– Comments, shares, likes, what-have-you are really appreciated. We want to keep building the community, and not just get comfortable talking about wrestling in this weird oasis we’ve built where Damian Sandow is the coolest guy in the room and CM Punk has a bunch of problems. Share this with your family, friends, people you’ve never met, and (as a last resort), those people you know from the forum. You know the one I’m talking about.
– Thanks as always to Casey/THESTINGER of Hammerlock Dialectic for GIFs, which make their triumphant return to this week’s column.
– There’s a thing about CM Punk punching a dude near the end of the column, but don’t get excited, I didn’t write much about it. If you’re here for the first time, welcome, and try to like wrestling when it isn’t mainstream-awful!
Regardless, please enjoy the Best And Worst Of WWE Raw for October 8, 2012.
Worst: This Is Why Everybody Hates John Cena
John Cena didn’t show up on Raw last week. Last night, he opened the show with one of the worst, least constructive promos you could imagine, acting like he’d been gone for 7 years and proving that if you don’t let John talk on every show in a row, his shitty ideas get dammed up, and eventually that dam explodes, and the raging waters of his 90s references and asinine observations destroy whatever villages were built in the valley of pro wrestling.
Daniel Bryan and Kane have been a crucial, entertaining part of the show over the last month. John Cena apparently watched them from home for the first time ever last week and thought the last thing they needed to get truly over was GOAT BOY JOKES. Did WWE fire Brian Gerwitz and hire Jim Breuer? Should I expect Damien Sandow to start cutting promos about how pot is awesome? Last week, Antonio Cesaro had a star-making moment when he shoot deadlifted 400-pound Brodus Clay and JUMPED with him to hit his finish on a live Raw and get a decisive win in under a minute. John Cena had never seen or heard of Antonio Cesaro before last Monday, but now he’s fixated on his HUGE NIPPLES~, because Antonio Cesaro really needed HEY FRENCHIE NICE NIPPLES signs on Raw to help sustain his career. John Cena took a look at the stars of tomorrow and said YOU’RE UGLY, YOU’RE UGLY, YOU’RE UGLY. Thank goodness you are hairless, featureless and bright white so nobody could make fun of how you look, John.
I don’t want to make this assumption, but did the classically-homophobic, gender-biased John Cena get forced into wearing a bunch of pink for breast cancer awareness and decide he should work it by acting like a hateful little girl? Because if you have a problem with Antonio Cesaro’s nipple aesthetics, that is your problem, dude.
Not to mention his weird, pointless AJ baiting. What was that about? I know Cena’s been going through a divorce and has lost his goddamn mind, so I don’t expect him to have a mature point of view about life and his co-workers, but the least he could do is not whip out his entitled fratboy come-ons on my wrestling program.
This should be AJ’s entire response:
Best: Ryback Is Over, Yo
First of all, a huge, head-shaking worst to “BIG HUNGRY” as Ryback’s new nickname. The guy’s name is RYBACK, he doesn’t need a qualifier. This is as bad as when you called Paul Wight “Big Nasty”. Do not let Jim Ross come up with nicknames for your guys. I’m assuming it was Jim Ross. Don’t let anyone who knows what college basketball is come up with nicknames for your guys.
Second of all, yeah, it’s sorta depressing to see a talented team like PERM get Ryback’d in lieu of Stansky and Rosenberg or whoever, especially when the tag team division is finally taking off, but I love watching Ryback Ryback people, and PERM are the perfect combination of “good at wrestling” and “not important to wrestling whatsoever” to look good taking the fall. They lost in a believable fashion, too. They held the advantage when they stayed focused and double-teamed him, but Epico got cocky, allowing Ryback to separate them and finish them off individually. That’s a way better story to tell than “Triple H saw Paul London and Brian Kendrick and decided they should both die for no reason”.
Also, “FEED ME MORE” as a chant to will Ryback to win is fantastic. Ryback gets distracted by pain and being punched, but then he remembers food, and the Hanna Barbera character inside of him goes FUH-FUH-FUH-FOOD?? and he flips out and kills everybody. Every single Raw should feature a segment where he tries to make a really tall sandwich.
