This week’s edition of The Best and Worst of Raw is a little longer than normal, because sometimes the people in charge of pro wrestling decide they want to spend three hours doing what normally takes them two and what they could accomplish in one. WWE says the difference between a three-hour All-Star Raw and a normal episode is that superstars from the Raw and Smackdown brands come together for an exciting night of sports entertainment action! The actual difference is that during a three-hour Raw, you look at the clock and say, “Jesus, this is only halfway over?”
Next week is a three hour Raw as well, where fans get to vote on the matches and stipulations, because even WWE doesn’t want people paying money to see Capitol Punishment. Please enjoy 700 pages of The Best and Worst of Raw. At least it isn’t a slideshow!
Worst: Oh God, John Morrison is Back
I feel like I should explain myself before we begin. I want The Best and Worst of Raw to be an overwhelmingly positive column to contrast the “meh I’ll give this match a C-minus” Internet status quo. I WANT this to be good. I want it all to good. I want to sit down on Tuesday morning with a Five Star notebook and an oversized novelty pencil and have nothing bad to say. The best things you can do as a wrestling fan are to watch and be able to change your mind. So when John Morrison makes his triumphant return to Raw, I want his day-off comedy boot camp to have paid off, I want him to have actual wrestling gear, and I want him to know how to do a headlock without having to study Raja Lion tapes.
But yeah, when Stone Cold started getting all WHAT, DRANK BEERS, SUMBITCH on R-Truth about competing on Raw, I could smell John Morrison beside him. The R-Truth parts of my life started flashing before my eyes. I put a picture of Truth in my dead Mother’s locket, in case Starship Pain made me get all obviously symbolic.
Best: Wait, This is Actually the Best John Morrison Segment Ever
I proudly present to you the upside of not fast forwarding things you think you’ll hate. Morrison’s music played, and I sighed. He didn’t come out, and it played again. That’s wrestling TV code for “something unexpected is happening backstage”. Truth left the ring and started walking up the ramp, and I swear I pictured at least 45 variations of John Morrison jumping off of something onto him as he walked. When he went backstage, I thought Morrison was gonna swing by on the ceiling and Resident Evil 2 his ass. And then, nope, it was awesome!
When Truth looked at the camera and said “SHAZAM” I could feel okay again. Not as okay as if he’d gotten struck by lightning when he said it, but still, I was happy. Morrison was down, and Truth got to kneel over him and gloat for a little while before smashing him into the wall with a production cart. I looked down at my hands and realized I WAS WRITING THIS SEGMENT IN REAL TIME. Truth mugged for the camera like Daffy Duck and ran away, and we sent it back to the ring for a 15-minute Canadian Ninjas vs. Hiroyo Matsumoto/Misaki Ohata tag team match.
Well, at least most of that actually happened.
Best: Raw is Fire Pro Wrestling Returns
Ezekiel Jackson, Bryan Danielson and Mistico is the most FPR trios team of all time, and I love it. Everyone got to shine; Danielson is the best pro wrestler in the world, Jackson knows how to do at least three bodyslams, and Mistico got to do a couple of cool things on live TV without Gail Kimming it and probably looked better than he has since he debuted. Sin Cara should be a HUGE DEAL~, and honestly all he needs to do is be crazy and stop screwing up his finishes for about six months and everyone will forgive and love him. Those kids go crazy for John Cena’s apeish shoulderblocking, they should be losing their little goddamn minds over El Príncipe de Oro y Plata.
Also, I love that Cody Rhodes’ “new image” for Ted DiBiase boils down to “regular Ted DiBiase, but with new wristbands”. I’m sad that nobody in the Raw audience cares about Smackdown, and that the Barrett vs. Jackson Intercontinental Championship match at Capitol Punishment is that match you LOL at when you’re in the used DVD store and pick up a five-year old pay-per-view. I bought a WWE pay-per-view off the $1 clearance rack at Half Price Books the other day that has a Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Masters match on it. Hahahaha, what the hell, when did this happen, and why did it happen alongside so much Bobby Lashley?
Worst: Can We Not Even Keep Up Kayfabe on the Price is Right
I’ll give the Be A Star commercials a break (because “bullies”), but Kelly Kelly and the Bella Twins should not be co-existing on a game show no matter how many times Michael Cole says they’ve “put their differences aside”. Aren’t their “differences” an almost non-stop six month span of mental and physical abuse? Kelly should’ve gone on the show with with Gail Kim and some imaginary African-American babyface Diva, or the Price is Right should end with the Bellas hitting Kelly from behind with the Showcase and doing that derisive Stacy Keibler bent-over taunt-point at her.
