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– Be sure to come back to the site tonight for the Raw Open Discussion Thread, as well as tomorrow for the Best And Worst Of WWE Raw 2/20/12 report. The Rock will be there, probably!
Enjoy the report. The Best And Worst Of WWE Elimination Chamber ’12 is after the jump.
Worst: The Worst And Worst Of Raw
I’ve got a soft spot for Eliminations Chamber. I love the idea of a staggered entry match where everyone’s already present, and since some combination of God not existing and Vince McMahon is keeping War Games from being a regular WWE thing, the Elimination Chamber is as close as we can get.
That being said, I enjoyed a lot of the Raw Elimination Chamber match, but it reminded me too much of an encapsulated episode of Raw. They ran through the entire thing in about twenty minutes — a pointless Kofi Kingston opener, five minutes of Dolph Ziggler selling so hard he almost splits in two, a crappy injury angle that takes too long and involves a phony X, an impromptu thing with The Miz and then CM Punk smiling and smirk-shrugging (smugging) at an injured guy in a way that makes me think, “hey, that’s not how one Bees A Star”. All it needed was a Just For Men baby-with-a-beard commercial and six video packages and it’d have been a Raw in total.
There were, of course, a few super bests, including:
Best: Dolph Ziggler, On All The Time
Believe it or not, this was my second favorite moment of the show. If you watched it, you know what placed in front of it.
Anyway, Dolph Ziggler has a few criticisms floating around the Internet, including:
1. “Bad offense”. His signature moves are a sleeper, a couple of jumping head-pulls, a dropkick and a Fame-Asser. Not exactly Kenta Kobashi in that department.
2. He is basically Billy Gunn. Same hair, same physique, same tights, same Fame-Asser.
3. He has a stupid name, which would only be made stupider if he had a nickname like “The One” Dolph Ziggler.
4. The Show-Off gimmick is too goofy, and you can’t take him seriously when he’s strutting around like an idiot.
5. He doesn’t know when to tone it down and sells everything like a zero-gravity Parkinson’s clown.
Those criticisms are rendered meaningless because of two things:
1. He does pull-ups in his Chamber Pod even when the camera isn’t on him
2. He does f**king crunches on the Elimination Chamber wall
I don’t care if he wears a D-Generation X shirt and sews Billy Gunn to his goddamn leg, Dolph Ziggler is the best person on this show and you need to come to terms with that.
For further reading, please consult your local library and ask them if they have this .gif of Ziggler selling a Codebreaker on file, because holy sh*t.
Best: To Reiterate, Kofi Kingston Is Extremely Good At Jumping
For the record, this match plays out GREAT in highlight form (particularly Miz’s Skull-crushing Finale nearfall that had me believing Miracles Could Happen for about two and a half seconds). That’s sort of a running theme for Raw matches over the last few years … they sacrifice the fundamental building blocks of what makes a wrestling match enjoyable in favor of “making movies” and having, say, Kane chokeslam a man through a stage and break his back and then not really being brave enough to deal with the consequences of the thing they’ve just booked.
But Kofi Kingston is very, very good at jumping. With Evan Bourne being ravaged by D.A.R.E., Rey Mysterio on the other side of his natural health and John Morrison committing future endeavors against Cliff Compton in Siberia or wherever, Kofi is WWE’s Jumping And Fun Stunts guy by default. He got Morrison’s “can you believe he’s not eliminated!” spot in the Rumble and gets his “can you believe what he just jumped from!” spot in the Chamber here. Assumedly he’ll get Morrison’s “appear meaninglessly somewhere in the beginning-middle” spot at Mania as well.
Say what you will about TV-PG ruining cage matches (and it has), but thank God Mattel hasn’t realized that being cut slightly isn’t much worse of a violent act than falling out of the sky and crushing someone with your body and banned everything.
Best: The Motherf**king Lion Tamer
There is a very specific kind of wrestling fan who marks out every single time Jericho elevates his Boston crab into the Lion Tamer Classic. I’m one of those people. People argue that the move was changed to protect the people taking it, but I have two problems with that:
1. Submission moves have to look like they hurt or they become John Cena’s STF, hurting every single finish they’re a part of by making us go “oh, great, here comes this bullsh*t again”.
2. It would’ve been super easy at any point between creation and now for Jericho to do an interview where he points out that for most of the musclebound WWE guys he can make them tap out with a Boston crab, but the skinnier high-flying guys are more limber, so he has to elevate it up and break their necks.
