– The With Spandex podcast experienced a few technical difficulties over the weekend, but we’re working through it. Expect that as soon as I grow a brain that isn’t 70 years old and figure out how computers work.
– As always, we’d appreciate it if you’d leave a comment on the report. You left almost 700 on the Open Discussion Thread last night, so I can’t bother you about it too much. If you don’t feel like commenting, click the “like” button up there or share us on Facebook or Google Plus or Pinterest or whatever the new thing is. Take a picture of the column and share it on Instagram, I don’t care.
– Gifs contained within are, as always, courtesy of Jerusalem at Punchsport Pagoda.
– Unrelated A.J. gif contributed by @ajB_real.
– Additional reading: UGO’s Raw Report.
– I apologize for the relative lateness of today’s column. I had to change a tire, and things got weird.
Anyway, please to enjoy the Best and Worst of WWE Raw: Halloween H20 Edition for January 9, 2012.
Worst: Okay, Kane, We’re Going To Give You The First 20 Minutes Of The Show With Which To Expound Upon Hate, And The Consequences Of Failing To Embrace Said Hate As It Relates To John Cena
While the exploding glory holes and horror movie car murders might say otherwise, I’m convinced that WWE Creative wrote JOHN CENA VERSE KANE at the top of a dry erase board, wrote “isn’t worried about what the crowd thinks” under Cena and “thinks Cena should be worried about what the crowd thinks” under Kane and thought that would be enough to get them through five weeks of two-hour television programming blocks. There is not even a single other talking point — Kane thinks John Cena should hate, Cena thinks he shouldn’t.
That’s it. That’s the entire thing. Two weeks ago when Kane explained that he’d teach Cena to embrace hate that we were going somewhere, and that maybe Kane would rip off the dog tags Andre style and tombstone John Cena Sr. into fire or whatever, but nope, Kane has gone the Cena route of saying the exact same goddamn thing every week and getting twenty minutes with which to do so. It’s infuriating, and feels like we’re treading the muddiest, sh*ttiest water ever. Imagine how bad the Kane/Shane McMahon story would’ve been if they’d spend six weeks saying “I’m gonna shock you in the balls with a car battery/No don’t shock my balls!” instead of hooking up a battery to Kane’s balls and shocking him.
Kane suggesting that the crowd hates Cena because he represents them and they’re self-loathers is pretty astute, but it doesn’t explain why he wants Cena to understand hate. Kane’s making a lot of assumptions about me (I hate my wife, job and children … I love my girlfriend, my job is to make baseball players pretend curse at each other on the Internet and I have tons of DVD and fun stuff instead of children) and I don’t appreciate it. Get to the burning people with fire part plz.
Best: John Cena Is Here To
And speaking of getting to the point, John Cena gets a bright shiny gold star for just running down to the ring and punching, though I’m pretty sure he yelled eachandeveryoneofyoupaidyourhardearneddollarstoboomenoharmnofoulokaybyeeeee as he was sprinting.
Also, why did he wear his t-shirt out if he was just gonna whip it off on the ramp? Why do wrestlers have to take off their clothes to fight, anyway? I know you need to have optimal body movement when you’re grappling, but if you’re a punching guy chances are you can punch in a shirt, especially in a t-shirt. Miz did the same thing, he jumped R-Truth from behind in a hoodie, then wasted enough time for Truth to come back removing it, unbuttoning his dress shirt and rolling up the sleeves. It’s a f**king layer of low quality cloth, not a straight jacket.
Worst: I Swear I Thought Somebody Was Going Into A Flaming Dumpster
Kane doing the awful pro wrestling “hold your head and walk” thing out into the parking lot made me think three things:
1. WWE guys haven’t done a lot of formal brawling backstage lately, and Cena bumping into a wall and staggering around like a goon is a justification for those WWE ’12 storyline chapters where you have to beat up three guys backstage by slamming their heads in doors or kneeing them into production carts.
2. Any time WWE goes outside and the camera changes, you know for sure that some stupid bullsh*t with vehicles is about to occur (examples: JBL trying to murder John Cena by burning him to death in a car, JBL trying to murder Cena by driving a car into him, Rikishi trying to murder Stone Cold Steve Austin by driving a car into him, Smackdown Vs. Raw 2006 trying to murder Teddy Long by driving a car into him, Stone Cold Steve Austin trying to murder Triple H with a forklift, the nWo trying to murder The Rock by driving a truck into his ambulance, Vince McMahon’s limo exploding … Jesus, how often do they do this?).
