Pre-show notes (hey, you should actually read this part):
– As I mentioned if you follow me on Twitter, this week I’m doing my second ever old show Best And Worst report for No Way Out 2007. It should be fun. Check back for that on Friday, or Saturday, or one of the weekdays after that when I’m making excuses about how I write too much.
– Comments are appreciated! You guys are pretty solid on that at this point, but by now you should be sharing the column on Facebook, “liking” it, Tweeting it, tweeting ABOUT it, whatever. Pinterest it, if that’s a thing people do.
– Images and gifs this week are courtesy of column regular THESTINGER, who did THEAWESOMEJOB. Please visit him at The Hammer Dialectic. When you’re done reading his stuff, head over to UGO and read Aubrey Sitterson’s Good Slash Bad Slash Ugly of Raw.
– This weekend is Anarchy Championship Wrestling’s first show in San Antonio in a few months, so if you’re a Best And Worst reader in the area, make it a point to stop by, hang out with me and watch a sh*t-ton of great wrestling. I’ll introduce you to Rachel and everything.
Anyway, please enjoy the Best And Worst Of WWE Raw for February 13, 2012.
Worst: John Laurinaitis Has Pictures Of Kurt Angle Having Sex With Sharmell?
I write ten wordy-ass paragraphs about him every week, so I’ll present two options:
1. What made CM Punk great when he wasn’t great to everybody was that he always sounded like he meant what he was saying. When he ran down Raven for doing drugs and wasting opportunities, it felt real. Same thing when he made fun of Jeff Hardy for blowing his dream job. When he says “clownshoes” and says that Laurinaitis has leverage over the board of directors because of “naked pictures of bestiality” it sounds like something they came up with in creative and wrote between “bad breath” and “farts” on the dry erase board.
2. I bought into the CM Punk character and am a total rube mark. Phil Brooks came up with a cool thing that was convincing and got people like me on board, and now he’s tweaked it to get all the people who aren’t like me to cheer him and buy his t-shirts. There are a lot more people like them.
Long story short, I hate how stupid Punk makes me feel now. I don’t like him as the “guy who is funny at talking!” I don’t know. The more I write about it, the dumber I feel, and sh*t, I’m the guy about to write about who great it was when a guy said “dolph” sounded like “dolphins”. I wish I could throw that dry erase board into the sun.
Best: R-Truth Is Better Than Everyone Else Out Here Because He’s The Only One Not Taking It Seriously
…and I’m paraphrasing here:
Punk: “I am the best wrestler in the world!”
Dolph: “I’m better than you!”
Miz: “I’m better than both of you!”
Jericho: “I’m better than all of you!”
Truth: “SPIDAHS LIL JIMMY KEKEKEKEKEKEEKE”
Even Kofi Kingston, whose personality is normally “smile and wave to the nice fans”, pulled a “I’m a hungry young lion and my shirt has a lion on it now and I will defeat you all!” But here’s Truth, playing with the “what” chants, calling Jerry Lawler “your honor”, announcing that he’d trade people to Smackdown for Hornswoggle and a box of spiders “if elected” and winning a bright, shiny best for being the first person in like four years to say, “Dolph Ziggler? That’s a stupid name!” Because, seriously.
I’ve been wary of Truth’s transition from deranged psychopath to lovable, Cuckoo’s Nest-esque man of mental disease who just needs someone to take him fishing, but if he keeps lightening these forced moods with f**king dolphin noises, I’m sold.
Super Best: Dolph Ziggler’s Reaction To Being Told He’s Named After Flipper
Easily the intentionally funniest moment of the show. Secondary best for HOW DO YOU WORK HERE?
Worst: Time To Pull The Plug On The Miz
I think I speak for everyone when I say Miz needs a year or two teaming with Chavo Guerrero and the Lunch Ladies or whoever in Ring Ka King to tighten up the part of his brain that remembers how words sound and get his sh*t together. As an adoptive Clevelander I’ve got a deep, everlasting love for the Oh-Bros who’ve made it (Derrick Bateman, Dolph Ziggler, Miz, hell, even me, Michael Tarver), but yeah, Miz has either plateaued or is in desperate need of a break.
Jericho tossed him under the bus last week, and putting him in the ring with a bunch of guys who are better than him at everything (and Kofi Kingston) isn’t helping. Fantasy booking idea: have Miz get all sentimental and try to reform Extreme Expose, only to find out that Brooke eloped with Kahoneys or whatever and lives next to Shark Boy at the Impact Zone.
