zeb Colter is an interesting character, but as good as he is at what he does, it still doesn’t seem to connect to Swagger like it should. Like, Swagger stands in the background of the Don’t Tread On Me videos and occasionally relates what they’re talking about to his personal life or whatever, but unless I’ve missed it, there’s never been a reason explained as to why a guy dedicated to educating the masses about illegal immigrants would choose “standing outside the ring during this one guy’s wrestling matches” as his platform. His biggest beef so far seems to be against Alberto Del Rio, a Mexican guy from Mexico, and even THAT features Zeb insulting people who aren’t Alberto Del Rio. So how does this work, exactly?
It feels weird that the super heels are only acting like heels when they’re directly disrespected (like when Zeb came out to confront Miz for being a bad journalist … and he was totally in the right, because Miz is a terrible, biased a-hole), and that the good guy is only involved because of contractual obligation. Oh, and
Worst: Alberto Del Rio, America’s Biggest Fan
did it seem weird to anybody else that Alberto Del Rio, a man born into a wealthy Mexican family, grew up in the world of lucha libre, came to the United States with an overblown sense of entitlement and a MAN-SERVANT is now proclaiming the USA as the “greatest country in the world,” and is representative of the American dream?
I love babyface Alberto Del Rio and am not about to turn against him in favor of the most overtly yokel dudes on the show, but damn, that’s the most false thing they’ve done with a babyface since [anything the Miz has said or done as a babyface]. Del Rio The Character has a plantation in Mexico, right? I feel like there’s probably a way for him to say YOU’RE WRONG, RACIST GUYS without having to more or less sell out his own country. Mexico can also be the greatest country in the world if you love it and are from there and you lived there until like, three years ago.
WORST: F**k Randy Orton And His Ongoing War Against The Secondary Champions
STOP DOING THIS
Worst: Sheamus Is Such A Piece Of Shit, I Mean Seriously
Dead Man Down was not eligible for this year’s Academy Awards, Sheamus, you f**king asshole.
Last week’s segment didn’t make any sense:
If you missed it, here’s what happened: Wade Barrett has a small role in Dead Man Down, a Colin Farrell/Noomi Rapace revenge-and-guns thing. Sorta like when Christian was “guy in the background #2″ in Shoot ‘Em Up. Anyway, Wade intros his trailer, we watch it, and he’s in it for like half of one shot. He gets interrupted by Sheamus FROM BACKSTAGE, because he wanted to bother Wade, but didn’t have the energy to actually wander out and do it for real. Sheamus says the movie looks good. Wade Barrett, unmic’d, starts screaming about how Sheamus ruined his “special moment.” Sheamus announces that we’re out of time (??) and without actually leaving the ring to film something important (like an interview or a match or an announcement or whatever) the camera just pans to the right so Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole can show you those stupid WWE toys that play with themselves. AND THAT’S THE SEGMENT.
This week’s segment was even worse, somehow. Sheamus, who still does not have any possible reason to be doing this, puts on a suit, comes down to the ring and orchestrates this wacky gag where he shows the Dead Man Down trailer again, pauses it during Wade’s one shot, then non-stop badgers the guy who got a role in a legitimate mainstream movie for having gotten a small role in a legitimate mainstream movie. Wade wanders out and says what we’re all thinking: it’s cool to be in a movie, and Sheamus seems weird and jealous. Sheamus responds by calling Wade Barrett ugly. Barrett takes the WIDEST, SLOWEST SWING EVER and Sheamus ducks it, so Barrett ESCAPES IN TERROR. The segment ends with Sheamus, the guy who is NOT in the movie you’re supposed to be promoting, being celebrated while the announcers continue to make fun of Barrett for being in a movie.
Remember how we decided that Sheamus is a five-year old? Apparently the audience is a bunch of five-year olds, too, so when Wade’s like “it’s stupid for you to be mad at me for this, being in a movie is cool,” Sheamus can go NUH UH, SHUT UP and is the HERO because people who accomplish things think they’re better than us. I feel like I’ve typed this a hundred times now, but go f**k yourself, Sheamus.
Yes please. After last week’s hacky ‘Office’ rehash, I’m proud to report that Brad Maddox and Vickie Guerrero have come up with a vaudeville routine of finishing each others’ sentences and adopting a celebrity couple name and I love it. Maddox is secretly my favorite character on the show right now, I think, and his read of, “Excuse me, too! As well.” was only rivaled by Vickie’s “that’s the point” into cackles.
