– Things you should read from the last week of posts at The Mandible Claw include the thing I wrote about Donald Trump’s “appearance” on the Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling and an hour of me and Danielle talking to ACW and National Pro Wrestling Day star Jojo Bravo. Also, everything else on the site. You should check it out daily.
– Comments, shares, likes, and anything else that gets people to come here are appreciated. There’s some important stuff on the next page, so be sure not to skim it, and to make everyone you know on the Internet and in real life read it. Also, the jokes.
– GIFS courtesy of Jerusalem at Punchsport Pagoda.
– We’re doing some fun stuff over at The Mandible Claw, so be sure to head over there when you’re done with the report and check some stuff out.
And now, Raw goes REGULAR SCHOOL! The Best and Worst of WWE Raw for March 11, 2013, is after the jump.
Best, And By “Best” I Mean My Dreams Coming True: I Am Making A Movie
If you follow me on one of those social media things, chances are you’ve heard me mention that I’m making a movie. That process becomes a BUNCH OF FIREWORKS IN PUBLIC today with the launching of the Meet Me There teaser, IndieGogo page and happily urgent pleadings of yours truly.
I’ll let you read about it over there (because we need to hurry up and talk about Pancake Patterson), but Meet Me There is a horror/suspense film written by me, based on terrifying true stories of a childhood spent in small town Oklahoma from Destiny, and directed by Lex Lybrand, the guy who did Summer League. The fundraising page has a short video, and in the next few days we’ll add some footage of us talking about it, including me explaining my movie dreams and the reasons why we put everything together. I hope you’ll stop by and check it out.
And how is this relevant to readers of The Best And Worst Of WWE Raw, besides the fact that the guy who writes these columns wrote it? Because we’ve cast Dustin Runnels in a major supporting role. Yes, that Dustin Rhodes, aka Goldust, aka A Guy Who Was In The Royal Rumble This Year and legitimately one of my favorite pro wrestlers of all time. To make it have further Raw report relevancy, we’ve also cast comic book writer and illustrator Jill Thompson in a role, and she’s doing the art for our poster. If you don’t read comics, she’s the one who designs Daniel Bryan’s swank ring gear.
I’m not going to say anything melodramatic like IF YOU DON’T DONATE TO OUR THING I’M GOING TO STOP WRITING THESE REPORTS FOREVER or whatever, but we don’t ask you for money very often at With Leather, and you’d be doing something special for a guy who has watched and translated way, way too much bad wrestling for your enjoyment. Anything helps, but it helps more if you’re rich. Also, if you don’t contribute to this, I’m replacing the Best and Worst of Raw with a regular G.L.O.W. column and you won’t get ANY of the jokes.
I love you, and thank you for taking the time to peruse this page. Contribute early and often and we’ll be best friends. You’re getting a “thank you” in the credits, trust me.
Best: I Don’t Care What Happens On The Rest Of This Raw, Because Holy Shit, Rufus ‘Pancake’ Patterson
I didn’t get to watch Raw live last night. I was at the Austin premiere of Summer League, a film in which I play “Brandon from With Leather” as well as an anthropomorphic duck, and didn’t get home until just before Raw was over. I turned on my television to find a CONTRACT SIGNING TABLE in the ring — just behind “birthday cake” on the list of props that let you know a segment is about to be awful — and Triple H aggressively undressing Paul Heyman. I tried to make a few jokes, but just ended up sounding like Sweet Dee doing stand-up comedy and called it a night. People on Twitter told me the show didn’t have a single Best, and that I’d picked a great week to miss it entirely. I woke up this morning expecting to be all frustrated and morose for three hours.
And then, only a few minutes into the show, the Prime Time Players interrupt John Cena and Titus O’Neil is in an afro wig portraying his own uncle, Rufus ‘Pancake’ Patterson. They call him ‘Pancake’ because HE FLATTENS PEOPLE. ARE YOU KIDDING ME.
WWE has found a glorious niche, and it’s called “allowing the Prime Time Players to be as stupid as possible.” God, I love it. I don’t know what to say about the state of the tag team division, but if Darren Young and Titus O’Neil are going to interrupt top shelf A-show guys with excerpts from an episode of ‘Meet The Browns’ I am ON BOARD. There’s so much to enjoy here. WWE acknowledging and using the awesome “Darren Young should be on the cover of Cocoa Pebbles” joke. The wash rag callback. The “millions of dollars” dance causing Pancakle’s gout to flare up. Darren doing the “you can’t see me” taunt, pantomime-vomiting into his own hand, then throwing it at Cena. Pancake referring to both Titus AND Darren as his nephew, suggesting that the Prime Time Players are suddenly related. It goes on and on, and every second of it is great.
