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– SITE NEWS #2: Next weekend is my girlfriend Destiny’s birthday, so I’m not going to be around for TLC or Raw reports. Thankfully I’ve got a lot of funny ass friends, so SB Nation and Baseball Feelings writer Bill Hanstock will be filling in with a Best and Worst of WWE TLC 2011 report and Progressive Boink and The Best and Worst of Smackdown Live-Blog’s own Justin O’Connor will be filling in on Best and Worst of Raw. They’re awesome, so read those and support them.
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– For further Raw reading, please consult UGO’s The Good The Bad And The Ugly and John Canton’s The WWE Raw Deal. They have slightly more positive outlooks on the show than me, but my report has pictures of A.J. (read mine first)
This show was three hours and killed me four minutes in, so I apologize in advance. Click through to enjoy The Best And Worst Of The Slammy Awards.
Worst: Four Minutes In And Hornswoggle Is Wearing An Afro Wig
So this is why they didn’t let Hornswoggle talk, he’s a tremendous racist.
Keep in mind while you read this week’s report that there’s an underlining co-Best and Worst of “badly written award presentation banter is always wretched, especially when delivered by pro wrestlers with the acting ability of Channing Tatum at best and a mop bucket at worst, but some part of me loves the predictable joshing back-and-forth”, but no, Hornswoggle in an afro wig speaking Ebonics so he can hang out with a black guy is f**king terrible and I just scratched “DSLR camera” off my Christmas list and replaced it with “take away Hornswoggle’s ability to speak”. I don’t know if I have to win a battle royal to make that happen or what.
I’m not even sure why the afro wig was there. It didn’t do anything except give Swoggle black people hair while he was doing facetious bro handshakes with Booker and trying to chest bump him but having a child’s body and being unable to do it on the first try. I assumed it was to set up Booker looking at him and saying “tell me I did not just see that” (as this was the “Tell Me I Did Not Just See That Moment Of The Year Award”) but it didn’t happen… Booker just smiled the fakest smile he could and soldiered through this weird prejudiced bear trap they’d set for him. That led to a “rap off” (because “black people”), and when you couple the first 16 minutes of the show with Lawler and Cole seriously making a “squash his head like a watermelon/heh, did you say watermelon” joke during a Mark Henry match, Jesus Christ. There has to be something more productive for black people to do in pro wrestling than being a rapping gang member on “urban” Internet pay-per-views or Stepin f**king Fetchit in the big leagues.
Worst: Cole Did F**k His Girl, J.R.’s Still Standing Here Screaming F**k The Free World
And speaking of “rap offs”, Michael Cole and Jim Ross battle rapping might’ve usurped Michael Cole and Jim Ross battle dancing as the very worst pro wrestling thing of the year. Remember when they had fake Rosie O’Donnell and fake Donald Trump wrestling? Imagine if they opened the show with a Rosie vs. The Donald rematch every week, and when they were done Rosie stuck around to yell about Donald for the remaining 115 minutes. That’s the hell we’re living through now.
Part of me thinks that if Jim Ross had remembered his lines and suddenly delivered the entirety of Backpackers in response to Cole it would’ve saved the segment, but the other 199 parts of me remembers that “this guy shouldn’t be able to rap, but he can!” stopped being funny circa The Wedding Singer and hasn’t recovered. J.R. needs to drop a Pipe Bomb at some point and interrupt a Michael Cole Challenge segment by saying, “this is the stupidest shit in history, bring out some wrestlers and stop wasting everybody’s time” and then leave, and not come back or respond until they’ve listened to him. It’d mean a hell of a lot more than “ice cream bars”.
Best: The Stroke-A-Roonie
I admit, I cracked a little when Jim Ross sold breakdancing like someone had just tased him. When he just fell back like that I thought he was having a heart attack. I think WWE might overestimate how much people enjoy seeing the spinaroonie. I think the last time I got excited for it is when I found out that’s how Booker T got up in WCW/nWo Revenge
Best: The Million Dollar Man’s Laugh
As bad as WWE comedy segments relying on two people we like just kinda standing there reminding us that we like them can get, I’m not heartless, I’m going to best a Ted Dibiase maniacal laugh. I feel like Ted Sr. is a woefully underused character in the WWE Universe, and I want to see segments where he shows up at a DiBiase Posse Party with a Wagner Char-King Imperiale and a waitstaff full of Hooters girls carrying trays of caviar or whatever and have Ted Jr. just go GAWD COME ON DAD and storm off. And I know they got paired up for a while, but I’m still depressed we never got an Aibileen/Constantine relationship out of Ted Jr. and Virgil.
