– Comments, shares, likes, and especially Reddit submissions/up votes are appreciated.
– Deepest apologies for the delay on this report. The short version of the story is this: I spent the beginning of the week in New Orleans. The intention was to go to Elimination Chamber on Sunday, a Hornets game on Tuesday and come back in a rental car on Wednesday night. What that turned into was “go to Elimination Chamber on Sunday, go to the impromptu WrestleMania XXX press conference on Monday, go to class on Monday night, watch Raw in the middle of the night, go to a Hornets game on Tuesday, then ride the MegaBus back at the butt crack of dawn.” Their advertised WiFi works for 30 seconds, goes out for 2 hours, comes back on for 30 seconds. It made updating impossible, and I’m sorry this wasn’t more timely. I’ll make it up to you with retro Mania posts in March. Deal?
– If you’re interested in hearing my thoughts on the Chamber, you can check out my podcast about it here. Be nice. If you want to hear part 2 about the WrestleMania XXX presser, you can listen to that here.
So, enough delay. Please click through to enjoy the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for February 18, 2013.
Best: Calm-Ass John Cena, Makin’ His Point, Even If He’s Wrong
John Cena is wrong. Totally wrong. Him pulling the “for once it’s not about CM Punk” card is ridiculous, considering that he’s been the dynastic face of the company for the last decade, not to mention the fact that his Personal Interest matches always took precedent over CM Punk’s title defenses. Punk’s been champion for 400 days! Should he go on last, in the showcase match of the pay-per-view? NO, JOHN CENA’S HAVING TROUBLE WITH HIS GIRLFRIEND LET’S GIVE THEM 40 MINUTES.
In fact, Punk is wrong, too. It’s just as ridiculous for him to claim that John Cena “can’t win the big one” because he lost one match to the Rock at WrestleMania following, I don’t know, 600,000 consecutive risings-against-odds on every Raw, Smackdown and pay-per-view since 2006.
That all said, I’m giving Raw’s opening segment based solely on the fact that when Punk made his rebuttal, Cena responded to it like a regular human being instead of whipping out the SASSY PREACHER VOICE RIGHT HERE TA-NIGHTT thing he loves so much. He just frankly told Punk what was up, and I liked it. One big Worst, though:
Worst: The Logistics Of Giving Other People A Shot At Your Royal Rumble Title Shot
This has always bugged me. The Royal Rumble is, according to WWE lore, the hardest pro wrestling match to win. Only a handful have done it, and the winners always go on to WrestleMania to compete in
the a high-profile main-event. It’s more than a title shot, it’s a title shot in front of the biggest crowd on the biggest show on the biggest night in your industry. A Best Picture acceptance speech.
One thing that bothers me about John Cena is that he forces every other character on the show to avoid mentioning the loop hole that whenever he’s the champion, they could just waltz up and get a title shot whenever they wanted. John Cena values a match RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW COME GET SOME over f**king everything. If he’s the champion, this is good for everyone else. Punk should want Cena to be the champion when he’s not, because he can just ask for a shot right there, and Cena will give it to him. Justin Gabriel could interrupt a Cena speech, ask for a title shot, call John a coward or something and get it. That’s it. That’s the entire process. Doesn’t have to be cleared with anybody, doesn’t have to be run through the board of directors. John demands it, and it is so.
In fact, it’s BETTER to do that than to get a Rumble title shot. With that, you’ve got the pressure of performing at WrestleMania. A guy like Tensai has proven he can beat Cena on Raw. He might not be able to beat him at a big show under the big house lights, but he can get the duke on the show. So if I’m Tensai, wouldn’t I do my best to piss off Cena on the regular and get whatever he’s earned?
Here we’ve got Cena with a Royal Rumble title shot, willing to put it on the line against a dude who he hasn’t beaten in any nominal way since Spring 2011 because … because why? Because he loves to fight? He loves wrestling matches? This is your job, John. If you care about the WWE Championship so much, you should value and respect the opportunities that’re given, and not just offer them to somebody because they looked at you weird.
