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So hey, please click through to enjoy the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for May 6, 2013. I wouldn’t give it a zero.
Worst: John Cena, Still Extremely Stupid
Here’s what John Cena had written on the inside of his arm as he began last night’s show-opening promo, which could’ve just been him saying “I made a mistake wrestling last week, but I feel better now, and I’m ready to face Ryback” and us fast-forwarding to the Vickie Guerrero parts:
✓ 1. ape Daniel Bryan’s catchphrase without ever mentioning that Bryan got his ass beaten by The Shield last week because of my overconfidence
✓ 2. make gay jokes about Ryback
✓ 3. say “DTF” on Raw, which will go over the heads of everyone who doesn’t know exactly what I’m saying
✓ 4. reference Fandango, which makes “DTF” not its actual definition, but is still probably a gay joke
✓ 5. call Vickie Guerrero gross and ugly for no reason
✓ 6. make stupid decision because I’m a WWE good guy and we have no logic or reason
✓ 7. hilarious impressions
8. call somebody “Jack”
He didn’t get around to the last one, but he did call Ryback “pal,” so we’ll count it. Last night’s opening scene seemed built to enforce the idea that to be a heel in WWE you have to be reasonable and smart, and to be a babyface you have to be ignorant, yell jokes non-stop and pretend like nothing bothers you.
John Cena compromised last week’s main event and the future of the WWE by competing hurt, cost his team the match by tagging in and trying to do ridiculous rolling deadlifts despite KNOWING he was hurt and lost another in a series of matches to the bad guy team that has been destroying people on WWE TV since November. How does he own up to that? With humility? Admitting that he let his ego get the best of him and apologizing to Daniel Bryan and Kane, who put their necks out for him? Nope! He just jokingly brushes it off and makes the same mistake again, being so confident in his shit’s scent that he openly gives up the chance to choose the stipulation in his championship match against Ryback at Extreme Rules.
What the f**k are you doing, dude
Ryback smartly capitalizes on this opportunity by choosing a Last Man Standing match, which benefits him because (1) The Shield have been the only people capable of putting him down for ten seconds, and that took three of them, and (2) Cena’s ankle is busted, so he doesn’t even have to knock Cena out, he just has to keep him on the ground. But hey, Ryback is the “world’s biggest complainer,” right? He complains! I think I’d rather by an intelligent complainer than a guy who hurts himself for no reason and makes children laugh by calling his opponent gay.
Note: This could be why I’m a blogger and not a pro wrestler.
Best: Randy Orton Gets Sonned
WWE does this weird thing where they’ll have a match on Smackdown and do it exactly the same on the next Raw for no reason, and that’s what Orton/Sandow was. The Smackdown match ended with Sandow beating up Orton after the loss, so Orton had to beat him up and make it all the way up the ramp for it to count, I guess? Anyway, you know an Orton match isn’t great when he gets visibly upset trying to do his spots (watch him shrug when Sandow’s sorta bouncing off the ropes while he’s trying to do his “hunting” taunt), and it was more or less an extended squash.
That said, Sandow absolutely SONNED Orton on the way to the ring. If you’re gonna sing parody lyrics to a wrestler’s theme song, do what Sandow did: spit the truth, and tell Randy Orton he’s a weird, boring and greasy. Sandow’s takedown was my favorite moment of the show, and I love it when I can say “thank you” in the pause before his “YOU’RE WELCOME” and mean it. Damien Sandow for Money in the Bank winner, please and thank you.
Because the Internet is fast and had this ready last night, here’s Sandow’s ‘Voices’ remix sex to Orton’s TitanTron video. Rhodes Scholars > Rev Theory
Best: Big Show, Shadowmaster
Sadly, Orton didn’t make it out of the ring and all the way up the ramp without getting attacked, because he’s feuding with Big Show, who is seven-feet tall and 500 pounds but also equipped with a camo singlet/cloaking device that renders him undetectable until hands are thrown. If Big Show wasn’t already one of my favorites, his tendency to show up out of nowhere and punch the god damn out of people I hate would make him one. Orton’s “where am I” sell of the punch was also great, because it’s the exact same expression he had on his face wrestling Sandow.
If Vickie’s handing out Extreme Rules stipulation choices all willy-nilly, she needs to offer one up to Show, and he needs to pick a “punch Randy Orton to death” match. First person to punch Randy Orton to death wins! That would be the best match ever. Big Show trying to sneak in KO punches between Orton Jack’s Smirking Revenging himself.
