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– I’ll remind you again as the column rolls on, but Justin O’Connor of Progressive Boink and myself are hosting a Best And Worst Of WWE Smackdown Live-Blog tonight at 8 PM EST. They’re airing it live this week, so you should come and chat with us and leave comments that I can hopefully multitask well enough in spite of Justin’s funny to include. Seriously, you’re going to laugh your ass off at this. Stop by, and tell folks.
– Another good reason for you to stop by and get to know Justin: he’s going to be filling in for me on the Best And Worst Of WWE Raw 12/19 report on Tuesday the 20th. The 19th is my girlfriend’s birthday, and as much as I love wrestling, yeah, no.
– All the gifs you see within the report are courtesy of the awesome Jerusalem at Punchsport Pagoda.
– Listening to me is better than reading me, so be sure to spend … jesus, two hours listening to me talk to K. Sawyer Paul over on the International Object podcast.
But first, please to enjoy the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for November 28.
Best: John Cena’s Emotional Complexity
I loved this opening segment so much, and I hope you already know why. For months (and arguably years) I’ve been trying to justify John Cena’s crowd reactions and motivations, and for once WWE too a chance at making those justifications a reality. People like to say things like “compare CM Punk or Alberto Del Rio or Ricardo Rodriguez’s facial expressions to John Cena’s, it’s like he’s not even TRYING”, but they’re wrong. CM Punk’s character is simple … he’s an anti-establishment type who is secretly in it for himself. Alberto Del Rio is a rich guy who thinks badly of anyone who isn’t him or employed at Del Rio Estates. Ricardo is a nodding yes man who is emotionally invested in every turn of the conversation. Those things require a specific kind of reaction. Cena’s is different.
John Cena is, and continues to be, the most subversively complex character in WWE. He is neither a “good guy” nor a “bad guy”. He is what others have tried to desperately to be to get over with the fans: himself. He is a man (and a former robot, if you’re going by OVW history … and possibly WWE history, now that I think about it) driven by a moral code, to be loyal to those he feels are loyal to him and do anything to preserve that. It’s why he refuses to change. Why would he? This is what he believes. He knows that guy in the camo in the front row is happy to be appreciated. He knows those kids in Cena gear are gonna get jaded one day and grow up and leave him … but he won’t leave them.
If John Cena “turned heel” like so many of you suggest, he’d be the most false character in WWE history. He’d be faker than Festus. Hell, he’d be faker than Festus Kane. He knows what he’s doing might be not “right” in the eyes of the fans, but they’re right in the eyes he’s developed for himself, and his fans and supporters share those eyes. That’s part of being a Cena fan, you don’t just wear the slogans, you adopt them. He has an entire dresser drawer full of Say Your Prayers, Eat Your Vitamins. That was great advice to kids from Hogan. “Rise above hate” and “never give up” are great advice for kids today. So why should he get pissed? Because you don’t understand that? Cena says he’s in a “good place” and Piper doesn’t believe him, because Piper doesn’t know that the place Cena’s in is the only one that keeps him from robotting the f**k out and laser killing everyone. That’s what he means. That’s why he gives Piper back his Hall of Fame ring, and the first thing he does after is kissing his dog tags. THAt’s the symbolism. That’s the real meaning of this segment.
The dog tags are it. That’s his heart. If we get The Rock pulling an Andre the Giant at any point and ripping those dog tags off — the one prop Cena’s never really lent to story — that’s when the sh*t goes down. Cena can still be himself, never turn heel, and still be the craziest, angriest, most irrational motherf**ker alive… because he’s already that. He’s already the heel. You just aren’t paying close enough attention.
Best: Referencing The Most Bad Ass Ring Entrance Of All Time
I’m a huge sucker for John Cena Wrestlemania entrances, especially the drumline at Wrestlemania 24, but his entrance against Rob Van Dam at One Night Stand remains the most indignant, confident entrance of all time.
He just puts the belt over his head and walks to the ring with his head down. The Cena here is the Cena from Piper’s Pit. He knows how they feel, he just doesn’t care. Because why should he? He’s the f**king champ.
