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Please click through to enjoy the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for March 25, 2013.
Best: CM Punk Is Great At Making People Want To Punch Him In the Face
I don’t know if we’ve ever clearly defined a wrestler’s ability to make people who see or hear him want to punch him in his face, but it’s a valuable skill and deserves its own Sabermetrics stat. Does PIF work for everybody? In terms of wrestlers, I think the scale goes from 0.0 PIF (Bobby Heenan during his WWE Hall of Fame induction speech, or, to simplify, “good wrestling happening and making you happy”) to 1.0 PIF (Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole simultaneously chuckling about something neither of them actually thinks is funny). CM Punk is gloriously talented at manipulating the PIF scale, and while he’s most peoples’ favorite guy and an invaluable tool to enjoying Raw, he can get up to at least a 0.8 or even a 0.9 on that scale.
Last night was a solid 0.8. Most of what he’s saying is total horseshit — the Undertaker being at a psychological disadvantage for “the first time in his career” despite people having done the “steal the urn” gag multiple times and BETTER, like when Mankind stole the urn AND Paul Bearer, or the time Kama The Supreme Fighting Machine stole it and smelted it or whatever to make a gold chain — but he means it, and he can express it compellingly. The promo really peaks when he says the urn doesn’t matter to him and throws it down, because yeah, objectively it’s pretty hilarious that 18,000 people went “oooh” because the zombie mortician supernatural guy had one of his props disrespected, but contextually it means the shit is on. I still think Punk has a 0% chance of winning at Mania, but I’ll have a lot of fun hoping I’m wrong.
Note: 0.9 was that time he called John Laurinaitis an “ugly dork.”
Best: Bug-Eyed Undertaker Don’t Play
Speaking of the shit and it being on, this was the Undertaker’s face when he Sabu’d Punk to end the segment:
That’s WONDERFUL. Taker’s always been top-shelf when it comes to extreme facial expressions (the “I can’t believe the Tombstone didn’t get the pin on Shawn Michaels” face is still his best).
I also really loved everyone else at the end of this … Heyman scooping up the urn and hauling ass like he’s recovering a fumble for a touchdown, Taker’s incessant ANGER PUNCHING~ and Punk’s reaction to it, which isn’t the gulpy fear most people get, it’s WOOOO, because Taker was PUNCHING THE MESS OUT OF HIM and THIS IS GONNA BE FUN. That’s the kind of heel I’d like to see in WWE more often. He does dirty things and takes shortcuts, but he’s not a total coward, and he can take a punch without turning into a blubbering mess about it.
I would also like to see the Undertaker make more faces like that. O_O
Worst: Did You Seriously Just Deprive Me Of Fandango, Because I Swear To God
Fandango segments are such an emotional roller-coaster. I like Johnny Curtis a lot. He’s been funny as hell since NXT, he’s pretty good in the ring, and his character is a BALLROOM DANCING GUY WHO IS UPSET THAT PEOPLE AREN’T RESPECTING HIS NAME. As one of the top 10 comments mentioned last week, he’s basically The Boy Marlo from ‘The Wire’ as a ballroom dancing pro wrestler. I also love how “into” Fandango Jerry “The King” Lawler is, for seemingly no reason whatsoever. He just LOVES Fandango. He’s always muttering “wow!” at things, gets upset when Fandango doesn’t wrestle and chastises those who don’t put enough effort into the pronunciation. It’s a weird look back into the glory days of Jerry Lawler, back when he’d occasionally rag on Stu Hart for being a dead skeleton man and it was awesome.
At the same time, a lot of it bothers me. Did you hear Michael Cole doing a forced “LOOK AT THIS! THIS IS COOL!” thing to Fandango’s light show, which … uh, he also saw last week and no-sold? Even Lawler seemed like he was seeing it for the first time.
Best/Worst: The Match Was Fun, But Who Is This Tag Team Wrestler Who Always Loses And Why Is He Carrying Around A Blue Briefcase
I cannot in good faith give a Worst to something that ends in the Liontamer. Not in 2013.