Are the Bella Twins the worst developed characters in the history of WWE? They went from incestuous starf**kers to heel bullies who actually hate bullies and get along with everyone, but we’re supposed to pretend they don’t. The hell is that?
Also, HAS there ever been a black woman portrayed as a decent person by WWE? Alicia Fox is a heel, Jazz was a heel, Jacqueline was a heel, Kharma was a savage beast, Linda Miles was a transvestite dominatrix. Every black girl in Tough Enough or on NXT gets the “I’m a BITCH and I KNOW IT” gimmick. Even Shelton Benjamin’s Mama was a bad guy. Get a grip, guys, black women don’t like me either, but I’m not going around telling people how awful they are.
Best/Worst: Rowdy Roddy Piper
Piper is telling the truth (and the truth will set you free) when he says there will never be another Rowdy Roddy Piper. Especially not Miz, who I enjoy, but cannot see getting punched in the ear with a chain by Greg Valentine. Piper himself is a mixed bag; he’s undeniably one of the most important, talented and memorable wrestlers in the history of the industry, but he’s not perfect. Early Piper is choice, as is that Wrestlemania-era Piper where we love what he did on the big shows and don’t really remember what he did in-between. The Piper shortly thereafter is terrible, painting himself half black to make a statement on racism and stripping Goldust to his ladies underwear to make a statement on pervert homosexuals. As a WCW loyalist, don’t get me started on I.C.O.N. Piper, who was sleeper holding every imaginable member of the nWo when I just wanted to see more La f**king Parka.
Modern Piper is an encapsulation of that theme. When he shows up he’s either great, or sort of ominously bad. Remember when he showed up at Madison Square Garden and kept rambling and saying goodbye, and we all thought he was going to go back to the hotel and be found dead? Last night’s Piper was a mix, with his awesome “GOD??” reaction to Stone Cold on the TitanTron and his less than awesome “uhhh Alex Riley is TOUGH you know, uhhhh” stuff. Also, as a wrestling writer on the Internet I’m not allowed to tell you what I thought of Piper pinning Miz in 2011 on WWE television. I mean, I have an opinion about it, it just sounds really, really bad.
At least he didn’t mention the coconut again. Oh, and also:
Question: Andre the Giant, King Kong Bundy, Mean Gene are all in the bottom of a well. So who do you save first?
Piper “changed the question” to this, and I think it has a simple answer. Obviously you’ll want to save Mean Gene first, because he’s the smallest, and if he’s stuck in a well with those two big fat guys he’s in the most need. Then I’d save Andre, who could use King Kong Bundy as a stepping stone to safety. Then I’d probably just leave King Kong Bundy in the well.
Actually, the more I think about it, Andre the Giant is already dead, so he can’t be saved, can he? Is the question “would you save Andre’s corpse from a watery grave?” Isn’t the question “what the f**k are Mean Gene and King Kong Bundy doing with Andre the Giant’s dead body at the bottom of a well?” Is this a Goonies thing? Are they going to send Mean Gene’s blazer up on a bucket?
Best: Hornswoggle Exists to Be Kicked in the Face
All of my greatest Hornswoggle memories (besides watching an ROH show with him in Chicago when he was Shortstack) involve him being hit with things. A t-shirt gun in the groin by The Miz, a foot from Alberto Del Rio, a projectile garbage can and a cage wall by JBL. He was great back when he was an evil leprechaun and Finlay would throw him at folks. Any Hornswoggle memory NOT involving him being injured in some way is horrible. Remember him pinning Chavo on 378 consecutive episodes of Raw? Macauly Culkin cameo aside, it was literally an Orwellian Nightmare.
I only need so many “Bests” involving R-Truth per week, but Truth scaring him, only to hug him (with an emotional head touch), only to kick him in the face was the best. Hornswoggle, you’re the last Cruiserweight Champion ever and got to hug MILF Sunny chest-high. You’re living the dream, and I’m sorry I only like you when wrestling is sort-of simulating child abuse.
