Before I begin to try to explain this:
– Happy new year!
– Good news: I don’t want to make any concrete promises, but the first episode of With Leather’s pro wrestling podcast With Spandex should make its debut on the site next Monday, so check back for that. I’m going to talk to wrestlers and everything.
– P.S. please care. Leave us a comment if you watched the show and/or read this report. When you’ve done that (or possibly before), click that “like” button over the banner image and/or share it along. I’d really appreciate it, and if you do it enough times I can give you money and/or a preferential spot in the post-report love section I’ve set up this week.
– The wonderful gifs contained within are, as always, courtesy of Jerusalem at Punchsport Pagoda.
– When you’re done reading my confused, easily-battered point of view, jump over to UGO and read The Good, The Bad And The Ugly Of Raw or John Canton’s Raw Deal. Stay there for the Smackdown report that is absolutely nothing like this one!
Enjoy the Best And Worst Of WWE Raw Is Jericho On LSD for January 2, 2012.
Best: Hahahahaha What The F**k Was That
no, seriously, what the sh*t is happening
There are several competing theories on what happened with Chris Jericho’s return as the cryptic mystery man whose videos have nothing to f**king do with him, and they’re all pretty great:
1. Jericho’s return segment was a masterclass in trolling, a tribute to Andy Kaufman in Memphis, and he’s doing an updated, meta version of his heel turn from WCW where he got mad about losing and tore the announcer’s jacket, came out the next week to sincerely apologize, then got upset and ripped it again. This will either lead to more segments where he comes out expecting to get cheered until everybody starts booing him, and then he’ll flip out and blame us for ruining his life.
2. This was “Y2J” returning, and next week we’ll see the return of Best There Is At What He Does sour-faced heel-in-a-suit Chris Jericho. This would be ideal for most of us, because Parasites and Sycophants Chris Jericho is basically the greatest thing ever.
3. This was Y2J returning. Next week we’ll get angry-face Jericho in a suit but he’ll do a similar thing where he says nothing and walks to the back. Then in the third week, or at the Royal Rumble, he’ll re-re-re-debut as a third, new thing and tie in some of that “destroying the world” stuff from the mystery videos.
4. Jericho was either drunk or on a ton of drugs, forgot his lines and thought it’d be better to f**k around and leave than wing it.
5. He isn’t “back”, he just wandered out and will never be seen again.
Number one is the most Pro Wrestling Compelling, number two is the one a guy like me hopes for, number three is the most Actually Compelling and numbers four and five are so goddamn hilarious I can’t even explain it. How awesome would it be if they just never mentioned him again? They didn’t give us any “moments ago” replays or hype it at all, the announcers just sorta went “uh, okay!” as they went to commercial and came back from the break ready to get their Kane on. The Man Of 1,004 Holds fan in me hoped the commercial break would end with heel Jericho standing in the middle of the ring ripping everybody.Subscribe to UPROXX
Worst: The Actual Act Of Watching This
I went through a weird reaction while watching this segment, and I’m not good with flow charts or whatever so I’ll try to walk you through it. When the show started and they did the IT BEGINS interruption during Donald P. Bellisario’s NCIS credits I was all “oh man, this is gonna be BIG”. Then the show started, and Cena and Kane started doing their thing and I cooled down. Then, when the reveal actually started up I was super focused on what was going to happen, one-half “oh man this is exciting” and two-halves “it’s gonna be Undertaker, they’re gonna do a thing with Kane at the end of the show, I mean, it’s Jericho but then we’re gonna SWERVE IT and blah blah blah”. You know how Internet Wrestling Fan brains work, I can’t watch anything without trying to figure out where it’s going and how and in which hole they’re gonna screw me.
The Y2J chants started up, the fireworks went off, Jericho was standing there in an amazing jacket and I got hyped. About 0.008 seconds later I saw him smiling and wearing said jacket with no shirt and thought “oh god, he’s Y2J again, isn’t he” and I cycled through my terrible memories of Cookie Monster photoshops and Stephanie McMahon Planet Of The Apes pie fights and OH NO THERE WAS A GIRL IN THE VIDEO HE’S GOING TO BRING OUT STEPHANIE MCMAHON SOMEONE HELP ME. He soaked in the cheers and I lingered, losing interest, wondering when he was going to stop being all Hulk Hogan about it and talk. Then it got longer and longer and longer, and he started Mark Henrying the crowd and taking ridiculous victory laps, pumping his fists and yelling YEAH BABY COME ONNNN like he and the crowd expected the other to react differently.
