– As some of you may know, yesterday was my birthday, and at some point I got caught up doing whatever the hell it is you do on birthdays and couldn’t get up a Raw Open Discussion thread. Don’t worry, we’re going to pick that back up next week and chances are I’ll pop one up for Smackdown this week to compensate. Also, happy birthday to me! For anyone wondering, I spent Sunday night watching Matthew Palmer get stabbed in the mouth with kabob skewers and thrown off a scaffold at ACW’s Guilty By Association 6 and spent Monday eating veggie burgers.
– Also for anyone wondering, I am now 85 years old.
– Comments are appreciated. Clicking “like” is appreciated, tweets and retweets are appreciated, showing and sharing this to and with the people you know are appreciated. Google + shares aren’t really appreciated, because stop trying to make fetch happen.
– Gifs contained within are, as always, courtesy of Jerusalem at Punchsport Pagoda.
– Additional reading: UGO’s Raw Report.
Click through to enjoy the Best And Worst Of WWE Raw for January 16, 2012.
Best: Mick Foley, Hopefully Getting A Nostalgia Run Better Than Lockdown 2009 (or Anything He’s Done Since Tossing Randy Orton Onto Thumbtacks)
I’ve talked about it at length before, though I can’t remember exactly when, so here’s the recap: I grew up in southern Virginia, where we had a crappy WWF house show once every six years and like sixty awesome NWA/WCW shows a month, and when I was 12, Sting and Cactus Jack were my favorite wrestlers. I liked Cactus Jack because he was crazy and could take an ungodly amount of punishment. I liked Sting because I liked wrestling and was a human being. Fast forward 17 years and I’m in the nearly-empty upper deck of the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, watching Sting and Cactus Jack hit each other with prop weapons and lie around like tired old men in the ninth cage match of the night. It wasn’t the worst match, but what it made me feel could’ve been done by just having Matt Morgan or whoever standing silently in the middle of a ring with a “YOU ARE OLD AND ONE DAY YOU WILL DIE” sign.
What I’m getting at is that I spent almost 20 years of my life cheering for Mick Foley in some capacity and don’t want him to have Ric Flair’s waning “oh man, remember when he was great, now he’s a worthless f**king Draugr” legacy. I want him to have a purposeful, important role in professional wrestling that doesn’t necessarily involve him shoving socks in peoples’ mouths or bleeding profusely for the enjoyment of 30 guys at an amusement park who’d be marking out just as hard for Matt Bentley. He doesn’t work as an authority figure, he doesn’t work as a color commentator, he doesn’t work as a guy I can still believe capable of pinning or submitting even a guy like David Otunga… but I love him and want him around, and I know he’s important to have around somewhere.
Anyway, it’s hilarious to have him around getting legend pops while Chris Jericho is somewhere on the other end of the show negating them forever.
Best: Dolph Ziggler Has A Good Point
He does. I like when heels (even the ones who are completely wrong) have thoughts that make sense … it’s what I liked so much about that Barrett/Ziggler/Rhodes/Otunga/
McGillicutty/Swagger group from last year. Even if you’re a bastard, you should be doing things that make sense.
It is ridiculous of Mick Foley to wander back into WWE having Mehrunes’ Razor’d the animatronic monster Universal Studios is trying to pass off as Ric Flair and expect a spot in the Royal Rumble over 30 dudes who have been there for a year and busted ass. There are logical reasons why Ziggler could be wrong — Foley is a multiple time WWE Champion and standing still doing nothing he’s more qualified for a shot at the Wrestlemania main event than, say, Hunico — but it makes these dramatic issues WWE loves to shoehorn in during the first 35 minutes of every show more bearable when there’s something more complex to think about than “John Cena wants to fight right now“. Ziggler SHOULD have a point, and he should be at least a little wrong, and we should be able to know that.
Worst: CM Punk, Still Hung Up On 20 Years Ago’s Gender Issues
And speaking of
1. Guys I love who are doing it wrong
2. People who should have a better point
CM Punk, everybody!
I’m not sure when WWE management sat down with Punk and said “okay, everything you’ve spent the last decade establishing about yourself needs to go, please replace it by saying I AM THE MOST MASCULINE MAN over and over”, but I hate them for doing it and at the risk of ranting about bullsh*t you couldn’t care less about it is grating and stupid for Punk’s biggest complaints against people to STILL be that they don’t follow middle America’s standards of masculinity. I feel like there should be a heavier emphasis on “I am the best wrestler in the world” (and even “I’m better than you”, because sh*t, he does that better than anyone) and less of an emphasis on “you are wearing pink, you are a gay”. Fake eyelashes? Spray tan? Who appointed you the f**king fashion police, dude? You haven’t changed your shirt in six months.