Best: Cena Kids Are Always Awesome
Regardless of your pro wrestling allegiances, you’ve got to love that. One of my favorite things ever is the BELIEVE IN THEM part of the old “don’t try this at home” warning where the kid in the Cena military bulldog shirt pumps his arms and goes RAHHHH. I was this kid. I was just dressed like Robert Gibson. And then Road Warrior Hawk.
Best, Just In General: Piper’s Pit
I don’t talk about it a lot, but Piper has been responsible for two very important moments in my life.
1. The first was when I was five. I spent most of my childhood in the hospital with lung problems. I’ve got a lot of stuff wrong with my lungs. To make me feel better, my Mom brought me those old rubber WWF thumb wrestlers to play with in the bed, mostly because the NWA didn’t make toys. I had Hogan, the Iron Shiek, Big John Studd, Junkyard Dog … and I had Piper. But Piper had Piper’s Pit, and I didn’t. So I took an old wooden… I don’t know what it was, a box? Like something you’d put jewelry in. And from my bed I took off the lid, turned it upright, drew some plaid carpet in the bottom with crayons and wrote PIPERS down one side and PIT down the other. I had my thumbwrestler guys do interviews in Piper’s Pit to set up my thumbwrestling matches for later in the day. I’ve always just kinda been like that.
2. I went to Wrestle Fan Fest in San Francisco a few years ago to meet Kurt Angle and The Great Muta. I didn’t show up on Friday, and because the fest was run by people in the wrestling business it was like 75% scam. I didn’t get to meet Angle or Muta. I’ve still never gotten to meet Muta, but I did get to meet Piper. I used my “meet Kurt Angle” ticket to meet him. I waited in line and watched him take a few moments with each person, not just taking our money, not just rushing us through like everyone else. I watched him kiss a kid in a wheelchair on the forehead. When it was my turn, I shook his hand and asked “What’s the secret?” He told me. I don’t tell anyone else.
Worst: Rowdy Roddy’s Deep V-Neck
and if I can be less serious for a minute, “how to properly wear a dress shirt on television” was not the secret. The hell was he wearing?
Best: Goodbye Forever, John Morrison
I wanted to write an entire “Candle In The Wind” parody and copy-paste it in right here, but you get the idea. Copy and pasted from WRESTLE HEAT~. Wrestle Heat, for the HOTTEST news in wrestling!
As noted earlier today, the contract of John Morrison is expected to expire either on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. His original contract with the organization expired earlier this month but he agreed to an extension to appear at events he was advertised for. It is not known whether he will be making a farewell appearance at Monday’s Raw SuperShow in Columbia, South Carolina.
Well, now we know (even though people on the Internet kept saying it was going to happen against Brodus Clay … hell, even Brodus Clay said that) and this is it. I expected more of a definitive squashing sound and/or JoMo getting MuHa’d through the stage with a Last Ride or something, but what I got was a compelling, historically-significant back-and-forth Falls Count Anywhere thing that at once encapsulated the Best and Worst of John Morrison’s WWE career. Think about it, he was in a Falls Count Anywhere match, his freerunning specialty. It was against the Miz, who shared the best years of Morrison’s character’s life. It had him getting hurt out of nowhere (my favorite Morrison segment, of which there have been many) and selling a debilitating leg injury by dragging his leg around like f**king Cindy Brady worming her way out of the Fairy Princess because she can’t get enough tickets for her Old Mommy and her New Daddy. Dude got hit 35 times in the leg with a lead pipe and was throwing clotheslines 40 seconds later. But we cared, a little. And that was John Morrison.
John Laurinaitis coming out to look at him on the stretcher earns bonus points. He should’ve peeled off a FUTURE ENDEAVOR’D sticker and stuck it to Morrison’s neckbrace. I can’t wait to see you “tear it up” in Impact, John, or worst case scenario I can’t wait to watch you sit in the background and text while I talk to Melina at next year’s Wizard World.
