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– Be sure you’re reading With Leather’s This Week In Horrible-Looking People every Monday. This week I talked about embarrassing candid 8x10s, and you get to see Andre the Giant dressed like Zach Braff. Good times.
– In horrible wrestling news, WWE decided to let our good friend Derrick Bateman go. These are the guys who decided to write THIS episode of Raw, in case you need a reference for how good their decision-making skills are. Anyway, if you’re a wrestling promoter type who reads this column and wants to book an awesome wrestler who is hilarious and was also on Internet TV for a long time, contact him for bookings here.
– This week’s report is up a little early, because I’ll be spending the majority of the day in a church with video cameras and Goldust. If you aren’t following Meet Me There on Facebook, do that. It’s going to be special.
Please click through to enjoy the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for May 20, 2013. Things get a little sick at the end.
Best: What Would Happen If Ryback’s Challenge Was Refused
The show opened with Ryback driving an ambulance into a ring so that he could stand on top of said ambulance and challenge John Cena to an “ambulance match.” If you’ve never seen an ambulance match, it’s basically a casket match or a buried alive match, but sorta upright and without all the goth trappings. Instead of appealing to lonely teens who draw Grim Reapers on their art folders it appeals to … people with 9-to-5 jobs? People with an interest in the health care industry? I don’t know. They aren’t good.
What I loved about the segment (besides the undertone that Ryback got dressed in his best wrestling-themed slogan jacket and stole somebody’s ambulance) is how totally unnecessary it was. Ryback wants to challenge Cena to a match that is a lot like Last Man Standing, but wherein he can’t win on a technicality like ref stoppage, right? So he picks an ambulance match, and whatever, it’s wrestling, so that’s fine. But couldn’t he just say “John Cena, I challenge you to an ambulance match”? Did he need the prop? Cena wasn’t even THERE. And if he was, what happens if Cena says no?
“JOHN CENA I CHALLENGE YOU TO A AMBULANCE MATCH.”
“Nah that’s cool, no thank you.”
OH BUT I HAVE AN AMBULANCE RIGHT HERE, I THOUGHT WE WOULD–”
“No it’s fine.”
“ARE YOU SURE
BECAUSE THIS AMBULANCE”
And if your argument for the ambulance prop is “he needed it for that thing he did later with Zack Ryder,” yeah, no, I’m pretty sure we would believe Ryback could beat Zack Ryder in an ambulance match without having to have it illustrated.
Worst: Wade Barrett Is Basically The Worst Wrestler Of All Time Now
One person who could not win a fight with anyone under any circumstances is WADE BARRETT, who is now being played by Randy Mulkey and a box of Just For Men. Seriously, I think the only match he’s won on television this year was the Intercontinental Championship rematch the night after Mania. Every other appearance has been him wandering into an RKO, or wandering into a Codebreaker, or grabbing his face like he’s been stung by a bee before instantly tapping out to a figure-four whether his legs have been worked or not.
Here, Barrett teams with Fandango and is so pointless that Fandango just leaves in the middle. Watch it again. Fandango doesn’t make a grand gesture out of not tagging him or whatever, he just walks away toward the announce table and starts talking about how his name is pronounced, independent of the action taking place. Fandango just blanked and walked over to hit his mark. Wade Barrett is so bad at wrestling that his own tag team partner forgets that they are having a tag team match.
And of course, Barrett gets hit with every move in Jericho’s arsenal while Jericho’s barely paying attention and taps out to the figure-four as mentioned. The key moment here is Jericho just sorta waving his hand and being all, “f**k it, this is the easiest person to beat in history, just do you horrible move to him and let’s bail.”
Worst: Summer Rae Has A Thing For Cool Dads
What happened to Jericho’s “I’m not going to dance around and act like a prick” proclamation? Is that over because he won a match?
Best: Sheamus Is Getting Good Matches Out Of Titus O’Neil
Not a great match, but a good one. One of my favorite things about Sheamus is how willing he is to let whoever’s in the ring with him beat the shit out of him, so guys who rarely get to look good on offense (or even guys who are outright bad at offense, like Titus) get to look like money superstars. Damien Sandow is a beast every time he wrestles Sheamus. Titus suddenly became Brock Lesnar here, throwing Sheamus around like a rag doll and looking like a competent singles wrestler for maybe the first time ever.
I type it more than I type anything, but it baffles me how Sheamus can be so good at WWE pro wrestling and so bad at WWE speaking and decision making. If anybody needs a mouthpiece, it’s Sheamus. Not that he can’t talk, he just shouldn’t. Wrestle, be awesome, and let a guy like Paul Heyman tell your stories. Because hey, Paul Heyman can make anybody better, right?
