– Please excuse my lateness this week. I spent Monday night performing at The ND in Austin, breaking in our brand new Monday Night Watch Party, informally known as the Best and Worst of Raw Live. Highlights included me doing the ACH ring entrance and the wonderful comedians we had helping us out with improv commercials. Lowlights included watching this wrestling show. Our next show is on May 21, so come check it out. It’s free, and we’re gonna have a better idea of what works and an hour less to fill.
– If you haven’t listened to it yet, be sure to check out episode 2 of my pro wrestling podcast With Spandex. I talk to Deadspin and Grantland’s David “The Masked Man” Shoemaker about everything from WrestleMania to “Don’t Step To Ron”. It’s a good time. With Spandex will be taking a one week hiatus this week so I can cover the Moontower Comedy and Oddity festival for UPROXX, but it’ll be right back.
– Don’t be afraid to leave a comment on this report. We’ve build a great community of intelligent, funny wrestling fans and you should be a part of it, because seriously, you aren’t gonna find it anywhere else. Not even on that Fark page where they linked us but nobody clicked it and just talked about Raw on the Fark page.
– Biggest thanks again to Casey/THESTINGER for helping me out with gifs and pictures. Be sure to visit his gifs Tumblr for the stuff I didn’t use.
Best: Edge Needs The OOOOOOOOLD STONE COLD
The hidden Worst here is that John Cena loses two matches (including one in the main-event of a WrestleMania against The Rock in The Rock’s hometown) and suddenly everyone thinks he’s 63-year old TNA Ric Flair. It’s John Cena, everybody. The only reason he lost to Tensai (a surprise opponent, mind you, so he didn’t have time to scout the Spit Hand) was the interference of two different dudes.
Anyway, with the table set up and Teddy Long Generally Managing we expected to get that 30 minutes of awkward Brock Lesnar legalese at the beginning of the show, so Edge was a pleasant surprise. With the short hair he looks less like the guy from Puddle Of Mudd and more like one of the guys from DC Talk.
I’m not the biggest Edge fan in the world, as his body still looks like Scud The Disposable Assassin and his offense (“running hug”, “clotheslines that make you quickly stand up” and “hold your head and direct you as you fall backwards” among his greatest moves) is (probably) still faker than Shawn Michaels’ chops. What I DO love about him is his unstoppable sense of urgency — when Edge talks, even when it comes out stupid, he sounds like he means what he’s saying. So when he tells John Cena that Brock doesn’t care about the business and losing to him would be a slap in the face of great WWE Champions of Yore like Stan Stasiak, Rob Van Dam and Sheamus (I’m paraphrasing here), I go “oh sh*t he’s right”. This doesn’t usually happen when Cena talks, so I’m enjoying his new role as Guy Who Listens Sadly.
And honestly the most disappointing thing about him showing up during the live show is that we let the local improv groups voice over the promos and I didn’t get to break out my awesome Edge impression.
Best: Don’t Worry, The Contract Signing Didn’t Happen Here But I’m Sure They’ll Get To It Soon
Best: The Non-Alcoholic Kofi Kingston Drinking Game
I promise this entire column won’t be “haha oh brother you shoulda been at our thing”, but one of my proudest inventions from the evening is the Non-Alcoholic Kofi Kingston Drinking Game, a fun mid-match game for all ages that I hope catches on.
Here’s how you play: Watch a Kofi Kingston match. Whenever Kofi jumps during the match, you yell “JUMP!” out-loud. By the end of the match you’ll either need a beer or your brain will have begun to simulate drunkenness.
At first it seemed pretty dumb, but by the end we were all paying super close attention to the match, judging whether or not certain movements constituted jumps, doing “juuuump” in slow motion during replays and a bigger, grander JUMP~ for top rope jumps. There was so much jumping. It was easily the most I’ve ever enjoyed a Kofi Kingston match, and I encourage you to try this out with your friends. If we can get it into arenas we’ll make him that huge star* he was supposed to be when he was vandalizing Randy Orton’s special property.
