The Best And Worst Of WWE Raw 5/21/12: We're Going To The Grand Canyon!

Pre-show notes:

– Thanks for your patience with this week’s report. The Monday Night Raw Watch Party II at The ND this week was a big success, but the downside is that it makes me watch Raw twice and generally F’s the scheduling in the A. The fill-in Over The Limit report didn’t work out as planned, so at the risk of having you guys be all Royal Rumble 2012 about it, that report is pending.

– For the record, I was watching great wrestling and taking promo photos on Sunday night.

– Please make sure to leave a comment on the report. Facebook likes and Twitter shares are huge. These take forever to write, so if you want me to keep them up instead of just posting basketball videos like a normal popular sports blog should, do your part.

– Thanks to Casey for pics and gifs, as always. Can’t wait to BRO IT UP with you at King of Trios this year.

– Follow us on Twitter @withleather, follow me personally @MrBrandonStroud and like us on Facebook.

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Worst: John Cena Doesn’t Make A Bit Of Goddamn Sense

During the live Monday Night Raw Watch Parties, we mute the show and allow members of local improv comedy groups to dub over the in-ring promos with whatever they come up with. Megan Simon of Checkbook had the impossible task of being John Cena and turned his opening speech into a thing about fishing, and how he had difficulty holding onto fish and wanted to give it another try. I had to watch Raw again to write this report, and here’s what I learned: John Cena’s opening thing might as well have been about fishing.

Seriously, the guy is off his rocker. Last week I wrote about how Cena’s first post-divorce-news segment (15 minutes of him doing a super dated Ace Ventura impression and making faces like he’s Screech Powers singing “Home At Our School”) was incredibly dark, and that continues here. Cena can’t seem to figure out whether he’s frustrated (actual quote: “GAHHH!”), angry (“if any of you homos get into the ring with me tonight, I’ll kill ya”) or Truman Show self-aware (“John Laurinaitis is about to come out and he’ll have music and a video package and he’ll say things using John Laurinaitis’ voice!”).

He mentions that he used to call the Big Show a friend. Have John Cena and Big Show ever been friends? Was John Cena being a friend when he hung around in the back doing nothing while Laurinaitis made Show sob and beg for his job on his knees? Cena calls John Laurinaitis a “power-hungry bully”. Laurinaitis, the guy who got a wrestler to help him win one match, is the bully in a feud against a guy who calls him names every week, makes fun of his voice, calls his initiatives “garbage” and took great joy in physically destroying a man 15 years his senior. John Cena, the same guy who spraypainted “poopy” on a guy’s limo, Attitudinally Adjusted a guy off a car through a stage after he’d already won the match, beat up Alberto Del Rio’s ring announcer on 300 consecutive Raws and won the WWE Championship from a 5’3 guy who’d already wrestled earlier in the night. That guy is calling his dickhead boss a “bully”. The guy who punches people who make him mad. THAT GUY.

Cena’s entire reaction should’ve been: “Welp, shoulda seen that coming, let’s fight at the next pay-per-view” and then a foley fart noise and maybe some streamers.

Best: Now John Laurinaitis Is Free To See The World

That all being said, holy sh*t at John Laurinaitis in a Rascal Scooter. I didn’t think they had a way to make him better, but they put him in a Fat Lady At Wal-Mart transportation device, had him claim to simultaneously have every injury possible and still be sorta chipper about it. That’s what I love most about John Laurinaitis — his ability to remain detached and positive, even when he’s totally full of sh*t. He didn’t have that while Otunga was gone. It’s back now. Whatever Otunga’s got in that thermos is good for the environment.

I think Laurinaitis should keep the Hoveround (or “Hover Around”) forever and pull an Iron Mike Sharpe, and spend the next like five years getting people into situations where they end up lying on the ramp with him speeding at them at 8 MPH, laughing maniacally.

Worst: Cena’s Stuck On A Storyline Loop

When John Cena was angry at Wade Barrett, he spent most of his time beating David Otunga in 30 second matches. Now that he’s angry at John Laurinaitis, he finds himself beating David Otunga in 30 second matches. The same thing happened with CM Punk, where he took control of the Nexus, forgot about them completely, then found himself beating David Otunga in 30 second matches without ever mentioning that he was still kinda-sorta his cult boss. Otunga’s a smart guy, and unless they are going to openly address that he’s got some “I WANNA BE A BIG FISH IN A BIG POND” complex where he can’t stop challenging the most unbeatable dudes in the company they should redirect him to the Johnnies Curtis and Yoshis Tatsu of the roster for a decisive win now and again. Remember when he punked out Ezekiel Jackson? That’s what we need more of.

