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And now, with 100% fewer helicopter entrances, it’s the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for April 29, 2013.
Best: Starting Raw With Something I Don’t Expect
Here’s a quick list of ten things I enjoy in pro wrestling, in no particular order:
1. fresh matches, even if they don’t look great on paper
2. Ricardo Rodriguez
3. people in Zubaz pants
4. comedy involving people getting hit with buckets
5. ridiculously racist characters that are so racist you can’t believe it
6. Big E Langston
7. matches that help build top level feuds or provide stipulations
9. Cactus Jack clotheslines
10. AJ Lee appearing out of nowhere to do something unexpected
This match had ALL TEN OF THOSE THINGS. You wouldn’t think a match between two managers and a guy who should be able to literally murder them by flexing would be a great way to start Raw, but it was, at least for me. The match wasn’t the main-event of Era Of Honor Begins or whatever, but it was fun, and the obviousness of the finish (Big E defeats them easily) made the less-obvious-but-probably-still-really-obvious finish of Ricardo rolling up Zeb for the three a surprise.
The characters were all pitch-perfect here … Ricardo is a KILLER underdog babyface, Zeb Colter is an opportunistic jerk who hates minorities and can’t really fight or wrestle, Big E Langston is crazy powerful but not really motivated to try hard, Del Rio is that WWE Main-Event Good Guy who will interfere at the drop of a hat, Dolph Ziggler’s too busy taunting after his move to pay attention to the thing about to hurt him, Jack Swagger is threatening but largely ineffectual and AJ Lee is spectacular at appearing unexpectedly and altering the course of events. It’s exactly what this kind of match should be. Sorta like TLC II (the one with Rhino, Spike Dudley and Lita run-ins that all made sense and added constructively to the match) on the smallest possible scale.
Best: Ricardo’s Zubaz Pants
If you aren’t familiar with the wonder of Zubaz pants, they were a brand of stretchy weightlifting pants popularized in the 1980s when the Road Warriors discovered their legs were too gigantic to be housed in regular people pants. They are … more or less pajama pants. Regardless, they are right behind “fannypack” on the list of things that you can wear to make you THE MOST WRESTLING, and I popped for them.
Fun aside: I attended my first ever legitimate lucha libre show this weekend (an event you can hear about in detail on The Mandible Claw Podcast) and pro wrestler Jack Jameson was wearing Ricardo’s pants. The only difference is that his were Green Bay Packers themed. Make your comeback, Zubaz!
Best: THE YALAMINADAHHHHHHHH
It is very difficult to boo John Cena when he’s flanked by three Make-A-Wish kids. Yet, as of the time of this article going up, 21 people have given a “thumbs down” to this video. Thanks for at least waiting until you got home to be assholes, I guess!
But no, John Cena The Character gets a lot of (deserved) grief, but John Cena The Guy continues to be pretty amazing. I should not be on the verge of tears when watching a wrestling program (unless Dusty Rhodes is offering somebody A HUG AND A KISS TO SEAL THE DEAL), but this and especially its accompanying “John Cena surprises kids in the hospital” video got me there. I’m happy that these kids got to show up and scream their wrestler names on Raw, and I hope somebody finds a spot for them in the WWE Encyclopedia.
This is probably an awful thing to type, but I feel bad that the kids didn’t seem happier. Is that weird? I know they’ve got horrible stuff happening to them, but this was their dream wish, right? They should be beaming, and instead they’re just kinda standing there waiting for their moms to lead them away. I guess it’s intimidating and shock-inducing for anybody to get cheered at by 15,000 people or whatever and I do not for a second want to seem like I’m being judgmental about a kid with cancer’s on-screen charisma, but I just kinda want to see them smiling and being happy. Maybe they learned the hard way that being around John Cena for more than a minute is a drag.
You know what else would’ve made this segment awesome? SIERRA HOTEL INDIA ECHO LIMA DELTA
Best: What’s Up, 20-Minute Match On Raw?
I saw a lot of negative feedback for this Raw on the Twittah Machine. Stuff like, “is this Raw worse than the one two weeks ago?” I thought this Raw was pretty great, for one very, very important reason: It featured three 15-ish minute wrestling matches. How am I gonna throw shade at a Raw that gave me that, even if I don’t like the results?
“Cody Rhodes vs. Randy Orton” is one of the most stale matches WWE does, because Cody Rhodes CANNOT WIN. If Orton wrestles Wade Barrett (which he does, constantly), there’s an off chance that Barrett might get a storyline win or something and keep it going. If Dolph Ziggler wrestles Kofi Kingston (HA, like they’re ever gonna do THAT again), either guy can win. When Orton steps into the ring with Rhodes, the last three years of character development and growth goes out the window, and Orton just pretends like he’s still got heat and Cody’s still his Legacy crony. Sometimes Cody doesn’t get in any offense and just exists for Orton to do his moves. Sometimes he gets to wrestle, and when Cody Rhodes gets to wrestle, wrestling is good.
Thankfully, last night’s match let Cody look good. I bought the Cross Rhodes counter to the RKO as a finish and everything. “Wow, is Cody Rhodes gonna win?” I said that out-loud. I’m stupid. But you never know, right? They could be going somewhere with Cody, and not just pairing him with the Bella Twins for E!-pleasing comedy matches and romance angles. Like they’d ever do THAT. They’d have another Ziggler/Kingston match before they did THAT.
Worst: Come On, Cody, What Were You Going For
Orton loves his match-ending RKO counter spots, so of course this one had to end with Cody jumping into an RKO or running into one “out of nowhere,” or both. Sometimes the spots are organic — see CM Punk’s diving clothesline into an RKO at WrestleMania — or creative, like the time Orton countered Del Rio’s corner enzuigiri. Sometimes they are … just dudes jumping headfirst into nothingness. Christian loves to do this.
Seriously, look at that picture. What’re you going for, Cody, a Santo headbutt? There’s no way you could’ve brought your leg around to kick him. My only justification for this dive into oblivion is that maybe Cody was GOING for a Disaster Kick, but when he turned to spring off he saw Orton getting up and tried to readjust into something else, which left him prone. One of those times when an announcer making up shit on the fly probably would’ve come in handy.