Also, Derrick Bateman, if you’re reading this, challenge John Cena to a Hell In A Cell match at Extreme Rules immediately. He’ll accept it. I know he will.
Best: Chris Jericho Name-Dropping The Nexus
This isn’t really special, but I’m including it because there are certain things you can namedrop and always get Brandon’s love. The short list includes
– SNES/PS1 Final Fantasy games
– THE NEXUS
– Thora Birch’s filmography
And until Sheamus and Ryback have a backstage discussion about Ghost World, I will take Chris Jericho saying “I’ve seen this before with the nWo and the Nexus” and love it. I’m serious, guys, reuniting the Nexus now with proven IC Champ Barrett, wacky Daniel Bryan, Ryback and the others (who all have characters for real now) would be your best-ever idea.
Best: Sin Cara Couldn’t Beat Mark Henry If He Had A Spear And Ten Other Dudes Helping Him
Things I loved about this:
1. MARK HENRY
2. How much of a dumb idiot Sin Cara was for taking this match. I value cruiserweight wrestling and think that shit Nitro used to pull where they’d cart Scott Steiner out to beat up three young talented smaller guys was the worst, but there is no universe wherein Sin Cara should be able to hit Mark Henry with ANYTHING and hurt him. Sin Cara could get into a car and drive it into Mark and I wouldn’t accept a sell greater than backing up and shaking his head.
3. indiscriminate Mark Henry yelling
4. THE GREAT KHALI being the “savior,” and Mark selling that in the only way you can: by rolling out of the ring, wanking at Khali dismissively and mocking his dancing.
5. MARK HENRY DANCING
I said it last week, but Mark Henry’s return to Raw makes Raw a thousand times better. Everything he does puts a smile on my face, even if the main-event spots are limited and those things include “making fun of the guy who can’t bend his legs’ dance moves.”
Worst: Fandango Is Reaching Glacier Territory
what are you doing
what what what are you doing
I’m worried that Fandango stopped being “Johnny Curtis doing an awesome sleazy ballroom dancer gimmick” like a month ago and they’ve decided to go the Glacier route of making fun of him when he debuts after a billion years, or maybe even the Dustin Rhodes “Seven” thing where he debuts, realizes its stupid and decries it. Also known as the Beaver Cleavage Thing. I just want Johnny Curtis on my television.
Johnny Curtis, if you’re reading this because Bateman forwarded it to you, challenge John Cena to a WWE Championship inferno match at Over The Limit or whatever. Trust me, he’ll take you up on it.
Best/Worst: The Cesaro/Miz Match Was Fun, But I Am Not Buying Miz’s Figure-Four As A Critical
I liked most of this match. Cesaro is pretty bulletproof as far as match quality goes these days, and I liked that if Miz had to win, he did so via a series of lucky moves and a flash-pin version of his submission. Things just worked out for him, and he got the champ to tap. I also like to think that Cesaro only tapped because the belt was on the line, and because the match was meaningless.
What I didn’t like is that Miz still doesn’t know how to do the figure-four. Sure, it LOOKS right now, but he did it to the wrong leg. The pressure of the figure-four is applied to the straight leg, not the bent one. All the bent one is doing is sitting there bent like a leg bends. Cesaro kneed the chair in the ropes with his left leg, and Miz applied the hold on the right. WATCH TAPES, MIZ.
Best: Del Rio vs. Ziggler Is Perfect, Or
Worst: This Should Be A Bigger Deal
Heel Dolph Ziggler with his Team Rocket posse against babyface Alberto Del Rio with Best Friend Ricardo Rodriguez is the most perfect combination of factors, and I more or less want to live in their matches for the entirety of a Raw. Their thing on Main Event was fantastic, and good things that happen on B-shows get the homogenized A-show treatment (to “create moments” or whatever), but the rematch managed to not lose a lot.
