Best: WE KNOW WHO THAT IS, TAZ
… and here’s where the show gets good.
The motherf**king NATURE BOY Ric Flair returned to the company that has publicly humiliated him the least (believe it or not) to present the award for Superstar Of The Year, and even though it looks like he’s just coloring the top of his head with a highlighter now, he’s still the best American pro wrestler of all time and I’m going to be happy about it.
Of course, it’s also pretty hard to stop making Impact jokes whenever he appears now, because I spent a couple of years watching him stuff his bones into a man-sized scrotum filled with exploding blood in matches against Mick Foley or Hulk Hogan or whoever, and that’s not something I can just pretend didn’t happen. My favorite jokes so far are the declaration that Flair is here to cast the deciding vote in tonight’s Gut Check (© Chris Sims) and my subconscious fantasy booking where Fortune is about to run out and attack CM Punk.
There is a reason I did not let myself write The Best And Worst Of TNA Impact Wrestling, and it involves me not being able to stop laughing out loud at their 6,000 different company-controlling heel stables.
Best: CM Punk Is Awesome When He’s Right
THIS is the CM Punk I love.
The guy who is pissed off about something, really pissed off for real, deep down in his core, and can tell you about it. Most importantly, the guy who is RIGHT. When the Summer Of Punk hit, we didn’t start liking him because he was a cool personality and had awesome catchphrases and sweet T-shirts, it was because he was saying shit nobody else would say about the show, and he was RIGHT. It wasn’t an “each and every one of you” moment, it was “this company is run by people who don’t care about the audience, and it won’t get any better until Vince is dead and we stop circle-jerking Cena and Rock and Austin and anybody who made us money before right now.” When he yelled in Vince’s face, he was right. When he was running down Alberto Del Rio for being Mexican, feuding with Chris Jericho over whether or not he walked into a building that serves alcohol or calling John Laurinaitis names, he wasn’t right, he was going along with the same shit he rallied against in the summer.
So here, in a moment that absolutely does not make sense and needs everyone involved having I HATE YOU yelled in their faces (the WWE Universe naming John Cena Superstar Of The Year after the kayfabe worst year of his career, then Cena saying something about hustle, loyalty and respect before giving the award to Ric Flair for no reason and bailing), here’s Punk to do it for us. He’s totally right. It’s ridiculous on multiple levels. Cena didn’t deserve the award (or to even be nominated … Show had a much better year than him, for example), Flair hasn’t been around, nobody’s respecting his run as champion and not everybody idolizes Ric Flair now because he’s kind of a f**k-up. He didn’t sarcastically quip “pipe bommmmmb” after it, but it blew Flair and Cena the hell up.
Be this Punk, Punk. This is right.
Best: Punk Versus Flair Was The Best Match On The Show
I really wish the rest of the show could’ve been this good.
This whole segment was great, and totally justified — in addition to Punk being totally right, Flair was justified in making it physical, because Punk started poking him in the chest like an asshole. Flair didn’t cheapshot him on the stage … he brought him to the ring, to do it like wrestlers. When they were in the ring, Flair (the good guy) didn’t take the easy road out and kick Punk in the nuts or whatever, he challenged him to a fight … and PUNK was the one to cheapshot FLAIR. Because good guys and bad guys. Flair came back just enough to look viable without “knocking Punk out” (with a thumb to the eye, unlike Bret Hart KO’ing Punk with one punch without taking any shots himself and barely moving). Heyman had a reason to get beaten up, too … unlike the Triple H or John Cena moments, Heyman wasn’t just “being annoying,” he distracted Flair so Punk could get in the cheap shot. So sure, he deserves to get it. See how f**king easy this is? Say what you want about grey areas and the old school shit not playing anymore, but good guys being good guys and bad guys being bad guys works.
Best: The Shield
Speaking of bad guys, how effective are The Shield right now? When their music hit, and we caught a sight of them walking down through the crowd and went to commercial, I was legitimately excited to see where we’d be when we came back. And when we came back, it wasn’t just “everybody wait until the cameras are back on” … Daniel Bryan and Kane were out to help Flair fight these guys off. WHY CAN THE REST OF THE SHOW NOT BE THIS GOOD. It should’ve just been this whole segment, then a Krusty The Klown Show-style fast-moving credits list of everyone who won Slammys.
I don’t know if The Shield is going to be able to keep up their momentum (them teaming up together to make a run at the Royal Rumble will/would be nice), but man, I hope they keep it up. They got a huge rub from that TLC victory on Sunday, and they kept it going on Raw. It helps that they’re showing up to brutalize people and attack Ric Flair instead of being forced to do faux awards show comedy alongside Santino.
Worst: Ryback’s Non-Stop Hero Entrances
The only downside to the moment was Ryback, who deserves to be out here taking it to The Shield, and all, but God, how many times is his music going to hit in the middle of a fight to announce his arrival? Why can’t he just run out with Daniel Bryan and Kane and fight off The Shield if he hates them so much? Why wait until all of your friends are hurt? I know you’re doing it for DRAMA~, but the pop’s going to happen when he starts running down the ramp, we don’t need to hear 10 seconds of his music first.
Rollins bouncing off the announce table was pretty great, though. Be careful, guys, or you’ll have another Jeff Hardy on your hands. I mean that both the good and bad ways.