By the time he got to the stage it was clear that he was trolling us and my brain enjoyed it, but my body was still going “ughhh I just watched somebody do literally nothing for ten minutes”. So I loved it, but I didn’t love loving it. Does that make sense?
Best: Chris Jericho’s LED Superjacket
But oh man, that jacket was tight.
Now for the Diaryland portion of the Best and Worst report: When I was a teenager I was extremely overweight and had no self-confidence. Circa senior year I dropped a lot of it (in not the healthiest way, but still) and couldn’t stop seeing myself as a big fat guy, so I overcompensated on the confidence and bought a sparkly shirt like the one Chris Jericho wore in his WWF debut from Gadzooks or wherever and wore it around. I got a lot of compliments on it (sincere or otherwise) and it was easier to say “heh, I’m wearing this ugly shirt on PURPOSE” than rationalize why someone would think my normal clothes were ugly. Fast forward several years and I’ve worked through this phase, lost weight in a healthy way and grown up a little. I got out shopping for a nice suit, and my brain goes “oh, I’m going to buy that one, that’s like the one Chris Jericho wears”.
The moral of the story is twofold: 1. I have let Chris Jericho control too much of my fashion sense, to the point that I even started spiking my hair in the front despite having a forehead the size of a Galapagos turtle shell, and 2. Somebody send me a link to where I can buy one of those f**king jackets.
Best Or Worst: Chris Jericho Is The Rock Times Ten
I had to explain this to Destiny, so I’ll include it here as well — one of the things people always go to when describing my column is mentioning how much I “hate the Rock”. I’ve explained it here before, but I don’t hate The Rock, I hate babyface The Rock. Bad guy Rock in both Nation of Domination and Willie Nelson Guitar Concert forms is my second favorite wrestling character of all time. So when he shows up in sleeveless t-shirts and workout pants to Support Our Troops and make people chant things or whatever I resent it and hate it, both because he’s being a pandering, easy-bucket asshole and because he’s existing in place of one or more characters I’d kill to see again.
As I said, bad guy Rock is my second favorite wrestling character of all time. Who’s my favorite? Top-knot conspiracy theorist WCW Cruiserweight Champion heel Chris Jericho. So take everything I say about Rock as a good guy and magnify it by ten for the Lionheart, or for Y2J, and specifically for the WOULD YOU PLEASE SHUT, THE HELL, UP! catchphrase. It exists in place of something I love for the benefit of a million other people with no idea HOW to love and I hate it.
So hey, maybe this trolling will be the best thing that ever happened.
Worst: If You’re Gonna Quote Stripes, Do It Right
The “wearing less underwear” gag was fine, but Stripes is almost even too old for me, and I much would’ve preferred something along the lines of “any of you homos touch my WWE Championship, and I’ll kill you”.
Worst: So Wait, Johnny Fabulous Is Banned From WWE Television?
Cena referencing The Christmas Creature’s debut in a negative light was bad enough (as was Lawler’s knowing “heh heh heh” as the only guy in the arena who got it), but there is no darker way to start off the year with a Worst from me than to say John Cena Sr. isn’t welcome back on Raw. If I put together a Best And Worst of the Best And Worst Of Raw column, Johnny Fabulous saying “taz-tester-on” would probably be in the top five. Why don’t you just sh*t directly into my cereal, John.
Worst: John Cena Is Still Not Getting To The Point
So, uh, Cena opened the first Raw of 2012 with the same speech he’s been making since March of 2011, and the talking points are:
1. Some people like him, some people hate him.
2. People have paid money to see the show so they can say anything they want.
3. He ain’t curr.
4. jokes and jokes and jokes
I’m starting to think that Cena’s doing a long-form version of Chris Jericho’s trolling, beating us over the head with this sh*t until we give up and say UGH COME ON KANE BEAT THE DOGSH*T OUT OF HIM WITH YOUR CHOKEGLOVE”. Cena completely nerfing the very same Kane promo about giving in to hate that caused him to have a mournful reaction last week is counterproductive at best, especially if Cena goes the “it didn’t bother me, heh, everyone says I should do that” without any hint whatsoever that he might not believe what he says.