Additionally, it led to this:
Best: That One Boss Fight From Zelda II
I’m such a sucker for proper jobber squashes on Raw. I don’t like it when a guy like Antonio Cesaro or Wade Barrett (secondary champions with an obvious upside) or talented people who should BE stars instead of repeatedly making them (Daniel Bryan, Drew McIntyre) lose to the popular guys in three minutes. It doesn’t make anyone look good. The top guys beat everybody without effort, the middle guys can only win by cheating or taking advantage of a distraction so there’s no advocation of talent as a means to success, and the very low guys can’t beat anybody or move up unless they change themselves. I do, however, LOVE when an obviously super low level guy like Darren Young talks shit to a guy like Cena and they have a match. That’s what Raw should be. It makes Cena look like a killer, like those old matches where Magnum T.A. would stand in place while a jobber ran at him, belly-to-belly them immediately and get the win. It makes Darren look like a chump, but he IS a chump, and he gets to be entertaining as hell AS a chump. It obeys the WWE’s weird class system without making it seem like they’re doing something wrong.
I also loved the baller pose Cena struck when he pinned Darren:
That’s the Cena I want … a guy who isn’t afraid to acknowledge that he’s a deadly match-winning machine. I don’t want the dynasty to keep pretending he’s the Machine Gun Kelly-christened “ultimate underdog.” You are the biggest dog in wrestling history, John. Don’t believe me? Look at the way you jump when you throw shoulderblocks. You have the physiology OF a dog. Be that dog.
And hey, if Cena’s gonna be that dog, my only advice to Darren Young is, “move kitty kitty move kitty kitty.”
Worst: Congratulations On Being In Our First Successful Movie Ever, David Otunga. Now Lose To Ryback In 4 Seconds
Okay okay, I know I just wrote about liking jobber squashes on Raw, but I like squashes that enhance an aspect of the loser I like, not diminish. During the People Power era (aka “the golden era”), Otunga repeatedly proved that while he is basically the asshole of technical wrestling, he is a STELLAR backstage presence, and the kind of guy with the right look and charisma to contribute positively to your show. The idea should be to keep him out of matches, keep him backstage in a prominent role, and keep sending him to daytime talk shows and other places he can be a HANDSOME HARVARD GENTLEMAN MONSTER.
I am over Ryback, so all I could think was “man, I wish this was more like that one cool Sheamus/Otunga match where Otunga actually got to look like a competent wrestler, and not just stooge around waiting for signature moves.” I really don’t like Cole and King complaining about how Otunga was “posing and preening” in the ring, then marking out for Ryback, who is the KING of posing and preening. Seriously, dude doesn’t have a single move where he doesn’t stop, turn, look at the hard camera and yell something, or do a hand gesture, or whatever. He leads his own chants. At least when Otunga poses, he’s allowing us to interpret it ourselves.
Ryback, a guy who has muscles growing out of his muscles like he’s carrying Kuato from Total Recall in his scalenes, is going to have a WrestleMania match against Mark Henry, a guy who is actually stronger than everybody else in the world, and not just a muscular guy the announcers keep insisting is strong. Ryback is great at yelling threats. Mark Henry is DEFINED by his ability to scream random phrases at you and have them mean TERRIFYING THINGS. What’s the best way to get the crowd interested in the match? Here are two great ways:
1. Have them scream threats at each other about how they are tough and mad
2. Have them throw each other around and destroy everything in the building
Neither of those two great ways is “have an ill-defined general manager character awkwardly announce that she’s changing up the booking plans for WrestleMania and putting these two guys in a match for some reason.” I love Vickie, but “making cool announcements” is not her bag. She doesn’t have Vince’s RAY CHAAAARRLLLLL announcement voice where she can go from Mean Character to EVERYBODY GET PUMPED in an instant. Vickie could walk out with a microphone and say “everyone in the building is getting a brand new car” and all anybody’d hear is “I DON’T LIKE THE WRESTLERS YOU CHEER FOR.”
Best: Kaitlyn-Gate Continues
There are a few notable Worsts here — WWE creative using “boyfriend trouble” as a default Divas Championship storyline, for example — but there are also a lot of Bests. Cody Rhodes is great here as a guy who WANTS to get with Kaitlyn, but not enough to reject these Hawaiian Tropic models on his arms, and can’t figure out how to say “I want all of you, basically, but I kinda like Kaitlyn for real” without sounding like a butthole. Kaitlyn is properly dismissive, because Cody’s cute and charming when he’s by himself, but he’s also kind of a porn star creep.
And the best part? Damien Sandow having already totally lost interest in the Bella Twins.
