– Our comments were down by like… 80 last week (and it was a good week!) so prepare for NONSTOP DEMANDS FOR YOUR COMMENTS, LIKES, TWEETS AND SHARES. Help a brother out, all I do is give you free entertainment and make you click five-seven times.
– This Sunday is ACW’s Prom, so if you’re interested in filling in for the Best and Worst of Over The Limit and have some sort of resume (like being a nationally touring comedian or having played Dr. Cube in Kaiji Big Battel) that would make me go “oh wow okay” or some ridiculous amount of Twitter followers that would trick me into believing the first half is true, shoot me an e-mail.
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– Don’t forget to check out the Raw Deal at TJR Wrestling. John’s perspective is easier to enjoy than mine, and contains 100% fewer Excel Saga references.
– Info about our live show:
The Monday Night Raw Watch Party returns on the 21st of May with two (hopefully only two) hours of jokes, wrestling and … well, that’s it. It’s free, and attending instantly makes you one of my best friends. If you can get there, get there. RSVP now. Not enough of my readers live in central Texas, or they’re too jerky to admit it in public.
Until then, please enjoy the Best and Worst of Raw for May 15, 2012.
Best: The Backstage Part Should’ve Been The Entire Opening Segment
As longtime readers know, the scientifically-proven worst way to start a Raw is with a wide shot of the audience and the BROWWWWWWWWWWW intro of “The Game”. Seriously, the show could start with Vince McMahon wearing a WBF muscle-tank, literally pissing down the neckhole of a decapitated Bryan Danielson and I would’ve nudged Destiny and said, “heh, at least it didn’t start with Triple H’s music”.
That said, I really appreciated the brief bumper between Nickelback and Motorhead wherein John Laurinaitis insincerely (or sincerely, if you watch the show like I do) explained himself to Triple H. He didn’t know Brock Lesnar was going to attack! He got right out of the ring as soon as he could! That’s the kind of sniveling boss heel you want, not necessarily the guy who’s gonna bash John Cena in the back of the head with a microphone. It’s the difference between what ‘The Office’ used to be and what it is now. Before, the awkward humor was built around people you might know in real-life situations. Now, Dwight rolls up in a Trans Am full of beets just in time to see Robert California dunking over Meredith and naming a housecat the new branch manager for Dunder Mifflin Scranton.
Even Triple H’s reaction was solid, even if it ended with another one of his weird “I can’t tell my second-in-command anything, I need to stand in a wrestling ring in a suit and explain myself to a bunch of hooting strangers”.
Worst: Triple H Isn’t Telling The Truth
That’s what I didn’t like about last night’s Triple H manifesto … not that it lasted a quarter-hour or that it was Nerd Rage Lighting Rod Triple H talking, that he just wasn’t telling the truth.
This is nothing new for wrestling. In the 80s, Hulk Hogan acted like an asshole to everybody and Heenan and Ventura constantly pointed it out, but you liked Hogan more than them so you pretended like they weren’t telling the truth. Some combination of ages going up and available talent going down has left us here, listening to Triple H say that Brock Lesnar left WWE for UFC and came sniveling back when things didn’t go his way.
Lesnar lost his first UFC fight to Frank Mir. After that he more or less got his shit together and (debatably) worked on some of his weaknesses and ended up as UFC Heavyweight Champion. If he’d “quit at the first sign of losing” he would’ve bailed after Mir, right? And if we want to pretend Mir didn’t exist, Lesnar f**ked with the wrong Mexican and got spanked by Cain Velasquez and got his spleen kicked out by a drugged-out-of-his-mind-on-Bane-Venom Alistair Overeem before he returned to wrestling, and the two important things to remember here are
1. Lesnar was, as Tom Holzerman puts it, “in the throes of a massively protracted battle with diverticulitis”, and
2. Velasquez and Overeem would end Triple H’s actual life within 10 seconds of a real fight.
So why not go with the REAL story? Brock didn’t quit WWE for UFC, he quit to try to make it in the NFL and failed miserably. So he went to Japan and tried to make it big, but it was all based on his previous WWE fame and he was never anything but a novelty attraction. So he got into mixed martial arts and had some iffy successes before getting Super Diarrhea Disease and coming back to scrape the last bit of money he can out of a combat sport where closed-fist punches are illegal. He’s a borderline-retarded albino farmhand who’d have been shot by now if he was a horse, you don’t have to try and make us boo him for being a “flip-flopper”.