*we may also compromise the integrity of his jumps
Best: A Long Match That Will Set The Tone For The Rest Of The Evening
Worst: I Know David Otunga, And You Ma’am Are No David Otunga
I’m sad that my proposed Eve Torres/David Otunga/John Laurinaitis Ken Park-style storyline from last week ended up with Eve taking up the role of Executive Administrator, a role Otunga was clearly filling well (“here’s your fax twenty minutes late!” etc.). The bright side is that it removes Eve from situations involving wrestling and her sh*tty moonsault. The horrible dark side is that it removes Otunga from these backstage segments and lets him “focus on his wrestling career”, which means he will literally be Michael McGillicutty’s music away from turning into Titus O’Neil at all times.
I really, really hate this idea. Not only because you’re trading a brilliant backstage character for a woman with the acting prowess of a house plant and getting TWO terrible wrestlers in return, but because John Laurinaitis absolutely does not need a female foil/sex interest. John Laurinaitis needs to be the most asexual guy of all time. He works well with Otunga because they’re more or less neutered and all about their paychecks. Those are the spineless authority figures we need, not a f**king Beetle Bailey with Eve as Miss Buxley.
Worst: This Courtroom Sketch Of David Otunga
David Otunga wasn’t at the show for a very good reason — he’s participating in the trial of William Balfour, the guy charged with murdering his fiance’s mother, brother and nephew. So it’s with a h/t to reader Robert Olker that while I would never want to make light of that situation, I have to show you this terrible-ass courtroom sketch of David Otunga.
What the hell is that? He looks like f**king Doctor Strange. Are … are you courtroom sketching with magic markers? How do you have this job?
Worst: Michael Cole’s Explanation Of Tensai’s Green Mist
Michael Cole (the man WWE chose to be the one guy who talks about them for a living, not counting Scott Stanford) says that according to “Japanese lore”, the green mist certain wrestlers spew is “meant to cause problems in vision”. This is awesome analysis for anyone who doesn’t know what happens when somebody spits something into your eyes and might’ve missed the last few weeks of Tensai spitting liquid in peoples’ faces and having those people clutch their eyes and complain of blindness.
Best: Chris Trew’s Explanation Of Tensai’s Green Mist
My live Monday Night Raw Watch Party co-host explained that the green mist is actually Mountain Dew, the perfect beverage to compliment a Doritos Locos Taco.
Suddenly this winning streak is falling into place. He needs to start calling the Baldo Bomb the “Baja Blast”. Note: I would rather drink the moisture from Lord Tensai’s Spit Hand than Baja Blast Mountain Dew. I am not sh*tting you.
Best: This Comment, From Our Open Discussion Thread
This is the funniest and best idea ever. Until somebody makes another contextual Watchmen reference, I dub thee Brandon’s Favorite With Leather Wrestling Comment Ever.
Worst: Welp, They’ve Ruined The Cool Brock Lesnar Interview Video Forever
This is a piece of what I wrote in last week’s column about Brock Lesnar’s “Cena’s gonna piss his pants and also sh*t them” tough guy pre-tape
The Brock Lesnar video package above is glorious, because it shows you all the ways Brock can kill a man (other than “giving him diverticulitis”), shows Brock BEING legitimate instead of telling you how legitimate he is and allowing Brock a taped, MMA-style interview segment where he can say his farmboy Satan sh*t without having to stumble over a live microphone. Just a huge win all the way around. I want to see Brock kill everyone, and at least one more instance of him F-5ing a shark.
… and while a part of me still believes that, no part of me can watch a previous week’s video package two and a half times on the same show and maintain creative wood. I just can’t do it. Here’s a list of things we saw the most during Monday’s show:
1. The contract signing graphic (more on that in a second)
2. That Doritos Jacked commercial where they drive a monster truck through a building
3. That horrifying Just For Men commercial with the CGI beard child and his blonde adult date who is absolutely gonna f**k that baby
4. That USA Characters Welcome commercial with two guys in suits and sunglasses walking side-by-side that they acted like was for three different shows but I’m pretty sure ‘White Collar’ and ‘Suits’ are the same thing, and don’t even get me started on ‘Royal Pains’, that’s just a Vagisil commercial with a helicopter
5. The Brock Lesnar Pissing And Sh*tting Video Package
6. That same USA Characters Welcome commercial except Elena McNulty is there and the white guys are black.
The worst thing is that this report is gonna be exactly as long as the two hour version would’ve been, because at least an hour of Raw was video packages and a looped commercial break. I don’t know why it was three hours long. There were what, four matches? It was less content than usual. If you’re gonna do another three hour Raw, give me a theme to follow along with, or at least some sort of wheel to spin.
