– I was in a car for almost 44 hours this weekend, so I’m watching this episode on Tuesday morning as opposed to live on Monday night. Usually the only difference is that my reports are more optimistic, because I did not have to sit through three hours of Raw in realtime.
– Your shares, likes, comments and other Internet Things are appreciated.
– A huge thank-you to everyone who came out to see Meet Me There at Bruce Campbell’s Film Festival during Wizard World Chicago this weekend. I got to meet several very cool people who read and comment on my stuff, and whoops, now we’re friends for life. I’ll keep you guys up-to-date on further screenings (including a huge batch of them in October) in the even that you care about me outside of these wrestling jokes.
Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for August 25, 2014.
Unintentional Best: Hulk Hogan Is So Full Of Shit
Before we begin, I need to sorta put this Raw into context. It was bad. See you next week, everybody!
Seriously though, the non-wrestling stuff on Raw was better than the matches, and the non-wrestling stuff was only good in how hilariously not good it was. Like, I might forget a random good Usos tag after a few months, but I’m going to remember the Bella Twins segment for the rest of my life. That’s the situation we’re in. Understanding that, Raw had a few moments of blistering unintentional comedy, the first being Hulk Hogan assertively explaining to Shawn Michaels that when it’s time to retire, you’ll know it’s time.
Yes, Hulk Hogan said this to Shawn Michaels. The guy who is at least 15 years past his expiration date and can’t stop telling everyone who’ll listen that he wants “one more match” despite having a decade of One More Matches and nostalgia runs is telling the guy who went out on top fighting the Undertaker at WrestleMania that wrestlers “know” when they should retire. Shawn Michaels, the guy who retired prematurely and came back arguably better than ever, only to retire again at the peak of his artistic successes so he could go to church and hunt stuff for fun. That guy, telling that guy. While RIC FLAIR sits just off-screen, still probably angling for one more match of his own, and still too drunk to remember the Miz.
You’re the worst, Hogan. Bonus points lost for nobody bringing up that Shawn Michaels thinks John Cena doesn’t have a chance because he’s Triple H’s best friend, a point that was super, super important during the whole “Daniel Bryan doesn’t deserve to be champion” stuff.
Worst: Let Me Tell You Something, Old Jacks
The point of the Hall of Fame panel was to have John Cena interrupt them, say he’s going to Overcome The Odds and Beat Brock Lesnar’s Ass at Night Of Champions, then leave. At this point they SHUT DOWN THE HALL OF FAME PANEL, because I guess Cena wrapped it up for them and they had nothing else to say.
What was the point of that, though, honestly? Couldn’t they have done that in the pre-show or something? It’s not especially rare to see Michaels, Hogan or Flair these days, even in the same ring. Remember Hogan’s birthday party? Maybe if Cena had shown up all calm and then went into a furious rage and Attitude Adjusted all of them through the table, then we got a HOT ANGLE. Instead, it’s just legendary guys with nothing to do, reading Alex Riley’s script until Cena shows up to cut the two-minute version of his most generic 8-minute promo. Okay.
This has to be a build to Cena getting crushed again, and Cena having to realize his own mortality. It’s so by-the-numbers. They get literally nothing out of Cena overcoming the odds and being champion again immediately, right?
Best: A Boring Match With A Good Point
Like most of the matches on the show (read: all of them), Rusev vs. Jack Swagger was boring. Unlike most of the other matches, though, Swagger and Rusev had a point: Rusev is the baby version of Brock Lesnar, a guy who doesn’t even have to pin you, he can just beat you to death to win the match; and Jack Swagger as a passionate babyface with more guts than brains. Neither of those really came across with any heat because, like I said, super boring, but it’s there if you look for it.
Remember when Rusev beat Swagger by count-out, and the announce team forgot and said Swagger tapped out to the Accolade? This almost felt like a do-over of that. Swagger’s ribs are injured and he won’t give up, screaming WE THE PEOPLE in Rusev’s face while he gets his innards crushed. Rusev just stomps and stomps and stomps him until the referee stops the match. In 1979, this would’ve been MONEY. In 2014, people care less about nobility and passion and country and more about hitting their cues, so an arena full of Americans who should’ve been screaming and booing were checking their phones and waiting for the part when they could say “we the people.”
Not to entirely blame it on the audience, though. We’ve seen Rusev vs. Swagger too many times in a row, so really whatever they do’s gonna feel like chapter 12 of a 30-chapter book. But yeah, it’s there if you want it.
Best: Bo Dallas Will Not Shut Up About How Sad Of An American He Is
I know they’ve got to stop doing Swagger vs. Rusev at some point and have to transition Swagger into other, non-flag-based avenues, but man, the Swagger/Dallas beef HAS to end with one of them going Full Soviet. You’ve got two options:
1. Swagger realizes that he IS a disappointment to his nation, banishes himself from the country he loves so dearly and starts wrestling in a black singlet with a hammer and sickle on the stomach. Starts hitting people with a chain. Maybe wrestles a bear? I don’t know, but the more I type the more I want this to happen.
