Best: LOL, Let’s Let These Guys Go First This Week
My favorite thing about last week’s Raw crowd is what it did to the imaginary “WWE makes Raw” procedure in my brain. On one hand, WWE couldn’t let the fans dictate what they did or didn’t enjoy, because that would destroy the fragile, 10-year old ecosystem of Cheer X Because We Say So, Boo Y Because He Said ‘You People.’ You can’t risk kids going, “hey, Big Show’s in the right, here! Sheamus is weird and childish! I don’t want to be like Sheamus” etc. On the other hand, you can’t openly talk about how you hate when your crowd has unauthorized thoughts or fun, so you get moments like JBL chuckling to himself about how much he loves the fans with a distinct I WILL THROTTLE YOU behind his eyes. The key to this argument is “bizarro land.” WWE announcers drop that at the first sign of trouble. WE’RE IN BIZARRO LAND, FANS, DON’T LISTEN TO THIS CROWD. THEY ARE WEIRD. IT IS BUSINESS AS USUAL.
This week’s Raw opening cracked me up. The South Carolina fans weren’t going to live up to Jersey anyway, but WWE made sure of that by more or less starting the show in Randy Orton’s armpit. They immediately went to Orton and Sheamus (the two guys most victimized by the free-thinkers), made sure to sweep between them at the lowest possible angle to avoid any crowd interaction and had the announcers yammer non-stop over everything. It was the most hilarious damage control I’ve ever seen, and I like to believe they had two scripts labeled RAW A and RAW B, with RAW A being all these bullshit non-title losses and melodramatic Cena challenges if the crowd responded positively to Orton. That’s the one we got. In my head, RAW B is headlined by a 40-minute Daniel Bryan/Dolph Ziggler World Title match, 20 minutes of Brad Maddox doing improv and Randy Orton being put into a special Randy Orton jail cell and fired from a moving Helicarrier.
Worst: Congratulations, You Beat A Guy 2-On-1, Jerks
If you aren’t a fan of my “the bad guys are really the good guys” talking point, you’re going to hate this Raw.
Randy Orton and Sheamus both wanted a match against The Big Show, because they were mad at him for knocking them out after their WrestleMania match. Show didn’t do anything to them DURING the match, but this barely matters, because when a WWE Superstar decides he wants a match HERE TONIGHT, that anger is gospel. They had a match against one another to decide who’d face Show, and that ended with Show wandering out and destroying them again, because f**k these crybabies going behind his back to get matches.
Somehow, they skipped the Sheamus vs. Randy Orton vs. Big Show idea and let Orton and Sheamus TEAM UP against Show, which is not exactly what babyfaces do. Did you ever see Dusty Rhodes and Magnum T.A. casually get a two-on-one match against Ric Flair? The idea behind handicap matches is either
1. The one guy is either ridiculously big or strong, so it’s impressive to see him defeat two lesser opponents.
2. The one guy is the guy you’re cheering for, and you want to see him beat the two guys, because the two guys are assholes for agreeing to be the two in a two-on-one match in the first place.
Show is big, but he’s not that much bigger than Sheamus and Orton. They are not Stansky and Rosenberg. So what we’ve got here are two babyface characters who see no problem in ganging up on a single opponent, not even obeying the basic tag-in tag-out rules to double-team him. It’s ridiculous. JBL is absolutely in the right when he says it’s unfair, and that only stupid carnival sideshows make one guy fight two because he’s big.
Best: Characters Intermingling, Or ‘Brock Lesnar Eats 3MB For Real’
I love when a fictional universe has a huge cast of characters, because you can sometimes get special moments of unexpected interaction. The golden age of ‘The Simpsons’ was great about this. So is anime. I can think back on ‘Cowboy Bebop’ and still remember specific scenes based on who was in them. “This is when Faye ate Ein’s dog food because she’s a horrible person,” etc.
I love it less when fictional universes decide that only certain characters should interact, then makes those characters interact constantly. Modern ‘Simpsons’ is terrible about this. I bet Bumblebee Man, the Sea Captain and Comic Book Guy will be in the background no matter where you are or what you’re doing, because that’s the joke! WWE’s bad about it, too. They’ve got a gigantic roster full of potential fresh match-ups, and they just keep carting out the same dudes against each other every week.
So I really enjoy 3MB asking The Shield for a hand-written apology, because hell, I don’t know exactly how The Shield is going to react. I also enjoyed Brock Lesnar showing up out of nowhere to kill them, because (1) Brock usually only gets to interact with the biggest stars and was always his best when he worked with the lower-level guys, and (2) Brock showing up to kill folks is invariably awesome.
Best: Brock’s Magical Clothesline
The highlight of the attack on 3MB was Brock Lesnar debuting his ability to teleport:
HOW DID YOU GET THERE SO FAST, BORK, YOU ARE MASSIVE
You’ve got to love Heath Slater. The guy takes an F5 on the security barrier and is just sprawled on the ground like he’s dead, and as soon as I think he’s actually been mangled by a giant sloppy guy, he pops back up to take a second one. Heath Slater, I see your work and I appreciate it. Also, your hair looks pretty weird when you are lying down.
I’m not looking forward to another Lesnar/Triple H match, but I hope by old school cage match they mean the old-timey blue bars one. I want to see Lesnar destroy one of those things with his bare hands.
Best: I Hate This, But If You Aren’t Going To Let Cesaro Win Ever, It’s The Right Decision
RIP Antonio Cesaro’s United States Title reign. You were the best part of Raw until somebody who runs Raw noticed you were the best part of Raw.
If you read the column regularly, you may be aware that I am a great fan of Antonio Cesaro and … not so much a great fan of Kofi Kingston. That said, I’m giving this a best for a couple of reasons. The most important one is that if you’re gonna make Cesaro the US Champ and have him do nothing but lose non-title matches, yeah, get the belt off of him. That’s the right thing to do. Also, if you’re gonna have Kofi pin him clean, at least have Kofi win the belt in the process. That makes sense. It’s how wins and losses work, and it still kicks me in my ass that I have to explain it.
As for the actual match … yeah, I don’t know. Watch how loosey-goosey Kofi is during the pin exchange at the end, and see how far his foot comes from actually touching Cesaro for quick examples of why I’m not his biggest fan. Maybe now Kofi can start losing non-title matches, and Cesaro can get a new modus operandi and become a big wheel at WWE’s cracker factory.
The good news is that Kofi finally brought the belt home. To Ghana, West Africa.