Worst: Now I’m Gonna Get Nervous Every Time Ryback Tries To Pick Somebody Up
I can’t be the only one who went, “oh god, he’s going to f**k this up” in my head when Ryback tried to pick up Primo and Epico at the same time, right?
I mean, I know that he CAN do it, but after watching him struggle with Tensai’s dugong body last week I think I’m subconsciously afraid that he’s going to fail at the feats of strength that define him and ruin the good thing he’s got going. I’m not the type to nudge my friends and go HEY TRASHBOAT, CHECK OUT THIS BOTCH SPECIAL COMIN’ UP or whatever. I don’t want him to mess up, and now I’m genuinely concerned. Great. Thanks a lot, Tensai. You have done literally nothing to make me happy since you abandoned the Spit Hand.
Best: Jim Ross Being Adorable On Commentary
As bad as the R-Truth/Brodus Clay match was (and it was really, really bad) (although WWE Fan Nation gave it a video and skipped the John Cena show-opening promo, which says something), Jim Ross was DYNAMITE on commentary, and made me laugh with three different comments:
1. “Is Little Jimmy wearing a FANNYPACK?”
2. Deadpanning “I can’t see him, I gotta get my glasses”.
And my absolute favorite:
3. “My grandmother used to call me Little Jimmy.”
I’m paraphrasing, but MY HEART. The idea of a baby Jim Ross being called “little Jimmy” by his Okie grandmother is the most hilarious, heartwarming thing ever to me, and following last week’s Ricardo Rodriguez commentary adorableness I may have to institute a weekly award for the Person Speaking Through A Microphone On Raw Who Seems Most Like A Real Person.
Worst: Little Jimmy Goes Through More Changes Than Brodus Clay
I need to stop thinking that things are going to change Brodus Clay, or allow him to move forward, or keep him from pushing the same immense boulder up a hill only to watch it roll back down again. Brodus is a wrestler, but he barely wrestles. He stands still and lets dudes jump at him, and when he takes even a small amount of offense (from Damien Sandow, or Antonio Cesaro), he dies. He dances the same way. He’s supposed to be a great dancer (“LOOKATTIM GO!” – Michael Cole), but he just stands still and moves his hands like he’s Chevy Chase in the background of that Glee episode of ‘Community’. Cameron and Naomi are dancing their hearts out. Dolph Ziggler’s running at Brodus and jumping with all his might. Nothing changes. They could play ‘Somebody Call My Mama’ and film a cardboard cutout with the disco camera and accomplish the same thing.
R-Truth doing the Kid N’ Play dance by himself was pretty inspired. If Jimmy’s really going through Some Changes, maybe we can get a scene where Truth pulls off Dirty Dancing by himself.
Best/Worst: The New Usual
I’m officially calling this feeling “the new usual”. It’s that feeling you get when a segment features people you like saying and doing things that seem compelling, but are either totally misguided, badly-written or hurtful to the show/narrative. A great example of this is the CM Punk/Mick Foley segment from Raw two weeks ago. I like Punk. I like Foley. They’re both good at what they do, and they sound great. But Punk’s just regurgitating what he’s been regurgitating for months, and Foley’s saying things that don’t make any sense. YOU HAVE TO BEAT JOHN CENA BEFORE YOU CAN CALL YOURSELF THE BEST IN THE WORLD. BEAT JOHN CENA ALREADY? SEVERAL TIMES? UH, BEAT HIM AGAIN, OR ELSE
Last night’s Punk/Vince mouth-off was The New Usual. I like Punk. His new shirt made me really miss the New Nexus. I like Television Character Vince, despite his roughly 60-40 shot at ruining the show with something. Punk and Vince have great chemistry together, and when they’re in the ring (especially with Heyman in tow), it feels like it’s going to be an important moment.
What’d we get? Vince telling Punk his t-shirt is ugly. The t-shirt that Punk has just debuted, which WWE created and designed and hopes to sell to people watching at home. Vince saying he doesn’t like Punk and pull a “how dare you” when Punk compares himself to people like Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels or Stone Cold Steve Austin. How dare you, 5-time champion CM Punk, compare yourself to 6-time champion Austin, 5-time champion Hart or 4-time champion Michaels? How dare you compare yourself to Andre the Giant, who never held the championship and was a draw because wrestling used to more blatantly be a freak show? HOW DARE YOU. Vince is telling the 300+ day WWE Champion that he’s nobody, and that nobody makes the WWE a success except the WWE Universe, and when he says “WWE Universe” he means “John Cena”. Vince tells Punk he’s not important. The guy whose 3-disc retrospective DVD was released today. The guy on the cover of WWE ’13, released this month.