To sorta go with what I was saying earlier, John Cena stands up to a bully by beating up the bully’s friend, who challenged him to stand up for the bully who had just been injured by the victim. See anything wrong with that sentence? In the WWE Universe, being a heel means you try to get out of confrontational situations using words.

Best: Hey, I Know These Guys!

Curt Hawkins, Tyler Reks and (more importantly) Darren Young and Titus O’Neil got to appear on Raw, and while that appearance was limited to 1) jumping John Cena as a cowardly group of heels, 2) being immediately dispatched by John Cena and one other person, 3) standing around the ring later as color wheel lumberjacks who get glared at by racist Big Show and eventually beaten up by more popular wrestlers, I’ll take what I can get. Give the creative team member who picked them as the attack posse millions of dollars. MILLIONS OF DOLLARS MILLIONS OF DOLLARS MILLIONS OF DOLLARS MILLIONS OF DOLLARS

Best: New Silhouettes

TONIGHT ON RAW, Alex Riley, Alex Riley and Alex Riley will go three-on-two against … hey, wait a minute!

Great, there goes my joke. Bob Holly got to be the silhouette for years! All right, “Alex Riley, Tyson Kidd or maybe Brock Lesnar from years ago and I think Shane McMahon” will be teaming up against aw forget it.

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Best: Santino Versus Ricardo

This segment featured

1. Xenophobia

2. Saying things that are jokes to an audience who will laugh because they think it’s true and not a joke

3. Santino

So you’d think I would’ve hated it, but … I don’t know, it might’ve been my favorite moment on the show. Something about Ricardo Rodriguez keeps me from hating even his worst segments, and Santino EXPOSING THE BUSINESS by saying the Cobra is just his arm in a cobra costume and not a real cobra was shoot funny. Plus, this puts to rest my ongoing questions about whether or not Santino is an Animorph or f**king Moses or whatever and can magically turn his arm into a literal poisoned cobra. Part of me wishes it was magic, but that part of me always wishes it was magic.

Other things to love about this: Santino mocking Alberto Del Rio for driving his car into the building (which is a correctly stupid thing to point out and avoids removing a Jenga block from the character’s foundation like Cena’s “you just RENT these cars” crap), Ricardo trapping himself in his own jacket and becoming resigned to his own fate instead of, I don’t know, lying down quickly and rolling away and Ricardo’s incredible 360 sell of the Cobra. Sometimes the dumb wrestling comedy hits me in the right place, I don’t know. I even enjoyed Santino fleeing up the ramp like he had to take a dump.

Worst: One Of These Guys Is This Color Naturally

Randy Orton versus Alberto Del Rio is a match that should never happen on television. I’m not that guy who complains about getting good matches for free on TV instead of them making me pay 60 dollars to see anything worth a damn, but all they really accomplish is meandering back-and-forth that ends with somebody running in for a sneak attack or a forgettable disqualification. Nobody ends up looking good, and you could’ve accomplished the same thing by having Wrestler A say “y’know something josh” backstage and immediately get attacked by Wrestler C.

On top of that, Randy Orton knows how pointless these matches are and is the king of mailing them in. I like a lot of what Orton does in the ring, and despite him being all Diamond Dallas Page about it and playing out a contest that was built with f**king Legos backstage I think he can go. Put him in the ring with Christian or Punk or whoever and give me a small amount of consequence and he can keep up and do “WWE Style” as well as anyone. When he knows he’s got four minutes and somebody’s running in? Yeah, no.

Del Rio came into the WWE against Rey Mysterio and they’ve done him a disservice ever since. Hey WWE, I know you guys have motherf**king Rencor Latino dangling in the breeze, let’s see some Cruzeta Invertida on Raw.

Best: Chris Jericho Has No Idea What’s Happening

I don’t think a wrestler has gone from important to SUPER UNIMPORTANT as hard in four months as Chris Jericho. Most of the time I forget he’s even a character on the show. I’ve got a 50 First Dates thing going on with him, he runs out in leather pants and attacks somebody and my brain needs like a day and a half to figure out who he is. This is the guy who had arenas losing their minds for 20 minutes at a time without saying a word. Now he’s running in to interrupt an undercard Raw match and start feuds with guys for no reason. “Randy Orton, you ALSO didn’t win at Over The Limit and I am SO MAD AT YOU!”