Also, Mick Foley saying that Ted DiBiase is the richest man in the WWE Universe is interesting. I assumed he always had exactly one million dollars, and whenever he brought in new cash he had to use the surplus Brewster’s Millions style, which is why he was always goading kids into unwinnable challenges and stuffing dollars in peoples’ mouths. Vince McMahon is still a “billionaire” in WWE canon, right? But he gave away all his money, got divorced and died a couple of times. Alberto Del Rio has a palace and a bunch of hundred thousand dollar cars, but John Cena outed him as a renter, so there’s a chance he’s just being boastful and Ricardo is his only true employee, and that’s why they’re good friends. So is DiBiase richer than both of them?
Worst: Up Next, Dr. Howie Feltersnatch
I still think Big Show’s W.M.D. shirt with matching beanie makes him look like an Adult Humor Halloween costume. They should bring in an entire stable of guys in stupid gear like that they take seriously. Bring in Christopher Daniels and let him be the Priest With A Boner. It could be like when Batista was an evil altar boy, except we put candy in his donation plate.
Worst: 22 Seconds Of Wrestling In The First Hour
I did the math.
The first match gets underway 24 minutes into the show, and as Wade Barrett is walking to the ring they go to commercial. They come back to a match already in progress with Barrett outside the ring, and it’s 96 seconds from when we return until the bell. It takes Show 8 seconds to walk over and touch Barrett. Barrett chokes Show on the ropes and gets hit with a shoulderblock that causes him to roll to the outside. It takes 18 seconds for Big Show to exit the ring and touch Barrett again. That leads to Barrett escaping a bodyslam attempt, shoving Big Show into the ringpost and kicking him into position on a table. Barrett climbs the ropes, Show recovers and shatters the table himself with a punch, walks over and smacks Barrett in the chest. That takes 32 seconds. Barrett rolls out again, grabs a chair, brings it into the ring and has it punched. The time between the smack to the chest and any further physical activity is 12 seconds. That’s the end of the match.
So, subtracting all the time it takes for Big Show to walk from one point to another, complete and total inactivity takes up 70 seconds of a 92 second match, giving us a grand total of 22 seconds of wrestling in the first hour of Raw. 22 f**king seconds. I’ve seen Divas matches last longer than that.
Also, how the hell is that the end of the match? Barrett didn’t swing the chair at Show and have it punched, Show just punched it out of his hands. Two weeks ago we established that holding a chair is not in itself a disqualifiable offense. If intent to use a weapon caused a DQ, why didn’t the referee DQ Show for trying to use a table, or Barrett for trying to use the same table seconds later?Subscribe to UPROXX
Worst: And Here’s The Road Dogg, Because They’re Trying To Kill Me
– I don’t think Big Jimmy was trying to be insulting when he asked Truth “what’s up,” I just think he’s a member of the WWE Universe, and those guys can only respond to wrestlers with their catchphrases. That’s why nobody cares about Dolph Ziggler, and why 20,000 people found the Road Dogg so goddamned interesting for half a decade.
And yeah, it could lead to awesome Nash/Punk interaction and a lot of fun stuff, and I don’t know where it’s gonna go. But damn, I want my plane ride to go from point A to point B sometimes without dipping its nose and making me wait to see where it goes.
What I’m saying is that if X-Pac or some form of Billy Gunn shows up on Raw tomorrow night, I’m out.
