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But first, please click through and enjoy the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for December 5.
Worst: I Love Your Energy! What You Think Doesn’t Matter, Love, John Cena
There are two stages to every show-opening (or closing) John Cena promotional:
1. Rising Action: Cena reiterates a few points that he’s been making on-and-off for the last seven years, such as “I like the fans” and “I am often here wrestling”, sometimes doing what he did last night and using really abstract things like the crowd chanting “Fruity Pebbles” at him because someone instructed them to as an example of the freewheelin’ WWE Universe, a crazy bunch’a guys and gals just hangin’ out and havin’ a good ol’ time. You can’t find a crowd like that anywhere else in entertainment, except at other wrestling shows (literally any other wrestling show … we started contextual, non-consecutive “bottom rope” and “middle rope” chants at CHIKARA in Kingsport). Cena never takes the time to point out that pro wrestling is the only place in the world you can get up in an athlete’s face, flip them off with both hands and yell F**K YOU F**K YOU F**K YOU without consequence. Well, pro wrestling and X-Box Live.
2. Falling Action: Cena, having established that WWE crowd reactions are the only things that matter in life, clarifies that what the crowd says or does doesn’t matter, because he’s just gonna come out here and wrestle and they can do what they want.
There isn’t enough exposition to explain what he’s saying in any kind of real context and there’s NEVER a denouement, so most of the time the climax is just him pointing a microphone at the crowd. Remember that horrible segment where Triple H tried to convince CM Punk that getting the fans behind him was the only thing that mattered, and CM Punk was like YEAH I KNOW LISTEN TO THEM and the crowd is all C-M-PUNK, C-M-PUNK and Triple H just says “uh uh, this isn’t important, what’s important is what THESE PEOPLE THINK” and you’re like WHAT THE F**K IS GOING ON, WHY IS THIS HAPPENING, OH GOD MY BRAIN? Cena’s solo promos and declarations are One Man Show versions of that. All he needs to do is a add in some stereotypical Mexican voices and he’s doing John Leguizamo’s “Freak”.
Best: Caddyshack References On Raw
I don’t like it when wrestlers in power get to bring up the past gimmicks of people below them, and all the guy getting bagged on for being Mantaur The Wrestling Dumpster Clown or whatever can do is nod his head and be all “yeah right whatever” instead of “HEY JOHN CENA REMEMBER WHEN YOU WERE A LITERAL F**KING ROBOT, STOP BREAKING KAYFABE”, but I enjoyed Cena equating Dolph Ziggler’s time as Kerwin White’s caddy to being Chevy Chase’s roommate Mitch Comstein from Caddyshack. Not only because of how temporarily great/frighteningly awful the existence of Kerwin White was, but because it allowed John Cena to say “cum stain” on TV. I’m still waiting for somebody to call him “Golf Ziggler”. I mean, it’s right there.
And on the Literal Robot tip, the next time somebody calls Dolph out for being a male cheerleader he should respond with, “I won the tag team championship as a male cheerleader and we main-evented pay-per-views against DX, enjoy wrestling Alberto Del Rio tonight for the 50th thousand time, dick”.
The best part is that this opens the door for a Chevy Chase-hosted Raw, and better yet, a Raw hosted by the entire cast of Community. I want Britta’s opinion of the Divas division and/or Leonard reviewing frozen pizzas with Ryder. “The cheese is good, are you SERIOUS bro?”
The Best Best What Ever Bested: An @MrBrandonStroud Sign
Excuse me while I whip this out.
(picture courtesy of DesignFault)
Believe it or not, that’s not me driving to Tampa from Austin and holding up that sign, that’s complete stranger and my new best friend Daniel Feingold writing “@MrBrandonStroud” on the back of his MARRY ME VICKIE sign and holding it up at various points during Raw. As a lifelong wrestling fan it’s always been an impossibility to imagine my name showing up on a sign in a Raw crowd without me orchestrating it, so this is one of the very coolest moments in the history of Me Watching Raw. Thanks for being a true dude, Daniel.
