To avoid any continuity snafus, please read The Best and Worst of WWE Over the Limit 2011. It will get you caught up on absolutely nothing, because you don’t need to pay fifty dollars or watch the pay-per-views to understand anything happening on Raw.
The following is a largely positive review of a largely negative episode of Raw. It’ll make you laugh, it’ll make you cry, and it will drive a car into you and make you lie on the ground screaming for ten minutes.
Best: The Sad Ken Burns Version of Pomp and Circumstance
The death of the Macho Man didn’t effect me as much as some. I grew up following the NWA (and later, WCW) and only had a passing interest in the Rock and Wrestling of the mid-80s WWF. I remember getting the Wrestling Album on vinyl (because I’m old) and the Hulk Hogan workout set with instructional cassette tape (because I am INCREDIBLY old), but that was about it. I liked Hart Foundation-era Bret Hart and the Killer Bees a lot, but mostly I was a little Stinger, a little Steiner, and whatever the little version of the Great Muta is called.
Savage was a part of that 90s influx of WWF guys to WCW, where Hogan and Macho and the Nasty Boys and Jim Duggan showed up and replaced all of my favorite guys (Cactus Jack, Ricky Steamboat, Vader, Stunning Steve). I knew he was a good wrestler, but when he’d do those ten minute punchfests against guys like Roddy Piper on Nitro I was BEGGING for some Ultimo Dragon or Chris Jericho (or even Blitzkreig, I’m not going to be picky here). As he aged, he became a guy who was a corny part of Spider-Man and slapped around women on TV. He came out with a rap album, and he was one illogical run-on sentence from just being the Ultimate Warrior.
I’ve learned to appreciate Savage’s work as I’ve gotten older, and I think his WWE DVD release is one of the best they’ve ever done (right behind the Saturday Night’s Main Event DVD, which is also mostly Savage). I like his matches. I like his drug-addled, hyper-intese interviews. I like that he had fans throwing sodas and popcorn at him two minutes into his WWF debut. I like him, but he was never my favorite. I didn’t cry when I found out he’d died.
But yeah, when the Ken Burns’ Civil War version of “Pomp and Circumstance” started up in the tribute video last night, I sorta lost it.
Best: Punk, Obviously
As a Guy on the Internet™ I am contractually obligated to love everything CM Punk does, including Maria Kanellis. Sometimes I go a little far with it (“look at his smarmy haircut!” “this match with BJ Whitmer isn’t terrible!” etc.), but I don’t think I’m out of line saying Punk’s Macho Man trunks were the best part of Monday night’s Raw. I wish Serena was still around to have been his Miss Elizabeth. Luke Gallows as Hulk Hogan would also be funny, especially if he’d spent the whole match tending to Miss Elizabeth. Imagine Colt Cabana in a graduation gown, reading poetry and throwing frisbees to people. It would be the most Colt Cabana has ever done in the WWE!
Hopefully Punk’s tights don’t become the Black Rider of the WWE. I don’t want to read TMZ’s report of Greg Maddux dying with a big horrible on purpose picture of Greg Maddux at the top any time soon.
Best: Bret Hart vs. R-Truth
…with a supplementary “worst” for the godawful jorts convention going on in the ring at the top of the show. Hilarious elderly stroke victim Bret Hart having a threatening conversation with assumed stroke victim R-Truth is currently the best way to start a wrestling program. Hart just dresses like Silent Bob and forgets the tropes of wrestling, yelling stuff over music and crowd reactions. Truth doesn’t know how words work but somehow paints them into these beautiful masterpieces of dialogue, yelling about how he WANTS HIS SON BACK~ and how “used to” is a “rooster from Brewster.” At least I think that’s what he said. I’m not 100% sure, I might’ve been in a coma.
The segment gets a second supplementary worst for John Cena’s lingering incompetence, sort of referencing how he got caned 30 times in the stomach at the pay-per-view 22 hours ago, but not really. He still sprints to the ring and slides in feet first like Evan Bourne. He’s saved by Truth’s condemnation of his coolness, which is completely true, despite the fact that it is being said by a screaming invalid. YA SEE, I USED TO THINK THAT WINS AND LOSSES DIDN’T MATTER AS LONG AS YA GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANTED. THAT AIN’T GET ME DIDDLY SQUAT! “Diddly squat” is an instant best.
Worst: A Dream Sequence, Seriously?
Before you trick yourself into thinking I enjoyed this Raw, I need to remind you that Jerry Lawler and his best friends Josh Mathews and Michael Cole wondered what it would be like if Barack Obama gave a press conference about WWE Capitol Punishment, and then the SCOOBY-DOO FLASHBACK GRAPHICS HAPPENED and they went to some Jimmy Kimmel-quality doctored footage of Obama chuckling about John Cena and The Miz. When it was over, we Doo-Dream’d back to the announcers table, where everybody goes “heh, that would be something!” And we didn’t even get to the racist political cartoon poster, or the fact that the pay-per-view is called f**king “capitol punishment.”
The most embarrassing thing about any wrestling show is the dream sequence. When Zack Ryder is talking to Rosa Mendes and suddenly we are one with his internal fantasies, it’s bad. It’s even worse when we can see Bob Orton covered in hallucination blood or Ultimate Warrior preening in the mirror. In fact, let’s get rid of backstage fantasy completely, and have the wrestlers walk out to the set and talk to Bob Caudle if they want to talk.
Also Worst: John Cena’s Jump For Joy
the hell is this supposed to be
Come on, Cena, you’d never catch Randy Orton doesn’t something like
Best: SWAGGAH BOMBU
I don’t have much to say about the Jack Swagger vs. Evan Bourne match except that it lasted about 80 seconds longer than any Bourne/Swagger match in history and that Swagger Ultimate Death Killed the kid with that gutwrench powerbomb. I think that’s what’s been missing from wrestling. Finishers these days are so harmless. What’s R-Truth’s “Shut Up” going to do? He’s just Rock Bottoming himself. Starship Pain might leave a greasy trail of spray-tanner across your stomach. Swagger’s powerbomb (aka the Last Name Bomb) looks like it would hurt. That’s good! That’s what people like about Ring of Honor, that everything looks like it hurts. Well, okay, not counting Cole and O’Reilly’s wacky CZW move parade.
We should just say screw it and give every WWE guy a dangerous head drop finisher. I want to see Derrick Bateman show up on Superstars and start Steiner Screwdrivering people.
Worst: Sometimes You Can Smell a Title Change
“I wrote this on my forum” isn’t a reliable source or anything, but I’ve watched enough WWE programming to sense a tag title change. It’s a rhythm. The belts haven’t meant anything in years, and there’s a sweet spot between a meaningless pay-per-view title defense and the oncoming of a soon-to-be-aborted push where the rain falls a little differently, your trick knee acts up, and David Otunga wins a championship belt. It just happens. As soon as I heard “the following match is for the WWE Tag Team Championshehhhhh” I typed “time for a title change, no matter who they’re wrestling.”
Sure enough the titles changed hands, and now No Matter Who are the tag team champions. And if I’m allowed to be catty for a second, Otunga and Michael McGillicutty are the worst Slater and Gabriel of all time. Does this constitute the next verse in the Genesis of McGillicutty? Can we hurry up and move on to the Exodus of McGillicutty?