Best: Fandango’s Entrance
OH MY GOD DUDE
Best: Everything Else About Fandango
Thank goodness Fandango has the speed and agility of a regular human being and could avoid The Great Khali’s grasp!
Johnny Curtis has found such a wonderful way to piss off the WWE Universe. His personality makes them mad because he’s the ultimate one-two punch of things WWE crowds hate — guys who act gay, and guys who get girls. He’s BOTH OF THEM. THIS GAY GUY IS GETTING GIRLS, HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE, I AM HERE WITH NOBODY AND I’M EVERYTHING YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE! BOO!
I love this character. I love how stupid he acts, I love his little scissor kick over the top rope to enter the ring, I love that his dance partner still isn’t important enough to name, I love how he interacts with women … really the only thing I don’t love here is Natalya continuing to be a WWE “oddity” and not a wrestler or person it’s okay for us to say is pretty.
Fantasy Booking: By the end of the year, Fandango should be accompanied by every woman on the roster. He would then use his powers of dance seduction to woo Stephanie McMahon, who puts all of Fandango’s ladies into a womens’ wrestling division and they use their improved dexterity and confidence to have good wrestling matches.
Worst: That “Bad Jobber Squash” Thing I Was Talking About Earlier
Remember earlier in this column, where I explained why John Cena trouncing Darren Young was great, and the opposite of that horrible thing they normally do where they take a super talented guy and make him lose like a nobody to a bad wrestler, because WWE believes the ONLY role of a talented wrestler is to help his shitty co-workers look better?
Yep, here’s Damien Sandow, clearly one of the very best people in WWE at every aspect of being a pro wrestler, losing in under four minutes to R-Truth. I can’t decide what the worst part of it is … the fact that Sandow fled from R-TRUTH in 3:50, or R-Truth’s John Morrison cosplay. I feel like I don’t say it enough, but man, R-Truth is basically the worst actual wrestler in WWE. Imagine if Booker T had no idea how to connect with the crowd, couldn’t hit any of his moves and thought adding four spins to shit made it a legitimate part of a pro wrestler’s moveset. He’s like Booker T and Teddy Hart had a baby.
Oh, and speaking of Booker T:
Best: The Best Possible Booker T Hype Video
If I’m making a Booker T career retrospective and I’m Me On The Internet, what are the five things (five things, five things, five things, five things) I’d HAVE to include?
1. GWF footage
2. his tag team with Goldust, which was the greatest
4. as much King Booker as possible
5. This lady, from that time when Booker was accidentally a priest
Mission accomplished, WWE. Now let’s work on getting Steve Ray into the Hall of Fame, you milk-drinkin’ crackerjack fruit-bootied yaks.
Best: The CM Punk/Undertaker Confrontation Was Fun, But They Didn’t Really Say Anything
People love the Undertaker, but he’s never been good on the microphone. He CAN talk, but he never really says anything important. For a long time he could hide behind stuff like THE FIRES OF HELL WILL REIGN DOWN UPON YOU AND I WILL SEEK MY VENGEANCE REST IN PEACE and it was fine, because he’s supposed to be a movie monster mortician zombie Bat God or whatever. When he became Biker Taker he lost that, and somewhere around the time he and Big Show rode motorcycles into the desert, it was gone for good. So whenever Taker speaks now people get goosebumps and listen, but he’s honestly delivering one of the shittiest promos on the show. This is why he had Paul Bearer in the first place, guys.
CM Punk is a Public Speaking Ace, but only when he’s saying something he means. When he’s saying he doesn’t appreciate being valued below guys like John Cena, he means it. When he chastises the Rock for making these big claims at his expense, he’s telling the truth. When he’s running Jeff Hardy out of town on a rail for being a drug addict, that’s CM Punk for real. When he’s defending his honor when Chris Jericho says he’s got footage of Punk leaving a bar? Not so much. So that’s where we find ourselves … a promo battle between a guy who can’t speak outside of a Fangoria article and a guy who can’t think of something cooler to say than “I’ll beat your streak.”
That’s all Punk says in like, 5 minutes of talking. “I’m going to beat your streak. Undertaker, you have a streak. At WrestleMania you have a streak, and I’m going to beat you at WrestleMania! I’m the only person who can beat your streak!” It’s effective on the most basic level, and the insulting stuff he was doing with Taker’s urn was pretty great, but yeah, there isn’t much else to say, is there? Taker feuds need more special effects and fighting, not that Triple H style “let’s discuss this for a month” thing.
Best: This Shot, Specifically
Beautiful work, everybody.
