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– GIFS courtesy of Jerusalem over at Punchsport Pagoda.
– As previously mentioned, I’m making my first feature length film. It’s called Meet Me There, stars WWE’s Goldust, features a poster designed by the same lady who designed CM Punk’s new shirt and is written by, uh, the guy who writes The Best and Worst of Raw. If you like any of those things, you should consider donating to the cause.
Also, if you are the gent who spoke with me about the movie at WrestleCon, please send me an e-mail.
Please click through to enjoy The Best And Worst Of WWE Raw for April 8, 2013.
Worst: The Return Of The Worst Possible WWE Insult
Last year, I missed the entirety of the post-WrestleMania Raw (aka “the only Raw where stuff happens”) because I was on my way back from Miami and stuck in the Dallas airport. This year I made it home somewhere near the beginning of the Intercontinental Championship match, so all I missed was a short Daniel Bryan/Big E Langston match (more on that in a second) and an opening, celebratory John Cena segment that was capped by him saying Mark Henry had the “breath of a thousand asses.”
If you’re a regular watcher of WWE programming, you’re aware that the only thing WWE thinks is more funny than a dude in a Sherlock Holmes hat and pipe looking for “clues” is somebody saying somebody else has bad breath. They LOVE it. It’s the worst insult they can come up with. Triple H will hold you down on a table and slap your chest like a weirdo for saying his wife’s a whore and his children are worthless and stupid, but he’d probably pull out a gun and shoot you if you told him his breath was like something’s asshole. I like to imagine a scenario where I meet Vince McMahon, shake his hand, then just casually ask him if he needs a mint. I can’t figure out whether he’d start screaming and pointing at me, or if he’d just do that big exaggerated gulp.
Worst: Hey, It’s That Awesome Match I Suggested To Build The Tag Title Match From … Uh, The Day Before This
I think every pre-Mania Best and Worst of Raw featured a line about how Daniel Bryan should have a match on Raw with Big E Langston. It’s just one of those things I wanted to see. I like both guys, Langston could benefit from getting to work with somebody who isn’t Bo Dallas, and Daniel Bryan is arguably at his best going up against huge monster guys. See: Mark Henry, Takeshi Morishima, etc. Not only that, but Daniel Bryan’s offense is like 70% hitting you in the chest with something, and Big E Langston is 70% chest.
Here’s a quick list of reasons why this disappointed me:
1. I didn’t get home in time to see it after asking for it for a month.
2. It was only two minutes long.
3. Daniel Bryan lost a two minute version of any match.
4. It was mostly pointless, because the Ziggler Crew tag title shot happened the night before, and (assuming you’ve seen the rest of Raw) they probably aren’t trying to build to a rematch.
I hope this isn’t the last time we see the match, because I still think it can be great. I also hope that one day Michael Cole attempts to explain why The Big Ending hurts Langston’s opponents, when it looks like Langston is hurting his back and arm and the other guy is just kinda dropping five feet onto his hands and knees.
Best: Let’s Go Barrett, Clap Clap ClapClapClap
So, this made my heart flutter a little bit.
The New Jersey crowd starts chanting for Wade Barrett about midway through this match, and that’s when the post-WrestleMania Raw goes from “normal Raw” to “OH MY GOD THIS RAW.” If they called an audible to give Barrett the win in response to the crowd, good for them. If they didn’t, and scheduled Miz to win the IC title to continue his “I’m good at WrestleMania” gag to just turn around and give it back to Barrett — a guy who held the title forever and only ever seemed to lose, but never lose IT — is a little suspect. Either way, Miz got his clock cleaned while an arena of people cheered, and things seem just a little more right.
I really enjoyed this match. I thought it was better than their Mania effort, helped a lot by a crowd actually giving a shit about what was happening instead of trying to find their seats and squeeze past people and battle ushers. Face Miz continues to recover from his abysmal transition into good-guydom and looks like he’s got the figure-four processes on lock, so that’s a positive. And Barrett? Oh man …
Best: Now THAT’s A Motherf**king Bullhammer
Earlier in the match, Barrett mistimes Miz’s backbreaker-to-neckbreaker combo (or loses his balance, or tries to jump, or SOMETHING) and Miz ends up landing on Barrett’s face. It looked painful. I can’t say for sure whether or not the match-ending Dog Boner elbow strike was a receipt for the f**k-up, but suddenly the wimpiest, worst-looking finish in WWE became a STRAIGHT ELBOW TO THE MOUTH WITH AUTHORITY, and thank Christ.
