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Please click through to enjoy the Best And Worst Of WWE Raw for November 12, 2012. Or just hack into your friend’s phone and read it later.
Best: Raw Is Starting With A Match!
The first thing on Raw (after the business exposing SO HERE’S WHAT YOU MISSED ON GLEE opening video package) was a guy walking to the ring for a match, and that’s usually a good sign. Every Raw should start with a match, because 1) Nitro isn’t around anymore, so instantly establishing a hook at the top of the show isn’t an important thing to do, and 2) it’s a wrestling show, and wrestling shows should begin, be filled and end with wrestling matches.
I didn’t even mind that it involved Randy Orton using fending off distractions two minutes in and pinning the Money In The Bank winner with a roll-up. It was still a wrestling match, and not a bad one — I particularly like how Orton’s been working to make the powerslam he does happen more naturally as a counter for things instead of just doing the Cena “here’s where you pop up quickly and take a wild swing at me so I can Protobomb you” thing. I got excited for a night of wrestling action, full of STUFF HAPPENING because Survivor Series is right around the corner, and so far WWE’s build to it has been like one of those cupcake competition shows where they go in with a bunch of big ideas about fondant sculptures and spend 60 minutes going WE DON’T HAVE ENOUGH TIME WE’RE RUNNING OUT OF TIME WE’LL NEVER FINISH.
And then THIS GUY HAD TO SHOW UP.
Worst: OH GOD NO
I can’t believe Teddy Long showed up to make it a tag team match. Can Teddy even do that? I know he was operating under the orders of Booker T or whatever, but if Booker isn’t the Raw GM or higher and isn’t even at the show, how can he decree card changes? And why is Teddy Long even there? If he’s the assistant to the Smackdown General Manager, shouldn’t he be, I don’t know, off somewhere assisting the Smackdown General Manager?
Just once I’d love for four guys to be brawling in the ring and get interrupted by an authority figure, and for said authority figure to NOT make it a tag TEAM match and just say, “HEY, YOU GUYS AREN’T WRESTLING NOW, GET OUT OF THE RING, WE HAVE MATCHES TO PUT ON”. Or like, “hey Kofi Kingston, I understand you want to protect your friend here, but running down to the ring and punching people when you aren’t a part of the sanctioned match is skirting some assault laws and you should probably cut it out”. Kofi’s response, of course, should be, “but I’m not really hitting them!”
Just kidding. Kofi’s response is I’M A WILDCAT! BOOM BOOM!
Worst: NO STOP IT, STOP DOING THIS
So now we go from a quick, effective thing between Survivor Series team captains* to a longer, less-effective tag team thing with Kofi Kingston in it. I’ve become increasingly aware of the negativity in these columns and I don’t want to just give into it and be a joyless NetCop, but the first hour of Raw from the Teddy Long appearance on was absolutely RANK.
What kind of Dorian Gray situation is going on where Teddy Long stays employed in the wrestling business for 27 f**king years? The Rock’s entire WWE career, counting the stuff he’s done lately, was about 8 years. Brock Lesnar’s WWE run was 2, 4 if you count OVW. Teddy Long, a guy who was a bad referee, became a bad manager, became a bad referee again, BECAME A BAD MANAGER AGAIN and ended up the most regressive and terrible authority figure character in modern WWE lore gets kept around for 30 YEARS. 30. Teddy Long has been paid to be a part of wrestling shows for longer than most of the people reading this have been alive. Write “TAG TEAM MATCH” on a chalkboard and wheel it out when people start fighting. THERE, I SAVED YOU THIRTY YEARS OF TIME AND MONEY.
* They keep saying Mick Foley is the captain, but that team’s as much “Team Foley” as it is “Team Mr. Touchdown”. If Bret Hart can tag in to a SummerSlam main-event and awkwardly boot somebody on the ground in their stomach, can’t we put Foley in that last spot and have him ATTAHH people in the corner and eat a CrossRhodes?
Worst: This Is Something People Are Watching On Television And None Of It Makes Any Goddamn Sense
How funny is it that they devoted 15 minutes to slut-shaming AJ and it wasn’t even the worst part of the show? Almost as funny as that fat joke.