Worst: Of Course Cool Dad Thinks Fandango Sucks, But Loves Tons Of Funk. Of Course He Does
How are these “Chris Jericho says Fandango’s name wrong” jokes workin’ out for you? They’re great! Here’s one: Fan Doo-doo dingo! Give me a million dollars.
I’ve done the “Fandango is a cool guy who is into his hobbies and hangs out with beautiful dancing ladies/Chris Jericho is an aged Bon Jovi with a toilet brush faux-hawk who speaks in baby talk” thing a few times, so I won’t do it again. I will, however, point out that while Fandango is hanging out with beautiful dancing ladies, Chris Jericho has chosen to be on the side of two fat guys in matching track suits and a mentally-distressed rapping dick-thruster whose best friend is an invisible 8-year old. Feel free to choose whichever side seems like the better way to live your life.
Best: Welcome Back, Actual Fandango Dancer
I take back what I said about Sandow … the Best Best of Raw is the return of FANDANGO DANCE PARTNER ALPHA.
She goes by many names. Ann Dango, Jan Dango, Fandangal. “Scaramouche,” because she “does the Fandango.” No matter what you call her, she’s superior in every way to her NXT replacement Summer Rae. I’m sure they’re just rotating out the dance partners when necessary, but I hope Summer got demoted for not being able to do The Splits last week. Fandangal can do the splits. She can do ANYTHING. She’s a wonderful part of making this work. All she needs is a name, and the solemn promise that she will never be involved in a story where she falls in love or is beaten up by anybody. Just let her dance and wink and be wonderful to us.
Best: Fandango, Still
He shows up and says his name, and makes us happy. Who does that sound like?
Best: Inverted Superplexes, Basic Match Psychology And 15 Minutes Of Wrestling On Raw
Del Rio/Ziggler is still my favorite pairing of wrestlers on WWE television. I like it even more than Ziggler/Bryan. Daniel Bryan’s offense looks great no matter who he’s wrestling … Del Rio’s moves can get a little iffy if he’s not wrestling a guy who can make it look great. That’s why Del Rio/Ziggler succeeds where something like Del Rio/Orton fails. The WWE Fan Nation video starts with that BRUTAL inverted superplex and continues on through the match, so watch how Ziggler sells a missed Stinger Splash, takes the best looking tilt-a-whril backbreaker in North America since Nitro went off the air and makes Del Rio’s superkick look like it’s being shot from a gun. It’s beautiful. Del Rio looks like the best wrestler in the world all of a sudden, and Ziggler looks like a champ just for hanging in there with it.
On top of that, I love that both guys have entourages with actual characters in them. When Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger walk down to the ring, I know how Ricardo Rodriguez will react to them, and it’s different from now Big E Langston will react. That kind of stuff adds to the vibe, so when the match ends (with Ziggler going to the neckbreaker well one-too-many times and getting caught in the arm breaker in a lovely moment of “wrestlers paying attention to the match they’re wrestling”), the post-match attack seems energetic and important. It’s not dead air masquerading as a told story. It’s alive, and even though it’s the simplest of things — Jack Swagger is beating up everybody with a ladder now, because “ladder match” — it carries enough character complexity under the surface to satiate nerds like me.
Best: Jack Swagger + Ladder = You Dead
Maybe it’s another example of Ziggler’s Constantly Impending Death magic making things look great, but I loved how vicious the Swagger attacks seemed. Big E Langston went into the ring post like Boubacar Copa Barry, and both Ziggler and Del Rio made me feel like I was watching ladders bounce off peoples’ skulls for real in TLC II. It got me excited to see what they could do in a formal ladder match, and “getting me excited for the match you want me to pay for” is an idea that shouldn’t be shocking, but hey, it’s Raw.
That said, a triple threat ladder match seems like the easiest type of match to win. Whenever a guy is spending two minutes setting up a ladder bridge or whatever, just climb up the ladder and grab the belt. Haven’t you ever played a WWE video game? You just have to wait for them to start their animation. Or tie them up in the tree of woe. That usually works.
Worst: Every Face Diva That Isn’t Kaitlyn
Four Worsts here, actually.
1. The Great Khali being brought in to “investigate” the identity of Kaitlyn’s admirer brings the chance of it being Hornswoggle up from 99% to 100. It’s Hornswoggle. Sorry, everybody.
2. The terrible acting of the Funkadactyls (“O … M … G!”) and how quickly they go from “a guy likes you” to “a guy is going to abduct you because you’re stupid and he’s a creep” were both awful, but Natalya has officially entered week 2 as my least favorite person on the show. A guy sends Kaitlyn a specifically-complimentary text and her response is “ew.” Then she gets her boyfriend to “go undercover” against Kaitlyn’s wishes and rat out whoever’s trying to be nice to her. YOU ARE TERRIBLE, NATALYA.
