The Best And Worst Of WWE Raw 12/3/12: CM Punk, In The Case Of 32-Year Old The Miz, You Are NOT The Father

WWE Raw lie detector

Pre-show notes:

Comments, shares, likes, what-have-you are immensely appreciated. I’ve we’ve got 3,000 comments on the open discussion threads, we can crack 200 on the thing that takes me like 7 hours to write.

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

– If you didn’t check it out last week, I got together an all-star crew to re-list WWE’s 50 Most Beautiful People In Sports-Entertainment History. The judging panel included Grantland’s Dave Shoemaker, leading Internet Comic Book Guy Chris Sims, WWE Superstar USA Guy and Dale from ‘Greek.’ It was pretty amazing. Give it a flip-through, try not to complain about slideshows and drop a comment, even if it’s to tell me you hate me for not properly evaluating Ivory, or whatever.

– If you live in the Virginia/Tennessee area, I will be attending the NWA Smoky Mountain Wrestling show on the 14th of December, so if you know who I am, come by and say hi. I will need a few people there who are not toothless and yelling at me.

Now, please click through to enjoy the Best And Worst Of WWE Raw for December 3, 2012.

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Best: The First 10 Minutes Of Raw

Raw is about “moments” or whatever, but I think they’d be onto something if they ditched that mission statement in favor of creating moods, or atmospheres. That’s what was important about the Monday Night Wars. Nitro had an atmosphere, and so did those 1997/98 Raws they’re always trying to recreate. ECW was ALL atmosphere. ECW’s best moments were almost always stupid or backyard dangerous — a guy f**king two girls because he’s “hardcore,” holes magically appearing in the ring or ramp, people doing run-ins via light switch — but it all seemed GREAT because they’d created an atmosphere that ECW was the place to be if you were a cool wrestling fan, and everyone bought it. Independent promotions today don’t do what ECW did, because they’re pretending to share in an atmosphere that no longer exists.

WWE is great at creating an atmosphere, and I’m not sure they know it. Remember Brad Maddox versus Ryback? The “moment” was terrible, but that pre-match thing with Maddox wandering out to his death and an ambulance back into the arena was great. They do it at WrestleMania every year, turning forgettable Bad Blood main-events (Triple H vs. Undertaker Hell In A Cell, I’m looking in your direction) into these big epic things we’re destined to remember forever. The first 10 minutes of Raw were about the vibe, with Team Hell No having finally made it over their friendship hump to stand up to these weird swat team guys with shifty motives and try to win a match at the same time. You didn’t know what The Shield was going to do, and the announcers being preoccupied with where each guy was (especially when all three of them were off-screen) made it seem dangerous, and alive. That’s what Raw should be: not necessarily unpredictable, but buzzing, constantly moving, never willing to fulfill or deny our expectations out of obligation.

If we could keep that atmosphere going for an entire show, we could feel engaged in watching how the entire thing ties together, instead of sitting on our hands waiting for the guys we like to show up. How do you do that for a weekly, three-hour show, you ask? By spending longer than a Monday afternoon writing it, and taking away one guy’s power to say NOPE SORRY at the last minute and write DO WHAT WE ALWAYS DO in your margins.

Worst: ‘Moo Kitty Kitty Moo Kitty Kitty,’ We Hardly Knew Ye

Rest in peace, Hip-Hop Track #15. You were too beautiful for this world.

Worst: Roman Reigns Delivering The Worst Headbutts In The History Of Wrestling

I don’t want to just load up the first page with videos, but seriously, jump to the 3:03 mark of this clip and watch Roman Reigns try to headbutt Daniel Bryan.

Holy shit, dude. I don’t want to automatically assume Reigns is the worst guy in The Shield because he didn’t spend five years slumming it in Turner’s Hall, but mother of God, what’s he headbutting? Was he trying to attack Bryan Kabuki Quantum Fighter style and just forgot to take his hair out of the ponytail? He needed the Sassy Gay Friend to pop up in the background. WHAT ARE YOU DOING, WHAT WHAT WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

New plan: Draw some patterns on Kassius Ohno’s arm with a sharpie and let him play Roman Reigns until dude learns how to wrestle on television.

Best: AJ Lee, Pro Wrestler Of Interest

Did you hear the crowd chanting “Let’s Go AJ” during this match? That’s because WWE gave her a character and let her participate in stories that were not “I’M IN THE DIVAS DERVISION,” so people respond to her positively and want to see her win and do things. I’m not going to say it’s “proof” of anything, but it’s a good indication that I have not spent the last two years of this column being full of shit, and that if WWE would invest a little effort into letting their female characters being human beings instead of vaginas on stilts we could have a pretty sweet division.