I think that’s Cena’s biggest weakness — not in the selling of moves, but in the selling of consequences. He’s quick to get all YOU SHALL NOT PASS on Wade Barrett or whatever, but he can’t convince us for even a second that he believes he could fail … and “believing he might fail” is the most important thing to throw in to a story when your guy never fails. We’ve been living in 10 years of Dr. Manhattan turning the Vietnamese into ash without any of the cool Ozymandias-is-f**king-you-with-tachyons stuff that comes later.
Worst: Kane Is Terrible At Sneak Attacks
If CM Punk really wants to break the fourth wall in a way I’d enjoy, he should come to the ring to cut a promo and stop in the middle to notice the production guys hooking pyro to the ring posts while he talks and go, “wait, is Kane going to interrupt me?”
For a guy who can literally throw fire, Kane has got to be the easiest to predict person ever. When he promised that he’d show John Cena “the true meaning of hate” later tonight, Destiny just sorta off the top of her head said “he’s gonna come up through a hole in the ring!” Destiny is not a smarky wrestling analyst, she has just seen Kane at least once before and knows that the stupid hole in the ring to Hell is Kane and Undertaker’s one supernatural move. How that explains what Kane means by “hate” is beyond me, but there you go, someone who barely watches knew what a multinational million-dollar writing team was going to do one f**king second in.
Am I wrong for thinking that Kane should just run around throwing fire at people he hates all the time? Why does he use it so sparingly? Does he have to recharge his Magicka? Is it like Nightcrawler’s teleportation powers, where he has to have a clear idea of where he’s teleporting or else he’ll end up with his leg molecularly bonded to a girder or something and die? Is that why he has to use it in the ring, because there are too many corridors backstage?
Best: Daniel Bryan Vs. Cody Rhodes On Raw
Daniel Bryan and Cody Rhodes didn’t get a lot of time to do what they do (possibly because of that 75 minute block reserved for Jericho to go yeahhhhh!), but what they did was great, and they did it quickly. It was about as good as a three minute match can be. My first inclination is to type “I would like to see these two get more time together!” as though I didn’t spend a chunk of last year watching them wrestle every week. I guess that’s a good sign, right?
Best: Asparagus The Wonder Dog Getting Name-dropped On Raw
I don’t want to sound elitist or anything, but I feel like the true test of whether or not you’re a Daniel Bryan fan is whether or not you know and care about Asparagus. I was there (online, at least) when he got stuffed into a powder blue and pink Bryan Danielson t-shirt, I was there when he wore the United States Championship and I was there this Christmas when he wore reindeer antlers.
Michael Cole has spent the last year and a half screaming about the worthlessness and uselessness of my favorite living wrestler, called him a nerd repeatedly for enjoying wrestling and the things I love and condemned the vegan lifestyle of Bryan’s which I share and I’ve been able to handle it, but seriously, when he broke out “Cody Rhodes comes from Dusty Rhodes and Daniel Bryan has a dog named Asparagus” I was like YOU SHUT YOUR F**KING PIECE OF SH*T MOUTH ABOUT ASPARAGUS.
Best: Bryan’s Tiger Knee Will Never Not Be Awesome
I love it. The easiest color commentator response to Michael Cole’s “look at this Daniel Bryan, how can you take him seriously?!?” should be “everything he does looks awesome and could really hurt you”. Like when he’s throwing the running knee off the apron, the announcers should be marking for it, not making “looks like Daniel Bryan may’ve caught Cody Rhodes OFF GUARD idk” comments and trying their best to ignore it. Why when Bryan has Rhodes in the corner and is kicking the sh*t out of him can’t at least Lawler say “wow, he’s really kicking the sh*t out of him”? Your inability to make Bryan f**king Danielson the coolest thing in wrestling is your greatest failure, WWE, that and your Big Show t-shirts.