Worst: Chris Jericho’s New Character
In the span of two weeks, Jericho has gone from one of the most compelling reinventions of a character in wrestling history to a f**king reissue of Malibu Stacy: exactly like the old one, but with a new jacket. I don’t know how excited to get now that I know he’s the same guy he was when he left, wearing 2007 Jericho’s clothes. You’re legitimately one of the best ever, Jericho, let’s see what you were bragging about creating.
Oh, and before I forget:
Best: And So Begins The Funniest Raw Of All Time
I want to be that guy you go see on the Internet who gets hypercritical about these things, and yeah, most of the time I’m good for at least a page of WHO IS SIGNING KANE’S PAYCHECKS FOR THIS and IT WAS AN UNSAFE ENVIRONMENT WHEN MIZ BEAT UP JOHN CENA BY SURPRISE BY THESE KIDNAPPINGS AND FIRE RAPES ARE OKAY, but man, I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard at a TV show. It’s like … golden age ‘Simpsons’, ‘Look Around You’, and then this.
John Cena has got to be the worst f**king friend of all time. Zack Ryder is stupid enough to
1. Keep traveling around the country and showing up at the only place in the goddamn world the guy who keeps trying to shoot murder him is announced to be
2. Put on a headband when he’s got a severe neck injury
and I guess he doesn’t know his camera is also a telephone (although nobody in WWE knows how to properly use a phone… Otunga gets his sensitive messages via text and Shawn Michaels had to go through John Laurinaitis to schedule an appointment in the middle of a wrestling ring to talk to his best friend, who you’d assume he could’ve just called).
If you were Cena, how would you react? I’m guessing you’d contact security or the authorities and use those guys who keep people from jumping the rails to redirect their energies into keeping your friend from being MURDERED WITH FIRE, or, worst case scenario, you’d wheel his ass out the back door and put him in a cab. And sure, Kane would probably be driving that cab, but that would be out of your hands.
Cena reacts to the situation by going “yeah okay I know you want to see Eve”, then telling Ryder to stay put, because the John Cena locker room with the big JOHN CENA logo on the door is probably the last place the supernatural rapist who wants to hurt John Cena will look. And then he just f**king leaves to “get Eve” and spends an HOUR doing it, including several minutes of fraternization with Josh Mathews. Dude, can’t you talk to Josh when your friend ISN’T GOING TO BE PUT IN TRACTION BY THE TELEPORTING DEMON MAN.
And then other stuff happens, but we’ll get to that. An absolute f**king riot.
Best: What The Iron Sheik Thinks About Zack Ryder
So uh, Minnie Mouse I guess?
Worst: Way To Disprove That Whole “Afterthought” Thing, Kofi
This isn’t a harsh best, as I liked the actual Kingston vs. Jericho match enough and appreciated Kofi showing some fire for the first time in … God, like two years? I didn’t enjoy Kofi being addressed as an afterthought in the Raw debate and shoved out of the way, only for him to 1) sneak attack Jericho and 2) lose to Jericho when they were face to face. Jericho’s right about being up here (/gesture) while Kofi is down here (/gesture), but you don’t have to tell us AND illustrate it.
I can’t believe I’m saying it, but I almost would’ve preferred the WAIT A MINUTE THAT’S CM PUNK’S MUSIC LOOK KOFI’S ROLLED UP JERICHO things. It wouldn’t have made Kingston look any better, but it could’ve provided a nice “maybe he’ll win by accident” talking point.
Worst: Daniel Bryan Is Missing The Little Things
Heel Daniel Bryan is the greatest, don’t get me wrong, but if he’s going to play the Ethical Vegan card, he needs to pay attention to the details. Driving a Prius, going on nature walks instead of watching the Super Bowl and having a girlfriend of indeterminate ethnic origin are great starts, but what about the announce chairs? John Laurinaitis mentioned a few weeks ago that they were top quality, so you have to assume they’re leather. Why’s he sitting in them like it’s nothing? Are his boots vegan?
Furthermore, what about the championship belt itself? That strap is made out of leather. Maybe he should get his own custom belt made out of pleather (or even better, hemp) and spend half of Smackdown pointing it out so people will have to notice it.
Best: Two-Faced Michael Cole
A lot of people seemed to be missing this point on Twitter during the show, but Michael Cole is doing an awesome job of putting Daniel Bryan over and hating his guts at the same time. When Bryan is within arm-breaking distance, Cole sings his praises. Says he has a great smile and has proven himself time-in and time-out. When Bryan is in the ring or about to leave, Cole switches right back into HE’S A COWARD AND A NERD mode, sometimes mid-sentence. Watch him try to strong-arm A.J. on Smackdown and leave in a HEARTBEAT when Bryan shows up. It’s great, purposeful work.