Also, now that I’m as sign-famous as Dave Lagana and the Botchamania guy I can start Big Timing people. Good luck getting me on your podcasts now, chumps!
And Just For The Record:
I am not big time, and am not above putting every single appearance of me anywhere in this column with a paragraph about how great you are under it, so if you’re the type who brings a sign to a wrestling show and know a type with a camera or a television, do so and send it to me, I’ll toss it up here. I don’t care if you bring it to Wrestlemania front row center or take it to your local Firestorm Pro show and wave it around in Marion Fontaine’s face. It makes you my close friend forever, and I know I’ll appreciate it more than, say, John Morrison.
Not Either, Really: Randy Orton Vs. The Miz
Wait, sorry, wrong video.
Not Either, Really: Randy Orton Vs. The Miz
If you watch the video of the match, it’ll only take a few seconds to see what I’m talking about. WWE hanging on to that “stars vs. stars all the time” crash TV thing without any direct competition has worn me down to the point that sometimes I just sincerely cannot give a sh*t about a match like this. Another crash TV hanger-on is the “moments ago” video package, which is the “sitcom characters asking each other why they’re doing this again” of wrestling programming. How often do those things work? Is somebody watching Monday Night Football gonna flip over during commercials and see a Moments Ago about Triple H getting hit with a sledgehammer and say “well f**k this football sh*t I need to find out whether or not the Game will get vengeance for this heinous attack”? When I was flipping over from Nitro and wishing it was better, a good Moments Ago from Raw would make me stick around. Because I already decided to watch wrestling.
Let me put it to you this way — that clip from a decade-old episode of Buffy was more entertaining, mostly because Spike didn’t jog into the cemetery and distract her long enough for one of the generic goon vampires to get the win.
Worst: Hey, It’s THAT Guy! /immediately loses
And speaking of that goddamn trope, here comes Wade Barrett and Wade Barrett’s Music to make Randy Orton temporarily forget how count-outs work. There has never been a good explanation of why this happens so often and so flawlessly. If I’m Randy Orton and I’m supposed to be winning wrestling matches for a limit, shouldn’t I be able to continue my match despite music playing and hope that either security or the people in charge of my welfare can handle the interference? What’s the worst thing that’ll happen if you don’t run after Wade Barrett here? He’ll punch you? Okay, because he’s gonna punch you anyway, and at least if you let him initiate the sh*t you’ll get a disqualification win. That’s still a “win”, right, and in the Pro Wrestling Land Of Make Believe that still gets you more money than a loss.
Although you know, as I’m typing this, I think the worst thing to happen to kayfabe in the modern era was Internet contract news. When I was younger I thought the Pay Windah was how wrestling worked… champions made more money, and the way to get a shot at that was to win a bunch of matches. It was a life or death sink or swim kinda thing. Knowing that these guys work on salary explains a lot of the bullsh*t, and really takes the sense of urgency out of winning. Dusty Rhodes can’t tell Bob Caudle about how beating Tully Blanchard will help put food on his family’s table if he’s getting a Smackdown match out of the way so he can fly to Japan.
Quicker Worst: stop doing this f**king run-in
Best: LOL, Chris Perez, Really?
I don’t remember where exactly on the show it happened, but Jerry Lawler tried to explain John Cena’s shifty crowd responses by saying his good friend Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Chris Perez gets good reactions in Cleveland, but gets booed when he comes to Tampa.
Okay, so, I can’t really devote the next week and a half of my life to explaining what’s wrong with this, so I’ll try to knock it out in a two-part run-on. Hey Jerry Lawler, if you can stop trying to figure out how adding two people to the WWE title match at TLC gives CM Punk a 66 2/3 percent chance of losing for a second, Chris Perez plays baseball, and baseball has different teams in different towns so obviously when you’re in your home town the crowd will like you more than you’re away, unless you’re a Phillies player playing an away game in Washington in front of 14,000 Phillies fans and 10 guys who like the Nats (or a Yankees player anywhere) so this has nothing to do with John Cena being socially divisive everywhere and getting booed in his hometown because his character is a lethargic, screaming dickhead who always wins; and furthermore, are you seriously namedropping Chris Perez, because that’s awesome to me and probably Travis Hafner, but seriously, that is the biggest stretch since I tried to explain what Ken Kennedy’s doing on Impact with an Excel Saga story-arc.