(Also Callie Thorne should be there.)
Worst: The Contract Signing Graphic
But no, seriously, by the end of a three hour Raw I was Walter White in his f**king crawl space about this graphic. Without hyperbole they showed it at least 65 times, and the first time I could go “lol look at Brock Lesnar’s neck, it looks like a pack of hot dogs” but by time 35 I was reading The Lord’s judgment of my life on the clipboard.
I don’t ever want to see it again. I’m afraid if I look at that screen grab long enough I’ll start seeing colors and end up in an alien bedroom.
Best: Brock Lesnar Hates Impact
Here’s a list of everyone we got to see Brock Lesnar beat up in video package form last night:
1. Jeff Hardy
2. Rob Van Dam
3. Hulk Hogan
4. Kurt Angle
What do all of these people have in common? Besides drugs. Notice that we didn’t see any footage of The Rock getting F-5’d. I wish they’d worked in that time he motivationally berated Matt Morgan backstage. The same people who put together tonight’s show should hype Daniel Bryan and Sheamus with nothing but footage of Bryan tapping out the Briscoes.
LOL Worst: Why Does Joe Louis Arena Have A Spooky Fog Chamber
I’m gonna go ahead and lump all the Kane/Randy Orton/secretly handicapped Paul Bearer segments into one thing for the sake of economy and so I don’t have to remember how long it took for them to happen. The poor ladies of Checkbook were forced to improvisationally narrate Kane’s unfathomably long in-ring speech and after what felt like a f**king fortnight it had devolved into them going “nghhhhhhh I’m Kannneeeeee, KANEEEEEEE”. Watching the clips with audio a day later I wish I’d just stuck with that.
In fact, here’s a quick mini Best And Worst bonus round so we can keep our Kane negativity to a minimum:
Minibest: Randy Orton is only here to kidnap a guy backstage but he still doesn’t wear pants. He even has to go into a freezer!
Miniworst: So uh, has Paul Bearer been dead for the last two years or just tied to that chair? Did Randy Orton kidnap him and bring him to Detroit, or did he just find him backstage somewhere or coax him into showing up via some clandestine message sitcom style? Like, did Paul Bearer get all dressed up and fly to Detroit because he thought his old girlfriend from high school was gonna be there?
Minibest: Joe Louis Arena has a gigantic Dreamatorium room where they’re playing The Mist. I wanted a tentacle to swoop outta there and drag The Shermanator to his death. And even funnier, Joe Louis Arena has the biggest freezer ever and it’s full of smoke and colored lighting. Have you ever been IN a freezer? It’s a normal f**king room, it’s just cold.
Miniworst: Paul Bearer gets saved by Kane, only to be killed again by Kane (?) because KANE IS A MONSTER. Destiny had two theories: 1) Kane pulled Paul Bearer out and pulled the tape off his mouth so he could eat and survive in the freezer, and 2) Kane knew Paul Bearer was about to die and put him back in the freezer to preserve him until a cure could be found.
Minibest: Randy Orton and Kane are seriously feuding over who can beat up whose dad the most.
Best: Alex Riley Is A Little F**king Tattle-Tail
I’m gonna do the same thing for the CM Punk/Chris Jericho “antics”, but I wanted to give a special Best to Alex Riley for making his return to Raw as (judging by his clothes) a foodserver who just witnessed the opposite of Hospitaliano and has to run and tell his boss.
Amazingly enough, I think Chris Jericho believes what he’s saying. He sees CM Punk walk into a bar, right, and your brain says “okay, Jericho knows what he’s saying is ridiculous but alcoholism is a touchy subject for Punk so whatever dumb thing he says will sting so he’s just f**king with him”. But then this week Chris Jericho delivers a pic-a-nic basket of alcohol to Punk’s dressing room, then stops by later to see him DRINKING FROM A SOLO CUP and is all OH SH*T HE’S DRINKING WHISKEY. Because everybody drinks whiskey out of a f**king red Solo cup. So maybe Jericho’s just an idiot and doesn’t know how drinking works. Remember, he wasn’t actually born in Canada.
