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Please click through to enjoy the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for April 1, 2013.
Worst: It May Be Time To Put John Cena In A Home
If you missed Raw, the WWE Fan Nation video of the opening segment is 5:20 of a 700 minute John Cena promo about how he’s going to beat the Rock, crammed to its mustard yellow brim with that stale, cheesy popcorn you get in enormous cylindrical tins at Christmas. This may have been the low point of John Cena’s career of speaking out-loud, which is really saying something when you remember how many times he compared Heath Slater to Wendy from Wendy’s.
I can’t even do it justice. If you saw Rock’s promo about buying a car from a crackhead, imagine that again, but delivered by Fin Fang Foom. I mean, I guess I get what he was going for. It was a heel promo delivered by a babyface as a “preemptive measure” to a “hostile crowd” or whatever, but the meat of it was just blathering, and the ultimate point of “The Rock designed a belt for himself just like I did, but I hate that he did it, and when I win his special belt I’m gonna keep it to remind him that he lost a match to me” is pretty specious.
This is the problem: The first Cena/Rock feud was built around Rock being justifiably entitled, and Cena saying true things (Rock is never there, Rock only shows up to promote movies, Cena’s here every week busting his ass for fans who barely appreciate him). If you liked The Rock, you could say that Rock’s loved WWE whether he was around or not, because he does that goofy “pointing at his heart” stuff every time he shows up. If you disliked The Rock, you could say that while Cena wasn’t the most appropriate or desirable vessel to deliver these disses he was right, and that Rock lives in a bubble that deserves to be burst. It was built on truth, and the interpretation of those truths.
This year, the feud is built on shit nobody believes. The Rock shows up, changes the belt, claims that Memphis is the most important thing in history and that he wants the be the President. He says he beat Cena once, which has given him the knowledge that he CAN beat Cena, which makes losing to Cena an impossibility, somehow. Cena’s response is to say that JOHN CENA is the ultimate underdog who nobody has ever believed in, who had his marriage ruined by a loss to The Rock and NOT by that time he f**ked a porn star or whatever and who has never gotten the opportunity to SHINE like he will at WrestleMania. The 10 time WWE Champion who has won literally everything and probably magically has the Jim Crockett Memorial Cup and the AJPW Triple Crown belts over his mantle somehow cannot be taken seriously until he defeats a retired guy in the second match in a series of ONE MATCH PER LIFETIME. So now if you like The Rock, you can say that Rock loves WWE and is a great, cool champion. If you don’t like the Rock … you’re kinda forced to like The Rock, because who the f**k could possibly like THIS guy?
Best/Worst: Boring Chants, And When They Are Appropriate
I do not approve of “boring” chants — right behind “what” and just ahead of “you f**ked up” on the list of the most asinine things you can say at a wrestling show — but sometimes it’s important to tell the guy in the ring how he’s doing, and … yeah, Cena deserved the “boring” chants last night.
One of the hardest problems with being a wrestling fan (and being a wrestler, I guess) is knowing when you’ve caused a reaction, but also knowing that the reaction is not helping you. A lot of fans assume they’re “in” on the show and can yell or chant things that the wrestlers will know are not you playing along, but your actual thoughts and critiques on things. The truth is that it’s not really your/our/my job to say these things, or to think the wrestlers give a shit about what we actually think. At the same time, a lot of wrestlers think any reaction is a good one, even a reaction that makes us want to leave the building and not see you again. Wrestling shows are made up of lots and lots of wrestlers, so if you pay to see 20 wrestlers and there are like, 2 who are abysmal and terrible and counter-productive to the show, there is NO WAY to effectively communicate that to them, because you “paid to see them,” even if you clearly did not. It’s a horrible group-think, where every wrestler thinks they’re Freddie Blassie riling up the fans, and every fan thinks they’re important cogs in how the show goes. Both sides are wrong at the same time. This is probably a solid reason why wrestling is such a stubborn beast to evolve, and why most of the country thinks it’s a stupid waste of time for stupid stupids.
Cena, you were super boring last night. This does not make you an underdog or a controversial reaction-getter. It means you were boring as balls.
Best: The Shield Watches Wrestling, And They Ain’t Care
First of all, I got a lot of requests to come up with a name for the Randy Orton/Sheamus/Big Show trios team, so I’m just gonna start calling them The Magus Sisters. See?
Randy Orton is Sandy (the tall, lanky one), Big Show is Cindy (the fat one) and Sheamus is Mindy (the five-year old). I guess that finishing sequence with the RKO, Brogue Kick and K.O. Punch was their Delta Attack.