More importantly, who gives a sh*t if Dolph Ziggler is wearing a pink shirt? Honestly. That Golden Age of WWF would’ve blown f**king donkeys if Savage had spent two years going “hey Hogan, your tan isn’t real and you’re bald and nobody takes you seriously and you wear yellow underpants” instead of punching people in the face and crushing their throats with ring bells. Go back and watch this sh*t you namedrop, Punk. At no point does Jun Akiyama get in the Widow Baba’s face and yell “I know what’s REALLY going on!”
Best: Vickie Guerrero neé Muntz
And speaking of
1. Awesome wrestling
Vickie Guerrero! She hasn’t done anything especially despicable in years, but she’s maintained a healthy temperature by just kinda being around and laughing in peoples’ faces. I was in another room when she started laughing in Foley’s face and it made me smile without even seeing it. I know Vickie only has two speeds (“happy about her guy winning” and “excuse me”), but when Punk started in with YOU’RE THE LAST PERSON WHO SHOULD BE TALKING ABOUT EATING DISORDERS VICKIE I wanted her to respond with “f**k you, I’m an adult”. I also would’ve accepted “f**k you, I have a gym membership”, or “f**k you, I have a gym membership and you stay in shape by downing fish oil and blowing loads onto your own 8 x 10s”.
Best: When Did Mike Quackenbush Win The WWE Tag Team Titles?
Sh*t, wait, is that the referee?
Best: The Now-Standard Rosa Mendes Outfit Best
Again with the Rosa Mendes.
I feel like I need to clarify this. Rosa Mendes has made a GREAT decision to wear hot pants and hang out at ringside instead of wrestling. This is not a catch-all for women in wrestling, as I am a huge fan and supporter of women who want to wrestle professionally and be taken seriously, but some women who end up with this job are just f**king terrible at it, and Rosa was dangerously close to reaching a Jackie Gayda critical mass with her inability to feed, take, execute or understand an Irish whip. Kelly Kelly can’t run the ropes for sh*t, but at least she can do it without falling backwards with her eyes crossed.
Also needing clarification: Rosa Mendes isn’t someone I’d bring up HD pictures of on my computer and wistfully think “wow, she’s so beautiful”, but if I was at a strip club and she was wearing what she wore last night, I would think “holy sh*t that stripper is beautiful”. Does that make sense?
Best: Title Changes When They Don’t Have To Happen
When I was younger, I was obsessed with wondering what would happen when wrestling’s most obvious tropes were broken … for example, having grown up watching a lot of NWA I KNEW that the tape machines were rolling and that if the match ended during the commercial break David Crockett or whoever would show me what happened, but the match was always still going on when they got back. That part of my brain LOVES house show title changes, because no amount of them happening can make me think they’d actually happen. They turn my brain into MC Escher’s Relativity.
And reasonably wouldn’t titles change hands all the time at non-televised events? These guys are wrestling all the time. In the long long ago (before the darkness came) they could travel from town to town doing the same finishes wherever and get away with it, because only those 1-900-909-9900 motherf**kers are traveling around watching Flair beat Magnum with his feet on the ropes in every Carolina, but now when there are four different live reports for what happened on Superstars with varying levels of appropriateness (“I started a chant! My section LOVED it!” etc.) you kinda have to write those shows into the story, right? I’d love for a guy to show up on Raw and say “Dolph Ziggler, I wrestled you last Wednesday or whatever on the WWE live tour and you cheated to beat me, I want a rematch” or something. Just be okay that they exist and use them.
Worst: Kofi Kingston Should Kick Evan Bourne’s Ass
From WWE Corporate:
STAMFORD, Conn., January 17, 2012 – In accordance with its Talent Wellness Program, WWE (NYSE:WWE) has suspended Matthew Korklan (Evan Bourne®) for 60 days effective Tuesday, January 17 for his second violation of the company’s policy.
…so that explains your title change.
