– Comments, shares, likes, and especially Reddit submissions/up votes are appreciated. The only way this column works is by you helping me out and showing it to people. If you don’t, I go back to writing about soccer. DON’T MAKE ME DO THAT, YOU GUYS.
– GIFS via Jerusalem at the Punchsport Pagoda.
– Big thank you once again to Chris Trew for filling in on last week’s report. Go read that. I don’t care if you’ve already read it, go read it again!
– If you missed out on National Pro Wrestling Day, don’t worry, we had all the fun in the world without you. If you’d still like to hang out with me at a wrestling show sometime, your next chance is at Elimination Chamber in New Orleans on Sunday. I’ll be there live, somewhere up in the nosebleeds, and would appreciate your hugs when Rock wins and I have to Charlie Brown walk out of the New Orleans Arena.
For now, please click through to enjoy the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for February 11, 2013.
Best: Paul Heyman And CM Punk Are Wrestling Bros
We know Paul Heyman The Character is a liar. He said so himself. We’ve seen video of him talking to Brad Maddox with ‘Law & Order’-style exposition like, “HEY BRAD MAD-OX, PERSON I, PAUL HEYMAN, MANIPULATED INTO A SPOT AS REFEREE SO CM PUNK COULD KEEP HIS WWE CHAMPIONSHIP. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE SHIELD, THE SINISTER GROUP OF TOUGHS I’VE PAID TO ATTACK PARTICULAR WWE SUPERSTARS?” Heyman’s only excuse is, “you CGI’d me.”
At the same time, Paul Heyman The Man is so good at pro wrestling TV acting that when he’s in the ring explaining to CM Punk about how Vince McMahon’s perception is reality, claiming that he had no part in Brad Maddox or The Shield or Brock Lesnar showing up, I almost believe him. That’s outstanding. It’s the kind of thing a normal heel would do to troll the WWE crowd … do something, then say he didn’t. That’d be the end of it. With Heyman, you get the feeling that the only way he can survive as that perennial liar, always on the cusp of being murdered or whatever, is by convincing HIMSELF that his lies are real. In Paul Heyman’s mind, maybe he DIDN’T set Brad Maddox up, and maybe he WASN’T in command of The Shield. That’s what a liar does, right? He believes himself.
It also makes him make sense as the only person CM Punk has ever seemed to truly like in WWE. Punk’s the same way. When Punk was teaming with guys like Kofi Kingston in ECW, you never got the impression that they were friends, they were just in a tag team. When Punk started going on and on about how we were bad people for doing drugs and drinking alcohol he was right, in his own way, but he was also generalizing and being an asshole about it. He was a guy struggling to make it in the steroid-heavy, snorting-cocaine-off-hookers-Ric-Flair-style world of WWE turning around and saying that only people like HIM were gonna make it. It wasn’t true then, and even now that he’s made it, it’s STILL not true. But Punk convinced himself that his words were truth, and that was enough to keep him moving forward. When he changes his mind, he still seems like he believes what he’s saying, because he’s lying, good or bad.
A couple of liars who are great at professional wrestling managed to find each other and believe the other’s lies. I believe Punk when he says he’s a Paul Heyman guy. I believe Heyman believes Punk is the Best In The World. It doesn’t seem like a script when they’re in there. It seems like bad human beings who made their flaws into the only possible definition of success. They’ve never been caught, at least not long enough to be pushed out the door for good.