I don’t know who said the third Beetlejuice, but The Road Dogg showing up, harmless and happy to be there as he was, sets off big flashing loud WOOP WOOP WOOP sirens in my brain and makes me start flipping the channels, breathlessly looking for Billy Kidman on another channel doing anything anywhere. Road Dogg has somewhat unfairly been branded my image of what was wrong with the Attitude Era … a white guy with braids who is in worse shape than me pinning the Road Warriors in like three minutes with cookie sheet headshots and fire extinguishers before launching into his five minute Time Life “catchphrases of the 90s” collection. He’s terrible, and I’m not nostalgic for this. If Terry Funk was here getting dumpster dove, yeah, maybe, but not this. Not in the D-X t-shirt.
Also, how funny is it that when the New Age Outlaws first started out they wore airbrushed South Park shirts because South Park was the new cool flash in the pan, and now 15 years later the guys who created South Park have adapted and become award winning cultural satirists while the guys who wore their t-shirts are eating catfood out of their Terry Funk dumpster like they’re Tony f**king Atlas?
Best: Making Great Moments Out Of Terrible Ones
Those video packages are something else. The “Pipe Bomb of the Year” starts with Punk’s nasally “PIPE BYOMMM” that spelled the beginning of the end for me accepting his coolness, but eventually finds its way into being more or less an R-Truth tribute video. Truth needs to return in a few weeks wearing … I don’t know, a snow leopard pelt or something and go off the deep end in a semi-non-serious way on the reg.
The production team gets another best for making a lot of WWE’s worst moments look entertaining. The two best ways to do that: canned laughter, and boiling down a 4 1/2 minute thing where Santino says MEATS-A BALLS-A to a condescending Barack Obama impersonator to its 8 second humorous core, namely “secret service guys thinking The Cobra is an attack on the President”. Seeing J.R. get squirted in the eye with barbecue sauce is pretty funny if you forget why it happened … and oh man, it sounds like the live crowd loved it and couldn’t believe what they were seeing.
Best: Johnny Ace
And the very best part of it all, once again, was John Laurinaitis. WWE-Champ-with-nothing-better-to-do-I-guess CM Punk accepted his “CM Punk Of The Year” award (“spiders” was robbed) by carrying out a Johnny Ace mannequin in a Dynamic Dudes t-shirt, and as bad as that and the Road Dogg were, it became a bunch of WCW and misrepresented John Laurinaitis Rushing Around clips set to Stan Bush’s “The Touch”, and f**k me if Stan Bush doesn’t make everything better. Skip to the 6:45 mark to watch it.
The video does all sorts of great things, such as:
1. FINALLY attempting to explain the Cena and Punk “hey John Laurinaitis DIDJA FERGET YER SKATEBOARD” jokes to an audience who didn’t grow up watching late-80s NWA
2. Reminding me how awesome late-80s NWA was
3. Reminding me how awesome it was when Jim Cornette turned on the Dynamic Dudes
4. Making me want to watch Transformers: The Movie
5. Making me want to watch Boogie Nights
6. Making me want to watch this year’s CHIKARA King Of Trios, which had a Stan Bush concert as part of its fan conclave (even if he didn’t sing “Fight To Survive” from Bloodsport)
It also does two sorta bad things:
1. Only one of the six great things it accomplished end with me watching the rest of Raw
2. I don’t know, to me it doesn’t make John Laurinaitis look bad, it makes him look way better. Think about it. To the average WWE event-goer, John Laurinaitis is this annoying sounding guy who keeps introducing himself and finds himself at odds with wrestlers they want to cheer for. He’s a faceless, soulless corporate shill. But now suddenly he’s a former wrestler who traveled the world and loves to work out and rides a skateboard and hangs out with kids, and he used to have a mustache and has The Touch. That doesn’t make him lame, that makes him bad ass. If you think a guy wearing 80s clothes in the 80s makes him a loser, you need to get your priorities together. He had a fun wrestling career that lasted (we can only guess) for 30 years.
It also explains why he’s got like a foot on CM Punk.
Best Or Worst?: Tribute To The Troops
Column question, to goad you into leaving comments: Tonight is WWE’s annual Tribute to the Troops show. The downside is that it’s never really good unless you like The Troops, and you probably don’t need a wrestling show about it if you already like them. The upside is that Nickelback will be there. Should I do a Best and Worst of Tribute to the Troops?