On the other side, you’ve got Punk delivering his lines with gusto, but lacking that believability that made his criss-cross applesauce manifesto so engaging. He says the WWE fans don’t respect him. The WWE fans chant “CM Punk”. He says fans chanting CM Punk are doing so ironically, and that nobody respects him. He’s a bad guy, sorta, sure. But he’s in the ring with the KING OF THE BAD GUYS, a guy doing nothing particularly babyface, running him through the mud because he’s the guy who runs the company and can do that for kicks. Punk’s raging against this horrible darkness, but still pretending to be a condescending coward because that’s on the whiteboard. It doesn’t make any sense, and it doesn’t get us anywhere.
The new usual. A great segment featuring great people doing a great job of saying terrible things.
Best: Paul Heyman Is An Invaluable Television Character
The MVP of that segment was ab-so-lutely Paul Heyman, who balanced the right amount of caution and pants-shitting fear to be the guy in charge of keeping CM Punk moving forward, but being unable to reign him in in the face of the greater evil. Watch him in the background of any shot. Watch him trying to dissuade Punk on the stage. He’s not mugging. He’s not taking away from the people you’re supposed to be paying attention to. He’s contributing to the mood, giving you a focal point, letting you know what you should feel. He’s Nick Carraway in the worst adaptation of The Great Gatsby ever.
Well, at least until the Baz Luhrmann one gets released.
Best: If I Was 10, I Would Be All About Sinsterio
I tried to get “Myscario” over last week, but I think Sinsterio is better. I take great pride in my tag team naming abilities, especially after I single-handedly named Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes ‘Rhodes Scholar,’ an accomplishment that no other man could have come close to matching. I am deadly serious about my tag team naming abilities. Please believe that everything in this paragraph is something I get upset about and would fight you over in real life.
Where was I? Oh, right, Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara (or “Scene Cara,” as Michael Cole calls him) (Kiliman-jare-o) are continuing their run as a straight-fowrard babyface tag team in coordinating masks, and I love it. Vince included “masked luchadors” in his State Of The WWE Address alongside leprechauns, so I’m not expecting WWE to understand the finer points of Mexican wrestling, but I’d love to see Sinsterio move on to a real lucha blood feud with somebody soon. If they want to break up Mysterio and Cara to build to a WrestleMania match between the two, they should give them a real thing to bond over, not just how much they like being tag partners. Get them into a luchas de apuestas thing with Del Rio and Ricardo. Maybe Del Rio has to give up his mansion, or ownership of Ricardo or whatever. Give me blood, mask-ripping, crying family members at ringside, air horns, the whole 9. Really let them battle through something together, so that when they split we’ll feel mournful about it. We don’t remember the barber shop window because of what happened, we remember it because Shawn and Marty had been tagging forever and it was a big f**king deal.
And like I said, man, if I was 10 years old, these guys would be my absolute favorite wrestlers. I wouldn’t care about botches or Rey Mysterio’s fatshirt, I’d just care that they were diving around onto people and looked awesome. I wish we could all find a way to watch wrestling like that again.
Worst: Tensai, You Ruiner!
This is the match I’d play in WWE ’13. Well, assuming I can’t give John Laurinaitis an RKO and a Rocker Dropper, max out his stats, make a photo-realistic Jun Akiyama and throw them at each other for an hour.
It was good, too. I’ll talk about it more when I get to the Antonio Cesaro match, but a 3-hour Raw could benefit from matches like this, assuming they’d let it go for a while and give it a clean ending. People need to come around to understanding that Sheamus is a boss in the ring, which should take precedent over that horrible shit he spews every time he opens his mouth, and they need to build Wade Barrett back up in their minds as a guy who can get the job done and take out top-level WWE Superstars. Wade won NXT season one and once terrorized the WWE for like three months with a gang of jobbers. In my mind, that should make him one of the most important people on the show.
