– I’m back, having missed last week’s show due to WrestleMania and a night doing the sad music Peanuts walk in an airport.
– Don’t be afraid to leave a comment on this report. We’ve build a great community of intelligent, funny wrestling fans and you should be a part of it, because seriously, you aren’t gonna find it anywhere else.
– If you’re in the Austin, Texas area, be sure to mark April 23 on your calendar because I will be making my PROFESSIONAL COMEDY DEBUT at a the Monday Night Raw Watch Party, a thing where he play Raw on the big screen, mute it and talk about it/dub it over ourselves. It’s basically the Best and Worst of WWE Raw live. If you miss that, you’re dead to me. DEAD TO ME.
– Big thanks again to Casey/THESTINGER for helping me out with gifs and pictures. Be sure to visit his gifs Tumblr for the stuff I didn’t use. I gave him a page at the end, so be sure to read that when you’re done.
Please to enjoy the Best and Worst Of WWE Raw for April 9, 2012. Spoiler alert: it is not as good as last week’s.
Best: Now THAT’S How You Get People Excited About Pro Wrestling
I don’t know how many times I formally begged for any of the WrestleMania 28 stories to erupt into a thing where the wrestlers just have to punch each other, because there’s no sense of urgency to tersely worded in-ring business discussions and try as I might to be an intellectual I’m paying you monies to see guys pretend to murder each other. Triple H/Undertaker didn’t get going until the match, Punk/Jericho didn’t get going until the week AFTER the match and Cena/Rock is scheduled to get going sometime in November.
John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar, at least so far, is the opposite of that. Last week’s return was quick and purposeful — without a lot of exposition, dickhead Brock Lesnar showed back up out of the blue and trounced John Cena mopey Ron Washington-esque acceptance of failure with a finisher he’s had stored for like six years. This week, instead of yammering on about how he’s not gonna get mad at Brock and how SOMMA THESE FANS LIKE MEH SOMMUVUM DON’T THAT’S AIGHT he just slapped Brock in the face and they punched each other.
Not enough to ruin a formal match between them or anything, but enough to let me know these guys are mad enough at each other to punch and are trying hard enough to be top shelf pro wrestlers that they’re willing to move beyond the derpy name-calling.
Interest in Brock Lesnar calling John Cena a “beantown bitch” or whatever: 0%
Interest in watching Brock Lesnar put John Cena’s blood on John Cena’s face: 100%
Best: You Made Me Bleed My Own Blood!
The lack of bleeding in WWE is a blow to wrestling storytelling, but it has one major upside: if it never happens, it means a whole f**king lot when it does.
For example, Cena started getting big during JBL’s title reign and they had a great I Quit match for the WWE Championship at Judgment Day 2005. Cena bled buckets in the match, but you don’t remember it because everybody was bleeding buckets around that time, and any and all JBL + championship + blood thoughts go directly to Eddie Guerrero, as they should.
Now nobody bleeds, because Mattel or Kenner or whoever’s in charge of making the HOOK THROWIN’ EVAN BOURNE doll this year is okay with violence as long as there are no realistic outcomes or consequences. If Joey Mercury had gotten his face split open by an errant ladder edge in 2011 the rest of Armageddon would’ve been far away shots of doctors scooping brain matter off the ground while Michael Cole talked solemnly and Dave Taylor stood around with his hands in his pants.
What I’m getting at is that unexpected blood (especially in the contest of a pull-apart brawl, where things are so hectic you can’t send in a medic to slow things to a crawl) can be a big moment. The only real downside to it is that ever-present wrestling plot hole where they show Brock throwing an accidental punch and being all LOOK HOW HARD IT CONNECTED with slow motion replays, then follow it up with 10 minutes of Santino getting punched flush in the face and being fine. And then everyone else in the history of wrestling being punched in the face and being fine.
Thank God we can write it off as “Brock Lesnar’s punches are super powerful because he did UFC!” and we don’t get any Attitude Era moments where Cena says BROCK YOU PUNCHED ME FOR REAL, NOW THIS IS NOT STORIES IT IS REAL LIFE.
Best: Oh Hey Look, It’s The Guy Who Taught Brock Lesnar How To Shooting Star Press
Every time WWE road agent Billy Kidman is on television, WWE road agent Juventud Guerrera needs to run out and hurricanrana him. I know this would involve 1) finding Juventud Guerrera, 2) giving Juventud Guerrera a job, 3) putting Juventud Guerrera in charge of people, but I stand by my statement.
How much better would Raw be if they sent out Dean Malenko to cloverleaf people who’ve gotten out of control? Jack Swagger gets rough with a referee and Malenko just appears and Ciclopes the shit out of him.
Best: John Laurinaitis Owns Teddy Long, Displays His WrestleMania Brother Love Suit
John Laurinaitis outfitted his Executive Vice President Of Talent Relations And Permanent General Manager Of Both Raw And Smackdown office with those pay-per-view and WWE films posters they put in your contract you can’t control, but he made sure to hang up his WrestleMania 28 victory jacket (the one that made him look like The Apostle) and included an engraved date plaque to mark the occasion.
I’m considering doing the same thing to my Team Johnny shirt.
Best: Tag Team Wrestling With People Who Are Good Or We Care About
The tag team championship match at WrestleMania featured three teams:
– The Usos, who are good but sorta stuck in this modern Samoan thing where they’re not Samoan enough to be mindless savages, but enough Samoan so “Samoa” is the entire point so they can’t be real people or wacky enough to be of Interest.
– Justin Gabriel and Tyson Kidd, two talented wrestlers with no deeper identity than “haircuts” who got matching gear to be a tag team, so of course one of them was immediately injured.