This was a fun match (as I mentioned), but it continues to be sorta depressing to see Dolph Ziggler getting big match opportunities AND a Money in the Bank briefcase he should’ve cashed in like 45 times now AND a cool posse of supporting characters and that ring jacket and STILL not ever get these victories. Why is Kofi Kingston and Daniel Bryan the only dudes he can beat? He loses to literally everybody else. Put him in a match with Brad “Cornbeef” Maddox and he’ll lose clean after trying to cheat and failing half a dozen times. But put him in a triple threat with Kofi and Daniel Bryan and he’ll f**king Ryback them. I don’t get it. Are wins and losses determined like Pokémon types now?
Best: Big E Langston Is My Favorite/Cool Dad Gets His
I love the build of Big E Langston as a man so out-of-control powerful that he barely fits into his clothes. He’s just this massive monster in a Borat swimsuit who is calm and collected and then sometimes just HAS TO CONVOLUTEDLY FLAPJACK YOU. I wouldn’t be surprised if we find out AJ and Dolph made him in a lab. Or he’s like one of the Venture Bros., and they’ve got infinite Big E backups. That could explain the E. Maybe the first four were Big A through Big D Langston.
I still think they should turn the entire faction face. I don’t want to boo these guys, I don’t care how many times Lawler cell-wanks to the notion of AJ being a slut and tosses it in somebody’s face. I want cool sunglasses champion Dolph Ziggler, his sexually-active-and-not-even-slightly-ashamed-of-it girlfriend AJ, and their friend Langston, who keeps screaming about how he wants things “Biggie sized.”
Worst: Yeah Right, Randy Orton Doesn’t Have Friends
I refuse to believe that The Big Show is the problem in a team with Randy Orton AND Sheamus in it.
What’s Big Show’s big issue? He’s a guy who got made fun of a lot in his career, so he’s this gigantic killer in the ring, but he’s also very, very susceptible to being shamed. This causes him to freak out emotionally sometimes and punch folks, but ultimately he’s a good guy … he’s just been hurt too many times to let it show. Boom, clear character development.
What about Sheamus and Orton? The wee baby Sheamus is a sassy, crybaby five-year old who got his start attacking people from behind with a lead pipe. At the height of his popularity, his most noble act was to steal a Mexican guy’s car, take it for a joyride, eat Mexican food and shit specifically-Mexican food INTO the Mexican guy’s car as a racist joke. Orton’s even worse. Orton pretends to be a snake, poops in peoples’ gym bags, went AWOL from the military and then got all the way to the “I’m supposed to be starring in this army movie” announcement stage of starring in a military movie because he assumed nobody would care, because he is more important than the Army. He also once handcuffed a guy to the ring ropes, assaulted that guy’s wife in front of him, then made out with that guy’s knocked out, assaulted wife.
So THESE guys are the chummy everymen, and BIG SHOW is the one who is a loose cannon we might not be able to trust? What’s the worst thing Big Show’s ever done? Say he hates the fans? Hug Hulk Hogan too hard with the help of a tall mummy? Come on.
Best: THAT’S WHAT HE CONTINUES TO DO
Mark Henry squashed both Uso brothers, including the one who got a D-U (SO!)-I, in about a minute. They got in some offense on him, including a few superkicks a la The Young Bucks and a splash a la Tamina Snuka for a nearfall. Mark got back into it by grabbing one of them on the ring apron and throwing him into the guardrail like a sack of laundry. He got the pin with a Worlds Strongest Slam, then kept doing it and splashing them while yelling hateful things.
I loved it so much, you guys.
This is all I ask for in my Mark Henry segment … that someone thinks they are good enough to wrestle Mark Henry, finds out they aren’t, then get slammed/splashed repeatedly while Mark yells funny stuff I try to remember. HE DOESN’T GET SPLASHED, USO BROTHER. THIS IS WHAT HE DOES.
Worst: I Am Probably Not Linking To Another Team Hell No/Primetime Players Match
Two horrible things here:
1. Team Hell No wrestling the Primetime Players has become the “Dolph Ziggler vs. Kofi Kingston” of tag team matches. Originally it was fine, but now they ONLY do this, and I’m super, super tired of it. And I like all these guys, that’s the worst part.