Again, as I feel like I’ve typed more than I’ve typed my name, the problem with the Not-Championship-Related John Cena Storyline is that it doesn’t make sense. That’s it. I’m not even talking about the ridiculousness of Vickie Guerrero (or whoever) being able to “hack” into John Cena’s phone and digitally manipulate voicemail messages to make them say what she wants like she’s Alvin and the f**king Chipmunks trying to convince Ms. Miller that Dave wants them to join him in Europe so they can go on a hot air balloon race.
It’s been pointed out, even by Cena, that Vickie being able to usurp power by revealing that someone had had an illicit relationship with a superstar while in a position of authority is ridiculous. She was married to Edge when she was Smackdown GM, she made out with the Big Show that one time on SUPER SECRET SECURITY CAM and she had a pretty openly-happening relationship with Dolph Ziggler that affected not only her decision making skills, but her ability to properly raise a rookie on NXT. That’s all been said.
What hasn’t really been addressed is why AJ having an “affair” with a wrestler would cause her to resign from her position as GM. If she didn’t have the affair and was just friends with John and really lurved her job she could’ve stuck around and fought for it, but Lance Armstrong happened and I get it. What I don’t get is that, hey, remember when AJ got her job? Vince McMahon appointed her as the General Manager Of Raw in the middle of her wedding to a WWE Superstar. What gave him the idea to PUT her in that position? HER RELATIONSHIPS WITH THREE DIFFERENT SUPERSTARS AT ONCE.
So here’s the rundown: If you are married to Edge, commit adultery by making out with Big Show or be a “cougar” for a much younger guy and do some kind of weird sexual blackmail thing to give people opportunities, that’s fine. If you marry your abusive ex-boyfriend because he told you he loved you, dress up like a superstar because you want him to sleep with you or make out with the fire-murdering monster who has storyline killed one of his exes, that’s also fine. Have dinner with John Cena once? YOU ARE FIRED.
That says less about how WWE treats women, and more about how much of a man-boner Vince McMahon has for John Cena.
Best: Bill Motherf**king Regal
You and I have a lot of conflicting opinions about Raw — I get bent out of shape when WWE gets politically incorrect, you don’t think it’s a big deal; you think Daniel Bryan’s being wasted as Kane’s goat faced pal, I think he’s getting better every show; you think Kofi Kingston’s a “good wrestler,” I think my asshole could put on a better match — but one great objective pro wrestling thought is that William Regal f**king rules it, and if you disagree, you are a dumb idiot.
I’m sad that Regal’s match against Big Show was only a minute or two long and that we didn’t get more of him FIRING UP and fighting back, but it was what it needed to be, and a great example of how when it comes to moving your narrative forward, putting a great wrestler into a basic situation is better than putting an average wrestler into an exceptional one. How great were his faces? How great was that grody handprint on his chest? William Regal is just better at this than most people.
Best/Worst: Big Show Won’t Stop Beating Up Sheamus’ Dad
Remember when D-Generation X had the “DX Express” bus for like a month, then Stone Cold Steve Austin dropped a girder on it and it exploded like it was full of fireworks and everybody was all, NO, THAT’S THE D-X EXPRESS, HOW COULD HE DO IT?? Remember when Kofi Kingston ruined Randy Orton’s special Randy Orton car, and it was played up like a huge deal even though he’d own the car for like 20 minutes?
There’s something to be said for earning your storylines. If D-X has driven around the D-X Express for years and Austin blew it up, it would’ve legitimately been a big deal. Let me put it this way … compare Kofi throwing paint on Orton’s car to Earthquake squashing Jake the Snake’s snake Damien. Outside of the horror of a fat man killing an animal with his ass weight, the reason the latter worked a lot more than the former is because Jake had been carrying Damien around for as long as we’d known Jake, and it was TRAUMATIZING. They earned it. There were real consequences, because they’d taught you what was important to whom.
Now, I’m not going to throw too much shade at an angle involving Big Show, William Regal and punching. At the same time, the story is built around how Sheamus and William Regal are BEST FRIENDS FOREVER and Show’s doing this wretched thing to hurt Sheamus, but … outside of that one storyline in WWE 12, we haven’t really seen Regal and Sheamus do anything together. Last week Regal was all “let’s have a drink” and Sheamus smiled, and then they went IMMEDIATELY to the Damien Squashing. It doesn’t really matter, because they didn’t earn it. Okay, so Big Show’s punching a wrestler we were supposed to hate every time we saw him except now. Not exactly Artax dying in the Swamp of Sadness, you guys.
