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Please click through for the Best And Worst Of WWE Raw for September 23, 2013.
Best/Worst: This Is The Weirdest Opening (And It Goes Somewhere Great, But Also Terrible?) (What Is Happening)
I tuned into Raw about five minutes late (thanks a lot, “Trevor flies a crop duster into the cargo hold of a giant plane” part of Grand Theft Auto V), and the first thing I see is the guys who saved Daniel Bryan’s ass in last week’s main standing shoulder-to-shoulder like beauty pageant contestants with Triple H sorta reprimanding them but ultimately rewarding them with an 11-on-3 handicap match against his own stooges with NO CATCH. And then Stephanie’s like, “we’ll let the WWE Universe decide who wrestles Randy Orton, please allow me to shout these names over your chants of CM Punk, because we can’t acknowledge him here or our whole story falls the hell apart.”
So I’m giving it a Best because it’s certainly different and interesting (especially with poor Justin Gabriel standing so far to the left I didn’t know he was out there until Triple H said his name). I really enjoyed the crowd’s “award show dead people video package” applause for the faces, where it’s legitimate woos and claps for Rob Van Dam, and then the tiniest, most polite applause for R-Truth. I’m also giving it a Best because it in theory means we never have to hear about THE DAMNED NUMBERS GAME again. The Shield’s “f*ck you say??” faces* were grand.
By the way, Steph, the last time R-Truth had a championship match was at Capitol Punishment. Remember? He lost because a kid threw soda in his eyes. But yeah no it’s cool that you don’t remember that though, this business is just “in your blood” or whatever.
*Thanks to @MatlockJAB for that reference.
Best: Triple H Cannot Say “Frustration”
I UNDERSTAND YOUR FUSTRATION
Do you, H? Do you.
Worst: Kofi Kingston’s M-Dogg 20 Feint
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s that thing he does where he looks like he’s gonna dive to the outside, but instead of actually diving he jumps shoulders-first into the top rope with his arms up and his chin tucked like NOBODY HAS DIVED EVER, bounces off the ropes and lands back in the ring. “M-Dogg 20” Matt Cross has done it in every match he’s ever had. That is not intended to be a smarky name drop, nor is it intended to be a compliment.
The idea I guess is that the guy is supposed to be super fast and unpredictable so he’s just f*cking with you, or that he’s going for an ACTUAL dive but he sees you moving, so he calls an audible in mid-air and saves himself from a crash-and-burn. I think that’s what Kofi’s going for, especially here, as Del Rio hauls ass to the timekeeper’s table to avoid it. Just once I want to see Kofi go for that move and the guy on the outside not budge, so Kofi bounces back to the middle and is all, “oh, shit, wait.” Feints are dumb to me unless they’re organic (see: Sami Zayn’s feint in the NXT match against Cesaro), and they almost never are. They’re just guys doing a thing they always do, and their opponents having NO IDEA they’re gonna do it.
Kofi selling the arm during his “warming up the band” thing was HILARIOUS, though. Dude’s in the corner setting up for Trouble in Paradise so he claps his hands, then grabs his hurt arm. So he claps AGAIN, and AGAIN grabs his arm. He does it like four times, instead of just doing it once to get people booming and standing there. It was like Melody singing “If You’re Happy And You Know It” in the shower in Josie and the Pussycats.
Worst: Kofi Kingston Dot Gif
Best: The Main Event Is Creating Intrigue, At Least
When the match ended with Kofi tapping out to a cross arm-breaker, my imaginary hamster-wheel armchair booking brain goes, “oh, okay, Triple H made it 11-on-3 but he’s gonna set up these situations where Bryan’s partners all get hurt during the show, and then it’ll just be Bryan by himself again against the entire Shield.” That’d make sense, right?
That’s obviously not what happened, but the Best I’m handing out here is that they were doing stuff on Raw that made me THINK about what they’re gonna do, instead of the same bullshit purposeful countouts and non-title losses they always do. That’s good. That’s progress, whether it’s successful or not. The wrestling wasn’t good on the show until the last half hour, but the “what the hell are they doing” narrative kept me involved.
Best: Grumpy Cat Miz, But More Importantly Renee
I loved The Miz this week. I mean, I didn’t believe him when he said he was pissed off — he’s still a person playing a wrestler and not a wrestler, of course — but I dug him as a guy who got super, super humiliated at work and still had to come in the next day. He’s just not himself. He’s sad and embarrassed still, but he knows that nobody’s gonna help him and nobody cares … and he knows that this is his dream job and the thing he wants to do with his life, so he’s gotta “swallow his pride” or whatever and go through the motions. But he’s still a butthole about it, and won’t stop passive-aggressively bringing up how much he hates his bosses. It’s the best. He should just be that guy, because I could identify with that guy. I WAS that guy. That’s every “can I talk to you in my office for a second” thing I lived through waiting tables. YOU’RE BAD AT THIS BRANDON AND NOBODY LIKES IT AND I KNOW YOU THINK YOU’RE BETTER THAN IT BUT YOU’RE NOT, SO DEAL WITH IT BECAUSE TONIGHT YOU’RE DOING IT AGAIN.
Additional Bests go to Renee Young and her magical ponytail, as always, because she is just generally a ray of sunshine.