3. “Burn in hell … you son of a bitch!”Subscribe to UPROXX
Somehow worse than all other backstage acts of murder is Shane McMahon using a one-legged Eve Torres dropkick to the shin to send Kane falling backwards into a flaming dumpster. It led to nothing (which is fine, considering it is canon that Kane cannot or at least has learned to not feel burns) and ruined Shane McMahon’s occasional coolness forever, wasting away all that goodwill he built up getting great matches out of X-Pac and Test and leading to that horrible thing where he dismantled Legacy one-on-three with phantom little brother punches.
I do not enjoy anything that reminds me of Kane falling in a dumpster. Or Kane emerging from a dumpster. Or Kane! (Or dumpsters.)
Worst: Kane Is The Bat
I don’t want to be that guy, especially when I just mentioned “canon” in regard to somebody having flame retardant powers, but how exactly did Kane “vanish” during his fight with John Cena? He attacks Cena and knocks him into some errant pipes … we know Cena can’t be destroyed with backstage set equipment (Alberto Del Rio and Awesome Truth learned this the hard way), so he comes back with a crowbar (which was being stored amidst the pipes) and hits Kane in the knee. Kane shoves him into some cardboard boxes (possibly full of crowbars) and when Cena turns around, Kane is gone. Of course, Cena didn’t really look for him and just kinda stood there doing a Brian Cox in Troy spin, but the suggestion is that Kane disappeared in the style of Batman.
Am I the only one who wanted Cena to look at the cameraman and say “hey, where did he go”? Even if we are to assume that the camera guy kept looking through the camera at downed Cena the entire time and has that little awareness, he could’ve done an “I DUNNO JERN HE VANISHED!”. It wouldn’t have been any weirder than KANE VANISHING.
Best: Michael Cole On Turbans, Et. Al
Unfortunately WWE Fan Nation (where I normally get the clips I share in these reports) is either slow on the upload or making a conscious effort to upload less (and maybe they found out how many people were skipping the shows and just finding out which parts to watch here) so you’ll have to trust me when I say first match Michael Cole was really good. Instead of spending the entirety of the Sheamus/Santino vs. Jinder Mahal/Wade Barrett match going LOOK AT THIS GOOF, WHAT A WORTHLESS GOOF he made an attempt to recap what’d been going on with Sheamus and Barrett, briefly put over Santino’s performance in last year’s Royal Rumble and even made an attempt to explain why Jinder Mahal was important and suddenly wearing a turban. And yeah, WWE explaining a turban is basically Racism Ground Zero, especially with Jerry Lawler instantly defense-mechanizing with a NOBODY CARES WHAT’S YOUR POINT, but Cole pointing out that Jinder doesn’t just buy and wear a turban but carefully wraps his head with strips of cloth as a personal expression of whatever was good. I’m giving him a best for it, because he deserved it. This is what WWE announcing should be, at least in the short term to allow us to recover from the last year of bullsh*t, minus Lawler’s weird, ever-present xenophobia.
When Sheamus and Santino were doing victory poses at the end of the match, Santino’s trombone dance seemed to break Cole, and he went LOOK AT THIS IDIOT DOING A TROMBONE DANCE and never fully recovered. But hey, baby steps.
Worst: The Cobra, Because Seriously
I initially liked the Cobra, because 1) it’s a fun taunt to do in real life, especially when people know what you’re doing and groan and roll their eyes before you’ve even slapped your wrist, and 2) he was using it creatively for a while, be it in his team with Tamina (Teamina) or in his Superstars matches against Zack Ryder, Cobra’ing him in the leg and setting up weird, contextually-realistic selling of interest.
Now he’s in full Worm territory, showing up at the end of the match no matter what happened and yelling COBRAAAA and wearing a goddamn snake sock on his hand while Jinder Whoever has to stumble up to their feet and take it. And he doesn’t even Cobra them in the face with it, he hits them in the shoulder, but somehow that causes SUDDEN UNCONSCIOUSNESS and the guy collapses and Santino gets the win with what is, let’s face it, the f**king Fingerpoke of Doom. Note: Santino can and should do the move in matches, because the crowd loves it, but it does not have to Critical people and can be worked in organically with even the tiniest bit of thinking. Just… even a little. Not “Sheamus does move, Santino does move, pyro and ballyhoo”.