He should just run in and attack guys like this all the time. Show up in a Ryback match, give one of the jobbers a Codebreaker and just stand over him grimacing until they go to commercial. I hate to say it (because he’s one of the best performers we’ve ever had), but damn, I can’t wait for Jericho to bail again so they can give these segments to Miz. At least Miz looks sad enough to be in them.

Worst: WWE Is The Most Socially Active

Does WWE’s parents know about this?

Did You Know graphics always make me want the show to fail so they’ll get funnier. “Did You Know? More people in the United States Coast Guard Reserves watch WWE Raw than any second-run Tyler Perry sitcom episode on TBS between 3-6 PM!” Or they go in the other direction: “Did You Know? WWE Raw is The Alpha and The Omega, The Beginning and The End. The Morning and The Evening Star!”

Best: This No Way Out Commercial

I will personally buy 5 copies of the blu-ray if they include a 65-minute full silent film version of this commercial. This is the greatest thing ever. I also hope 411mania.com/wrestling believes that rumor I sent them about how Inside Sources say this commercial is foreshadowing an AJ turn that will lead to Daniel Bryan being squashed by A Train.

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Best: The Daniel Bryan Q & A

Just yelling YES all the time would get tired quick, so I’m happy to see AmDrag turning YES chants into something even better: Question and Answer sessions where your answer is always no, but his is always yes. It’s such an obvious place to take it, and while I hope these continue on forever, I’m happy and sorta proud to know that Daniel Bryan is as good as we’ve been saying for 12 years and can be the best possible professional wrestler at everything so if they don’t, I know he’ll replace them with something good.

I still haven’t totally adjusted to my favorite local armory guy being the best part of my Monday night wrestling show. As much as we complain about it, sometimes the system works. Daniel Bryan gets to be awesome AND buy a bunch of houses now.

Worst: CM Punk Is The Worst Magnum T.A. Ever

To be the cool guy everyone wants to be, CM Punk isn’t a very good dude.

The thing I loved so much about Magnum T.A. as a kid (before he drove a car into a thing and stopped being able to replicate an action Tom Selleck) was that he was NOBLE. When Tully Blanchard was on his knees and begging for mercy, Magnum refused to stoop to that level and left him a blubbering mess. Tully had to sit there in his shame sadness and Magnum walked away a better person. Hogan never did that, which is why I didn’t like Hogan very much.

I want to believe that sh*t Punk said in the Straight Edge Society about how being Straight Edge made him disciplined and enlightened and better than us, so when he does things like try to get Daniel Bryan DQ’d because Bryan got him DQ’d the show before, I understand it but don’t like it. I want Punk to use his beautiful Batman wrestling brain to be the better guy, the guy who made a choice at an early age to rise above pro wrestling’s crappier nonsense. On today’s shows I guess the audience doesn’t have the capacity to appreciate things like manners or decency or compassion without screaming YOU TALK FAGGY at their televisions, but if the guys who are good at wrestling could be better at the good and evil stuff pro wrestling storytelling presents that’d be doing me a solid.

I know, I’m a weird alienated elitist moralist nerd. I cheered for Captain America to kick Tony Stark’s ass in The Avengers. What can I do?

Worst: Maybe She’s Crying Because You Keep Berating Her, Asshole

“Hi Punk, I want to tell you something.”

“YOU WANTED TO TELL ME YOUR A DUMB BITCH”

“No, I wanted to say I liked how you beat up the guy who was mean to me.”

“YOU’RE STUPID AND HAVE A MENTAL DISEASE”

“/cries, because seriously”

“uhhhh heh wow what a stupid reaction. Oh man, now I want to f**k you.”

The end. CM Punk gets into a Twitter feud with Chris Brown about how he’d never hit a woman, but I guess he’d mentally abuse the sh*t out of them. And this is the kinda thing where WWE makes AJ crazier and crazier to justify it and WWE fans can say “she IS crazy” or “come on it’s just wrestling”, but yeah, Punk is a creep and AJ should’ve stuck with Primo.

or better yet, one lady in the history of wrestling should date non-wrestlers

Best: Justin Roberts Should Intro Everybody Like That

Justin Roberts gives Christian the face turn he didn’t actually get with a few sentences about how he did a cool thing we should admire. How easy is that? They should have a pre-match segment before everything where Justin Roberts names five things he likes about the wrestlers. “And now, a man who has a cool purple jacket and has been employed by WWE since 2010 … he ranked #336 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in 2011’s PWI 500 and most recently brought a box to the ring for his special hat! He loves his mother, ladies and gentlemen JINDER MAHAL!”