Plus!: The Return Of Mr. Small Package
One of my favorite things about Bryan Danielson’s run as Ring Of Honor Champion is when he got so confident in his ability to defeat any challenger that he ditched his finishing holds and started pinning people with small packages. At Generation Now in Cleveland I watched him throw bombs with Nigel McGuinness for almost 25 minutes before sliding out of the ring, going under it, crawling all the way to the other side and sliding back in to catch Nigel with a small package and pin him. It was glorious. Even better, this was when Nigel was doing that thing where he had to leave every match with a skeeball-sized growth on his forehead, so the statement of “I don’t need to kill myself to beat you, I’m just gonna move my leg around like this” was the best.
I like that Ziggler and Bryan are trying to get basic moves like the sleeper and small package over as legitimate threats again, because sometimes you need that sh*t and a Psycho Driver doesn’t always make sense, but it would probably work better if the announcers didn’t go BUH HUH LOOK AT THAT DANIEL BRYAN ACTUALLY WON A MATCH when he beats the Intercontinental Champion in 3 f**king minutes with a cradle.
Worst: Even Toned-Down Michael Cole Is Sorta Ruining Things
Yeah, he deserves his own spot again. I noticed how he spent entire portions of this match speaking in a calm voice about the great Cody, Goldust and Booker T interactions without unzipping his pants and whipping it out on the table, but every time the conversation steered back to what was happening in the match he couldn’t stop ruining it. People who don’t watch guys like Punk, Daniel Bryan and Zack Ryder all the time aren’t just gonna know the guy paid to tell them about the wrestlers is full of sh*t, they’re gonna go “what is this guy, a joke?” and turn it back to the Fiesta Bowl or whatever. Imagine how much of a legend Dusty Rhodes would be if Gordon Solie yammered on about how he was a fat gay ’70s album cover wigger the entire time.
Best: Wade Barrett, Cowardly Murderer
Okay, so we didn’t do a Best And Worst Of Smackdown live-blog last Friday, so I’d like to take a moment here to say that Randy Orton and Wade Barrett doing mounted punches via elevator security feed footage is one of the dumbest and most Halftime Heat-ish things they’ve done in forever, ranking just ahead of JBL Murdering John Cena With His Car and just below Rob Van Dam Frog Splashing People From Two Balconies Up In Times Square on my list of believable wrestling moments. As hard as Wade sold it, I also didn’t buy Randy Orton’s “whoops, we missed it even though we’ve got cameras everywhere apparently” Family Guy sell of backbreaking death at the bottom of a stairwell OR Wade Barrett getting sketched out and running away instead of just wandering down the steps and pinning dude with his foot. This is the guy who handcuffed a guy to the ropes, assaulted his wife and then made out with his unconscious body, Wade, the worst thing you’ve ever done is beat up Justin Roberts. Pin him.
I did, however, like them jumping back to Wade in the ring waggling his eyebrows around like a sonofabitch upon watching the replay. My justification here is that when Orton went down the steps, Barrett may’ve believed he’d committed a homicide (possibly on camera) and bailed… but this week, knowing that Randy merely had a section of his snake back broken and will be out of action for a while, he could get all Wade Barrett about it and rub it in our faces. That’s solid. WADE BARRETT! WADE BARRETT! WADE BARRETT!
Best: Finally, Someone Defeats The Dreaded Splits Feint
This gif is perhaps Jerusalem’s masterwork:
And man, how long have I waited for someone to counter that? Santino is always doing splits under clotheslines, and so is R-Truth. Human Tornado can avoid anything by doing a split. “Argh just dropkick him, he can’t move out of the way” or “argh just stomp him you’ll hurt his head and probably tear his groin and impact him like Ram Man” always came to mind. Here, we finally have a solution — Wade tries to attack, Santino drops down into his split, and Wade just stands there looking at him like he’s an idiot before kicking him in the face. It’s the Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Ricky Steamboat perversion of the International brought into this new wonderful world of wrestling where nobody knows the fundamentals and everybody’s just dancing.