Best: The Miz As An Actual Pro Wrestler
How refreshing is it to see Miz actually beating people up again? He went through a thing with Alex Riley where he seemed like he was ditching his “The Miz” character to focus on being an Actual pro wrestler in Actual pro wrestling, but then he stopped showing up on TV and R-Truth came along and we went right back to his Our Gang scripted “we’re TV characters” thing. The Hell In A Cell handcuffing incident aside, Miz hasn’t looked like a threat possibly EVER, so having him Gotten Get R-Truth and put John Morrison’s beautiful jawline through the stage grating Event Horizon style was wonderful. Thematically this should continue with The Big Show next week and maybe Chris Jericho thereafter, and he can spend January f**king up the cast of Extreme Expose and finally giving Coral from The Real World a Skullcrushing Finale through one of those bean bag couches in New York. Do a full Butterfly Effect thing that builds to him throttling himself in the womb.
Worst: Jesus, Back Up A Little
1. It was pointed out to me that Miz looks like Howard The Duck, and now I’ll never be able to unsee it.
2. You do not need to fill up my entire widescreen with Miz’s face. I could see his pores clogging. It reminded me of one of those Samoa Joe promos where he’s chewing gum and has his head tilted back and they zoom right up his f**king nose for two minutes while he chews threateningly and barfs platitudes about “pain”. I know they were trying to get over how “ice cold” he is or whatever, but damn, I can notice that his eyes are blue from a few feet back. I don’t want to end up in Innerspace.
Not Sure If Want: Second.
Have you convinced yourself that this is for anyone other than the Undertaker? If you haven’t, I’ve developed a few new theories.
1. Ted DiBiase, because he’s a Jr., which is American for “the second”
2. 3 Minute Warning, because minutes have seconds, and classrooms have clocks
3. D-Generation X, because if you pause at the 0:15 mark you can see the DX logo on his buttons
4. John Morrison returning from his worked contract situation, because that’s how the Internet thinks wrestling works
5. Kharma, because it’s about “bad things coming back around”
Actually, that last one would be pretty sweet. I’m going with that.
Best: Beth And Nattie Jogging For No Reason
I don’t know why it happened, but Beth Phoenix and Natalya did a literal run-in on the Divas tag match. They didn’t do anything, they just jogged around the ring and back up the ramp. It continued their four month-long streak of taunting the babyface Divas who beat them constantly by doing nothing, but holy sh*t did they look great in workout gear. WWE is so stuck on that early-00s aesthetic of sparkling bras and hot pants that they’ve been missing out on how hot muscly, feminine women look in yoga pants. It’s like how they won’t evolve past Nu Metal. This is the look you’re gonna want to go for, guys.
Worst: What The F**k Is Going On With These Divas
After watching Kelly Kelly and Alicia Fox defeat the Bella Twins in the time it takes the Divas Of Doom to beat The Chickbusters, here’s my updated theory:
When WWE signed Awesome Kong, they did what they usually don’t and booked the Divas division around her for the entirety of the upcoming year. When she got pregnant and had to take a leave, they decided to throw something together until she got back. Now, assuming that WWE Creative doesn’t know how mathematics or probability or definitions of words or linear time work, it can be assumed that they also have no idea how pregnancy works and thought it would only keep her out for 4-6 weeks, like everything else (torn muscles, marijuana possession, etc.). So now on like Thursday afternoon they write “tag match, Kharma returns” on the dry erase board and on Monday morning Stephanie McMahon or whoever (someone who has actually been pregnant) calls them up and is like “hey, she’s still got four months to go” and the writers roll their eyes and go GAWD SERIOUSLY, WHAT THE F**K and erase it, replacing it with “tag match, whatever”. Then, because they can’t remember anything for more than two hours, they forget and the cycle repeats.
Now, imagine that you’re a performer who is expected to work with only “tag match, whatever” and you’ve got the natural improv and timing of Kelly Kelly. Wouldn’t these Diva tags where your partner gets beaten up for a few seconds and you tag in and critical them with the one move you know be it?