Worst, Leading to Best: Jericho’s Lame Elimination
Writing about it later, the Raw Elimination Chamber seems better than it was. I think a lot of the residual ill-will I’m feeling has to do with Jericho’s goofy-ass elimination from the chamber, getting kicked in the head by CM Punk and selling it by grabbing the cage door, swinging out, pirouetting down the ramp and flopping over into the guardrail. It was supposed to be “devastating”, but seemed like the kind of thing that would’ve put him over at least Ralph Macchio on ‘Dancing’.
It was lame, and the time wasted on making sure he was okay (and Punk’s reaction as he walked by him later) were just as lame, but at least it allows Jericho to lose without “losing” and gives them a reason other than “you say what I say!” to fight at Mania. But yeah, I would’ve preferred NOT pay 60 dollars for the set-up.
Best: Beth Phoenix, Fashion Icon
After a 2011 mostly spent losing in 40-seconds-or-less to Alicias Fox and voicing her concerns about surprise buttsex in the workplace (at least I THINK that’s what she was worried about to Triple H), Beth Phoenix is winning me over again.
Last week on Raw Beth debuted her Ole Anderson-style iron-on shirts, and to top that at Elimination Pay-Per-View she paid tribute to the Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka V Rowdy Roddy Piper feud of yore by wearing tartan underpants. That is great for a number of increasingly obvious reasons, and yes, my band’s name is Tartan Underpants.
Best: Oh Hey, Women Are Pretty Good At This When You Let Them Be
Almost eight minutes.
That’s four times longer than the longest Divas match on Raw in like two years. That’s what Tamina Snuka and Beth Phoenix were given to make the Divas Championship seem like a thing, establish that Beth Phoenix can be dominant over actual pro wrestling competition and (hopefully) set her up on a one-way road to Kharma at Wrestlemania. And guess what? It was pretty good.
It wasn’t Kana vs. Sara Del Rey by a longshot, nor was it intended to be, nor SHOULD it be … it was proof that WWE employs women who can work a WWE style match and get a WWE crowd interested. As we’ve typed a hundred billion thousand million times, wrestlers with vaginas are just wrestlers and not “bad” or “boring” if they are allowed to do the one f**king thing they’re employed to do. Crowds will like it if you tell them it’s okay to like it. Little girls will grow up considering that they might not be a sideshow and little boys grow up into powerful women a la Ron Swanson and healthfully feed the cycle.
Worst case scenario, Beth avoids a farting gimmick for a few months.
Best: Team Laurinaitis Might As Well Be Team Brandon Stroud
Teddy Long, the guy who once had a heart attack during an in-ring wedding and has never had a more creative idea than “over the top rope challenge a week before the Royal Rumble”, wants to be the Smackdown General Manager. So does Executive Vice President Of Talent Relations and Interim General Manager Of Raw Mr. John Laurinaitis, and he’s enlisted the help of David Otunga, Christian, Mark Henry and Alberto Del Rio.
Quick, guess which side I’m on!
Team Laurinaitis takes the Uber Heel Stable idea of last year, replaces Jack Swagger with Mark f**king Henry and supplements a loss of Guerrero with a smiling, desperate-to-keep-his-job John Laurinaitis. I can’t imagine a group of guys I’d like more. It’s all of my favorite wrestlers in the same place, and if Cody Rhodes and Daniel Bryan decide to throw in with them on Tuesday for whatever reason (and assuming they’re an actual group, and not just four guys hanging out until the inevitable multi-man tag match for brand organizationship at Mania) I will buy their shirts and rep them forever.
Because seriously, if you’ve ever read my work and didn’t think this would be the best best of the show, come on:
Best: David Otunga, Forever And Ever
Pretty sure I would marry David Otunga at this point.
Worst: Santino Doing Literally Anything Backstage After 2008
I have some good things to write about Santino on the next page, but Jesus, watching Santino do anything backstage at this point is like staring into some f**ked-up 2001 space color-tunnel of WWE Creative.
It’s like they just put some props on a table (eggs, breath mints, cobra hand puppet) and yell ACTION~, and Santino’s got great comedic timing but literally nothing to work with except a funny accent and yeah, Screech’s Secret Sauce commercial was funny once but if they did it twice on every episode of ‘Saved By The Bell’, holy Hell. Maybe I’m just not the demographic for “foreign guy emulating popular movie vomits”.
Best: The Smackdown Elimination Chamber
Now this is what I’m talking about.