My only problem with the pairing is that when you discover how well they work together on Main Event, you’ve got to savor that “nobody watched this” vibe and utilize it in a more important moment than “making Del Rio look good en route to his thing with Jack Swagger.” Del Rio/Ziggler and Friends could be money, one of those things where everyone loves it because everyone involved is great. Del Rio is on fire as a babyface! Ricardo is adorable! AJ is gorgeous and her character has stopped careening down into unbearable madness! Ziggler can make Del Rio’s already pretty-good offense look exceptional! Big E Langston is secretly the best thing on the show! All we need is a high profile backdrop, and maybe for that ONE MORE TIME chant to catch on beyond NXT.
You’re welcome for that at Elimination Chamber, Big E.
Best: Randy Orton Loves Barney The Dinosaur
I’m ready for the Team Hell No angle to formally explode so we can remember it fondly and get Daniel Bryan back into the swing of being an Actual Pro Wrestler. I didn’t love the bickering backstage stuff because we’ve seen it all before, but what I DID love is Randy Orton choosing Barney the Dinosaur as the harmless thing Kane has turned into. He could’ve called him a Boobah or whatever, but he chose Barney because RANDY ORTON LOVES BARNEY.
If you weren’t aware, this is a shoot:
That’s the kind of character continuity and development I love, like when Kane chose a big plate of spaghetti and meatballs when he and Bryan went out to eat for therapy. Orton as a cold-blooded, snakeman killer who closely follows the careers of Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato because he remembers them from when they were 8. Yes, please.
Worst: This Wade Barrett Segment Might Actually Be The Worst One They’ve Ever Done
There isn’t a clip of this on WWE Fan Nation, and for good reason. There are a lot of bad Raw segments — Rock singing parody Queen lyrics from the TitanTron screen, Trish Stratus being made to strip and crawl around on all fours and bark like a dog, any edition of Miz TV — but Wade Barrett’s introduction of his movie trailer may be the worst, based on how impossibly weird and pointless it was.
If you missed it, here’s what happened: Wade Barrett has a small role in Dead Man Down, a Colin Farrell/Noomi Rapace revenge-and-guns thing. Sorta like when Christian was “guy in the background #2” in Shoot ‘Em Up. Anyway, Wade intros his trailer, we watch it, and he’s in it for like half of one shot. He gets interrupted by Sheamus FROM BACKSTAGE, because he wanted to bother Wade, but didn’t have the energy to actually wander out and do it for real. Sheamus says the movie looks good. Wade Barrett, unmic’d, starts screaming about how Sheamus ruined his “special moment.” Sheamus announces that we’re out of time (??) and without actually leaving the ring to film something important (like an interview or a match or an announcement or whatever) the camera just pans to the right so Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole can show you those stupid WWE toys that play with themselves. AND THAT’S THE SEGMENT.
What the f**k was that? If you’re gonna start a Sheamus/Barrett feud, at least make Sheamus get off his ass and interrupt the special moment. If you aren’t, just have Michael Cole be all HEY WADE BARRETT’S IN THIS THING WITH SOME FAMOUS PEOPLE, WATCH IT and show the trailer. Who let this first draft shit get on Raw? Jesus.
Special note: Barrett’s character in the movie is named “Kilroy.” Here’s to hoping his next band tattoo is this album cover.
Worst: Fat Guy Colon Cleansing
Actually, a supplemental Best goes to Naomi for being really good at what she does. She could/should be the next Lita — the Diva who can jump and land convincingly without having to go to the hospital with a boobal spine fracture. She’s also got one of the best hurricanranas in wrestling, based solely on the fact that she closes her legs when she flips the guy over, you know, like you’re supposed to. Sin Cara, I’m looking directly at your bowlegged shit.
But yeah, WWE’s tag team division as an actual, functioning tag division is dead, and we’re back to that “this is the team that wins a lot this month” thing. No actual competition, just a line of losers and one team chosen to win as quickly as possible en route to their tag title run. Daniel Bryan and Kane are too busy having friendship problems to defend their belts, Cody Rhodes started getting too over (or whatever goony dirtsheet sounding thing happened), and here are two fat guys who are splashin’ and dancin’ for the enjoyment of the children. All right.