2. Bo Dallas dressing like Red Star from G.I. Joe, talking about how he’s a “Bo-shevik.”
I’m very happy that they’ve suddenly remembered Cesaro exists and should be good at wrestling. He had that great groundswell of support heading into WrestleMania, won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, got a cool nickname based around his way-too-over signature move, threw in with Paul Heyman and started wearing a tight white jacket that made him look like Ralphie’s little brother in A Christmas Story whenever he walked. Then Brock Lesnar showed up and WWE mixed up their “Cesaro” and “Kofi Kingston” files. Cesaro started losing to everyone (including Kofi Kingston, which further supports my theory), and his explanations for why he was suddenly horrible and not doing any of the cool stuff he’d started doing was, “it’s fine, shut up about it.”
Cesaro’s at least started beating the lower-tier guys again recently, and got a strong victory over Rob Van Dam last night. That’s good. He’s beaten Rob Van Dam like eight times this week, but that’s how they do things now. He even got to continue his cool belt-tossing antics from Main Event by scooping up the United States Championship, looking at it for a few seconds and throwing it in Sheamus’s face like an asshole. This is the Cesaro we want … a guy who can dismantle you in the ring so tremendously that it ruins his ability to be a decent human being.
We’ve still never gotten the truly great Sheamus vs. Cesaro pay-per-view match, either, so that’d be exciting. If you’re gonna have a United States Championship, you might as well give it to a notably pro- or anti-American guy. Rusev probably should’ve been U.S. Champion three months ago.
Natalya got a couple of wins over the Divas Champion last week when AJ Lee interrupted their matches. She got a distraction rollup on Raw, and caught Paige with a Sharpshooter after she was led up the ramp by AJ and almost counted out. So on Raw this week she gets another match. Paige doesn’t get distracted by anybody, so she handily beats Natalya cleanly with her finish in the middle of the ring.
Instead of that being that, Natalya waits for the POST-MATCH distraction, stalks Paige from behind and hits her when she turns around. The announce team doesn’t seem to think this is heelish at all, going “SHADES OF HER DADDY” and then instantly forgetting it when Natalya leaves the ring. Why did this happen? Did Natalya save face or something? Get her heat back? She could only win by cheating, and now she’s doing sneak attacks because she’s mad about losing fairly. She’s the worst person out of the three, right?
Best: We’re In A Frienelationship!
I know this is gonna sound like I’m typing with my penis, but I hope the payoff to the Paige/AJ story is that they ARE both being sincere, and that they DO both love each other. I want them to just be in a monogamous homosexual relationship where they’re both super crazy and can’t stop dropping Divas on their heads. It’s really the only unconventional way to end the story. Also in this fan fiction, Eva Marie is a total homophobe and commands an army of women so unathletic they can’t walk in a straight line without blowing out a knee.
Regardless, I think it’s very telling that the WWE Universe can watch two beautiful women hug and kiss and the only thing they can think to say is “CM Punk.”
Best: The Eulogy For Dean Ambrose
If I’d been watching this live I would’ve typed “take it home, seth” at least twice, but I sorta loved the Dean Ambrose eulogy. There are few things that get legitimate heel heat from me like Seth Rollins reminding me how he destroyed The Shield. I want to see him punched in the face for it, and I’m the guy who homers for the heels and thinks people like Damien Sandow have great points.
I was also a big fan of Roman Reigns here. Sure, he got his Unstoppable WWE Babyface moment a little later, but him standing up for Dean Ambrose and/or the idea of The Shield — because he’s the one who still apes their entrance theme and wrestling gear — made me smile. The way the fight was staged made a lot of sense, too. Kane tried to stop him as soon as he was over the barricade and had a little success, but Roman was able to reverse him and send him into the steps. That bought him enough time to go after Rollins. It wasn’t a “cowardly heel” thing either … Rollins tried to fight him off as he entered the ring, but Roman tossed him into a bunch of stuff and stunned him enough to set up for a spear. THAT gave Kane enough time to recover, and he selected “flee” and dragged Rollins to safety by the ankle.
There’s a huge difference between that, and a guy just popping up from a beating and doing whatever he wants to however many people he wants.
Worst: Seth’s Fake Laugh
“Ha! Ha ha! Ha ha HA! HA ha!”
The only thing that made me want to punch him more than sad Shield memories is his Scott Evil laugh.
Best: Evil Dusts
Goldust and Stardust turning heel on the Usos doesn’t make a ton of sense, especially after that month-or-whatever of talk about cosmic keys, but I’m Besting it anyway because the Rhodes Brothers are DOING SOMETHING and showing an edge. It’s been a long time since they felt like actual threats to anything, and frankly if you aren’t ever going to play them against the Authority again, the creepy painted science-fiction guys should probably be heels.
Plus, the Usos need someone besides the Wyatt Family to wrestle. We’ve established that they’re never going to have personalities and never get over for anything other than jumping and kicking and screaming, so giving them adversaries that are weird and good at anchoring/delivering solid wrestling matches isn’t a terrible idea. So far the matches between the teams haven’t been spectacular, but they haven’t had any reason to be. Hell, I just want the Rhodeses to win the tag team championships and turn them gold. If we can get a new WWE Championship, we can ditch the Spartan pennies.