This is why I’ve been pushing the Chickbusters on you guys for so long. Yeah, they’re pretty, but they’re also ready-made moneymakers. When allowed to play to her strengths, AJ is a competent, scrappy wrestler who you want to cheer for because she’s cute and little and TRYING SO HARD. When allowed to play to her strengths, Kaitlyn is a beefy monster who is also a shoot dork, so she’s gonna mess up a lot, but you’re rooting for her not to. They’re like the world’s sexiest Jesse and Festus, and if you read “sexy Jesse and Festus” and don’t want to cheer for it, you’re doing it wrong.

Tamina versus AJ is a step in the right direction. Tamina was totally dominant, but overconfident, and that cost her. AJ clearly can’t hang with Tamina in the ring, but she’s got more heart, and she’s watched a few tapes so she knows that roll-ups are Super Effective against Diva types. I’ll even give AJ a +1 for stealing Dash Chisako’s offense, because that “jump into your lap and elbow you in the face a bunch because I’m the Compsognathus of lady wrestlers” thing is great.

My only problem was, of course,

Worst: WWE’s Idea Of Building PPV Matches By Having The Same Match Over And Over With Different Finishes

I think the idea of wrestling fans complaining that they’re given too many marquee matches too quickly for free on television instead of having to pay $50 to see them a month later is one of the most confusing things about BEING a wrestling fan.

On one hand, you’re being stupid. You’re getting good, free matches on television, and a desire for delayed gratification shouldn’t mean WWE can only run Zack Ryder versus Damien Sandow on loop for a cycle because you value a hypothetical Cena/Ziggler more than the one happening in front of you. If you don’t run the company, and your paycheck doesn’t rely on that company’s success, why not want the best they can give you all the time? Screw proper PPV builds, just let me see characters I like doing interesting things and yelling at each other about how they should GET IN THE RING or whatever. Right?

On the other, it’s not so much about delayed gratification as it is wanting to be gratified. If Tamina versus AJ happens on free television three weeks into the angle, and they wrestle again the next week, and they wrestle again at the pay-per-view, you haven’t had time to care about the characters in relation to one another and there are no consequences. The matches aren’t telling a story. One doesn’t build on the other. It’s just a series of decided match finishes, executed soullessly and without gravity for the instant call and response of the crowd. It’s a piece of gum when you’re looking for dinner. “Dinner,” as it were, is a match that EARNS the call and response by showing its work in the cycle. It’s rewarding. It rewards you for having watched the show, for giving a shit about it happening. That doesn’t have to be a ridiculously complex Chikara backstory of webbed-together continuities or anything, it can just be having something to talk about with your friends while the match is happening. Like a real sport. Imagine how boring football would be if the only thing you could say is “my team beat your team last week, so your team will probably win this week”. That SUCKS. You want to talk about players and coaches and motivations and histories and backups and blown calls and CUTENESS OF UNIFORMS and whatever else.

So do I want to see Tamina versus AJ? Yes. Do I want to see Cena and Ziggler? Sure. Do I want to see AJ roll up Tamina in two minutes to build to another AJ versus Tamina match? No. I just want one really f**king good AJ versus Tamina match, built on something that matters. Do I want to see Cena beat Ziggler clean two weeks in a row, to build to him beating Ziggler again at TLC? God, no. I want things to matter so I can be EXCITED when these matches happen. I don’t want you to numb my brain until I can only be excited when you tell me to be.

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Worst: The Idea That Cheating Adds An Asterisk To A WWE Title Reign, Or

Worst: BRING YOUR BEST PIE-PONS, Or

Worst: I’m Sorry For Everything I Said, I Would Like Heel Miz Back, Please

I’ve written a lot about how babyface Miz is a great idea, because his natural in-ring charisma is kinda built around the fact that he’s a legit WWE fanboy who made it, but … well, I guess I didn’t consider that being a face in the ring means he’d have to be a face on the mic, and that the key to being a popular WWE good guy is emulating Aaron from ‘Full House,’ and … how do I say this … it did not occur to me that Miz would start doing Church Lady impressions and lie detector tests and lose his ability to speak clearly into a microphone. Shorter version, I didn’t think he’d go from being Miz to being John Morrison. Maryse, your breath smells like a rhinoceros butt! LOVE ME, CROWD.

I regret telling you this would be a good idea, and I hope you’ll consider forgiving me.

So … yeah. I kinda liked where Punk was going with the LEAVE MY ARENA, JERKS thing, even if I’d started a non-drinking drinking game for every time he said “you people”. Miz’s music hit, and I got excited. It was a beautifully timed, possibly star-making moment. He’s proven that he can talk, and Punk’s been kinda coasting on the idea that he’s automatically better than everyone else at talking, so a wrestler showing up to crush him in a conversation would be engaging, and a nice flip on the one-sided Summer Of Punk stuff. Instead of CONFIDENT THRASHING, I got a guy dressed as heel Jericho pretending to be face Jericho, mumbling through his words, combining a few of them, dropping a “pipe bon” and more or less shitting an entire Radisson full of beds.