Worst: The Problem With Multiple Authority Figures
One of the major problems with pro wrestling in the 2000s is that the big successes of the 1990s were based on three characters:
1. The bad guy who occasionally does good and becomes an anti-hero
2. The evil authority figure who wants to make things terrible for the good guys and anti-heroes
3. The group of bad guys who show up all the time and beat everybody up as a gang because they aren’t tough enough to fight individually.
The 2000s (and now the 2010s) have been built around constructing and reconstructing these characters ad nauseum to try to recreate that success. What made those things a success in the 90s was how different they were from the stuff that worked in the 80s, but that’s another, much longer story.
What happens during the creation of these characters is that they rarely “hit” right away, so wrestling companies create several of them at once and run them alongside one another until one catches on. It’s why we have Brodus Clay, Lord Tensai and Ryback all doing the Goldberg thing side-by-side right now, and why at one point TNA had Dixie Carter, The Board Of Directors, Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, Mick Foley, Jeff Jarrett, Sting and Traci Brooks in “authority figure” roles. Anti-heroes don’t work unless they’re up against authority figures, so every anti-hero you create needs their own authority. And if you’ve got 15 anti-heroes, you have to create 15 f**king authority figures. So Traci Brooks is in charge of the Knockouts and Sting can make matches and Dixie Carter is the owner and Jarrett is the founder and they are all governed by the Board of Directors but some of them can overrule them but not in certain situations and it all jumbles up into a big pile of tangled up sh*t and nothing makes sense and everything is meaningless.
That’s what WWE is setting about to accomplish right now. They’ve worried too much about General Managers for years, and while Vince -> General Manager -> wrestlers was occasionally confusing enough, they added second general managers and looped back in the Board of Directors. Now they’ve got a Board of Directors, a CEO, a COO, two General Manager positions and a Vice President of Talent Relations all interacting with and overruling and undermining each other. The Board can remove the CEO from COO duties and appoint a replacement, but the Executive VP of Talent Relations can go to the board and have the COO removed from General Manager duties. The General Managers have wrestling matches to decide who the MOST general manager will be, and Vince gets relieved for making things too personal after 15 years of nothing but making it personal, Brock Lesnar can break the COO’s arm and quit and be entitled to tons of money with no consequences (except a match at No Way Out, or whatever) because the Board has to review it, but John Laurinaitis can fire guys for making fun of his voice and make things personal but nobody can review it and he’ll only be punished if he loses a match he made himself.
What I’m saying is that this is all extremely f**king stupid and somebody needs to come up with a fourth character.
Best: And Now Some Positive Things About Our First 14 Minutes Of Triple H
– Paul Heyman is fun to listen to, even when he’s not saying much.
– Triple H’s robot arm is still funny.
– Brock versus Triple H could be great, because Triple H’s limbs are made out of bone fragments and sticky tape and Lesnar don’t play.
– The over/under was set at 19.5 minutes, and we came in well under that.
– The opportunity to continue with my Hayley gifs gimmick.
Best: A Tag Team Match! With People I Like!
Confession time: I am getting a little tired of tag team matches. Something about WWE title feuds always being advanced with randomly paired tag team matches where the result barely matters and the actual tag team title division being a clown’s asshole, I don’t know. At the same time, what kind of clown’s asshole would I be if I complained too hard about Daniel Bryan, CM Punk and Cody Rhodes being in the same match?
This was, predictably enough, the best match on the show. I didn’t have a crazy reaction for it when it was happening, but in retrospect (after 14 minutes of open, 22 minutes of crying in the middle and almost 20 of Ace Ventura jokes at the end) it turned into this beautiful Dreamslam 2 epic of pro wrestling joy. I want to go back and watch it five more times to help me remember that wrestling happened on Raw.
So, some good things:
Best: The Reaction Daniel Bryan Should’ve Been Getting Since WrestleMania
Not every crowd can be Miami, but I loved Pittsburgh (ugh, did I just type that) giving Bryan the proper YES! chants and reactions he should’ve gotten from North Carolina and Chicago and everywhere else. In most places he almost has to remind the crowd to YES! Here, they’re YESSING! when he’s on the apron or whenever he throws a kick. That’s the infectious YES! chant my melodramatic WrestleMania sadness helped birth, and I want to see it nurtured.