The worst comes from Lord Dugong showing up, but mostly for WWE copping out and not letting this end, one way or another. 50/50 booking is the asshole of the creative wrestling mind, and in a fake sports where wins and losses don’t matter, you could MAKE wins and losses matter by, I don’t know, writing them to matter. If Barrett f**ks up everybody but the World Heavyweight Champion, then almost f**ks him up, too, Wade looks great for having proven himself as a top-shelf pro wrestler, and Sheamus looks great for defending his championship against a guy who could believably take him out and win it. At no point should either man fall victim to Sakamoto’s out-of-control ethnic monstergimp.
Best: Big Show Dismissing Sheamus With A Figurative Wanking Motion
One of my favorite moments from last night’s show was what immediately followed the Ten-terruption. Sheamus started in with his Super Sheamus routine, quickly dispatching both Wade Barrett and Lord Fusiform. Show snuck into the ring, and Sheamus (who has turned on Infinite Finishers) turns around and tries to Brogue Kick him. Because sometimes God loves me and wants me to keep watching wrestling, this happened:
Thanks, Show. They’ve made such a big, specific deal about Sheamus not being able to kick that high that I’m totally expecting the finish at Hell In A Cell to be Sheamus running down the announce table to Brogue Show (or worse, stepping up onto the ring steps somebody’s thrown into the ring). That’s going to be kinda sad, but for now we have Ring General Big Show, and every day in the reign of Sheamus as World Heavyweight Champion gets us closer to Mark Henry showing up out of nowhere and napalming him to death with a World’s Strongest Slam.
Best: He’s Right About The Chili Cheese Fries, You Know
“Only a schwein would eat that!”
This man is as strong and in as good of shape as any pro wrestler in the world. He can speak five languages, is respected in mainstream and independent wrestling promotions, is a King Of Wrestling and has been sleeping with the best female wrestler in the world for years. I don’t want to be that guy, but if Antonio Cesaro tells you to do something, you should probably do it.
Also, shout-out to that guy selling the chili cheese fries, who I absolutely do not know in real life.
Best: Antonio Cesaro Vs. Tyson Kidd Is EXACTLY What I Want To See On Raw
Hey look, it’s the guy with the funny nipples! Jern told me so! NIP-PLES, NIP-PLES, NIP-PLES! *sends 411 a show report about how his nipples chants made his entire section laugh and Antonio Cesaro looked right at him when he said it*
The opening 30-ish minutes of Raw were nigh unbearable, but by the end of the night they’ve given us so much good wrestling I couldn’t complain. Seriously, a match between the criminally under-appreciated Tyson Kidd and the new hotness Antonio Cesaro, fresh off his dominant victory over Brodus Clay. Two guys looking to prove something to the WWE Universe working their asses off in the time they’ve been given. Two guys spotlighting their strengths. Cesaro’s at his best when he’s able to throw a smaller guy around in creative ways. Kidd is at his best when he’s wrestling a guy who knows how to take innovating cruiserweight offense. It didn’t go too long, but it went longer than you were expecting, and both guys looked fantastic.
WWE’s doing such a good job with Antonio Cesaro and Damien Sandow that I’m wondering what the hell went wrong with everyone else. Maybe the other guys didn’t have something as bad ass as the SWISS DEATH to fall back on. Note to WWE: Call it “Swiss Death”. “There’s that uppercut” is not a great move name. That’s what Shane Storm would’ve called it.
Best: Please Notice That Daniel Bryan Is Getting The Biggest And Most Sustained Reactions On Your Show, Somebody
At some point during this match, I tweeted this:
You know, I get a lot of shit for trying to be honest in these columns. Pointing out bad stuff on a wrestling show translates to “you don’t like wrestling” to a lot of people. The truth of the matter is that I wouldn’t watch wrestling (and I wouldn’t have continuously, obsessively followed it for 30 years) if I didn’t love it. I love it as much as a person who doesn’t do it for a living can. I want the shows to be good. I want to fall into that thing that happens where a match gets so good you forget about everything else that’s happening. Some people do that for music. I do it for wrestling. A truly great wrestling match can take me somewhere I can’t go on my own, and I’ve never been able to properly thank anyone for helping it do that.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Last night’s Team Hell No vs. Dolph Ziggler/Alberto Del Rio tag match wasn’t one of the best matches I’ve ever seen (or a particularly great match, really), but it was really good. Good enough to make me stop thinking of assy shit to say on Twitter about plot holes or Vince punching like Shane or whatever. I could watch Dolph Ziggler wrestle Daniel Bryan forever. The way he sells the missle dropkick is a thing of beauty. I’m happy to say that I look forward to Kane now, through some magical combination of the effort and sense of urgency he’s brought to the ring this year and my girlfriend’s insistence on his greatness. I love the funny way Ricardo Rodriguez tries to help Alberto Del Rio peel himself off the ring post when he accidentally runs into it with his shoulder.
