Pre-report notes include:
– I almost called this “The Worst And Worst Of WWE Raw”. Just a heads up.
– We’ve got a new social set-up on the UPROXX Network, so now is a better time to leave a comment than ever. We’re going to start giving away prizes to commenters, so get on that train early. And hey, if you disagree with my assessment of the show, let me know. I’m not “right”, I’m just a fan. At the same time, if you disagree with me, make sure you read the paragraphs that go along with the point you’re pissed about, because at least I’m trying to explain it.
– You are going to need a picture of A.J. so bad by the time you finish this report, so I’m just going to go ahead and put a picture of her (and Kaitlyn, and Derrick Bateman) from the pre-show “Solidarity Rally” in the header. You’ll thank me later.
– If you have a surgical mask of any kind, please place that over your nose and mouth before reading the next page.
Worst: The Worst 40 Minutes In Years
It’s important when watching professional wrestling to stay positive, especially if you happened to bring your column over from FanHouse just before CM Punk’s criss-cross applesauce manifesto when everything was great, and it got popular and you’re stuck doing it for life.
It’s also important to remain tactful and careful with your opinions, and not fly off the handle with hyperbole every time something bad happens. “Wait and see where it goes”, despite being 2011’s equivalent to “get in the ring and let me show you how fake it is“, is sometimes true — sometimes you go online and scream Rabble Rabble and the thing you’re rabbling ends up okay. So it is in that spirit of positivity and calm rationale that I say last night’s Raw was one of the least personally-enjoyable two hours of wrestling I’ve watched in years, and that by the 45 minute mark I wanted to hammerblow my computer desk into shards and stab myself with the pieces until I bled to death and didn’t have to watch anymore. We waited, we saw where it went, and now we’re here.
Let’s go through the opening moments step by step:
– Triple H, as we expected him to after 20 years of Bill Clinton impersonators and “heh, nice job Obama” jokes, announces that people who unionize and/or protest and/or want basic human rights are selfish crybabies who can’t take the room temperature heat of the kitchen and are only doing this because they don’t want to entertain the WWE Universe. He reassures everyone that he is the toughest and smartest and best character on the show, and in the process executes a masterstroke of stereotypical-on-the-Internet Triple H by blatantly saying a broomstick would give him a better fight than 95% of the guys in the parking lot, which is all but like six wrestlers in the company. Tell me I’m “trying to not like it” if you want, and sure, last week when he stood by himself in the middle of the ring and got the crowd to cheer him and boo everyone else that could’ve been a more broadly suggested thing, but here is is clearly and blatantly saying that 95% of WWE’s roster is worse than an inanimate object including every current champion.
Keep in mind that this was the part I was expecting.
– A wild John Cena appears, and as bad as this was, it was keeping in the spirit of John Cena — he speaks in a solemn voice about how conflicted he was about his decision, then peps up and announces that he’ll Never Give Up and that he supports Triple H. Cena is Dwight Schrute already, so him selling out his co-workers to get in with the boss he thinks is super cool makes sense. Two issues here, though:
1. Cena says that for some WWE Superstars, Triple H is their first boss. Triple H has been the boss for two months. Who’s he talking about here, the evil Sin Cara?
2. Cena namedrops all the former General Manager types he’s worked for, saying Mike Adamle was the worst. Triple H allowed his friends to ruin multiple pay-per-view main events, he beat up two guys in handcuffs, he stubbornly forced nearly every person on the roster to choose joblessness over working with him, told them they were all bad at their jobs and did everything short of call them “fags” on national television. One time Mike Adamle said “Jeff Harvey” instead of “Jeff Hardy”. He’s history’s greatest monster.
– In the most disappointing moment to happen until the next thing happened, Sheamus, the IRISH GUY, does not understand the plight of the working man and sides with Triple H after apologizing to him, telling him he’s the coolest and strongest and best character on the show, then saying he’s trying to live his life by Triple H’s example. This sorta makes me feel like an asshole for thinking “smiling too much” was the worst thing they could do to him. Sheamus could’ve come to the ring with a pair of scissors, snipped off his testicles mid-ring and given them to Triple H in a jar marked “LOVE SHEAMUS” with a backwards E and it wouldn’t have been worse. He f**king thanked him for beating him up. I swear to God I thought he was going to break out “OY LOVE YA, ALWAYS ‘AVE”.
– Then, in what is unbelievably NOT the worst moment of the night, CM Punk, the Voice of the Voiceless, ran the voiceless up a goddamn rail to say that HIM walking out was okay and cool, but anybody ELSE doing it is wrong, because this is Monday Night Raw and they have cage matches and that THE STATUS QUO IS WHAT EVERYONE SHOULD BE HAPPY WITH. I AM PUTTING THIS IN BOLDFACE. THE GUY WHO IS ALWAYS SAYING “I WANT CHANGE” SUGGESTED THAT THE ROSTER IS LAME FOR WANTING THINGS TO BE DIFFERENT, then gets super happy when Triple H asks him to do ringside commentary and GETS EVEN HAPPIER WHEN HE IS ALLOWED TO WEAR SOME OF TRIPLE H’S CLOTHES. Are you reading this? HE WAS HAPPY TO WEAR DADDY’S CLOTHES.