Talking point: here is AJ with some troops
Best: Remembering Lita’s Divalicious Moments
Lita (who looked great, by the way, and I can say that because I’m from Virginia and love trashy white girls in rockabilly dresses they think make them look like “pin-ups”) presented the award for “Divalicious Moment of the Year” and mentioned how she’s had an entire career of Divalicious moments, like when she won the Women’s Championship in the main event on Raw, participating in TLC matches and meeting Pee-wee Herman. Here are a few she forgot to mention:
1. Getting blackmailed and raped by Kane, then falling in love with him
2. Rubbing her ass against Edge’s semi-boner during live sex on Raw
3. The time her ex-boyfriend nailed pictures of her to trees and shot at them with a pistol as a “joke” for his “reality show” on YouTube
4. Breaking her neck because Jessica Alba doesn’t know how to sell a hurricanrana
5. Breaking her neck because Lita doesn’t know how to dive through the ropes without Hayabusa’ing herself
6. Breaking her knees because a Lou Thesz press to cement is a great idea
7. Messing up every single move she ever attempted outside of a) rana, b) moonsault
8. Hardy Boyz Respek Knuckles
9. Cryme Tyme stealing her vibrator and selling it to the crowd
10. Getting a condom slipped on her finger by Danny Doring during a wedding proposal
11. Something about El Dandy and a swimming pool full of ejaculate
Lita gets the Trish Stratus treatment almost more than Trish, where wrestling fans in 2011 talk about how great she was and how she needs to wrestle one more match, but guys, seriously, were you not around for the entirety of her career? They eventually gave her a DDT as her finisher so she’d stop hurting herself.
In a related story, “Wrestlicious Moment of the Year” went to Sha-na-na describing her moves as “nifty” so it’ll rhyme with “fifties” for the second straight year.
Worst: Be A Star Dynamics In A Nutshell
We didn’t get a twenty second Divas match this week (because there wasn’t time, I guess?) so we got everything a Divas match accomplishes in a Slammy Awards segment. Kelly Kelly wins Divalicious Moment Of The Year for one of her 65 championship win victory rolls, but before she can accept Beth Phoenix and Natalya wander out and take it from her. Beth starts to say something sarcastic, so Kelly smacks her in the face and takes the award back. Beth wants to fight back, but Kelly holds the Slammy over her head, and “woman holding something over her head” is the nuke code for Divas segments and everybody has to stop what they’re doing and leave.
Now, if you’re Beth Phoenix, wouldn’t you just say WAIT WHAT and whomp the shit out of Kelly? Why did Natalya accompany Beth out to bully Kelly, but hold Beth back after Kelly slapped her? Nothing was accomplished, Kelly Kelly got to look dominant by doing literally nothing, Beth and Nattie continued being bullies who can’t even pretend to back it up. Divas match, right?
Worst: The Bella Twins Are Either Meta As F**k Or Worse Than Porn
“But San Tino, what do you MEAN you do not know what Oh Em Gee means? Come on, you are a REAL nerd!”
Maybe they did a workshop with Bruce Vilanch before last night’s show, but damn, the Bella Twins were rough last night. I like to think the Bellas were sitting in on a creative meeting and when they got to the OMG Of The Year Award one of the writers just stood up and screamed RAHHH and flipped the table, pulled out a notebook with “Santino doesn’t understand common abbreviations” scrawled across the front, threw it at them and yelled “this should take care of your segment, NIKKI, SEE YOU NEVER”.
Best: Poopies Face Sighting
Wait, hold on, where is it…
There it is. Oh, hey, you know what would be awesome? Watching Kevin Nash’s assault on Triple H again. We haven’t seen it in full on the last ten episodes. NGGHHHHHHHH >=(
Worst: Did Anybody Accuse Triple H Of Being Wrong
The less said about Triple H’s triumphant return promo the better. It was the tougher, cooler, stronger and smarter version of Jim Ross forgetting his rap. He took five minutes to say “I’m going to hit Kevin Nash with a sledgehammer” in the most roundabout way imaginable, equating some kind of weird “might makes right” thing where he’s “right” and Kevin Nash is “done”. If might makes right, shouldn’t Kevin Nash be in f**king Mensa for hitting you twice and putting you out for six weeks?