It was embarrassing. I just wanted it to end. Miz showed up in an interview segment to challenge CM Punk to an interview segment, using a hacky, scientifically-inaccurate sitcom plot device he’d hooked up to the Titantron. I expected them to follow it up with a backstage segment where Miz is rubbing his hands together, and Waldo Geraldo Faldo shuffles up and is all “I DON’T THINK THIS IS A GOOD IDEA, MIZ”.

Worst: “Walrus”

The very worst Worst of Miz’s star-unmaking turn was his reactions to Paul Heyman. Because he is now a WWE babyface, he had to make fun of Heyman’s voice and call him fat.

Serious question: Why can’t anyone in WWE react reasonably to Paul Heyman? What did he do in the past that was so unforgivable he must be derided and attacked whenever he’s on screen? Is it because he ran a rival promotion 15 years ago? You know you guys kinda bankrolled that promotion, right? Heyman’s character is easy to hate: he’s a manipulative ass-kisser who is in it for himself. Why is that such a hard character to come back on? Why not dissect what he’s saying and make him look like a fool instead of punching him in the face for mentioning the word “children” in a sentence and making fun of him for how he looks? He is f**king feeding you ways to tear him down. It’s the same thing they do with Vickie. She’s a childish, cruel, vindictive person and the only thing you’ve ever got to say to her is “you look fat and old!” I think the reason we liked the CM Punk from last summer is that he was the first person we’d been given to cheer for who wasn’t a colossal f**king dimwit.

If Miz is truly going to be Y2J-Lite, he’ll whip up a “Paul Heyman’s face on a walrus body” photoshop and pipe-bon it on the Tron next week.

Worst: That Time Superman Teamed Up With Superman

Credit and +1 to open discussion thread participant Juby14 for that phrasing.

I know you guys get pissed at me when I bail on Raw segments (because this is MY JOB and you are ENTITLED to my opinion), but I could not possibly give less of a shit about these main-eventer tag team things. They’re the most cut-and-paste things in wrestling history, and unless they’re built around an important moment or game-changing finish (such as, I don’t know, Dolph Ziggler pinning John Cena semi-cleanly to make him look like he’s got a shot in hell at TLC), I’m going to go upstairs and write about hockey stories until it’s done.

John Cena teaming with Sheamus to beat two guys who shouldn’t be haplessly losing matches on Raw, including the 7-foot 500-pound Heavyweight Goddamn Champion of the World, is the most “wrestling fans showing up to see wrestlers and not wrestling” thing I can think of. Cena could’ve stood in the middle of the ring and thrown arm bands at people for 10 minutes and it would’ve accomplished the same thing. I am legitimately more interested in coming up with dick jokes for the Wrangler commercials than I am in watching Ziggler eat another tag pinfall to build to him going backstage and asking for another match, because he can “look good” beating Cena in some imaginary world where rock beats paper and we haven’t seen him lose to the dude 75 times.

Also:

Worst: Killing The Big Show White Noise Spot

Again, I’m not asking for Eye Of Tyr continuity here, but how many times can Michael Cole believably say he’s SHOCKED BEYOND BELIEF that Sheamus picked up Big Show in the White Noise? Sheamus has hit Show with White Noise every time they’ve looked at each other in the last month. It’s impressive, yeah, in the same way that Cena picking up Show for the AA is impressive, but that is also a thing we have seen a thousand times. I feel like they could express how impressed they are without pretending they’re seeing something for the first time.

And speaking of the first time seeing something, how about Jerry Lawler pulling the “I just got here/have amnesia” gag two weeks in a row by asking Cole if he saw Dolph Ziggler’s shirt? I know you had a heart attack, Jerry, but heart attacks don’t destroy the part of your brain that allows you to pay attention and that is seriously the only non-bicycle-shorts article of clothing Ziggler’s worn on television since October. It is not a ridiculous request for me to ask that the people who sit at a table next to the wrestling ring 2-3 times a week be as aware of the wrestlers and what they’re doing as me. That doofy girl in the John Cena shirt who wouldn’t stop YOU CAN’T SEE MEing at the camera behind the announcers and shrieked for five minutes when John hugged her probably knows what Dolph Ziggler’s shirt says, and she’d never heard of wrestling until yesterday afternoon*.

*Those are the only people who get front row seats. Dying people, 10-year olds who won’t stop taunting and The Troops. I have been watching wrestling for 85 years and have never sat front row at a WWE event. I got flown to Los Angeles and taken to the show as the guest of the people who make WWE’s video games and even THEN we were five rows back. You have to be someone’s illiterate nephew or Fred Durst** to get front row Raw tickets.