I hope they stay friends forever.Subscribe to UPROXX
Best: WHAT MARK HENRY DOES
I didn’t get to write about Mark Henry’s return to Raw last week, so if you’d like to hear my extended thoughts, they are YEAHHHH MARK HENRY YEAH F**K EM UP MARK, F**K EM UP AND SLAM THEM AND START SCREAMING AT NOBODY BECAUSE YOU ARE MARK HENRY AND F**K EVERYONE WHO IS NOT MARK HENRY
I throw around the phrase “my favorite wrestler” a lot. Daniel Bryan/Bryan Danielson has been my favorite wrestler for over a decade, and every time he leaves and comes back as something different (tighty whities hero -> bearded hobo -> ROH Bob Backlund -> Best In The World all the way up through “NXT Rookie” and “arrogant World Heavyweight Champion” and “kinda gay tag team guy”) I have to sorta reset it and fall in love with him again. He’s like the 50 First Dates of pro wrestlers. I say Portia Perez is my favorite wrestler a lot. She’s definitely my favorite wrestler without a permanent Big Leagues spot, and she’s someone I’m going to bat for no matter what. But honestly, right now, neither of those wrestlers makes me as happy while I’m watching wrestling as Mark Henry.
I am so, so happy that Mark Henry is back. He makes a Great Khali match (complete with comical Great Khali “dodges” that even the announcers can’t call with a straight face) into must-see moments of pro graps glee. He’s starting to get a pop, too. When his music hit last night, people were like “REARGHHH YEAH MAKR HE-oh, woo Mark Henry, okay.” The Average Wrestling Fan is almost ready to see Mark like nerds like me see him, and accept that the best wrestler in the world doesn’t have to be the one with the flashiest moves or longest matches — he can be the fat guy who kills you swiftly and just SCREAMS ARBITRARY SHIT AT YOU BECAUSE HE IS MAD
If you’re still not sure why people like Mark Henry, please consult the following GIFs.
Best: DIE FOREVER, YOU SASSY LEPRECHAUN CHILD-MAN
Sometimes I really do think my brain is strong enough to manifest my wishes on television. Rey Mysterio, Sin Cara, The Great Khali and Hornswoggle should now never be seen again, a la Husky Harris after Randy Orton’s punt, and if they come back they have to do so as a different character. That’s how the World’s Strongest Slam should be sold.
Also, the Great Khali/Natalya team should be called “Khali Ma.”
Worst: What The F**k Is Teddy Long Talking About
Teddy Long thinks Jack Swagger deserves a spot in the Elimination Chamber because he’s beaten a couple of chumps, and Booker agrees. Teddy thinks Chris Jericho deserves a spot in the Chamber based on his 20+ years of experience and championships, but Booker says NAY, TEDDY, and makes Jericho compete in a qualifying match. Teddy has an idea, but Booker doesn’t want to hear it. Teddy “doesn’t even like country music,” but he likes that idea!
1. Who died and made Booker T the Managing Manager of Raw? and
2. TEDDY LONG WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT
Hey WWE, if you want to pay two fewer people, just show a Daniel Bryan/Chris Jericho match graphic and have Michael Cole say “Chris Jericho wants to be in the Elimination Chamber. If he beats Daniel Bryan tonight, he’s in!” Then give all that extra money to Mark Henry and Antonio Cesaro and Cody Rhodes and the people that AREN’T always ruining your wrestling shows.
Best: Daniel Bryan Vs. Chris Jericho, Obviously
Remember that really great match on the first episode of NXT, when rookie Daniel Bryan took on surly veteran Chris Jericho and it was kinda-sorta a dream match but not really, because one guy was an “Internet Favorite,” which meant he had to be punished for a year before they’d let him do anything but lose?
Now he’s a former World Heavyweight Champion and one of the most popular people in the company, and he’s wrestling spunky babyface Chris Jericho in an 11-minute match on Raw. And, uh, he’s still losing. But PROGRESS. That’s so cool. Now let’s give them 20 on a pay-per-view, or at least let them start off the Elimination Chamber and kick a little ass before Mark Henry’s sheer will of girth explodes his pod and wigs are split.
Best: The Glorious Death Of 3MB
Two quick truths:
1. No, I am not particularly happy to see Heath Slater, Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal jobbed out in the extreme to WWE’s obnoxious Superfriends, especially when the tag team division is on life support and could really stand to include a Slater/Drew Mac team and maybe let them develop the 3MB characters beyond “we mention music and lose.”