Not Really Either: I’ve Also Figured Out Why Kelly Is Suddenly Best Friends With Alicia Fox
Don Cherry outed Kelly Kelly’s (gay?) relationship with NHL defenseman Sheldon Souray on ‘Hockey Night in Canada’ earlier this month, and given the propensity of hockey players to get engaged to whichever blonde American type they’ve stumbled upon, my working theory is that Kelly’s teaming with former heel Alicia Fox because she’s the only wedding planner she knows, and Alicia is being nice about it because she wants Kelly’s business. This and more in my new WWE Origins novel Why Alicia Fox Does Anything.
Also, a supplementary Worst goes to Alicia Literally A Fox for her fur entrance gear. Not to get all preachy about it, but Daniel Bryan should’ve already dragged her to the ground by the arm and forced compassion upon her through tap-out.
Worst: CM Punk Doesn’t Know How Google Works
When he was on the independent circuit in basketball shorts having way-too-long matches with pre-Crisis Superman onesie Chris Hero, the argument was “Punk isn’t as good as guys like [American] Dragon or [Samoan] Joe in the ring, but he makes up for it on the mic”. And I’m not sure if it’s my natural disdain for obnoxious, pandering WWE good guys or what, but somewhere along the line I started loving Punk’s matches and hating every time he talks. How did I get here? This is not my beautiful wife.
But no, CM Punk interrupting John Laurinaitis’ secret, on-camera meeting with David Otunga and Ricky and Al was a very “Chris Jericho hitting Stephanie McMahon with pies” affair wherein he explained that when you type Del Rio and Boring into Google you get 918,000 results. It’s important to point out that he said Del Rio AND Boring, not “Del Rio boring” or “Del Rio is boring”, meaning that he didn’t put quotes around anything and is getting search results for anything that has the words “Del”, “Rio” or “boring” in it. He could be lumping me saying “Del Rio is awesome, Big Show is boring” in with his search results. He could be counting some Mexican guy’s lame trip to his local river. And even worse, he says that Del Rio and Boring’s 918 K search results are nine times as many results as you get typing in “John Laurinatis” and “spineless” and says that means Del Rio is nine times as boring as Laurinaitis is spineless.
This is some more of that “FATAL FOURWAY MEANS THE CHAMP ONLY HAS A 25% CHANCE OF WINNING” sketchy math bullsh*t they love to pull and I hate it. Otunga should’ve whipped out his Blackberry and pointed out that a Google search for “CM Punk” and “sucks” yields 3,860,000 results, meaning Punk sucks 4.205 times as much as Del Rio is boring.
WORST But A Little Best: Still No Brodus Clay
I’m glad they explained why they’re holding off on debuting Brodus, even if “making him wait will make him angrier!” isn’t a real reason. You know the guy wrestled on an entire season of NXT and showed up at Wrestlemania, right? You aren’t bringing in Glacier, here, sh*t or get off the gigantic pot.
Worst: WWE ’12, The Greatest Game Ever Played
WWE ’12 is pretty fun, especially when you create ACH and Akira Tozawa, lower their ratings to like 62 and fix all the sliders to make them wrestle for forty minutes, but the “greatest game ever played” is hilariously inaccurate at best, and a Predator Technological middle finger in the face of Chrono f**king Trigger. And Super Dodge Ball, for that matter. Super Dodge Ball doesn’t make me press the button eight times before my guy throws the ball. “Greatest game ever played” is a phrase for melodramatic ESPN docs about sports nobody cares about (like tennis), not for an entertainment medium with Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas in it.
Best: Please Acknowledge The Presence Of Wade Barrett
Wade Barrett gets two Bests this week, the first one for the phrase “please acknowledge the presence of Wade Barrett” coming out of Justin Roberts’ mouth, making me wonder if Barrett had lent him Throwing A Garden Party by James Trickington before the match started. They should use that phrase more often, especially in situations like Eve’s entrance, when she comes out all dancey and pointy and nobody gives a sh*t. “Please acknowledge the presence of Eve Torres!”, he’d bellow, and the crowd would go “wooo, sure” and Eve could smile and feel okay about herself.
