Pre-show notes, written to one guitar ditty over several hours:
– Don’t be afraid to leave a comment on this report. We’ve build a great community of intelligent, funny wrestling fans and you should be a part of it, because seriously, you aren’t gonna find it anywhere else.
– Big thanks again to Casey/THESTINGER for helping me out with gifs and pictures. Be sure to visit his gifs Tumblr for the stuff I didn’t use. We should just start a Tumblr of “kids at wrestling shows” gifs.
– Pardon my lateness and my weird updating, I’m covering SXSW for UPROXX. If you’re in Austin this week, give me a shout.
– If you’re going to be at Wrestlemania this year (or in Miami for Wrestlemania weekend, at least), make sure you let me know so we can find each other and say hi. Section 138, if you’re wondering. Also probably ROH on Saturday afternoon, and Axxess that night. Mark photo with Brodus Clay pending.
Please to enjoy the Best and Worst Of WWE Raw for March 6, 2012.
Best: A Doctorate In Thuganomic Studies
A few inarguable truths about Doctor Of Thuganomics John Cena:
1. He looks stupid, and this is where he got the jorts in the first place.
2. He’s not particularly good at rapping.
3. He can be clever, but he does two terrible things: inserting a bunch of curious wording at the end of the first line to make you figure out what he’s gonna rhyme it with before he’s done with the second (example: “I bumped into the counter and knocked my SNACK OFF…”), and falling back too regularly on “my nuts” or “you’re gay/you masturbate” as a punchline. Seriously, dude mentions jacking off more than Childish Gambino mentions Asians.
However, the John Cena Character Success chart still plays out like this:
Robot John Cena > Rapping John Cena > Sarcastic Douchebag Post-Troops John Cena > Troops John Cena > Rookie With Ruthless Aggression and Underwear To Match Your Local Sports Team John Cena
So unless Rock’s planning to tear off a section of Cena’s face to reveal a hideous cybernetic eye, this is as good as it gets. I like how unforgivably uncool Cena allows himself to be in this character, and if all he’s gonna say is “Rock likes balls in his face” I appreciate the small amount of effort that went into constructing a rhyme scheme.
And hey, Cena’s got something over the Rock this week — he went over the same tired material (he should really move on from the wrist jokes, as appropriate as they are, because we get it) but at least built on what happened last week, mentioning the crowd’s kinda-sorta turn on Rock with the “Tooth Fairy” chant and outing Rock for having a boob job. People thought I was joking when I mentioned that in the 3/5 column. Trust me, folks, I’m not Tim and Eric enough to type “Rock had a boob job” and not mean it.
Worst: WWE’s Idea Of “Rap”
Part of what makes rap enjoyable is what we in the business (the wrestling blogging business) call “flow”, “the rhythms and rhymes” of a hip-hop song’s lyrics and how they interact. The problem with rapping for a wrestling crowd is that if you have any flow whatsoever, the crowd isn’t going to be able to follow and understand you. Why do you think wrestlers take such long pauses between sentence fragments? When they say “LAST WEEK” and pause, they’re waiting for you to say “what” and process “what he’s about to say happened last week”.
Anyway, WWE’s idea of rap is to write out a rhyming poem and read it like you’re giving a book report. If Cena’s rapping isn’t enough to prove this, check out every “rap contest” or whatever they’ve ever had. Vince gets a lot of sh*t for not seeing movies or TV shows until 10 years after they’re irrelevant, but the guy’s hip-hop awareness stopped somewhere around Rappin’ Rodney.
Remember when Kanye West was on ‘Def Poetry’ and thought “poem” meant “a song with no music” and gave his personal f**king poem a sung chorus? It’s like that, but in reverse. Also, if the Rock got 20 minutes to play one chord, Cena should’ve prepared a wrestling version of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy in its entirety as a response. It practically writes itself. “I’ll call you hoeski for short/as a last resort and my first resort.”
Extra points if he refers to CM Punk as a “Chi-town nigga with a Nas flow”.
Best: Mark Price
F**k John Stockton.
Best: Better Call Black Saul
“If you’ve got a Twitter account, you’ve got an attorney!”