2. This is absolutely what 3MB should be doing.
If you need guys to die hilarious deaths, 3MB are the ones you want dying. The match played out like it should’ve, with Slater trying to show up Ryback only to get humiliated, Drew McIntyre doing a little better than he should against Sheamus because they have the longest history together and everyone on the other team automatically losing when John Cena tags in. That’s just how you write it. You end it with bodyslam finishes in the triplicate and bam, you’ve got an effective trios showdown on Raw.
Seriously though, if Cena and Orton combined could beat the entire Raw roster (and don’t forget, that has happened), Cena plus TWO Randys Orton should be unstoppable. As much as I want to see The Shield win at Elimination Chamber (since it’ll be what, their second match in like four months?), that match should pretty much play out like this one.
Extra Special Best: Jinder Mahal Says What We’re All Thinking
I know it didn’t work out well for you, but I’m your fan forever now, Jinder.
Worst: Alex Riley, Total Shithead
Firstly, I don’t watch Smackdown very often, so I’m going to pretend I didn’t just see a recap of Alberto Del Rio stealing The Big Show’s tires because he’s Mexican.
Secondly, leave it to good ol’ A-Ry to show up on Raw for like five seconds and make everybody watching hate his guts. Man, what a terrible person Alex Riley is. He chills backstage in his backwards cap, hanging out with a guy who barely speaks English because that’s probably the only guy who’ll think he’s cool and laugh at his jokes, spreading a bunch of name-cally gossip and getting punched out like a dingus at the first sign of danger. He can’t even sell being knocked out properly. He goes A-HUHHH as he’s falling down. And that attempted fist bump on Yoshi Tatsu? Holy shit.
Best: The Best Matt Striker Interview Ever
In a perfect world, this becomes the outline of every Matt Striker interview. “Excuse me Sheamus, I wanted to get your ARGH BROGUE KICK” collapse boom dead.
Big Show is the best. I don’t know what’s in store for him at Elimination Chamber, but my two best fantasy booking options involve him. In the first, he and Alberto Del Rio double-KO each other (or whatever), allowing Ziggler to cash in Money In The Bank and win the World Heavyweight Championship. Daniel Bryan wins the Elimination Chamber, possibly eliminating Kane last, and we get a 25ish-minute Daniel Bryan/Dolph Ziggler World Heavyweight Championship match at WrestleMania to make up for 18 Seconds-Gate. Del Rio and Big Show get put into a Money In The Bank ladder match at Mania, because those matches should REALLY only be happening at WrestleMania, and because they’re always better when rivals are involved.
In the other, Big Show defeats Del Rio clean via KO. Daniel Bryan wins his Chamber match (see a trend forming here?), setting up a month-long Show/Bryan feud. Show takes out Kane, possibly all the way into retirement, and Bryan has to beat him at Mania for the title and for FRIENDSHIP. They have a hard fought back-and-forth thing that ends with Bryan pulling off a miraculous victory, only for Ziggler to cash in THEN and end Bryan’s second run at WrestleMania in 18 seconds. It gives Bryan a great match at Mania while maintaining the “WrestleMania curse” thing they’ve got going on with him, gives us another month of Big Show heel awesomeness and sets up Ziggler/Bryan for a Spring series of pay-per-view main events for the strap.
In my third scenario, Ziggler never cashes in the briefcase and John Cena is awarded two MITB briefcases as a penalty.
Best: I Forgot To Write A Bunch Of Racist Shit Into Jack Swagger Of Mars, I Guess
I really wanted Swagger to return in an astronaut suit and never explain why as a subtle nod to me. Instead, the subtle nod to me is that Swagger has stolen my beard, my bad haircut and my racist relatives.