And hey, the best side effect of WWE herding all the YES! chants into one segment is that Daniel Bryan has to be in that segment by default.
Best: “Millions Of Dollars” Is The New YES!
As great and fun as YES! YES! YES! still is, it has been usurped by the new catchphrase hotness (not ARRUHARRUHARRUH):
Get on that bandwagon now, folks. You know what the difference is between “Millions of Dollars” and “Woo woo woo you know it”? I don’t think you know the difference, but we know. Millions of dollars. MILLIONS OF DOLLARS, MILLIONS OF DOLLARS, MILLIONS OF DOLLARS, MILLIONS OF DOLLARS, MILLIONS OF DOLLARS, MILLIONS AND MILLIONS AND MILLIONS AND MILLIONS
Best: Santino Gets Some New(er) Material
Comedy wrestling — when it works — is the best.
That’s why I’m always willing to give Santino a pass. The birth of The Cobra was fun, and no matter how dumb it is to see guys like Dolph Ziggler get hit with it and collapse into nothingness, it’s still fun to stick your arm out and make a snake of it. Other parts of his act (the trombone dance, the sassy powerwalk) have needed a shellacking for at least a year, so I was very excited to see him
1. Break out some new material, or
2. Pretend he was at a house show and do some of the stuff we don’t see all the time
on Raw. House shows should seriously be like the open-mic night for pro wrestlers. That’s where you should be trying ANYTHING to see if it works, and when you’ve got a solid 10 minutes you bring it on wrestling’s Leno (WWE TV). The diving hot tag to nobody was great, as was his failure to dive through the ropes, even though part of me wanted to see him do the gentle winking Ebessan version where he just sticks his arms through the ropes and yells WHOOSH and not hit them with his stomach and flop around like he hurt himself. I guess that’s just the difference in audience, and why updated Simpsons opening has Homer being hit by the family car and knocked through a Homer-shaped hole in the wall.
Yes, I am pretentious enough to request my pro wrestling comedy be peaceful and subtle. MILLIONS OF DOLLARS, MILLIONS OF DOLLARS
Worst: Let’s Focus On At Least One Of These Belts, Okay Guys
The only Worst for the tag team match is that it features the United States Champion, the Intercontinental Champion and the WWE Champion and none of those belts is the focus or the important part of the story. These guys just seem to be teaming with and against each other because they were told to. There was a brief thing about how Cody thinks the IC title is more important than the US title (it is) and Bryan and Punk are facing off at Over The Limit (on f**king SUNDAY) but the worst thing they did was glare at each other. It seemed like a way to hotshot a champion vs. champion match onto a card with four matches (five if you count the Raw tag team placeholder match) and a way to kill time in a feud between two guys with ten years of history and huge fanbases.
The show was pretty boring, so these Bests and Worsts occasionally lose focus. What I’m getting at is that a tag team match featuring three champions and a guy challenging for the top brass in six days probably shouldn’t be your Raw curtain jerker, and if it is, there should be a reason why. Bryan/Punk and Santino/Cody have nearly the same build right now, and that’s not great.
Worst: Alicia Libre
The less said about the Divas match the better, but Layla looked nice standing at the top of the ramp and Alicia Fox trying to leapfrogs and Mascara Dorada monkey flips made me say, “Oh, honey” outloud. The gif doesn’t make it look as bad as it was because the framerate necessitates it being sped up, but she barely cleared Beth on the leapfrog and then stumbled back into a roll, and Beth just had to kinda stand there and look at her legs for a second before grabbing them and rolling her up to her feet. It was like somebody drugged Ciclope’s drink, and Ciclope ain’t great to begin with.
Oh, and just to say it again, Layla’s music makes me laugh every time. She runs to the ring to protect Alicia and hits Beth with a spinning hairmare facebuster thing (that looked like it hurt her worse than it hurt Beth), and all of a sudden YOU’RE NOT ENOUGH FOR ME/JUST ANOTHER MAN IN LOVE WITH ME blares and Beth grabs her head a bunch because “emotions” and Layla stands there with her hands on her hips nodding and mouthing “that’s right”. That’s right, Beth, you’re not enough of a man for her and also you love her.
Come to think of it, that was the same story she just did with Kelly Kelly, wasn’t it? Hey Layla, here’s some free advice: if you wanna beat Beth Phoenix, just keep rolling her up. You probably won’t have to do it more than once.