– Make sure you’ve read Dan “Soupy” Campbell’s Best And Worst Of WWE Survivor Series 2012 fill-in report. He did a fantastic job filling in, and he even has a mark photo with Seth Rollins in there. Check it out.
– Comments, shares, likes, what-have-you are greatly appreciated. Nay, demanded.
– The show report is up in total now, so if you read part of it earlier, spam your refresh button.
Please click through to enjoy the Best And Worst Of WWE Raw for November 19, 2012. Well, most of it.
Worst: Ryback Should Probably Talk Less
So, I guess it’s appropriate to start this week’s column by saying how hard I’m turning on Ryback, and now a couple of interference runs in pay-per-view main events have taken me to the heights of Funkasaurus Debut to the bowels of Funkasaurus Now.
I think Ryback has an upside. I’ve always liked Skip Sheffield, and I feel like if you pulled the cameras away from him a little and highlighted his strengths without throwing him out there with a microphone to open Raw he could still be a thing. Unfortunately for all of us, there he is with a microphone opening Raw, yammering on like he’s Vader in that one episode of ‘Boy Meets World,’ screaming in Mr. Feeny’s face about how he’s THE FACE OF FEAR and being taken seriously by nobody because the crowd is just Cory Matthews (me), Shawn Hunter (Dave Shoemaker) and a bunch of extras who were just told to show up and have no idea what’s happening (everybody else on the Internet). Yes, the only way I justify being a blogger is by imagining myself as the protagonist of a 1990s sitcom. Sorry for inadvertently making you Joey The Rat, Guy At Bleacher Report.
You know what made those weird, rambling Ultimate Warrior interviews so great? The fact that they happened right before his matches. It felt like he’d just been wandering around in circles backstage mumbling to himself, and it was close enough to go-time that Mean Gene could say HEY ULTIMATE WARRIOR and uncork him. So he’d be all THE EVE OF DESTRUCTION IS THE DESTINY OF YOUR DOWNFALL HO KOGAN, FOR IT IS THE HAND OF AN AIRPLANE THAT MAKES OUTER SPACE RELEVANT, and you’d be all YEAH THIS GUY’S F**KING INSANE and five minutes later he’s press slamming dudes with tassles on his shoes and it all goes together. Imagine if Warrior had to open shows with 10 minute promos to nobody in particular, never looking into the camera and just saying things about how he’s a BEAST and how he must FEAST and how he is on top of the food chain and you are just YEAST. You’d f**king hate it, because there’d be an hour and a half between the bat-shit and the slamming.
Here’s a quick outline for any WWE guys reading on how to fix Ryback, or at least preserve him for future shows and stories:
1. Don’t let him talk if he’s supposed to be a savage cyborg (or whatever).
2. Do not under any circumstances let him beat three promising wrestlers by himself at TLC. Put Stansky in the Olive Garden Hospitaliano uniform and pretend like you accidentally called him Seth Rollins.
3. Make him stop leading his own chants. It was embarrassing when Edge tried to do it, and it’s worse here. We’re noticing it, and we’re wrestling fans — we don’t want to be a part of any club that would have us as a member.
4. Do something to teach WWE fans how to count on rhythm. It’s supposed to be “FEED (pause) ME (pause) MORE,” like a King’s declaration, not “FEEDMEMORE, FEEDMEMORE,” like E-C-Dub. Trust me, it’s more fun when you do it right.
5. Maybe make him a part of a group to take the focus off of him for a while. It seems like he’d more effective as the NEVER MIND THAT SHIT HERE COMES MONGO type, rather than the “these FANS want to see me take the WWE Championship!” type.
If you can do one or more of those things, you’re moving in the right direction. If you can do all five, the next steps are “lose the RVD tights” and “just bring back Batista already”.
Worst: So Long, Lord Tensai, And Thanks For All The F**KING NOTHING
Earlier this year, WWE had four concurrent “unstoppable” winning streak new guys: Ryback, Brodus Clay, Antonio Cesaro and Lord Tensai. Five if you count Damien Sandow. The key to winning a lot in WWE is to always be just arriving. That’s why you can’t beat the Rock. He’s gone for seven years and has saved up SO MUCH POWER. If you’re Brodus Clay and you’re here every week, your power keeps going down until you can’t beat anybody. See also: Viscera, The Great Khali and every other unstoppable monster giant who loses whenever someone more important needs a win.