What I’m saying is that this wasn’t FIVE STARS~, but it was a good f**king television tag team match, and after this and last week’s Sandow/Sheamus affair, I’m ready to expect my Raw matches to be good again. Not just “I expect Daniel Bryan to be great” or whatever. I expect RAW to give me something I’ll love. That’s a good feeling.
Worst: I Love JBL On Commentary, But He Needs To Put Away The Wikipedia
JBL is awesome on commentary. He’s funny, he knows a lot about wrestling, he isn’t afraid to call Brodus Clay a “sea monster trained by Justin Timberlake,” which I’m pretty sure is the 2012-equivalent of Jim Ross saying someone’s been “beaten like a government mule”. I also love that Michael Cole properly said the name of the mountain JBL climbed this week, because seriously, you are paid to talk for a living and JBL should’ve fallaway-slammed you the second he saw you.
That said, JBL needs to cool it with the random list of facts for every person wrestling. He got into Matt Striker territory last night. Mentioning that Primo and Epico are former Puerto Rican tag team champions is good. Mentioning every accolade ever earned by anyone you see is not. I thought JBL was gonna start reading the “citation neededs” out-loud.
“Colón debuted on 1999, MAHCULL. Wwrestling in the Cruiserweight division. He won the first title on February 10, 2001, when he defeated Damian Steele for the WWC World Junior Heavyweight Championship. Citation needed! His feud with Steele continued for a month, MAHCULL, during which time he would drop and recover the title on March 10, 2001. Number six with brackets around it! He feuded over the damn title for the six months losing and winning it once. Of COURSE he can hang with Ryback!”
Worst: Oh My Goddd Larry King, Oh My Goddddd
Holy shit, who thought this was a good idea? The only good thing about it was Larry King changes guests in the middle, then asking Kofi exactly one question — so what’d you do today? — before signing off and leaving. I’m going to adopt that technique for all future interviews.
Me: “So what’d you do today, what’d you get inta”
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: “Not much, played some golf. Hung out with family.”
Me: “arright bye”
Best: Larry King Losing Interest And Wandering Away In The Middle Of A ‘Raw Moment’
Oh, okay, one more good part. The segment goes down like this: Miz and Larry King had a tough guy back-and-forth on Twitter, so Larry (I guess) decides to tape his show live on the stage at Raw and have Miz as his guest. When Miz shows up and is abrasive, Larry THEN AND ONLY THEN decides it’s a bad idea and brings out Kofi Kingston, who he’s previously declared “the real deal”. Kofi is standing by, so he wanders out to talk about video games or whatever, but Miz won’t leave. Things get heated and Larry tries the 1930s technique of “getting up out of your chair with intent” to try and scare Miz. That doesn’t work, so the stripper in the throw-shawl sitting next to him throws a glass of water in Miz’s face. That gives Kofi carte blanche to attack Miz, throw him off the stage and, in a spectacular RAW MOMENT, use his incredible jumping powers to jump off the stage and hit Miz. This is one of those moments that goes into Raw video packages, like that time Kofi boom dropped Randy Orton in Madison Square Garden and then vanished for three years.
Anyway, the good part is that Larry King decides that right before Kofi jumps off onto Miz is when he should announce that the show is over and he’s leaving. HILARIOUS. He’s all, HEY ERRYBODY, HEY LOOK AT ME, DON’T LOOK AT … OKAY, GENNIGHT! And then he does the most amazing Grandpa Simpson at La Maison Derrière exit EVER.
Here, compare and contrast.