The Best And Worst Of WWE Raw 1/23/12: Don’t Break My Back, Bro

By: 01.24.12  •  107 Comments
oh-no-bro

Pre-show notes:

aj-lee-wwe– The poll inserted into last night’s Best And Worst Of WWE Raw Open Discussion Thread asked Best And Worst readers to decide which random old time-sorta-sensitive pay-per-view event I would go back and review for my first ever Best And Worst Of An Old Show report later this week, and with a whopping 41.27% of the vote, Royal Rumble 2000 is your winner.

So be sure to check back later this week for that report, and support it/leave comments/share it around if you want me to do more. I’m going to spend between now and Thursday-ish trying to figure out how to get a screengrab of Mae Young’s tits on the front page of a mainstream sports blog.

– 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. Saying hi to me at Wrestlemania this year is appreciated. Punching me when you see me at Wrestlemania because I mention being vegan or having a girlfriend too much is not appreciated.

– Follow us on Twitter @withleather, follow me personally @MrBrandonStroud and like us on Facebook.

– A.J. picture old, unrelated.

– Gifs contained within are, as always, courtesy of Jerusalem at Punchsport Pagoda, except the one at the very end. Try to guess what it’ll be!

– Additional reading: UGO’s Raw Report.

Click through to enjoy the Best And Worst Of WWE Raw for January 23, 2012.

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Best: MY ELBOW, BRO, ARE YOU SERIOUS

Or, “my elbro!”

I think my favorite part of the show was the very beginning. Nickelback announce that tonight’s Raw would be “all in, balls out” (explaining away the best and worst parts of Brodus Clay) and the camera starts panning down a row of WWE Universalities, and everybody’s all YEAH WOO I’M ON TV YEAH MY BALLS ARE OUT RAW IS WAR etc. Then, a weird bump. The next person you see is this guy, a fat guy in a CM Punk t-shirt and Zack Ryder Broski headband-slash-Scotty-2-Hotty-hair making a pained face, shaking out his arm. Working theory: the cameraman was walking backwards as he filmed and bumped the most “wrestling fan” wrestling fan in history in the elbow with his camera.

Secondary theory: This is the only living, breathing, romping stomping Virginasaurus in captivity.

(For want of a nail I could’ve been this guy. Thank God for tape trading and an inflated sense of self-worth.)

Worst: Take Your Vagina Out Of Your Sundress, Put On A Blue Shirt, Drink Light Beer And Face Me Like A Man

Once again, the show starts with CM Punk calling out Executive Vice President of Talent Relations and Interim General Manager of Raw John Laurinaitis out for social and emotional crimes against his person and simmers it (Indian-style) until everything’s evaporated and all he has left is “you are like a woman”. Seriously, this is like the fourth time he’s told Laurinaitis to “take [his] balls out of [his] purse” and face him like a man.

Ignoring what I usually gripe about here, why does he keep saying this? When he said it to Triple H, it was thematically appropriate — everyone knows Triple H is married to Vince McMahon’s daughter, so the suggestion that he has his balls in a woman’s purse is saying that he’s been emasculated by his controlling wife and can’t make any calls or decisions on his own. It makes him insecure, ineffective, less of a leader … and because Punk’s entire beef was that Triple H was doing a terrible job as Chief Operating Officer of WWE, it worked. When he says it to Laurinaitis, he’s basically just calling him a woman and deriding him for it. “You don’t have balls. You carry a purse. If you have balls, I assume you carry them in said purse.” I feel like there’s probably a better way to say “have integrity” than “you’d better have male reproductive organs attached to your body where I can see ’em, or else“.

Quicker version, repeated ad nauseum: You are basically the best and coolest wrestler ever, Punk, stop taking so many sh*tty shortcuts. Eventually I’m going to forget your passion for THIS BUSINESS™ and only think of you as the guy who won’t shut up about testicles. So far, that guy in my brain is Test. You’re going to be where Test is.

Best: John Cena = John Laurinaitis, CM Punk = Eve

This (paraphrased) exchange reminded me way too much of last week’s awesome “shut your mouth and have some respect for authority” Shutdownanaitis on Eve Torres:

Punk: “Derp, hey John Cena, I didn’t want to talk to ‘We’ve Cena-Enough’, I wanted to rap with Boring Gay John Laurinaitis, the boring gay!”

Cena: “You need to shut the f**k up when grown folks is talkin’.”