Worst: The Divas Match Was 8 Seconds Long, But At Least Eve Looked Really Nice
Well, she did.
There’s really nothing to say about the Divas match (Kaitlyn wins a #1 Contenders Match between the only two face Divas on the show! At least they didn’t have a battle royal! Woo!), so I’d like to take this Worst to talk about Kaitlyn’s theme. I don’t know how much you know about it, but it’s called ‘Spin The Bottle,’ and if you think Layla’s song about how she’s insatiable and needs to find a boy is bad, oh man, let me tell you:
This is tonight
I know the time is right
To let you go real slow
Woah oh oh I’m so-o
This simple game
It just might be the way
To make you be my man
Yeah, but can’t you see that
You and me could be happy
So why don’t you spin the bottle?
Spin it right around
But aim it towards me now
Yeah, why don’t you come and spin the bottle?
Push it one degree
So it will point at me
‘Cause I just want to be your supermodel
the f**k is that shit
At least Layla’s theme, as ass-backwards as it is, amounts to “I’m horny!” Kaitlyn’s theme just doesn’t make any sense. She thinks Spin The Bottle is the way to get a guy to like her, so she urges him to play, but she wants him to cheat at it so she’ll get kissed? Why don’t you just say “I want you to kiss me”? Why be Rube Goldberg about about your sexual advances? And furthermore, how many people are in this game when pushing the bottle “one degree” will make it point at Kaitlyn? FURTHERMORE, HOW DOES THIS MAKE YOU SOMEONE’S SUPERMODEL.
I know if my job is to kick somebody’s ass, the music that plays me out should say, “I wish someone would kiss me at a tween party!”
WORST: Jerry Lawler’s Heart Attack Now Happened In The Land Of Make-Believe
A few things to quickly reiterate:
1. I am very happy that Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler didn’t permanently die. For better or worse, he’s an important figure to regional wrestling history, and in a perfect world all of these guys who break themselves for my complainy enjoyment should get to lead happy, healthy lives and never die. Like, I don’t want Ox Baker to die. Ox Baker has 0% to do with my life other than me thinking he was scary and cool in PWI in f**king 1983 or whatever, but I want him be 3,000 years old and heart punching the Tron Asians from Cloud Atlas.
2. Jerry Lawler is probably the worst “legendary” wrestling announcer ever, and the second he sat down in the booth again, that good will about me not wanting him dead went right the hell away. I still don’t want him dead, because what am I, a psychopath? But I DO hate the ever-loving Christ out of his announcing, and within five minutes he was calling Antonio Cesaro gay for carrying a purse and I wanted to throw him through a window.
All that said, the only thing that really bothered me about last night’s return segment is the wayyyyy too graphic use of HEART ATTACK COLLAPSE AND DEATH FOOTAGE AND HEARTBEAT NOISES in a pro wrestling video package. This is a situation that calls for clips of Lawler punching Nick Bockwinkel and getting run over by a car that one time and palling around with Adam West, not dying in front of us on wrestling. I support the idea of a wrestler using whatever happens in his personal life as fodder for angles or whatever, but they could’ve just as easily had Punk come out and make fun of him for dying without working the literal death into a video package like it’s an attack from behind on the ramp.
Lawler’s heart attack has gone from being a real, tragic thing that happened to just being another part of a boring storyline we’ll forget. That does a disservice to the program AND to Jerry’s recovery. This is why when Lawler went down on the first place, wrestling fans and Deadspin and whoever else was all IT IS A WORK? When Punk punches a fan, people think the fan’s a Stunt Granny. Shade the stories you made up with gray, WWE, not the ones that shaded themselves. Maybe we’d be able to have a little more reverence for either side.