Anyway, I’m still not sold on Seth Rollins’ ability to speak into a microphone like a human being, but I enjoyed The Shield’s response to the Magus Sisters trouncing 3MB. “Oh, good job guys, you beat the worst people in the company. We’ve watched wrestling before. You’re all complicated weirdos who don’t get along with anybody. You’re probably going to turn on each other at Mania, right? Which one of you is turning heel? Anyway, believe in The Shield. See you never.”
Best: Daniel Bryan And Dolph Ziggler Are Switching It Up
Congratulations to Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler for having another great wrestling match. One of these days, WWE is going to figure out that putting the same two people in a match 600 times per year (Ziggler/Kofi, Ziggler/Bryan, Sheamus/Del Rio, Cena/Punk, Cesaro/Orton, Barrett/Orton, whatever) is not the ideal business model when you aren’t a touring, non-televised territorial wrestling promotion, and that sometimes you could put guys like Bryan in with guys like Big E Langston and get fun, memorable wrestling matches without having to re-run Raw 15 different times per episode. How great would Bryan/Big E be? Just let THEM go for 12 minutes.
Anyway, the match was still very good, and I loved 1) how heated it was at the very end, with the flash pin actually seeming like a flash, because there was so much match to go, and 2) Bryan and Ziggler working in some stuff we don’t see all the time. Sure, Ziggler did that weird thing he does when he wrestles Bryan where he reverts back to his old moveset (Fame-asser instead of the jumping DDT, for example), but Ziggler broke out an EXTRA LONG headstand chinlock, Bryan did his best Tajiri impression with the Tarantula, and they even did a sleeper reversal sequence that took me by surprise, because I’m so used to wrestlers only being able to use their own signature moves. Just basic stuff, but it works, because they never seem confident in the basic stuff.
Best: I Love Big E Langston And Only Want Good Things For Him
I mean it. I want to see him trainwreck everybody. I love that one of his special moves is “I’m going to run at you, and if you happen to fall down and die, that’s your fault.” I also love that he’s strong enough to hurl Kane up onto his shoulder like a baby and drop him with authority because he’s actually strong, and not Mason Ryan strong.
Suggested Raw segment: Big E Langston and Brad Maddox become friends and spend several minutes talking to each other about anything.
Worst: The Worst-Dressed Adults
A conversation between adults:
“Hey Hunter, what’re you wearing on Raw tonight? I want to make sure we don’t wear the same thing.”
“Hand-dried jeans, t-shirt and leather jacket.”
“Cool. I’m gonna wear a ten-gallon hat and a camo vest with a bunch of necklaces and bracelets.”
“Sounds good. How old are you?”
“Make sure you don’t forget to point to your dick.”
“LOL, like I ever have.”
Best: Paul Heyman Spits The Truth, Or
Worst: “You’re Right About Everything, But Whatever, Look At My Dick”
Destiny doesn’t like Brock Lesnar. I spent most of this segment trying to explain my Brock love to her, and it mostly boils down to, “he shows up to make people I hate bleed.” He’s done it his entire career. “Oh look, Hardy Boyz? Let me hammerthrow you into irrelevance.” “Rob Van Dam? I WILL CATCH YOU AND YOU WILL DIE.” “I am wiping Hulk Hogan’s blood on my chest!” “Hardcore Holly sandbagging me? WHOOPS, SORRY ABOUT YOUR NECK.” “The Rock is the champ, let me beat him in ten minutes and be so awesome that everybody cheers me and boos him.” Honestly, I think the Eddie Guerrero feud is the only time I ever wanted somebody to beat Brock.
The other reason I like him is because of Paul Heyman, and my love of wrestlers who say things that make sense. I got worried when Heyman started in with the “you’re gonna disappoint YOUR FAMILY” stuff that is basically Triple H catnip, but when he came around to his point, it was valid: Brock Lesnar only fights when he gets paid to fight because he’s a professional athlete, Heyman is aware of how stupid emotional HBK and HHH are and can get them to do whatever he wants by mildly pissing them off, and Brock Lesnar is a monster who breaks arms and loves it. How great is that? That’s so much better than I GAVE MY HEART FOR THIS BUSINESS or whatever. I actually BELIEVE this one.
Best: Hey Look How Good Wade Barrett Could’ve Looked This Entire Year If You’d Let Him Stop Wrestling Randy Orton And Win A Match
I like to think Wade Barrett did the sad Peanuts walk into the arena, dropped his duffel bag with his color-coded elbow pads on the ground and just kinda shuffled up to the dry erase board expecting to see “RANDY ORTON D. WADE BARRETT WITH RKO IN 1:30” for the 15th week in a row. But then his eyes light up because he’s got a match with ZACK RYDER, so he yells “F**KING FINALLY” and jogs off to press his Fatal Fury jacket and jam out to ‘Send Away The Tigers.’