Punk: “I’m sorry.” /sulks around in background making funny faces, because that’s what cool adults do

It was glorious. Cena pulled rank on him, and he grants 300 dying child wishes a year AND finds time to pal around with Ethan Embry AND wins WWE Championships on the reg so Punk can close his mouth and take his yukkin’-it-up-on-morning-radio ass to the background and deal with it. The fact that Punk seriously just shut up and let Cena go on and on about Zack Ryder’s poor baby body says a lot for the neutering Punk’s character has underwent since August, and at this point I would imagine his literal nuts are being toted along in some sort of over-the-shoulder bag. A satchel, maybe.

Best: #bigjohnny

If you aren’t following Big Johnny on Twitter, you’re missing out on all sorts of crazy bests. Proof: his running commentary on the tag match he made to open Raw.

wwerawgm-twitter

How you could be cheering for anyone else in this situation is beyond me. (Also, the high quality of the chairs confirms the stupidity of that R-Truth/John Morrison “suplex into comfort” spot from last year. If you’re gonna suplex somebody into something, make sure it’s low quality, like the tables under a ring in a bingo hall or the Impact set. I just want someone to get suplexed into a low quality chair and scream ARGHH, THE TWEED.)

Worst: Bait And Switch

As much as I wanted to see Johnny Ace vs. CM Punk as the main event of a Raw in 2012 (I did, that’s not sarcasm) (and yeah, mostly I wanted to see it so I could write ten paragraphs about a 46-year old bureaucrat hitting a cobra clutch suplex and a Johnny Spike on the WWE Champion for the win), the part of me that has watched wrestling for longer than two hours went, “there’s no way they’re going to have this match”. I guess I watched enough Nitro to not get excited for main events. I can’t even watch the ones that ARE good and AREN’T baited and switched because I’m looking at the clock, going “oh great it’s 10:54 and they’re still doing entrances” and assuming everything that goes with it. I figured Punk would end up trouncing Dave Otunga until Dolph Ziggler ran out and jumped him, and, well … I guess I won’t spoil it for you.

Fun fact: John Laurinaitis is only two years older than Kane. And only six older than R-Truth.

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Best: The Highlight Reel, Now With T-Shirt Guns

I don’t know if I can even analyze what Jericho’s doing anymore.

say-words-jerichoAll I can say is that his segments on these shows the last few weeks have made me happy. I watch them with a smile on my face from beginning to end, trying to guess what’ll happen next, trying to figure out where everything is going before the next step has even happened. When they announced he’d be hosting the Highlight Reel, I thought he was just gonna stand out there, not say anything, leave. Maybe be interrupted by someone before he could talk. When he told the audience to shush, I thought he was illustrating how impossible it is to get a wrestling audience to agree to do a simple thing that doesn’t involve them being a “part of the universe” (i.e. f**king shutting up). When he brought out the t-shirt gun and didn’t shoot it (or when he picked up the camera and filmed people for no reason) I thought he was showing how no matter what people expect, they’ll go nutso primal over a free thing or the chance to be on screen for a heartbeat. When he showed the Jericho career highlight video, I thought he was gonna get choked up again and bail. Or break The Obscenely Expensive Jeritron 5000 and bail. Do something and bail.

Then, he talked. He brought it back around to the cryptic videos that advertised his arrival, promising that at the Royal Rumble, it’ll be the end of the world as we know it. That’s when I realized what he was doing: he wasn’t trolling us, he was just showing us our world. Figuratively, through acting out pro wrestling ropes like the t-shirt gun, and literally, by picking up the camera and showing us cheering. No more Y2J, no more big entrances, no more Highlight Reel, no more Chris Jericho’s Career. The end of that, at least as we know it.

It’s brilliant, whether it goes where I want it to or not. One sentence in a month and he’s the most interesting part of the show. Now that’s a pro wrestler.

Worst: Bro Out Of It, Bro, Broriously, Bro Will Broin Everything

If you’re looking for the opposite of Jericho’s Highlight Reel, please consult the backstage segment wherein Zack Ryder, Eve and John Cena hack the constructive pieces of last week’s narrative to bits with some of the most amazingly bad acting ever. Nobody makes sense. Think about it:

Eve: Why is Eve acting like this? She spent a month going “ehhh, I don’t know, sure I guess we can have one date”, then Kane beats him up once and now she’s suddenly standing alongside Mary of Clopas and Mary Magdalene at Zack Ryder’s crucifixion. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that given WWE’s Madonna-whore complex Eve would have to go straight from whore to Madonna, but Jesus, give us a week of two of something deeper than fistsplosions before she’s clutching his dead body and screaming “no” to the heavens.