Best/Worst: CM Punk’s Confrontational Heeling, But Nothing Else About This
I’ve sorta positioned myself as the one wrestling fan of note online who gets righteously indignant when WWE starts getting prejudiced or offensive or weird. A lot of people, especially the people who don’t like the column, expect a certain assholey soap-box thing about how a company that fake fights and exacerbates cultural and ethnic stereotypes should suddenly stop being itself. I get that, and I totally do it.
What I’m getting at is that if you ignore the Jerry Lawler Dying In Front Of Us For Real video package and the really forced, screamy stuff from Foley about championship title reigns and being Right Here In Columbus Ohio, I LOVED the stuff Punk and Heyman were doing. Punk being an awful person who says the things even an awful person probably wouldn’t say is what brought him to the f**king dance, and has always been what made him must-see. They push Heyman as the “scum of the Earth” all the time, but he mostly just says his wrestlers are great and gets punched a lot. This is the first time I can remember where Heyman actually did something deserving of all that scorn. Same with Punk. If you want people to boo Punk, this is a whole lot more effective than him saying he doesn’t care what the audience thinks, because NONE of the heels care what the audience thinks, but Punk’s the only one brave enough to say I BEAT YOU TO DEATH JERRY LAWLER AND IF YOU RUN YOUR MOUTH AT ME AGAIN YOU KNOW WHAT’LL HAPPEN. It’s great.
I saw a lot of people on Twitter who have lost loved ones to heart attacks (or people who’ve had heart attacks themselves, like pro wrestler LuFisto) saying F**K YOU WWE and demanding apologies. I don’t think that’s fair. Pro wrestling is a show that is literally about people hurting each other. You have to hurt your opponent so much he can’t move long enough for you to pin him. There’s a move called the heart punch, where a guy punches you in the heart to make you collapse. People have died from sleeper holds and piledrivers. People have been dying from punches and kicks for the entirety of human existence. If pro wrestling uses somebody getting hurt, no matter how severe, to amp up how much you love or hate someone, that’s more or less the definition of pro wrestling. Punk’s a bad guy, and he’s doing a really, really bad thing. That’s good. That’s the idea.
If pro wrestling uses largely white, largely male babyface characters to be socially cruel to women, or minorities, or people who are differently abled, or the LGBTQ community for the benefit of a largely white, largely male, perfectly abled and straight audience, it sticks out to me. It’s an extraneous thing a lazy person added to pro wrestling to sell it to a stupid audience. If a bad guy does the same thing and gets his ass kicked for it, that’s also good. That’s teaching simple, straight-forward lessons to people impressionable enough to watch wrestling. I know, I’m one of them.
The problem is that a good guy never gets comeuppance for the hateful shit he does. Punk will look like a coward for his statements, be berated for them by people we respect (Jim Ross, Mick Foley) and get his ass kicked. He got his ass kicked last night. We didn’t even have to wati. Rock calls Cena a fag (in so many words) and sells 100,000 t-shirts, wins at WrestleMania and is a popular movie star idol. Bad guys should do bad things, good guys shouldn’t, and one should be accepted as ethically superior to the other. If we could get both sides operating on the same wavelength, wrestling would be pretty good, and I could shut up and just tell you which moves I liked.
Best: People Are Doing Moves And The Fans Are Excited!
One of the problems I write about a lot is how WWE audiences want to see wrestlers, but they don’t necessarily want to see wrestling. That’s why they cheer loudly for entrances and returns but sit on their hands for almost every match. On that same train of thought, one of the reasons I preferred WCW to WWF growing up is that WWF never figured out how to do matches like this. They booked the Survivor Series, and sure, that was fun, but the key to a really great multi-man tag match is that the natural heat ebb and flow of a 2-on-2 tag team match isn’t necessary, and you can just have everybody throw a bunch of shit at the wall and audiences will love it. All you have to do is get 8 guys out there and have them do a bunch of moves to each other. Why do you think those Dragon Gate six-man tags get so much love? They’re barely matches, they’re just Ryo Saito standing there with his hands at his hips, waiting for Dragon Kid to run into them. Come up with some fun stuff and hit your marks. Boom, everyone’s happy.
