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– Continued thanks to Casey/THESTINGER for helping me out with gifs and pictures. Be sure to visit his gifs Tumblr.
– Don’t forget to check out the Raw Deal at TJR Wrestling. John’s perspective is easier to enjoy than mine, and contains 100% fewer Excel Saga references.
– That’s right! We didn’t do a bad enough job the first time to get kicked out of The ND in Austin, TX, forever, so we’re doing it again … the Monday Night Raw Watch Party returns on the 21st of May with two (hopefully only two) hours of jokes, wrestling, wrestlers and dumb bullsh*t. It’s free, and attending instantly makes you one of my best friends. If you can get there, get there. RSVP now, so you can be cool enough to be on a page by yourself with me!
Until then, please enjoy the Best and Worst of Raw for May 7, 2012.
Best: Information Adding Depth To Characters And Situations
A lot of people have conflicting ideas about how they’d write a weekly, episodic pro wrestling show for a publicly-traded international corporation, and while it’s fun to write paragraphs about who you’d fire (Kofi Kingston) and who you’d push (Tyson Kidd) and who you’d put into an old-timey circus cannon and fire at a brick wall (also Kofi Kingston), it’s important to remember that TV wrestling (and basically everything else on TV) can be made better in a few simple ways:
1. Pay attention to continuity. It is your friend and helps you build a universe without just saying things are a “universe”.
2. Have everything happen for a reason, and have it make sense.
3. Maintain character integrity. Steps 1 and 2 are instrumental in this.
4. Don’t feel the need to over-explain things, but don’t be afraid to explain it if it benefits steps 1-3.
5. Fire Kofi Kingston
Or make him work out his chest, I don’t know. Anyway, what I’m getting at is that WWE doesn’t do any of these things (especially step 5) on the reg and it leaves us grasping at straws, desperately attempting to explain ourselves and our favorite characters until one of those glorious tentpoles of fandom happen (CM Punk’s first “pipebomb”, matches like Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus from Extreme Rules) to replenish our faith in the inevitability of the steps happening and making things better.
This is the most verbose possible way for me to explain why I loved John Laurinaitis explaining his Super Dave Osborne voice. People are making fun of him for not being able to speak properly every week, and finally he explains that he hasn’t always spoken this way, he was injured in a match in Japan with Dr. Death Steve Williams because he was once a tough and successful professional wrestler who wrestled Dr. Death. That’s it. That is exactly it. It succinctly explains why he sounds like such a weirdo, excuses a lot of his speaking mistakes AND justifies his position of power in a pro wrestling company. How easy is that? How great would it be if sh*t made sense?
Best: I Don’t Care How Predictable A Best It Is, Jun Akiyama Is On Raw
One of the fun things about doing this column is that some of you think of me when you’re watching the shows and instantly recognize stuff to which I’ll give a Best or Worst. As you may have recognized, there is not a conceivable f**king Earth-2 in existence wherein I fail to give a Best to John Laurinaitis explaining his pro wrestling prowess with a 1990s All Japan Pro Wrestling slideshow full of pictures of him doing the least impressive sh*t ever to guys like Giant Baba and Jun Akiyama. Imagine if Billy Kidman went to Mexico City and showed the audience a bunch of pictures of him headlocking Hulk Hogan at Slamboree 2000 he’s been carrying around in his wallet for the last 12 years.
Instead of showing him chinlocking the guy who gets lumped in with the four pillars of puroresu because “Akiyama” is easier to pronounce than “Taue”, I’d like to suggest a photo of Johnny Ace doing something that (to my knowledge) no other human has accomplished: RKO’ing Mitsuharu Misawa off of Kenta Kobashi’s shoulders.
Worst: What Is CM Punk’s Point Exactly
Despite the shifty nature of the Chris Jericho storyline, I’ve warmed back up to CM Punk over the last few months. Why? Because he’d finally gotten himself out of the John Laurinaitis “I hate my stooge boss and can’t stop telling you about it” angle. Sadly, last night’s episode of Raw plunged Punk back into his role as El Hijo del Triple H and had him confront a guy who barely affected him at WrestleMania and hasn’t talked to him for a month to break out those same tired third-grader insults about how he’s stupid and ugly and doesn’t have any friends.
Like before, I get WHY they’re doing it — they want the crowd to boo Laurinaitis, so they have a guy the crowd likes a lot say BOO THIS GUY over and over until they do it — but I don’t understand what Punk’s point is. I don’t think I’ll ever understand it. The escapism of McMahon/Austin was supposed to give the blue collar people at home a fantasy scenario wherein they’d drive a truck full of beer into their boss’s office and beat the sh*t out of him, and that worked because in no reasonable real-life situation would you think to hold a prop gun with a BANG flag in it to your boss’s head until he pissed himself unless you were an unrepentant psychopath. And maybe that’s the difference between 10 years ago and now. 10 years ago your fantasy was to fill a Corvette with cement until it was destroyed and save an innocent lady from an occult zombie’s Satanic wedding. Now you wish you could call your boss “ugly”.