Best: The Irish Hand Grenade
… hopefully I’m not alone here, but I LOVED the forty seconds or whatever of Miz/Sheamus match last night. Loved it. Miz finally acted like someone might when they find out they have a match with Sheamus: rush him, knock him down, tie him up in the ropes and try to hurt him. Sheamus avoids the trope of getting Andre’d the Giant in the ropes and fights back with his free hand and leg (again, like someone might if this were really happening to them) and uses Miz’s cowardly Super Runaway as a set-up for the Irish Riestra and, instead of counting to ten with it, just hammers him to f**king death out of anger until his arm gets tired. Miz finally gets free, and instead of letting him meander around the ring Sheamus GOES AFTER HIM because he’s still angry and some hammer-blowing didn’t get that out of his system. Miz has to flee into the crowd.
That’s the entire match, as R-Truth shows up shortly after this to use his magical segment ending powers to make Sheamus disappear, but what there was was outstanding and I wanted to point it out. Give me 10 minutes on a pay-per-view sometime with a sense of urgency and logic like that, guys.
Worst: Pinfalls Are Suddenly The Goddamn Fireworks Factory
Sheamus is just standing around doing nothing while Miz walks out into the crowd to get confronted by R-Truth, but sticks around long enough to hit a Marvel vs. Capcom style Brogue Kick out of nowhere to knock Miz out. Then, job well done I guess, he turns around and leaves. Weren’t they supposed to be having a match? Did Miz get counted out and we just didn’t hear it? He was out there for a long time. Did the referee stop counting to listen to R-Truth talk? Furthermore, of Miz reentered the match and got Brogue Kicked, shouldn’t Sheamus want to at least roll him back into the ring and get the quick pin? He does this for a living. And wouldn’t it have allowed Truth to get into the ring to taunt the downed Miz instead of staying where 70% of the arena couldn’t see him?
I know you guys have ADD and all, but come on, at least give everybody involved in these segments an ending. R-Truth does not have a Water Bottle Of Banishing and Sheamus is not somebody’s Fire Atronach, as much sense as that makes.
Best: Judge, Jimmy and Executioner
I’m not sold on R-Truth as a lovable babyface with a debilitating mental disease who can’t stop stalking and hurting people, but I guess that’s what Randy Orton’s been doing for years and people like him, so. Regardless, Lil’ Jimmy has been funny since the first time he said it, so if we must cheer for Jimmy let’s be glad it hasn’t been retconned into a rapping thing. Although now that I think about it, Truth dancing out to “What’s Up? (featuring Lil’ Jimmy)” would be pretty awesome, especially if he handed off the mic to nobody for an entire verse.
Best: Dolph Ziggler Will Defeat You As Easily As He Does This Headstand
The best thing in wrestling. Josh Mathews’ “yeah, get it” look makes it even better.
Best: Punk V Ziggler, Even On Raw
There was a lot of good wrestling on this show in retrospect. When I went to bed last night all I could remember was Chris Jericho’s permasmile and the terrible main-event bullsh*t, so it’s nice to come back to the report and realize a lot of good stuff happened. I’m giving Ziggler vs. Punk a Best here because it was really pretty good, despite a few things:
1. WWE Fan Nation clipped it down to three minutes, with two of that being post-match nonsense.
2. This is the second Ziggler vs. Punk match in two weeks to end with some ridiculously convoluted finish.
3. Dolph Ziggler’s ass looks like Jiffy Pop.
However, in response to those criticisms, Laurinaitis followed up this match by announcing Dolph Ziggler as CM Punk’s opponent for the WWE Championship at Royal Rumble, which makes perfect sense as Ziggler’s beaten Punk twice in a row. It also makes HEEL sense, because the average viewer is gonna say HE DIDN’T BEAT HIM ONCE, IT WAS CHEAP BOTH TIMES and they’re totally right. WWE Fan Nation clipping the match to a minute works well if you’re trying to sell a pay-per-view match and don’t want to give it away for free, although the whole “we showed this on live TV twice in full” thing stands. I don’t know. I want to see them wrestle a lot because they’re good at wrestling, what kind of asshole am I if I pull the “meh they’re WRESTLING TOO MUCH” thing? I don’t care about ratings, give me matches I want to see every week. Just keep Kofi Kingston as far away from Jiffy Pop Ass as possible.