Next week they should have a backstage segment where Alex Riley is standing next to Jeff the production guy or whoever and just kinda shrugs his shoulders and shakes his head and goes “pffft, oh man, what a week. Did you see last week when CM Punk was drinking BEERS?”
Best: Alberto Del Rio And Cody Rhodes Are A Team I Can Get Behind When They Aren’t Doing This
Great Khali and Big Show have an awesome tag team strategy: have Great Khali stand in the ring moving his arms for as long as possible, then chokeslam guys. It’s the new version of Andre’s old “be fat, try to only get your arms trapped in the ropes once or twice” style of battle royal master-planning.
Across the ring, Alberto Del Rio and Cody Rhodes are my favorite non-vegan members of the WWE roster. Individually they are fascinating characters, and with even a small amount of effort they could be written as easy best friends or tense-but-cooperative enemies. Unfortunately for the Raw viewing audience they are Literally interchangeable with Primo and Epico as the Small Guys Who Run At Khali. It’s extremely disappointing, but whatever, Alberto and Cody are on my screen so I can only complain so much.
In a perfect world, this Khali/Show team will continue long enough for Show to drop the IC title back to Rhodes, because it seriously doesn’t make sense for Show to be lugging it around in pointless tag matches. I’d like to see Khali and Show take the tag straps from Team Rosa Mendes Gif and hold them long enough for Evan Bourne to get his sh*t together, because I honestly believe an extended Air Boom/Biggest Slowest Guys Ever thing could work. JUMP!
Best: Say What You Will About Miz’s Sad Career But YouTube Prelims Are Cool
Alex Riley gets a spot on Raw, Brock Lesnar gets two of the same video package and former WWE Champion/WrestleMania main-eventer The Miz gets a YouTube title shot against a smiling guy who does the splits and has a hand puppet you have to sell like a Tron projectile.
That’s extremely sad for him, but it’s still technically a title shot, and it’s still technically a title shot on (or at least at) a pay-per-view. Hell, a United States Championship match actually being announced as part of a show card feels daisy fresh. If WWE is gonna yank everything from UFC anyway, YouTube prelims are a great place to start. Even if it doesn’t influence last minute show buys, it gets people who have no interest in your goddamn Road Dogg Daniel Tosh shows a reason to spend half an hour on your YouTube channel.
Best/Worst: Teddy Long As The Right Hand Of Laurinaitis
The Best comes from Teddy Long standing there like a cigar store Indian in his Stop Making Sense suit until Laurinaitis summons him and sends him out on some dumb menial task mission he doesn’t want to do. That’s good. The Worst is the result of the Best: Teddy Long ends up anchoring a bunch of segments that would otherwise involve Laurinaitis.
If Teddy Long’s gonna be the focus of so much Raw, they should change the second hour to “Life During Raw Is Wartime”.
Best: Brock Lesnar Emasculating Josh Mathews
Monday night was a bad night for Lesnar, but he was still responsible for my favorite moment on the show — responding threateningly to Josh Mathews’ standard line of asshole questioning, then running back and tossing him through some sh*t for running his mouth.
This is how more people need to react to Josh. His only speeds (at least when he’s backstage with a microphone) are “smarmy” and “wistfully staring off into the distance”, and both deserve physical injury. I loved how the medical team tried to help Josh by strapping him down with every strap they had, as though bumping into a freestanding aluminum panel has broken every bone in his body. They were just lying straps on him at one point, not even strapping them to anything.
Lesnar got to look good for about a minute of a three hour program, and Dead Josh can join the ranks of other Misfit Tough Enough personalities like Rehab Maven, Concussed Chris Harvard, Blind Nidia and Silent Rage Andy Leavine.
Worst: The Unbearable 45 Minute Punk/Jericho Thing We Figured Out Two Seconds Into The First Backstage Segment
All right, the big problems here are that 1) we know CM Punk isn’t going to start drinking, especially after the light prodding of Chris Jericho, 2) Chris Jericho can’t possibly be stupid enough to believe CM Punk spent the first hour of the show drinking plastic cups full of whiskey and is now totally wasted you guys, 3) “facetious CM Punk” is the worst actor ever and we got that he was faking it backstage.