Sandow seems to be doing fine (despite that horrible, immediate Survivor Series loss). Cesaro is GREAT, because they haven’t thrown him in to lose to Cena or Orton or whoever and have let him pick the bones of guys like R-Truth for a while. Ryback is starting his descent from Main Event to “wrestling NXT guys in a gimmick match, probably”. Brodus ran headfirst into a wall called RACIST WRESTLEMANIA SKETCH and has never recovered. Pretty sure Naomi could’ve done better against Antonio Cesaro last night. But worst of all is Tensai, who brick by brick lost everything that made him an identifiable character — the plus-sized Muta costume, the green mist, the spit hand of doom, Sakamoto, his title as “lord,” basic wrestling ability — and just became the fattest, saddest jobber on the roster.
If the rumors of massive roster cuts are true, let me, the biggest Giant Bernard fan you know (probably), be the first to hope
Lord is the first one out the f**king door.
Best: Wade Barrett Decimating Kofi Kingston
Surprisingly, Wade Barrett versus Kofi Kingston was my favorite match on the show. They worked hard to find the perfect formula for me to enjoy a Kofi match: Kofi must have the piss beaten out of him by his opponent for 10 minutes before being elbowed in the eyeball and pinned. Who knew?
Worst: There Is No Reason For This To Be A Non-Title Match
The only downside to the match is that it wasn’t for the Intercontinental Championship. I write a lot about how pointless non-title matches are as stepping stones to title matches — if you’re building a challenger to the IC Champion, have him beat OTHER guys so we can wonder whether or not he’ll take the strap and be interested in your goddamn mid-carders and tune in to see what happens — but I don’t think I’ve ever expressed how sick I am with WWE treating secondary titles as situationally important.
They’ll put the US title on a guy for like, eight months and have him defend it twice. The second time is when he’ll lose it. Cody Rhodes, I’m looking in your direction. In-between he’ll lose a handful of non-title matches, effectively making the guy with the belt the worst guy in the ring and valuing shit like “making a statement” over winning and having tangible evidence that you are the best. But then they’ll get to the end of the run and start pretending like the champion has done all these great things, and is one of the “best champions we’ve ever had,” and how the US title has been on the waist of Stone Cold Steve Austin and Ric Flair and Harley Race.
All I’m asking is for some consistency. If the title isn’t important, don’t pretend it is when you need it. If it IS important, as it should be, be brave enough to WRITE it as important, and to have it change hands when your champ loses. That’s the entire point of being champion — the moment when you lose the belt, and the next guy takes over. If it has to jump around a lot because of your ADHD, fine, but at least let it stand as a symbol of who won last.
Note: Wade Barrett totally won last.
Worst: Matt Striker’s Face
I don’t care if it’s Movember or NaNoGroFacialHairMo or what, you should not be allowed on TV looking like a teen girl’s half-assed manga interpretation of Hulk Hogan. I take back what I said about Tensai being the first out the door. Put him on all fours and let Matt Striker ride him through the door like a big gross molerat pony.
Worst: Aksana’s Boob Zipper
I spent almost 45 of this match’s 50 seconds wondering about the logistics of Aksana’s boob zipper, so I’m going to show my work.
Askana’s wrestling gear, as we’re forced to accept it, is a read bra and panties set from Lithuania’s Frederick’s Of Hollywood equivalent (‘Frederick’s Of Gelgaudiškis’) under a lace bodysuit. In kayfabe, I guess that protects her body? Keeps her from falling out? What I’m getting at is that she’s a trio of horns away from being the porno Jushin Thunder Liger.
