– Spoiler alert: This show was bad. Like, notably awful. If you are not a fan of people pointing out that the wrestling is bad I’d recommend going back and reading last week’s report instead. Last week: when things were fun, and people had futures.
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Please click through to enjoy the Worst and One Best When Mark Henry Ran In All Suddenly Of Raw for April 15, 2013.
Best: LOL, Let’s Let These Guys Go First This Week
My favorite thing about last week’s Raw crowd is what it did to the imaginary “WWE makes Raw” procedure in my brain. On one hand, WWE couldn’t let the fans dictate what they did or didn’t enjoy, because that would destroy the fragile, 10-year old ecosystem of Cheer X Because We Say So, Boo Y Because He Said ‘You People.’ You can’t risk kids going, “hey, Big Show’s in the right, here! Sheamus is weird and childish! I don’t want to be like Sheamus” etc. On the other hand, you can’t openly talk about how you hate when your crowd has unauthorized thoughts or fun, so you get moments like JBL chuckling to himself about how much he loves the fans with a distinct I WILL THROTTLE YOU behind his eyes. The key to this argument is “bizarro land.” WWE announcers drop that at the first sign of trouble. WE’RE IN BIZARRO LAND, FANS, DON’T LISTEN TO THIS CROWD. THEY ARE WEIRD. IT IS BUSINESS AS USUAL.
This week’s Raw opening cracked me up. The South Carolina fans weren’t going to live up to Jersey anyway, but WWE made sure of that by more or less starting the show in Randy Orton’s armpit. They immediately went to Orton and Sheamus (the two guys most victimized by the free-thinkers), made sure to sweep between them at the lowest possible angle to avoid any crowd interaction and had the announcers yammer non-stop over everything. It was the most hilarious damage control I’ve ever seen, and I like to believe they had two scripts labeled RAW A and RAW B, with RAW A being all these bullshit non-title losses and melodramatic Cena challenges if the crowd responded positively to Orton. That’s the one we got. In my head, RAW B is headlined by a 40-minute Daniel Bryan/Dolph Ziggler World Title match, 20 minutes of Brad Maddox doing improv and Randy Orton being put into a special Randy Orton jail cell and fired from a moving Helicarrier.
Worst: Congratulations, You Beat A Guy 2-On-1, Jerks
If you aren’t a fan of my “the bad guys are really the good guys” talking point, you’re going to hate this Raw.
Randy Orton and Sheamus both wanted a match against The Big Show, because they were mad at him for knocking them out after their WrestleMania match. Show didn’t do anything to them DURING the match, but this barely matters, because when a WWE Superstar decides he wants a match HERE TONIGHT, that anger is gospel. They had a match against one another to decide who’d face Show, and that ended with Show wandering out and destroying them again, because f**k these crybabies going behind his back to get matches.
Somehow, they skipped the Sheamus vs. Randy Orton vs. Big Show idea and let Orton and Sheamus TEAM UP against Show, which is not exactly what babyfaces do. Did you ever see Dusty Rhodes and Magnum T.A. casually get a two-on-one match against Ric Flair? The idea behind handicap matches is either
1. The one guy is either ridiculously big or strong, so it’s impressive to see him defeat two lesser opponents.
2. The one guy is the guy you’re cheering for, and you want to see him beat the two guys, because the two guys are assholes for agreeing to be the two in a two-on-one match in the first place.
Show is big, but he’s not that much bigger than Sheamus and Orton. They are not Stansky and Rosenberg. So what we’ve got here are two babyface characters who see no problem in ganging up on a single opponent, not even obeying the basic tag-in tag-out rules to double-team him. It’s ridiculous. JBL is absolutely in the right when he says it’s unfair, and that only stupid carnival sideshows make one guy fight two because he’s big.