So, as a f**king half-time recap, Triple H is great, WWE sucks, John Cena has no spine, Sheamus had his life turned around by a really tough guy who kicked his ass and CM Punk is willing to forget the last two-plus months of character development because he thinks wearing a jacket when you do commentary is funny.
– A match starts, and the moment wrestling starts we go to commercial. Then, as soon as we come BACK from commercial, Vince McMahon’s music starts up and he walks to the ring and orders the wrestling to stop because he wants to talk.
And the wrestlers, including CM Punk, the guy who bitched out McMahon for not caring about the fans wanting wrestling, calmly leave without incident so Vince can talk instead of show wrestling.
– That leads to a flat segment that maybe-sorta-coulda been saved for Vengeance (which I admit is a total nitpick) wherein Vince, representing the same Board of Directors that fired him two months ago and without even so much as an “I love you, Step-Pop”, announces that Triple H is relieved from his day-to-day duties on Raw and will be replaced by John Laurinaitis, but is still the C.O.O.. Triple H gets upset to the point of violent threats DESPITE THE FACT THAT HE IS STILL JOHNNY ACE’S BOSS. Please read what I’m typing here. Triple H gets FIRED FROM NOTHING and suddenly has no power and has to go back to being a wrestler. Johnny Ace is free to fire Jim Ross, rehire The Miz and R-Truth and make all the matches for Raw and Triple H, the chief operating officer, is helpless to stop him. Does “Raw GM” rank higher than “MAIN WWE GUY”? Could the Michael Cole laptop veto Mr. McMahon’s decisions? And what about Teddy Long, who has general manager powers on both shows? Shouldn’t HE be the boss? Did Mick Foley return to WWE and bring the convoluted f**king TNA Impact hierarchy of confusing bullsh*t bosses with him?
I don’t know what to tell you.
I don’t. I want to be able to say “WWE did something shameless and unforgivably terrible” without it meaning “I hate WWE” or “everything WWE does is bad”. That’s not my intent. As you’ve hopefully picked up from past columns, I really, really want this to be good. I love a lot of the wrestlers and I’ve always had respect for WWE’s ability to give me small things to cling to even on the worst shows.
I can’t tell you this was the worst episode of Raw I’ve ever seen (and I can’t even tell you what happened in the opening segment is worse than Beth Phoenix’s “but we’re GIRLS and we’re afraid we’re going to get HURT!” act from just last week), but Jesus, it was close. How does this happen? How does nobody say “telling us what you think of Occupy Wall Street isn’t worth making everyone in the company look like sh*t”? I almost said f**k it and put up “The Best And Worst Of A Love Song For Bobby Long On HD-Net” today.
I want you to keep watching, but if you stop here, I’d understand.
Best: Plainclothes Heath Slater
John Laurinaitis welcoming back the sub-broomstick Stars Of Solidarity had the same effect as last week’s Vote Of Confidence, where the segment itself was bad and didn’t accomplish anything positive, but had tiny moments I could desperately cling to like Donald Trump clinging to Hulk Hogan as he swims to safety from collapsing fault lines. The brightest and best of these was Heath Slater, who elevated himself from “crazy talented young guy nobody will accept as good because he wasn’t great on NXT a year and a half ago” to “f**king GOD” with the best and most hilarious street clothes ever. Dude was rocking a fedora and sunglasses outside in the dark and that’s not even the best part: he’s wearing what appears to be a long-sleeved stone-washed jean-shirt (jirt?) with the sleeves rolled up and WRIST TAPE. That’s amazing.
Slater’s clothes were made to look even better by the guys who followed him — Ted DiBiase, Ezekiel Jackson and Daniel Bryan were dressed like they should be tagging with “Always Dangerous” Don Montoya and Reckless Youth on a CHIKARA card from 9 years ago. What, DiBiase couldn’t have his Posse Party last night? He was in the parking lot anyway.
Best: Dolph Ziggler, In Passing
The returning Superstars Superstars tried their best to be indistinguishable from one another (Ezekiel Jackson and Titus O’Neil are always wearing different colors when they’re near each other and I’m still not convinced this isn’t a Sin Cara situation), but Dolph Ziggler (and by proxy, Ziggler’s crew) looked great by way of Dolph’s dismissive “whatevs” to Johnny Ace as he passed. Punk’s been claiming to be the Voice of the Voiceless, The Rock is the voice of The People and Triple H is busy listening to the WWE Universe, but Dolph just spoke for almost everyone watching. Whatever, let’s move on.
