The Best And Worst Of WWE Raw 10/31: Muppets, The Rock and Mortal Kombat

The Rock: The Nation's Top Fun Haver

Pre-show notes:

– Comments on these reports have been down lately, due in part to our new comments section requiring registration and due in another part to me writing 600,000,000 words about wrestling and not getting it up until four in the afternoon, but go ahead and leave us a comment if you aren’t a total jerk. Leave us one even if you are. I’d appreciate it. I like talking to you about the wrestling.

– AJ picture in the intro is not necessary because she’s actually on the show this week, and oh man you guys is she ever on the show.

– All animated gifs are via the Punchsport Pagoda at Something Awful.

WARNING: I like the Muppets a lot, so if you’re one of those “meh, the Muppets” types, I don’t understand you and we should make that clear now. For more information on me and Muppets, please consult the 50 Greatest Muppets list I helped write at Progressive Boink a few years ago. This happened on an Internet before slideshows, so you should be able to enjoy it without trauma. When you’re done with that, read the second half of it.

And now, the Best and Worst of Muppet Raw.

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Worst: So Are We Tired Of This Asshole Yet Or What

My problems with The Rock have been written about at length in not only this column, but in lengthy g-chat conversations with The John Report’s John Canton and throughout the entirety of the wrestling Internet, all the way back to when I was an online four-year old making Jeff Hardy banners for myself at Wrestling Uncensored. I know you like him, and I know that his ALL REAL NON-GAY MEN PRESS THEIR SHOES TO BUTTS AND WORSHIP OUR ASS-WHIPPING LORD rings true when a John Cena t-shirt reading “John Cena” infuriates you, but I think I speak for at least myself and everyone live at Raw when I say holy sh*t, why did it take you six f**king minutes to say “I’ll be John Cena’s tag team partner so he can see how good I am up close”?

And it’s not that he took six minutes. Cactus Jack took six minutes to say “Tommy Dreamer is stupid for not selling out”, but he made a point and peppered it with colorful dialogue. The Rock said literally nothing except that he 1) didn’t want to be John Cena’s partner, but 2) he hates Truth and Miz, so 3) he guesses he’ll do it. He just filled in the gaps with meandering sh*t like LET THE ROCK TELL YOU THIS! or AND THE ROCK SAYS THIS! If you disagree with me, listen to that crowd’s diminishing returns. At first they’re like WOO OKAY YEAH VIDEO OF THE ROCK, but by the four minute mark or whatever when they cut to the crowd for awed expressions it’s just people waving at the camera and not paying attention.

I don’t even know what to say about this guy anymore. Are you seriously still enjoying the content he provides? I love the hell out of Stone Cold Steve Austin, but I was brave enough to admit that the Redneck Triathlon made me stupider for watching it and the sheriff ATV only happened in a dark, alternative universe. You can’t be liking this. I don’t believe The Rock wakes up in the morning and rushes outside in his pajamas to start stomping his mailman in the asshole (then continues this trend non-stop until his body gives out from exhaustion and possibly hunger and he collapses into sleep), and if I learned anything from Hogan vs. Flair or WWF vs. WCW it’s that any dream match cool enough for an unlicensed, blurry-photos MS Paint Pro Wrestling Illustrated cover story has no resolution greater than sadness and lingering disappointment.

You had to come back because you hate the Miz and R-Truth? Didn’t you talk to the Miz like, once? You helped him win his match at Wrestlemania. Have you ever even met R-Truth?

Best: A Minute Or So Of Henry Vs. Punk

I can’t say Mark Henry vs. CM Punk was a “good match” or anything, because it lasted about a minute and a half and ended when Alberto Del Rio somehow thought a clothesline and an elbow drop had put Mizark in the red (he was in the yellow at best), but I liked what they were doing while it lasted. As his matches with John Cena or Samoa Joe back in the long-long ago taught us, CM Punk is at his best when he’s taking on a guy who is just a little bigger, stronger and better than him. If you put him up against somebody WAY bigger than him he falters (see any of his matches against Kane or The Big Show … although those might not be his fault), but if you keep it in that “lower half of six foot guy who can throw him around” territory he’s golden.

I really liked Punk flying off the ropes to land on Henry’s back and throw elbows. I like how Henry can realistically take punishment without it seeming forced. Remember when anybody would hit Bill Goldberg, and he’d take a step back and raise his arms and shake his head around and bug out his eyes? Have you ever noticed how when somebody tiny punches the Big Show he starts shoegazing? Those are unrealistic depictions of pain absorption. Mark Henry just kinda gets hurt, then toughs his way through it and does something strong. That’s good (and probably a by-product of years of him being MVP’s loser friend who just can’t seem to beat Ted freaking DiBiase) and helps give me that nervous “Randy Orton’s about to win this match, isn’t he” stomach without it making me throw the hell up.

Worst: To Face The WWE Champion, You Must Beat The World Champion

Here’s a quick hierarchy of title belt importance in WWE, TO WWE, as far as I can tell:

1. WWE Championship

2. arbitrary goals caused by things being “personal”

3. everything else that has ever happened

4. World Heavyweight Championship

5. Zack Ryder’s Internet belt he bought from somebody on the Internet

6. resolution to non-personal interoffice issues

7. Intercontinental Championship, when they remember it

8. Diva’s Championship and accompanying “battle royal -> PPV” sticky note

9. anything we forgot in #3

10. United States Championship five years from now when we’ve finally got the Benoit stink off of it

11. those belts from Spencer Gifts with skulls on them, but the skulls are wearing bows so you know it’s a belt for girls

12. the old version of the tag titles

13. the current version of the tag titles

and sure, there’s a pretty big gap between 1 and 4, but there’s no reason why you should have to beat a World Champion to get a shot at a guy holding a different belt. Why wouldn’t Punk just challenge Mark Henry for the World Heavyweight Championship? Why not do this exact same match with Punk vs. Brodus Clay, or at least someone who doesn’t get inadvertently made to look pointless by being a prop in the more important show’s stage production?