Best: Characters Intermingling, Or ‘Brock Lesnar Eats 3MB For Real’
I love when a fictional universe has a huge cast of characters, because you can sometimes get special moments of unexpected interaction. The golden age of ‘The Simpsons’ was great about this. So is anime. I can think back on ‘Cowboy Bebop’ and still remember specific scenes based on who was in them. “This is when Faye ate Ein’s dog food because she’s a horrible person,” etc.
I love it less when fictional universes decide that only certain characters should interact, then makes those characters interact constantly. Modern ‘Simpsons’ is terrible about this. I bet Bumblebee Man, the Sea Captain and Comic Book Guy will be in the background no matter where you are or what you’re doing, because that’s the joke! WWE’s bad about it, too. They’ve got a gigantic roster full of potential fresh match-ups, and they just keep carting out the same dudes against each other every week.
So I really enjoy 3MB asking The Shield for a hand-written apology, because hell, I don’t know exactly how The Shield is going to react. I also enjoyed Brock Lesnar showing up out of nowhere to kill them, because (1) Brock usually only gets to interact with the biggest stars and was always his best when he worked with the lower-level guys, and (2) Brock showing up to kill folks is invariably awesome.
Best: Brock’s Magical Clothesline
The highlight of the attack on 3MB was Brock Lesnar debuting his ability to teleport:
HOW DID YOU GET THERE SO FAST, BORK, YOU ARE MASSIVE
You’ve got to love Heath Slater. The guy takes an F5 on the security barrier and is just sprawled on the ground like he’s dead, and as soon as I think he’s actually been mangled by a giant sloppy guy, he pops back up to take a second one. Heath Slater, I see your work and I appreciate it. Also, your hair looks pretty weird when you are lying down.
I’m not looking forward to another Lesnar/Triple H match, but I hope by old school cage match they mean the old-timey blue bars one. I want to see Lesnar destroy one of those things with his bare hands.
Best: I Hate This, But If You Aren’t Going To Let Cesaro Win Ever, It’s The Right Decision
RIP Antonio Cesaro’s United States Title reign. You were the best part of Raw until somebody who runs Raw noticed you were the best part of Raw.
If you read the column regularly, you may be aware that I am a great fan of Antonio Cesaro and … not so much a great fan of Kofi Kingston. That said, I’m giving this a best for a couple of reasons. The most important one is that if you’re gonna make Cesaro the US Champ and have him do nothing but lose non-title matches, yeah, get the belt off of him. That’s the right thing to do. Also, if you’re gonna have Kofi pin him clean, at least have Kofi win the belt in the process. That makes sense. It’s how wins and losses work, and it still kicks me in my ass that I have to explain it.
As for the actual match … yeah, I don’t know. Watch how loosey-goosey Kofi is during the pin exchange at the end, and see how far his foot comes from actually touching Cesaro for quick examples of why I’m not his biggest fan. Maybe now Kofi can start losing non-title matches, and Cesaro can get a new modus operandi and become a big wheel at WWE’s cracker factory.
The good news is that Kofi finally brought the belt home. To Ghana, West Africa.
Worst: AGAIN, ARE YOU SERIOUS
I can’t with these Team Hell No/Prime Time Players matches. I just can’t.
On the upside, the announced Team Hell No/Undertaker vs. The Shield match for next week’s Raw should be f**king BOSS, assuming they let it be what it can be, and do not use it as an excuse for Roman Reigns to beat up Daniel Bryan for 4 minutes before Kane and Undertaker show up and hit chokeslams. Knowing my luck, the match will get changed to “Team Hell No and a mystery partner vs. The Prime Time Players and a mystery partner,” with both mystery partners being invisible. ERASE YOUR DRY ERASE BOARD, GOD.
Best: Bully Ry
And now, the most unexpected Best of the night: Ryback’s “why I attacked John Cena” promo being good. Really good, actually.
Like anybody who watches Impact (or in my case, reads Danielle’s Best and Worst of Impact Wrestling report), it reminded me of Bully Ray explaining in detail why he decided to sham marry Brooke Hogan and invite a bunch of bikers who are also ex-WWE wrestlers to invade the promotion he works for. This is great because it draws upon simple, real, recent history to explain character motivations, something that has been missing in wrestling for a long time.