The Bullhammer even looked okay tonight! He took my advice and just decided to run at people and elbow them, which is good. Also good was Zack Ryder’s complete non-reaction, because it means that maybe we’re finally over THAT thing.
Worst: The Miz Trying To Get Over A Talking Point
The only bad part of the match was The Miz, for two reasons:
1. When you ask The Miz to get something across to the crowd, he can’t do it normally. He has to just keep repeating it until he’s told to leave. Last night the point seemed to be “I’m studying tapes of Wade Barrett so I can do well in our match at WrestleMania.” So instead of just saying “I’ve been watching tapes of Barrett, I can see his moves coming. I’m going to win,” Miz is just “I STUDY TAPES, I WATCHED TAPES OF HIS MOVES, I WATCHED TAPES AND SAW THE BULLHAMMER ELBOW HIS SIGNATURE MOVE THE BULLHAMMER ELBOW, I WATCH TAPES, TAPES IS WHAT WE DO, WE WATCH TAPES.” And 40 seconds in you’re like “Jesus, Miz, enough with the tapes.”
2. My biggest pet peeve with WWE right now is how into “getting inside _____’s head” they are. People just announce that shit. CM Punk gets asked about the Undertaker, and the first thing he says is “I don’t mean anything I say or do, I’m just trying to get into the Undertaker’s head.” Miz is standing outside the ring yelling “KEEP TALKING, WADE BARRETT, YOU KNOW I’VE GOTTEN INTO YOUR HEAD.” Isn’t the point of getting into somebody’s head that you, I don’t know, do it subtly, so the “being in their head” thing gives you an advantage? If you clearly tell them you’re getting into their head, what’s keeping them from responding with “you don’t mean anything you’re saying or doing and you’re just acting this way to throw me off. I won’t let it get to me, and I’ll beat you with wrestling moves”? SHUT UP ABOUT WHAT YOU’RE CLANDESTINELY DOING, NERDS. Announcing something doesn’t make it so.
Best: Santino Learns A Valuable Lesson About Not F**king With Brickie
I like to think the whispered conversation between Maddox and Vickie post-“Santino saying Brad Maddox pooped his pants” went:
Brad: “put him in a brad maddox on a pole match against brad maddox”
Vickie: “Don’t be stupid, we’re going to let Mark Henry eat-destroy him.”
Brad: (with his face) “OH WOW YEAH THAT’S A WAY BETTER IDEA.” :D
There was so much to love here. Santino returning, because despite him being the King Of Pandering, he’s a talented wrestler with great comedic timing and is a good hand to have around when you need someone to get flattened. Any and all Brickie content on Raw. Mark Henry responding to the return of The Cobra by just shoving Santino away and tree-trunking him in the throat. The two-f**king-second duration of the match, which is the only way Mark Henry vs. Santino should go. And most of all, Mark Henry stopping Ryback’s charging threat by getting on the microphone and announcing that HE KNOWS THEY WANT TO GET THEIR HANDS ON EACH OTHER AND TOUCHING EACH OTHER WOULD BRING THEM JOY, BUT TONIGHT IS ALL ABOUT SMILES.
I still haven’t figured out what Mark was going for there, but if this ends with Mark and Ryback dating it’ll be the most unexpected end to a WrestleMania match ever. It’s not even that weird. Remember, Mark Henry (the character) had an in-canon, sustained sexual relationship with his sister and got a blowjob from a transvestite on Raw. He’s DTF. Maybe it’ll get Ryback to calm the hell down.
Best: I Appreciate How Violent The Swagger/Del Rio Feud Has Become
I didn’t like Dutch Mantell having to stand around pretending to be a non-wrestler (because honestly, even if I thought this guy was just somebody’s racist uncle, he still seems like he could throw a punch), but I appreciate how unusually violent the Del Rio/Jack Swagger beef has become, and am happy that it has evolved beyond the “let’s tell each other how we feel about immigration” story. We got that Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter were jerks about Hispanic people about four seconds into the feud, and put together that the Hispanic World Heavyweight Champion would have a problem with that in three or less. Now we get to see Swagger breaking folks’ ankles and shots like this, courtesy of a post-crutches-attack Alberto Del Rio:
Dude looks like Batman. I got worried when Zeb’s crutch broke in half and he just kept swinging with it, because he was basically slicing up ADR’s back with a two-pronged shard of jagged metal. Regardless, this brings a much-needed dose of reality to the feud, and is so much better than Del Rio and Ricardo dressing up as people and calling them “Jumangi guy.”