I’m not saying Wade Barrett should go Full Roderick Strong and just start hitting people for real, but if the Bullhammer looked more like that and less like the World’s Worst Rainmaker, I’d be happy. I am also totally okay with him braining Miz on the reg, because Miz is pretty much the king of f**king up and hurting people, so you can sneak in a few shoot elbow KOs before anybody says anything.
Best: Brickie, Forever And Ever
I feel like I say it every week, but I cannot get enough of Brad Maddox on my television. He doesn’t even have to say anything funny. He just makes faces and covers his mouth and moves his eyebrows around and I’m in. I also love how he’s secretly been this totally positive thing for Vickie. She started out giving him a job just to make Paul Heyman mad, but notice how different she is now from before she had Cornbeef around … before, she was always interrupting people and shouting and yelling at the crowd. Now, she just hangs around backstage in her office, deals with problems as they come to her, and never has to really scream at anybody. She can even send Maddox out for interviews with Matt Striker, or to make impromptu matches. It all seems very low stress.
Sheamus and Randy Orton have got to be the worst dudes on this show, too. I don’t know how Brickie deals with them. They lost the match, you know? They didn’t tag in Show, pissed him off, and lost the match. WWE’s recaps say they lost when Show knocked them out, but they didn’t … they lost, and THEN Show knocked them out. Orton and Sheamus shouldn’t get any special privileges. Brickie was right to just make them wrestle each other and get booed out of the building.
Best/Worst: Here’s That WrestleMania Match Again For Free, Everybody
The secret to this Raw is that it was SPECTACULAR because of the crowd response and atmosphere, but actually pretty assy in regard to match quality and storytelling. An early example is Daniel Bryan losing to Big E Langston AFTER the tag titles match at WrestleMania, but just BEFORE Ziggler cashes in and makes Team Rocket’s tag titles quest irrelevant. Another is the handicap match between World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio and the Jack Swagger/Zeb Colter team the night after Swagger LOST his title match, featuring almost no participation from Zeb. It’s like they (1) needed Del Rio to get hurt enough somehow to make Ziggler’s cash-in a reality, and (2) didn’t want to do the exact same match as Sunday, but couldn’t come up with anything better, so they said “Dutch, go stand ON the apron instead of beside it.”
Seriously, what does Zeb do here? He just kinda crouch-stands on the apron looking confused. That’s it. He doesn’t save Swagger when Swagger’s in danger, he doesn’t pull the referee out of the ring, he doesn’t distract anybody to keep Swagger’s tap-out from ending the match, he doesn’t do ANYTHING. He’s just there so the match will be technically different.
The actual match was pretty good, with the best parts of it being rehashed from the Mania match. I did enjoy Swagger falling victim to the Kurt Angle ankle lock counter (“roll forward”) and selling it by stumbling a bit and stopping himself at the ropes instead of doing the Kurt thing where he goes flying and straddles the middle rope with his neck. Realism, sort of!
The biggest complaint about this match is that it was 12 minutes long and nowhere NEAR as great as the 3 minute match that followed it.
BEST: HERE TO SHOW THE WORLD
SO, THIS IS HAPPENING
I’m not sure, but Alberto Del Rio vs. Dolph Ziggler for the World Heavyweight Championship might be the best three minute match I’ve ever seen. It was glorious. It accomplished everything you needed to accomplish. Alberto Del Rio was injured enough to justify a short match, but still valiant enough of a champion to fight through the injury and look tough. Ziggler got in a lot of cheap offense but won the match clean (as clean as a post-match Money in the Bank cash-in can be, at least). Most importantly, Ziggler WON THE MATCH, instantly giving the briefcase back the heat it’s been missing since Cena cashed in his like a dweeb and Ziggler hoarded the other one for a year.
How great was this, though? Del Rio’s corner kick was BOSS. Ziggler countered the cross armbreaker using logic (gasp!) instead of just rolling around into another signature move like WWE guys do. The Zig Zag was beautiful. It all worked, and I will be a happy man if Del Rio and Ziggler can get a formal feud soon, because they work SO well together. Plus, they have adorable crews.