I don’t know how to explain it more succinctly, but it’s a deeper kind of shallow dipsh*t than they usually go for, and I appreciate it.
Best: Extra Vintage Randy Orton
Come on, Cole saying “EXTRA vintage” when Orton broke out that amazing rope-assisted DDT on The Big Show is the SUPER NO VACANCY of North American wrestling. It’s dumb, but if you’re gonna make this all look and feel like a video game anyway you might as well add sound effects and echoing announcer voices going GREAT JOB or whatever when you hit your finisher.
Worst: Sorry You Made A Mistake, Randy
One of the greatest things about Randy Orton is that his “intermediate explosive disorder” isn’t part of his character, it’s an actual thing he has. Watch any time he (or someone he’s wrestling) messes up a move. He either starts flipping out and yelling STUPID, YOU’RE STUPID like a baby or he collapses into world-crushing disappointment like he did last night.
So, Big Show went down too early. So what? The announcers could’ve sold it as Show being too woozy to stand up or “trying to avoid” it instead of yelling RKO! RKO! like it was awesome. Now we’re guaranteed a Botchamania 201 moment where Orton’s covering his face while the Chubby Cherub music plays.
Best: Jennifer Hudson’s Whitney Houston Tribute At The Grammy Awards
This was great, right? But you know what was even better? The fact that Jennifer Hudson being at the Grammys means David Otunga is at the Grammys. And you know what’s even better than that?
Best: David Otunga’s Travel Thermos At The Grammy Awards
I don’t think I can best this enough. I wish they were my parents. I’d be born with a great voice and fastidiousness. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:
Worst: Anyway, Stop Having Fun And Let’s Talk About THIS BUSINESS
I have to give this a worst before I get into it, because at no point do I want two guys from the Attitude Era (who “grew up” in wrestling together according to the announcers, despite Michaels retiring what, four months into the original D-Generation X? What, did Triple H grow up with Rick Rude, too?) spending 20 minutes repeatedly reiterating how much better things were back then, and how wrestlers today are just broomstick pussies who don’t “leave it all in the ring”, as if that’s their choice and not a mandate from a publicly traded company.
I also didn’t like Undertaker being referred to as a “brand”, because he’s more or less the only wrestler left who exists outside of WWE’s “this part is fake but THIS PART IS REAL” nonsense and just possesses and embalms people. If he’s the last of a dying breed of anything it’s kayfabe, and you’re kinda f**king that up for him here by calling him a marketable character.
Best: LOOK INTO MY EYES AND TELL ME ABOUT THIS BUSINESS
Regardless of the problems I had with the content, Shawn Michaels is better at WWE’s interpretation of drama than anyone in the f**king Earth and dragged the best promo in ten years out of Triple H.
Like always, it took them 25 minutes to say what they could’ve in 10, but I liked it. I like the idea that Triple H is scared to death of being the first guy to go up against the Undertaker three times at Wrestlemania and fail and has convinced himself, probably over the course of the entire year, that his excuses are real. That’s cool. I like that Michaels managed to call him a sellout who does Stephanie McMahon’s busy work without resorting to Punks Balls In Purse insults, and I like that Michaels, the guy who spends his free time dropping Showstopper elbows on cave bears at the Crossed Eyes Ranch, can be H’s friend and still have a legit beef with how he’s living his life.
Sometimes WWE gets the melodrama right. The Road To Wrestlemania could benefit more from explaining who these people are and why they’re doing what they’re doing, inside and out, than it could from one-or-more Elimination Chamber match. This is the stuff we’ll remember when we talk about it next year.
Worst: The Undertaker Is 17 Years Old And Totally Pissed
The Undertaker reacts to rejection by scrapbooking and rebelliously cutting his hair. If he locked his door and turned the Corporate Ministry theme up too loud he’d be every 17 year old girl I’ve ever known.
I am prepared to best this so f**king hard if he shows up as Booger Red next week. BOOGER RED OR WE RIOT.
Whoops: I Forgot This Match Existed
R-Truth vs. Dolph Ziggler wasn’t bad (and I loved the sit-ups into a small package finish), but I completely forgot about it when I wrote this report and had to find somewhere to tack it on when I was done. That’s not a good sign.