Worst: Starting From This Moment, From Now, This Moment, This Moment Will Be The Moment Of The Genesis Of Curtis Axel
All afternoon I forlornly scrolled through Twitter, bracing myself for the reveal of Rob Van Dam as the new Paul Heyman Guy. He was trending, so I tried to make the best of it. For newer readers, Rob Van Dam is my least favorite wrestler ever, assuming that Triple H is not a “wrestler” so much as a life-sucking entity that sorta hovers over everybody and vacuums up huge sections of our lives. When it comes to actual in-ring guys, nobody’s character or wrestling makes me less happy than Rob Van Dam’s. Maybe Mr. Anderson’s. It’s close.
But anyway, so yeah, I was like “Rob Van Dam is the worst case scenario. Maybe they’ll bring up Kassius Ohno and let him hang with Punk when he gets back!” or “maybe Heyman will bring back somebody like Evan Bourne and have a business cruiserweight, that’d be cool, or he’ll bring out Paige and have a Paul Heyman Girl to run the Divas division.” When Heyman started in about how he was doing something “a little different” that second one started to seem real. MAYBE PAUL HEYMAN IS BRINGING UP BRAY WYATT BECAUSE HE HAS EXPERIENCE WRANGLING EX-CULT GUYS.
Wrong New Nexus guy.
Out walks Michael By God McGillicutty as CURTIS AXEL in an e-fed appropriation of Rocky Maivia and bam, I’m wishing Rob Van Dam was here. If you don’t remember McGilicutty’s run as tag team champions (he was seriously tag team champions 17 times in a row, because for like two years the tag division was just Primo, Epico, David Otunga and McGillicutty), he’s one of the guys Lawler willed off the show by saying they were “boring” and had “no personality.” He was very wrong with Otunga. He was … less wrong about Gilly. Gilly went on to have some good matches with Tyson Kidd on NXT, where wrestling is magical and everything works, but it wasn’t enough for me to ever say “Michael McGillicutty is the guy you should have follow in the foosteps of Brock Lesnar and CM Punk.” And at no point did my brain go CALL HIM F**KING CURTIS AXEL.
Now the only hope I have is that they’ll team him with Foley once so I can make the Axel Foley joke. Their finisher can be “the banana in the tailpipe.” Yes, that is a Mandible Claw to the asshole.
WORST: Triple H Breaks The Landspeed Record For Burials
How to make new stars:
– Interrupt them before they’re done being introduced the first time
– Immediately call them a helpless baby
– Slap them in the face so hard it knocks them on their ass, and somehow they can’t get up or fight back
– Challenge them to a match that you will dominate and end with an angle unrelated to the new guy
– wear a jacket as high up on your neck as possible
– Do not care about anything
Best: Big E Langston, Except For That Thing Where He Is Still Not Doing Five Counts
Hey, wasn’t Dolph Ziggler supposed to be on this show tonight? What gives?
Regardless, Big E Langston is now exactly as good at winning matches as the World Heavyweight Champion. He does well, he kicks out of some things, and then a DISTRACTION~ happens and he capitalizes. That’s how you make a fortune in pro wrestling in 2013. I like that what Big E did didn’t even necessitate a thrown bucket distraction, he just raked Del Rio in the eyes. Don’t people rake each other in the eyes all the time? What’s the worst thing that’s gonna happen, the referee is gonna make that vague chopping/counting motion at you and say HEY BIG E WATCH THE EYES and you didn’t need a “confidant” or a Mexican guy’s … what is that, a spittoon?
I’m still sad that Langston isn’t counting fives. I guess that’s the kind of thing that would make people like him, and Dolph is already too likable to be the heel he thinks he is, so it’d be a stylistic mistake to have his brute bodyguard be dynamic and cool. Ah well, one day we’ll get it, and it’ll be great. Also one day we’ll put Big E in a sensible pair of pants.
Worst: Layla Needs to Learn That Ass-based Offense Has To Be Impactful, Otherwise It’s Asinine
I don’t like typing either of these things:
1. The Divas match was not great.
2. Layla was not great.
Layla has been bugging me ever since she came back, and it’s starting to make me mad in that way babyface Jericho and pandering baby-talk steroid monster The Rock do. Heel Layla was my favorite, whether it was in Extreme Expose (yes, shut up), as William Regal’s foxy British girlfriend or in LayCool, which longtime readers will remember is the Brandon-recognized Best Thing That Ever Happened In Wrestling. The list goes (1) LayCool, (2) Ox Baker claiming legit coworker deaths to get his heart punch over, (3) iron on t-shirts with dated colloquial phrases. Dusty sucks eggs!
