– If you haven’t already, make sure you’ve read the Best and Worst of WWE WrestleMania 30. Some, uh, stuff happened. For bonus goofs, check out our collection of every single sad or shocked face from the ending to Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar. Come for the Carl Winslow guy but stay for the fat guy smooshing his face.
– Share this column. I will randomly award a giant Big John Studd trophy to one of you for doing so.
Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for April 7, 2014. The one after WrestleMania 30.
Best: If Every Pay-per-view Was As Important As WrestleMania, Would Every Raw Be As Good As The Post-Mania Raw?
I thought about it on the entire drive home from New Orleans to Austin. WrestleMania 30 was a dream. One of those weird moments where I took too much codeine and dreamed that Cesaro won a battle royal by bodyslamming Big Show to the floor, The Shield demolished a bunch of Attitude Era guys with no problem and the American Dragon Bryan Danielson beat three out of four Evolution members to win both world titles at once. The Undertaker lost and it blew everybody’s mind. Bray Wyatt had a band of Plague Doctors play him to the ring. Bob Backlund put me in the Crossface Chickenwing.
On top of that, it’s just a gag from the column. Besides “all lower-tier bad guys are great and have identifiable personalities” and “Kevin Nash’s face makes him look like he’s taking a shit,” the biggest hallmark of The Best And Worst Of Raw column is hyper-unrealistic, pipe dream fantasy booking that gives the audience credit and appeals to brains and history. I just wrote all these stories in a WrestleMania column and people believed them.
On top of that, I’m a horrible pessimist. I’m always expecting the worst. Part of that is me wanting to defend myself against oncoming disappointments, and part of it is me watching wrestling for 34 years and knowing that it almost always ends up bad. The good stuff goes away. The greatest people disappear, or they die. If you watch it at arms-length, it has a tougher time getting to your heart.
It was a dream and a joke, and couldn’t possibly have turned out the way it did. Then, Monday Night Raw began with Daniel Bryan wearing the World Heavyweight Championship around his waist (like a champion is supposed to) and the WWE Championship on his shoulder, speaking humbly and brushing his hair back over his ear as the crowd chants YES, DAN-IEL BRY-AN and YOU DE-SERVE IT in perfect unison. No scattered, Cleveland-style almost-chants. Solid YES. Solid DANIEL BRYAN. Everyone in the building telling the one man on Earth who deserves it most that he deserves it, to his face. It wasn’t a dream. They were serious, and tonight’s episode wasn’t gonna end with someone cashing in, a referee reversing a decision or a member of the Kliq responding to text message via powerbomb. This is it.
We really did win.
Best: Triple H, Still My Motherf*cker
I’m seriously going to order an Authority shirt when my next paycheck rolls in. Maybe one of those sweet Authority polos Kane was wearing at Axxess.
I’ll be able to talk more about it later, but Triple H as the ultimate deluded Scumbag In Charge is magical, and if we’re going to position Daniel Bryan as the new hippie socialist vegan Stone Cold Steve Austin, I’m glad he’s found the perfect evolution of Mr. McMahon. We moved both characters into the 2010s. Only now Stone Cold Steve Austin is 5-foot-8 and Mr. McMahon is throwing tiger suplexes.
Best: The Wyatt Family As Cult Heroes
I wasn’t a fan of John Cena Overcoming The Odds™ at WrestleMania, but there was one wonderful development: the crowd figuring out that they’re supposed to participate in The Wyatt Family’s entrance theme. In NXT, the crowd would hold their arms above their head and sway like weeds. Sway Wyatt. The WrestleMania crowd adapted that into a sway and a clap-along, and that works for me. As long as they’re cheering for this delightfully absurd cultist trio that can’t stop crab walking and having killer trios matches I’m all for it.
This is what the Wyatt Family needs to do. Bray is great at delivering the creepy in angles, but he shines when he delivers creepy in the context of a melee … especially ones that are entertaining as hell, like his bouts with the Shield and this one. It also helps that he’s facing the two least likable superstar babyfaces in WWE and their cool friend who accidentally won the Intercontinental Championship and forgot how to win wrestling matches. Does that IC belt have amnesia powder on it or something? Is that why the strap is white? Did Cody Rhodes set this trap when he was Mr. Sinister and forget about it?
Worst: Talk About Awkward! Good Grief!
You said it, Charles Schulz. Sorry. “JBL.” Santino and Emma teamed up to face Fandango and Summer Rae, which I guess is the new Dolph Ziggler vs. Kofi Kingston of Raw. Like all of their Raw matches, WWE rocked their colossal disconnect between NXT and the main roster, gave Emma and Summer about 30 seconds to work and then paid it off with Santino hugging. It wasn’t the worst thing they’ve done, but it certainly wasn’t good.
It was saved a little by how Pro NXT this crowd is, as they followed their Wyatt Family swaying by going all-in on the Emma love, doing her dance as much as possible before she was shuffled away to film dinner date scenes or whatever the hell they’re doing on Smackdown.
I reserve the right to revisit this a little later in the column when the Divas Championship match happens.
