Best: Heath Slater
While he gets a huge Worst for his weird Jimmy Hart “Flirtin’ With Disaster” entrance theme, Heath Slater getting a spot on Raw against Orton (non-title or no) is great for a number of reasons.
1. It’s not a match we’ve seen 100 times before, and the thing Raw needs most is things we haven’t seen 100 times before.
2. Heath Slater is one of the very best people in the WWE at pretending to be hurt. Watch him get punched in the face by the Big Show and tell me anyone out there could do it better.
3. Randy Orton matches are great when the guy he’s facing can take his offense and make it look painful (see also, last week’s match with Dolph Ziggler)
I’ve read a lot of people saying this match shouldn’t have happened because Heath “got no response” as he came to the ring. I don’t think this could be any more misguided. Firstly, Orton got a great response entering, wrestling, winning and leaving. Heath Slater’s ability to contribute to Orton’s pro wrestling by taking a nice looking beating is invaluable, and if cool wrestlers who did cool moves only did them to equally cool wrestlers who never got hurt this would be Ring Of Honor. Secondly, we’ve got to stop judging every wrestler on a scale of how many people cheer when he appears. When CM Punk started getting big right before Money in the Bank, the discussion turned to how much of a “pop” he was getting, and how Triple H was getting “longer pops” and how the amount of times people were chanting Triple H instead of CM Punk was nominal. I think the only thing less exciting to talk about than buyrates and ratings is who got a pop. You know those “top 5 biggest pops, top 5 most heat” charts at the bottom of peoples’ house show and live reports? Those things are the anus of pro wrestling. Don’t write them.
Some people are there to be the Mary, and some people are there to be the Rhoda. Do not judge Rhoda by Mary’s standards. Rhoda was awesome.
Best: Randy Orton Is The Bomb
Sometime in the crowd had an Angry Birds-themed Randy Orton poster. In Angry Birds terminology, I think Mark Henry should be the bomb. He’s black and round and destroys everything. Orton should be the white bird that can drop really powerful eggs, but people don’t really understand how he works. John Morrison is that green boomerang bird that f**ks up and flies backwards past the slingshot because your finger slipped.
But no, Randy Orton continues to be unexpectedly awesome every single week while people who don’t really watch a lot of wrestling continue to call him things like “Randy BORE-ton” and say he sucks. Not a lot of weeks in 2011 have gone by without a good-to-great Randy Orton match, from the underrated Nexus story with Punk leading up to Wrestelmania to the series against Christian to last week’s match with Ziggler and this week’s with Slater. Orton’s pro wrestling genes are finally starting to be dominant, and he’s fixing a lot of the problems he had (slow move setups, monotone personality) to become the worthwhile main event focal point we wish Cena could shut up and just be. If you don’t like watching him force people into the convoluted hanging DDT set-up, you might be doing it wrong.
Worst: I Was Right About John Cena
On page two of last week’s Best and Worst of Super Smackdown, I tried to explain John Cena’s descent into self-referential madness by comparing it to The Truman Show:
Cena had been wrestling his entire career against guys like Umaga and JBL, these wacky, over-the-top caricatures that threatened to destroy John Cena the Character, but never John Cena the Man. I think the decline started with Wade Barrett, funny enough. Cena got into a feud with a gang of guys from NXT who weren’t supposed to have contracts, but they kept showing up on Raw and beating him up … and eventually Wade Barrett got some sort of weird executive power and arranged for Cena to be his f**king literal slave if he lost a match, then warped that into Cena being fired for disobeying him. Cena, being John Cena, went along with it. Eventually it became too much and Cena attacked, sacrificing his career for nobility … but as it turned out, Cena getting fired meant nothing, because being fired didn’t mean he had to go away. He kept showing up, and by proxy of being around got his job back. Barrett was punished, banished even, and something in the back of Cena the Character’s brain said “Huh. Maybe none of this is real.” Like Truman noticing a light fixture falling from the sky.
Last night was the next scene. In the movie, Truman’s false world starts becoming more and more obvious to him, culminating in a moment where he’s freaking out and tells his wife to get in the car and look in the rear view mirror, predicting that she will see a lady on a red bike, followed by a man with flowers, and a Volkswagen beetle with a dented fender. Sure enough, because Truman’s world operates under a strict script, a lady on a red bike rides by, followed by a man with flowers, followed by a Volkswagen beetle with a dented fender. Cena is caught in the middle of his freakout, so he walks out to the ring and says that the same thing keeps happening — he predicts that Ricardo Rodriguez will appear and do his ring introduction, then Alberto Del Rio will drive out in a rented luxury car and give him a reason why he won’t fight him tonight. Then, because Cena’s world operates under a script, these things happen. There’s no variation in the script to suggest that Cena doesn’t know it’s coming, it happens exactly like he says.
Cena has figured out that his world is fictional, and he’ll be sailing to Fiji by Wrestlemania.
Best: The Rudos Of Raw
How big of a wrestling dork am I when I think Del Rio saying the word “rudos” on Raw (without even Handy Manny’ing it and saying “bad guys” after it!) is awesome? I’m that big of a dork, because I do, and it was.