Best: Bill Motherf**king Regal
You and I have a lot of conflicting opinions about Raw — I get bent out of shape when WWE gets politically incorrect, you don’t think it’s a big deal; you think Daniel Bryan’s being wasted as Kane’s goat faced pal, I think he’s getting better every show; you think Kofi Kingston’s a “good wrestler,” I think my asshole could put on a better match — but one great objective pro wrestling thought is that William Regal f**king rules it, and if you disagree, you are a dumb idiot.
I’m sad that Regal’s match against Big Show was only a minute or two long and that we didn’t get more of him FIRING UP and fighting back, but it was what it needed to be, and a great example of how when it comes to moving your narrative forward, putting a great wrestler into a basic situation is better than putting an average wrestler into an exceptional one. How great were his faces? How great was that grody handprint on his chest? William Regal is just better at this than most people.
Best/Worst: Big Show Won’t Stop Beating Up Sheamus’ Dad
Remember when D-Generation X had the “DX Express” bus for like a month, then Stone Cold Steve Austin dropped a girder on it and it exploded like it was full of fireworks and everybody was all, NO, THAT’S THE D-X EXPRESS, HOW COULD HE DO IT?? Remember when Kofi Kingston ruined Randy Orton’s special Randy Orton car, and it was played up like a huge deal even though he’d own the car for like 20 minutes?
There’s something to be said for earning your storylines. If D-X has driven around the D-X Express for years and Austin blew it up, it would’ve legitimately been a big deal. Let me put it this way … compare Kofi throwing paint on Orton’s car to Earthquake squashing Jake the Snake’s snake Damien. Outside of the horror of a fat man killing an animal with his ass weight, the reason the latter worked a lot more than the former is because Jake had been carrying Damien around for as long as we’d known Jake, and it was TRAUMATIZING. They earned it. There were real consequences, because they’d taught you what was important to whom.
Now, I’m not going to throw too much shade at an angle involving Big Show, William Regal and punching. At the same time, the story is built around how Sheamus and William Regal are BEST FRIENDS FOREVER and Show’s doing this wretched thing to hurt Sheamus, but … outside of that one storyline in WWE 12, we haven’t really seen Regal and Sheamus do anything together. Last week Regal was all “let’s have a drink” and Sheamus smiled, and then they went IMMEDIATELY to the Damien Squashing. It doesn’t really matter, because they didn’t earn it. Okay, so Big Show’s punching a wrestler we were supposed to hate every time we saw him except now. Not exactly Artax dying in the Swamp of Sadness, you guys.
Worst: The Divas Match Was 8 Seconds Long, But At Least Eve Looked Really Nice
Well, she did.
There’s really nothing to say about the Divas match (Kaitlyn wins a #1 Contenders Match between the only two face Divas on the show! At least they didn’t have a battle royal! Woo!), so I’d like to take this Worst to talk about Kaitlyn’s theme. I don’t know how much you know about it, but it’s called ‘Spin The Bottle,’ and if you think Layla’s song about how she’s insatiable and needs to find a boy is bad, oh man, let me tell you:
This is tonight
I know the time is right
To let you go real slow
Woah oh oh I’m so-o
This simple game
It just might be the way
To make you be my man
Yeah, but can’t you see that
You and me could be happy
So why don’t you spin the bottle?
Spin it right around
But aim it towards me now
Yeah, why don’t you come and spin the bottle?
Push it one degree
So it will point at me
‘Cause I just want to be your supermodel
the f**k is that shit
At least Layla’s theme, as ass-backwards as it is, amounts to “I’m horny!” Kaitlyn’s theme just doesn’t make any sense. She thinks Spin The Bottle is the way to get a guy to like her, so she urges him to play, but she wants him to cheat at it so she’ll get kissed? Why don’t you just say “I want you to kiss me”? Why be Rube Goldberg about about your sexual advances? And furthermore, how many people are in this game when pushing the bottle “one degree” will make it point at Kaitlyn? FURTHERMORE, HOW DOES THIS MAKE YOU SOMEONE’S SUPERMODEL.
I know if my job is to kick somebody’s ass, the music that plays me out should say, “I wish someone would kiss me at a tween party!”
WORST: Jerry Lawler’s Heart Attack Now Happened In The Land Of Make-Believe
A few things to quickly reiterate:
1. I am very happy that Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler didn’t permanently die. For better or worse, he’s an important figure to regional wrestling history, and in a perfect world all of these guys who break themselves for my complainy enjoyment should get to lead happy, healthy lives and never die. Like, I don’t want Ox Baker to die. Ox Baker has 0% to do with my life other than me thinking he was scary and cool in PWI in f**king 1983 or whatever, but I want him be 3,000 years old and heart punching the Tron Asians from Cloud Atlas.
