Worst: Ryback’s Caste Jumping
For a while, I didn’t buy the comparisons between Ryback and Goldberg. “One condescending crowd chanted Goldberg at the strong guy who wins a lot,” I thought. “Other crowds saw it on television and thought it was a new wrestler cue. Kinda like how people chanted LET’S GO ZIGGLER for a few weeks. They didn’t want Ziggler to go, they just heard it on Raw and thought it was what they were supposed to say.” Being in a Raw crowd is a lot like being in a flash mob. You just show up and do what everyone else is doing.
But yeah, no, I get it now. He’s a big, muscular guy who shows up and beats people in 2 minutes. He hits them with a running strike, then picks them up over his head in a spectacular-ish feat of strength to finish them off. It’s exactly like Goldberg. Also like Goldberg is WWE’s booking of Ryback, where they start him off wrestling guys like Stan Stansky and have him trouncing the champion in Atlanta by the end of the year. They even gave him the “Raven tries to escape, gets thrown back into the ring” thing last week.
I don’t mind Ryback being Goldberg. The only problem I have with it is that he’s truncated Goldberg, forced to jump from jobbers to JTG to the WWE Championship picture without the luxury of Goldberg’s slow, epic ramp-up. One of the best parts about watching Goldberg in his initial run was whenever he’d get bumped up to the next class of wrestlers. He’d wrestle Jerry Flynn or Hardbody Harrison or whoever, then after a while he’d get in the ring with Mongo. Then, Perry Saturn. Then guys like Raven or Curt Hennig, guys with a legitimate shot to beat him who just DON’T and die like everyone else. THAT’s when he gets Hogan, and when he f**ks up Hogan’s Christmas and becomes the biggest thing in wrestling, he gets to have great matches with former champs like Diamond Dallas Page. Eventually he ends up wrestling Kronik or whoever again, but he never goes back to Hardbody Harrison.
JTG is, hilariously, 2012’s Hardbody Harrison. Ryback starts off wrestling him, then gets put into a WWE Championship match against Punk. They try to build Ryback quickly for a cycle by having him beat Dolph Ziggler, but it doesn’t work because they haven’t DONE the work. They just said it and expected it to be so. They give Ryback his Raven moment against Hogan, which is a terrible idea, then don’t even let him f**k up Punk’s Christmas (as it were) at Hell In A Cell. They go straight for the wind-out-of-your-sails Starrcade 98 ending with Scott Hall and a taser. Now Ryback is instantly back to wrestling the Hardbodies Harrison, without so much as a Kronik between the top and bottom of the rosters.
It’s not the worst thing ever and it’s certainly not irreversible, but it’s a sad waste of a great, great storytelling opportunity. If you’re gonna do Goldberg, guys, do Goldberg.
Best: Maybe Now Wade Barrett Will Stop Using The Souvenir
I’m a big fan of Wade Barrett, but man, until he starts using the Overdrive and the Reverse STO in his one and two slots he’s got the worst finishing moves in the world. Wasteland was bad enough. You pick a guy up on your shoulders and then put them down (we normally call that a body slam), but you grab their wrist and yell first so at least there’s the illusion of intensity. With The Souvenir, he’s combined the two worst things you can do with a WWE finish: give it a convoluted setup and make it look like it doesn’t hurt.
Some moves have a convoluted setup but look like they hurt, like the Razors Edge or the Doomsday Device. Some moves have a simple set up so you can do them from anywhere, but don’t really look like they’d hurt, like the Stone Cold Stunner. Wade is getting into serious 6-1-9 territory with the souvenir, having to set up the spin, then actually DOING the spin and connecting with a shitty Lex Luger-style elbow grazing to the top of the head instead of a straight shot to the jaw. He needs to either just run at people and Luger them in the side of the head and demand dramatic, life-ending selling or he needs to Barrage Up and lay in that twisty-ass nonsense for real.
Supplementary best for Randy Orton’s continued attempts to recreate last summer’s “shut up and wrestle better” initiative.
Best: Team Hell No Getting Straight-Up Tag Team Victories
After the disappointing, totally unnecessary DQ finish at Hell In A Cell, it was nice to see Daniel Bryan and Kane win a tag team match on Raw. I don’t know why it still seems so weird to me when a match ends cleanly. Why can’t I watch Daniel Bryan and Kane, two former World Heavyweight Champions and the current Tag Team Champions, wrestle two guys who were on NXT at the beginning of the year and just assume they’ll win? Why do I have to cycle through a bunch of scenarios where Sandow and Rhodes show up to cost them the titles, or Kane chokeslams Bryan and lets Darren Young pin him, or Triple H shows up and pedigrees everybody, takes the tag titles and melts them down so he can have a copper hammer? The last 15 years of watching wrestling have really turned me into a dumb jerk.
Anyway, it was good to see Daniel Bryan get a clean submission win on Raw. It always feels good. The sorta-badness of them continuing the “Bryan and Kane stealing pins from each other” thing nearly 3 months from the formation of their team is balanced out by the awesomeness of Michael Cole and Jim Ross openly stating that you are stupid if you think Daniel Bryan is the weak link of the team. One of these days, a Punk/Bryan feud will be less about girlfriends and more about being The Best In The World. Bryan could even demand vegan ice cream bars.
Oh, and before I forget, my favorite part of this video is where it starts. You know they wanted to show more of the match in the clip, but J.R. called Darren Young “Darren O’Neil” (like they the Prime Time Players had gotten married) and “Mr. Nose Day Off”.
Worst: Are They Seriously Spending More Time Discussing John Cena’s Business Dinner Than Brad Maddox Low-Blowing A WWE Championship Challenger To End A Hell In A Cell Pay-Per-View Main-Event?
I don’t want to devote too much time to this because I don’t write the shows and promised you in the Best And Worst Of Hell In A Cell that I’d Wait And See Where It Goes™, but here’s a recap of pay-per-view storylines and how they were follow-up upon on the post-PPV Raw:
The John Cena/AJ Affair That Was The Most Boring Part Of The Pre-Show And Made You Desperate To Watch Video Packages
Top of the show announcements, followed by several backstage segments with Vickie Guerrero trying to get AJ to admit her wrong-doings and beg for her job, followed by an in-ring segment with Vickie and John Cena where she shows him top secret video surveillance footage from multiple locations, followed by a John Cena/Dolph Ziggler confrontation to build to a Survivor Series match, followed by TWO AJ Lee matches including General Manager interference, followed by an additional backstage segment where Vickie fires the lady who beat AJ.
A WWE Official Low-Blowing A WWE Championship Challenger In Hell In A Cell In Main-Event Of A Hell In A Cell Pay-Per-View
CM Punk says “I DIDN’T DO IT, BYEEE” and bails, and the only person who cares is one retired guy.