– Do me a favor … if you’ve never shared a Best and Worst of WWE Raw column before, share this one. We’ve got to keep our momentum up now that the WrestleMania crowd has lost interest and vanished into Game of Thrones and Mad Men (or old reruns of The Nanny?). You’re the most important part of making this column successful. Well, you and Reddit, when they notice it.
– I didn’t get a chance to last week, but I want to thank everyone who came out to the premiere of Meet Me There in New Orleans on WrestleMania weekend. If you missed it, we’ve got a showing as part of the Sunscreen Film Festival in St. Petersburg, FL, on May 4, as well as a second “premiere” in Austin on May 20. We’ve got a few more unannounced things coming up after that, so it’s an exciting time. If you can help us be a part of a festival/get screened somewhere else, find me at one of those above links and let me know. You’ll get my friendship forever, and you’ll probably get to hang with Goldust*.
*Goldust not guaranteed (although people who hung out with us in New Orleans got to hang out with him AND Dusty. And me**.)
**Me not guaranteed.
Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for April 14, 2014.
Worst: 10 Bell Salutes
I’m not talking about 10 bell salutes themselves, I’m talking about the experience of watching them.
I’ve talked extensively about how while the Ultimate Warrior was never a guy I particularly enjoyed (or agreed with), he was devastatingly influential and important to people I love. That, combined with him being on television three days in a row after a forever-years hiatus, caused his death to hit me a lot harder than I’d expected. We start off Raw with a beautifully-made video package and a shot of Cody Rhodes standing there on the stage about to break down. Suddenly, I’m a mess.
I don’t like seeing people I love hurt, and this hurt everybody. The timing is the rub … Warrior went from this comical, ridiculous memory of wrestling’s past to a real guy; a real walking, talking human being who had his problems but was clearly trying to make things right. He squeezed his daughters’ hands. He wasn’t screaming about queering and destrucity anymore, he was telling people he loved them. He was on Raw in a stupid plastic facemask yelling about blood-pumping. Even the most jaded of us opened up a little and let him burrow down into our hearts, and then he was just instantly, mercilessly gone.
I’m not sure if I believe in a Heaven or a Hell anymore, but even if all we get is an infinity of silence and darkness, I’m pretty sure Warrior’s running through that shit and shaking its ropes right now.
Worst: People Trying To Get On The Live Track
Lawler: “Let’s respectfully pause in silence as we toll the bell ten times.”
Random Screaming Asshole: “BLEAH BAH BLEAH BLAH BLEAHHH”
People trying to get on the live track are the worst people in the world. Jackson Browne is up on stage singing ‘Birds of St. Marks’ or whatever and everyone’s sitting around lost in the moment, and one dude in the cheap seats realizes there’s about to be a quiet part and f*cking pig whistles so he can “be a part of it” forever. You are the very bottom, whistling guy. The only person between you and the barrel is that hopeless manchild who thought “screaming” was the proper response for “shut up so we can honor our dead friend.”
Best: An Important Cameo
On the far left, above Sin cara and behind Jack Swagger’s right shoulder.
I’m sorry you couldn’t be here under happier circumstances, but thanks for showing up to help me get through this. Was Otunga on the stage somewhere?
Best: The Intercontinental Championship Number One Contender Tournament
Hey, here’s something relevant to my interests!
A large chunk of Raw focused on the first round of a tournament to name a new #1 contender to the Intercontinental Championship, which is great because we’ve spent the last however many years since Cody/Big Show assuming the IC belt is a worthless, cursed strap of garbage nobody wants. Seriously, winning it is the worst thing that can happen to you. It’s the Siege Perilous of WWE careers. You work hard to get good enough to win it and plow through a bunch of guys, and then as soon as you win it you’re “guy 3” in a John Cena trio and taking pinfall losses to everybody else on the roster. Nobody loses more than the Intercontinental Champion. Dean Ambrose had the right idea … he won the United States Championship and decided to use it as an actual belt for his pants that is never mentioned or defended.
So yeah, we’ve got a tournament full of notable guys competing for a shot at a belt that SHOULD mean something, and I love it. I especially love how HOSSY the tournament is. With the exception of Rob Van Dam and Dolph Ziggler, every competing wrestler is the type to rip off your arms and bludgeon you with them or throw their body at you until you’re dead. Mark Henry? Cesaro? Swagger? Sheamus? Barrett? Who put this tournament together, me?
Worst: JBL Doesn’t Know What Rob Van Dam’s Going To Do Next
Okay, no, I did not put this tournament together.
The actual match between Alberto Del Rio and Rob Van Dam was fine. Del Rio’s a great opponent for Van Dam because he’s built around sudden bursts of violence that require haphazard selling and has a lucha libre background, which is code for “can get into position for embarrassing offense.” Van Dam’s still doing 2000 Van Dam and might be pregnant, but people love familiarity and I guess haven’t picked up on the basic spot cues he’s been dropping with Muppet face for the last decade and a half.
At one point in the match JBL’s all I DON’T KNOW WHAT ROB VAN DAM’S GONNA DO NEXT MAGGLE, I DON’T THINK HE KNOWS WHAT HE’S GONNA DO NEXT! I was in the kitchen while this happened and remember loudly saying HE’S GONNA DO THAT ROLL-UP WITH THE LEGS, and then a few seconds later Cole’s all LOOK AT THIS UNORTHODOX INNOVATION! This is not meant as a weird backhanded brag about how I know a lot about wrestling or whatever … it’s about how “we don’t know what Rob Van Dam’s gonna do it’s so crazy” is the biggest lie they tell. My cat knew he was gonna do the roll-up with his legs.
The good news (spoiler alert) is that Van Dam is gonna get Cesaro’d SO HARD next week and it’s gonna be glorious.
Best: The Rybaxel Mash-up Entrance Theme
Jump to the 1:45 mark. I like it a lot. This is how you do a mash-up theme. The Rhodes Brothers theme is just Goldust’s music with the Smoke and Mirrors guy mumbling in the background.
Worst: Won’t Somebody Think Of The Rhodes Brothers
I’m really tired of watching these guys lose. Cody Rhodes might have the least reliable offense in the game right now. How many times does the Disaster Kick win a match in comparison to how many times he goes for it, misses it and eats a loss? How many times does his moonsault connect and get a pinfall? How many times does he whiff it or clip the guy’s shoulder? Cross Rhodes is the closest thing he’s got to a reliable move, and even that ends in an RKO like 15% of the time. If I’m Cody, I’m going to spend a month doing nothing but punches and Alabama Slams.
Also, shoutout to the Raw announce team for choosing Goldust’s ring entrance as the best time to discuss WWE Studios’ Oculus, the best new horror film in years! I guess there was not a more relevant horror film to discuss. My next film’s gonna have a $5 million budget and star Oswin Oswald and maybe then you’ll talk about me on Raw, you jerks.