**Same difference.

Worst: Jeans That Are Not Wranglers

“I can wear Wrangler jeans without them twisting my balls up like a hair braid. Fine by me.

Fun fact: I tried to watch Impact Wrestling this week, and the only thing I can remember about it is how Wrangler sponsors them, too, and how wrestling fans must be the top demographic for people who get their dick sliced up by off-brand jeans. Hey Dale Jr., if your jeans are crumpling up your nuts, buy a larger size of jeans.

Wait, no, I remember TNA copying WWE’s copying of them by having the only part of the show I really loved (Bully Ray) turn into Brooke Hogan’s teenage boyfriend from the wrong side of the tracks. And ECW GM Tiffany doing the Teddy Long thing where “pro wrestling general manager” and “referee” are the only two available jobs. And Rob Van Dam having Tortoise-itis.

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Best: I Want To Be Damien Sandow’s Apprentice

My next major career goal is either:

1. Impress Damien Sandow with my knowledge of T.S. Eliot and become his apprentice, which I guess means standing at ringside during matches with a clipboard writing “Cubito Aequet = Elbow Of Disdain,” or

2. Stand in the ring with Damien Sandow, pretend I don’t know what Murder in the Cathedral, get called a troglodyte and get to flee back to my seat while he gets attacked by Zack Ryder, or whatever.

There’s a Raw house show coming to Austin on January 11 (five days before my birthday!) so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Cody Rhodes stays injured and this placeholder gag keeps going until then. What happens if I shoot on him mid-way through and answer the third question correctly? Do they HAVE to write me into the show as his apprentice? Furthermore, does being Sandow’s apprentice mean I get to try out the Cubito Aequet when I’m not supposed to, f**k it up and accidentally flood his house?

Worst: Santino Is An Ignorant Scumbag

Damien Sandow is a jerk about how smart he is. Other than that, he’s a pretty good wrestler.

Santino Marella interrupts Damien Sandow’s (assumedly) allotted mic time, kinda-sorta chastises him with a slurry stereotype nursery rhyme, makes a joke about how “conch” sounds like “conk” (and cock) and tries to hit him in the head with the microphone. Sandow sees it coming, blocks it, and fights back. Jerry Lawler says that Santino was JUST TYRING TO HAVE FUN, because conch sounds like conk, like “conk you on the head,” and it WOULDA BEEN FUNNY. Jerry Lawler says that interrupting a stranger and assaulting him in the face is a joke, as long as you’ve got homophones. Santino, a guy who is the stupidest person to have ever lived, a guy who carries around multiple snake puppets (including one in his crotch and one in his ass) and just tried to cheapshot someone who wasn’t verbally or physically attacking him, is the guy the crowd loves and wants to be. The guy who then loses quickly because he’s a wacky joke. People would rather be wacky snake-armed loser jerks than a guy who is talented and smart but socially rude about it.

Good call, everybody.

Best: Sin Cara Had A Good Match, But Go Ahead With Your Botch Jokes, It’s Fine

So, since teaming up with Rey Mysterio, Sin Cara has gotten his act together, and the worst “botches” he’s given us have been a little bit of stumbling and a thing that was Titus O’Neil’s fault. Can we retire the Sin Cara botch meme now?

Alberto Del Rio versus Sin Cara was the best match of the night. It didn’t have the ADD-friendliness of the fatal fourway junkfood match, but it did have brutal tornado DDTs, ADR’s gorgeous German suplex and Del Rio taking advantage of Sin Cara’s first slow turnaround to snap on the armbreaker and get a fair, decisive victory. I don’t know how many times I can give a Best to Alberto Del Rio’s pre-pay-per-view matches and a Worst to his jobberiffic PPV efforts, but here we are. I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as I should’ve, though, both because of the TV/PPV ADR disconnect and because it was gutted by a commercial break and sandwiched between Santino and a Vince McMahon wank segment, but what can you do?

Seriously, that tornado DDT was gorgeous, and it sounded like a grenade going off.

Worst: These Vince Bullying Vickie Segments

Before you click the video, look at Vince McMahon’s face in the preview image. That should tell you everything you need to know.

I think the first time this happened, my reaction was, “they’re reenacting what happens in the writers’ room on television, because Vince McMahon”. The more they do it, the creepier and more regressive it seems. It’s the “bark like a dog” of the PG Era, an abuse of power that starts with “hey, you’re a fat cow, now let’s get down to business” and gets cheers no matter what is said or done, because we’re told to like Vince and not Vickie. When I see McMahon backstage making an extra call him “sir,” it doesn’t make me think he’s cool, it makes me think he got somebody to write him a scene where somebody calls him sir, because CRAZY REASONS. When I see him figuratively slapping his dick against Vickie’s cheek while she tries to talk, it doesn’t make me think he’s cool, it makes me think he’s the archetype and reason why WWE’s admirable characters are the worst people. It almost makes me wish Eddie Guerrero could pull a Ghost, jump into somebody’s body and start throwing hands.