I think what made Vickie’s line work is that she was actually saying “that’s the point, you stupid dolt comedy character, what are you doing with your life, get your shit together, I mean seriously.” Look at her face. She is TOTALLY saying that.
Worst: The Tag Team Division Is A Garbage Joke
As wrestling fans, it’s hard for us to explain the difference between outrage regarding a booking decision (like “CM Punk lost to John Cena”) and outrage regarding a super stupid pointless-for-real booking decision, like having your tag team champions beat one of their only remaining contenders while wearing a blindfold and having one of their arms tied behind their back. With the first, we’re in the wrong. We get mad about stuff and vocalize it when we should trust the billion dollar global company’s reasons and executions, because they know more than us and have been doing this for a long time. With the second, anybody with a brain is in the right to say “this is a horrible, stupid thing you’re doing,” because yeah, we don’t work for you and we aren’t in This Business, but we also don’t want to watch you tread water and damage control your dead lower appendage of a roster because you can’t stay focused for two whole cycles.
This was awful and a waste of time. It made everyone involved look stupid. The Prime Time Players are worthless, and in a few months when you decide to give them the “this is the team that is WINNING now” push, we won’t believe it. Kane doesn’t look good beating two worthless guys with one arm. Daniel Bryan in a gimp hood having blindfold matches is depressing. Book them against each other, book them against a team that matters, your call. Just don’t book them as “the only two good tag team wrestlers” if you’ve got 20 other tag team wrestlers on your roster, because Jesus Christ why do you need this explained to you.
Best: Damien Sandow Talking To Michael Cole And Jerry Lawler Is Like Me Trying To Talk To Wrestling Fans At Live Events
Here’s Sandow’s conversation with the announcers, paraphrased:
Cole: “So, you know you’re gay, right”
Sandow: “What? I am heterosexual.”
Cole: “You know how Cody Rhodes grew a mustache? I think he’s in love with you!”
Sandow: “Cody can grow a mustache. He is a grown-up.”
Lawler: “Heh, you call it a LOVE STACHE.”
Cole: “love stache means you’re gay”
And so on. Damien Sandow is a jerk about being smart, but I’m starting to think he’s just the protagonist of WWE’s realtime remake of Idiocracy, and in six weeks he’ll sit down to color commentary and get told to go away, because King’s batin’. I’m sorry, Damien. I like you a lot for being an adult who can read, if that helps.
And yes, Cole, “bromance” is in the Urban Dictionary. You know what else is in the Urban Dictionary? Felching. That’s what you’re doing every time you open your mouth.
Worst: Cody Rhodes, Antonio Cesaro and Dolph Ziggler Are All Losers
Here’s a preview clip of me writing next week’s report:
Best: Aggressive Jack Swagger, Ignoring The Weed And The Whole Conservative Baiting Thing
One of my favorite things about wrestling right now is Jack Swagger’s REARGHHH knee strike. He does it 15 times per match. He’ll catch you running with a knee to the gut, then shove you into the corner and just REARGHHH the crap out of you. I love it. It’s very easy to give wrestlers signature moves that aren’t Trouble In Paradise. Swagger’s now the guy who throws knees. Daniel Bryan does the kicks to the chest. CM Punk gently slaps you and lifts his leg until it touches your head and you die. Those things work, require zero dangerous falling and can be worked into the match from anywhere at any time.
And yeah, I’ve given up on The Miz as a character, but I still think his in-ring work is improved by him being a good guy, assuming they let him actually act like a good guy. When he’s cheating to win and booting Antonio Cesaro in the balls because he’s a poor sport, that sucks, but when he’s valiantly fighting back against the odds (like when Jack Swagger is throwing him around and ripping his legs in half), that works. The crowd wants to cheer him. The crowd of kids too old to cheer for Cena and Sheamus but too young to cheer for Dean Ambrose are all COME AWN MIZ YEAH COME AWN. Eventually he’s going to figure that out, and I think he’ll be fine.
But until then, REAARGHHH, Miz. REAARGHHHH.
Worst: Jerry Lawler’s Next Heart Attack, The Prequel
Here’s a picture of Jerry “The King” Lawler hilariously eating both his and Michael Cole’s complimentary meals from Sonic, which include a Biggie-sized FROOT AID and a cafeteria tray of congealed brown greaseballs. I can’t stand Jerry Lawler, but I don’t want him to die. Can we get Whole Foods to sponsor Raw for a while? I just want to see the gray in Lawler’s eyes when he’s forced to do his Leave It To Beaver smile at the camera and say WOW COLE, THIS BEET AND QUINOA WRAP IS DELICIOUS. AND I’M WASHING IT DOWN WITH THIS SYNERGY-BRAND GREEN CHIA KOMBUCHA! WOO HOO!