Best: Big Johnny
I’ll give you Otunga, because I like him almost entirely on a coffee and sweaters platform, but if you aren’t on the John Laurinaitis bandwagon yet, something’s wrong with you. His interactions with Raw’s characters are the best because they’re seemingly random, but consistent — he openly supports CM Punk and treats him fairly, but accidentally causes him to fail on purpose; he hated John Morrison’s guts for almost no reason and shoehorned him off the show completely; he reacts to most midcarders by making them shut up so he can wistfully stare off into the distance and announce matches, and every time he deals with the Miz he wordplays him and basically says “I don’t give a f**k about you, Miz, you’re barely a wrestler, you’re five feet tall and I could just fire you and hire Austin Aries if I wanted a pissed off midget to bother me about bullsh*t” with a smile on his face. It’s the best. Christening himself “Big Johnny” is just the latest in a string of moments that make me shake you by the shoulders and say come on, stupid.
Best, I Guess: Edge Getting Immediately Honored
Edge getting a Hall Of Fame nod surprised me, not because I didn’t think he’d get in or didn’t deserve it, but because I’m used to how actual Halls Of Fame work and assumed they’d give him a year or two to get his body together and make sure he’s gone.
Of course, this is the same Hall Of Fame that has Drew Carey and Vince McMahon’s limo driver in it, not to mention f**king Nikolai Volkoff, and it’s just a big list of names so whatever and who cares. I was expecting a Mil Mascaras or Carlos Colon video package announcement, but I guess they need to sell tickets to the event, and Mil Mascaras probably couldn’t get the modern WWE Universe fan to stand up when he needed to squeeze by to get to his seat, much less drop a hundred bucks to sit beside Lucky Cannon in a suit and pretend to cry about sh*tty planchas.
I wonder which bust of Edge they’ll put into the Hall… sunglasses vampire Edge, hay-hat and buckteeth skit Edge, Live Sex boner-in-boxer-briefs Edge or Scud The Disposable Assassin tiny arms and macaroni body Edge?
Worst: Jerry Lawler Loves Mason Ryan’s Body
Jerry Lawler adding title cards to Miz’s backstage interaction was maybe the worst thing ever.
“Hey wait a minute, check this out, it looks like… heh, it looks like The Miz is trying to get himself a bodyguard! Well he’s gone to somebody with a great body, but I don’t think Mason… Mason Ryan is inner-rested! Ha ha ha! Miz looks a little frustrated!”
I am a little frustrated that you are such a creep. Next week they should film a segment where Ted DiBiase is all, “wow Mason your body is so great” and Mason just kinda lowers his head and shuffles his feet and says “dawww, I know”.
Best: Kane Comes Out Of The Closet
I couldn’t put my finger on what Kane stalking Zack Ryder clandestinely from behind a door reminded me of, but Something Awful goon Wise Fwom Yo Gwave nailed it: Worf leaning into Deanna Troi’s room in the “Parallels” episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Look:
How can Kane even stalk you in secret? Just look for the bright red lights, they follow him everywhere. No, those are the blue ones, that’s just Sin Cara. He can’t hurt you, he can only hurt himself.
Best: Daniel Bryan Championship Squash Matches
When Daniel Bryan vs. Kofi Kingston was announced for Raw, the general consensus seemed to be “oh, that should be good, hopefully they give them some time”. So it was weird to see Kofi clapping his hands and yelling boom and going for Trouble In Paradise like a quarter-second into the match, but it was WONDER to see Bryan drag him to the ground out of a cross-body attempt and make him tap out like a chump to the LeBell Lock in MAYBE a minute.
This is how you make Daniel Bryan a legitimate threat against guys like Big Show and Mark Henry — by having every WWE Superstar who ISN’T an A-list heavyweight losing to him by submission out of nowhere whenever he wants. If Mason Ryan screams for his life long enough, people will buy it.
BESTER STILL: The Code Of Honor
Yes, I am the biggest wrestling nerd in the world for making out over a handshake to start a WWE match, but that’s Ring of Honor Heavyweight Champion American Dragon Bryan Danielson sneaking out from within the body of WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan, and he’s starting a match under the Code Of Honor against the closest thing WWE has to a Sonjay Dutt. I love it. We’ve put the Smackdown live-blogs on hiatus temporarily, so I haven’t had a lot of chances to gush over the Daniel Bryan emotional heel turn, but holy sh*t you guys, if you didn’t live through that year of Dragon as ROH Champ you have no idea how awesome this is gonna be. Think “Summer Of Punk”, but a year longer and with airplane spins.