Sadly, it’s not something most people WANT in wrestling. They want stimulus response and instant gratification. Wrestling fans aren’t generally the types who understand the value of earning an emotion, they just wanna say YOU SUCK at the guy in pink trunks because TURN YOUR BRAIN OFF or whatever. It’s fine. It’s like when I asked the people down the row from me at Elimination Chamber how they could cheer Miz and wear John Cena shirts, because Miz had been so cruel to Cena for so long, and was told “it doesn’t matter.” Stuff doesn’t matter. People are okay with this.
My only real gripe is that WWE made a point to explain that Ryback is both a chickenshit and boring. Cena openly said that Ryback’s explanation of his actions was boring. What did you want, John? Did you want The Rock to do that thing where he doesn’t explain anything, he just says buzzwords and catchphrases because those are easy to remember and ELECTRIFYING~? Don’t you WANT an explanation? If somebody runs into my car, I’m not going to stop them in the middle of their “sorry, I wasn’t paying attention and my brakes went out speech” to tell them how un-entertaining they are.
Worst: Welcome Back, Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett
Before WrestleMania, IC Champ Wade Barrett was stuck in this rut where he’d win every Intercontinental Title defense, but lose every non-title match, and only ever wrestle non-title matches. It was weird. I think he lost to Randy Orton on 70 consecutive episodes of Smackdown. He lost the belt at WrestleMania and we thought, “okay, now his thing is done and he can move on.” You know, like Antonio Cesaro on this same show.
Well, he didn’t move on. He got a rematch the next night on Raw and won back the IC title, drilling Miz with the best-ever Bullhammer elbow. We thought, “okay, I guess now that we don’t have to build up the top guys for Mania we can give him a real IC title run.” Then, last night, he loses a non-title match cleanly to R-Truth, who is basically the worst guy you can lose to.
So … welcome back, horrible pre-Mania Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett. I hope you enjoy your job.
Best: This Was Seriously The Best Match On The Show
It’s not a joke when I say that Rhodes Scholars vs. Santino and The Great Khali was the best match on the show. I’m not PROUD to say it, and the match wasn’t GOOD, but it was the only one I could figure out a way to enjoy.
The real money of the match was Cody bailing to the outside and getting a Cobra to the stomach by Hornswoggle. He did what any of us would’ve done: no-sold it, then grabbed Hornswoggle by the collar and yelled YOU’RE NOT EVEN DOING IT RIGHT. This allowed Sandow to roll up Santino, because I guess you have to roll-up Santino to pin him, and held the tights, because I guess you have to hold the tights when you roll-up Santino to pin him, and get the victory.
Not a great thing at all, but it was momentarily funny and Rhodes Scholars got a win. Sadly, the best wrestling Best on the show.
Worst: Welcome Back To Forced Irrelevance, Fandango
I don’t even know what to say about this. WWE has no idea how to be happy, do they? Something happens organically to give them a little pop culture boost, and their response is to immediately, heinously destroy it.
There was no reason to have FANDANGO LIVE ON RAW TONIGHT graphics throughout the show. There was no reason to give Fandango a spotlight promo where he basically just does what he always does but takes 10 minutes to do it. Remember last week when he was hurt after Jericho’s attack and still agonizingly corrected the ring announcer? That’s the Fandango we like. Not the one who says that we should “go Fandango ourselves,” which doesn’t make sense because
1. “Fandango” doesn’t sound like “f**k” or any synonyms that could mean f**k
2. “Fandangoing ourselves” should be a positive in the eyes of Fandango
3. When Fandango invites you to “go Fandangoing with him,” it shouldn’t mean to stand in place and make dance fingers and hum his music, should it? He should mean “go elaborately ballroom dance with me.”
I just don’t know what they wanted us to do. Was this supposed to make us like him more? Hate him more? Couldn’t they have just given him a match against Primo or whatever so the crowd could do the humming and dancing in peace?