The second Best goes to Wade Barrett’s ability to speak earnestly about himself, and in doing so shut the King the f**k down. Paraphrased:
Lawler: “He’s got Vickie Guerrero on the outside distracting him, you on commentary distracting him and-”
Wade: “LISSEN LISSEN that’s his manager, I’m here to commentate. Randy Orton needs to focus on his match. Answer me this, what on Earth was Randy Orton doing during my match last week against Kofi Kingston? He wasn’t invited, he came down halfway through and distracted me. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”
Lawler: [silence] “Well said, Wade Barrett!”
He got Jerry Lawler to CONCEDE A POINT. How amazing is that? The only way it could’ve been better is if he’d yelled TALK ABOUT WADE BARRETT into his headset, King said “we’re talking to you right now!” and he screamed TALK TO HIM MORE. Also, he should start entering to this Cage The Elephant song because it sounds like they’re yelling WADE BARRETT! WADE BARRETT! in the chorus.
Worst: WWE Announcers Reading Tweets From Fans On-Air
Don’t do this again.
Worst: Dolph Ziggler Likes To Show Off
This is in no way a condemnation of Dolph Ziggler’s creative development or in-ring performance, but Jesus Christ is “I like to show off” the worst character tic to give a wrestler since “speech impediment” or what? He likes to show off? What does that even mean? Liking to show off can be a thing you have, but having him say it in picture-in-picture promos and writing SHOW OFF on his TitanTron wall makes him pro wrestling’s The Riddler. He’s basically coming out and saying “hey everybody, I’m going to do cartwheels and sh*t instead of winning, that’s when you should punt me”. The nonchalant cover that ALWAYS leads to a crucifix has become sentient and walks like a man.
And anyway, isn’t “I like to show off” Kelly Kelly’s old gimmick? The next time Ziggler poses for the crowd instead of going for a cover, Mike Knox should rush out and cover him with a towel.
Best: Macho Man Guy
This guy was awesome. I love when people cosplay at wrestling shows. There’s a guy who shows up to every Anarchy Championship Wrestling show in a La Parka mask, and another who wears fingerless gloves and a vest and carries around a replica title. You can almost always find a Savage and a Hogan somewhere in every wrestling crowd.
But just like actual cosplay, I appreciate the less obvious choices. Can we make cosplaying at wrestling shows a thing? I want to go to Raw dressed as Phantasio or something. Maybe Big Josh if they won’t let me bring in fire.
Best: Randy Orton Putting People Over, A Novel Idea
Have you noticed how Randy Orton keeps losing to guys like Dolph Ziggler and Mark Henry, yet remains completely over and one of the most popular guys in the company? Funny how that works, isn’t it?
They’re huge on Randy “evolving” and “adapting”, but I love how he’s secretly evolved into this giving, silent workhorse who stopped delivering long-winded promos in his Dooley from ‘King Of The Hill’ voice and decided to put on good matches with everybody all year. As bad as he’s been in the past, that’s how good he’s been in 2011. I love it. And honestly I thought last night’s match with Ziggler was a little on the boring side, but I appreciated it happening, and even with the Wade Barrett distraction I liked how it ended. Ziggler won that match clean. All Barrett did was get up on the apron, Orton’s the one who took his eyes off the prize and decided to start throwing dropkicks. Zig-Zag Man Right There just capitalized on it, which makes him smart. Or a hypocrite, if you ask Michael Cole.
Oh, and let’s not forget the best part of Dolph Ziggler, Exhibitionist:
So Many Bests, I Guess: Dolph Ziggler Continues To Stand On Heads
He’s got a background in competitive cheerleading, of course he can do a beautiful headstand. The best part was when they zoomed in on his face, and he’s just shaking his head and going OH YEAH, OH YEAHHHH like the f**king Kool Aid Man because of how much he loves the Showing of Off. Bold prediction: Ziggler’s headstands are going to be the Spinaroonie of the 2010s, where we love it and want to see it whenever he’s around, even if we can’t remember why watching this guy doing Day One gymnastics is supposed to be entertaining.