Bryan gets a secondary best for his awesome, disingenuous post-match promo, where he interrupted the Big Show to assure him that he HATED the way the world title match ended, he HATED IT, and that he’d give Show another shot anytime, anyplace. Show called him on his bluff, and instead of pulling a WAIT WAIT WAIT A MINUTE I CAN’T DO IT NEXT WEEK thing like a Miz might, Bryan just kinda bit his lip for a minute and went “yeah all right” and accepted, because he’s just gonna wrap a chain around his arm and MMA elbow Show to death. Wait, that might happen later, I forget the order of things.
Also, if we’re going by how his ROH run ended, Hunico is going to pin him for the title. That’ll be weird, won’t it?
Worst: Miz Tries To Pick Up Some Mexicans For Day Labor
And speaking of Hispanic wrestlers with borderline offensive gimmicks, all this segment needed was Lawler narrating it with “why would the Miz want THESE guys to protect his body? Their bodies aren’t great at all!” to make it worse. I like the idea that The Miz is still that racially inept guy from The Real World who doesn’t know how black people work (“go out and insult R-Truth until he reveals himself”) and thinks the brown guys in the hallway are day laborers.
The segment gets two tiny bests: one for CM Punk eying Rosa’s ass on his way in, and another for, well
Best: Jesus Christ, Rosa Mendes
As friend of the column Tom Holzerman put it on Twitter, “Rosa Mendes has a balcony you can do opera off”. It’s amazing how quickly wrestling fans will take to wrestlers if they aren’t being horrible. At the risk of sounding like a guy who DOESN’T geek out over women’s wrestling on the reg, Rosa should stay out of the ring and stick to speaking Grade 11 Spanish and wearing coral dresses.
Wait, coral dresses, is that why the Miz talked to her?
Best: Kane Haunting Zack Ryder A La The Roommate
Things I like about this segment:
1. The payoff is unbelievably terrible (which we’ll get to), but the tiny horror segments of Kane stalking Ryder are hilarious. I can’t compare this one to Star Trek (thank God), but I can compare it to The Roommate, wherein Leighton Meester jumps Keely from ‘Phil Of The Future’ in the shower and rips out her belly button ring. You know something’s going to happen because they do an extreme close-up on the ring beforehand that might as well have had the direction standing in front of it pointing and whispering “remember this”. The segment should’ve ended with Kane knocking Ryder’s teeth out, or something excessively brutal so Cena has to go “oh sh*t, this is for real” instead of watching his New Best Friend suddenly getting Wrestling Moved on a set piece.
2. See, Kane’s lights follow him wherever he goes, even in the shower. Or maybe WWE showers just have those LED showerheads you can get in Skymall.
3. Zack Ryder either brushes his teeth with water or uses less toothpaste than any other man. I especially like him spitting 20 times at the end to make sure we had enough time to see Kane.
Best: They Told Me I Could Be Anything I Wanted, So I Became A Funkasaurus
I, like many of you, wanted Brodus Clay to return and be dominant. I love tough, hard to topple fat guy wrestlers, and with his preview commercials announcing him as the DOWNFALL OF HUMANITY I was expecting something philosophical and full of butt splashes. I, like many of you, assumed he’d show up and squash jobbers for a few weeks like he did during his run on Superstars and have a great showing at the Royal Rumble, eliminating a handful of guys before having one of those Big Guy Vs. Big Guy standoffs WWE loves in battle royales against Big Show or Mark Henry or Kane or maybe Sheamus. I didn’t allow myself to think far outside of that, because why should I?
I’m not sure I’ve got an indepth explanation of how I feel prepared, but I can’t remember a time when I was as hilariously surprised as I was checking my e-mail in the bedroom and hearing Justin Roberts say the word “Funkasaurus”. My brain went “wait, what” and then Ernest “The Cat” Miller’s entrance theme hit and my brain went WAIT, WHAT and I rushed into the living room with visions of Miss Jones and Lamont dancing in my head. At that exact moment, Brodus Clay moonwalked onto the stage dressed like Ari and Uzi in The Royal Tenenbaums and my brain started to smile, which affected my face, which affected my entire body. He had tearaway pants. He did a B-boy stance and FIREWORKS WENT OFF.