2. Cole and Lawler spent the early portion of the match talking about how Rufus ‘Pancake’ Patterson was here last week, but that we should try hard to forget him. Lawler even called him “the forgettable Pancake Patterson.” This is 1.0 PIF. Obviously Jerry did not listen closely when Mr. Patterson explained how he got the nickname Pancake*.
*IT’S BECAUSE HE FLATTENS FOOLS
Best: Cesaro Wins A Match! Cesaro Wins A Match!
When they announced another Champion vs. Champion match, my heart sank. Surely, this was an another excuse for a “top” guy to soundly defeat a secondary guy with a championship belt, because there is no war but WWE class war. Then, I thought maybe they’d do a thing where Jack Swagger jogged out and cost Del Rio the victory, and Cesaro would get to Neutralize the World Champ and put him away, getting Cesaro back on track AND setting up a Cesaro/Del Rio match for WWE Payback or WWE Conspiracy Theory or whatever they’re calling that post-Mania pay-per-view. WWE Lethal Weapon 3. Anyway, that’s what they did! Sort of!
Cesaro didn’t get a definitive win by any means, but he did take the match via count-out, which allowed him to do an hilarious soccer celebration that not even one WWE cameraman cared about.
A win’s a win, though, and now Cesaro gets to look strong the next time he … oh, wait, what? What do you mean the segment isn’t over?
Worst: Alberto Del Rio Is Officially A WWE Main-Eventer, I Guess :(
Aaaaand then the other foot came down.
Del Rio responded to Jack Swagger’s interference and beating-up of his pal Ricardo by using what he learned in WWE Babyface 101 — he went back into the ring, attacked the guy who beat him in the match and put him in a submission to try to break his arm. For no reason, other than that he was mad. You know, the kind of reaction HORRIBLE PEOPLE HAVE. It was totally unnecessary, and I can totally picture one of the WWE Creative guys going “aw man, Del Rio’s gonna look like a PUSSY if he helps his friend! How ’bout when he helps his friend, he goes back into the ring and shows that dirty foreigner that he’s tough and cool!”
Note: That sentence was probably followed up with, “Del Rio’s supposed to be a white guy now, right?”
Worst: Triple H Has Come Out Of Retirement To Put His Career On The Line, But He Doesn’t Really Care, Because He’s Super Smart And Tough
Worst: Please Enjoy This Footage Of You Being Literally Buried, Wade Barrett
So, who’s up for a paragraph about how stupid it is to have a guy who is a retired legend and also still the toughest and smartest and funniest and coolest guy and the show AND ALSO THE KAYFABE BOSS OF EVERYONE ELSE ON THE SHOW encountering the Intercontinental Champion for no f**king reason, refusing to show him any respect, then kicking him in the nuts and posing over him to his music RIGHT BEFORE THE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION IS SUPPOSED TO HAVE A MATCH THAT PEOPLE CARE ABOUT. WHO WANTS TO READ THAT PARAGRAPH.
When wrestlers get mad at the Internet for blowing things out of proportion and getting too upset about stuff, they’re right. I get it. I get upset about more stuff than most, but I understand that a lot of it is my own perspective and opinion, and that WWE isn’t always catering to me. But sometimes Triple H is a colossal piece of shit and should have enough pull in the company and length of dick to 1) NOT want to kick his IC champion in the nuts to assert dominance before that guy has to wrestle and get over with the fans, and 2) suggest something better. Like, I don’t know, NOT KICKING YOUR F**KING IC CHAMPION IN HIS BALLS FOR NO REASON BECAUSE HE IS NOT AS COOL AS TRIPLE H.
I was going to do an “imagine if John Cena was Triple H, and Dolph Ziggler was Wade Barrett, how mad would you get about it” joke, but nope, that accurately describes the last three months of Raw.
