Worst: Let’s Play The Mailed-In Pre-Taped Raw Checklist Game
Last night’s episode of Raw was pre-taped so the Superstars and Not Superstars (or “Divas,” as they’re called) could travel overseas and still put on a 3-hour primetime domestic wrestling show in a timely fashion. Therefore, the spirit and creativity of the last few weeks has been tossed right the hell out of the window, and the famous WWE Creative Dry Erase Board has been brought out to do its dirty work.
To make it fun, I’ll make a quick list of the worst things Raw does on a regular basis. Print this out and play along at home by checking off each number as it happens. First one to 10 gets a horrible experience!
1. heels taking purposeful count-out losses
2. non-title match losses for champions
3. multiple non-title match losses for champions on the same show
4. wrestlers losing matches because they’re momentarily distracted by music/someone not in their match
5. things that’ve already happened being done again for emphasis, or because they happened on the B-show
6. lengthy “previews” or recaps of movies or TV shows barely related to wrestling
7. corporate synergy
9. rushing through matches to get to the post-match stuff
10. Triple H and/or a McMahon talking to a perfectly fine performer like an asshole and getting cheered for it
Best: I Wish These Guys Would Wrestle On Their Own Histories Or Merits, But F**k It, Raw Just Started With Daniel Bryan And Vince McMahon
First things first, how delightfully absurd would it be to go back in time 10 years and tell wrestling fans that white-panties American Dragon from Ring of Honor would be commanding an arena full of people while Vince McMahon tried to shut him down? They’d call you “mark” so hard it’d tear their windpipes.
I wrote a lot in last week’s column about the insincerity of Daniel Bryan’s push, and how years of being a wrestling fan had conditioned me to expect the worst. A lot of you took that as “Brandon isn’t happy with anything,” so I’m gonna skip the capacity for abstract thought here and say how happy I am that Vince McMahon created a fully-formed, ignorant point of view and expressed it from the perspective of the world’s most obvious, wrong, bad guy.
There’s no room for error here. Vince’s points, be they expressed from his mouth or the mouth of Brad Maddox in Puppet Form, are that Bryan can’t beat Cena, is undersized, looks like a weirdo and would be an embarrassment to WWE as its champion. If you ever wanted confirmation that the World Heavyweight Championship is the new IC title, Vince not giving a shit that the same crazy goat-faced nerd held the WHC and calling a company-wide mission statement shift to keep him away from the WWE belt speaks volumes. One of those belts is Flair’s, the other is The Rock’s. One of those things is important to WWE, and we pretend the other one is too, but it spent too much time in TNA to call itself “important.”
Anyway, I’m on board with this now, even if Triple H and Stephanie use their garbage Wonder Twin powers to try to ruin it somewhere near the end of the show.
Best: Wait, We’re Doing This Now?
Last week I got excited at the prospect of a Mark Henry/The Usos vs. The Shield six man tag match, one of those cool title-free undercard pay-per-view feuds they don’t do enough anymore. It’s a great way to get a lot of guys on the show and have a fun match, and … well, shit, we’re doing it now? Uh, all right!
And hey, I’m not going to complain about that. Whether it happens here or on a show I legally paid for, I got an entertaining, mildly-long Trios match between six people I like. Mark Henry continues to secretly be one of the most popular guys on the show (at least on the Internet) (okay, at least on MY corner of the Internet) (he’s popular in my house) (I don’t think Destiny likes him that much). The Usos get time on Raw, which they need, especially if they’re gonna get their 90s action figure aesthetic over with the audience. The Shield does the two things they do best, which are (1) put on baller six-man tags, and (2) win via THE DAMNED NUMBERS GAME. Last night, that number was 1, and was just Dean Ambrose headlock-drivering the brains out of Jimmy Uso. What a damned numbers game!
A supplemental Worst goes out to Jerry Lawler for STILL not picking up on the “Jey is the one with a tattoo on his chest” talking point Cole’s brought up in literally every Usos match ever and thinking he’s just “really good at telling the twins apart.” Cole should start saying “Nikki Bella’s the one with the grosser spray tan and the boobs out of nowhere” and see if Lawler can differentiate her from Brie before 2016.
Best: The Ryback/Ricky Starks Feud Continues
I like the “Ryback intimidates strangers for no reason” backstage segment from a “Ryback inadvertently fills a dude’s ear with potato salad and puts him through a table” perspective, but I LOVED it as a Texas wrestling fan.
For those of you who don’t know, the guy Ryback picked on and catering-table’d was “Absolute” Ricky Starks, one of the best young wrestlers in Texas. This is him. I get to see him kill it in the ring all the time in Austin, and even had the chance to work with him (uh, as a ring announcer at least) at the first Inspire Pro Wrestling show. He’s awesome and you should like him before he starts showing up on Raw every week.
What’s funny is that this isn’t his first WWE TV appearance, and not the first one to involve Ryback. Remember when Ryback was feuding with Jinder Mahal (no, seriously) and Jinder wanted to prove that he could do whatever Ryback did, so he beat up two jobbers on Smackdown?
Yep, one of those jobbers was Ricky Starks. Jinder beat them, so Ryback wandered out and Shellshocked them, because RYBACK. Fast forward a year and who should Ryback run into in catering? One of those jobbers. I wonder if he remembered him, and that’s why he picked on him? It would explain why Starks was so terrified. Every Starks WWE appearance should tangentially involve Ryback until WrestleMania 33 or whatever when they have a match, and have a 5 year history video package to make it important.