The other big problems here are 1) the ring being divided by a line a la I Love Lucy, and 2) the colossal logic gap of what’s happening. If CM Punk HAD been drinking … let’s assume for a moment that Jericho’s harsh words about his bastardhood drove him to drink and he’s been drinking all day … how did we get to the point where his drunkenness is handled by having the assistant to the General Manager bring him out into a wrestling ring in an arena full of people and instruct two policemen and the guy who hates Punk most to give him “field sobriety tests”?
First of all, they aren’t in a field, they’re in a building that sells alcohol. Secondly, they are players on a show where Stone Cold Steve Austin’s entire thing was drunk driving vehicles into a building, beating up everyone (including the women) and demanding beers be thrown to him until he was too drunk to stand up. One time he had a truck that was literally full of beer with a hose attached that he used to spray down his bosses and most of the crowd. Thirdly, when you take a sobriety test, is it standard procedure to have someone watching and yelling LOOK AT HIM HE’S DRUNK, HE’S SUPER DRUNK while you do it? Fourthly, have these f**king indy wrestler mall cops ever heard of a Breathalyzer? They should’ve had Teddy yell to the people in the crowd about how Punk was hepped up on goofballs.
I don’t know. I feel like “Punk pretends to be drunk but isn’t” as a segment has some worth, but not the epic length of worth it was given on Monday, and certainly not following three set-up segments that never went very far toward convincing us he’d badly Macho Man elbowed the wagon. It was stupid and tiresome to watch, and the “coolest and smartest and best wrestler ever CM Punk” we get in moments like these might be the worst character in WWE.
Best: WWE’s Idea Of How Cops Work
But no, I can never watch a HE’S ABOUT TO BE ARRESTED WWE moment without enjoying wrestling’s interpretation of policemen. They’re all 6’5, they all have long hair, they don’t know how jail or laws work and they’re okay standing calmly in the background until someone who is absolutely not their boss points and orders them to do something.
I preferred the more realistic, socially-accurate 1980s, when “WWF policeman” meant “fat redneck who handcuffs you to something and beats you with a stick”.
Best: The Bella Twins Make Great Foils (Get It)
The Bella Twins are about to be gone forever (according to Da Dirt Sheetz, their contracts are up on April 30), so let’s take a moment to admire them for dressing like this and making sure their Reynolds Wrap singlets show every single cranny and nook of their vaginas. Please teach Primo and Epico how to do Twin Magic on your way out, ladies.
Best: Beth Phoenix Is The Best Actress On The Roster, But More Importantly KHARMA
I’ll admit it: I bought the Beth Phoenix injury.
According to the only point of view that matters (Powell’s!):
Beth Phoenix’s ankle injury is not legitimate, according to a pair of sources. Rather, she was selling an ankle injury to set up dropping the Divas Championship to Nikki Bella.
As we were watching it, Chris put his hand over his microphone and asked me if she’d really gotten hurt. My response was, “yeah, that’s real, Beth Phoenix isn’t that good of an actress”. Well, like Natalie Portman before her Beth had at least ONE great acting performance in her, and bless her for breaking it out and giving us our only realistic scenario for a Bella Twins victory.
It goes without saying that I’m extremely goddamn excited for the return of Kharma, as transitioning the Claire’s Icing Title to Nikki Bella cleanly sets up that “IN A YEAR IMMA GETCHA FOR THAT THING YOU SAID ABOUT MY FATNESS AND MOTHERHOOD” thing the Bellas did with Kharma last year. The easy-going wrestling fan in me can’t wait to see The Twins get Natural Boob Busted and sent packing forever, and the awful fan in me is even more excited for Nikki’s Mean Girl interpretation of dead baby jokes.
Unrelated note: They should team up Hulk Hogan with Evan Bourne and call them “Stillbourne”.
Worst: Daniel Bryan As Special Guest Referee Looks Like An Actual Referee
Here’s a quick list of Daniel Bryan myths that’ve been disproven since their creation sometime around Bryan Danielson’s ROH title run:
1. He doesn’t know how to work WWE style.
2. His act won’t connect with WWE audiences.
3. He’s boring.
4. He’s too pale.
“The last two years”, “the last two years”, “the last two years” and “Sheamus” respectively. Anyway, the fifth myth is a little iffy:
5. He’s too little/doesn’t look like a wrestler.
And while you might say that United States and World Heavyweight Championship runs disprove that, it’s not a myth made easier to deny when you put him in referee clothes and make him stand between Sheamus and Mark Henry. For at least 30 seconds of the match I thought I was watching Bryce Remsburg.