If you missed the segment, Jack Swagger defeated Zack Ryder (barf) with his amazingly-named-now “Patriot Act” ankle lock submission and introduced his new running buddy Zebekiah Colter. If you’re a longtime WWE fan, you’ll remember Zeb as the manager of Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw or Jacob and Eli Blu. If you’re a longtime Other Wrestling Promotions fan, you’ll know him as DIRTY DUTCH MANTEL, aka one-half of Los Vaqueros Locos, aka “that racist guy who won’t stop punching Jerry Lawler.” Or, I guess, “that racist guy who won’t stop punching the other racist guy.”
Anyway, as part of Swagger’s new Mainstream Republican gimmick, Zeb launched into this long-winded thing about how he doesn’t recognize America anymore because he sees people whose faces “aren’t like” his face, and how people can’t speak English, and how he wishes he could close the borders and send everybody back to preserve “real America.” It was a challenging, divisive character choice for Swagger (who really should’ve been a lovable, lisping astronaut), and one of those things that make readers (and detractors) of The Best And Worst Of Raw column type WOW I BET BRANDON STROUD IS SUPER PISSED ABOUT THIS. You know, because I am the wrestling world’s only notable Not Racist?
But no, this is an important thing I try to explain a lot, and I guess I fail to do it properly — I thought this was GREAT. I think Dutch should be able to go on TV and say all the horrible shit he wants to. I think he should take it farther, and Swagger should start delivering those racist Greg “The Hammer” Valentine promos where he won’t fight people because of they’re a “nasty black person.” Why? How can I be all DON’T CALL WOMEN BITCHES and think it’s okay for Dutch to say that white folks from Texoma are the only “real” America?
Because Dutch is a bad guy. Swagger is a bad guy.
The problem I have with WWE’s treatment of women and minorities is that far too often the negativity, slurs and oppression come from the mouths of people we’re supposed to cheer for. Not people we “decided” to cheer for. People like Cena, Sheamus or The Rock. People with Wrestling Buddies and coloring books and stuff. They show up and call Heath Slater gay, poop in Alberto Del Rio’s car because they ate Mexican food or call Vickie Guerrero a fat hooker and the crowd is DELIGHTED. They love it, repeat it, and maybe Zack Ryder makes an ass-backwards song about it. It’s the perpetuation of ignorance and stupidity, because it’s “just wrestling,” and wrestling only appeals to stupid people, or whatever.
At its best, wrestling can be offensive and racist and horrible and everything else and not be the glorification of those things. If WWE positions Zeb and Swagger as racists and pit them against Hispanic World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio, it’s a clear example of how one side is “wrong.” It’s not an issue for shades of gray. The racists are the bad guys. The homophobes are the bad guys. The cheaters and the liars are the bad guys. The good guys are the ones who say “no, that’s not how you should be” and follow through as a POSITIVE example by (1) not being those things, and (2) winning, however that’s defined, whether they win the match or not. Being the better person.
I understand your trepidation. WWE has a terrible track record with these kinds of things. Hell, wrestling does. Remember when WCW tried to make the West Texas Rednecks heels because they liked country music, and made the birthday present-destroying, animal-noise making weirdo No Limit Soldiers the good guys? Yeah. WWE could very well start playing Swagger and Zeb as heroes, or have them be identifiable enough to certain wrestling audiences that they start getting cheers when they aren’t supposed to, and then we’re in the DANGER ZONE. But for now, I think heels should STOP being likable chums (Rhodes Scholars, pre-face turn Ricardo Rodriguez, John Laurinaitis) and start being total, unforgivable scumbags. At least then maybe a guy like Cena can get it together long enough to say “this is wrong” and be right, for once.
Worst: Fat Intentions
It’s not a popular opinion in my social circle, but I’m not a fan of the Tensai/Brodus Clay pairing. I like Tensai enough as a wrestler, but I don’t think he’s such a valuable pull that you have to keep him “at any cost” and do shit like make him fat-man dance in what looks like edible panties with the Stereotype Dinosaur Guy. If you want to make them a boss, fat guy tag team, go right ahead. I’m down with that. WWE could use a few fat guy tag teams. But if you’re just making him the Hip Hop Hippo again, it was terrible the first time and isn’t going to be any better now. You aren’t even making him wear the tracksuit.