Best: Sting Is Not Having It
Nice of you to make it out to the show, Steve.
Best: CM Punk Is Dead And Paul Heyman Is The Best In The World
I have two things to declare.
The first is that I was wrong about CM Punk. The day after the Royal Rumble when news broke that he’d “quit the company,” I was sure it was part of the show. 100% sure. Part of that is the skepticism and pessimism I talked about on the previous page. Some combination of conditioning and The Internet have made me unable to accept any “real” wrestling news as legit. WWE commands media sources now. They plant news stories. They’re also big on “reality” angles, and Punk’s the king of those. Another part of it is me really wanting the guy to not be a dickface and be a great part of the show again. I thought maybe he’d come back as a corporate guy, or run out at WrestleMania to bail out his old buddy Daniel Bryan. I thought he’d resurface at the pre-Mania Chicago Raw, but the deadline was the Raw after WrestleMania. If he didn’t show up then, I said, I’ll accept that it was real.
So, uh, I guess it was real. I am very happy that this column is “what Brandon thinks about wrestling” and not “Brandon is defensive about being right about wrestling.” I am wrong almost 100% of the time, and I’m sad to say I was wrong here. I guess Punk’s just a shoot butthole.
I say that because it loosely (cough) relates to my second declaration: Paul Heyman’s 9+ minute promo from last night’s Raw is the best promo in the history of the show. WWE Fan Nation gloriously and thankfully reproduced it on YouTube in its full version, and I urge you to watch it, then watch it again.
Paul Heyman is a MONSTER on the microphone. Remember when he started doing a fake 1980s screamo promo about volcanos and it was the best thing ever? This was the constructive, sincere version of that. Heyman put over Brock Lesnar in the most epic fashion imaginable with lines like, “Hey let’s get one thing straight, Brock Lesnar is not here to put smiles on peoples’ faces, Brock Lesnar is here to shock the WWE Universe and put tears in the eyes of children.” Are you KIDDING ME? Wrestling Shakespeare couldn’t have come up with something better. I’m going to assume there was a Wrestling Shakespeare. He wrote No Holds Bard.
He also managed to throw shade at the three people I hate the most on Raw:
1. The announce team (“John Bradshaw Layfield and those and those two other things that call themselves announcers”)
2. Hulk Hogan (“Superdome, Hogan, not Silverdome”)
3. The unwashed portion of the WWE Universe (“Are you saying ‘what’ to me? I forgot who you are so i’ll say it slowly for you, Brooooooock Leeeeeesnarrrrrr isssssss theeeeeeee onnnnneeee innnnnn twentyyyyyyy oneeeee aaaaaaaand oooooone!”)
It’s a stunning promo that makes Lesnar seem like the most legit beast con carne to ever step foot in a wrestling ring, puts the severity of the Undertaker’s loss into perfect pro wrestling context and cements Heyman as the coolest and most obnoxious person on the face of the Earth. Listen to those pluralizations. Even I want to punch that guy in the face, and I love him.
Worst: Let’s Ask The WWE Universe What They Thought Of Paul Heyman’s Promo
Sorry, let’s try that again.
Best: What A Bunch Of A-Holes
WWE has learned from its mistakes. Remember when they sent Randy Orton and Sheamus out to have a 15-minute match in front of a post-Mania crowd and it died a horrible death, but they’re Guy 1 and Guy 2 from the pre-Full Sail WWE developmental system so they just went through the motions anyway? This year, WWE knew they couldn’t send Orton or Batista out in front of these jokers so they gave them a short, violent appearance that got them over as vicious pieces of shit and absorbed all the Y2J and JBL and CM PUNK chants in three minute burst. Perfect.
I normally hate when two major singles stars team up and are suddenly crazy dominant over the company’s best tag teams, but I like Orton and Batista kinda realizing that nobody in the world likes them, so they might as well throw in together and try to get along. They’re perfect for one another. When they were face to face before the table spot at Mania I thought for sure they were gonna start making out, and WrestleMania 30 was going to go off the air with two living penises rawdogging each other.
Putting my foot down on this one. I refuse to acknowledge or support Adam Rose with this bastardized entrance theme.
If you’re a regular reader of the Best and Worst of NXT column (and you should be), you’re already familiar with this drama. On the March 5 episode, the former Leo Kruger was repackaged as Adam Rose, a Get Him To The Greek character with the GREATEST ENTRANCE THEME IN THE WORLD. It instantly made him a viral sensation. We hopped around our houses singing it like a soccer chant, doing that dumb little reverse crotch chop and yelling WOOOO. We were ready to make him our new God.
A couple of weeks later on the March 20 episode Rose had his second match … with a new theme. A “soundalike.” Supposedly WWE couldn’t get the rights to the original song and dubbed over Rose’s entrance with their own version. It is HORRIBLE. The live crowd was chanting the original song because that’s the one they heard.
Adam Rose is being brought up to the main roster with this abomination of a theme. Do not support it. Raise a fist in support of ‘World Goes Wild’ and keep it in the air.
Best: Support Bo All You Want, Though
I think they’re doing my “switch NXT and Raw” idea.