Worst/Best: The Goddamn IC Champion Lost Clean Again (After Being Kicked In The Nuts), But At Least Miz Is Getting His Shit Together
So yeah, Miz is looking better. That’s good. All I wanted from a Miz face turn was a change in his in-ring style, where he stopped doing wacky poses for no reason and turning to the hard camera to hit all his moves, and just sorta naturally let the crowd tell him where to go. He’s not there yet, but he’s working on it, and I’m fairly confident in his ability to regularly lock on a figure-four now. That’s good. I’m still going to make fun of him for not knowing how to do it FOREVER because that’s how the Internet and jokes work, but he’s got it. He’s even attacking the legs sometimes, which is nice, and a lot of his counter sequences were built around getting flash opportunities to take out the knees, and that is EXACTLY how a babyface Ric Flair should work.
On the other hand, Wade Barrett continued his streak of holding the Intercontinental Championship and never winning (with a -2 to all attributes because he got kicked in the nuts by his boss for no reason moments before). He probably could’ve lost to the Miz last week and let the Miz have the Intercontinental Championship, then went off to NXT or Impact or wherever to live off his punishment for Dead Man Down not being a spectacular success, right? Miz could win matches and logically hold a title, and Wade could come up with another horrible finish with a horrible name and prep for his comeback. Give him a one-legged dropkick and call it the POSTCARDS FROM A YOUNG MAN.
Worst: LOL So Hard At This Team
Zack Ryder, Justin Gabriel and The Great Khali. How depressing is THAT?
My working theory is that Khali got confused, thought Zack Ryder was Natalya, thought Justin Gabriel was Hornswoggle and just followed them out. My other theory is that it wasn’t actually Khali at all, but Santino and JTG in a large trenchcoat.
Best: At Least The Shield Didn’t Have To Use DNG To Win
For anyone wondering, that’s the “damned numbers game.”
I’ve been worried about The Shield and their random inability to win a fair fight. I’m going to hope they keep being unstoppable killers in matches (that finish on Gabriel was pretty gnarly) and are just a little too quick to bail from impromptu fights when their attack plan doesn’t work. Like, they can’t call an audible on the fly so they back up and regroup and start over. That makes sense, right? They aren’t really “losing” the fights, they’re just not being stupid and throwing punches until they get hit with finishing moves.
There are a lot of opportunities for me to be upset at WrestleMania, including (in order):
1. Ryback beating Mark Henry for any reason
2. Triple H’s posing after he beats Brock Lesnar, and Lesnar runs away crying with broken candy jar glass in his eyes
3. some backstage thing where Zack Ryder fist pumps with the Duck Dynasty guys or whatever (sample dialogue: “quack quack quack, you know it”)
4. the tag team title match being moved to the pre-show, and Daniel Bryan never, ever getting a good WrestleMania match
… so I’m gonna be optimistic and hope “The Shield losing to these jokers” isn’t on there. I think Big Show throwing in as the heel with “common enemies” is just a red herring for that Randy Orton heel turn, where he turns out to be the ACTUAL leader behind the Shield, which doesn’t make sense, but think of how funny Randy would look in a flak jacket. Or better yet, Sheamus, Randy and Big Show all simultaneously try to turn heel on each other, realize that they really ARE good friends, and go out for drinks with The Shield.
Best: Team Rhodes Scholars Is Smart And Great
We’re setting up an eight-person tag team match for WrestleMania, right? Rhodes Scholars and the Bella Twins (suggested team name: The Bella Jar) teaming up against Otakusaurus and the Funkadactyls. On the plus side, Cody, Damien and Naomi get a WrestleMania match, and it’s one Rhodes Scholars actually kinda have a chance to win. On the negative side, Cameron gets a f**king WrestleMania match while Chris Hero sits in development, Antonio Cesaro doesn’t have a defined role other than “lose to somebody, probably” and Bray Wyatt’s crew will fart around in the ring at Axxess while people clamor for R-Truth’s autograph. Also on the negative side, if the Funkadactyl team wins, it means another WrestleMania dance moment from Brodus, and I haven’t yet recovered from the last one.
But yeah, I’m happy whenever the smart team gets to be smart and triumph because of it. They probably should’ve won the tag team titles like, three months ago.