Best: Holy Shit, This Crowd
We’re never going to forget Ziggler’s cash-in, thanks almost exclusively to the New Jersey crowd. They jumped the shark a little later when they did the “We Are Awesome” chant and started chanting for Michael Cole, but they did something very important: they stopped taking their cues, and just cheered for whatever made them happy and shat on whatever didn’t. WWE treated this like a crazy, once-in-a-lifetime happenstance, but you know what? This is what wrestling crowds are supposed to be like. See how great it is when the reactions are fun and organic, and not a bunch of line-reads you taught them before the show? It makes wrestling seem like a cool, fun thing to watch with your friends, and not like the propaganda and t-shirt sales video it usually is.
Best: Dolph Ziggler’s Crew > Your Crew
I love them. Absolutely love them. Kaitlyn had an awful, catty tweet about how AJ “didn’t know whether to laugh or cry” and how she was crazy, but f**k Kaitlyn, because crying and laughing can both be side effects of SHOOT JOY, and AJ had it. So did Big E. These three should be friends forever.
(they should also let Big E use his own entrance theme, because that is kinda weird)
Best: SIERRA HOTEL INDIA OTHER WORDS
Remember that theory that The Shield exists as an extension of my pro wrestling watching anger, and when I get to my breaking point they show up and beat people up on my behalf? Yeah, Undertaker cutting promos is my least favorite thing in the world, especially when they stop being about THE DEPTHS OF HAIL and veer towards issues regarding This Business, so theory validated.
I really, really wanted to see The Shield take Undertaker out (if only for the sight of Tyler Black standing tall over the goddamn Undertaker), but I’m also okay with Team Hell No making the dramatic save, and with Daniel Bryan being an honorary Brother Of Destruction. Because seriously, this picture is amazing:
This will make a hell of an Extreme Rules match. Or a solid WrestleMania match next year, which would give us a year of The Shield steamrolling super teams en route to breaking Undertaker’s streak as a unit. Or, more importantly, riding into the arena on a f**king helicopter. No, I don’t care if Mania is in the Superdome. They can land on the roof and cut holes in the ceiling.
Worst: And The Rest!
the hell is this match
If you’re like me, you saw 3MB going up against the Italian Arthur Rosenberg, the black Stan Stansky and their less-important-than-Rosenberg-and-Stansky friend and thought, “okay, who is debuting to beat them all up?” It’s the show after Mania, major things are happening and six goofy chumps are going at it in the ring. Mason Ryan, maybe? Is Mason Ryan still a thing?
But then it was just … uh, a match. My only working theory is that WWE was worried that the crowd was getting out of hand, knew a Randy Orton/Sheamus match was coming up next and needed something to bore everybody and cool them down. So they thought, “hey, these guys never get a reaction, let’s send them out and make them WRESTLE, HAW HAW.”
Spoiler alert: That did not work.
Best: You Know That Was Totally When Triple H Was Supposed To Give A Post-Match Speech, But He Chickened Out Because Of The Crowd
I was in the SummerSlam crowd that chanted “you tapped out” and “na na na na hey hey hey goodbye” at Triple H. I watched him take a week off to distance himself from that, then show up on Raw to deliver the same “I’m sorry, I love me” act to get the reaction he thought he deserved at SummerSlam. And sure, he probably took the week off for “arm injuries” (read: to get the deadly jizz burns off of his stomach) and there’s no conspiracy to be had, but man, I would’ve loved Triple H standing in the ring trying to wank and dick joke this crowd.
Remember that Survivor Series when CM Punk was getting bigger cheers than DX or the Hardyz, so H took the microphone and was all, “oh hey, Triple H thinks you should cheer for CM PUNK” to bogart the reaction? Yeah, he’s not above it. WWE, please hold all shows in front of crowds like this so Triple H will not appear. Please and thank you.