Best: Literally Everything Else About Daniel Bryan
Daniel Bryan is the best. A guy on Reddit’s wrestling subforum said he was going to stop reading the column because I “got a boner for an independent wrestler”, and while that’s fair enough on its own, Daniel Bryan has been in WWE for three years now … so when can we stop saying he’s awesome because of the indies and start sincerely believing that he’s awesome because he’s Daniel Bryan?
Consider it solely on what we’re seeing from him in WWE: a small guy who happens to be a superb pro wrestler has taken a tiny amount of lucky success with a novelty briefcase and turned it into a great character who is as fun on the mic as he is in the ring. He’s antagonizing Sheamus, and he’s doing a good enough job that large portions of a WWE audience are booing the giant, carefully marketed smiling guy and chanting the catchphrase of the bad guy who has him in a submission hold. That’s great. And if you don’t think THAT’s great, watch that gif of him taking off his shirt and throwing it in the Great White’s dumb face until you get it.
WWE fan services were nice enough to give me two free tickets to the next two events in my area for that terrible palm tree view I had at WrestleMania, but if they truly want to apologize to me for that, they should have the 2 out of 3 falls match at Extreme Rules end in 36 seconds with me chanting YES~ in my living room.
Worst: Matt Striker Sure Is Adjusting Well To The Whole ‘Being Kidnapped For A Month’ Thing
Derrick Bateman narrated the intro for last week’s episode of NXT, and I’m starting to believe that the show doesn’t actually exist and we’re just seeing into Bateman’s thoughts. That’s why all of his NXT rookie rivals have disappeared from the show and been “signed” to Smackdown, it’s why he ended up being Romance Palz with Kaitlyn and why Johnny Curtis and Maxine are suddenly Team Rocket.
So if NXT doesn’t exist, it’s totally fine for Matt Striker to show up out of nowhere to interview Sheamus. I’m sure Scott Stanford was busy and couldn’t have done it, you know, no big d. For those of you who don’t watch NXT, Matt Striker just spent about a month being gagged and carried around from arena to arena by Tyler Reks and Curt Hawkins in a weirdly-motivated attempt to get William Regal to stop paying attention to them. This almost led to a cane fight, and you’d think he’d still be f**ked up about it (Bateman said he smelled like a Saw movie). Maybe Striker is repressing it. Maybe he’s just Tom Hanks from Cast Away and had his Standing At A Literal Crossroads moment on like, Friday afternoon when nobody was taping. Who knows.
Bateman, if NXT is really your fever dream, I’m looking forward to the debut of Prince Juggalo on this week’s episode.
Worst: This Tag Team Situation Isn’t Getting Any Better
“The tag team division should be better” and “people with championships should be made to look good” are the “impeach the President!” of pro wrestling discussion. I could dig a hole in my front yard and make armpit farts toward it and accomplish more than I would explaining this again. Tag teams and the tag team championships are worthless, and we’d all be better off with it being thrown in the garbage and ignored like the cruiserweights if they aren’t gonna do anything about it.
I thought Primo and Epico being squashed singlehandedly by The Great Khali was as facepalm as it gets, but I failed to consider the tag team of Zack Ryder and Santino Marella, the Derek Richardson and Eric Christian Olsen of WWE. At least last week they were getting chopped in the head by a 9-foot tall guy. This week they were having their dropkicks no-sold by a 230 pound guy so he could bounce up like a f**king Boohbah and fingerjab them with his f**king pretend snake hand.
And you know what? At this point I’d be fine with the continued humiliation of the tag champs if Zack Ryder would come up with a third move.
Best: This Is Exactly What Happened With Lesnar And Angle At WrestleMania And Nothing Else
Here are the moves that happened during that match:
And then Lesnar left with a bunch of guys holding him up because he was so tired from delivering all those Fs-5. He never tried to go to the top rope once, what are you, stupid