Best/Worst: Fight Back, Ricardo

I like Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez a lot, but even I’m tired of seeing Ricardo take finishing moves. I don’t want to see it anymore. It’s reaching Ziggler vs. Kingston levels of repetition. Please just have Ricardo get stretchered out for six months by a Ruff Ryder or whatever or have him throw on the Chimaera hood and start busting out corkscrew moonsaults on dudes like he’s the Maximum Champ of Battleground Pro.

(yes, that’s a real thing)

(okay, because you asked, here’s a hierarchy of independent pro wrestling title belts:

1. Absolute Champion of Absolute Intense Wrestling

2. Maximum Champion of Battleground Pro Wrestling

3. Intense Champion of Absolute Intense Wrestling)

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Best: Kermit Is Better At This Than You

I can’t figure out whether “sad” or “awesome” is the correct adjective, but Kermit the Frog is literally a green felt sock on a squatting guy’s hand and he’s a better actor with better facial expressions than most of the WWE roster. I mean, look at it directly — compare Kermit’s face when Jack Swagger threatens to slaughter and eat him with any post-match “upset” Jack Swagger face. It’s not just Kermit … compare Miss Piggy’s line reads with Vickie Guerrero’s. I love you, pro wrestling, but Jim Henson puppeteering is on a different level. At some point I stopped wishing for a Muppet Raw and started wishing for wrestlers on The Muppet Show. It’s like going to the museum to look at René Magritte, then turning the corner and walking into one of those rooms where some chump put 400 alarm clocks in the ground.

I only had two Muppet-related disappointments on the night — one, that Jim Henson isn’t still alive, but that’s a disappointment I have every day, and two, that the show didn’t begin with Scooter knocking on a door and saying “five minutes to promo, Mr. Cena!” Okay, three: Sam the Eagle didn’t show up to talk about politics with Kane. And nobody totally 1970s (like Bernadette Peters) showed up to wear Mary Poppins clothes and tap dance or sing Vaudeville or whatever.

Best: The Biggest Heat Of Jack Swagger’s Career

I’m not ashamed to say that I laughed my ass off at Kermit all night. “Concerned Kermit face” is one of my favorite things in the world, and if you didn’t laugh at his little arms flailing around while Jack Swagger held his mouth shut, I don’t know what to tell you. Look at him go … just that gif gives me more fight drama than the last five years of John Morrison. Swagger’s got a weird way of having charisma when you wouldn’t expect it, like when he kinda-sorta chatted up Trish Stratus, and I think I figured it out. Swagger is a guy who has been good at everything his entire life. He was good at wrestling, he married a porn star, he won a variety of trophies … but PRO wrestling is different, and even when you’re a tall, muscular, great athlete you still have to publicly speak and act and express emotions. I feel like that stuff stresses Swagger out, and you can see the hamster running in the wheel in his head sometimes, like he’s going “okay now I’m supposed to pose to the crowd, now I’m supposed to Vader Bomb Evan Bourne, now it’s time for the roll-up”. When he’s chatting up Trish or threatening Kermit, those are things he ENJOYS, as any red-blooded American American American man would, and he goes natural with it and excels.

Swagger has too much of an upside to go the way of Snitsky, and is the number one example I could name of a guy who needs a gimmick shift to “being himself turned up to 11”. Push-up ankle-locking-ad-nauseum Jack Swagger isn’t Jake Hager, and if we ever find out exactly what Jake Hager is, it’s going to be f**king awesome. Worst case scenario, freak him out with hoverboards and drive him into manure trucks until he figures it out.

Worst: Santino

I remember being so excited for Santino segments. Now his music hits and I just go “oh great, here comes racist-ass stupid Santino”. If I’m a wrestling hipster for anyone, as I’ve been called for liking Zack Ryder better when he was underground, I’m a hipster for Santino. Once Santino started being the “funny guy” to people without a sense of humor, he stopped being the funny guy to the rest of us. I miss the Glamarella days when he’d make John Cena laugh in the middle of a segment. Kermit had to start going “uh huh, oh yeah, is that so” between Santino’s sentence because the guy playing him probably could not f**king believe that this is what constitutes the funny part of their live show. And this isn’t even REAL KERMIT, it’s Weird Sounding Muppets Kermit.

By the way, if you clicked that link, please notice John Cena Rising Above Hate. The best thing about wrestling in 2011 is that Cena has mostly stopped using “YOUR A FAGGOT” as his response for everything. Jesus Christ, that was the worst.

Best: Miss Piggy, Selling Kelly Kelly

I like how they couldn’t go 30 seconds into Muppets without having Miss Piggy and Vickie Guerrero interact. Calling Vickie Jack Swagger’s mother was one of the most legitimately funny things on Raw in forever, but my favorite moment of the segment post-Kermit-getting-Swaggermouth’d was Kelly Kelly appearing to kiss Kermit on the mouth, and Miss Piggy’s reaction. It doesn’t do much for Kelly’s reputation when she decides to waltz up in her Digital Playground Pirates costume and french the guest livestock without context or provocation. Piggy should’ve kicked her ass. All we needed was a backstage segment where the Bella Twins grab Gonzo’s arms and seductively tell him how they’re HUGE FANS of his circus act only for him to turn them down because he prefers chicken vag. And then he hooks up with Kelly instead.

I’m sorry, Kelly, I know you don’t have a chicken’s vagina, but these jokes are too easy.

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