Worst: Thank Goodness This Column Is Late So I Didn’t Have To Write A Big Thing About How Good Jack Swagger’s Been
Jack Swagger has been great. I wrote about it extensively last week and got quoted in The Atlantic Wire, so if you’re interested in how WWE heel dynamics work and/or want to read the guy who got the phrase “fat hooker” onto The Atlantic, check it out.
Two things ruined Swagger’s boss Raw appearance this week:
1. Michael Cole (and WWE) changing the Patriot Act to the “Patriot Lock” to help nerf the angry reaction to Swagger as a Tea Party-style character, because they’re brave enough to send out press statements about how fictional characters are fictional, but not actually brave enough to stick to their guns about shit like this. If #2 hadn’t happened, Zeb would already be writing an “I don’t hate MINORITIES, I just hate YOU, the WWE Universe!” thing for next week.
However, #2 happened.
2. If you haven’t heard — and if we’re going by my Facebook wall and Twitter feed, you’ve heard — Jack Swagger got arrested in Mississippi after this week’s Smackdown tapings for DUI, speeding and possession of marijuana. The guy is off TV for months, comes back to the biggest instapush they’ve given anybody in a long, long time, gets a WrestleMania main-event match and then thinks “I’m drunk. Sure, I’ll drive this car full of marijuana as fast as possible!”
He Rob Van Dam’d himself. I don’t know if they’ll take any action or if they’ll pretend like nothing happened and shit-can him when WrestleMania is over or what, but it’s super disappointing any way you look at it. Don’t drink and drive, you stupid f**king idiots. Don’t do it ever. You are a stupid f**king idiot. And if you’re going to smoke up between shows, get one of the lower totem pole jerks to hang onto it for you until you get to your hotel.
Michael McGillicutty, if you’re reading this because Derrick Bateman or Johnny Curtis forwarded it to you, hold Jack Swagger’s pot for him. Also, challenge John Cena to a “Michael McGillicutty’s friends lumberjack match” as soon as he wins the title.
Worst: Brad Maddox Investigates
If I’m making a list of the worst things WWE does with their “everybody talks too much” segments, “further convoluting the authority hierarchy” and “using jokes from 10 years ago and pretending like nobody’s ever heard them before” are numbers 1 and 2 with a bullet.
Okay, so I like everyone involved in the segment. I like Vickie, I like Heyman. I like Brad Maddox, too, especially when he’s rocking his Bane impression, and I think he’d work well as a guy who sticks around and always ends up thorning Paul Heyman in the side for his past evils. But firstly, Vickie Guerrero’s position has been clearly identified as a temporary thing. “Managing Supervisor” was bad enough, but now you’ve got the ASSISTANT TO THE MANAGING SUPERVISOR? Argh, I already made these commenting badges. Why does she need an assistant at all? Isn’t her job to shop at Dress Barn and decide which people she hates for three hours a week?
Secondly, the Assistant Managing Supervisor/Assistant TO the Managing Supervisor isn’t just an old joke from ‘The Office,’ it’s the FIRST EVER JOKE from ‘The Office.’ The only way you can salvage trying to pass that off as your own joke is if Dean Ambrose puts Maddox’s bottle of hair gel in some Jell-O next week and makes derpface at the camera. And then wrestling happens, maybe?
Yo, WWE, I know you don’t like to listen to me, but this is why you need people who don’t already write television to write your television.
Worst: Awesome, A Vince McMahon/Paul Heyman Match In 2013
I like to think Vince McMahon is so bored and desperate for competition that he writes Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff every few years and is like “hey, I’ll pay you hundreds of thousands of dollars for 11 months if you spend month 12 letting me figuratively put my dick in your mouth.” And they put it off for a while because ugh, who wants Vince McMahon’s dick in their mouth, but then they think about it, and they aren’t really doing a lot either, and eventually here they are, spending 11 months doing quality work before month 12 arrives and they’re in Raw matches against a 67-year old man who won’t stop pretending he’s Tommy Dreamer.