A lot of (pyro and) ballyhoo is made of “50/50 Booking”, wherein people who are feuding trade wins and losses and nobody really gets better or worse and everyone is the same when they’re done. Many critics say it’s a terrible idea and that nothing comes of it.
just uh, throwin’ that out there
Worst: Can You Believe How BAD our BREATH Is
I thought D-X in Little People’s Court was the low point of WWE comedy, but people seem to remember that fondly. Santino showing up to offer garlic flavored breath mints to Zack Ryder after penetrating John Cena’s Friend Protector Force Field that Kane could not simply wander through may be the new low point, as signaled by Santino going GARLICS~ like he’s a f**king Disney Channel character and the crowd going ehhhhhhh and the production team going ABORT ABORT and cutting to commercial.
Once again I have to ask: WWE writing team, can’t one of you take your balls out of your wife’s purse (speaking your language here) and tell Vince McMahon that people having bad breath is not outrageously funny, and have the decency to introduce him to a newer form of comedy, such as Vaudeville and/or slipping on a f**king banana peel?
At least give me a segment where everybody lines up against a wall and Vince gets up in their face to inspect their breath, promising that an unpleasant odor might “cross the boss” and result in termination. So all day nobody eats and John Cena’s in the background somewhere pounding Life Savers. Get creative with it. Have Paul London smiling too much because he’s been snorting mouthwash all day. Announce that Binaca is part of the wellness policy. I don’t know, something that works harder than “our breath is so bad you would not believe how bad our breath is”.
Best In Show: Beth Phoenix Channeling Ox Baker
One of my favorite memories of pre-Crisis Pro Wrestling Illustrated (and my current favorite part of Dave Shoemaker’s awesome CLUBBERIN’ Tumblr) is pre-Rock n’ Wrestling fashion, when not everybody had merch to sell and sometimes it was okay to show up in a t-shirt with an iron-on message across the front. I BROKE WAHOO’S LEG is a classic. So is Ox Baker‘s YOU WILL HATE ME.
Beth Phoenix dared to bring that back last night with her iron-on DING GLAMSLAM DING shirt, and it made me happy in basically every way a wrestling shirt can, including concept, execution and great boobs. Beth is wise to establish herself as more of a Blood Circus type and less “the farting one’s friend”.
Does it bother anyone else that they keep bragging about Beth’s dominance when she spent the entirety of last year losing to Kelly Kelly?
Best: Tamina’s Name Change
Tamina is now “Tamina Snuka”, which is great because it
1. Gives her instant credibility
2. Helps destroy that weird WWE idea that women can’t have last names
3. Allows WWE that rare opportunity to embrace their history without having to think too hard about it
4. Sets up that great moment when Beth bashes her in the face with a coconut, which is going to happen, don’t kid yourself, that’s the entire reason Tamina is suddenly a Snuka again
It is not especially great because
Worst: Tamina F**king Blows At The Superfly Splash
There, I said it. I should’ve said it last week.
I’m not sure what the problem is. It could be that she doesn’t weigh enough to make the splash convincing. Eve’s moonsault has the same problem. How does it hurt that you’re gently lying your body across mine? The most effective top rope attacks in Joshi have always been strike based or performed by heavier performers. It could be that she has Chavo Guerrero Frog Splash-itis and has to do the move because of her name but can’t commit to it when she jumps. Maybe John Cena’s Ghostbuster Dog-jumping ass taught her how to leap, I don’t know.
Whatever it is, it doesn’t look good, and I’m going to pretend the Samoan drop is your actual finisher. Sorta like how Scotty 2 Hotty’s Worm was harmless, but his one-handed bulldog near the ropes would Critical your ass nine times out of ten.
Fine, I Guess: I’M THE MIZ, AND I’M probably not going to live down that R-Truth bump, am I
Much like the Dolph Ziggler/R-Truth match, last night’s wrestling seemed fine-at-best and inconsequential-at-worst. Everyone seemed like they were wrestling these matches because the Elimination Chamber is coming up and that’s what happens. I’m not asking for a Beat The Clock challenge or anything, but giving these guys something nominal to fight over (pod numbers, choice of weapons, SOMETHING) would’ve really helped the gravity of the one-on-one deals.
Miz was fine here and didn’t hurt anybody for real, so good for him. Hopefully he taps out to Anacondas Vice a few more times as punishment or Kangaroo Bail or whatever it is wrestlers do with justice and we can move forward with our lives. Also, I’m glad more people are noticing Punk’s thing where he gets a debilitating injury where he’s like, clutching a gimp arm to his side for 20 minutes and then when he wins it’s fine and is never mentioned again. That’s 2012’s “Mr. Perfect is holding the ropes because somebody’s gonna kick his legs out from under him”.