It almost makes me think of Col. Taylor teaching Whitley Gilbert how to do math on ‘A Different World’.

Remember when Vince having raging power hard-ons made him the biggest heel in the history of wrestling, and the entire WWE Universe rallied behind Stone Cold Steve Austin, because he was the one guy who wasn’t intimidated and would stand up for himself? Yeah, now the evil boss is the good guy, and you’re a “coward” who “takes shortcuts” if you have a problem with him.

(Thanks for that video, Khal.)

Worst: Cena Versus Ziggler At Money In The Bank

This:

Occasionally, they do something on Raw that fills me with IMPOSSIBLE TERROR. John Cena is now participating in a ladder match against the super-easy-to-beat-at-everything Dolph Ziggler, and he will steal away the Money In The Briefcase (™ Michael Cole), cash it in on the Rock when Rocky beats Punk at the Royal Rumble and go on to defend the title (successfully, I imagine) against Rock at WrestleMania 29. Dolph Ziggler will complain about this for six straight weeks before vanishing, then wrestling Daniel Bryan in a dark match for the Wrestling Is Fun banana before the Zack Ryder/Brodus Clay dance-off pre-show event at Mania. It will be so dark that the ring will be surrounded by thick tarps, so nobody in the live audience can see or enjoy it. IMPOSSIBLE TERROR.

Maybe Ziggler will win. Maybe monkeys will fly out of my butt. Maybe he’ll take advantage of a ring full of weapons, a no-disqualification stipulation that would in theory allow Vickie to send a cadre of goons (or Jack Swagger) to the ring to help and Cena’s Only Sometimes Knee Injury to keep a thing he won five months ago. Doesn’t Cena get as many title shots as he wants, whenever he wants them? He just had one at Survivor Series. Ugh, if I was Dolph Ziggler, I’d f**k the system by spending the next two weeks trying to cash in the briefcase nonstop. Even if you lose, Christ, at least Cena won’t get it.

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Best: I Am Going To Stop Writing This Column And Just Ship Randy Orton And Brad Maddox

I’m calling them OrtoDox. Eventually I’m going to bring in the Undertaker and ship them into a love triangle. I’m calling that UnOrtodDox. Rob Van Dam’s offense makes a cameo appearance!

Anyway, this match wasn’t anything special (and man, what would Brad Maddox’s career trajectory look like if he WASN’T a Triple H project?), but I liked it. It’s not the best idea from a character standpoint — because seriously, who is going to cheer or boo a guy who doesn’t have a job, but gets to keep showing up with a camera crew and getting tryouts? — but occasionally a guy like Orton needs to trounce a guy like Maddox to establish a pecking order. Without jobber squashes, everybody’s just the same level of boring average and it’s MMA.

The biggest downside to all of this is that backstage segment where Brad Maddox just comes out and says “talent isn’t as important as entertainment,” which I’m guessing is on a motivational poster in the writers’ room under a big picture of Kelly Kelly rubbing her beehole in Eve’s face.

Best/Worst: If The Shield Is Fighting Injustice, They Should Run In And Stop Pretty Much Every Segment And Match That Happens On Raw

The Best here is for The Shield just randomly showing up to “fight injustice,” which would be awesome if it made any sense, or if Creative had actually given them this reason to attack folks instead of just saying it and hoping we’d put it together for them. Michael Cole trying to explain how some people are justifying The Shield’s actions, only for Lawler to shut him down with a dopey YOU’RE MAKING EXCUSES FOR THEM because he has the deductive reasoning and listening comprehension of a f**king wash rag was the Worst.

The thing is, a team of wrestlers trying to right injustices would be GREAT, because I write about shit like Santino interrupting Sandow to make cock jokes or Vickie being called an ugly bitch all the time and Zack Ryder filming “Hoeski” music videos about a woman who dumped him and moved on with her life ALL THE TIME, and that stuff NEEDS RIGHTING. They could buck the status quo, and guys like Cena could fight them to preserve their weird middle school normalcy, and it’d be a grand ethical argument to divide the WWE Universe and spark real conversation about the show, the characters and the wrestling. A statement on the dissolution of good and evil, and how accepting shades of grey means you have to accept the other guy’s shades too, and you can’t be allowed to live on a gradient and think everyone else is black and white.

Instead, we get The Shield attacking good guys, and the announcers calling them cowards, because cowardice is the only trait that makes you a bad person.

Worst: Teddy Long Has Finally Snapped

So, because God doesn’t exist and we’re all going to end up dead and alone, Teddy Long interrupted a tag team match, dissolved it, made it a fatal fourway and asked the WWE Universe to decide whether the Intercontinental or United States Championship would be on the line. He did this by himself, because Vince, Vickie, Booker, the board of directors, C.O.O. Triple H and the managing supervisors of whoever were occupado. I seriously thought he was going to make it a fatal fourway JUST to interrupt it again midway through and remake the tag team match.

