Best: Holy Crap, A Tag Team Tournament
Somebody out there loves me.
I like sports, so when wrestling does something that allows me to formulate “real sports” stories in my head and follow them as they happen, I love it. Battles royal are a great example of this. It’s just a bunch of guys in the ring, but you have to consider allegiances (both established and temporary), pre-existing rivalries and intangibles like managers or eliminated participants on the outside. It’s less the execution of a story and more of a contest, and that’s a nice change of pace from the holding-the-tights and purposeful-countout rigamarole of wrestling TV.
Tournaments are the same way. So many Bests happen naturally because of a tournament set-up … a lot of wrestlers get involved in one big, lengthy story that can go in any number of directions, and not only do you get to enjoy wrestling, you get to enjoy the anticipation of wrestling. This is why we like pay-per-views so much. We know the matches ahead of time and can make predictions, argue, fantasy book, whatever. I feel like the weekly shows, even the bad ones, could benefit from having their cards announced a week in advance.
Best: Tag Team Synergy
Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara having lucha tag team masks is the GREATEST. Capital letters. I’m the kind of guy who gets off on tag team partners having matching tights, so of course I’m gonna lose my mind when half of Mysterio’s mask is Sin Cara’d out and half of Sin Cara’s mask is both Rey Mysterio-themed and strapped the f**k to his throat so nobody rips it off this week.
I got distracted during most of the first hour of Raw, but I had a fun moment revisiting the PERM/Myscario match on WWE Fan Nation this morning. It starts somewhere near the end with Sin Cara in trouble, and my brain goes, “it must be hard telling Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio apart now that their gear coordinates”. Then I remembered one of them wrestles in a shirt. TAKE OFF THE SHIRT, REY. Being fat-bodied when you get older is a luchador tradition, you should know this. El Dandy looks like a ridiculous old Mexican Peter Dinklage with a barrel body and you don’t see him wrestling in a shirt, he is MASCULINELY CONFIDENT ABOUT IT. F**ker wears a vest with no shirt. Own it.
If that fails, L-W-Own it.
Worst: Again, A Show-Opening Graphic Could’ve Accomplished This Just As Easily
One of the most telling things about Raw opening segments is that they very rarely get uploaded to WWE Fan Nation. They’re important enough to take up 25 minutes of your first hour, but they aren’t necessary to catch everybody up to speed when they’re watching 90 second video clips the next day? What does that say?
To me, it says that they’re a waste of time. Starting the show with a graphic that says TEAM HELL NO WILL BE TAKING ON WWE CHAMPION
JOHN CENA CM PUNK AND DOLPH ZIGGLER followed by Michael Cole reading the words and adding “because General Manager AJ Lee made the match, because her job is to organize shit like that” would be perfect. Then you get 25 more minutes of wrestling, or hey, if you want to sell it to WWE Creative, 25 more minutes for backstage glarefests and political jokes. Whatever you want to use it for. What I’m getting at is that every minute of TV is an opportunity to sell your product, and filler should never happen.
Also I’m saying that if I knew an episode of Raw had a 45 minute tag match on it, guess what? I’m finding that f**king Raw.
Best: Antonio Cesaro Just Made Brodus Clay AND Ryback Look Like A Piece Of Shit
Antonio Cesaro is a beast. I never liked Claudio Castagnoli this much. I love that he showed up to WWE after a weird false start and was all, “oh, hey, I’m a popular, well-known guy from the indies. What’s that you’re saying? Most popular indy guys are 5-foot-8 spot monkeys? Maybe so, but hold on let me EFFORTLESSLY LIFT A 400 POUND MAN AND SPRINGBOARD OFF OF SHIT AND BE 6-5 AND FULL OF MUSCLES AND F**K YOU I’M ANTONIO CESARO F**K YOUUU”.
I remember a few months ago when WWE had all these concurrent “unstoppable winning streak” guys at once, and I wrote about how they needed to have Cesaro, Brodus Clay, Ryback and Lord Tensai all just wrestle each other until one was Goldberg and the rest were nobody. Welp, on last night’s Raw Antonio Cesaro beat Brodus Clay clean in ONE MINUTE by throwing him around with a smile on his face, and in another match Ryback tried to show off his incredible strength by failing to lift Tensai’s doughbody. I think that means Antonio Cesaro wins.
Poor Brodus, though. Maybe it’s time for him to give up the tracksuit, pick back up his philosophy books and throw in with Team Rhodes Scholars. I’m at least hoping for a mournful sit-down with Brodus next week where he puts his head in his hands and announces that funk is no longer on a roll.