But no, face Layla pisses me off. She doesn’t seem to know what she’s doing anymore. If that move where she skips around in a circle before lightly brushing her ass against your head doesn’t win a Worst Move award in the RSPW Awards next year they’re doing it wrong. I’m not asking her to be KANA, but if she’s gonna use KANA’s flying ass attacks, she needs to do it with some force. You’re a wrestler, not the ‘A Tisket A Tasket’ chick.
Best: Cody Rhodes, Jobber Dominator!
I always talk about how wrestling could benefit from that sports thing where top teams don’t only play top teams, they play a full schedule against good teams and bad, and yet here I am asking “why did this match happen” when Cody Rhodes faces Zack Ryder and skunks him with a signature move in two minutes. I should just relax and enjoy it. Cody Rhodes doesn’t get to win as often as he should, especially not with secondary offense, so hey, here’s a Best. A bonus Best goes to Cody for getting the hell out of dodge when a wild Ryback appeared. There’s a reason he’s one of WWE’s only two recognized smart people.
Best: Zack Ryder, Living Wrestling Buddy
An unstoppable monster wants to finish off John Cena for good. He tried facing him in matches, but Cena always finds a way to win … so he takes his hatred too far, crippling Cena’s friend Zack Ryder and tossing people into the backs of ambulances. Sound familiar? Good news, everyone! It’s February 2012 again! This program ends with Ryback trying to drag John Cena to Hell*!
Much in the same way I can’t give a Worst to a Cody Rhodes jobber squash simply because I didn’t see a reason for it, I can’t give a Worst to Zack Ryder getting the merciful f**k whomped out of him. If I fantasy booked Raw, every episode would feature Zack Ryder showing up fresh from the hospital, only to be put back into the hospital immediately. The shit on the Raw App would be him spending Tuesday through Sunday trying to transfer hospitals and catch a bus, because Raw travels. You would not want to download my app.
*or the Ryback equivalent, which I assume is Panera Bread
Worst: Wow, These Matches Are Just Zipping By, Aren’t They
This gets remedied on the next page when The Shield shows up and saves us from mediocrity like they always do, but everything in the first hour and a half of Raw was swift. The opening tag match, Big E/Del Rio, Sheamus/Titus, AJ/Layla and Cody/Ryder happened and were gone in a flash, with a max screen time of like four minutes. It’s always a bad sign when I’m trying to space out the Bests and Worsts onto their appropriate pages and have to put three matches on the same slide.
Maybe they should let the WWE Universe decide a match or two, so they won’t be over so quickly. Anybody got any ideas?
Worst: The Most Hilarious Lay-Up FanActive Poll Ever
Remember last week when WWE ran a FanActive poll asking who the fans would rather see Del Rio or Jack Swagger face Big E Langston, expecting Del Rio to win? Remember how Swagger accidentally won the poll, which f**ked up their plan to have Swagger run in at the end and attack ADR, so instead of bothering to rewrite it whatsoever they just had babyface Alberto Del Rio jump heel Jack Swagger from behind and then be forced to “run off” the person he attacked?
This week WWE avoided that problem by going FULL TABOO TUESDAY. If you don’t remember Taboo Tuesday (or its follow-up, Cyber Sunday), it was WWE’s first attempt at an interactive show. The premise was that fans could choose the stipulations or participants in matches and it’d be really cool and fun, but in reality it was WWE planning exactly what they wanted and arranging the polls to all be super obvious. For example, it’d be like, “WHO SHOULD FACE JONATHAN COACHMAN IN AN ASS-WHOOPIN CONTEST? A. STEVIE RICHARDS B. BULL BUCHANAN C. STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN.” So of course you’re gonna pick Austin, right? Even contrarian assholes like me aren’t gonna pick B-Squared. Or they’d be like, “JBL IS FACING BIG SHOW, WHAT WILL THE STIPULATION BE? A. NORMAL MATCH B. NO COUNT-OUT MATCH C. HELL IN A CELL.”
So yeah, check out that Taboo Tuesday-ass poll. Hey children and moms of the WWE Universe (the only people I assume have the app and actually use it for shit like this), who would you rather see face Jack Swagger? A tall guy who can barely move, a black guy who breakdances for the enjoyment of an invisible white child or RANDY ORTON THE VIPER YOUR FAVORITE GUY AND STAR OF 12 ROUNDS 2: REROUNDED??
Worst: Come On, Kaitlyn, You Were Snort-Laughing At This A Few Months Ago
Back when this whole Kaitlyn Romance thing started, she was backstage snort-laughing at Cody saying “I mustache you a question.” Now she’s caught up in all this SEXY TEXTING from a mysterious stranger and suddenly she’s too good for Cody’s mustache jokes? Get over yourself, Kaitlyn.