3. Are the Divas throwing shade at golden age Simpsons? Because I swear to God.
4. What exactly were the Bellas celebrating when they emerged from the shadows? The fact that they overheard the Funkadactyls mentioning that they should probably think about their match later tonight? They weren’t exactly locked in a war room. The Bellas could’ve just stood to Naomi’s immediate left and nobody would’ve seen or heard them. Were they celebrating overhearing Natalya’s plan to get Khali to go undercover and find out who the admirer is? Couldn’t they have, I don’t know, seen that broadcast globally on Raw? If the admirer admires Kaitlyn, wouldn’t he watch all of her segments on Raw and know about Khali? If Khali comes back with false info because of a Bellas plan, wouldn’t Kaitlyn know that because the Bellas emerged from the goddamn shadows and high-fived about it after her segment? Wouldn’t she watch her own segments?
Best: Big E Langston Is Not The Admirer
But then again, maybe he is …
Best: More Shield Six-Man Tags On Raw, Please
This is a perfect match for Raw. I loved everything about it. The Shield is great, but I feel like I’ve barely gotten a chance to see them wrestle, especially against opponents who aren’t supposed to be their superior. They can have a great match with Taker and Team Hell No, sure, but they can ALSO have a great match with undercard guys who, like them, have spent way too much time being unappreciated. The Usos are a team like that. They’ve got natural talent, have a unique look (at least in terms of modern WWE tag team wrestler), are an actual tag team and while they’ll never be as cool as their entrance, they’re still pretty cool.
Kofi Kingston should always be a tag team wrestler. That would erase almost every problem I have with him. An 8-minute Kofi match truncated into 120 seconds of fired-up tag offense ends up being pretty good … it takes the weight off his ridiculous set-ups for moves (although the Trouble In Paradise “boom” taunting still never works, and even Ambrose seemed in-character upset at himself for lying around waiting for a Boom Drop for that long), lets him jump around as much as he’d like (which is “a lot”) and lets him either close things out or get pinned in spectacular fashion. I’m not a fan of Dean Ambrose yanking Derrick Bateman’s finish, but he killed Kofi with it, so I’ll give him a pass. Also, he made this face when he pinned Kofi:
Great stuff. Do this more often!
Best: Wait, Is Antonio Cesaro Supposed To Be Good Again? Or,
Best: Called It
From Monday’s WWE Raw open discussion thread’s five-point preview:
Antonio Cesaro had a hard-fought loss to Alberto Del Rio last week and a hard-fought loss to Kofi Kingston on Main Event. The WWE preview is building this up as “newfound anger” and is doing the “what will Cesaro do on Raw?” thing, so I hope it’s something that doesn’t end in “loss.” Let him part Zack Ryder’s hair a little more!
Hey look, they took my suggestion!
I am absolutely down for any time WWE wants to put Antonio Cesaro in the ring with Zack Ryder and mangle him. When Cesaro first showed up, he was portrayed as this physically and mentally superior Superman who could deadlift you out of nowhere, throw you into the air and incapacitate you in a heartbeat. Somewhere between winning the United States Championship and losing it, Cesaro turned into a yodeling joke, showing up to lose to Randy Orton and/or Randy Orton every week or two, because, you know, Randy Orton has to look good going into his match against Randy Orton or whatever.
Thankfully that “maybe this’ll be different after WrestleMania, when they don’t have to build guys up for WrestleMania anymore” optimism finally seems to be paying off, and we’re getting the return of Actual Antonio Cesaro, uppercut deathbringer. My only issue is with Cesaro’s “is this the only competition you have for me” speech after the match, which seemingly ignores the last, I don’t know, six months of WWE history. No, Antonio, Ryder is NOT the only competition they have for you, he is literally the first person you’ve beaten in months. I feel like I haven’t seen the Neutralizer since last summer. You’ve lost to Kofi Kingston like three times in the last month.
Worst: AND KNITTING, AND KNITTING, AND KNITTING, AND KNITTING
I don’t like giving Worsts to Paul Heyman, but this whole thing was … pretty bad. Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman have invaded WWE Headquarters, where … uh, where they work! They didn’t have an appointment! Those bastards showed up where they worked WHEN THEY WEREN’T SUPPOSED TO BE THERE. It’s like watching the Road Warriors stab out Dusty Rhodes’ eyeball with a spike, but updated for modern times!
