The Best and Worst of Raw 4/4/11 offers up the best (meaning the highest quality to be found in a given activity or category of things) and worst (most faulty, unsatisfactory, or objectionable) of the April 4 edition of WWE Raw. Brandon Stroud is a syndicated advice columnist whose weekly column, The Best and Worst of Raw 4/4/11, is featured in over 250 newspapers nationwide.
A few notes as to why this column is featured on a sports comedy blog:
– The illusion of professional wrestling as a TV program is that it is presented as a loosely organized sport, classifying itself as “sports entertainment.” That makes it about as legitimate as professional boxing, baseball before the 1960s and that one Super Bowl where Kurt Warner totally fumbled on purpose.
– That being said, it is fun to write and talk about. Pretending it is real even when you know it isn’t is pro wrestling’s only bearable form. It’s not ignorance, it’s suspension of disbelief. Some people can do it and move the hell on with their lives, some can’t.
– Wrestling posts get 30 comments and lots of traffic and nobody but me and Buster Olney care about baseball.
Now, on to the fake fighting. Please stay tuned for several high-definition images of men in their underwear.
[images -> MGFanJay @ DVDR]
Best: Sin F’n Cara
Wrestling needs to be fun again. Somewhere between Samoa Joe’s descent into fat nothingness and a bunch of bloodless cage matches, televised wrestling stopped being fun. It became an ordeal, something to sit through, full of hairless, muscly guys with bad tribal tattoos with names like Chasyn Dance. There is a huge list of things that can turn pro graps on a dime and make it the funnest thing ever, and one of them is CRAZY IMPROMPTU LUCHA MADNESS.
That’s what we got in the debut of Sin Cara last night, the unbeatable combination of Mexico’s biggest draw, a trampoline, and Enigma’s “Sadness, Part 1.” Cara made his first appearance to stop (that damn bully~) Sheamus from assaulting Daniel Bryan after a United States Championship defense. He ran to the ring, hopped in over the top rope, hit a few exciting moves and topped it off with what the Spanish announcers called a SUPER PLANCHAAAA. Kids ran to the merchandise table and bought everything with Sin Cara’s name on it in size extra small. Sheamus got an exciting new opponent, Daniel Bryan got the best EWR fantasy tag team partner ever and I got a debuting superstar who is guaranteed to never use the phrases “you people” or “each and every one of you.” Because he doesn’t speak English. Score.
Best: Sheamus and Daniel Bryan Get a Make-Up Game
It wasn’t the most thrilling match, but Sheamus and Bryan got to do a quick version of what I will still assume was an epic 25 minute Wrestlemania Savage and Steamboat contest on Raw. They got to debut their new gear, which I am lame enough to want to devote like six “bests” to. Daniel Bryan got a fancy ring jacket, Sheamus got amazing red, white and blue United States Champion gear, and Daniel Bryan got to look like orange-ass Randy Orton standing next to Sheamus. So… let me see how I can phrase this.
Best: Everything about this, including clothes and Mistico
Worst: This was not the entire show
Worst: Hey Crowd, Do You Think These Strangers Are Tough Enough
WWE crowds are starting to do this weird thing where nobody new is accepted. It’s why guys like Alberto Del Rio or Daniel Bryan have trouble getting over despite being great at what they do. People have been beaten to death with the Ryan Braddocks and Braden Walkers and Vance Archers of the world that when a WWE ring fills up with 20 douchebags in dress shirts and lady jeans, they expect the worst. Compared to other times when this has happened, last night’s “introduce yourself in the most awful way you can think of” fest wasn’t the worst, but it certainly wasn’t something I wanted to spend ten minutes on.
I wonder what it’s like to get a developmental deal like this?
You: “Hi, I’m the new guy.”
WWE: “Are you a man or a woman?”
You: “Uh, a man. My name is Joe.”
WWE: “Your name is Starden Craid and you have known your whole life that you are beautiful, a future WWE champion and better than each and every one of these people. Here is your baggy dress shirt, go out there and awkwardly smirk.”
And then you just kinda have to wrestle Santino a lot and hope it works out. If you’re a woman, the last part reads “be a bitch, get implants, learn a DDT.” Your name is still Starden Craid.
Best: Yeah, But Austin
I turn into a total hypocrite talking about Steve Austin, because I hate Rocky singing the classics, but could watch Austin mudhole/Lou Thesz/elbow drop/stunner/alcoholism all day long. Seriously, I never get tired of it. They wouldn’t have started a “stun them all” chant if there wasn’t a chance Austin was going to stun them all. I enjoyed Austin vs. Riley more than I’ve enjoyed most matches on Raw this year.
Best/Worst: Cena Vs. Rock at Wrestlemania 28
Here’s the thing.
Best: This is the match everybody wanted to see a month ago. If Rocky knew he was going to wrestle again, I wish they would’ve set it up to happen in Atlanta. Put Rock in the match with Cena and Miz and Rock doesn’t even have to take a pinfall. Rock is in great shape, Cena was ready to go (outside of his weird concussiony wandering at Mania), Miz will do anything you tell him. You make bank, you send everybody home happy.