Also, bonus points for Natalya continuing to be the worst. So far she’s said “ew gross” about presents, compliments and light conversation with a super handsome guy. Judging you so hard right now, Nattie.
As a reminder, the secret admirer is Hornswoggle. Continue preparing yourself for that.
Best: Believe In The Shield, Or
Best: Holy Shit, This Match
Put this entire match on the Internet, you goons.
The new WWE televised match of the year goes to this 25-minute six-man tag pitting Team Hell No and, yes, Kofi Kingston against The Shield. I can’t express how great this was. Make a point to find the full version and watch it if you missed it, because it is worth it. You can skip … basically the entire rest of the show, but this is how you should spend a half-hour.
I honestly think The Shield might be the best thing to happen to Raw since the Summer of Punk, and possibly ever, because the Summer of Punk was actually “the month and a half of Punk before Kevin Nash showed up and the Kliq ruined it.” I didn’t get a chance to see The Shield win gold/copper at Extreme Rules (thanks again for filling in on the excellent Best and Worst of Extreme Rules report, Soupy) but I had a little extra spring in my step all of a sudden, so I knew they won.
Nothing makes me happier than these guys. I was never the “you suck Jon Moxley’s dick!!!” type of indy fan I get accused of being all the time, but man, if Dean Ambrose dropped trou I would embarrass everyone around me.
Best: Dean Ambrose’s Open-hand Strikes
My favorite thing about Dean Ambrose is those open-hand strikes he does. Watch when he’s got guys reeling, he’ll throw slaps instead of punches, or when he’s trying to punish a guy in a chinlock he’ll just palm-strike the side of the head. It’s WONDERFUL. In pro wrestling, you aren’t supposed to be able to throw closed-fist punches. It was one of those rules somebody came up with in 19-aught-whatever to explain why guys could hit each other “for real” and not leave a bunch of bruises. Because … uh, they used to care about the product looking legit. But yeah, one of the reasons guys in Japan uses knees and elbows is because punches should end fights, and if you ever see a dude like Kenta Kobashi throw a punch, it’s for-real hurting somebody. None of this Rocky “spit on the hand and wiggle my feet” shit where he could punch a piñata for 15 minutes and not even make it swing.
Ambrose makes me happy when he starts palming guys. He does it a lot to Bryan in this match, because of course he does. I’m going to claim this as one of the reasons I like him more than I like guys like Orton, because it seems more observant and cool than “Orton is boring as f**k and The Shield rules it.”
Best: Let’s Keep Daniel Bryan In The Ring With Guys He Can Hit With Force
One of the things that made the match work so well for me was Daniel Bryan, because he seemed like he was getting to move at full speed and hit with full strength for the first time in AGES, and he was in the ring with guys he knew well, so they could sell it like death. That bump Seth Rollins took ONTO HIS GODDAMN HEAD off the comeback clothesline was EPIC. Ambrose sold a kick to the head by almost doing the splits and just kinda holding his face and slooowly leaning backwards, which is how you’d actually react if somebody kicked you out of nowhere. You wouldn’t jump in the air and flail around and land flat on your back. Wrestling is fake, you guys, but there is a bunch of cool stuff that makes fake wrestling seem less SUPER INSULTING, and The Shield is doing it. They do it best when My Boy D-Bry Right There is lighting them up.
Let’s keep this feud going, please. If we aren’t gonna break up Daniel Bryan and Kane, at least keep Bryan wrestling guys who can hang with him outside of a WWE ring, because that’s important. I want the crowd to do that awesome thing they’ve been doing lately where they cut it out with the YES and NO shit and just start changing DAn-IEL BRY-AN. Because he DESERVES THAT. BEST IN THE WORLD.
Best: Jerry Lawler Figures Out Randy Orton’s Fighting Style
I have to give Orton and Swagger credit … they made the best of a Cyber Sunday and had a nice little match of their own. The problem is twofold:
1. It was a long, good match that followed a longer, better match, late in a show that had been previously packed with 2-minute garbage
2. Randy Orton
The best part of the match for me was Lawler pointing out how many times Orton was going for his convoluted rope-hang DDT, complete with a “he finally worked it in there somewhere” at the end. Yes, Jerry, yes he did. “Guys rolling out onto the apron for no reason in Randy Orton matches” is the new “guys lying across the middle rope when they never would otherwise in Rey Mysterio matches.” Maybe it should be “in Randy Orton/Sheamus matches.” What is less believable, guys setting themselves up for Orton’s DDT, or guys not being able to bend their arms slightly and escape the Sheamus chest-punches?