Worst: What’s My Line
The best part of the show was easily Randy Orton interrupting Sheamus in the ring, forgetting his lines, then pausing, walking up to Sheamus and repeatedly saying “what’s my line” until he came up with something shitty and they jumped to commercial break. When they came back, they had Brickie cut to the chase and be all “oh so you BOTH want a match against Big Show,” because apparently Randy Orton has never taken level one improv anywhere and couldn’t just make up some shit about how he wanted a match, since, you know, he shouldn’t be expected to follow his own stories or pay attention to anything he’s done or said. Big Show knocked you out at WrestleMania and you JUST recorded a thing where you asked Booker T for a match against Show. JUST MAKE SOMETHING UP. “I want a match with Show and I deserve it more than you” is not Oscar Wilde, you Burgertime f**king hot dog.
Best: Orton And Sheamus As Goldberg And Brock Lesnar
The WWE Fan Nation video skips all of that, fills up most of the clip with Brickie and the backstage segments, and jumps right to the end of the match. What it misses is the greatest ever example of a crowd saying “f**k it” to playing along and shitting all over a boring, pandering, unimportant match between guys they hate. FINALLY.
None of this made sense. Orton and Sheamus both wanted a match with Show. Sheamus asked the lady in charge of Raw. Orton asked the guy from Smackdown for whatever reason. In theory, that alone should’ve been an excuse to say “it’s Raw, Sheamus gets the match.” Instead they do a poll, asking the WWE Universe who they think should wrestle Show, and they overwhelmingly pick Orton, because the only people voting on the app are people who’d want to see Randy Orton. So that’s reason to say “Orton gets the match.” Instead of either of those things, they have a flubby mic exchange and end up being put in a match against each other for the … I don’t know, prestige of facing Big Show later? They aren’t having a title match. Why couldn’t they do a triple threat, or take turns?
So the crowd recognized that the match was stupid garbage and treated it appropriately. They chanted “END THIS MATCH,” “RVD,” “JBL” and anything else they could think of to pass the time. Sheamus and Orton just obliviously ignored them, doing their same bullshit match as they were told, not once considering that they should have a little fun and actually play to the crowd they’re paid to play to. They went through the entire 15 minutes of motions en route to the finish the crowd would’ve loved three minutes in. It was a weird “us vs. them” thing, and if WWE learns anything from Monday night, it should be that fans are better when they’re allowed to live and breathe. How much more fun does this show seem than a normal Raw? This is what you want casual fans to tune into … crowds that cannot stop having fun, even when your show sucks. That’s basically Nitro in a nutshell, isn’t it?
Best: Thank You Big Show Clap Clap ClapClapClap
Took you long enough.
Best: Fandango Is The New Daniel Bryan, Or
Worst: F**k You, Cool Dad
A few numbered points, so I can keep them all in order:
1. Okay, so of course Fandango isn’t actually the new Daniel Bryan. Last year, the WrestleMania crowd loved Daniel Bryan and were upset that he lost in 18 seconds, so they continued the YES! YES! YES! chants all night. That carried into the next night’s Raw, and the feeling was so infectious that WWE was forced to at least keep Bryan around and do something with him to sell his merch. This year, the post-Mania crowd started humming Fandango’s music because … well, I’m not 100% sure why, but they gave him a heroes welcome, possibly because Fandango is awesome and you f**kers have finally noticed. If it’s ironic, let it be ironic. I almost bought an Aces & Eights shirt this weekend to wear ironically. Nobody’s doing ironic love in wrestling these days, so hey, it could work.
If it isn’t irony and the people actually came around to Fandango (because they should, because he is great), that’s also good. Sometimes WWE runs with something terrible for a guy and it turns out to be magic. I think Dirty Curty might be exactly the right amount of talented and weird to make Fandango a real thing, and if that bothers you, I’d like to direct you to the fact that the “greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time” is a wrestling Elvis impersonator.
2. Daaa DA! DA da da daaaa dadadaaaaDA!
3. Boy do I hate babyface Chris Jericho. The guy loses a match at Fandango at WrestleMania, and how does he respond? By interrupting a match, beating the guy up, putting him in a submission hold and refusing to release it, then mocking him. And he’s the good guy? Fandango was just trying to dance and beat Kofi Kingston, because he’s got better things to do than loiter around Bobby and Janey’s soccer practice with Cool Dad.
Best: Kofi Kingston’s Streak Of Great Matches Continues
4. Kofi Kingston’s 2013 continues to make me love him. He’s so hilariously worthless right now. The guy only appears when somebody needs to quickly knock him out or get interrupted, and the only time he’s gotten to talk on television was as ersatz Shannon Sharpe on a PPV pre-show. It’s wonderful. I hope he never changes. Be this generation’s Tito Santana for real, Kofi!