You see, as much shit as I give them, the Triple H feud payoff matches aren’t that bad. They’re pretty standard Vince McMahon-style hardcore matches, and WWE fans seem to care enough about Triple H that they enjoy them whether they’re good or bad. Okay matches with the Undertaker become LEGENDARY matches, or whatever. I’m fine with that. Different strokes, or whatever. The problem I have is that the BUILDS to these matches are f**king INTERMINABLE, and involve a bunch of respect/manhood issues that appear out of the blue. Challenges get made and responded to and responded to again and it takes them six weeks to do it. It keeps the wrestlers apart, but not in any kind of compelling way. H beats up Heyman repeatedly, Heyman keeps trying to make Triple H feel bad about it, Triple H doesn’t care. Then Triple H either wins or loses. It’s just … there. If you love Triple H and don’t care WHAT he’s doing and only care about whether or not you’re seeing and hearing Triple H, it’s probably awesome.
And seriously, tell me you listened to Heyman ending his speech with “AND FURTHER, AND FUTHER, AND FURTHER, AND FURTHER” and didn’t think about this:
(Yes, Triple H is Dottie here.)
Worst: Triple H Doesn’t Care About His Office, So Why Should We
This is the worst part of all. Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman go to WWE headquarters, physically assault/harass Triple H’s co-workers, force their way into his private office and destroy it and everything in it. Memorabilia, old title belts, everything. Wreck it beyond recognition. The employees seem to care about it, because they won’t stop tweeting about how afraid they are. The announcers seem to care about it, because they’re hyping it as this horrible thing that has happened for the entire show. WWE seems to care about it, because they gave Heyman a satellite hook-up and a spot in primetime to explain himself. It all seems very invasive, confrontational and important.
Then, Triple H just kinda wanders to the ring in a leather button-up, announces that he doesn’t give a shit about anything, says the wrestling ring is his office and poses a bunch. The end!
Dislike of Triple H aside, how does this help your program? If you want Lesnar to seem dangerous and Triple H to seem like he’s been charged to stop this dominant storm of hatred, why build an entire show around an incident only to have the guy it effects most blow it off completely? He straight up says he doesn’t care that his office got destroyed. He doesn’t care that his World Heavyweight Championship is on Paul Heyman’s shoulder and looks like that thing you use to make tortilla bowls in the oven. He doesn’t even care that his secretary got roughed up. Why should we care, then? What possible reason do I have to care that a man’s livelihood is being threatened if he doesn’t? Are we supposed to White Knight him anyway? It goes so far beyond the whole “if Triple H loses/retires, he still gets to be in charge of WWE, so who cares” thing. Imagine if the Three Little Pigs had started off with the wolf blowing down the house of straw, and the pig going “I don’t care, you’re a coward” and the wolf running away? Who wants to hear THAT f**king story?
Worst: The Bellas Just Purposefully Lost A Match And Called Their Partner A Loser
Remember when I had all those questions about the Bellas appearing from the shadows to high-five each other upon hearing the Funkadactyls talking to Kaitlyn about her mysterious admirer? Yeah, when it was time for the match to happen, the Bellas walked out on A.J., their tag team partner, for the benefit of Kaitlyn and the Funkadactyls.
So … are the Bella Twins Kaitlyn’s admirer? Like, for real? Not in the “we’re catfishing you to embarrass you” way, in the “we have the same brain and we love you and want to help you” way? Is Kaitlyn gonna be hardcore and take them both?
Best: Cockblock Dad Is The Best Dad
Worst: WWE Loves Partnering With Things From 1997
WWE announced partnerships with Yahoo and Puff Daddy. In a related story, WWE would like to congratulate the Green Bay Packers on their big Super Bowl win and announce Smash Mouth’s “Walkin’ on the Sun” as the official theme for Extreme Rules.
Princess Diana is scheduled to be at SummerSlam, unless something comes up.
Best: Mark Henry, Puppetmaster
WWE Fan Nation chose to skip over Mark Henry’s challenge for a match with Sheamus at Extreme Rules. My first thought is that they left it out because it makes Mark Henry look like a tough, noble guy and makes Sheamus look like an out-of-control, violent child, but if they left it out because of THAT, they’d have to leave out everything Sheamus has done since SummerSlam 2011.