Based on talent alone, Raw’s Elimination Chamber match should’ve smoked Smackdown’s, but if I’ve learned one thing from Everybody In gimmick matches its that talent doesn’t matter: booking matters.
My favorite Elimination Chamber moment ever is Carlito and Chris Masters deciding they were outmatched in the Chamber and working together to eliminate everybody. That’s how you do it… you use this big goofy metal dome to tell a story, not to house a normal wrestling match. So you’ve got Big Show, Santino Marella and The Great Khali in your pay-per-view match. What do you do? You give them reasons to be there and things to do. Duh.
Hilarious Worst: Thanks For Playing, Great.
The best part of the match for me was The Great Khali’s reason to be there being “clear the ring so Big Show and Daniel Bryan can have a funny moment before his pod opens”, and his thing to do being “lose almost immediately”.
Seriously, this 7-foot-14 guy wandering into the ring to aimlessly face chop people only to get R.U.N.N.O.F.T. by a 500-pound spear was glorious. There was something so much more rewarding in Show’s fat monster body leaping and hugging for victory than watching him just throw a knockout punch. And hey, bonus: Show has reestablished his Ray Harryhausen creature dominance so he can get into a match with or against Shaq at Wrestlemania and give it some kind of thematic appropriateness.
Best: Big Show, Pod
Big Show breaking the chains on top of Daniel Bryan’s pod and giiiiingerly lowering himself into it for violence while Bryan made 1999 Chris Jericho face and helplessly punched at him might’ve been the greatest moment on an Otunga-Twitpic-free show.
I gripe a lot about babyfaces not having motivation for the things they do to heels (why does CM Punk react to everybody the exact same way? Why does Sheamus think getting into impromptu matches as punishment ordered by a general manager is a good way to act? And so on), but Show has the best current gripe: a little guy who may not completely deserve it cashed in Money In The Bank to steal the World Heavyweight Championship, and while that in itself is just sorta how WWE works, Bryan has repeatedly bailed on him and set him up in stupid situations seemingly less to keep the title and more to be an asshole. Show (like all good babyfaces before him) knows that the only time to truly handle this is in the ring, and if he can handle him completely in that ring he can just sorta wipe his boot on the doormat and move on with his career.
I’m a little sad that Bryan didn’t make AJ hang out in the pod with him, though.
Best: Cody Rhodes And Wade Barrett For President
Despite all that complimentary stuff I typed, Big Show blows f**king donkey goats and I love love loved Cody Rhodes and Wade Barrett going Team Hulk on him and eliminating him fairly and squarely. Cody spams the Beautiful Disaster kick like I might in a video game, and Wade’s elbow looks weak but a thousand times more effective than Punk’s. They should always find a way to align themselves, and be that Miz and R-Truth team we almost had for realsies on Raw.
Best: Santino Might Actually Be A Thing
Can a guy be “funny” and still make money?
In North Carolina in 1980, probably not. In the self-aware, self-loathing, post-‘Secrets Of Pro Wrestling Revealed’ and dead-Chris-Benoit world? Why the hell not?
The goal of a wrestling match is to make the crowd respond. Good or bad. Wrestling fans pay to “see wrestling”, but they more honestly pay to have a good time. While Santino Marella wearing a cobra sock on his arm and saying SHADDAPAYOOFACE might not get him smirking on Leno or starring in The Marine 4: The Search For John Triton’s Gold, but the loudest crowd reaction of the night — louder than Kofi jumping off a pod, louder than Cena throwing Kane to his death, louder than entrance themes and popular ideas — was this sh*tty guy almost winning a match. He’s given the crowd something easy to understand and simple to believe in. It works. Whether it should or not, it works, and no matter how much you’d like to adjust your glasses and flip through your old issues of PWI to disprove him, wrestling is stupid and the only way to make it in the business NOW is to do your thing and be okay with that.
Santino shouldn’t win, probably ever, but I like him being here. Notice that the people crying “be more unpredictable, WWE” are the ones upset that Santino subbed in for Orton.
Best: CM Punk And Daniel Bryan Are Your Wrestlemania Champions
How cool is that?
Bryan’s run won’t be “respected” by the people who respect him if he taps out the Rock at minute 59 of a 60 minute match and Punk’s a bit of an accidental dickface, and yeah, Punk with wrestle eight matches from the main and Bryan will defend the World Heavyweight strap on Heat before it even starts, but still, that sentence is the coolest.