Worst: Two Break Disqualifications on the Same Night
Woof. Two matches on Raw ended with the worst finish in wrestling: a heel who won’t break the count at 5. That finish can f**k off forever. It happened first in the Alberto Del Rio versus Kane match, and sure, I can accept it there because it ends a Kane match in under three minutes. But to have it surface again in Christian versus Rey Mysterio (especially in the awkward, stunted way it resurfaced) is inexcusable. The referee should be professional enough to do the “come on break the hold” physical interjection thing after he counts five, and not just magically throw out the match. NBA refs should do that. LeBron pretends to get poked in the eye and falls down, so the ref steps in waving his arms yelling NOPE, NO MORE GAME, EVERYBODY GO HOME.
The worst part is that Christian/Mysterio (which was surprisingly not any good, not even a little bit) continued on after the call, with a New Nexus attack and Christian going for a bunch of firemans carry moves he never normally goes for. I think they made up for the conservative use of 619s in the Punk series by spending Monday night using them exclusively. Christian goes for a punch, but Mysterio moves slightly and Christian goes FLYING onto that second rope. Just terrible.
Best: Cody Rhodes Talking to Barack Obama
… with a supplementary “best” for the best use of The Great Khali so far. And I guess a supplementary “worst” for Khali being a funny joke immediately after being repackaged into an unstoppable death monster on Smackdown.
Cody’s super villain voice and Mr. Sinister jacket (with the diamond on the front and everything) never fail to amuse me, and he’s a major reason why I wish With Leather updated on Saturdays. Maybe I should start live blogging Smackdown, so you can hear my only joke about Ezekiel Jackson again (he loves bodyslams).
Come on, bro, are you serious?
Raw on Long Island comes and goes for the second time without an appearance from Zack Ryder, more or less proving that WWE doesn’t give a ripe shit how hard you work to get yourself over, and all that stuff Austin says on Tough Enough about making your own chances is a horse’s anus. Hey Austin, you know how you keep telling people how when you first got to WWE you were the Ringmaster and how terrible that was? Guess what? You spent the five f**king years before that on television having awesome matches with Brian Pillman and Ricky Steamboat and Dustin Rhodes and being part of the Dangerous Alliance, which is unarguably the best thing in the history of wrestling. You were a multiple-time champion, and you got fired just in time to show up in ECW during that one time period when getting fired and showing up in ECW was the coolest thing you could do. Then they made you King of the Ring and put you in a feud with Bret Hart.
How many of those things happened to Big Andy? How many of them happened to Matt Cross? F**king none of them. Andy got put on a wrestling reality show. Matt Cross spent five years wrestling Josh f**king Abercrombie. You didn’t make your chances, Austin, WCW and the WWF did. You just happened to be extremely talented at pro wrestling. Funny how that turned out, right?
Those YouTube hits might not mean much to a company who simultaneously fellates their Twitters on TV and runs down “nerds on the Internet”, but the signs in the crowd are real, the fellowship of the wrestlers is real, and Ryder is talented enough at the style of thing you want to have this make him into something that will make you money. What I’m saying is that you’re dumb, and sometimes you have to give the guy a pirate gimmick when the Pirates movie is popular, not five f**king years later.
Best: Evan Bourne Should Win Sometimes
Much in the way that Hornswoggle exists only to be kicked in the face, Evan Bourne has this job because of that shooting star press slow motion replay. They keep putting him on TV and keep wanting him to be a Thing, but I can’t recall match on anything better than Superstars that Bourne has won with actual wrestling moves since that boss tag with Mysterio against Miz and Morrison a few years ago. He won with sort-of cheating last night (note to the Internet: Kofi Kingston has fewer moves than John Cena), but at least he hit his finisher and got a pin, which occasionally makes him look way better than getting Swagger Bombed in four seconds and jumping around smiling about it afterward.
Worst: F**k You, That Domino’s Pizza is Worth 35 Cents
I wanted to do an entire page of Bests and Worsts for the commercials, but I wasn’t sure how many of you get to see the little CGI’d The General doing karate in dress shoes to sell car insurance.
Anyway, what I’m saying is that the Domino’s commercial where the store manager is complaining about how his pizza is worth twice as much as he’s selling it for is the biggest lie on television since Simon Cowell told Kellie Pickler she was great at singing. You poured f**king Ragu on a square of cardboard and drove it to my house with a two liter of Mountain Dew, your pizza is worth 1/4th of a box and $1.99.