If I join WWE Creative in the next … let’s say, six weeks (hey, it could happen), my first pitch is going to be a follow-up on this graphic that goes deeper than whatever hashtaggery they’ve got planned. I want full-on ‘Fairly Legal’ style stories where Otunga valiantly fights for the rights of WWE Superstars and occasionally gets dragged out into the desert and held at gunpoint by the Undertaker and Evan Bourne in ski masks.
Also, an entire 90 minutes of Raw devoted to Otunga pulling a Henry Fonda and convincing a jury that maybe Big Bossman pulled up the briefcase, sure, but supposing he didn’t?
Best: Vickie Getting Heat On Daylight Savings Time
Aside from the David Otunga: Single Argyle Lawyer and the return of a particular funky space dinosaur, my favorite part of the show had to be Vickie Guerrero being booed for saying she hates daylight savings time. She said that she wanted to make daylight savings time illegal, and then goes EXCUSE ME and everyone NWO Hollywoods her with their voices.
How awesome is that? Not only for being the 10,000th verification that WWE audiences are booing you for who they’ve been told you are, not for what you do or say, but for the ridiculousness of the statement and the idea that anyone in the world would hate you for saying it. Like there’s some guy in the crowd going HEY, SHE DOESN’T WANT US TO MAKE BETTER USE OF DAYLIGHT. Vickie should come out every week with increasingly reasonable suggestions and see how long she gets booed, like
Vickie: “I think same sex couples should be afforded the same basic human rights as anyone else EXCUSE ME”
Crowd: “OH GOD BOOOO, BOOOOO”
until she’s exhausted every social idea and is just saying sh*t like “milk does a body good” to boos. They’ve already booed “don’t do drugs”, “woman politely refusing beer” and “healthy lifestyle choices”, so why not?
Best: This Kid
Hey kid, I know you’re trying to do the Sheamus taunt, but that’s how we used to make fun of retarded people.
Best: The “Explain GTV” Sign
I like fan signs that demand a response. I wish I was sitting across from him with a blank posterboard so I could write “THE G WAS SUPPOSED TO STAND FOR GOLDUST, BUT THEY HAD SOME PROBLEMS BRINGING HIM BACK AND I THINK THEY WANTED IT TO BE TOM GREEN, I DON’T KNOW, NOTHING FROM THAT ERA IS REALLY IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER” in block letters and hold it up.
Best I Guess: The Match Wasn’t Great, But I Like You Both, So Whatever
Sheamus and Dolph Ziggler are perfect opponents. Ziggler makes everything Sheamus does look like it’s been delivered for maximum damage, and Sheamus’s strikes and natural strength sorta reign in Ziggler’s wacky selling and make it look legitimate. If a guy the size of Sheamus kicks me in the face as hard as he can, I’m probably going to flip backwards headfirst at 100 miles-per-hour and spin like a top before collapsing, so it makes sense.
Unfortunately … I don’t know. I think it has something to do with the Raw style of matches rather than the people performing them, but I didn’t enjoy a lot of the wrestling on the night. I didn’t see anything particularly wrong with it, although I’m gonna use my Spidey-sense to assume that when Sheamus stood up out of the crucifix with Ziggler on his back he was trying to flip him up into a Schwein, but he’s not Goldberg so it didn’t work and they had to improvise a dumb, sudden thing where Sheamus runs shoulder-first into the ring post and just casually turns around and kicks Zig Zag Man to death for the win. “Flat” is one of the worst things people on the Internet say about wrestling matches, but aside from closely observed selling and a comparison of skin tones I wasn’t really into this.
Worst: No Vegan Options At Quicken Loans Arena
That’s why he’s upset. It has nothing to do with invasive questioning or whether or not he was rude to AJ last week, Daniel Bryan’s pissed because the only things he can eat at the Quicken Loans Arena (assuming he doesn’t have a problem with processed sugar) are
1. cotton candy
3. a pretzel if it’s “Super Pretzel” brand without any butter on it, but you know it’s got butter on it, and if it doesn’t it’s been under a heat lamp since 1865
4. nachos with no cheese
and if you’re gonna eat Q nachos with no cheese you might as well squirt some yellow mustard on your souvenir soda cup and throat that down, because Christ, food doesn’t get much worse. WWE.com should’ve filmed an exclusive where he and AJ go to Melt after the show and they’re just laughing and high-fiving and talking about Batman.