Anyway, the bodysuit has two zippers: one down the back, and one across the boobs. The one down the back is so the thing will fit, but what’s the zipper across the boobs for? It’s not wide enough to unzip and pull boobs from, and doesn’t give you the right angle for anything sexual without making like non-Wrangler jeans and tearing your dick up. So what’s it there for? Fashion? Is that where she keeps her keys? Is it a Ms. Yvonne thing, where she keeps her stuff in her bra (because she’s not wearing much else, frankly) and needs quick access? Or (and this is my theory), is it like those old-timey long johns with the butt flap for pooping, but she’s wearing it upside down?
Aksana doesn’t make a lot of sense. I hope this storyline continues forever!
Best/Worst: Let’s Combine The Two Divas Storylines And Reunite The Chickbusters
As Soupy mentioned in the Best And Worst Of WWE Survivor Series 2012:
Wait, does this mean there’s TWO programs happening in the Diva’s division? That’s… actually kind of cool.
While he’s right — it IS cool to have more than one story at a time for what’s supposed to be a locker room full of female characters — WWE Creative doesn’t have the desire/brain power to anchor ONE Divas story effectively for an entire cycle, much less two. That’s why we’re still going through the motions of the Kaitlyn attack two months later and Vickie Guerrero has presented 17 straight weeks of “new evidence” to prove that John Cena likes girls.
My suggestion would be to put them together. AJ and Kaitlyn have a history that extends back to their first days in the company, and bringing them together to overcome their differences and battle disingenuous champion Eve, giant-ish bodyguard Tamina and cackling Head Of Something Vickie Guerrero would be rad. Keep Aksana in there as one of the low-level henchmen. When was the last time you saw a Divas storyline about more than three people? Even the Pin-Up Strong/Kelly Kelly and Eve feud was built around name-calling and unrealistic depictions of jealousy instead of Wrestling Stories.
Here you’ve got a woman who was intentionally injured to keep her out of the title picture, a “crazy” girl trying to control her demons to keep her job and be happy, a malicious authority figure with (WWE) legitimate reasons to be “jealous” (especially with Kaitlyn in there, because of the Kaitlyn and Dolph story from NXT), a smarmy champ doing whatever she can to keep up an image (including throwing in with the shitty boss) and a second generation star who has never been taken seriously because she’s not tiny and cute. And a Lithuanian lady who acts and kinda looks like Beastly from the Care Bears. By the end of it, everyone would have served a purpose and The Chickbusters could be a real, marketable thing to young girls, and not just a thing I liked in FCW because they existed outside of WWE TV’s hatescope.
Best: Antonio Cesaro Going Full M. Bison On Brodus Clay
Look at this:
If you aren’t cheering this man, you’re doing it wrong.
Additionally: Swedish Little Jimmies.
Worst: Vickie Guerrero’s EVIDENCE-GATE Has Gone All The Way Past Good And Back To Bad Again
First things first, Ms. Whitney Smith needs to call me.
Second things first, check out Mr. Doug Brady creeping in the background. What a piece of shit creeper THAT guy is, right? Who gets a complaint about people doing it in the parking lot, and instead of going out and doing the flashlight tap on the window takes his iPhone out and starts snapping nudes?
WWE Creative, if one of you is reading this (and didn’t close the window when I threw shade at you on the last page … and, uh, on every page of this column ever), I’d love to pitch you the idea of an Item 47-style special where we follow Whitney Smith and Doug Brady through their day at WWE Raw, written by me. Spoiler alert: Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns factor heavily in the story, and Doug Brady dies when he’s trying to snap dickpix in the men’s locker room and gets flattened by a collapsing stall.
Wait, hold on. I can’t do that. I just found out that AJ Lee has evidence that I, Brandon Stroud, have been having an affair with With Leather reader and Wrestling Bro FembotDanielle. That’s ridiculous, though, we just hung out at King Of Trios. I mean, she brought me an argyle coffee mug and some vegan donuts, but that’s no reason to say we …
Damn, that’s pretty incriminating. And weirdly racist!