Let yourselves be happy, WWE. It’s easy.
Worst: Dolph Ziggler Losing Clean Immediately After The Hottest Title Change In Years Is A Great Idea
In the third instance of a champion losing a match on this one goddamn episode of Raw, some in-ring attacking and backstage political maneuvering from Teddy Long sees Jack Swagger take Alberto Del Rio’s place in a World Heavyweight Championship rematch against new champ Dolph Ziggler.
The match itself was fine, but holy shit, what in the world happened to this Raw? Jack Swagger lost a World Title match at WrestleMania, then lost a HANDICAP match against Alberto Del Rio the next night on Raw. What happens this week? HE PINS THE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION, WHO IS A DIFFERENT GUY. The new champion, who just won the title on the previous Raw, who desperately needs to look cool and legitimate to capitalize on his massive, singular crowd reaction.
I should’ve just done six pages of the monkey pissing into his own mouth. WWE doing the “guy pins champion in non-title match to earn a title shot” would earn a Worst in any normal column. This is the second time they did it on this show, AND IT WOULD NOT BE THE LAST.
Worst: Alberto Del Rio Attacks Swagger For Losing To Him Fairly
Alberto Del Rio is officially a WWE babyface. Last night, he attacked Jack Swagger from behind on the ramp, kicked him off the stage and put him in an armbreaker while hanging from said stage. Why? Because Swagger “cost him the World Heavyweight Championship” last week. How did Swagger do that, you may ask?
Jack Swagger had a match with Del Rio at WrestleMania. Swagger uses an ankle lock to finish people, so he worked Del Rio’s leg. He lost, but he got another sanctioned match on Raw and continued to work the leg. Del Rio won that, too. Dolph Ziggler cashed in his fairly-earned, canonically-legit Money in the Bank briefcase, took advantage of the leg work, and won the belt.
How is this Jack Swagger’s fault? He’s a pro wrestler. The idea is that he’s supposed to try to hurt you and win. If you’re Del Rio, shouldn’t your beef be with the guy who cashed-in his title shot in an opportunistic manner and took advantage of you? Del Rio is that guy who finds out his girlfriend has been cheating on him and blames the other guy.
Best: Mark Henry, Summoned By My Sadness
MARK HENRY, APPEAR AND MAKE THIS RAW BETTER FOR ME
Making Raw good for me. THAT’S WHAT HE DOES.
Best/Worst: The Punk Segment Was Fine, But Damn, This Has Been A Boring Show And I Wanted Something Good
CM Punk lost to the Undertaker, lost his smile, and is taking some time off to heal up his body. Sadly he is not on a ton of steroids like The Rock and cannot rip in half his upper and lower bodies and start lifting weights three days later.
I thought the segment was effective and well done, but man, after the shitshow that Raw had been, I wanted something dynamic from Punk. I wanted him to launch into a new thing, take me somewhere new against somebody else, redirect, refocus. I get that he needs some time off and that’s great, but it says something for Punk’s presence on the show that I sorta subconsciously expected him to bail me out.
More Raws should feature people hugging Paul Heyman, and fewer should feature him being held down on a table and slapped in the tits.
Worst: And Now, A Third Champion Loses A Non-Title Match
Divas Champion Kaitlyn lost, you guessed it, a non-title match to challenger Nikki Bella. The worst part is that … well, the worst part is that this was the FOURTH f**king champion to lose a match on Raw, and the third in a row to lose a non-title match to set up a title match. You could hear it in Cole’s voice when the Bellas entered. “A win for Nikki Bella here would … sigh, put her in the title hunt.”
But the other worst part is that the Bellas won with Twin Magic, a thing that should not work now that one of them has breast implants and they are wearing different shoes and so on and so forth, followed by the announcers NOTING how stupid you have to be to fall for post-plastic surgery Twin Magic, followed by the announcers identifying the Bellas by the cup size.
F**k this Raw, seriously. F**k the entire thing.