Of course, that’s immmediately ruined the second Jerry “The King” Lawler opens his mouth and says Jinder’s turban looks like “a rat’s tail”, but whatever.

Best: That Might’ve Been The Best Possible Jinder Mahal Match

Yeah, so palette swapped Ted DiBiase isn’t much to speak about in the ring (I spend most of his matches trying to figure out whether or not they’ve deliberately turned him into a Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! character … how awesome would it have been if they’d put Evan Bourne in some green trunks and had him wrestling Jinder when Mike Tyson walked in for his Hall of Fame induction speech? Brodus Clay gets a bandage on his navel, Scott Hall shaves his head, these write themselves).

Regardless, it was nice to see a straight-forward match on Raw to help put over Christian as 1) a good wrestler, 2) a wrestler who can win a match and not whimper about it and 3) an Intercontinental Champion who might actually wrestle and defend the belt. If they’re gonna keep Cody Rhodes in a perpetual state of non-title matches and impromptu tag things, give that beautiful, almost-meaningful belt to someone who can defend it against guys like Jinder. This is what guys like Jinder are FOR. To make the five year old in the crowd go OH NO INDIAN GUY WHAT’LL WE DO before the champ shows up and beats him.

For Christian’s IC title run, they should do what they do with NXT and book him as his own show, independent of whatever else happens on Raw. That way he can be an important tentpole, and whenever Camacho isn’t busy (LOL) they can put him in a ceremonial mask and say he’s a savage invader looking to seize control of the Inter-Continent.

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Best: Beth Should Just Stiff The Sh*t Out Of Everyone

Chances are you didn’t care about this match (usually when I talk to people about WWE women’s wrestling they take an absurd purist’s stance about pedestals and whores or they say they don’t know what I’m talking about because this is what happens during the fast forward), but at least jump to the end and watch two great things happen:

1. Kelly Kelly touch the ropes and come in for a kick, then back up into the ropes as if she needed them to get up enough momentum for a hurricanrana. Kelly, you would’ve gotten the same momentum if you’d bounced off a brick wall.

2. Kelly going for her Gymnastics Attack and getting clobbered in the back of the head by Beth.

I don’t like the “every female in WWE sucks but Beth Phoenix is amazing” talking point, but I could get behind it more if Beth skipped the taking roll-ups part and got straight to the “hitting you as hard as she can in the back of the head” parts. Kelly did a convincing job of playing dead for the remainder of the match, possibly because she was shoot dead.

Worst: Congratulations On Getting On A List Your Bosses Paid A Magazine To Put You On, Ladies!

WWE has made a big deal out of Kelly Kelly and Layla making the Maxim top 100 Hottest Behbs We’d Love To T.F. or whatever, but I don’t support it. Like everything these days, the only way to be honored is to pay someone to honor you, so basically what I’m saying is that Kelly Kelly being one of the hottest 100 women in the entertainment industry is the Shakespeare In Love winning Best Picture of Lad Mags.

For the record, Kelly Kelly finished higher than other tanned blondes with big boobs like Kate Upton, Brooklyn Decker and Paulina Gretzky, meaning she was directly compared to her peers and deemed hotter. Hell, Lois Griffin ranked higher than Paulina Gretzky. But seriously, this isn’t a “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” thing, it’s comparing a concept with an identical yet objectively superior-in-every-way concept and favoring the inferior model. No pun intended. The people who put this list together are bad and they should feel bad.

And for the record, it goes

1. Kate Upton

2. Brooklyn Decker

3. Paulina Gretzky

4. Kelly Kelly

Best: Michael Cole FINALLY Bags On Jerry Lawler’s Stupid Shirts

And we’re … at the main event already? Wow, 25 minute speech segments really knock out your programming block, don’t they?