Best: They’re Here (Again, Finally)
Who is Titus O’Neil’s favorite ‘Game Of Thrones’ character? ARYA ARYA ARYA ARYA
My “11-on-3 becoming 1-on-3” scenario seemed like it was correct when the match immediately following Kofi’s arm goofs was two more of Daniel Bryan’s tag team partners getting fed to the Wyatts. The important thing is the Wyatt Family was ACTUALLY ON THIS SHOW, which is good. There are still a lot of questions to be answered — why isn’t Bray Wyatt wrestling more? Why did they celebrate their first successful feud by chilling at home for a month and sending in YouTube skits? Why hasn’t Kane shown up dressed like See No Evil to be their new guy? Why hasn’t the whole Kane thing gotten the attention of Daniel Bryan? I mean, I know they parted ways and he’s involved in some shit but dude, you guys were tag team champs for a YEAR and he just got FOR REAL KIDNAPPED by some Bayou f*cking strangers and you’re gonna fret about Scott Armstrong instead? — but maybe it’ll all work out.
Best: Miz Briefly Addresses History, Gets Verbally Annihilated By The Devil And Then Gets Punched In The Face, Or
Best: A Good Episode of MizTV
MizTV TERRIFIES me. I hate watching it as a fan because it’s terrible, but I hate watching it even MORE because I made “watch wrestling and tell the nice people what you thought about it” my job, and finding out an episode of Raw has a MizTV on it is like going to work at K-Mart and finding out some kid’s vomited throughout housewares. You guys can just shop around it, but my ass has to get in there with the pink sawdust.
The last MizTV I can remember, the one where Daniel Bryan and John Cena immediately told Miz to shut up and then got in an Inoki fight, was good. I also remember enjoying the one where Ryback threw a couch. Other than that, it’s just awful memories of Miz making duckface and calling Rhodes Scholars homos and shilling Ashley Massaro’s Playboy and me screaming at him about his worthlessness while he shilled ‘Total Divas.’
With big ups to my man Jesus Christ, this episode of MizTV was one of the good ones. Miz was still Grumpy Cattin’ it up, deadpanning these incredulous threats Miz Dad-style about how he was gonna get “awesome” revenge on Randy Orton and mentioning a bunch of stuff I’d beg him to if he didn’t, like him and Big Show having the tag titles forever ago and Show’s backstage problems being widely-broadcast parts of the show. Stephanie was ACES here, skipping her “you have truly achieved a lot” stuff she did with Dusty and Daniel Bryan in favor of just calling Miz a piece of shit on loop. She called him out on peaking too early, made him feel like the protagonist of f*cking Ikiru for flying to Indochina to do press junkets and did everything short of bringing out Coral to call him a racist and slap him in the face. It was great.
I liked Show here, too, because he actually showed story progress. He’s been stuck in BE CONFLICTED AND CRY for a month now, so seeing him just instantly get to the punchline, pun intended, was nice. He, like the rest of us, was kinda okay punching Miz in the face, all things considered.
Best: Stephanie’s Hand Notes
Screenshot via John Canton.
(She did it … for The Rock.)
Best: Randy Orton Continues To Be The Coolest And Most Brutal Dude On The Show
One of the odd running themes of these reports recently has been Randy Orton accidentally stumbling into the character he’s been pussyfooting around for a decade and becoming one of the most complex, entertaining and exciting people on the show. He went from a faceless, loosely-snaked-themed also-ran who held 10 Championships nobody gave a rat’s asshole about to being Johnny from The Karate Kid, a good man driven to unspeakable acts of violence and insanity by his heartless superiors.
The major thing is that he’s having GREAT MATCHES almost every week, and while I wouldn’t call last night’s match with Van Dam “great,” it was great in the sense of Brandon laughing and clapping his hands because a guy he hates is getting the DOG SHIT whomped out of him. I know I get a lot of well-deserved grief for being the touchy, whimpery liberal voice of asinine pro wrestling comedy columns, but occasionally I want my wrestling characters to stop acting like Sims and starts BRUTALIZING EACH OTHER. That’s what Orton’s doing. He’s seeking out a bunch of people I don’t like on the show — Miz, Rob Van Dam — and MESSING THEM UP. It’s not just an “oh no King, an RKO, the match was already over” stuff, it’s him methodically throwing Van Dam into ring steps for five minutes, punching a hole in his face, punting him off the top rope and cackling like the goddamn Wicked Witch of the West while he does it.
I know I’m supposed to be rooting for Bryan against Orton, but I really hope the climax of the story is Bryan convincing Orton to switch sides, and Orton doing what he did to Rob Van Dam to Triple H and Stephanie.
Best: Bad Luck Rob Van Dam
Also earning a Best this week is Rob Van Dam, who appealed to both sides of Rob Van Dam fandom. In the show opener, he served as the voice of the rebellious babyfaces, because anything he says or does is gonna make a large portion of the audience go RVD RVD RVD RVD RVD RVD. In his match, he got the Chris Chetti kicked out him so hilariously that when it was done and Raw had gone to commercial, Alberto Del Rio sprung up out of nowhere and BEAT HIM UP SOME MORE. Rob Van Dam’s return run is basically everything Chris Jericho’s tried to be, without the pretentiousness.
Best/Worst: Los Matadores FINALLY Debut Next Week
I will accept the debut of Los Matadores if it is one of two things:
1. A comedy match involving Santino, where he pulls out a bull puppet instead of a snake puppet and pretends like it’s “charging” at them as they dodge it. Note: their finisher HAS to be a bulldog.
2. It’s really just Cody Rhodes and Goldust in masks. The WWE App can find Primo and Epico beaten and tied up and propped up behind a dumpster or something.