Worst: We Need To Talk About Paul
Objectively speaking, the opening segment of Raw was concerning, but fine. Stephanie McMahon and her father (sans forced “power walk”) are important WWE types, and their appearance on the show automatically ups the gravity. Stephanie has a legitimate point to make — Triple H was wrestling against doctor’s orders and anything could’ve happened to him, and to her he’s a husband, a father and a kinda-sorta boss. If she loses him, she loses all of those things. “My children not having a father” is more important than wrestling fans getting a Triple H/Curtis Axel match on a throwaway Raw. Vince’s point is also valid — you shouldn’t be booing his daughter because she’s being compassionate, and you should try to be a little more understanding and a little less selfish. Trust me, as a guy who gets called “preachy” because of Internet wrestling columns, I can vouch for the fact that trying to tell wrestling fans to be good people is the HARDEST SHIT EVER.
That said, when they entered minute 10 of “WE love Triple H more than YOU do” and fans BOOING because NO, THEY love Triple H more than THEY do, that initial “Jesus Christ, Stephanie’s on Raw, run” reaction returned. If they’d run any longer, we would’ve gotten Stephanie and Vince yelling “no I think Triple H is great!” over and over. It’s almost what we got anyway. My wrestling fan terror and anger meter started to fill, and when it filled up all the way (almost to the second) I hit my limit break, which is the sweet, sweet sounds of the NATO phonetic alphabet and three indy-as-f**k motherf**kers in flak jackets who will clubber and spear you until you are gone.
Best: Nothing Fixes A Segment Quicker Than SIERRA HOTEL INDIA ECHO LIMA DELTA
The two ways I know I’m truly enjoying a part of Raw are as follows:
1. I have to lean over to somebody in the room and make a “wow, this is really good!” sorta comment, as if I’m trying to pinch myself and awaken from a dream
2. I remain silent, but my arms go straight up into the air
I did the second one when The Shield’s music hit. In my head, Roman Reigns was spearing Stephanie and Vince was getting triple powerbombed, and yeah, that would probably set up a horrible Triple H thing where he piled all three Shields onto each others’ asses like Russian nesting dolls and pedigreed everyone at once, but the McMahon beatdown would’ve been worth it.
A supplemental Worst goes to WWE for immediately going to commercial when business picked up, and another for returning FROM commercial with The Shield standing around waiting for a match like nothing happened instead of playing hacky-sack with Vince McMahon’s skull.
As I mentioned in the five-point preview of last night’s open discussion thread, I’ve been getting a lot of conflicting criticism. Some people get mad at me for being “too negative,” and writing about a show I don’t enjoy. Others, specifically those who have entered the “we’re tired of Brandon Stroud” portion of the reader-writer relationship cycle, believe that I write the same “wanking” paragraph in every column about wrestlers I like. Daniel Bryan, Bray Wyatt, Fandango, whoever.
The reason I’m bringing this up here is because if you are the type who does not want to read me getting excited about wrestlers, you are gonna HATE this column, because Daniel Bryan may have had the best 3 hours of Raw performance I’ve ever seen. EVER.
It started with the 18-minute Shield trios match, which is starting to become a Raw staple. Bryan stands out here (and in everything he’s done since Extreme Rules) for one reason: energy. When he tags into the ring or whenever he gets on offense in singles matches, he’s doing it with a sense of urgency. When he runs, he looks like he’s RUNNING, not taking joggy steps to hit his marks. When he’s striking, he looks like he’s STRIKING, and not working through the cooperative portion of his moveset. Almost every WWE Superstar, even the ones I love, have settled into this comfortable pace where they’re moving, but they aren’t moving too quickly, because they want to make sure they hit everything, and make sure everyone saw it. Bryan is just trucking around the ring and f**king people up, and it’s the most glorious shit I’ve ever seen. The way he’s performing right now makes people who’ve never considered him great tweet about how awesome he is. THIS is the American Dragon, folks. This is the guy the Internet’s been wanking about (or whatever) since he was Sheamus white wrestling in even whiter tighty-whities in Philadelphia armories. He can go, and he is GOING.
The match was basically an excuse to have Bryan be as great on Raw as he was at the end of last Friday’s Smackdown, and I’m okay with that. I’m starting to believe that he could beat The Shield by himself (in the good way … not in the John Cena way), but he keeps going too hard and running into a mistake. The Shield hasn’t been beaten by pin or submission because they live for mistakes, and can eat you alive. Here, Randy Orton is too busy doing his stupid poses before RsKO and gets shoved into Bryan, causing his team to lose, because Randy Orton f**king sucks. Most people watching think this is the end of Bryan’s awesome Raw, but NOPE.
Best: Daniel Bryan Forces Randy Orton To Act, Or
Best: Two Daniel Bryan Matches In One Night? Yes Please
This is the first of two great backstage segments that really drive home the fact that while we’re cheering Daniel Bryan, he’s still that same egomaniacal rage monster who emotionally abused his girlfriend for several months and wouldn’t stop superfluously celebrating his accomplishments. He’s disturbed … obsessed with the idea that he’s not good enough, believing that only concrete accomplishments like title belts or wins against opponents who’ve beaten him (The Shield, Ryback) can “prove” an unprovable thing nobody cares about or believes. It is mental disease, and he’s got it. He also happens to be the best pro wrestler on the planet and he’s been stuck in a comedy tag team for the last 8 months, so if you’re looking for a reason for him to be clinically insane, there you go.
The money here is that Bryan wants another match Here Tonight, and he’s going to get it. As a wrestling fan, that makes me type exclamation points.
Worst: “I Love You, Paul-Pop”
As that same wrestling fan, this makes me type poopies face. Which is this: =/
Triple H arrives to the arena, possibly summoned by the show-opening ten minutes of people saying TRIPLE H over and over, and finds out that he’s being kept out of a match because his brain don’t work too good. Using that same swiss cheese brain he gets in Vince’s (and Stephanie’s) face, demanding to get what he wants, because DAMN THE MAN, Curtis Axel got a count-out victory over him and THAT WILL NOT STAND. Stephanie repeatedly mentions how Curtis Axel is “beneath” Triple H and “not important,” to the point that Vince has to sorta call an improv audible and work in a “Curtis Axel is actually impressive tho” so Steph doesn’t dig one half of the main event all the way to f**king China. Triple H agrees that Curtis Axel is lame and sux, but he also notes that TRIPLE H IS GREAT AND MUST FIGHT TONIGHT.
At no point does Mark Henry appear and spear someone through the curtain wall, confirming (sadly) that I do not have all-inclusive mental command of television shows.