Best: This Dubstep Will Make You Love WWE Network
WWE going from 15 years solid of Nu Metal and Nickelback to DUBSTEP without anything in-between is an awesome, jarring transition and I wish WWE Network was going to be something cool and not just 30 minutes of ESPN 2 quality AWA episodes and 23 1/2 hours of Iron Shiek having his pointy boots made fun of on some also-ran ‘What Not To Wear’. WWE starts a wrestling network and it’s nothing but reality shows. Sh*t, at least G4 gave me a few years of Morgan Webb and Starcade before it devolved into COPS: The Channel.
Best: Kevin Nash And Triple H In A Ladder Match
I’m reading a lot of
ughhh kevin nash and triple h in a ladder match WHO ARE THE AD WIZARDS WHO CAME UP WITH THAT ONE
i would rather watch kelly kelly train a wrestling class/see hulk hogan raping and murdering my family/watch mr. anderson get dropped into a pit by lord il palazzo than watch kevin nash and cripple h in a ladder match
but you know, I’m actually sorta excited for it, and not just because of the hilariously laid-back David Otunga/Kevin Nash news-sharing dynamic. There isn’t a way for this to end badly for us. Seriously, these are our only options:
1. They surprise us, and have one of those super entertaining WWE garbage brawls like X Wrestler vs. Vince McMahon at X Wrestlemania that is full of dumb plunder spots and maybe somebody bleeding
2. The “injury joke” way, with Triple H crawling around on the ground for twenty minutes and Kevin Nash blowing out all nine of his quads trying to take an upward step
3. The “this is really bad” way where the crowd turns on it, and Triple H is shamed back into hiding like Punxsutawney Phil or at least moves on to something not involving Kevin Nash
4. Some storyline way where someone doesn’t show up or the match is only a few minutes long to set up something dumb for the Royal Rumble
There’s no physical way they can do one of those Christian vs. Shelton Benjamin boring ladder matches and Paul London and Brian Kendrick aren’t around to run out and get beaten up to convince Nash and H that they should be Palz Forever, so what’s the worst thing that could happen? They do something short to set up something dumb later. It’s like what they do with the Divas. Don’t stress about it.
Best: Daniel Bryan, Remembering Wrestling Matches Existed
A quick good, before we go on and on about the bad: Daniel Bryan got World’s Strongestly Slammed from the second rope less than a week ago in a cage match against Mark Henry, so it makes perfect sense that he’d be at like 20% for whatever match he was put into on Monday, and it makes even more sense that John Laurinaitis, a guy working at the behest of a Board of Directors who want Alberto Del Rio as champion, would give Del Rio a softball 20% healthy guy as an easy way to get him into the TLC match for the WWE Championship without really cheating for him. Those are both very good things. Now,
Worst: Using Daniel Bryan Like This
having Michael Cole literally say LOSER LOSER LOSER LOSER LOSER LOSER LOSER and watching a helpless Daniel Bryan have his midsection worked for two minutes before tapping out in two seconds to an armbar (?) is not productive. It isn’t. They could’ve at least had Michael Cole stop yelling for a few seconds to explain how Del Rio’s armbar is devastating, and to get to the ropes you need your core strength to scoot around, and Daniel Bryan’s ribcage is shattered to sh*t so he can’t go anywhere and has to tap out quickly or die. They could’ve gone the King of Trios route and had the actual injured part of Bryan Danielson’s body relate to the unexpected finish of the match and had Del Rio lock on a body scissors or something. Anything but this, the quick, brutal response to anybody who thought “hey, Daniel Bryan might BE something” after that rad Smackdown main.