As a guy who stands by the D.A.R.E. pledge to resist drugs and alcohol he signed in the fourth grade, I don’t have a lot of tolerance for people who get high profile, high paying jobs and f**k them up by smoking pot. Whether or not it should be legalized or whether it’s “good” or “bad” is irrelevant — if the company that pays you 400K to do what you love to do for a living says “hey, you can keep doing this for a living, just don’t do these drugs” I have absolutely no f**king sympathy for you when you get caught. I don’t care that you get suspended and R-Truth gets to stick around and finish his story. I don’t! You’re stupid. You’re stupid, and you should be replaced by one of the 50 or so guys I can think of off the top of my head who can sell convincingly and do a nice shooting star press.
And seriously, Kofi Kingston should pull Evan Bourne aside backstage and kick him in the balls for pissing away any relevancy the tag titles were going to have and literally throwing a baby of an idea into the behind-the-prom dumpster of what actually happens.
Best: Chris Jericho Literally Communicating Via Jacket
Baby, when the lights, go out. He’ll show you what it’s all, about.
Like most of you, I’m still not 100% sure where Chris Jericho is going with this Boxxy gimmick, but I sure am enjoying watching him get there. And also like most of you, I’m left to assume that Jericho was paralyzed by delta radiation while trying to save the cast of NXT from a baffle plate rupture on their J-class wrestling show and has to flash his jacket once for “yes” and twice for “no”.
I think my favorite part of Jericho’s backstage interactions this week wasn’t that he induced darkness to make his jacket look cool, but that John Laurinaitis apparently knew he was going to do it and remained silent while this psycho in a wearable Lite-Brite wandered into his office and turned off the lights.
Best: John Laurinaitis Trumping Six Months Of TNA Storytelling In One Dismissive Wank
My favorite moment on this show (outside of the killer ending segment, which we’ll get to) is Eve Torres backstage after Ryder’s match, trying to get in Executive Vice President of Talent Relations and Interim General Manager Of Raw John Laurinaitis’ face about HOW COULD HE DO THIS and HOW COULD HE DO THAT and being completely and utterly shut the F down by “shut your mouth, have some respect”. She made an awesome “oh, well crap, okay” face and ACTUALLY SHUT UP. It was wonderful. He might as well have said “shut up, Eve, you’re Eve”.
I remember TNA doing that terrible “torn from the headlines” bullsh*t where Mr. Anderson got a concussion and kept getting forced into matches before he could recover, and he’d blade the back of his head or whatever and we’d go OH NO, CONCUSSION BLOOD and he’d melodramatically flop over and let Abyss or some other secretly 5-foot-2 sack of retread piss pin him. And keep in mind that TNA as a The Waltons hierarchy set up as management, so there was a huge thing about how maybe one guy was forcing him to wrestle but then someone else would stick up for him, and then two more general managers would appear from the shadows and put him into a tag team match HERE TONIGHT, but then Mike Tenay would rip off his flesh hood to reveal the ULTIMATE TOP SECRET GENERAL MANAGER and he’d make Anderson switch with Jeff Jarrett in a retirement on a pole match and blah blah blah blah … at any point ANY of those guys should’ve said “watch your mouth, have some respect” to these worthless characters and made a goddamn decision about it.
Best: Zack Ryder And Eve Torres As Compelling Babies-Face
Last week I got a lot of negative feedback that amounted to, “you are a smark and therefore do not understand Kane, here is why I liked his sh*tty segments: I liked them”. First of all, you guys have got to stop letting the f**king NetCop give you talking points. There is no such thing as a “smark”. You can’t be “smart”. You’re either in the business or you aren’t. If you’re in the business, you aren’t a mark. If you aren’t, you are. You don’t have to pretend you’re a part of something to enjoy it.
And frankly the term “mark” is pretty outdated and only appropriated by depressing wrestling guys born 80 years after the sport evolved past carnival sideshows who need a way to condescend on the people who support them. I’m consciously and willingly giving you money for something I understand. Going to see ‘Beauty And The Beast’ on stage doesn’t make me a Broadway “mark”, but at the same time, knowing Lumière is an actor and not literally a talking candelabra doesn’t make me “smart”. Stop calling Triple H “Paul” on the Internet and be a normal f**king person, please.
Anyway, what I’m getting at is that those Kane HORROR IN THAT ONE PARKING LOT AREA skits from last week were a bad idea executed badly, but I’m willing to give Zack Ryder a Best this week for sorta selling it like Zack Ryder The Character The Human Being might and to Eve for showing more purpose and emotion than she has since at LEAST before she Got Crunk. It worked this week. Ryder seemed like he was trying to keep his pride by gutting his way through a bad decision and Eve seemed legitimately worried for him, and not in that ER, HEY, ARE YOU ALL RIGHT, I SAW WHAT HAPPENED IN YOUR MATCH EARLIER TONIGHT thing Divas do. It was nice and normal and made sense, even if it was born from illogical Hell-Dragging crap.