The only things left to remove are:
1. Any and all references to “freedom of speech,” because I do not trust a wrestling promotion to understand what “freedom of speech” is actually supposed to mean, and
Worst: Do Not Let JBL Say Things He Actually Believes
This is a change from my normal M.O., which is “make me believe what you’re saying.” I think Zeb and Swagger do a good enough job communicating the “we’re the persecuted rich white minority” thing without having to have the richest, whitest guy in the company yelling over them about LIBERALS or whatever. Pro wrestling is about as traditional and conservative an entertainment medium as you can get (we’re still booing the dude in the pink trunks, after all), but … yeah, that hyper-aggressive NO YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND POLITICS thing makes me want to turn off the television so fast I can’t even put it into words. JBL on the border kicking Mexican guys in the butt with his foot I can handle, because it’s hyperbolic and ridiculous. The “you like freedom of speech until somebody FREEDOM OF SPEECHES YOU” thing? I don’t know. It’s the uncanny valley. JBL’s voice becomes one of those creepy faces from The Polar Express and I can’t handle it.
Best: Compared To John Cena, The Rock’s Promo Sounds Like Ric Flair At The Horsemen Ceremony
Whenever the Best and Worst of Raw column gets a new batch of readers, I have to go over the same old talking points and refresh people. The biggest one is that this column isn’t and has never been an attempt at objectively reviewing an episode of Raw and telling you what you should and shouldn’t like. It’s MY perspective on the show, featuring giant paragraph sprints about what I think about whatever, and that’s it. I am not right, and I don’t expect you to kiss my ass and tell me I am. I just want you to be entertained, and to tell me what you thought of the show, and we can be Wrestling Bros.
That said, I didn’t like The Rock’s promo last night. I don’t like any of The Rock’s promos. After some of the horrible shit he’s done and said since his return at WrestleMania 27 (including that horrible 20 minute introduction delay thing, followed by the LITERAL EVISCERATION of Awesome Truth and on through the Cena garden gnomes and Kung Pao Bitches and Queen parody songs and Fat Hooker Eric Clapton jokes), I can’t put myself in an objective pair of shoes and give him Bests because he’s “entertaining.”
THAT said, John Cena shit the bed so thoroughly last night that when The Rock came on and did his normal “I love this town, you guys love me, right? I’m the best at being loved!” act, I was just like, “fine, I’m on your side this year. Please beat John Cena. I will go see G.I. Joe 2, I don’t care, just don’t let the horrible yellow man talk again.” I don’t even remember what Rocky said. In my head, the promo is this:
If you haven’t watched that speech in the last 15 minutes, watch it again. Thank you for delivering the best promo ever, Rocky! See you on Sunday! I’ll be the one sitting behind an enormous skyscraper prop.
Worst: Hey Look How Good Antonio Cesaro Could’ve Looked If You’d … Nevermind
My only hope is that since this is the last episode of Raw before WrestleMania, the post-Mania Cesaro will not have to lose like this anymore, and can go back to being that super sweet superhuman who counters your moves into Karelin Lifts like you’re a baby and gets to win and be happy as champion. Wade Barrett got to beat Zack Ryder last night, why couldn’t Cesaro have dispatched Curt Hawkins or whoever? The guy has been the United States Champion since SummerSlam, and while I get that YOU SERIOUSLY DO NOT CARE WHO IS THE UNITED STATES CHAMPION, it SEEMS like something we should care about. The fact that Cesaro is shoot better at wrestling than anybody else on this show not named Daniel Bryan makes it worse. Couldn’t Fandango have run in and broken up the Walls of Jericho BEFORE the US Champion tapped out clean?
Ah well, at least he got to do some cool stuff before he lost. The lament of an Antonio Cesaro fan.
Best: The Guillotine Leg Drop As A Tool To Shut Up The Stupid “You Can’t Wrestle” Chants
“You Can’t Wrestle” is the new “Goldberg” for Ryback, or the new “Albert” for Tensai. People are just chanting it because they think they’re supposed to. They heard it on TV once and people on the Internet seemed to go for it, so why not? Ryback is kinda Goldbergian and Tensai was Albert, sure, but Johnny Curtis can so absolutely wrestle. I’m reading a lot of stuff online today about how Fandango seems over, and how they “hope he can deliver in the ring.” It’s almost like these people didn’t watch season 4 of NXT, or … season 5 of NXT.
Spoiler alert: If all you watch is Raw, you are not a reliable source of information on who can and can’t wrestle.