Last night, the crowd was very much like “oh, Oh! OHH! OHHH!” to some really simple WWE moveset stuff because they weren’t getting the same helping of the same food they’re always fed. There are so many types of wrestling matches, and you can do SO MANY OF THEM without even resorting to props. Guys like Kidd, Gabriel and Sin Cara got to do some cool looking stuff without the hindrance of having to make audiences care about them in a chinlock for two minutes before it. Guys like Mr. Hoecakes Off Titus Young got to be around and do their thing without being left out there to work a heat sequence and get exposed. Eight-man tags are like grass attacking ground. Super effective.
My only complaint here is how hard it was to come up with good team names. The best I came up with for the heels was TitPERM, and as funny as that sounds it leaves out Darren Young, and also a tit perm isn’t a thing you can get. For the faces I chose “Undervalued Car Stereo”.
Okay, second complaint: Rey Mysterio’s Bananas In Pajamas gear. It was like Curious George and The Man With The Yellow Hat had a baby.
Best: Ricardo Rodriguez, Sexy Messenger
The “Rosa Mendes gets something better to do” storyline continues, as Ricardo Rodriguez wandered out during the tag match to hand Rosa Mendes a note, because I guess they don’t have smart phones or computers in Mexico and nobody knew where Rosa was until she walked out with Prepico. I like Del Rio, Ricardo and Rosa, so I hope they just team up so they can be a happy family unit, at least until Ricardo goes Full Virgil.
I still think it would’ve been funny if the letter to Rosa just said TOP RONDY. Or maybe “it is my destiny to be wwe champion” written in pencil in all lowercase. Or just a huge cumstain.
Best: The Pre-Fight Atmosphere For Brad Maddox Vs. Ryback
Before I write this up, I want to say that the best part of watching Raw with Destiny last night was when they showed DLC Ryback wrestling a Create-A-Superstar Brad Maddox on WWE ’13, and she complained that they “didn’t even make his pants right”. You’ve been watching me make too many people in that game, sweetheart.
Anyway, I loved the beginning of Ryback/Maddox. I thought we were going to see something special. I’ve read in various places that Maddox is one of Triple He’s projects, so when he came to the ring with PUNCH written on his arm like the guy from Memento and BEEF MODE written on his ass like Hot Wendy from the Wendy’s commercials (I’m assuming) and a f**king AMBULANCE BACKED UP INTO THE ARENA I was thrilled. There are so many places they could’ve gone with the match. From the fantastic (Lesnar showing up, snapping Ryback’s arm, giving Maddox the pin and making Ryback chase Maddox/Lesnar until Mania) to the sorta-expected but still fine (a count-out or DQ win for Maddox or something) to the totally not happening (Maddox showing he’s a great wrestler and earning Ryback’s respect before getting eaten), almost anything would’ve been a Best.
Anything except “Ryback beats up the tiny guy, assaults him on the stretcher after the match and that’s the end”. That would be a really shitty place to take things.
Worst: The Post-Fight Atmosphere For Brad Maddox Vs. Ryback
And here we are, having been taken there.
I get that Ryback needs to get his revenge against the Little Handsome Ref, but man, they could’ve at least let Maddox get in a bulldog or something before stuffing him in the crate and shipping him back to OVW. That pre-match segment with Paul Heyman gives me hope that if I Wait And See What Happens™ I’ll be rewarded, but the whole thing left me feeling underwhelmed and stupid for being excited. Why bring up the super-specific MILLION DOLLAR CONTRACT if you aren’t gonna give him a million dollar contract? Why stretch this out over three weeks or whatever when the guy Maddox cheated got his revenge five seconds later by military pressing Maddox and throwing him into a cage wall? What’s with the Extra Revenge? How many times do you have to hurt somebody before it’s Even Stevens? You’re 10 times bigger than him, Ryback, and you’re beating him up while he’s being stretchered away.
I don’t know. It sucked pretty hard. We didn’t even get a Stan Stansky run-in. Score update: So far Triple H is 1 (Damien Sandow) and 3 (Kharma, Sin Cara, Brad Maddox) in project greatness.
Jack Swagger Of Mars
This is normally where I’d provide a chapter of our ongoing, hard sci-fi saga ‘Jack Swagger Of Mars’, but I am so excited about this existing I had to share it by itself. Get ready for the FILM ADAPTATION of JSOM. I’m like the Bryan Lee O’Malley of wrestling columnists!