Worst: Spring 2012 Returns
First Damien Sandow is rolling out of the ring to take a count-out loss, and now AJ is dressed like Kane, skipping around the ring to distract him and Daniel Bryan? I make a lot of WWE Creative Dry Erase Board jokes, but damn, did they just stumble upon an old one and go with whatever they’d written on it last Spring?
You know WWE’s doing something wrong when I’m disinterested in a Daniel Bryan match with Rosa Mendes at ringside. I just absolutely do not care what happens to the tag team champions anymore. They had a great thing going, stalled on the inevitable Team Hell No breakup at the expense of every other team in the division, and RIGHT when they’re ready to split them and refocus everyone involved, Paul Bearer dies and Kane gets locked in a holding pattern until Taker and Punk’s storyline is done. AJ’s trying to distract Kane and Bryan to “get in their head” so her boyfriend, you know, the guy with the MONEY IN THE BANK BRIEFCASE, can have a better chance at winning the tag titles. Oh, and the Colons still lose. So … hooray?
Worst: Fandango Runs Afoul Of ‘Cool Dad’
shut the f**k up, chris jericho
You know, if Jericho had just responded to Fandango with “what, you mean like where I buy movie tickets? Why do you have the movie ticket service’s name” I might’ve been on his side here, but nope, babyface Chris Jericho continues to be the least funny person who has ever lived. I give The Rock a bunch of shit for talking in random words and baby talk, but he’s like an episode of f**king ‘Fawlty Towers’ compared to Chris Jericho. Remember, heel Jericho delivered the 1,004 moves promo. Face Jericho was the creative force behind the least funny “funny” segment of all time. Fandango should’ve just rolled his eyes and walked away.
In fact, that’s what EVERYONE in WWE should start doing. If you’ve got a personal issue with somebody and confront them, and instead of talking about you or the issue or wrestling they just start going DING DIDDLY DONG DONG YOU’RE A POOP SNORT KISS MY GRITS, just roll your eyes at them and walk away. If you’re the camera man, turn off the camera and leave it lying on the ground in front of them.
Best: Alberto Del Rio Vs. Cody Rhodes
I’ve got some stuff to complain about AFTER the match, but I’m not gonna complain about ADR and Cody Rhodes going at it for 12 minutes on Raw. See how much better this works? Alberto Del Rio needs to have fun, competitive matches to get him in the right space for WrestleMania. Cody Rhodes is great at wrestling, but he’s not really doing anything besides a backstage romance B-story. He doesn’t have the Intercontinental Championship or the US title, so he doesn’t have to WIN a fun, competitive match. They get in the ring, they put on a good show for a quarter hour, and bam, Del Rio gets a strong win, Cody gets a good, long spot on television, and everyone wins.
And don’t get me wrong, I liked a lot of the post-match stuff, too. Too many WWE feuds are Verbal Confrontations or guys taking turns “distracting” or humiliating each other, so I appreciate Swagger and Del Rio making their beef physical. I like that it wasn’t a one-sided thing, too … it wasn’t a HEINOUS ASSAULT, it was two guys who are on relatively the same level throwing hands at each other, and their seconds/managers/familiars getting involved. Ricardo injected himself into the fight, so he ate it. Things almost got physical with Zeb, but Swagger bailed him out at the last second. Swagger came out on top, injured Del Rio’s best friend, and now we’ve got something to work with deeper than “my Uncle dislikes the Obama administration.”
I really hope it’s not true that WWE is writing off Ricardo Rodriguez with an ankle injury because they don’t think Del Rio needs him. Del Rio ABSOLUTELY needs Ricardo. He’s what makes Del Rio work. If we don’t have the employer/employee friendship thing going, Del Rio’s just a guy who loves America and pumps his fists when he hits moves. You take away his cars, you replace his Mexican pride with US pride, and now you’re gonna write out his Forever Pal? You’re supposed to BUILD guys, WWE, not regress them into FCW characters.
Worst: The Safest Stories
Randy Orton and Sheamus were supposed to team up with Ryback to face The Shield at WrestleMania. The Shield have been unstoppable, attacking ferociously and working together to win the matches they’ve had against teams of seemingly unstoppable WWE do-gooders. Vickie pulled Ryback out of the match with The Shield (which doesn’t make a lot of sense, because she and Brad Maddox had some pretty gigantic issues with Paul Heyman and should want The Shield punished, but … well, whatever), leaving Orton and Sheamus without a third.
