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The Best and Worst of WWE Raw 7/18

By 07.19.11

Worst: Tournaments In Theory vs. Tournaments In Practice

In theory: Wrestling tournaments are awesome. It sets up wrestling like a real sport: guys who might not always compete against each other are paired up with a common goal, so things like heel vs. heel and face vs. face become workable dynamics. It gives your show a plot. You have a clear beginning, middle and end written for you with an excuse for tons and tons of wrestling. And not only does it make the wrestlers look like they’re competing for something, it makes your company look great because the wrestlers are competing for YOUR something.

In practice: Ugh, tournaments.

So many problems with tournaments. One, the family that paid 60 dollars a pop for upper deck seats paid to see Rey Mysterio once and have no interest in seeing him three times. Those people don’t really care what you do, they just want to see you doing it. People watching at home need structure, action, drama, a story. People watching at the arena would be happy if the five biggest stars just stood in the ring and waved at them for two hours.

Two, you’re asking guys who are used to working five minutes a night to do three times the work, so you get a lot of stuff like R-Truth lying on the ground with Rey Mysterio in a headlock for five minutes. Imagine what would happen if you dropped Rosa Mendes into the middle of a SHIMMER show. Can’t picture it? Put your housecat in a car and push it down a hill, see if it knows how to stop the car and drive back up.

Three, tournaments bring out the worst in fantasy bookers, especially on the Internet. As soon as its announced, everyone with a functioning set of hands jumps on their keyboards to explain what’s going to happen. Think I’m being condescending? I did it too. Last night the first thing that went through my head was “Alberto Del Rio’s going to lose his first round match, then cash in Money in the Bank after somebody who had to wrestle three times wins the finals”. I didn’t care about the matches, I cared about how the bracket was set up and what happened at the very end.

Four, nothing they’re doing matters. Like two weeks ago Alberto Del Rio won a #1 contenders match against R-Truth and Rey Mysterio, but didn’t get his shot. So he gets entered into a Money in the Bank ladder match against R-Truth and Rey Mysterio, and wins that. The championship gets held up, so he gets put into a title tournament involving R-Truth and Rey Mysterio. NOTHING YOU DO MATTERS, ALBERTO.

Best: Mike Mizanin, Superface

As phony as Miz comes across as a heel sometimes, I feel like he could be the most sincere and effective babyface wrestler in the world. You know that thing Cena does where he talks about how much he loves THIS BUSINESS and they show pictures of him holding WWE belts when he was three? That’s not the life of the modern WWE fan. The modern fan didn’t love wrestling as a kid, then work hard to be a star athlete so they could spend four seconds in wrestling school before getting a developmental deal based on their incredulous natural genetics and wax-faced good looks.

WWE fans aren’t Cena, WWE fans are The Miz. They’re googly-eyed guys in bad shorts who were still carrying around toy replica titles when they were 20, doing sh*tty impressions of The Rock, being bad at everything they do but sticking with it until they’re accepted. That’s the guy WWE fans want to cheer for. All the wispy heel stuff Miz has done can be easily swept under the rug as the “heh, that’s just me bein’ me!” part of the paint-by-numbers anti-hero act of 1998. He’d be Orton, but identifiable. He’d be Punk, but impossibly average. The best part is that people would believe it, because it’s true.

Worst: Put Alex Riley in the Crate With the Rest of the Spirit Squad

Riley was in the Spirit Squad, wasn’t he? He was the one that yelled RILEYYYYY right

Regardless, the Alex Riley experiment has been completely overshadowed by the other, more important things happening in the company, so I think they need to take a step back, put him in some underwear that don’t make him look like he’s in La Resistance, and let him simmer on low a little while in Florida. The guy can obviously make a living out of this, but he is Create A Wrestler as f**k and needs to be doing nothing deeper than getting Skull Crushing Finale’d on the reg.

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