Raw food is gross. I miss Jim Ross’s Skittles call.
Anyway, because I don’t get to write about Sonic a lot in these reports, I’m going to share with you a joke I heard while I was in New Orleans (courtesy of @polksalad, who you should follow) that I hope you’ll share with everyone you’ve ever met: I went out late after a show and stopped by my favorite fast food restaurant to have a cherry Lime-Aid. As I started to place my order, the guy says “sorry, we’re not serving food anymore. It’s closing time.” And I was like, “what is this, a semi-Sonic?”
Worst: Roman Reigns And Seth Rollins, Again, Or
Worst: ORTON AND SHEAMUS ARE TOTALLY NOT TURNING ON EACH OTHER DURING THIS, EVERYBODY
Nope. And by “nope” I mean both “Dean Ambrose should only bring one microphone and tell his Friends In Similar Vests to can it” and “Randy Orton and Sheamus should team up, turn on each other, then keep turning on each other in a vacuum until it gets smaller and smaller and disappears, like when you put a penny into those big yellow funnels at the mall and watch it go round and round and drop out through the bottom.”
Worst: Triple H, Threatening Via Tout
See? Triple H couldn’t even wait until he left the building. I like to think that he ran out, bloodied Brock Lesnar, left to cheers and found himself backstage without having said anything. So he rushed to find the nearest guy with a camera and was all LET ME TELL THE WWE UNIVERSE WHAT JUST HAPPENED AND HOW THEY SHOULD FEEL, THEY NEED TO KNOW HOW TOUGH I AM and the camera guy was all “uhhhhhh I can Tout it for you” and Triple H was all TOUT, YES, LET’S DO THIS, I AM THE GAME and recorded 15 seconds about how he’s an ass-kicker. I also like to think he recorded 600 consecutive 15-second Touts, and this was just the first of the bunch.
Nothing could be worse than a major star having his return speech on Tout, right?
Worst: The Undertaker, Redebuting Via Tout
Oh, okay, I guess the major star could actually RETURN via Tout. “Hey, fans who just sat through an R-Truth match, bet you wish you were at THIS show!”
Worst: EVERYBODY TOUTING VIA TOUT
WWE opened the show with an exciting Brock Lesnar/Triple H fight, then spent three hours asking fans to go on Tout and Tout about how it made them feel. Hashtag #WWEFight! What they got, after three hours, was three of the predictably worst Touts you could imagine. Want to know how to get your Tout on TV?
1. say something Michael Cole might say if he was lobotomized and 13
2. use a WWE catchphrase
3. say Triple H is great
So all you have to do is say “AW MAN, CAIN’T BELIEVE TRIPLE H AND BROCK LESNAR JUST HAD HASHTAG WWE FIGHT ON WWE RAW. CAIN’T WAIT FOR TRIPLE H TO WIN, BECAUSE HE IS THE GAME.” Boom, your Tout is on TV. Say ANYTHING ELSE and it fails the test. Just once I want them to televise a Tout from somebody who calmly says “I’d like to see more Derrick Bateman matches on Raw, please. He doesn’t even have to win. Just let him wrestle and keep his job. He’s pretty good.” I would also accept a Tout of me screaming BRING BACK JOHN LAURINAITIS and cutting my own face until my 15 seconds were up.
WORST: SOCIAL MEDIA SMACKDOWN, COME ON
“Like Raw? Wish that Twitter news ticker that tells you what Natalya thinks about Raw was the entire show? WISH WE COULD MAKE THAT THE ENTIRE SHOW AND STILL SHOW YOU RAW RECAPS WHILE IT’S HAPPENING? TUNE INTO SMACKDOWN THIS WEEK FOR SOCIAL MEDIA SMACKDOWN, AND BY SOCIAL MEDIA WE MEAN TOUT, BUT WE’LL ACCEPT TWITTER, BECAUSE THAT’S SOMETHING PEOPLE ACTUALLY USE.”
So Friday is “Social Media Smackdown” and Monday is “Old School Raw.” If that works out, I hope their next themed promotions are “live Smackdown” and “good Raw.”