I’m going to give a secondary best to John Laurinaitis here for his performance in what should’ve been a terribly executed segment. He’s still skirting that line between dim-witted do-gooder and purposefully cloaked villain that I could see him stumbling into a situation where the turnbuckle cover coming off is SUPER IMPORTANT but OH NO WRESTLERS HAVE BUMPED INTO ME, completely f**king CM Punk by accident but then WANTING to f**k him over because his arm got hurt in the melee and Punk didn’t care. That’s a complex character right there, and one pro wrestling on TV desperately needs.
Best: Otunga’s Travel Thermos Matches His Sweater And Bow-tie
David Otunga and John Laurinaitis: two guys who aren’t great at wrestling, but have stumbled into something wrestling at which they’re great.
Worst: CM Punk Writes A Novella To Justify Using “Bitch” On A TV-PG Show
CM Punk made an animal cruelty joke on Raw, and you’d think that’d bother me a lot (it’s a pretty soft spot for me… I mean hell, I have an ASPCA credit card), but it didn’t. He also managed to be demeaning to women again in the process of making the animal cruelty joke, and you’d think THAT would bother me, but again, it didn’t. What bothered me was Punk having to create a meticulous back-story for his upcoming insult to say “bitch” on a kids show so it could mean “bitch like a female dog” and not “bitch like a woman”. So he had to figure out a way to make it about animals, and beating up a female dog could be animal cruelty, and how could he get in trouble for… WAIT, David Otunga is a LAWYER so he’ll have to get SUED, and … yeah, he probably could’ve just said “I’m going to literally punch and kick you” and gotten the message across.
Best: Miz Is Not Gonna Be A What Now
Did he just say he wasn’t going to be a sh*tting duck? Better than being a Howard The Duck, I guess.
Best: Zack Ryder Seeming Like Zack Ryder Again
I’ve been dumping on Zack Ryder a lot in recent weeks for abandoning everything that made him likeable on Z! True Long Island Story in favor of smirking in 8 concurrent Broski t-shirts and shoehorning his catchphrases into everything, but last night he seemed funny again, and more importantly, he seemed like himself. He seemed like that guy from the Internet show on TV, doing a well-timed (and ignored) “brutal” to John Laurinaitis’s extended job description and threatening to send Jack Swagger to the ER with immediate fist-bump instead of just saying “WOO WOO BRO YOU SKI IT BRO” and driving over him in an orange and purple monster truck. It was nice, and hopefully now that we’re out of the honeymoon stage we can let him be an actual goofy guy again instead of WWE’s interpretation of what a goofy guy should be.
Last night’s Divas match was BAD. I’m not going to compare it to independent wrestling or anything, it was just objectively f**king bad on every level. Kelly Kelly hit the asshole bootscrapes for the first time in weeks, Eve was throwing kicks that looked like she was playing DDR and the Bella Twins got one of those random Twin Magic tag team victories they do every few months to justify paying the twins who look great in publicity photos. You’ve got to keep them around, because who else is gonna hold Shaq by the arms for his Wrestlemania announcement, but if you keep them around they have to do things, and in WWE speak “women doing things” equals “roll-ups”.
And oh God, speaking of roll-ups…
Best: Brie Bella’s Small Package Of Molag Bal
Remember earlier in the report when I was talking about how awesome Daniel Bryan’s small package was? Yeah, now watch this gif of Brie Bella f**king up a small package beyond human belief.
I can’t stop watching it. It’s like The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka in small package form. As Brie Bella awoke one morning from uneasy dreams she found herself a cockroach. And what’s worse, two of her cockroach legs were Eve.
Worst: OH NO EARTHQUAKE
I forgot to mention it on the Jericho page, but one of the very worst parts of his return was the minute and a half of rumble pack they added to the cameras before the lights went out, like the mysterious boy and girl from the video package had taken sentient possession of the arena and were gonna split open the earth and swell up to devour the audience. But no, it’s just a cool dad in a sparkle jacket. Anyway, the shaking camera was bad, but they did manage to rip this cute, unrealistically-concerned lady from the pages of my It Begins fanfic:
And is that Bam Bam Bigelow back there?
Worst: Still No Brodus Clay. Still.