H does this thing where he puts the microphone right under his nose and just kinda looks up and to the left and you can see the manatee floating around in his brain, picking Latin phrases and quotes from Gran Torino at random. He’s back, and the show is the worst. Have you figured it out yet?
Worst: Tony Atlas Without Abraham Washington
One of the great misunderstood opportunities of all time was the Abraham Washington Show on ECW. It’s not an opinion I share with a lot of people, but the Abraham Washington Show was f**king hilarious on almost every level and worked to get the people featured on it over but sometimes WWE fans, even the ones who are able to watch closely and think constructively about what they’re watching, aren’t real quick on the draw. They’re the types who you’ll see on Twitter going “wow, dolph ziggler has really improved in the ring” like it’s a thing they just figured out. Washington had a weird, awkward delivery people who watch wrestling aren’t used to, and he’d tell a bad joke and just go HUH?? after it and people would boo. The Internet explained it as him not having “mic skills”, or not being “over” or whatever.
The thing about Washington is that his segments sometimes included moments where the person he’s insulting insults him back, and Abraham would temporarily flip a switch and be a very realistic offended black guy, and then he’d gather himself and go right back to his talk show voice. They were doing it on purpose and nobody seemed to notice. Watch Washington’s stuff in FCW and you’ll see more and more examples of what I’m talking about. Almost everyone missed it and the Abraham Washington show vanished. If I was in charge of WWE, the eighth or ninth thing I’d do is bring Abe Washington back up.
What I’m saying here is that Tony Atlas standing in the background laughing nonstop isn’t funny unless he’s supporting a thing that works. Just going DUH HUH HUH HUH at David Otunga for 40 minutes for some kind of weird face pop from an audience that isn’t old enough or hasn’t paid enough attention to give it (“I’m laughing at YOU, uh huh huh huh!”) is a motherf**k and you’re never allowed to do it again.
Best: David Otunga Drinks Coffee Because He’s A Lawyer
Best: This Fatal Fourway Should’ve Been The Entire First Hour
The “which person can trend faster” match between Cody Rhodes, Zack Ryder, Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler was rad as hell and felt like I’d stumbled upon a Dragon Gate six man in the middle of my Best of GLOW DVDs. It was the karmic answer to the 22 seconds of punching and nothing in hour one, and I seriously could’ve watched it for the rest of the show. You’d think when your two hour show gets a third hour window to work with you could be brave enough to work a 30 or 40 minute match in from time to time. Instead, we work in…
Worst: Two Commercial Breaks, Are You Serious Bro
Two commercial breaks. The first real wrestling match eighty minutes into your show featuring four guys worth keeping the camera on gets interrupted by TWO COMMERCIAL BREAKS. One commercial break is bad enough, but two is absolutely inexcusable, especially on a show where Santino As Billy Crystal is your spotlight. I don’t want to be a whimpering Internet guy about it, but I’m pretty sick of having a carrot dangled in front of me with shit like this. Did you notice how they gave out three different Something Moment Of The Year awards, but no “Match of the Year”? Yeah, I did.
Best: Ziggler Vs. American Dragon Part 100, Please
The finishing sequence to this match was swank as f**k, staring with two champions trading bad ass pro wrestling closed fists at each other to set up an assisted Rough Rider, leading to a finisher exchange sequence capped off by Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler trading holds. This. Is. So. Easy. It’s so easy. Doggone easy. You hire guys who are great at wrestling and have them wrestle each other. The rest of the mess just falls into place.
Bryan and Ziggler wrestling at a brisk pace almost made poor Jerry Lawler lose his breath, and that’s depressing… wrestling like that shouldn’t be a special moment, it should be what these guys do. The world of pro wrestling has reached a crazy athleticism around the world, and that’s one of the big reasons people who get into Japan or independent wrestling get so hard about WWE. WWE can be excused sometimes for not evolving their taste in music or their graphics or production style, but they can’t be excused for not at least executing the very popular, very palatable aspects of their medium. You don’t have to do 40 minute head-dropping kick-out fests, but having guys actually look like they’re fighting (or wrestling) and bringing an extremely basic sense of physics and logic to your show would fix 85% of your on-screen problems. Continuity would fix the remaining 15%. Ring of Honor sucks because they’re doing good wrestling without gravity. WWE sucks because they’re doing gravity without good wrestling. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, idiots.