You know how wrestlers have to sign contracts to compete in matches? Have they ever explained how those work? Is there a big DISCLAIMER: YOU’RE GONNA SIGN THIS, BUT WE CAN DO WHATEVER WE WANT WITH IT SO DEAL WITH IT OR GO HANG OUT WITH TYLER REKS ON TWITTER across the top of every contract? How can wrestlers, CHAMPIONS even, get put into sanctioned, legally-ass-covered wrestling matches, have them changed based on literally nothing but the whims of people WHO AREN’T EVEN IN CHARGE, and compete as if nothing had happened? I’m not asking for Jack Tunney to show up with a stack of paperwork or anything, but a General Manager character could really stand to spit a few expository paragraphs about how their job works. Or at least have the people in the ring nod YEAH OKAY when changes happen in a kind of word-of-mouth thing to make the sports part of the show even mildly realistic.

I know the show has hungry robot bounty hunters and guys with snake arms and everything, but just basic, ground-level logic would make the show more acceptable to the 87% or whatever of Americans who think wrestling is entertainment’s asshole.

(Yes, I think a clear hierarchy of power and transparent list of rules and regulations is what is keeping people from watching wrestling.)

Best: Antonio Cesaro, The Only Sure Thing On Raw

How good is this guy?

Last night, I was having a conversation with Khal Bundy about how Kofi Kingston and R-Truth failed spectacularly at the “indie standoff,” and that got us into a conversation about how people think Kofi Kingston is “athletic” because he’s in shape and has a good vertical. That’s not being athletic. Antonio Cesaro is athletic. This is a guy who is as strong and on-point 20 minutes into a match as he is at the opening bell. A guy who can move where he needs to move and be where he needs to be with reliability and authority, because his body was made to pro wrestle and he’s f**king good at it. Kofi does a forward roll out of an armdrag because he saw Chris Jericho do it once, and it looks like a dog reaching between his own legs to grab his tail and flipping over.

Right now, Cesaro is the only thing you can count on — really count on — to be amazing on Raw. Daniel Bryan is in his fun homoerotic tag team with Kane, but sometimes they get put into main-eventer tags or into curtain-jerking openers where they just get jumped at the end and it’s fine, but it’s not great. Dolph Ziggler can get a thousand Tumblrs GIFfing (and yiffing) with a single bump, but he’s mired in ALLEGATIONS~ and backstage drama about whose hair-bows were in whose locker. Damien Sandow’s tag partner is hurt, 3MB only shows up biweekly (if at all), John Laurinaitis is off playing on a farm in Minnesota with a bunch of other former GMs (with lots of space to run!) and all the other fun stuff — The Funkasaurus, pre-Crisis Ryback, Lord Tensai’s Mountain Dew spit hand — are all dried up. But here’s Antonio Cesaro, making us laugh whenever he talks, making us say wow whenever he wrestles, no matter WHO he wrestles. He knows what he’s doing and we can very clearly see it. He’s f**king spectacular, and the best thing to happen to WWE all year.

Worst: While I’ve Got A Free Space, Ryback’s Entrance Theme

Here is 10 hours of Ryback’s entrance theme.

As it goes,

Meat on the table, yeah, that’s what you are!

Yeah, you can run but you won’t get too far!

You’re in my jungle and I’ll make the kill!

Meat on the table and I’ll get my fill!

You’re meat on the table. That’s what you are. If you’re already meat, how can you run? Is that why he’s saying you won’t get far, because you are meat and assumedly dead and do not have legs? And even if the “meat on the table” is inferred (as in, “you’ll soon be meat on the table when I catch you”), what’s with the jungle part? Is the table in the jungle?

Ryback’s theme reminds me of Anna Nalick’s ‘Breathe (2 AM)’ where she says we’re cars on the cable, and life’s like an hourglass glued to the table, and nobody can find the rewind button, which is either on the cable car or the hourglass table, I guess. Actually, f**k it, Ryback should enter to Anna Nalick’s ‘Breathe (2 AM)’

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Jack Swagger Of Mars

Jack Swagger Of Mars

Chapter 25

Jack Swagger raced his MarsHorse to the edge of a grand embankment and surveyed the great plains of Hale Crate. From here, the butterscotch sky cast a brilliant light upon the town … he could see the townspeople moving about, herding their own MarsHorses toward the mines, gathering in the town square, chatting outside of the temple. He began to smile. “This is just like Oklahoma,” he thought. “Except you put ‘Mars’ in front of horse, because Mars.”

As Jack turned, he saw Kaa’orri riding up behind him.