Worst: Yep, Couldn’t Find A Spot On WrestleMania For That 2 Minute Match
I enjoyed all two minutes of this, but man, you couldn’t have wedged this in between a Rock hype video and an “I LOVE NEW YORK and also new jersey but not as much” thing to get these eight a WrestleMania payday?
There were a lot of highlights here, even if it went by too quickly. JBL calling Cody Rhodes “Mike Schmidt,” Rhodes Scholars and the Bella Twins doing that ultimate Disaster Kick -> butt sandwich -> Cubito Aequet combo, Brodus executing the worst non-Titus O’Neil pin in Raw history after a suplex and Tensai eating Damien Sandow’s knees on a mistimed splash:
So let’s do this again, but give everybody a little more time. Also, let’s build a time machine and do it on Sunday instead of Puff Daddy.
Worst: A Count-Out? In 3 Minutes? Really?
And so, the main event of the most excited Raw in a year is a limp, 3-minute count-out victory for John Cena, because John Cena ain’t care.
Best: Ryback Figures Out How To Get A Title Shot
The only Best for the main-event (besides Mark Henry’s amazing yelling of TELL ME A JOKE while stomping and piefacing Cena) is the reemergence of Ryback as a dynamic thing to care about. I might be typing that too often. Ryback ALMOST works, but there’s something weirdly false about him, like he’s trying too hard to play a character, or he doesn’t get that wrestling isn’t real, or … something. It’s hard to pinpoint. But he works as a very strong, very angry guy who just shows up and obliterates people, as he did with Cena on Monday, and I hope that continues. I need less of him explaining his motivations in the ring and more of him being an unstoppable juggernaut in Ninja Turtle undies who will KILL AND EAT YOU.
Hopefully this will lead to a Cena/Ryback/Henry thing at Extreme Rules, which should play to everyone’s strengths … Cena always excels in matches where he gets to use weapons, assuming he’s not doing a Passion thing with Randy Orton, Mark Henry isn’t physically 100% and could use a spot where he can pause and not hurt himself but is so awesome he needs to be in the main-event, and Ryback can be strong and crazy and lead his own chants without having to actually work a match. It’s perfect. It also makes me hope Ryback figured out a way to Shellshock Henry and Cena at the same time.
Meanwhile, Dolph Ziggler gets to exist as the World Heavyweight Champion while all the guys who could conceivably crush and end his reign Friday are busy fighting each other. Hooray!
Worst: Next Week, It’s Back To Reality
If you love me, you won’t read the Smackdown spoilers. You’ll stay as far away from them as possible. You won’t watch Smackdown, and if you want to watch wrestling on Friday night you’ll just rewatch this episode of Raw. WWE comes crashing back to Earth, and we are depressingly welcomed back into the 51 other weeks of television programming.
I mentioned this in the WrestleMania report, but seriously WWE, you can have a GREAT SHOW if you just put this much effort into it every week. Allow the crowd to be itself, don’t try to control everything so much, let the talented wrestlers break through, and keep John Cena to a minimum. Let us see the old guys from time to time, but don’t make them seem like the only important people on the show. And, most importantly, write every episode of Raw like it’s following WrestleMania. How good could WWE be if they did that?
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night
HHH just tweeted that he “loved every minute” of his match last night. At least someone did.
Can we put Brandon on an airplane every Monday?
Man Of 1004 Holds
Zeb Coulter takes his conservatism seriously, which is why he didn’t break up the arm breaker. He believed it was Swagger’s personal responsibility to get out of that hold.
A demon an undertaker and thier sacrificial goat
Kane – “We need to run out and help my brother!”
Bryan – “Goddammit, I don’t even know that guy…”
Randy Orton has the look in his eyes Ron Artest had in the palace
New theory: this crowd doesn’t actually exist, and we’ve just gone to that place where Randy Orton hears voices.
This just in, Cena vs Henry has been cancelled. The last 20 minutes of Raw have been dedicated to Fandango dancing in the ring whilst the crowd sings to him.
Ryback is the personification of this Crowd. Huge, Insane, yelling random stuff, and burying Cena.