Suggestion: Have them pal around like this for a while until Tensai takes Clay on a trip to Japan. Have Clay fall in love with it, which leads to them both dressing like Tensai used to dress, taking themselves way too seriously as FBI-style Japanese Guys, and have Tensai remember that he possesses poisoned glands and can do the Mountain Dew Spithand Of Doom.
Reposition the Funkadactyls as geisha for extra added offensiveness.
Best: I Am Pretty Sure Cameron/Naomi Is A Better Team Than Brodus/Tensai
Of course, that would lead to the Funkadactyls going, “hey wait a minute, we aren’t OBJECTS” (finally) and breaking free to join the Chickbusters and the Canadian Ninjas or whoever in my fantasy miracle wrestling world’s Divas tag division.
But seriously, check out Naomi breaking out the Misawa feint on the ropes! She’s been WATCHING TAPES~! They also get love for doing the less-athletic version of the Young Bucks “I’m gonna stand here with my legs open so my partner can DIVE THROUGH THEM” thing.
Worst: Can We Please Just Let Dean Ambrose Talk For These Guys, I Mean Seriously
Some improvements on the normal Shield promos:
1. They aren’t finishing each others’ sentences, which is nice.
2. They don’t have to stand in front of a tiny camera cheek-to-cheek, so at least they get to roam around.
3. They are saying something other than “justice.”
After that … yeah, it really makes no sense to me why Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns are getting the same amount of mic time as Dean Ambrose. It seems like a purposeful attempt to get them over as a unit, I guess, instead of making it blatantly obvious that Ambrose is way better at his job than the other two. It would quickly turn into a “Dean Ambrose and his cronies” thing. But that’s why you put them with Punk or Brock Lesnar or Heyman or somebody with a larger presence, to keep them from becoming The Corre.
Roman Reigns needs to stop screaming shit like he’s on The Amanda Show ASAP. Seth Rollins needs to be repackaged as a mentally-unstable Native American and never speak again. I’m on board when Ambrose starts in on his thing, and then Rollins takes over and is all WE HYATE YOU JYAN CENA YER BAAAD and I am tapping the f**k out. You are Austin Aries in the ring, bro, but you are Roderick Strong on the mic.
Best: The Glorious Death Of The Miz
New plan: Watch these GIFs forever. You are Raw’s Big Bad, Cesaro.
Best: Damien Sandow Versus Country Music
I know I said wrestling heels should be these abrasive, awful types, but I’m still very happy that Damien Sandow exists. Kurt Angle was the best wrestler in the world when he was mostly about visiting local towns and telling them their sports teams sucked. Then he put in a mouthpiece and got all serious and sinewy. You can give me all the 20 minute promos about how you’re the best in the world and that’s all well and good, but I would for-real rather hear Damien Sandow talk about how it’s stupid to miss your dog for 90 seconds.
Worst: Damien Sandow Losing In One Minute, Even To Boss Babyface World Champion Alberto Del Rio
I can’t say I dug the Sandow/Del Rio match, which should’ve been given the 10 minutes they gave Ziggler/Kane. It’s like I was saying before, Sheamus is the only main-event WWE guy you’re allowed to have a competitive match with, for some reason. If you’re Sandow and you wrestle Sheamus, you look like a million bucks. You go back and forth, you almost pull out the victory a few times, and even when you get Brogue Kicked, Sheamus is breathing heavy and pink like raw chicken and selling your effort. When you wrestle Cena, he is smiling and yammering at the camera before you’ve hit the ground. I guess the same goes for babyface Alberto Del Rio.