John Cena: I had a brief discussion about this with David Shoemaker about this earlier today. One of the weirdest aspects of Cena is that he gets focused on one dude at a time and cannot let it go. He did it with Punk over the Summer. When Punk wasn’t around, Cena stomped around the ring yelling about how CM PUNK WON THE TITLE FAIR AND SQUARE AND DESERVES TO BE THE CHAMPION even though it was like 5% his business and Punk himself didn’t really care that much. He’s doing that with Ryder now. There is no reason why grown adult WWE Superstar Zack Ryder needs John Cena (playing a role loosely based on the I Learned It By Watching You dad) lords over him and spot-checks his decisions. Cena’s “okay well let’s forget about John Laurinaitis saying he’ll ban you from title shots forever, I’m just gonna run out and help you win” was extra weird and stupid and hilarious.

Zack Ryder: I’ve ragged on him for this before, but sometimes you have to stop saying your catchphrases. I think it has a lot to do with Zack Ryder’s “TV voice”. He never sounds like he’s talking, he sounds like he’s recording lines for a video game. “Don’t interfere, bro! Stay out of it, bro!” I seriously expected him to tack a “woo woo woo” onto the end of it. If you have been assaulted to the point of hospitalization and were literally almost pulled living into the physical reality of a Christian Hell it’s time to put less emphasis on your headbands and that thing on your balls that sends me to your website when I take a picture of it.

Worst: Babyfaces Are Handling Falls Count Anywhere Matches All Wrong

And to continue on the paragraph about Zack Ryder doing it wrong, I’ve never understood why underdogs get put into Falls Count Anywhere matches and spend the whole time walking around punching and getting thrown into things. The stipulation is that falls can count anywhere … that means that falls can happen in the ring, so when Kane drags you to the top of the stage and glovemouths you and you break free with a kick to the stomach and a punch, RUN THE F**K BACK TO THE RING. Am I stupid for thinking this? Just go to the ring. Stay in the ring as much as possible. I would pay cold hard Internet cash money to support a guy who said, “sh*t, I’m not gonna follow you out there, out there is pipes”.

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Best: As God As My Witness, He’s Fallen Almost Two Feet

I’m giving Zack Ryder’s Chokeslam ALL THE WAY T’HELL a Best because the smarkier gent inside of me loves it when they do prop falls, then immediately discredit them with too many camera angles. See also: WWF’s late-90s obsession with dumpsters full of packing peanuts, various stage and Titantron bumps onto carefully arranged cardboard boxes, Triple H being chokeslammed from a scaffold onto comfy mattresses at Wrestlemania X-7, etc.

At first, the image is that Zack Ryder has been chokeslammed onto the stage so hard that he’s broken it and gone through it, presumably to the floor (and/or production equipment) below. That’s the image you should stay with, and if they’d kept the cameras at stage level and shown people reacting to Zack’s presumably mangled body it could’ve been really effective. Unfortunately they did that thing they always do where they can’t resist rubbernecking, so they zoom in to him sprawled out on the ground with EMTs stretching him up, and the one EMT is bent over and his ass is higher than the stage. So basically Ryder got chokeslammed onto a surface that gave way, causing him to fall another… what, foot and a half? To the floor with stuff under him.

What we develop in our imagination is sometimes better than the payoff. It’s why The Blair Witch Project worked and those Sarah Michelle Gellar/Kristen Bell horror movies where blue monster babies crawl out of the walls or whatever don’t. Although the same people who were yelling THEY AIN’T EVEN SHOW THE WITCH would’ve probably jumped on WWE Social to post THEY AIN’T EVEN SHOW HIS BODY, so whatever, he’s dead and we can move on.

Best? Worst?: Cena’s Reaction To Ryder

I thought this was the peak of Cena’s acting, but then they took a commercial break and let him prep for the Josh Mathews interview. Anyway, the upside of Cena’s shock and awe is that I couldn’t decide whether he was:

1. Selling the severity of Zack Ryder’s injury, i.e. “oh no how could a man do this to another man”, or

2. Going “oh my God, this is exactly like what I did to Batista, I’m a f**king monster”

Number one would be sh*tty and give us “Cena embraces hate because he hates Kane so much”. That’s the easy out, and probably what they’re doing. The second one is incredible and gives us “Cena embraces hate because he hates himself”. It builds on the stuff CM Punk was accusing him of when he was cool a year and a half ago circa the New Nexus (“you beat Batista but it wasn’t enough, you had to go too far and put him through the stage”). Cena is an unstoppable monster incapable of showing human emotion or knowing when he turn it off. This could be why he reacts to Zack Ryder the way he does… like the T-800 trying to say “no problemo” to John Conner because that’s what a 90s teen’s idea of cool sounds like.

