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?
Best: Big Show is Peter Griffin
Oh, God, I almost forgot about the best part of the show. Big Show and Kane are shown sitting on a car, because a pro wrestling show is the toughest place to find a folding chair. Turns out it’s Alberto Del Rio’s car, Kane accidentally spills coffee on Ricardo Rodriguez, Big Show gets a shampoo commercial that Del Rio auditioned for, something. Anyway, Ricardo drives a car into the Big Show’s leg, causing show to collapse and SCREAM HILARIOUSLY FOR LIKE TEN MINUTES. C’MAAAH…GEDDINHERE. It wouldn’t stop. Show’s “pain” sounded exactly like Eric Cartman’s “I just inherited a million dollars” noise. It was amazing.
It kept getting funnier. Show’s average, normal guy buddy Kane got to stand around looking concerned, just sort of staring at the floor. EMTs arrived with a HEART MONITOR that was beeping in the background because MEDICAL CARE. They went to commercial and you’re all like “whew haha okay that’s over,” and then they return to the exact same scene, like Show getting run over by a car is the new Man of 1,004 Holds promo. It was the live TV version of Peter Griffin’s “hhhhhhhhhhhh …. ahhhhh” knee injury sell from “Family Guy.”
Worst: Michael Cole Still Exists, Will Be In the Cole Mine Again By Smackdown
Oh, right, this f**king guy.
Cole made his return to Raw with a backstage Charlie Brown walk, a brief emasculation by the smart, sexy and loitering WWE Divas, and an in-ring apology to Jerry Lawler. Things returned to normal, with Cole sort of shoehorning in his light, beginning-of-NXT heel support without the Cole Mining shouting of the last six months. By the main event Cole was arguing with Lawler again, and I’m guessing by the time Smackdown roles around he’ll be wearing wrestling headgear and carrying around Slammys and getting knighted and defeating Sergeant Slaughter in a boot camp match or whatever. Cole should’ve fallen into the mystery spot, or he should’ve bought a tennis racket and started following around antiquated Southern-style tag teams.
Actually, that would be pretty cool. We could throw him off a scaffold.
Best: Whoa, Alex Riley
I’m not sure what to say about Riley flipping out and destroying the Miz, because I’ve seen so many star-making moments turn to ash in WWE Creative (Matt Hardy’s Wrestlemania 24 return during Money in the Bank is a big one off the top of my head), but the stars aligned and the beatdown was just violent enough and it worked. The crowd was chanting “Ri-ley Ri-ley,” and I’m pretty sure none of us thought we’d live to hear a crowd chanting for the Jobbiest of the Jobbers. In an instant, the ancillary “guy you beat up before you wrestle the Miz” became a cult hero, and if they move forward with him in an interesting, wrestling-centric way, he could really be something.
If they give him the Darren Young Missing Link Superstars-to-NXT push, he won’t be. WWE storylines are like Christianity for me at this point. I don’t really believe in it, but I sure hope it turns out to be something. At the very least they should pair him up with Daniel Bryan on Smackdown and do a Ray Jackson/Frank Dux thing. Have Yoshi Tatsu do six months of roids and start breaking peoples’ legs in half. Kofi Kingston can be the little coconut-chopping guy.
Worst: Don’t Tease Me With Maryse
Want to see a picture of Maryse making someone completely, irreversibly jealous?
Oh man, look at her face
she totally wants to die, doesn’t she
Raw was the most recent in an irregular string of Maryse appearances, where she never seems to do much other than her entrance and the platinum horse hair extensions whip before something happens and we move on. Remember when Maryse was Divas Champion? Remember that rad kick she pulled off against Beth Phoenix at Survivor Series? Maryse can’t really “go,” but she can surely move forward, can’t she? Look at her torso! I don’t care what she does, just have her be there while things happen. For me?
Worst: So Wait, What
Okay, so, Kharma.
I’ve spent the last few weeks writing about how I’d like the Kharma story to move forward, and Raw accomplished that. Unfortunately they “moved forward” by cramming Kharma into the back of a clown car driven by Toonces the Goddamned Cat and drove her off a cliff. She interrupted an eight-woman tag team match (featuring Maryse) about four seconds into it, walked to the ring, sat down and cried. We thought maybe it was a trick to lure the girls in so she could kill them, but nope. Nothing. She just cried, and we went to commercial. She didn’t cry BECAUSE of anything. She also didn’t interfere in the match, which begs the question “why didn’t you just make her leave the ring and continue wrestling?”
It also begs the question “are you seriously going to do an angle where the fat black lady is sad because she’s not as pretty as a Bella?” Because that seems like the only place you can go. I’m not really down for a Raven/Kanyon segment of Kharma trying on different outfits at the mall and Kelly Kelly selling it.
For once, I say we forget this week ever happened and pretend she’s still just busting everybody’s implants.
Best: Forget Daniel Bryan, Drew Mac is the Best in the World
I don’t know how to get on these panels, but respected wrestling blog Dirty Dirty Sheets posted yesterday their choices for the best wrestler in the world. Some of the choices are solid (Danielson, Kana) and some are suspect (“every woman in independent wrestling is the best wrestler in the world” – internet). I mean, Nicole Matthews? She’s not the best wrestler in the world. She’s not the best wrestler in her own tag team.
My point of contention is this: Drew McIntyre is better, at least right now, than anybody on that list. Watch him. Pay attention to what he’s doing. He’s better at working a limb than anybody in the business. His matches are absorbed into the “WWE style” but he approaches them creatively, giving pro wrestling entertainment a realistic vibe. His moves have impact. He’s always doing something. His facial expressions are on point (I learned from Tough Enough that facial expressions and “making your own chances” are the only two things you need to do to be a good wrestler). He’s having good-to-great matches with everybody. He’s the very definition of the old IWC talking point that a wrestler is only outside of true greatness because he hasn’t been given the shot.
In five years, Drew Mac is going to be a multiple-time World Champion and you’re all going to be on his bandwagon. It might happen sooner than Eight years from now you’ll be tired of him and complaining that he’s holding down your favorite indy wrestlers, but five-to-eight is going to be a glorious little period.
Worst: Also, He Looks Like a Hot Dog
He does. Watch that ring entrance.