Best: Evil Sin Cara Is Vince McMahon
I love that he’s dressed like that, even if a part of me is sad the Sin Caras weren’t in the parking lot in full ring gear with jacket. They should just be dressed like Sin Cara at all times, shouldn’t they? It’s like some weird DeviantArt thing where they draw Martian Manhunter in jeans. Luchadores in suits and masks are the tops, though, and if Heath Slater hadn’t sauntered in looking like one of the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies I would’ve given him top honors.
Worst: Even I Don’t Want This For John Morrison
I don’t like John Morrison a lot and he does a ton of things wrong (wearing his brand new WWE shirt during a rally protesting unfair treatment by WWE, walking up to the Raw General Manager and telling him he sucks with no provocation, speaking, wrestling, etc.), but even I got a Passion Of The Christ vibe from him last night. I don’t know if he’s on his way out in a few months or if he’s paying the penance for staying with his girlfriend or what, but after months of watching him get injured and lose it didn’t seem entirely necessary for him to lose in 60 seconds to a secondary rent-a-finisher and get nWo’d by the entire Vickie Guerrero Collective.
It’s weird, because six months ago a segment where everybody beats the sh*t out of John Morrison would be a big flashing best, but it felt wrong. Firstly, WWE crowds don’t really react to Morrison like they react to Cena or Orton, so watching him get beaten up for a few minutes doesn’t bring out any kind of emotional response in them. Secondly, the guy HAS been losing a lot lately, and I wouldn’t think you’d give him a DVD and a bunch of hype videos for his return if you wanted him to be Trent Barretta. Thirdly, is it weird to anybody else that the FIRST SEGMENT following a company-wide walkout over unsafe working conditions under a power-abusing GM is a power-abusing GM allowing four guys to cheat and beat up a babyface wrestler with no consequence? Were the non-Dolph Ziggler’s Team wrestlers actually paying attention to anything, or did they just walk about because the crowd was moving in that direction?
That’s the problem with tonight’s episode in a nutshell — “anything can happen” sucks when you make a point to have it not make sense.
Hilarious Worst: Did We Just Hear Randy Orton’s Inner Monologue?
I don’t know how long that video will be up, but until they take it down, jump to the 1-minute-50-second mark and watch Mark Henry say “vengeance is mine!” only to be answered by the GHOST OF RANDY ORTON. Theories:
1. For whatever reason, the WWE Universe has always been able to see and hear Orton’s subconscious. Evidence: the time he imagined his dad’s face was covered in blood and we I guess imagined it too. That video also features Josh Mathews being possessed and Orton seeing Undertaker in the mirror and being crazy, but again, we saw and experienced all these things, too.
2. Mark Henry has gone to the place where he hears voices, King.
3. Orton was just backstage with a mic doing an R-Truth thing and it came across weird because they didn’t cut over to the TitanTron. (this is clearly not the answer)
4. Randy Orton has become a telepathic mute, which would explain why I’ve been enjoying him so much as the quiet guy who wrestles bad guys in wrestling matches.
The match itself gets a very small “Worst” based on Mark Henry saying the feud was over and done with last week, but both guys being booked into this and going through the motions like that stuff never happened. It gets a very small “Best” for Randy’s “no… vengeance is mine” sounding so much like Sindel in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.
Best: Cody Rhodes, Herpetologist
Cody continues to be a bright spot on Raw and in a wrestling world where the WWE roster looks too much like the UFC’s and not enough like Street Fighter’s. It’s been pointed out (from the attempt at a Mr. Sinister jacket on) that what Cody’s going for is a comic book super villain, so he shows up like one of the freaky people from the 60s Batman show and never does anything more maniacal than tie up the hero and dance around him taunting. I also figured out an important cog in his delivery — since he’s portraying a comic book villain, the promo has to be broken up into fragments and spoken slowly, because only so many words can fit in a balloon.
“When you cut off the head of a viper, the venom goes with it!”
“Randy Orton, humiliated!”
“Would you like a receipt with your paper bag?”
Come on, you can’t see “Randy Orton, humiliated!” on the cover of an old issue of Brave And The Bold? Also, I’m not even sure how “would you like a receipt with your paper bag” is an insult, because I guess if you’re putting bags on peoples’ heads “paper of plastic” would work, or if you’re going for a grocery store thing “would you like a receipt” and then punching the guy might work, but “would you like a receipt with your paper bag” reads like J-Kwon in “Tipsy” saying “do a shake come wit those fries” and doesn’t make any sense, because the SHAKE is what you’re getting and fries relates that to food and no girl in the club is doing something you could call “fries”. That said, when he said it and started his slow Dr. Evil laugh I couldn’t help but smile, and you know what? It was the first time I’d smiled all show.