Worst: John Cena Has Kissed Everybody, Still Doesn’t Know How To Kiss
If With Leather was Oh No They Didn’t (and it should be), my entire Raw column would be about
1. How gross John Cena kisses, and
2. How much this segment looked like a clip from ‘My Sister’s Hot Friend’
If a NaughtyAmerica reference* doesn’t make you think less of me, maybe this one will: The Cena/AJ kiss reminded me of the ‘Once More With Feeling’ episode of ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ where everyone was all excited to see Buffy and Spike kiss, and then whoops, James Marsters kisses like he’s chewing a piece of meat. Sorry, everyone!
*Faye Reagan should guest host an episode of Raw. Just throwing that out there.
Best: John Cena Is Now Injured Because Of His Awkward Boner Run
I think I speak for everyone when I say the best moment of Raw last night was Cena’s face lunch being interrupted by Dolph Ziggler, then Ziggler fleeing and Cena trying to give chase, only to hurt himself/run all weird because his new khakis aren’t as effective as the jorts at disguising a boner. “GET BACK HERE ZIGGLER SO HELP ME I’LL oop wait hold on” and then a ramp of galloping.
When they did the backstage medic scene, the doctor should’ve been wrapping his junk in gauze.
Best: 2 Out Of 3 Falls Matches On Raw
My original idea for this week’s column is that it’d be one sentence — “I liked the wrestling on this show, and didn’t like everything that wasn’t wrestling” — and six pages of Jack Swagger Of Mars. Get ready for the next three pages, which are mostly just that.
I love 2 Out Of 3 Falls matches. I think they’re a woefully underused wrestling trope that can give you the pop/pathos of up to three match decisions without having to have someone restart the match, and without referees aruging, and without Teddy Long showing up to make this a tag TEAM match. It very easily lets you show a wrestling crowd that these guys are evenly matched, and that a one-fall match between the two could go either way. One guy gets a fall, the other guy gets the second fall, and we settle it in a third.
WWE falls into a trap where their favorite way to book a 2 Out Of 3 falls match is to have the heel intentionally lose the first fall to “hurt” the face, leading to a quick second fall where that comes in handy, and a third fall where it does not. That’s fine, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense. What’s the value in Alberto Del Rio slamming Orton’s arm into the ring post three times to soften it up and getting counted out against him doing it twice, rolling back into the ring to break up the count, then rolling out and doing it the third time? One way makes him look like he knows how wrestling works. One way makes him look kinda stupid. You could skip the DQ and let the cheap tactics lead to a first fall loss for the face, and then he’s got these huge insurmountable odds ahead of him where he’s got to win TWO falls with a busted arm (or whatever) instead of just one. And one seems impossible! So your face comes back and looks like he can accomplish anything, and your heel doesn’t look like a bumblef**k who doesn’t know how to do his job.
Regardless, I liked this match a lot. I wish Del Rio didn’t lose all the time, but at least he got to kick Orton’s ass for a while. And frankly, this match could’ve been the worst piece of bread in history and I would’ve looked back on it fondly, because the next thing I saw on the show was:
Worst: WAIT NO GO BACK TO THE 2 OUT OF 3 FALLS MATCH
Sometimes I wonder if part of the set-up for a WWE live show is a big red ABORT button in the Gorilla position. Like, if a show has been too wrestling-heavy and nobody’s made HIS RELATIVES ARE JOSE AND HOSE-B HEH HEH jokes in the last 45 minutes, Vince can powerwalk up and slap the button, and that makes Hornswoggle’s music hit or whatever and the next segment is about fat guys dancing and cruiserweights being helpless.
Worst: This Rosa Mendes Thing Is Just A Way To Get Prepico Fired Without Losing Her, Isn’t It
I mentioned those roster cut rumors earlier, and I don’t know if they’re true, but if they are, things don’t seem hopefully for the P and E in PERM.
I mean, Rosa Mendes just got out of a terrible, abuse relationship and is a good hand to have around when one of your celebrity guest hosts wants to bag a Diva, so you’ve got to keep her. You can write her into the Alberto Del Rio mythos and maybe put her in a French maid outfit so Ricardo can start wrestling without having to “break up” with Berto, and everybody wins. So how do you get her from point A (tag team valet) to point B (singles valet in a maid costume)?