Mantis Toboggan MD
I like to imagine that Ryback thinks that hitting his finishing move means that he automatically wins no matter what the situation.
In his mind, he beat Mark Henry yesterday and is now the WWE Champion.
Best: And Now, Because That Crowd Was So Great, A Couple Of Live Show Reports
The New Jersey crowd did a better job of enjoying Raw than anyone, so here are a pair of live reports from Best and Worst readers who were in attendance. The first one comes from Best and Worst of Impact columnist and my WrestleMania company Danielle Matheson, who stuck around for Raw while I was riding a plane back to Texas.
Best: Daniel Bryan, Brother of Destruction
For those of you who don’t know my original WrestleMania fantasy booking, without going into too many details, it involved Daniel Bryan, Kane, and Undertaker in the ring, and the streak being broken by Daniel Bryan because friendship and also because I am crazypants crazy. WrestleMania was incredibly disappointing, and at times downright miserable for me for a few reasons, but oh, did it warm my heart to see little Daniel Bryan chasing after his friend Kane to help defend the Undertaker. Of course, the best part was unfortunately not on television. I like to think that this is a further reminder that Brandon should come to the post-mania Raws. Last year, Daniel Bryan had his career-defining moment post-Raw. This year, he got to stand at the top of the ramp and do this. I can only assume that if Brandon goes home early again next year, Daniel Bryan and Kenta Kobashi will have a 45 minute dark match that ends with Hayley Williams offering to kiss the first popular internet blogger who can name five people on the June 1992 WCW roster.
Worst: Dolph Ziggler, World Heavyweight Champion
NOT MY CAMPEONE :(
Best (for the most part): The Crowd that Gave No F-cks
For a lot of WrestleMania, I felt like the world’s biggest asshole wrestling fan. Saturday was so full of joy and fun and hugs and Chikara that it literally exhausted me. Sunday was….not really fun. I thought Punk-Unide (Pundie?) was horrifically boring live, I had to watch Jericho lose at WrestleMania for a second year in a row, and the whole thing was rushed and problematic. The only genuine emotional response I had was listening to a crowd of 80,000 people announce Del Rio along with Ricardo, which made my heart soar. While I enjoyed the first four matches, anything after that….nothing. I spent the entirety of the Rock-Cena match watching the monitor and making snarky comments because good god I just did not care. All I wanted was to be back in that crowd of 1000 people, cheering on FIST with Lobster Mobster, or watching Jushin Thunder Liger wrestle while sitting with Mr. Touchdown and Kobald. I had no connection to what was going on in front of me, and it felt like the biggest waste of time and money.
Aside from a nasty panic attack during the beginning of the show last year, I had a lot of fun at the post-Mania Raw in Miami. I had a wee bit of hope that this could be fun, but ‘Mania really tamped that down. Thankfully, between rad Wrestling Bros THESTINGER and the Mrs and a crowd that wanted to have fun no matter what, it ended up being the best WWE experience I’ve had thus far. There were a few chants I didn’t agree with, and Ziggler broke my heart, but forcing a crowd to make it’s own fun because Randy Orton is so godawful boring turned out to be the best. A rundown of the chants, in no particular order, because it seems that a lot of them didn’t make it to TV:
Jerry Lawler (who got two)
Justin Roberts (this really should have been the cue to send Big Show out early)
HBK (who also got two)
After remarking that I felt like I was at an ROH show, Chris Benoit (an actual chant heard previously at Friday’s ROH show)
We want tables
We want puppies (…f-ck off)
We are awesome (obviously no Wrestling Bros participated in such self-congratulatory nonsense)
Cotton Candy (man, those cotton candy guys were so over)
This is a lot of chanting. And this one during one. match. One. The sheer absurdity of a crowd being bored enough to keep this up after they’ve already sung OLE OLE OLE OLE, then break into the wave is really a worst on WWE’s part. I’m not sure if there was a gas leak in gorilla and everyone was passed out, or if Big Show was on the can and they couldn’t do anything to send him out faster, but good lord WWE, that was a bad match you should have pulled the plug on sooner. The good news, however, is that this infectious chanting completely renewed my spirit, and more than made up for the dull death march that was WrestleMania. When I watch wrestling, I want to have an emotional connection. I want to have fun. You will never see me happier than when at a Chikara show for this reason. This crazy crowd made me forget about Sunday, got me into the show, and I never looked back.