Now, that didn’t happen, and sure, I’d like to see Cena vs. Rock in an actual match. I think we all would, no matter our reasons. Cena haters want to see Rock kick his ass, I want to see Rock tap out to an STF where neither of Cena’s arms are touching his head or face. You’re still making bank. But, the problem:
Worst: This Isn’t Going To Happen
I’m not getting my hopes up. The wrestling business can change a lot in twelve months. Who knows where Rock’s movie career will be? “Fast Five” could gross a billion dollars and shoot him into a bunch of new roles. He could be up for an Oscar or something (stranger things have happened, David Otunga’s wife has one) and get pressured from Hollywood because wrestling is “beneath him,” with Wrestlemania being his “Norbit.” More believable scenario, Disney tosses $30 million at him to film The Tooth Fairy 2: Molar Express in March. Or, worst case scenario, he remembers how easy it is to be a movie star and stops wanting to wrestle.
At the same time, how much faith can we put in John Cena going twelve months without hurting himself? The guy’s always ripping muscles off of things. One wrong Cobra and his entire torso could collapse. I’ve seen those Don’t Try This At Home commercials, I know accidents can happen, and no matter how good you are at this, Alex Riley could body slam you wrong once and screw up hundreds of millions of dollars in plans.
Best/Worst: Cena Vs. Rock at Wrestlemania 28
I want it to happen, and I hope it does. A year-long build for a match is unprecedented in modern WWE, and despite my complete lack of faith in their ability to execute, I hope it turns out great and stays compelling all year. But just to be safe, I’d put Cena on one of those MMA-type Real Sports Build plans where he only wrestles at pay-per-views to keep him healthy, and I make sure to bring The Rock back and have someone arbitrarily insult him every few months to keep him interested. Kozlov, go call this guy something racist! Problem solved.
Worst: Michael Cole is Not Gone
It felt like a warm bath. Jim Ross was welcoming us to a sold out, tarped-off arena for Monday Night Raw. Things were going off without a hitch; the announcing was solid, stories were being told, things were getting over. Ross explaining about how Jack Swagger’s ankle lock is one of the most painful things you could ever experience did more to put over the move than weeks of Kofi Kingston worming out of it. I was happy that the worst was over, and that thanks to some badly paced punching at Wrestlemania we were going to be free from Cole.
And then Cole shows up.
I defended him for a long time. I thought the idea of a heel announcers who really, really needs to get punched in the mouth was a positive thing for Raw. Turns out I was wrong as a motherf**k of sh:t and Cole is the worst thing ever. He comes to the ring, incapacitates Jerry Lawler, sprays some barbecue sauce on Jim Ross and I guess Ross couldn’t find any replacement clothing within two hours or do his job slightly stained because Cole, Josh Mathews and Booker T took over. Like a paintball episode, it was all downhill from there. And while I’m at it,
Worst: Booker T
I like you and all, but damn, stop talking.
The Rock walks the ring and Booker’s all “HEY GUYS I THINK THAT’S THE ROCK AND HE’S MAD” while the Rock’s trying to talk. You are better than your brother in the ring, but way worse than him behind the mic. Stevie Ray or we riot.
Best: Punk and Rhodes vs. Mysterio and Orton, Sort Of
Two of my favorite wrestlers teaming up against guys they hate. I’ll let you figure out which team you think I’m talking about.
I like all four of these guys in the ring most of the time. Mysterio can get kind of predictable with his headscissors that defy physics by sending you off toward the second rope no matter where he’s spinning, and Orton can go from great to really awfully bad in no time, but like I said, most of the time I enjoy watching them wrestle. I also like Raw having wrestling matches, especially tag team matches, ESPECIALLY tag team matches that go longer than ten minutes. So this was a lay-up for a Best and Worst “Best.”
But because I can’t really seem to commit to anything this week,
Worst: Mild Disappointment
This was mostly annoying for me. Some reasons were valid, some weren’t. Two commercial breaks was a big one. I’ve never understood the production call of filming people walking and talking to each other backstage, but cutting away whenever wrestling happens, a chinlock is applied or someone falls/jumps to the outside. Crash to break is a son of a bitch.
I also didn’t like how CM Punk stayed on the outside for most of the match. They didn’t even really play it up as Punk being injured or scared of anyone, he just didn’t do a lot. It ended up playing out as a handicap match, down to Rhodes getting hit with two finishers and put away like a chump.
And, well… there was the Mysterio/Orton team. I guess it’s good that Mysterio forgave him for all that “Eddie Guerrero is in Hell” stuff from a few years ago. I know history isn’t important to anybody anymore, but a brief little segment beforehand where Mysterio is all “hey, I don’t like or trust you but you’re good in the ring and we have a common enemy so we are tag team partners tonight” thing with Orton snake-facing and being all “YOU SHOULDN’T TRUST ME” tilde-bang would’ve been enough. Instead, they won the match with a tandem finish and exchanged bro handshakes.
Like I said, mild disappointment.