Well, if you’re a normal person, you go to a Halloween Express and just have her start accompanying the singles wrestler. If you’re WWE, you’ve got to ease the audience into it by having her get clandestine messages from Ricardo Rodriguez and get sprayed in the face with PRANK FLOWERZ so she’s got “things” going on unrelated to Primo and Epico. That way you can whittle off Primo and Epico and nobody’ll ask HEY, WHY AIN’T ROSA MENDEEZ GO WITH’EM. It’s WWE’s weird interpretation of independence. I don’t know, I just watch the show.
If Prepico do get released, it’s not the worst news, because it means they can go hang out with Carlito more often, and the Colons will be at full strength. And trust me, when you’re watching Carlito wrestle, you need your colons to be at full strength.
Best: Babyface Miz Continues To Deliver
And, more importantly, the secret Pretty Gooding of David Otunga continues. Remember that singles match he had against Sheamus (well, one of them) where he forgot the smarmy heel stuff and just threw lariats and forearms at him until Sheamus got enraged and put him down? This was the “not Sheamus” version of that.
I talked about this with Casey/THESTINGER the other day, and The Miz, as much as he appears to be the low-rent Chris Jericho, is actually the opposite. Jericho was a good guy for most of his career, but he’s too disingenuous and sarcastic to be a convincing good guy. He always seemed like a prick. That’s why when he became a Conspiracy Victim in WCW or the Best In The World At What He Does suit Jericho in WWE he’s amazing. He’s convincing as a piece of shit, because he’s kind of for-real a piece of shit. Miz has been a bad guy for most of his career, partially because of how awkward and punchable he was when he first showed up, but he’s too sincere to be a bad guy. He loves what he does, and he knows how lucky he is to be there, because he was a fan long before he tried to become a wrestler. So when he’s all bug-eyes and duckface about how he’s the most must-see champion in WWE history you don’t buy it, because it sounds like he’s reading a script. He’s pretending to be a wrestler. But when he’s a good guy, everything he does suddenly has a sense of urgency, a pop, and all that unnatural fog goes away. He’s a guy doing wrestling moves and trying to win because YEAH, WRESTLING RULES. That’s The Miz. At least, that’s who he seems to be.
So yeah, keep this going with both characters, WWE. Let Otunga continue to improve under the radar until he’s enough of a wrestler to catch up to how awesome he is when he isn’t, and let Miz continue to show all the stuff he’s got on the inside, because that, finally, is awesome.
Worst: Sheamus Won’t Stop Shouting At People, Or
Best: “What” Chants For Sheamus
“I liked the wrestling, and didn’t like the stuff that wasn’t wrestling.”
Sheamus should never be allowed to speak. It’s not that he can’t, it’s that he shouldn’t. We talk about characters at face value at With Leather (because we are adults and know that wrestling is not real), but that confuses a lot of readers. WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU HATE SHEAMUS, HE’S SO NICE TO CHILDREN or whatever. You have to explain, every time, that yes, you know that Sheamus the guy is cool and nice and good at his job and that yes, it’s the writers who are probably making this terrible, but that there are so many unknowns and intangibles that the only way to be a fan is to accept the reality of what the character does and says as The Character. So when Sheamus loses twice and is still all HEY FELLA I WANT A SHOT AT THE DOUBLYA DOUBLYA E CHAMPIONSHIP BECAUSE YOU BETRAYED ME on the mic after reacting to a loss by making Big Show grovel for his life in the guy-on-guy equivalent of Bark Like A Dog, yeah, Sheamus sucks and should go f**k himself.
It got even worse when Show showed up to give his point of view, and Sheamus just kept trying to talk over him like a five-year old. I don’t expect the wrestling shoutfest to be an intelligent debate, but damn, how much of an asshole do you have to be to just talk over the other guy? You don’t have anything to say. You’re just saying I WANT TO FIGHT YOU YOU’RE A JERK. We get it. You also lost twice and are being a little butthole about it. Get a grip.
And for the record, this is the one time when “What” chants are acceptable. Even the people who are contractually obligated to cheer you don’t want to hear you talk, Sheamus.