Best: Punk Vs. Austin
Ignoring any mention of “Little Jimmy” (or the new one, “Little Jenny”), the best part of Raw was CM Punk’s backstage showdown with Stone Cold Steve Austin. Austin vs. Punk NEEDS TO HAPPEN, and it needs to end similarly to Punk vs. JeffyHardy, with Punk getting beaten up a lot but ultimately coming out on top, because he’s a dickhole, but he’s RIGHT. The “what” joke was well done, but the very best part was Punk no-selling Austin’s promise to “whip his ass backwards” and subtly getting under his skin until Austin broke out the thousand-yard stare he does when he’s SUPER CONFLICTED~. Cross reference the look on his face with the look he had hugging Vince McMahon post-Wrestlemania X-7. It’s the same look. Punk is the best, largely because he’s the one heel character they have who is legitimately smart enough on the mic to stand up for himself without being a cool antihero and overshadowing anybody.
And hey, he’s right. Austin is an alcoholic past his prime who supports Keith Stone and promises ass whippings a lot more frequently than he gives them out. Austin’s shirts all talk about how he Stomps Mudholes and Raises Hell and Whips Ass(es), but how many people has he beaten up in the last five years who weren’t helpless or unsuspecting? It’s worth considering.
Worst: The Two-In-All-Out Diva Dilemma
A few questions:
1. Were you aware that WWE had 14 Divas on the roster? 15 if you count Kharma, and 16 if you count Kharma’s unborn child (who can’t be any worse than Alicia Fox).
2. Is there a maximum time limit for Divas matches, or does the referee secretly hate them and start whispering TAKE IT HOME to them as they’re taking off their ring capes?
3. Couldn’t this 7-on-7 Divas tag team match have been a minute-long Kelly Kelly vs. Rosa Mendes match and accomplish the same thing?
4. Should WWE should release a “Best of Gail Kim” DVD that is just Gail standing on the ring apron smiling for 40 seconds until the matches are over?
5. How adorable are AJ and Kaitlyn, and should they have their own show, possibly written by me? Discuss.
1. Yes, but I have to write about it all the time.
2. Yes, 1:45. Yes, Mike Chioda is an asshole.
3. Yes, and we wouldn’t have even missed out on Booker T rubbing one out to Rosa on commentary.
4. I would buy that before I bought “John Morrison: Rock Star”
5. Extremely, and yes. It would involve them pro wrestling (to keep them in those outfits), but also follow them outside of the ring, where they must solve mysteries. USA Network loves shows about how the only person good at their job is a skinny blonde woman in her mid-30s, so maybe this would work better with Michelle McCool.
Also the Best: Natalya Not Being Able to Kick Higher Than Her Waist
Best: Shades of Rachel Summerlyn!
Sheamus gets a new submission hold, and I can’t believe it took them five years to give the shoot Irish guy a “cloverleaf”. Every major WWE superstar should have a signature submission to fall back on. It helps the drama of big matches, and doesn’t ask fans to buy a nearfall off a chinlock. Why do you think Shawn Michaels started doing that dumb Jamie Noble figure four out of nowhere?
Before you get mad at me for that Best title, okay, okay, shades of Dean Malenko. But if Sheamus starts doing Gory Bombs and giving piggyback rides to Jessica James I have the right to reinstate it.
Worst: Viewer’s Choice is Never the Viewer’s Choice
First of all, using “Power to the People” to promote your wrestling show is pretty terrible. I’m going to shoot Mike Quackenbush an e-mail and see if he’ll book a CHIKARA show called “Mother” and end it with a minute and a half of Eddie Kingston primal screaming.
Second of all, WWE is too many Taboo Tuesdays into its existence to convince me that I have any say in what happens on Raw. I guarantee you there will be two types of matches you can vote on. The first one is “WHO SHOULD JOHN CENA FACE IN THE MAIN EVENT” and they provide you two choices you’d never vote for (a. BIG ANDY b. MICHAEL TARVER, WHO WE JUST RELEASED) and the one they actually want (c. HANDICAPPED MATCH WITH MIZ AND SOMEBODY PROBABLY). The other is “HOW SHOULD WE TREAT OUR DIVAS” with two choices you’d never vote for (a. LIKE RESPECTED PROFESSIONAL WRESTLERS b. LIKE HUMANS) and the one they want (c. SHOW YOUR UTERUS EVENING GOWN PUDDING BRAWL).
If I do get to make the matches, I’d like the main event to be Goldust versus somebody, please.