Worst: And The Award For Most Internet Goes To
I love that they gave Zack Ryder an award for “trending star of the year”, as if anyone else was even up for that. They should’ve nominated other, worse attempts by WWE guys to get over on the Internet, like Melina starting random crazy-eyed feuds with people over Twitter or Tyler Reks and Curt Hawkins filming an animated comedy with a f**king toaster and uploading it to YouTube. At least then we could compare and contrast and say “yeah, Ryder did a way better job than these other assholes”.
Worst: Wrangler U-Fit Jeans
They don’t tear your dick to pieces like most Wranglers!
Best: I Forgot How Good Christian Is
Not being able to do a formal Best and Worst of Smackdown made me forget how valuable to a show Christian can be, and even if he dropped an “each and every one of you” into his commentary I was happy to see him back on the show and speaking. Christian’s one of those guys who should be around even if he isn’t wrestling, being a mouthpiece for somebody or teaching people how to move and think in the ring. He should also keep getting new injuries until he’s the rich man’s Colin Delaney and demand “one more match” against Randy Orton until they’re 80 or one of them dies.
Best: Load Bearing Divas (™ Tom Holzerman)
One of the thing I was looking forward to Besting was the time-honored Slammy and Hall Of Fame tradition of putting the Divas in evening gowns and having them walk people out to the podium. With the Kaitlyn heel turn seemingly edited out of last week’s Smackdown I thought we were going to have her and/or A.J. make an appearance and looking gorgeous, but nope, it was just Alicia Fox and Eve Torres all night long. It might’ve been a rib on me. Am I popular enough to have people ribbing me?
Worst: John Cena: Game Changer
I liked Cena teasing the crowd with a Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson appearance only for him to not be there, but (and I’m in the minority here, as I got multiple requests to give this segment “all the bests”) I felt like Cena was too Cena about it and added too much of his “BRIAN’S NOT BACKSTAGE I DON’T BELIEVE YOU, I DON’T, WHAT” improv bullshit to make it pointed.
If I was writing John Cena (and I should be), I would’ve had him say “I didn’t do this alone, here’s the most electrifying man in all entertainment, the people’s champion DWAYNE THE ROCK JOHNSON” and motion to the ramp to get everybody excited, then say “okay, well here’s a video via satellite from DWAYNE THE ROCK JOHNSON” like he did, then cut out everything else and have him say, bluntly, “The Rock doesn’t care about you, he’s a Hollywood asshole who showed up to take your money, maybe one day you’ll all figure that out” and turn and just f**king leave.
If WWE wants Pipe Bombs so badly, they need to not be afraid to drop a real one. If the characters spoke frankly about what was happening it would go a long way sometimes. Those adults in Rocky shirts holding their dick hand up and going lalalalala into it at Wrestlemania need to be talked to, not at. That’s not a request for insider jokes and terms, that’s not a request for more New Japan Pro Wrestling namedropping on Raw, that’s a very honest, direct request for WWE to stop thinking everyone who likes them is stupid and be brave enough to step down and move their product forward. Kane, The Road Dogg, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin references every couple of weeks, Bret Hart … what’re you gonna do when these people are really gone? That idea in itself is enough of a big bang to create a dozen different character motivations for a dozen different guys you haven’t thought to give one.
I don’t want to be heavy about one of the least offensive segments on the show, but seriously. Enough of this. Wrestlemania needs a story deeper than “we won’t stop bitching at each other”.
Also: Don’t Be Stupid, It’s Still Undertaker
The girl is going to be Michelle McCool as Lady Undertaker. Maybe they’ll give her a skull bikini and a big sword.
Yeah, I don’t know. Even if these videos turn out to be for Chris Jericho and he shows up on Raw wearing an IT BEGINS shirt yelling THOSE WERE MY VIDEOS I’m still going to say they’re for the Undertaker.