Best: Jack Swagger Destroying A Handicapped Dude
I love love loved Jack Swagger participating in his scheduled, approved-and-organized-by-management match against a guy who wasn’t medically cleared but too stupid to take a knee and just wrecking him with three moves for the win. This is what I always talk about when Santino lasts more than a minute — wrestling logic is extremely basic, and the most basic story you can tell when a guy gets hurt is that his body won’t let him win. This is why story nonspecific no-selling is so annoying … you aren’t writing anything more complex than “John Cena’s leg is hurt, so Miz is targeting the leg” or whatever, so to have Cena just kinda run around on his leg and win like nothing matters defeats literally the only story you are telling. Why are you even telling stories? Just write it like an episode of Dragonball where Cena keeps healing and Miz goes WHATTTTTT with speed lines around his head. And if you’re gonna do that, just tell the no-selling story.
But yeah, Swagger should not have any trouble with a guy who isn’t medically cleared. Honestly Ryder got in too much offense. He shouldn’t have even been able to change out of his street clothes. Just have Ryder meander down in jeans and get punched in the chest once and pinned.
Worst: The World’s Most Popular Blogger
A few notes on Perez Hilton:
1. Is it weird to anyone else that they opened the show with CM Punk being all LOOK AT YOU IN YOUR FAGGY PINK SHIRT and then parading out Perez Hilton as a cool celebrity?
2. Is it weird to anyone else that Michael Cole has spent the last year condemning nerds and/or co-workers for using the Internet and called Josh Mathews a faggot on Twitter but finds it “very interesting” that Perez Hilton gets a lot of hits on his “personal website” and is “obsessed with the popular culture”?
3. Perez Hilton being “the world’s most popular blogger” makes me feel really terrible about myself. If you’re a baseball player, you get compared to Willie Mays or Babe Ruth. If you’re good at basketball, people wonder if you could be the next Michael Jordan. Movie directors get to live in the shadow of people like John Ford and Akira Kurosawa. I write on the Internet. The best person at what I do steals Sarah Jessica Parker candids from TMZ and writes YOU GO GIRL on them in MS Paint. The most popular blogger in the world is the ugly shouting guy who thought Seanbaby would be cooler if he made fewer jokes. That’s my holy grail. That’s the top of my craft.
4. I am not the World’s Most Popular anything, but I would be happy to make a guest appearance and introduce Alicia Fox to people on an episode of Raw. Additional talent: I like wrestling even when wrestling isn’t paying me to say I do.
5. I hated everything about this except for 4a) the announce team repeatedly calling him “Paris Hilton” and 4b) him ruining Twin Magic and yelling NO YOU’RE CHEATING~ at the Bellas on the outside. The only thing that would’ve made it better is if when the Bellas switched places he’d yelled WHAT ARE YOU DOING, WHAT WHAT WHAT ARE YOU DOING.
Whatever: Women Wrestled
I can’t keep giving these women worsts and explaining what they should be doing. They know what they should be doing and choose not to. It’s a fundamental difference in how WWE and I think pro wrestling works. It’s also a fundamental difference in how WWE and I think women work. From now on, these 40 second excuses to continue employing models so the Troops can pose with somebody hotter than Big Show are going to be brushed aside as continuing ignorance and ignored, and I will happily pick back up with them when Kharma returns, Portia Perez gets a WWE developmental contract and/or Kelly Kelly starts brainbustering people.
Best: IT’S RIC FLAIRRRRR
I’m guessing you don’t need me to tell you how great the 1992 Royal Rumble is, how bulletproof Ric Flair was from 1984-1994 or how Bobby Heenan’s YES, YES, YES, YES is one of the greatest calls in wrestling history. You also don’t need me to point out the disturbing number of dead people who show up in Rumbles when you go back and watch them. The 1995 Rumble is just Shawn Michaels sitting in the corner for an hour while they drag out dead guys and roll them into the ring. It’s weird.
But yeah, Rumble match video retrospectives are the best, and make them look like the most epic matches ever even though the bulk of any Rumble match is guys doing that awful hold-you-by-the-legs-and-stand-still corner fighting/lifting thing and countdowns that get you excited and ultimately reveal Ted DiBiase.