Best: The Chickbusters Explode, Finally, I Guess
The backstage confrontation between Kaitlyn and AJ was notable for that, Kaitlyn’s redonkulous headfirst bump into a water fountain. Her head is covered in that giant quilt of mismatched hair, so I mean she might’ve not come within five feet of the thing, but it looked good. I like the idea that Kaitlyn, Daniel Bryan and Kane have to all share the same dressing room because they’re ostensibly “good guys,” but they’re all terrible people. Kane is a murderous, fire-bringing rapist, Daniel Bryan emotionally abused his girlfriend and has rage/image issues, and Kaitlyn will just insult people to their face and start yammering on about how her old friend is a bitch to anyone who’ll listen.
I think a Chickbusters feud would’ve worked better if they’d gone my route (build them up as actual role models for young girls … ridiculous, I know) or if they hadn’t retconned the original breakup (Kaitlyn attacking AJ and joining Pin-Up Strong, leaving AJ as a nerdy, identifiable underdog against these big muscly blondes), but I like them both as performers, and will be stoked to see them wrestling at Mania a year after I met them at the “all our good people are at the Hall of Fame” session of Axxess.
Best: Ryback Gets To Look Cool And Strong Again!
I had almost forgotten that Ryback was supposed to be strong. That was his thing when he showed up, remember? He was THE STRONGEST. He could pick up two guys at once, and the way he kept saying “feed me more” made you think they were gonna put him up against THREE guys, and OH MAN, could he pick up THREE GUYS AT ONCE for the Shellshock? Ryback was the shit for like, two months.
Anyway, this was a nice callback to that, with poor 3MB getting destroyed again and Ryback getting to pick up Actual WWE Superstars and double Shellshock them with confidence and authority. I didn’t like Michael Cole reacting like it was the first time Ryback had ever picked up two dudes at once, but whatever, motherf**ker forgot Fandango’s lights after like six days.
In a related note, Heath Slater’s one of those guys who busted his ass all year and deserves a spot on the Mania card, even if it’s just to lose to somebody quickly. I miss those Mania shows where there were like 18 matches, and some of them lasted a minute and were barely a thing. It’s a better use of his time than being shoved on his ass by Macklemore, or whatever they’re planning this year.
Worst: I Still Don’t Think He Can Shellshock Mark Henry
I don’t. This is the ending they want for the Henry/Ryback match, right?
I don’t think he can do it. Remember when Ryback tried to Shellshock Paul Heyman, and it didn’t work because Heyman is fat and kinda ovular, and Ryback had been picking up nothing but skinny and/or in-shape guys? He did it fine when he adjusted for it, but it wasn’t the same. It wasn’t the brute, natural power they want the Shellshock to be. Remember when he tried to pick up Lord Tensai and couldn’t, because Tensai is shaped like a big ass dugong, and Ryback only picks up guys like Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal?
Mark Henry is WAY bigger and WAY fatter than Paul Heyman or Tensai. He’s an IMMENSE dude. I don’t think Ryback can Shellshock him and make it look right, at least not in the organic context of a match. Cena can pick up Henry for a finish because he’s just doing a squat. Ryback can probably pick him up, but to hold him in place? Yeah, that’s not going to happen. That match is gonna end with a Meathook clothesline, or, better yet, a Meathook clothesline attempt into a World’s Strongest Slam. Make it happen, WWE.
Best: AJ’s Only Dating Dolph Because He Reminds Her Of Kaitlyn
The Chickbusters are both pretty great at selling offense. Watch this match and you’ll see what I mean. AJ sells Kaitlyn’s shoulderblocks with full backflips onto her shoulders. Kaitlyn goes into the barricade like a boss. They know what they’re doing. THEY SHOULD BE A THING, and not “Dolph Ziggler’s slutty girlfriend” and “ill-defined sometimes love interest with skunk hair.”
I really do think AJ likes Dolph because he’s like Kaitlyn. They’re both into fitness. They both insult their co-workers to their faces. They bump their asses off. They’ve pretty much got the same hair. It makes sense. Kaitlyn is the best of AJ’s seven evil exes, and part of me always wanted to see Ramona end up with Roxie Richter anyway.
Oh, and before I forget, holy crap what did they do to Kaitlyn’s entrance theme? ‘Spin the Bottle’ was ridiculously bad, but this is something else. And the video! Nothing says “Kaitlyn” like being excited before or after matches, and also FIREWORKS.