Best: Sheamus vs. Sandow, Again
The only real Worst here comes at the beginning of the video, where Sheamus counters the Cubito Aequet, and instead of just calling the match Cole still has to work in his “Cubito Aequet means Elbow Of Disdain” talking point. They could have Camacho* walk up to Sin Cara and shoot him in the head with a gun, and Cole would still drop “Sin Cara was so popular in Mexico he had a comic book based on his life” in Owen voice.
Best: Bodyguard Tamina #Cangetit SO HARD
I don’t know what it is about New Tamina, but she made my eyebrows raise last night.
So far, Tamina’s WWE run has been as “additional Diva,” wearing leopard print or whatever to remind you that she’s a Snuka or doing jumping snake headbutts with Santino for max laffs. Here, she’s beautiful, allowed to be tough without having to hit anybody with a coconut (because REMEMBER?) and threatening without any of that over-the-top name-calling bullshit. That’s what Vickie is for. Seriously, AJ Lee has become one of the worst characters on the show, and I’m down for the opposite of what she represents to show up, be a foot taller than her and put her in the ground.
It’s a very Ron Swanson thing of me to say, but I’m excited for WWE to dabble in a powerful woman aesthetic without giving her enormous fake boobs (Stephanie) or having her be secretly ashamed of not being “pretty” and popular (Beth, Natalya). Because having respect for yourself can make you pretty, if pretty’s a thing you have to be for this weird job.
I’m going to say an obvious thing, and a less obvious thing.
The less obvious thing: I kinda get where Dolph Ziggler’s coming from. He’s being a terrible, terrible, terrible person about it, but he’s got a point. I see myself a lot like AJ The Character sees herself. I came up from nothing, too. I had an extremely poor, temporarily homeless Art Alexakis ‘Father Of Mine’ childhood (a scared white boy in a black neighborhood) and made something of myself. Sure, I’m not a skyscraper millionaire and blogging is more or less manning literature’s drive-thru, but it’s something, and I can make a living writing, and I’m proud of myself. At the same time, I’m always terrified that it’s going to evaporate out from under me, so I do that crappy obsessive thing where I ignore the 200 people telling me I’m amazing in favor of the one who tells me I suck. I OBSESS over that. At the same time, I latch on to people who give me attention and make them my world, then get disappointed when they haven’t made me complete and end up alone. I’m working really hard to improve myself and stop doing that, because I realize how awful a life like that feels, and know that if I keep at it, ultimately I’ll just end up alone. It’s sad, and a little pathetic.
So I get that. I think that’s a really complex, interesting emotion for a wrestling character, and if the rest of the show was sorta built around the same complexities, it could work. It could give value to that “shades of grey” thing they love so much and take emphasis off of who’s the good guy and who’s the bad guy in favor of “who is the most interesting” or talented. That’s a brave, positive step that would alienate and lose pretty much every person who wants to watch wrestling. The rest of the show isn’t like that, though, so it all played very much like The Narrator telling AJ what he thinks of her. I’d say he’s got a problem with women, but I think he’s got a problem with everybody.
The obvious thing: This segment sucked SOOOO HARD. Holy crap. I can’t even begin to dissect it. AJ decides to storm into the locker room to confront Dolph Ziggler (with a camera in tow), gets berated, attacks him, then has MAGICAL INJURY JOHN CENA appear and protect her, leading to Cena and Ziggler crashing through a bathroom stall. And then John is FOR REALSIES hurt, and nothing is resolved. And it’s TERRIBLE. All of it. “Lady berating bathroom fightz” is not a good idea for a segment.
There was, however, a huge highlight:
Best: 3MB Just Hanging Around In Hats And Towels
Yes, that is ALL THREE MEMBERS of 3MB, none of whom recently wrestled, wearing nothing but towels and standing shoulder-to-shoulder. Drew McIntyre is even wearing a cowboy hat. WHO GETS OUT OF THE SHOWER AND PUTS ON NOTHING BUT THEIR COWBOY HAT? Futhermore, it looks to me like they weren’t even IN the showers. They’re BONE DRY. They’re just wearing towels and hanging out in hats. HOLY SHIT.