Best: DooDO! Doo doo dodododo doDOO!
Last year it was the YES chants that extended long into the night, to the parking lots, and were still going when we left the restaurant close to 2am. This year, it was all about Fandango’s theme. I readily admit that I was not big on Fandango, and Johnny Curtis really lost me when he stopped the puns and started with the elderly abuse, but how could you not love him after this? John Cena stayed out after Raw (because, as Mrs.THESTINGER speculated, Vince must have had Curtis handcuffed to a chair in the back), spewed a bunch of fan service to the crowd, and said that normally they would play us out of the arena to someone’s music, but this time, they decided to let us do it instead. I don’t much care for forced reactions (see: Ryback), but the crowd finishing the show with Fandango’s music was glorious. It took us to the concourse. It took us through the parking lot, with every car blasting the hastily downloaded Fandango theme while people danced in front. I was informed on Twitter that it lasted all the way to Penn Station. I couldn’t stop tapping my fork to the melody at the diner afterwards, and I know neither Matthew nor I went to bed without it stuck in our heads. Heck, it is STILL stuck in my head. Thanks, Fandango. DooDO! Doo doo dodododo doDOO!
And another from Jeremy Rothschild:
Best: This show, top to bottom.
By now everyone’s seen Raw and talked about the amazing crowd, the awesome chants during Orton/Sheamus, the Fandango singing, etc. It’s the best crowd I’ve ever been a part of, the best show I’ve ever been to, and one I’ll never forget. But the one thing I noticed from being in the crowd that probably wasn’t caught on TV was the total shift in the crowd’s mood after Ziggler won the title. The crowd was loud from the start, but it was mostly an Angry Loud. People were there to boo Cena, and to make it known that they were pissed over how the last few months have gone. But once Dolph cashed in, the mood completely changed from Angry Loud to Happy Loud. Ziggy’s win was such a joyous moment for everyone in the building that the next 90 minutes felt like a drunken after-party with 20,000 people at the bar (loud singing included; everyone sang Fandango’s music through every commercial from 10:15 on). All of the pent-up irritation from the last three months went away, and everyone basked in the glory together.
The pops when Ziggler came out and won the title were two of the loudest noises I’ve ever heard in my life, and his win was one of the greatest moments I’ve ever had at a sporting event. If the plan all along was to wait until he could do it in front of the smartest, loudest crowd of the year (which they knew they’d get after last year’s YES-a-thon), then hats off to them. Well played. Maybe this company is smarter than we realize. Oh, right, Antonio Cesaro didn’t have a match all weekend. Scratch that.
I expected a bigger reaction when the Rhodes Scholars came out, but the cheers were a little muted. I would’ve thought that Sandow would get a bigger ovation, considering how great his character is and how hard he’s worked all year, but by 10:40 the crowd had settled on singing Fandango’s music for the rest of the night.
Leaving the arena was absolute bedlam:
And it kept going for at least 20 minutes. As I waited to drive out of the arena, everyone walking around kept singing the theme, and at least a dozen cars blasted the music. Never before has a 3 hour Raw flown by so quickly, and I’ve never enjoyed being in standstill traffic more.
One final note: In a crazy, anything-goes environment like this, the true stars shine. And as much as I and most of us hate to admit it, Cena was a superstar last night, and not just in the “WWE Superstar” way. As the Sheamus/Orton match kept getting increasingly out of hand, neither of them had the wherewithal to take a look at their surroundings, see what was happening, and react to it. With all of the crazy chants going on around them, how could neither of these two established main-eventers think to actually listen and react to what was going on? While Cena has his litany of problems, his self-awareness and understanding of “The Moment” sets him apart from some of the other guys. He was the one person last night that understood how to deal with that type of situation. By actually listening to the crowd and recognizing what this was, he managed to turn as loud boos as I’ve ever heard (borderline riotous) at 8:00 into loud cheers at 11:15. Maybe he truly can Overcome The Odds ™.
Biggest pops/chants of the night:
3. Everything in the Sheamus/Orton match
4. Cena during the post-show
This was one to remember. I hope we get back to this place again. Soon.
Thanks, everybody. See you next week, when things are normal.