Cena could effectively turn heel without changing at all. He just keeps coming out in bright shirts with dumb slogans, throwing his hat, breaking people in half effortlessly and crushing their heads with 10,000 pound ring steps because he hates himself, but can’t escape that hate because all he knows how to be is himself. Do it. Do iiiiiiit.

AND UP NEXT: CENA MAEKS POOPIES >=(

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You aren’t going to do it, are you.

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Worst: Owen Voices

I know a lot of people reading hate the term “Owen Voices” to describe when the announcers speak in frank, hushed tones about what happened, but f**k you, I was watching Blue Blazer talk to Kevin Kelly about the value of drinking milk when Owen was falling to his death on pay-per-view and reserve the right to think it continues to be bullsh*t when WWE announcers evoke that tone to make hokey nonsense like a Zack Ryder chokeslam to Hell seem serious because they only use it to make hokey nonsense like a Zack Ryder chokeslam to Hell seem serious.

That is all.

Worst: Melodramatic Eve

Remember last week when I attempted to give Ryder and Eve credit for taking a gentler touch with their characters? Yeah, forget I typed that. Between Ryder’s WOO WOO WOO, YOU KNOW YOU SHOULDN’T INTERFERE and Eve sweding All My Children as Ryder was being taken away in an ambulance, this was one of the worst weeks ever for WWE acting. It was legitimately worse than Derrick Bateman yelling WAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT, THIS MUST ENDDD as he powerwalked to the ring to break up a wedding on a wedding episode of NXT that is neither intentionally compelling nor the longest running weekly episodic program in anything history.

I will give her a small Best for looking nice, because she looked very nice. Two things Eve should never do: 1) wear bangs, because they make her look like she’s wearing a wig, 2) wear wrestling gear, because it makes her look like she’s supposed to be a wrestler.

Best: Josh Mathews Is A Little Douchebag

When Justin O’Connor filled in for me on the 12/19 edition of Best And Worst, he got to mention what a little asshole Josh Mathews was for prodding Big Show about his 45 second championship reign, not even really asking him questions, just sorta going “man, you really f**ked up, huh” over and over until Show wandered away crying.

That Josh Mathews appeared again last night, showing up after John Cena just watched his friend get chokeslammed through a stage and dragged away in an ambulance to not even ask him a question, just say “John, you’ve got to feel awful about this” and pointing a microphone in his face. What a little f**king asshole. Cena did the right thing by not answering him, just turning around and knocking the microphone out of his hand. I assume Mathews scurried, though we didn’t see it. Then, poopies were maed.

BEST: JOHN CENA, THE SCOURGE OF CARPATHIA, THE SORROW OF MOLDAVIA, COMMANDS YOU

Vigo Cena

YES YES COMMAND ME LORD

Again, hopefully this’ll go somewhere cool, and not involve Zack Ryder and Eve spraying the insides of The Big Show with slime and piloting him down to the ring so the good natures and high spirits of the WWE Universe can teach Cena to love again.

Editor’s Note: I think Cena’s Embrace Hate Face is the closest a WWE Superstar has come to knocking Maria’s “wait, did I just get dumped” face from Raw a few years ago as the worst imaginable wrestling acting. Source:

OH GOD OH MAN OH GOD OH MAN

Editor’s Note #2: It goes together pretty well, actually.

Worst: And Now, Here’s A Foreign Guy

Why am I even linking this?

Raise your hand if you ever want to see another Jinder Mahal match. Now raise your hand if you think Sheamus should be doing something more interesting than kicking the same scowling brown guy every week. The only way it could be salvaged at this point is if Jinder did a sit-down interview with Jim Ross where he burst into tears and admitted he’s angry because he just wants to be great and white. Wait, did I say “salvaged”?

Best: Wade. They Don’t Love You Like I Love You.

The Sheamus/Jinder Mahal match was almost (almost) saved by the continuing efforts of the Barret Barrage. Wade didn’t say anything particularly interesting this week (and was severely, severely overshadowed by another British guy doing guest commentary on the next match) but no appearance of Wade, Wade’s hair and Wade’s jacket should happen without me Besting it. I especially liked him signaling that he was ready to get into it with Sheamus by putting his jacket on the apron, then taking it back.

Sheamus gets a secondary worst for needed to add “match” to the end of his OYM GONNA WIN THE ROYAL RUMBLE screaming so we’d know he meant “the staggered-entry battle royal” and not “the entire pay-per-view, including all title matches and the embracing of John Cena’s hate per the narrative”. That reeked of a pre-show memorandum. It sounded like he almost forgot it and didn’t want to get in trouble.

“OYM GONNA WIN THE ROYAL, RUMBLE! MATCHHH!”

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