After I’ve finished my Otunga fiction, I’m having the ‘Man Vs. Food’ guy guest host Raw just so Bryan can jump and LeBell Lock him for his crimes against better sense.
Best: Mil Mascaras
As I might’ve mentioned before, Dusty Rhodes is my Dad’s favorite wrestler of all time. When he was a kid, his favorite was Mil Mascaras … and indirectly I’m guessing the gene that mutated when my Dad saw Mil Mascaras take off his mask and have another, different mask on under it is what was transferred to me at conception and made me get into tape trading so I could see Tiger Mask matches when I was 13.
Mil Mascaras isn’t the greatest luchador of all time (he’s not as important as Santo or as good as Blue Demon … or Blue Panther, for that matter) but he’s certainly one of the coolest, at least when you’re little (he has SO MANY MASKS you guys), and he’s an awesome fit for the WWE Hall Of Fame. If you aren’t convinced — or are too swayed by Mick Foley’s writing — watch any old movie where luchadors fight robots (or vampires, or midgets, or whatever) and see Mil do that thing where he takes off a mask and puts on a different one in one little f**king wrist snap. Brodus Clay can’t smoothly take off breakaway pants with two hands and two assistants.
Best: Welcome Back, Mark Henry
Here’s the unofficial Mark Henry timeline:
Unimportant strong guy -> unimportant black militant -> unimportant pervert -> near unemployment -> unimportant friend to other, also unimportant black wrestler -> unimportant heavyweight champion -> unimportant general friend -> ???? -> UNSTOPPABLE MONSTER HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION WHO PINS RANDY ORTON CLEANLY LIKE A BOSS AND CHARGES YOU FOR AIR SO WHEN HE SENDS YOU THE BILL YOU MUST PAY IT QUICKLY -> injury -> ???? -> unimportant strong guy
… but his performance as David Otunga’s ridiculously powered-up surprise tag team partner (and announced anchor for Team Executive Vice President Of Talent Relations And Interim General Manager Of Raw John Laurinaitis at Wrestlemania) was a nice step away from “unimportant black militant” and a hopeful step back toward “awesome champion”. Mark Henry was built up SO WELL and SO CONSISTENTLY last year that no amount of injuries should curb that, and he should have instant cred when he shows up and World’s Strongestly Slams people.
He earns a supplemental Best for pulling off Santino’s cobra sleeve and throwing it into the crowd. He earns two supplemental Worsts for 1) switching back to a primary color singlet instead of remaining as dark as possible, and 2) landing on his knees about 15 feet away from Santino on that splash.
Worst: Six-On-Six At Wrestlemania
Multi-man matches can be great, but as Bragging Rights taught us, they aren’t unless they’re the main event angle. If Shawn Michaels has to fight against the odds to comeback and win for his team, that’s gonna be good. If it’s a “Great Khali wins battle royal” excuse to get a bunch of guys you didn’t bother to write into the show spots on the Wrestlemania card, it’s not. It’s not gonna be good. I don’t care if they put my 12 favorite wrestlers in the world in there. I don’t care if Vince McMahon goes on a Vision Quest and puts Brock Lesnar and ACH on Team Teddy Long, it’s going to blow.
There’s something to be said for going through the motions, but “important angle heading into Wrestlemania” isn’t the place to do it. Maybe if the match was made an elimination thing it’d be better, but even that would just fall into the tropes of middle relief (guys getting pinned with secondary moves nobody ever gets pinned with, two or three guys getting eliminated right in a row, “fighting to the back” for a double countout).
You should just have it be Santino and Long vs. Otunga and Laurinaitis, let Santino pop the crowd with his illustrated hand jive, feed Peanut Head into an Ace Crusher and call it a five star day.
Worst: The Bellas Have A Weird Idea Of What “Wrestling” Is
“Hopefully it’ll be a bunch of girls just getting nasty in the ring.”
That’s not Wrestlemania, ladies, that’s the Royal Rumble. And not the one you’re thinking of.