Best: Wade Barrett And R-Truth As Henry Fonda And Lee J. Cobb
I could spend two hours listening to the smartest guy on the WWE roster verbally spar with its stupidest. Hearing Barrett call R-Truth a “delusional, physically-volatile lunatic” only for Truth to come back with HERE’S SOME PICS I TOOK AT DISNEYLAND WADE is amazing. It would’ve been better if he’d actually just shown candid slides of him at Disneyland and made no attempt to tie them back to Barrett, but I’ll take what I can get. “I MISS YOUR SMILE, WADE” is good enough for a month of bests. The segment should’ve ended with Truth’s wallet falling out and him bursting into tears.
Because I’m me, I have one major complaint:
Best, But Worst: R-Truth As Brandon Stroud
R-Truth taking pictures with mascots is basically the greatest thing ever, and the most Brandon thing on WWE television this year. Yes, that includes the With Leather shirt. Proof:
My only problem is that they were across the street from Disneyland (and made a point to say that out-loud) but photoshopped Truth into photos instead of just dropping a hundred bucks to send him into the park at some point in the afternoon to take an actual picture. WWE Photoshop gags always come across as inauthentic ideas from writers who know a little bit more about how computers work than wrestlers but are afraid to admit it. I can’t quite articulate it, but an actual picture of him acting stupid with Pinocchio would’ve gone a long way to legitimizing Truth’s adorable craziness instead of making him seem like a guy who came up with a joke.
Also it would’ve been my wallpaper.
Worst: Teddy Long And The Nature Of Impromptu Battles Royal
HOLE ON A MINNET, PLAYA
Yes, my first thought was LET ME GUESS, SHEAMUS AND R-TRUTH TEAMING UP AGAINST THE MIZ AND WADE BARRETT, RIGHT, TEDDY, GOOD IDEA, GREAT IDEA THAT NOBODY SAW COMING, GET THE F**K OFF THE STAGE IN YOUR F**KING FROSTED MINI WHEATS SUIT. Teddy show us and throws us a peanut-headed curveball by making it an Over The Top Rope Challenge, cementing that 1) he saw that Teddy Long General Manager flow chart that’s been floating around and 2) he is less creative (“Royal Rumble’s coming up, so we’re gonna have a battle royal!”) and therefore more deserving of CM Punk’s scorn than John Laurinaitis.
Over The Top Rope Challenges are sorta like Body Slam Challenges, where they take a match you like (a battle royal or Royal Rumble, and in the case of a Body Slam Challenge a “normal match”) and skip to one part of it instead of taking a couple of minutes to set up a happening, let you consider it, then execute it. A four guy battle royal sucks because it eliminates a lot of the fun discussion you have wondering who’s gonna win, who’s gonna eliminate who, and so on. With a Body Slam Challenge you’re sorta building suspense for a really basic thing you see all the time, and then for a second you’re all excited because HERE COMES THE FINISH but then nope, it’s just a body slam. You’re taking things that work on a really easy-to-understand level and convoluting them in a way they’ve never needed. Over The Top Rope Challenges are dumb, people get thrown out of the ring all the time.
What I’m getting at is that you should be putting these f**kers in Inferno matches every time they ruin your scheduled programming until they get the hint.
Worst: Come On, He Hit One Brogue Kick, Don’t Play His Music
Worst: Zack Ryder’s Dad Sure Seems Pissed About What Happened
I don’t know if John Cena is necessarily “embracing hate”, but he’s embracing being a Weird Overprotective Dad, and his ruthlessly aggressive serious voice about how unfair it is for Zack Ryder to be in matches he agreed to and lose them to fair, normal wrestling moves is confusing and borderline bizarre. CM Punk briefly touched on this and completely abandoned it during the New Nexus storyline, but Cena is absolutely the most psychotic dude on the WWE roster and will both take physical violence too far to make a point he doesn’t have to make and misdirect his anger so hardcore that a guy like Rock can say YOU ARE A PATHETIC PIECE OF SH*T AND EVERYONE HATES YOU to his face and he’ll brush it off, but David Otunga can be one of 9 guys who attacked him the previous week and he’ll bloody him and try to crush his head with steps. Much like how Hulk Hogan’s character evolution was logically “egotistical bad guy”, Cena’s should be Unrepentant Killing Machine Who Doesn’t Know How To Feel Emotions And Can’t Stop Freaking Out And Breaking You. That’s it. F**k being a heel, Cena needs to be a Godless mechanism of destruction. He feels no pain because he causes all of it.
And seriously, at some point Zack Ryder needs to break out an “I appreciate your concern and all that, but get off my jock, bro”.