That said, I do very much adore Del Rio’s face run, especially in the ring. He does what I thought the Miz could do — he has a natural, sincere energy that comes through and makes the moves pop, like he’s actually trying to compete hard and win instead of just remembering what to do. When he beat Sandow in a minute, he didn’t play it off like it was expected. He got up and pumped his fist and let out a breath of excited relief, because he’d managed to lock on the arm-breaker and get the win quicker than he’d expected because he was on a roll. That’s cool. That’s a guy I’m cheering for, even if I think he should’ve done it to Primo or whoever instead of Sandow.
Best: LOL Kofi Kingston
I love that Kofi Kingston is like a parrot. You just cover him with a sheet and he’s out for the night. He’s even the same colors as a parrot most of the time.
Wade Barrett is losing my love fast. This thing against Kofi was predictably bad, his finish isn’t getting any better (as much as I love yelling DOG BONER, DOG BONER at my television screen) and I’ve seen him lose clean to Important Superstars enough now that he needs to shit or get off the pot. Get into a compelling thing with somebody who is not Sneak Attackin’ Bo Dallas and stop wrestling matches against anybody worse of a wrestler than you. Seriously. Feud with Daniel Bryan for a while or something to get your mojo back. Right now you are big-ass English Carlito.
Worst: Lawler And Cole Not Remembering Basic Wrestling History In Favor Of Just Calling The Lady Who Is Doing Nothing Wrong A Whore
So Kane and Dolph Ziggler are wrestling, and Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole, as they are wont to do, start talking amongst themselves about AJ. The following conversation is paraphrased:
King: “Who was AJ with this time last year?”
Cole: “WHO KNOWS”
King and Cole: (are chucklemonsters)
Cole: “She won a SLAMMY AWARD for BEST KISS-”
This is where my Angry Wrestling Fan thing kicks in. No, not because they think AJ is a whore for having kissed more than one guy in a calendar year. I’m mad because the wrestling announcers cannot remember what happened before December. That’s as far back as their memories go.
Here, let me help you guys out: She was with Daniel Bryan. Remember when you mentioned Daniel Bryan winning the Elimination Chamber last year? Yeah, that set up the WrestleMania match with Sheamus, which involved AJ kissing Daniel Bryan before the match and being “bad luck,” allowing Sheamus to boot him and win the belt in 18 seconds. That caused them to break up, which was the impetus for that company-wide romance arc that continued from, oh, let’s say April until F**KING JANUARY and involved your top stars and champions. But no, I guess it’s better to go ahead and rewrite history so that AJ’s always been a mouth-whore and the Slammy Awards are WWE’s Zero Hour. Good job, guys. Keep enjoying your job about talking about what happens on wrestling.
Best: A Solid 10-Minute Match After All These Squashes
The Ziggler/Kane thing was pretty good. It wasn’t anything special, but despite how much I liked all the squashes on the show, they WERE mostly all squashes. You’ve got room for 5 squashes and a couple of long, quality matches on a weekly 3-hour wrestling show.
Getting Ziggler out of the Elimination Chamber originally made sense, but now you’ve gone and put Jericho INTO the Chamber, so the obvious Ziggler/Jericho singles match is off the table and … you’ve basically just telegraphed Ziggler’s cash-in, Jericho winning the chamber match and the Ziggler/Jericho World Heavyweight Championship match at WrestleMania. Maybe I’m over-thinking it and am totally wrong, but after watching the Royal Rumble, I can’t imagine them doing something a fifth-grader couldn’t soothsay.
Best: Team Rocket
I could watch the AJ/Dolph/Big E Langston team interact all day. I like watching them have mishaps. Example:
I couldn’t figure out why I liked them so much, but With Leather reader Lester explained it with one of the best things I’ve ever seen, and I’m going to dare to show it to you without a big WITH LEATHER watermark across the middle. PREPARE FOR TROUBLE~!
Important note: This makes Vickie Guerrero Ash and Chris Jericho Pikachu. Which makes sense, because they have the corresponding haircuts.