Worst: Layla Is Awesome And Nobody Notices
I went through this a lot with LayCool, but at least LayCool were grating and obnoxious and you were supposed to hate her. Now she’s infusing the Diva’s division with nearly everything it’s been missing — charisma, in-ring storytelling, athleticism, and avoidance of Kelly Kelly Hawaiian Tropic obviousness — and nobody cares. Nobody.
She doesn’t even get the HOLLAAA HOLLAAA pop Kelly gets. I don’t want to pull the “WWE Universe can’t handle a woman of color who isn’t a monster” card, but damn, she’s about a thousand shoot times more gorgeous than an average woman, she’s got a legitimate personality and she can do things like hop from the bottom rope to the second rope and back for a crossbody without killing herself. What would happen if Kelly (or Brooke Tessmacher, for that matter) tried that? She’d smear off in two and you’d have a Kelly on one side of the post, Kelly on the other and an orange paste on the rope.
I’ll talk more about this when the AJ stuff comes up, but WWE crowds are easily conditioned and have been trained through years of 40 second Divas contests that they aren’t supposed to invest in these women emotionally and that women’s wrestling is a relaxing period between moments of actual action. It’s disappointing at best and sorrowful at worst, and if Layla looking like she’s about to have her head split open in a Saw trap before getting Glammed Slam doesn’t make either of them seem more important, I don’t know what to do. Just keep doing what you’re doing, Layla, somebody will notice.
Or you’ll get released and find a job in TNA, and take Gail Kim’s place as the lady who can’t really wrestle but seems like she’s awesome.
Best: Santino And Ricardo Should Probably Feud Forever
They’re perfect for each other, and they should have the same rating in the video games.
I’m giving Santino and Ricardo a Best and a Worst here, because they represent a great conflict of emotions I feel when watching Raw. I LOVE comedy wrestling. Guys like Kikutaro, Stalker Ichikawa and Pierre Abernathy are among my favorites. I rag on Santino for taking the easy route too often, but he’s got good comedic timing, and when his material hits (like when he scared Ricardo with the Cobra and made him run face-first into the ring post) I love it. Ricardo probably has something to do with it … Santino needs a comedic foil, and without Maria or Beth Phoenix or Vladimir Kozlov around to play off of, it’s good to have an opponent who isn’t worried about looking cool and LOVES TO BE ON TELEVISION.
I think comedy wrestling is valuable and could be an important part of a great primetime wrestling program in the United States. The only problem is that WWE has the worst idea ever of what’s funny, so in the end all the little stuff the performers do to make an impression gets washed away in a sea of the most base, stupid, obvious sh*t they can find. Case in point:
Worst: Topical Justin Bieber References
Wrestling comedy works when wrestling IS the comedy. When wrestlers play on the obvious tropes of the sport, like when Ebessan wrestles in slow motion or Jackson Florida tries to rope walk and f**ks it up gloriously, it works. When wrestlers attempt to be funny independently of wrestling (but still within the confines of a wrestling show), it doesn’t. Well, most of the time. Most of the time it’s Triple H and Candice Michelle getting blowjobs at a cookout. Occasionally you get Derrick Bateman, ZUMBA master, but not often.
Santino ripping off Ricardo Rodriguez’s tuxedo to reveal a Justin Bieber shirt did not work. At best, it was a two-year old joke that would’ve worked a lot better when he was a wormy teen on YouTube and not a world-traveling pop idol that millions of people love. At worst, it’s a throwback to those weird moments at the Greensboro Coliseum where Dusty Rhodes or whoever would disrobe J.J. Dillon and he’d be wearing women’s underwear and stockings and garters, and 6-year old me would be all “that’s weird” and the only perspective I was given was an arena full of wrestling fans going LOL YOUR GAY. It made me a homophobic little asshole for most of my childhood. GOLDUST KISSED A MAN, THAT’S GAY, BEAT HIM UP. Now I just think, “so? Ricardo Rodriguez likes pop music. The only weird thing about this is that he’d wear a printed t-shirt under a tuxedo. What’s your point, Santino?” And if you wanna be homophobic about it, what’s gayer, a guy in a Justin Bieber shirt or a guy who wants to humiliate his rival by ripping off his clothes?
Best: Once You Go Bryan, There’s No Point In Tryin’
Revealing fact: Daniel Bryan’s molten promo from Raw was not uploaded to WWE Fan Nation’s feed, but the “AJ kisses CM Punk” and “Mr. McMahon tells Daniel Bryan he’s never finished anything in 18 seconds” clips were.
Daniel Bryan rules. If you’re agonizing over my “Daniel Bryan rules” paragraph already, move on to the next page. The guy’s been my favorite wrestler for going on 12 years now, and it makes me happy to see him disproving every imaginable detractor by continually improving, being the best guy on the show at the things people said he couldn’t do (listen to the crowd during Bryan’s speech, then listen to their middling “woos” when Punk is talking) and being the real Voice Of The Voiceless by being brave enough to say what we’re all thinking — that the WWE Universe is voiceless because they’ve got nothing intelligent to say. See also, the guy with the YOUR FIRED sign. That had FIRE on it.
The most compelling heels are the ones who believe what they say, and as outlandish as it may be, say something believable. The most compelling babyfaces are the ones who can hear that belief and stand strong enough to say, “here’s where you’re wrong”, and mean it.
so uh, unfortunately,
Best: CM Punk Gets Shook
A few talking points from the Punk/Bryan verbal showdown:
1. Daniel Bryan continues his role as the Voice Of The Voiceless by saying what needed to be said: since Punk blew up last summer, he’s changed. He’s become that soulless, pandering asshole up top who throws his weight around and tries to look like the coolest and smartest and toughest guy on the show. Punk smirks, in the way that Summer Of Punk Punk never would, and says “the only thing that has changed about me is nothing”. I guess Titus O’Neil is writing his comebacks now.
2. Bryan points out that Punk is a sellout. Punk’s response is “funny coming from the guy in a YES YES YES t-shirt”. You know, the t-shirt WWE had to appropriate from Barbershop Window because the WrestleMania and Raw crowds in Miami wouldn’t stop yelling YES YES YES throughout the entire show, even when Bryan wasn’t in the ring. The shirt Bryan had to announce in a blushing promo at the end of a dark match to thunderous applause. The one the voiceless raised their voices and demanded. I guess Punk’s suggesting that we shouldn’t listen to those people, or maybe that they want to buy that shirt with an ice cream bar on the front that f**king nobody demanded.
3. Punk hasn’t changed since last summer. But, as my good friend Casey said, “you sure put on Triple H’s jacket, didn’t you”.
4. When Daniel Bryan calls Punk out on this stuff, what happens? Punk doesn’t “pipe bomb” him in response like he should (or like everyone assumes he could), he backs up and starts insulting the way Bryan looks. Calls him “goat face”. Hey, you know who else doesn’t pay attention to criticism about himself and calls them ugly queers for “hating” on him?
The CM Punk who can’t stop Jim Halperting at the screen and digs crazy chicks is not my Voice. The guy who convinced him to go vegan is.