– Primo and Epico, tag team champions coasting on an ethnic identity they aren’t good at portraying or convincing enough at selling who are so pointless and boring even I don’t like them, and I like everybody this popular.
In contrast, the non-title-related tag team match on Raw last night featured the following:
– Santino, the shockingly popular United States Champion
– Brodus Clay, the fat dancing dinosaur who makes ya laugh and is also 400 pounds and can kill you
– Dolph Ziggler, the Observant Fan’s Best In The World
– Jack Swagger, who is not compelling in any way but is secretly the most interesting man in wrestling, and whose haircut destroys Justin Gabriel’s AND Tyson Kidd’s.
– Vickie Guerrero, who has gotten more shoot heel heat excusing herself once than Mr. Anderson has gotten in his entire career.
So regardless of the match quality, it was an enjoyable thing for the fans because it involved people they knew and are at least used to vaguely caring about. This is how you do it — you put established stars into established situations, pepper it with guys who need broader exposure (Brodus Clay, in this example), make sure at least one guy involved can make wrestling moves look like they hurt, give the crowd a reason to boo or cheer. Easy peasy
Lord Tensai Japanesey.
WWE could still save tag team wrestling, because tag team wrestling is the easiest kind to save. When done right, it makes everyone look important and good at wrestling.
Worst: Wait, Is That It
I was pretty shocked to see the match end with Funkasaurus just knocking Dolph down and pinning him like it was nothing. This isn’t meant as one of those WEH THEY’RE BURYIN’ MUH DUDE complaints (Ziggler should probably always lose, because he looks so fantastic losing) as much as it’s me wondering why Swagger couldn’t have just wandered in and booted Brodus in the head to keep things going. They immediately cut to Vickie after the pinfall and she was making the same face as me. Am I a cougar?
If you’re going to have the Funkasaurus effortlessly pin one of your best guys and dance like nothing happened, it’s gotta go one of two ways:
1. A Brodus/Ziggler feud that gives Ziggler legitimacy against guys that big and teaches Brodus how to more effectively wrestle a back-and-forth match against guys that small (because he’s gonna be wrestling a lot more guys that size if he sticks around).
2. Ziggler Zig-Zag-Manning the f**k out of Santino and taking the US Title so Funkarella can be a thing in your tag team division, which we’re pretending will exist.
Worst: I Need To Be Enjoying The Funkasaurus More
I’d like to keep loving Brodus Clay as much as I did when the Funkasaurus debuted, but it’s getting harder and harder in the wake of Bunch Of Mammies Booty Dancing-Gate. Please continue to put more of an emphasis on you being a fat dancing dinosaur who destroys people and less on the fact that you’re a black one.
Best: Lawler’s ‘Reptile Dysfunction’ Joke
Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole both get bests this week, which feels weird to type after like two years of them being the worst announce team this side of “guy from indy promotion” and “wrestler from that promotion who thinks he’s funnier than he is and is really into cussing on the microphone” in wrestling history.
Fun fact: One of the easiest ways to make me happy is to talk about dinosaurs. Cole and Lawler had two great exchanges about dinosaurs:
“He’s called the Funkasaurus, he could be a Brontosaurus which means thunder lizard. I’ve been doing my dinosaur research.”
“You know if I was a dinosaur I would be troodon.”
“That’s the smartest dinosaur.”
“You know, I think I want to be T Rex if I was a dinosaur.”
“If you were a dinosaur the only thing you’d do is suffer from reptile dysfunction.”
Also the part about Santino being a Stegosaurus because he has a “walnut-sized brain”. Part of me really loves Michael Cole looking up dinosaurs in the Encyclopedia Britannica and confidently comparing himself to the smart ones, but not as I love Lawler daring to make the bad joke and having it work fantastically.
Editor’s note: Triceratops is the best dinosaur. COME AT ME, BRO.
Worst: Oh God He’s Looking For The Three Stooges Now
If I haven’t mentioned it yet, the “celebrity” “guest” “hosts” for Raw were The Three Stooges. Not the actual ones who’ve been dead for 40-60 years, not even the false Also Stooges like Curly Joe. The ones from The Three Stooges, a Farrelly Brothers join opening THIS FRIDAY APRIL 13TH. Will Sasso from ‘Mad TV’, Sean Hayes from ‘Will & Grace’ and A Third Guy Who Was On An Episode Of ‘Charmed’ Seven Years Ago.
Of course Santino doesn’t know that, and his first task after winning a tag team match against Actual Pro Wrestlers was to sassy powerwalk around stage looking for Thes Threes Stoogeses, becauses theys ares huges starses ins Italies. I can’t do the Santino accent. Anyway, having “The Three Stooges” host the show instead of Will Sasso, Sean Hayes and Charmed Speaking Part was a bad idea, and another page in a torrid chapter of wrestling’s weird inability to decide if it is fiction or reality, and whether or not we should have Robert Wuhl on the show or pretend he’s Arli$$.
Best: WWE Employees Have Never Heard Of Comedy
so was kane in a timeout or what
As bad as guest hosts can be, I sorta loved the WWE Backstage Universe’s response to Santino’s Three Stooges excitement. Santino walks up to Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks and is all HAVES YOUS SEENS THES STOOGESES OPENINGS APRILS THIRTEENTHS and instead of being funny or wrestlery about it, they just go “uhhhh what no” and ignore him. So he Santinos around the corner and runs into Kane, who doesn’t beat him up or do anything threatening really but shows zero interest in The Three Stooges or helping Santino find them.
They should’ve had the Three Stooges no show and just had Santino meander around the locker room trying to meet them and running into nothing but “are you serious, that movie is gonna bomb, have you seen hunger games” and then like 40 minutes of Camacho explaining what the Hunger Games is and why it’s so awesome.