I think the worst part is that it’s barely even worth complaining about. It’s just another example of a nobody losing like a nobody, in a company full of guys who are mostly treated like nobody.
Worst: Beth Phoenix And Natalya Have Something To Say About Whoops Nope Here’s Undertaker
And speaking of things not being important to anybody, how funny was it that Beth Phoenix and Natalya got a video package to explain their gimmick only for the mysterious IT BEGINS video to interrupt it, and then nobody on commentary acknowledged it. That means either
1. The Divas and especially Beth Phoenix and Natalya are so unimportant that the announcers weren’t watching, and the Divas Of Doom exposition was their Playing November Rain On The Radio moment where they figure out whether or not they’ve got enough time to go take a dump and get back without anyone noticing, or
2. This is a Warrior In The Mirror/Bob Orton’s Head Bleeding thing where most of the character on the show don’t see it, but we collectively see it as an audience.
Either way, I’m going to use the video showing up to interrupt a Divas promo over the words “BARBIE DOLLS” to justify the videos as return hype for Kharma and a grand resetting of the women’s division carousel of pointlessness and not just a thing for Undertaker. Also, way to trust your Internet Presence by bringing those clandestine Why So Serious-ass clips to television to make sure the pleebs watching actually see them.
Worst: I Should Just Repost Going Through The Motions On Every Page
This is the entire match. Eve doesn’t even get in the ring. Beth gets distracted by the HEY IT’S THAT GUY WHOOPS I LOST CONCENTRATION thing with Alicia Fox when Alicia wasn’t even doing anything. She was just standing there. How many times are they going to do these thirty second roll-ups before they realize they aren’t helping anybody and aren’t even giving the people that use them as pee and smoke breaks time to pee or smoke?
The very worst part was Michael Cole trying to say this was the first loss for Beth and Natalya in MONTHS (“as a team”) when they lose almost non-stop on everything but (and mostly on) pay-per-views. Two weeks of victories over the breaking up Chickbusters doesn’t make them Goldberg, nerd.
Worst: I Guess The Social Experiment Failed
The big story of the show was the friendship of John Cena and Zack Ryder being tested, first in a match, then in a tense backstage segment where Cena is forced out of the TLC main event to give Ryder another chance, then a second match. John Laurinaitis called it a “social experiement”. Was the social experiment to see if a guy who has been getting chants would even out the “Let’s Go Cena/Cena Sucks” thing? Because 1) you proved that it helps when you put them on the same team on Raw a few weeks ago, and 2) CM Punk proved that a guy getting actual fan support and chants and not Ironic Internet Support could trounce and destroy any semblance of Cena chanting at Money In The Bank.
The weirdest part of this for me is how shocked Cena and Ryder were at having to face each other. This is a great example of why WWE hiring soap opera guys to write their shows instead of people who watch and understand wrestling creates stupidity — these guys both decided “pro wrestler” is what they wanted to do for a living, and correct me if I’m wrong, but in any actual sport (which we’re supposed to believe this is, at least in some regard) you don’t exclusively play your rivals, right? You play teams you hate, teams you don’t care about, and teams you might be friendly with. In MMA guys are always beating the hell out of each other and hugging and making out because they’re Warrior Bros. Shouldn’t Cena be HAPPY to be wrestling a guy like Ryder, who he likes and trusts? He could have an actual wrestling match without outside interference and Nexus Bang Bus attacks or whatever. And shouldn’t Ryder be happy to have a high profile match against a guy like Cena, who he likes and trusts, because it’d give him a chance to show what he’s worth without having to worry about Vickie Guerrero or Cena putting his feet on the ropes or grabbing trunks? Cena and Ryder reacted stupidly to a basic human interaction, and that sucks.