An extra Best goes out to Alicia Fox for this amazingly honest exchange:
Maria Menounos: “Are you training?”
Alicia: “No, I’m just wearing clothes.”
Best: The Funkasaurus Is In The House
I’d started to give up hope. When the music started and the disco ball graphic popped up on my screen I gasped, threw my arms up over my head and yelled “YES!” Planet Funk is back in orbit, fat guy crossbodies are in the seventh house and Jinder Mahal is aligned with Mars.
Worst: Do Do Do Do Do Do, Girl Talk
Part of the Road To Wrestlemania fun is working out the card in your head as you go along, and last night’s briefest imaginable inclusion of the Divas, it looks like our Divas Championship match is set — Beth Phoenix will defend her Divas Championship against Eve Torres, because “boys”.
Hopefully I’m wrong. Hopefully Kharma will still be well enough to show up next week, shoot Eve out of a cannon and into the brick facade of the pillow factory and we can do the Beth/Kong thing everyone wants. Unfortunately, Hoeski-gate happened, and now Beth becomes the default babyface. What’s the quickest way to turn a Diva face? Romance anglez. Or farting.
The motivations here would be interesting if they weren’t being outlined by gerbils. Beth has a history of wanting to be the cool popular girl. She sees what Eve’s doing and likes it, so she wants in, both to validate her own sexual attractiveness to “Superstars” (remember, she once dated Santino, so she can’t have good self-confidence) and to get in with Eve, who she’s been jealous of for like a year and a half. Eve plays along at first because she likes “ugly girl” attention, but balks when Beth tries to butt in on her racket. With the right amount of character depth written into Beth Phoenix over the next few weeks it could work. Sadly somebody replaced WWE Creative’s dry erase board with a trashbag full of whoopies cushion.
Best: Funk Is Once Again On A Roll
Bringing Brodus Clay back as the Funkasaurus was a good call. So was replacing his Mike Knox Memorial Crossbody Finish with a simple jumping splash. Assuming we keep his music, entrance and Funkettes consistent, all we need to do is get him into some longer matches and give all his moves dinosaur names and we’re good.
Best: Let’s Go To Mahal … Today!
Come on, Jessica. Come on, Tori. Let’s go to Mahal, you won’t be soar-ry.
To restate what a lot of you seem to be saying, Jinder Mahal had to have seen this when Ted DiBiase went down with an injury. Creative was forced to toss Jinder in with the rest of the Funksaurus chum, because “brown bad guy Ted DiBiase” was the only idea they had. Hopefully now he can get back to replacing Zack Ryder as the Pedro from ‘Excel Saga’ of Raw.
Worst: Shawn Michaels Doesn’t Understand Irony
You know a segment is bad when Triple H pointing to his dick once was the best part. I think everybody got the whole “Shawn Michaels has pre-existing beef with the Undertaker, is friends with Triple H” thing from the Shawn Michaels guest referee announcement, I don’t think we needed a 15 minute segment where they old man mumbled at each other, f**ked up the specifics and explained how “something once happened, and now a different thing is happening” is “irony”.
Seriously, Shawn Michaels said that him being the guest referee at Wrestlemania is ironic, because he once lost to the Undertaker and now he can make the Undertaker lose. That’s not ironic, Shawn, that’s being vindictive, or schadenfreude at best. Taker should’ve responded with “Remember when Kane helped you defeat me in Hell In A Cell? That was derivative!”
Worst: Undertaker Doesn’t Understand Calendars
This is my new favorite pro wrestling-related Yahoo Answers exchanged, replacing the old one, “how is babby roode formed”.
Best: Who Put Undertaker In Charge Of The Galactic Empire
At least it finally explains why he can shoot lightning. He and Kane are having a “who can be most Star Wars” contest, I guess. Wrestlemania’s just gonna be two hours of board of directors negotiations with a hologram of Taker taking control and R-Truth standing around all upset in the background.
Best: James Roday As
Jeremy Borash Howard Finkel
Alternate joke: He was the best Roday in WWE since Jesse James.