2. Jerry Lawler is probably the worst “legendary” wrestling announcer ever, and the second he sat down in the booth again, that good will about me not wanting him dead went right the hell away. I still don’t want him dead, because what am I, a psychopath? But I DO hate the ever-loving Christ out of his announcing, and within five minutes he was calling Antonio Cesaro gay for carrying a purse and I wanted to throw him through a window.
All that said, the only thing that really bothered me about last night’s return segment is the wayyyyy too graphic use of HEART ATTACK COLLAPSE AND DEATH FOOTAGE AND HEARTBEAT NOISES in a pro wrestling video package. This is a situation that calls for clips of Lawler punching Nick Bockwinkel and getting run over by a car that one time and palling around with Adam West, not dying in front of us on wrestling. I support the idea of a wrestler using whatever happens in his personal life as fodder for angles or whatever, but they could’ve just as easily had Punk come out and make fun of him for dying without working the literal death into a video package like it’s an attack from behind on the ramp.
Lawler’s heart attack has gone from being a real, tragic thing that happened to just being another part of a boring storyline we’ll forget. That does a disservice to the program AND to Jerry’s recovery. This is why when Lawler went down on the first place, wrestling fans and Deadspin and whoever else was all IT IS A WORK? When Punk punches a fan, people think the fan’s a Stunt Granny. Shade the stories you made up with gray, WWE, not the ones that shaded themselves. Maybe we’d be able to have a little more reverence for either side.
Best/Worst: CM Punk’s Confrontational Heeling, But Nothing Else About This
I’ve sorta positioned myself as the one wrestling fan of note online who gets righteously indignant when WWE starts getting prejudiced or offensive or weird. A lot of people, especially the people who don’t like the column, expect a certain assholey soap-box thing about how a company that fake fights and exacerbates cultural and ethnic stereotypes should suddenly stop being itself. I get that, and I totally do it.
What I’m getting at is that if you ignore the Jerry Lawler Dying In Front Of Us For Real video package and the really forced, screamy stuff from Foley about championship title reigns and being Right Here In Columbus Ohio, I LOVED the stuff Punk and Heyman were doing. Punk being an awful person who says the things even an awful person probably wouldn’t say is what brought him to the f**king dance, and has always been what made him must-see. They push Heyman as the “scum of the Earth” all the time, but he mostly just says his wrestlers are great and gets punched a lot. This is the first time I can remember where Heyman actually did something deserving of all that scorn. Same with Punk. If you want people to boo Punk, this is a whole lot more effective than him saying he doesn’t care what the audience thinks, because NONE of the heels care what the audience thinks, but Punk’s the only one brave enough to say I BEAT YOU TO DEATH JERRY LAWLER AND IF YOU RUN YOUR MOUTH AT ME AGAIN YOU KNOW WHAT’LL HAPPEN. It’s great.
I saw a lot of people on Twitter who have lost loved ones to heart attacks (or people who’ve had heart attacks themselves, like pro wrestler LuFisto) saying F**K YOU WWE and demanding apologies. I don’t think that’s fair. Pro wrestling is a show that is literally about people hurting each other. You have to hurt your opponent so much he can’t move long enough for you to pin him. There’s a move called the heart punch, where a guy punches you in the heart to make you collapse. People have died from sleeper holds and piledrivers. People have been dying from punches and kicks for the entirety of human existence. If pro wrestling uses somebody getting hurt, no matter how severe, to amp up how much you love or hate someone, that’s more or less the definition of pro wrestling. Punk’s a bad guy, and he’s doing a really, really bad thing. That’s good. That’s the idea.
If pro wrestling uses largely white, largely male babyface characters to be socially cruel to women, or minorities, or people who are differently abled, or the LGBTQ community for the benefit of a largely white, largely male, perfectly abled and straight audience, it sticks out to me. It’s an extraneous thing a lazy person added to pro wrestling to sell it to a stupid audience. If a bad guy does the same thing and gets his ass kicked for it, that’s also good. That’s teaching simple, straight-forward lessons to people impressionable enough to watch wrestling. I know, I’m one of them.
The problem is that a good guy never gets comeuppance for the hateful shit he does. Punk will look like a coward for his statements, be berated for them by people we respect (Jim Ross, Mick Foley) and get his ass kicked. He got his ass kicked last night. We didn’t even have to wati. Rock calls Cena a fag (in so many words) and sells 100,000 t-shirts, wins at WrestleMania and is a popular movie star idol. Bad guys should do bad things, good guys shouldn’t, and one should be accepted as ethically superior to the other. If we could get both sides operating on the same wavelength, wrestling would be pretty good, and I could shut up and just tell you which moves I liked.