“I can’t believe you beat me. How did you do it? I’ve been riding these trails since I was a baby.”

“I got good riderate, I gueth,” Jack mumbled through a smirk. After a stolen glance, Jack heard a noise further down the trail.

“Whoa whoa ohhh!”

It was Sachie, upside down, his foot caught in the saddle of his horse. “Suh-suh-somebody help!” he cried. Jack and Kaa’orri looked at each other before shaking their heads and trotting over to help him out.

Later that night, Jack Swagger of Earth became the first human man to join in on the Hale Crate fellowship feast, presided over by Katoomba and Magadi, held in the presence of every man, woman and childling in the village. He laughed until his cheeks hurt, drank until he saw stars on the roof of Katoomba’s hut and ate until his singlet swelled. He was welcomed as family, here. Nobody made fun of his lisp. Nobody made fun of his hair, which had grown longer and started to revert back to its natural brown. Nobody asked him to job to Evan Bourne again.

Maybe this was nothing like Oklahoma. Maybe this was home.

As the sun set and a beautiful bluing sky gave way to the black of night, Jack Swagger rested his head against the side of the hut, crossed his arms and closed his eyes. Maybe he could stay here after all, just for a little while. Just before sleep took him, Jack Swagger heard a noise. Instinctively he jumped to his feet, walking quickly to the round, open door … and in the pale light of night, he saw the most beautiful creature he’d ever known, mounting her MarsHorse.

Kaa’orri paused, looking down at the flowing pink mane of the beast, then turned to lock eyes with Jack in the doorway.

“Did I wake you?”

Jack shook his head.

“Well, if you’re awake … what do you say to a rematch?”

Kaa’orri smiled. It was the best moment of Jack Swagger’s life.

In a flash, the two were racing along the same paths as before, but faster, with a greater sense of urgency, speeding along toward something harder to define than the Hale Crate embankment. Jack could hear the silence of night through the pounding of MarsHorse hooves on rough sands. He could feel the contracting muscles beneath him, taste sweat on his lips, smell the leather of Kaa’orri’s satchel as she sped by. He snapped the reigns on his MarsHorse and picked up speed, and ascended the hill. By the time he reached the embankment, Kaa’orri was waiting for him.

The two sat beneath the endless Martian starfield.

“Do you …” Kaa’orri began. “Do you think you might have come here for a reason?”

“Yeth, I thought it wath aBANDONED, I juth wanted thom peace an …” Jack trailed off, noticing the concern in Kaa’orri’s eyes. “Oh,” he continued. “I’ve never been good with reasons. My whole job ith to do things for no reason…”

“I see.”

“You know, I would’ve died if I hadn’t met you.”

Kaa’orri’s eyes lit up. “A few times!” she laughed.

“Wocka, wocka,” Jack smiled back.

“Tomorrow …” Kaa’orri’s voice stuttered. “Tomorrow I want to take you to my favorite place in the world. It’s a part of the mine nobody uses, because it’s not … it’s a waterfall, Jack. A waterfall, right here on Mars. The light from the rocks turns it green, and at just the right time in the morning the sunlight breaks through the roof and lights the whole thing up. It’s like you’re showering in fireflies.”

Half-embarrassed, Kaa’orri crossed her legs and rested her arms on her knees. “What’s your favorite place in the world?” she asked.

“Yours or mine,” Jack asked.

“Yours, of course.”

Jack thought about it, then answered, “Lath Vegath NeVADa. Ith where I cashed in the Money in the BANK breifcathe an became the All American American American American American Heavyweight Champion of the WORLD.”

“I’d like to see it one day, maybe,” Kaa’orri smiled. “Wait, what’s your favorite place in MY world?”

“Right here,” Jack answered.

“The embankment?”

“No,” Jack continued. “Bethide you.”

Jack Swagger of Earth leaned in and touched his lips to Kaa’orris. He could feel hear heart beating in her chest, and she his. In the moment when either heart became brave enough to kiss again, a terrible sound rang out across the plains.

“Whose music is that?” Kaa’orri asked.

“I have no idea.”

Suddenly, the dark blue of night gave way to the flicker of reds and yellows, and colossal walls of fire lit up Hale Crate. Jack Swagger’s eyes grew large as he looked up to see a massive warship descending upon the city, and the screams of its townspeople had already reached his ears by the time he’d scooped up Kaa’orri and began a trembling run down the embankment.

Within minutes, Jack and Kaa’orri had reached the outskirts of the city. Kaa’orri’s eyes reflected a terror Jack couldn’t describe as she caught a glimpse of her uncle’s hut in flames. “Katoomba!” she cried out, running toward the heat … Jack reached out and caught her by the arm, stopping her just as the stable arch collapsed over her head, crashing into flames at her feet. She looked at him. He looked back, and pretended he could save her again.