Anyway, the best part of the main event (a pretty forgettable impromptu handicap tag match pitting John Cena and who cares John Cena wins every handicap match against Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger and Lord Tensai, who is no longer a Lord and is just “Tensai”, so I hope things are okay for him and he doesn’t show up in a few weeks as “Serf Tensai” and have to work for JBL … although Serf Tensai would be awesome if he did “hang loose” gestures instead of fake karate poses) … wait, where was I … oh, right, the best part of the main event was Michael Cole pointing out that Vickie Guerrero and Jerry Lawler were wearing the same shirt.

That’s not bad for Vickie, because everything at New York & Company looks like that and in lady tank top form it’s fine, but in 65-year old man in a bedazzled t-shirt Jerry Lawler it is an apt and hilarious burn. Maybe next week Lawler will bring back the singlet and drum major jacket and say goodbye to the discount urban shirt barn forever.

Best: Proud Of Dolph For Not Taking The Pinfall Here

I thought for sure Cena was going to take this by himself (with a few Putski hammers and maybe a clothesline over the top rope to somebody by what’s-his-face), and the pessimistic part of me saw Dolph taking an Attitude Adjustment and lying there for several minutes while Cena walked around the ring Five Knuckle Shuffling the also-rans at ringside before dancing back in and making a cover. I’m very happy that the optimistic side of me won out, then became a literal part of the show in the form of a battle royal featuring a bunch of NXT guys. Thanks, brain power!

Oh, and before I forget:

Additional Best: Here You Go, Ladies

No Rosa Mendes this week, so we do what we must.

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Best: Be Sure To Order The Royal Rumble, This Sunday!

I thought for sure the only times WWE had locker rooms empty were:

1. The Royal Rumble go-home show

2. Upcoming Bragging Rights tag team match

3. Unexpected after-show birthday parties

4. Somebody died in real life

But none of that here. Huh. The tag match just turned into everybody getting into the ring to beat up Cena and Sheamus, which turned into the likable chums in the back (including R-Truth, a guy Cena spent like eight months beating up and CM Punk, because he and Cena are identical twins) speeding out to save them. This is especially funny given that whole “nobody in the back likes you” stuff Punk was pulling on Cena last year. Anyway, stuff happened and Cena disappeared to the back, because if a bunch of your co-workers get together to keep you from being assaulted the coolest thing to do would be COMPLETELY ABANDON THEM.

Hilarious Best: Big Show’s Punch, Now With Wacky Sound Effects

I wish gifs could have sound effects.

John Cena was unexpectedly knocked out by The Big Show, and while you might think “Big Show lost his job and only took it back because he was blackmailed into it so it’s weird that now he’s this big evil guy who wears suits and wants to hurt John Cena and even weirder that they turned it into a personal rivalry, sorta like they did when Ryder got attack-raped by Kane and shoved off a stage in a wheelchair and decided it was Cena’s fault” would be the talking point, nope, it was that f**king punch sound effect they played when Cena got punched. I love WWE for that. That is the hokiest sh*t ever.

It should’ve ended with Show making Cena sit near a production cart, then running up and kneeing his head into it. That’s the only way to win backstage brawls in WWE 12. Cross promote, n00bs.

Worst: No Way Out, The Pay-Per-View Where There Is No Way Out

I wish the slogan was “there’s No Way Out of buying it! We’ve already taken 50 dollars out of your bank account! Thanks for signing up for WWE Social that one time, muh huh huh ha ha ha”.

Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week

Don’t be afraid to +1 some new people, guys, I can only give this to Tobogganing Bear so many times in a row.

Mr Snrub

Brandon will post the B/W when Khali gets to the ring.

Space Monkey Mafia

That Rascal runs on PEOPLE POWER.

Dagotron

Big Show absorbed that car’s powers when it hit him last year.

RonSwanson

Reks and Hawkins strategy of kidnapping all the faces and locking them in a janitor’s closet could only be successful for so long.

Tobogganing Bear

Kelly Kelly appearing in Maxim is good and all, but I preferred Aksana’s thinkpiece on the cultural impact of food tariffs in The Paris Review.

MrsTHESTINGER

“What the hell happened?” Couldn’t you see the photo montage from backstage?

RecSpec

I was hoping Punk would’ve put a chair between him and AJ like Hank Hill did.

Ricky The Steamboat

Hustle, Loyalty, Potatoes

Oshit Umenyiora

THEY’RE REDEEMING THEIR POINTS

Downbound

Otunga is the best lawyer because he accepts baby oil as payment.

See you next week.

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