Mark Henry started a beef with Sheamus by randomly running into him during a backstage interview several weeks ago. Sheamus got his revenge on the next show, doing the same thing to Henry. He then got further revenge on Henry by interrupting Mark’s tug-of-war challenge, trying to win, failing, then Brogue Kicking him to keep from actually losing. A “surprise attack,” whatever. He got FURTHER revenge on Henry by participating in an arm wrestling challenge, losing almost instantly, calling Henry a coward if he doesn’t arm wrestle him AGAIN, then just punching and Brogue Kicking him to keep from losing a second time. Third time, whatever. Mark Henry is the bad guy.
On Raw, Henry came to the ring and calmly announced that he was tired of this shit and wanted to wrestle Sheamus in a match at Extreme Rules. Like a normal person. The crowd chants WHAT, so Henry makes them do it a bunch of times in a row and calls them puppets, because they are stupid puppets. Henry’s challenge is made, so Sheamus shows up, has a match with Wade Barrett, then randomly decides to “sneak attack” Henry again by Brogue Kicking him. AGAIN.
That, dear friends, led to this.
Best: But No, Seriously, Mark Henry
Mark Henry forcibly removed the belt from an EMT, ran into the ring after the match and WHOOPED SHEAMUS LIKE HE STOLE SOMETHING. Mark Henry yelling TELL ME A JOKE and GET YOUR ASS UP while beating the ever-loving dogshit out of this jerk with a leather belt is so wonderful I am absolutely ATE UP with joy. Sheamus has deserved this for so long, and in any other storyline this would be the moment when the babyface finally gets one up on the heel and sends him a message that he’s not to be f**ked with.
I am so into a strap match at Extreme Rules. Extra points if you mic Mark Henry for the entire match, and also only give Mark Henry a strap.
Worst: Thanks For Losing Another Non-Title Match, Wade Barrett
Wade Barrett gets a wanking motion and a throw for losing his 85th non-title match of the year. You can’t possibly want to read me write about this again, but I’m supposed to give “Bests” to the things I liked and “Worsts” to the things I didn’t, and I never, ever like this. Orton and Sheamus should have won both secondary titles and unified them ten times over by now, and Barrett keeping a meaningless belt that can only be held by people who lose makes so little sense I can’t even get mad about it anymore. Who cares if Miz had to go off and be in a movie? Let him take the belt with him and have it sitting in a bag while he shoots. It means less on Wade Barrett than his tuxedo garbage.
Suggestion: vacate the title, have a 64-man tournament for the belt that only happens on NXT, Saturday Morning Slam, and Main-Event. Let a guy like Justin Gabriel win it and defend it all the time. Build stories around it and stuff to give us a reason to watch those lower-level shows. Keep your Wades Barrett and your Antonios Cesaro around to be jobbers to the stars on the flagship shows. You get something out of the belt you made up, and nothing on Raw or Smackdown changes.
Best: Ryback Is The Best Title Challenger In Years
The main-event wasn’t great, but it was further evidence that Ryback is my favorite WWE Championship challenger since Money In The Bank-era CM Punk.
When he said he was the biggest-ever threat to John Cena’s title, I, like John Cena, thought that was a joke. But now I see what Ryback is up to, and I think I agree with him. Remember what happened the last time Ryback got WWE Championship opportunities? He lost a Hell in a Cell match via referee nutshot/interference, and when he got his rematch, he got saddled with John Cena for a triple threat. THAT ended with The Shield attacking him. What’s a guy supposed to do?
You get a one-on-one match with John Cena. You stand back and remain passive as John Cena throws himself into these ridiculous matches and situations and gets hurt. He does. You exploit that injury whenever you can, making sure to stay fresh and healthy between the announcement of your title match and the match itself. When Chael Sonnen gets announced for a title fight in UFC, do you think he’s a “coward” if he doesn’t fight 15 times between the announcement and the title match? No, that’s what fighters do. In WWE you don’t HAVE to wrestle all the time. The main-event guys just do because they won’t stop wandering out and interrupting each other and coming up with bullshit matches.
Ryback beats his challenger clean, then finds himself about to be on the ass-end of another Shield beatdown. Daniel Bryan runs out to even up the odds, so what does Ryback do? Stay and fight? Hell no. He leaves. Because it takes The Shield five minutes to get to the ring anyway, right? You can just leave when you hear SIERRA. Cena, stupid, stupid Cena, runs down to the ring injured to even the now unevened-evened odds and starts fighting strangers, leaving him open to another attack. Ryback waits to see if Cena’s gonna triumph, and when he realizes he WILL, he jumps him with a chair and beats the f**k out of him. Because he’s got a title match in two weeks, and this guy won’t stop calling him a coward.
I get you, The Ryback.