“Is … is anybody there, do you copy?” It was Sachie’s voice, coming from the communicator in Kaa’orri’s bag.

“Sachie! Are you okay! Where are aunt and uncle??” Kaa’orri cried, fumbling with the communicator.

“They’re … I think they’re out,” Sachie shouted. “I don’t know. I’m in the catapult … hold on, watch this!”

Sachie’s voice went dark. Kaa’orri looked at Jack, then into the sky, where Sachie’s catapult shook and jerked, firing and destroying one of the warship’s escort vessels in a single blow. The machine blew up like a firework, and Jack Swagger could hear Sachie “woo hooing” from the device in Kaa’orri’s hands.

“That’ll show… OH SNARP” Sachie’s boasts were cut off by retaliation fire from the warship, which brought a hail of fire and devastation with it. Kaa’orri pushed Jack away as a statue burst seemingly from within, sending chunks of Martian stone flying. The stables were engulfed in flame, and Jack could hear the cries of the MarsHorses still within.

“Guys, I need to-” Sachie tried to communicate again, but his message was cut off by a blast hitting the base of the catapult, knocking it offline.

“That’s not good,” Sachie quipped.

Page 7

Worst: The Only Thing That Would Make A Pro Wrestling Lie Detector Test Good Is The Question, ‘Is Your Job Real?’

The show’s main-event was a lie detector test that needed a different interview segment to set it up and a second backstage segment to create consequence, then didn’t bother following through with the lie detections. They didn’t even have R-Truth show up and hit the Lie Detector to see whether or not Punk was telling the truth. What the hell?

In a better world, the bad guy would be sarcastic and catty, and the good guy would be wittier or in the moral right or whatever and look better than him. Or, you know, the bad guy would do something rash and mean and make the crowd hate him more, so the audience would want to see the good guy kick his ass. Here, the bad guy and the good guy (if you can call them that) traded the most childish things they could think of off the top of their heads, tried to talk over each other, tried to zing each other with insider barbz, and the segment ended with five unrelated-to-the-segment guys fighting into the crowd and the bad guy being assaulted by a different good guy twice his size with three different weapons. I mean, I KNOW who is writing this, but I still can’t figure it out. Why did we even need a f**king lie detector test? Couldn’t this have all happened at the end of the first Miz and Punk yellfest?

Best: CM Punk Getting Regular Show’d

The only real highlight for me was Miz saying something asinine about Punk’s mom and talking over him with a Mordecai and Rigby-style OOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHH. Wrestling could stand to be a little more like the wrestling episode of ‘Regular Show.’ At least that had a ladder match with a clean finish.

For anyone wondering, yes, this makes John Cena Muscleman. Kofi Kingston is probably the Hi Five Ghost.

Blurst?: CM Punk Gets Knee Surgery

As I finished up this week’s column, this popped up on WWE.com:

WWE.com has learned WWE Champion CM Punk is currently undergoing surgery on his knee in Pensacola, Fla.

Last night, after Ryback drove him through a table, The Straight Edge Superstar took a late night flight to Florida for an emergency consultation with Dr. James Andrews. A review of his condition resulted in the WWE Champion’s immediate surgery today.

WWE.com will continue to report on Punk’s condition as more details become available.

This could just be CM Punk showing up on Raw in a fake cast to say he’s not medically cleared to face Ryback or whatever, but man, if Dolph doesn’t finagle a way to use his briefcase on the WWE Championship and cash in before TLC to keep it out of Cena’s hands, he is the stupidest person. It’s his fault for not cashing in when Sheamus hit Show with a chair 60 times, but whatever. And yeah, I know the briefcase is for the World Heavyweight Championship, but Raw featured a GM’s assistant showing up to change a match and put two championships on the line in a Twitter poll, I think they could figure out how to explain it.

Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night

SnazzyAzzy83

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen to “Whose Show Is It, Anyway?”, where the GM’s are made up and the matches don’t matter.

Tobogganing Bear

Don’t hit them in their vests! That’s where they keep their solidarity!

LBCS

Here is a list of all my favorite lie detector segments of all time:

MachoBeard

The only difference between this and the MizTV is a couch.

MillionDollarDan

I wish Dolph Ziggler and Mickie James were a thing so WWE could call them “Ziggy Piggy”.

KaitlynsThighs

In anybody else’s hands, a microphone is just a microphone. In Miz’s hands, it’s a pike bung.

Oops Pow Surprise

Return of the Brad! (There it is!)

Return of the Brad! (Come on!)

Return of the Brad! (Oh my god!)

John John The Bastard

It’s like a boy turtle and lady turtle about to mate.

Lester

GO HOME, TEDDY. YOU ARE DRUNK

NotACrook

“Is your name CM Punk?”

“Yes.”

“That’s a lie. Good night everybody.”

Good night, everybody.

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