I sat though his squash of Curt Hawkins trying to process it, not able to type anything but “hahahahahaha” into Twitter, a reaction very similar to the one I had when Chris Jericho showed up last week in an LED jacket and trolled the audience. He danced through the match, hit a suplex and said “MY BAD”, and … I don’t know, I love it. I love the Funkasaurus. If they bait and switch us here and have him re-repackaged as a guy who we suddenly HAVE TO TAKE SERIOUSLY because HE DOESN’T NEED A GIMMICK BLERGH or whatever I’m going to pissed. Wrestling needs this. It needs a Funkasaurus.
This is a wrestling fan. He doesn’t understand why you f**ked up Brodus Clay. He doesn’t understand why you f**ked up Chris Jericho. He doesn’t consider much outside of what he expects to happen, and how what actually happens differs from what he KNEW would work. I don’t know how to properly explain to this guy how one f**king second of Brodus Clay dancing in a track suit has erased every preexisting thought or memory of Brodus Clay in my mind, and how excited I would be if I went to a show on Sunday and the f**king Funkasaurus showed up. I can’t explain to him the nature of spectacle, and how wrestling fans fall in love with the stupidest entertainment medium known to man and get so into it that they forget why they liked it and want it to stop being stupid. Wrestling is stupid. It always has been. It works best when it is okay being stupid without exacerbating it, or trying hard to be “good” (or “a movie” in Vince McMahon speak) and fails miserably.
The shorter version: a dancing fat guy who can kill you with his body > badly written melodrama. If Brodus shows up as Tough Fat Guy, he’s third place behind Show and Henry. If Brodus shows up as Earl from Toejam and f**king Earl he’s #1 on the list of dudes who are exactly like Earl. It’s a great call, and I want Funky Kong to take the Rumble.
Worst: Great Job With That Wrestling Career, Funkettes
Seeing NXT’s Naomi and “Melina vs. Alicia Fox is the greatest match of all time” Cameron Lynn as dancers for Brodus was a little disheartening, and without going too deeply into it I’ll say 1) it must be weird when you devote your life to pro wrestling and the product of your sacrifice is “we dance with the fat guy and don’t have names”, and 2) it doesn’t do a lot to help that whole “black people in WWE” problem, where you either smile and jump for the enjoyment of the crowd or you’re a robber or a militant or a crazy idiot.
Granted, this could be a way to get Naomi and Cameron into the show as a tag team, and with Eve/Kelly and the Bella Twins and Pin-Up Strong and The Chickbusters you’ve already got a deeper division than the men. This could also be the first step in Cameron Lynn’s meteoric rise to being the first ever female WWE Champion. I think the second option is more believable than the first.
Worst: Hey Curt Hawkins, You’re Doing It Wrong
As far as I can tell, Curt Hawkins’ gimmick consists of three things:
1. Not being Zack Ryder
2. Making awful cartoons on the Internet in an attempt to be Zack Ryder and have them taken down
3. Carrying a staff
I might’ve missed the episode where they establish whether it’s a staff or a walking stick, but he carries a stick to the ring and doesn’t hit anybody with it. His WWE resume currently reads “teamed up with pre-Crisis Zack Ryder, Vance Archer and Tyler Reks”, which is reaching Marcus Alexander Bagwell levels of awful tag team partners. I’m just gonna go ahead and say I don’t like Curt Hawkins the wrestler, have no emotional attachment to him (even though I have a deep love for a lot of lowercard WWE performers) and wish, I don’t know, Sugar Dunkerton had his job. At least Sugar wouldn’t record his mark Internet cartoon dialogue over the phone.
Best: But No, Seriously, The Funkasaurus
I love you, Funkasaurus, don’t ever leave me.
Worst: Don’t Be Afraid, Zack, The Internet Will Protect You
See No Evil 2: The Heretic went from enjoyably bad to bad-bad around this point, when Zack Ryder and John Cena had another buddy-buddy discussion about how great they are to each other backstage. It gets a small best, however, for the ridiculously non sequitur aspects of their conversation. I’m paraphrasing here:
Ryder: “Last week Kane tried to drag me to Hell and you saved me, bro! You saved me! You saved me from traveling what I an only assume is some sort of astral plane and discovering that the theological idea of a Christian Hell full of fire and dead people and The Devil is real, and being trapped there and being burned to death for an eternity, you saved me from that by grabbing my wrist and dragging me across a wrestling ring, bro! I was going to literally die, substantiating 4,000 years of religious unrest and I didn’t all thanks to you.”
Cena: “that’s fine, but did you see you have a bunch of twitter followers now”
THIS would’ve been the time for Ryder to go “are you serious, bro?” and just stare at Cena until he walked away, then never talk to him again.