Anyway, I’m not a fan of ‘Psych’ by any means (my WWE original series watching is determined by how many of your lead actors are hot mom-ish ladies in their early 40s) and his announcing voice made me turn down my television, but James Roday did something I love to see on pro graps TV: he had fun. “Scheduled for exactly one fall” was also pretty funny, and now I want a match to be scheduled for 1.2 fall.
So when is Callie Thorne gonna host Raw? Follow-up question, and it’s a two-parter … how do I get tickets to that Raw, and I am going to have sex with Callie Thorne.
Best: Chris Jericho’s Been Watching His ROH Tapes
I’ve read a lot of negative feedback online for Jericho breaking out “your father was an alcoholic” and effectively using alcoholism and addiction as impetus for a wrestling angle, and while I admit that alcoholism never plays well on big leagues TV (Scott Hall vomiting everywhere, Legionary of Doom Hawk falling off the TitanTron with hilarious suicide shadow), this is different, and it’s gonna work.
Two big things about CM Punk:
1. He’s better on the microphone than most people, so when he’s in a feud with a guy like Alberto Del Rio he sorta verbally overshadows them, and it seems less like a personal wrestling issue and more like a guy making wanking motions at nothing in particular. If you’re cooler and smarter than everyone you face, why do I want to pay to see you face anybody?
2. CM Punk works best when drugs and alcohol are involved. They’re his thing. They’re what made him stand out on the independent circuit, and what made him stand out in that post Chris Benoit thing where the popular stars needed to not necessarily have crazy drug brains. All of his best material (except for “Summer Of Punk”) involve him either deriding alcohol or being threatened with it.
So this is going to a good place. A guy who can hang with (or even overshadow) Punk on the mic gets him into an angle where he’s forced to be three dimensional and vulnerable, we get a great match or matches out of it, and at the end a bunch of WWE Universe kids get the “drugs and alcohol are bad” message, but this time they can cheer for it. That’s the thing … this isn’t huge babyface The Rock telling Punk he should go drink, it’s sh*thead asshole Chris Jericho. Jericho is clearly, clearly wrong and it’s Punk’s job to overcome. Easy, purposeful storytelling.
Worst: What Happens When Punk Runs Out Of Material?
My only problem is that we’re once again going to the “Stuff CM Punk Did Before He Got Here” well. We did the Straight Edge Society, we did the Summer of Punk, we did Punk on commentary and now we’re doing the Raven feud. Jericho already had a feud involving Ricky Steamboat, so after this, what’s left? Having The Miz try to scrape off Punk’s straight edge tattoo with a cheese grater?
Worst: Stop Showing These Matches, I Want To See The Commercials
Again, Jack Swagger and Randy Orton put on a pretty good TV wrestling match and I could barely care, through some combination of burnout and having eight minutes of the middle ripped out by commercial breaks. After the Otunga stories and the Man Vs. Food jagoff getting tapped, my first goal as Head Of Creative is to make the wrestling show look like a professional promotion putting on a wrestling show. Does UFC go to commercial in the middle of the f**king fights?
Swagger needed a good showing after losing to Santino last week, but Orton isn’t the guy to give it to him. Orton’s got a weird thing where he puts on good matches, but they’re always hurt by the fact that you can’t imagine Orton losing. He’s just going to win, no matter what happens. Outside of running into a World’s Strongest Slam once, I don’t think I’ve seen him get pinned by anything that wasn’t a “WHOOPS, SURPRISE MUSIC” roll-up or foreign object related.
Best: Kane Is The F**king Worst At Mind Games
I thought “make John Cena embrace hate so he can beat the Rock at Wrestlemania by getting him into a weird love triangle with his less popular friend and a girl they know” plan was bad, but Kane’s plan to get Randy Orton is even worse. Beat up some unassociated tag team guys, attack Orton once and then play your fire music to keep him from celebrating thoroughly. Is that it?
They should’ve jumped backstage to Kane at the catering table with like half a hoagie in his mouth, looking off to the side and saying “wait, was that my fire music” with his mouth full. And then a few minutes later we see him roll up to the production guy and be all “what the f**k, Jeff” and Jeff is all “sorry Kane, Orton was about to leave, I thought you were gonna run out and attack him”. And Kane just throws his hands up, barks “GOD Jeff, you never understand my plans” and storms away.
Worst: The Rock Concert