Of course, this is all a pretty clear lead-in for Brock Lesnar to re-arrive and attack Vince, only to get bailed out by the I LOVE YOU POP EXPRESS. And as cool as Brock is, Inappropriate Buzzcut Theater is not something I’m emotionally prepared to deal with yet.
Best: I Cannot Believe How Awesome The Shield Still Is
I’m not afraid to admit when I’m a bad wrestling fan, or admit when WWE is doing something right in spite of my constant, completely-unwarranted worries.
I’ve been waiting for the other foot to drop on The Shield since they debuted. I talked about the Nexus a little bit earlier, and they’re a great example of WWE coming up with a baller concept, then immediately and purposefully shooting themselves in the foot to keep it from working. Nexus got into that SummerSlam elimination tag against Team WWE and lost, and they were never the same. The Shield showed up and kicked the ass out of everybody, and it all built to the TLC match at TLC against Team Hell No and Ryback. I thought, “okay, here’s where they get crushed and just become loser NXT guys.” It didn’t happen. They won, and in the process had (arguably) the WWE match of the year.
It happened again at Elimination Chamber. They got put into a match against the Superfriends, and I thought “okay, they’re going to take finishers in triplicate, get humiliated by somebody on Raw, and just become Primo and Epico and Rosa Mendes in Bossman vests.” It didn’t happen. They won, and they looked strong. Even on Raw I thought “okay, NOW is when they lose.” And they didn’t. They won. Not only did they win, but they won fairly, cleanly, and they did it by being the better team. No handful of tights, no secret feet on the ropes … they just worked together, were hungrier than the boring top shelf WWE guys and pulled off the victory.
Going forward, my plan is to continue thinking The Shield is about to lose and become nobodies in the hopes that I will be super wrong forever. You are the best, The Shield.
Best: Damien Sandow Beating The Dog Shit Out Of Kofi Kingston
Kofi Kingston has found a great role: jobber. I give him a lot of grief, but I’ve loved most of his recent matches. He had that match with the Big Show on Raw where he got KO’d about three seconds in and spent the next week tweeting about the show from home. That was great. He had his “anything you can do THIS GUY CAN DO” match at Elimination Chamber against Dolph Ziggler and lost, then spent the post-match getting Langston’d. Here he is showing up for a match against Damien Sandow, only to get attacked before the bell and beaten senseless.
That’s a Kofi Kingston I can get behind. I’d be all, OH AWESOME HERE’S KOFI KINGSTON, CAN’T WAIT TO SEE HOW BEATS THE MESS OUT OF HIM. Kinda like I do now with Heath Slater, but without ever wanting it to get better. My only real beef with this match is Charles Robinson. Sandow doesn’t hit Kofi with the microphone, he just jumps him before the match. They stay in the ring for another minute, and instead of doing what a normal referee would do (ringing the bell), he stands there going SANDOW. NO. COME ON. SANDOW. Just ring the goddamn bell, Charles.
Oh, okay, two beefs:
Worst: What Is R-Truth Trying To Accomplish, Exactly
How hilarious is it that Kofi Kingston needed his old tag team partner to rush out and save him from the brutal beating he was receiving in what was more or less an official, normal wrestling match? He was just getting shitkicked so hard Truth mistook it for a “heinous assault” and copped the run-in.
I’m not totally sure why Truth even ran down. I guess Sandow was being merciless or whatever, but if Sheamus was doing that to Sandow, Lil’ Naich would’ve rang the bell and Cole would be yammering on about Sheamus’ “rough and tumble” whatever. His mean streak. Something to justify a pro wrestler aggressively pro wrestling his opponent. It didn’t seem bad. It just seemed like a guy getting his ass beaten. Sorry you aren’t better at wrestling, Kofi Kingston, here’s a dancing guy to help you.