Worst: You Guys Have Got To Start Getting Up Faster After The Bro Kick
The match itself was fine, but its worst moment (and the worst moment in any Zack Ryder match lately) is the boot scrape in the corner. I can’t really call it a “boot scrape” because he just kicks the guy in the head, but whatever. He does the funny fist clench and gets the crowd chanting WOO WOO WOO, and that’s great … he runs and boots the sh*t out of a guy in a head, and that is also usually great. That’s when he needs the guy to get up and take the Rough Rider, so he backs up and does his Long Island hand taunt and hops around. This should take like, five seconds. Instead, Cena takes F**KING FOREVER to get up, and Ryder has to stand there hopping back and forth doing the same hand gesture and making the same goofy face with “come on, bro, get up” shame behind it as the crowd dies. It’s sad, especially when it builds to the Jumping Dick To The Face.
When a guy on the ground hears Shawn Michaels stomping, his job should be to get up and receive Sweet Chin Music. Reverse it, dodge it, whatever. If Ryder is going to use the Bro Kick to set up the Rough Rider, he needs to organize a workshop or something backstage and fill in everyone on how it works. Speak up, Zack, don’t just hop in place and hope for the best.
Worst: C’MON GIVE ZACK RYDER A CHANCE, JUST ONE CHANCE
The melodrama of Cena giving up his shot to give Ryder another one would be fine if it wasn’t for two huge issues:
1. Zack Ryder ALREADY GOT A UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH, a one-on-one against Dolph Ziggler at Vengeance. In that match he had a huge advantage, wrestling Dolph immediately after Ziggler’s 14-minute attempt to win the tag titles. IMMEDIATELY after that. He had Air Boom in his corner to make sure Swagger and Vickie didn’t interfere. Fresh, he lost that match in six minutes. He got a shot. This is not a Rudy situation. Rudy didn’t already get the sympathy play in a game six weeks earlier and screw it up.
2. Cena’s motivations make no sense. If he knew he’d already won the WWE Championship ten times or whatever and wanted Ryder to have a shot at Ziggler at TLC, why didn’t he just let Ryder win the match? Go in and punch the referee or something and get it over with. And if it was a matter of respect and ethics and he wanted Ryder to earn the shot on his own, why did he come back out and beat up Mark Henry so Ryder could win? If Ryder was mad enough to confront Cena after the first match and be all C’MON BRO WHY’D YOU DO THAT TO ME THIS WAS MY ONE SHOT, why wasn’t he mad enough to say WHAT THE HELL BRO NOW YOU THINK I CAN’T WIN MY OWN MATCHES after the second?
This whole thing reeks of the “Standing Outside The Fire” video. Ryder is Handicapped Brandon in his personalized jersey and Cena’s backstage yelling MARK MY WORD THE KID’S GONNA GET HURT.
Worst: John Cena Criticals Mark Henry
What’s worse, John Cena defeating WWE’s most protected unstoppable monster with one (1) move or Zack Ryder earning a shot at the United States Championship by PINNING THE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION? Keep that in mind as you’re reading … Sheamus defeated US Champion Dolph Ziggler to keep him from getting a shot at the WWE Championship. Zack Ryder defeated the World Heavyweight Champion to get a shot at the US Champion. Ryder isn’t Heavyweight Champion and Sheamus isn’t US Champ. This is how cause and effect works.
Because This Page Could Really Use A Best: Swaggler
I think Jack Swagger may have found his niche as “the stupid friend”. Ziggler and Swagger are funny together, although most of it might be how happy I am to see secondary characters talking.
And Up Next: KEVIN NASH MAESK POOPIES IN THE RING FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 8 YEARS YOU GUYS >=(
HE HASN’T MAED SINCE 2003 THIS IS GONNA BE BIG
Best: Kevin Nash, Making Poopies
Oddly enough, I think Santino vs. Kevin Nash was my favorite match on the show. Kevin Nash was actually wrestling, and while I don’t like that necessarily, he should be doing that if he’s on the show. It was a solid (waste) continuation of my “treat Santino like a stupid joke” initiative which people seem to be on board with, and I think this is the first match where Santino didn’t get in his hip-toss-to-Cobra-feint hope spot because his opponent isn’t physically able to flip over or sell for a sh*tty snake hand. Nash showing up and nonchalantly beating guys like this is a good use of him. He’s important enough that they could keep him under contract in a Sid/911 role and just have come out and powerbomb guys who aren’t doing anything. I’d be all for that on paper, and then he’d start powerbomb guys like Bryan Danielson or Derrick Bateman or whatever and I’d get my ass in a bunch.