So, how do you introduce Big Show as their new third partner, and ratchet up their issues with the hyper-violent, opportunistic Shield? You have Orton and Sheamus beat a team of the easiest-to-beat guys on the roster, have The Shield enter but NOT attack them, then have Big Show’s music play, allowing him to make an extremely slow entrance. This causes the Shield to stand around the ring doing nothing EVEN LONGER before retreating in fear, despite the fact that they’ve beaten up all three of these guys before, and have routinely trounced other teams of three in three-on-three fights. Then, have Big Show point at the WrestleMania sign, which is contractually the only way to participate in a match at WrestleMania.
Yep, that’s got to be the most entertaining way.
Worst: DOLPH ZIGGLER VERSUS KOFI KINGSTON AGAIN, GOD, or
Best: Kofi Kingston’s Streak Of Enjoyable Television Continues
Longtime readers of the Best and Worst of Raw (or readers of any one week between 2009 and now) know that Dolph Ziggler has wrestled Kofi Kingston approximately 600,000,000 times and I am super tired of it. There are few things that make me comatose as fast as this combination, and I once put my television in the toilet instead of watching it. True story.
But yeah, I’ve been warming up to Kofi Kingston lately. Here’s my explanation as to why, from last week’s column:
He had a match with the Big Show that ended in 10 seconds when Show just casually punched him in the face. He followed that up with a match against Damien Sandow where Sandow whomped him so badly R-Truth had to rush out and pretend Sandow had done something illegal. He followed THAT up with a match against Fandango where he stood in the ring for like a minute, didn’t wrestle, then went on Twitter to apologize. And here he is on Raw, jumping jump-first into Mark Henry’s path of destruction and getting HATE THROWN with a World’s Strongest Slam. Seriously, if Kofi’s year continues the way it’s been going so far, I’ll smile and look forward to every appearance he makes.
This week, this happened, and Big E Langston gave exactly zero f**ks:
I love that Big E didn’t even look like he attacked him. He was just walking by, and Kofi tried to jump through him and failed. Big E just kept on walkin’. I love you, Big E Langston. And you’re okay too, Kofi, I guess.
Worst: WWE Is Just Trolling Me Now, Aren’t They
Wade Barrett is the Intercontinental Champion. Because of this, he gets put into a series of non-title matches against guys who are seen as “better” than him — Sheamus, Randy Orton, etc. — and he loses them. Cleanly. Usually in only a few minutes. He has these EVERY WEEK, sometimes three or more times (on television) a week, and when he gets a chance to be a movie, the people who MADE THE MOVIE spend long portions of their show having “better” wrestlers — Sheamus specifically, even though he’s not involved in a feud with Barrett whatsoever — talking about how unimportant Wade is. Still, he retains the Intercontinental Championship, and that tricks you into thinking those losses is what’re devaluing the belt.
But nope! What devalues the belt is that when Wade DOES have to defend it, he KEEPS it. This is the chance where you go “okay, we don’t like Wade Barrett, let’s give the belt to Jericho or The Miz,” have Wade lose his regularly scheduled loss, cut YOUR losses and try something with somebody else. Instead, they put Wade over in the ONE MATCH OUT OF TWENTY with the goddamn belt on the line. The cycle continues, and next week Wade will lose to, I don’t know, Big Show or whoever, and keep his belt.
So … what’s the deal? Why does this happen? Why give him the belt? Why have the belt at all? What does it mean to you? Do you WANT it to mean something? Why are people competing to hold a championship held by a guy who loses 20 times more than them? They haven’t mentioned shit like “increased pay” or “increased visibility” in years. This is the company that puts John Cena matches on after its WWE Championship matches. Why have belts at all? Darren Young could be doing what Wade Barrett’s doing right now and nothing would change. Absolutely nothing. No difference in match quality, ratings, t-shirt sales, nothing. You’re wasting money AND a belt AND television time AND a wrestler’s talent AND the talent of OTHER wrestlers who could hypothetically do something interesting or compelling or important with your secondary championships with no positive results. What is wrong with you. Stop it.
Worst, OH GOD THE WORST: Triple H Signs A Contract
This was … bad.
Last year I adopted a system to help me deal with those terrible Triple H/Undertaker segments where they didn’t fight, they just cut their hair and talked about THIS BUSINESS: I’d include a picture of cuddly baby kittens and an animated GIF of Hayley Williams from the band Paramore. It worked, but Jesus, I don’t know what to do if the Brock/Triple H feud is going to be built around forced undressings instead of bloody faces. Maybe another Hayley GIF?
It’s … no, it’s not working. I’m still seeing that contract signing in my head. Maybe a picture of Hayley’s amazing hair from SXSW?
That hair is great, but no, still nothing. I’m still suffering. I mean, honestly, I think I’d have to be in the same room as Hayley, possibly standing in her personal space, watching her do funny wrestling poses. Something extremely fantastic like that would have to happen.
There we go.