There is something wrong with putting a Rhodes in a four man stable, though. Cody shouldn’t be the Tully Blanchard, he should be the Baron Zemo, and he should command a bunch of Cody Rhodes-themed guys in matching jumpsuits.
Worst: Mark Henry Needing To Be Saved
The uncomfortable forward momentum of the show continued with Mark Henry getting RKO’d in the middle of the ring and needing a mid-card heel to run out and save him from a loss. This has more to do with me loving Mark Henry and wanting him to be the unstoppable force he was at first than it does “bad wrestling booking” or whatever, but I don’t remember Vader beating the dog balls out of the Z-Man and then three months into his run needing Larry Zybysko to run out and stomp Johnny B. Badd in the back to save the match. What is it with WWE and their incessant need to create something wonderful and let it dangle? The follow-through should be the best part. I shouldn’t be excited because something happened, I should be excited because something KEEPS happening.
Worst: The Big Show’s Whole Thing
Why is he dressed like that? He looks like he’s wearing a perverted Halloween costume.
Worst: Kelly Kelly Classic
I’ve been justifying the character and continued successes of Kelly Kelly for months now, but she had a few things working against her last night:
1. The show was terrible before and after her, leaving me in an awful mood.
2. She was in the ring with Eve, Tamina and Rosa Mendes, and I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention, but Eve isn’t great and Rosa sorta wrestles like Jay Leno.
3. Over the weekend I jumped on a plane to see CHIKARA’s “Klunk In Love” in Kingsport, Tennessee, to see Sara Del Rey wrestle KANA, a situation that led to this mark photo. I now own a bloody handprint on an 8 x 11 piece of cardboard (pictured).
So how do I come home from that, dealing with all of that, see Kelly Kelly’s cartwheel back elbow devolve into its unsure ECW-era ancestor and not want to give up completely? I think WWE’s Divas division continues to be an underused and a little underrated place for women to make a lot of money performing in a sport we love, regardless of what they do or don’t do backstage and what you think about them personally, but good god damn, KANA kicked Sara so hard she lost a kickpad and here’s Kelly coming about four feet away from Tamina’s head with her punches. I can’t do it. I’ll return to being the one guy on the Internet who actually likes this part next week.
Man, wouldn’t Kelly Kelly vs. KANA be the greatest thing?
Best: At Least Those Were Different Divas
Oh, before I forget, yeah, Tamina isn’t exactly Portia Perez in this piece (she grabbed her chin when Eve kicked her in the damn elbow) and Rosa has the hand-eye coordination of a decerebrate paraplegic, but it was nice to know the Diva’s division exists beyond the four women we always see. It really wasn’t too bad outside of Kelly’s Layla Driver ’07.
Worst: Laurinaitis Interruptus
One of the worst parts of last night’s show is that when the wrestling finally started going, someone came out to stop it. McMahon did it in the opening segment to stop Sheamus and John Cena cold (and neither guy showed up for the rest of the show, so I guess they just went out and got a beer and shared stories about how much they love Triple H and how right he is), Cody Rhodes did it in a much less offensive way at the end of Orton/Henry, and Laurinaitis did it twice, shooing the Divas away Michael Cole style and interrupting his OWN MAIN EVENT HE MADE to change it on the fly and put on a different main event. People use that “reeks of WCW!!” excuse for TNA a lot, but nothing says “late era doomed WCW” like stopping in the middle of something, saying it sucks and deciding to do something else. Even TNA will let Matt Morgan and whoever muddle to their conclusion without Bischoffing the sh*t out of it in the middle.
And it might be bearable if Laurinaitis didn’t have the voice, cadence and dialogue of Kirk Van Houten. The next time Triple H confronts him backstage he should whip out a drawing pad and explain what dignity looks like.
Oh, and speaking of “not knowing what dignity looks like”
Worst: Welcome Back To Oklahoma, Jim Ross
I don’t know who decided Oklahoma should be the Pit of Tartarus for Jim Ross, but it’s a waste of time and talent and another example of WWE making decisions, going back on them, rebooting and re-demolishing. You bring back Jim Ross because people want him. You fire him because you don’t care what people want. You hire him back because people want him. You already have to put two-to-three guys in the announce booth to even out Michael Cole and now what? You get your dumb Oklahoma City tradition out of the way and we’ve got to put up with two hours of higher-octave Michael Cole, out of his cage and making things unbearable for everyone. This isn’t a funny game to people who don’t follow you around backstage, and I’m pretty sure even JR doesn’t give a sh*t at this point.
I actually almost forgot to write about this this week because there’s just so much awful happening. Jim Ross getting the OKC FU almost slipped my mind, because it (and a brand new WWE film) weren’t bad enough to register. That’s a dangerous sign. This should be pissing me off, and it isn’t. I think you broke me.