But no, making poopies out of Santino is great, and I even liked him threatening to hit Santino with the sledge and then just not doing it. Kevin Nash is not being a star, and therefore should be a guy you want to see get taken down a peg. Also, the sledgehammer works way better in the role of “thing that could kill you for real, so try not to ever get hit by it” instead of that Abyss and Janice “oh here’s my nailboard of f**king death that could rip out your guts and kick you to f**king Hell but don’t be afraid, I’m the only person here who ever gets hit by it because I’m the only one wearing a shirt” thing they’ve been doing for years.
Best: Pro Wrestling All-Stars To The Rescue
Punk: “so i hear you got suspended for drugs”
Evan: “LOL yep smoke weed everday”
Punk: “did you realize that everything here is fake and stupid”
Punk: “no seriously, my name isn’t even cm punk, it’s phil. your name is matt.”
Evan: “i like airplanes”
Punk: “do you remember delirious”
Evan: “hahaha yeah you should remember him on drugs”
Punk: “yeah that would probably be better. okay, bye”
I’d written a whole thing about DiBiase Posse Parties there but deleted it in favor of the Grand Theft Auto San Andreas pedestrian conversation, which is how I imagine every conversation like this ending. Seriously though, what the hell were they talking about, Dragon Gate? Maybe he was asking Punk to be his sponsor.
Worst: So Is Anybody Tired Of “Radio” Yet
I feel like a kid who got caught smoking. My parents are gonna make me smoke EVERY CIGARETTE IN THE PACK until I’m throwing up all over the place. I got caught wishing Zack Ryder would be on TV, so now WWE’s gonna keep shoving more and more headbands and foam Broski fists and run-ins and musical Zack Ryder distractions until I’m throwing up all over the place.
Worst: Sheamus Needing Zack Ryder To Defeat Dolph Ziggler
Ziggler’s Radio distraction, counting Alicia Fox’s presence, brings us to THREE “whoops, I got distracted by somebody appearing at ringside” finishes on one two hour show. That’s horrible in its own right, but doesn’t begin to explain why Albino Shark Sheamus needed The Great Orange Zack Ryder to bail him out in a match against Dolph Ziggler, or why he’s happy to accept that kind of help. Maybe they’re trying to make a Dreamsicle.
I don’t want to write about this finish for a third time in the same report, so I won’t. Stop doing this. Everybody who goes to next week’s Raw needs to bring a sign that says STOP DOING THIS, and when CM Punk is wrestling The Miz and Alberto Del Rio drives out honking his horn or whatever, 12,000 people can hold up STOP DOING THIS signs in unison and maybe one of the 1,000 monkeys who figured out writing “gets distracted, loses” on the typewriter earned him a banana will try something different.
Best: That Bald Spot Is Starting To Take Over
Several weeks ago I made an “are you serious bro” hashtag joke about Zack Ryder’s hair being the same color as his body, but I’ve figured it out — you know those spray cans of hair color you can mist into your bald spots to make it look like you have hair? Ryder bought an orange can of that and sprayed it on his entire body. If his scalp is the same color as the hair that should be growing from it, how could you tell the difference?
Man, how depressing must it be for Ryder to wrestle his entire career with this big full head of hair and the second he becomes a popular television character it bails on him?
Worst: And Then Again With The Woos
Because the guys at 411 Wrestling love when I rag on them, here’s a line from last night’s Raw report:
After the match, Ryder goes into the ring and gives Dolph a Ruff Ryder! The crowd WOO WOO WOO’s along with him, much to the chagrin to those who say Ryder isn’t over…
My response would be that Zack Ryder isn’t over, but WOO WOO WOO is. So is “WE WANT RYDER”. Don’t forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he he always wanted.