I really wish Laurinaitis had responded to Punk’s “you’re stupid, you’re ugly and you don’t have any friends” with “I have a great job, I’m happily married and David Otunga is my friend”.
“Pipebomb” as a noun to describe “something CM Punk says” is the worst Worst.
Originally the idea was that the microphone ITSELF was the pipe bomb, because in CM Punk’s hands it could explode and kill you by accident at an arms dump or whatever. That worked because Punk had said unprecedented things about WWE and pro wrestling on WWE television and followed it up with that amazing moment where he got Vince McMahon to scream I DON’T GIVE A DAMN WHAT YOU WANT to a crowd of wrestling fans. The words were not the pipe bomb; the opportunity to speak was.
Long story short, CM Punk talks all the goddamn time now, and calling John Laurinaitis is not a “pipe bomb” no matter how hard Jerry Lawler ‘heh’s his way through it.
Best: Big Show, Get Your Stupid Fat Ass Out Of My Way
I’m not sure I’m fully onboard with the increasingly villainous John Laurinaitis character (in a perfect world he’d stay a thumbs-up slinging, ineffectual boss with a slurpy lawyer friend), but I loved him running into The Big Show backstage and just screaming at him for being in the way. Part of it is because of how deeply I want John Laurinaitis to snap on somebody and Ace Crusher them on Raw, and part of it is because the Big Show is a colossal pile of dogsh*t in an ill-fitting Halloween costume and should feel bad about himself.
The new “make fun of my voice and pay the price” initiative needs to be played hard and fast, and Big Show needs to either be future endeavored or shipped off to NXT to slum it with JTG for the next six months as punishment. There needs to be more payoff than “Eve overheard what you said and is making a mean face at you”.
Worst: Hey Cody, At Least Get Beaten Up A Little Before You Bail
Last year, WWE was milking the “rival’s music plays during a guy’s match and causes him to lose” thing for all it was worth, and as bad as pro wrestling tropes can be they’re worse when you use the same one over and over. They don’t do it as much now because they’re in love with the Purposeful Count-Out Loss, where a heel rolls out of the ring 20 seconds into the match and is all UH UH GIVE ME MY TITLE and bails. The matches are a maximum of 4 minutes long so you’ve got to do it quickly, I guess.
I can’t fit everything wrong with this into a paragraph. Firstly, it happens too often. You just did it on Smackdown, for Christ’s sakes. Secondly, basically the only thing that happened to Cody in the match was Big Show stopping his progress and shoving him away dramatically. And yeah, you did a backflip when he shoved your leg, but you’re the Intercontinental Champion, can’t you just get up? The “bail on a match” trope only works when it’s later in a match and the guy with the belt has realized he can’t finish off the challenger or his goose is cooked. Thirdly, you’re depriving me of an Intercontinental Championship match on Raw, and IC title matches are the f**king T206 Honus Wagner of wrestling. Fourthly, you’re depriving me of the Cody Rhodes portion of an otherwise extremely boring Raw. Fifthly, going to this well too often neuters the sh*t out of your bad guys and makes them look like helpless cowards, which is why you need to group 8 of them together every time John Cena needs a beatdown. If you created talented challengers for us to dislike, we’d invest more time and money into seeing the people we like beat them and be interested enough in your show to talk about whether or not we think that’ll happen. Sixthly, this is one of what seemed like half a dozen matches on the show that went less than 2 minutes. Seventhly, f**k.
Watching wrestling these days is like trying to hold a mound of sand in your hand. Give us a f**king bucket, guys.
Best: Big Show Versus Eve Is A Feud
Through some wild combination of Big Show needing a “WrestleMania moment” (and nothing more) and David Otunga being stuck in court, a 7-foot tall 500-pound guy is feuding with LensCrafters Presents Eve Torres over an impression with a sh*tty tone and whether or not he meant an apology. This is actually happening.
This is the kind of dumb crap that would inevitably happen if I was put in charge of WWE. Sure, I’d work hard to craft a 3-year, dynamic Daniel Bryan versus CM Punk rivalry that calls upon the entire history of professional wrestling, validates the existence of independent promotions and leads each man to redefine an aspect of the sport’s humanity, but hell, the other six stories on the show would revolve around Kane’s problems with the production team and The Great Khali feuding with Scott Stanford over God knows what. And hey, as awesome as that sounds, it does not sound awesome.
Next week Show should throw Eve’s glasses on the ground and stomp them, and she should spend the next six weeks acting like she’s blind.
Best: A.W. Is About To Go Heenan Family On You
I almost gave “A.W. stands for All World instead of Abraham Washintgon” a worst, but I reconsidered. While “All World” sounds like the first thing the writing team shouted out when the head of Creative asked “what should A.W. stand for”, but if it becomes a purposeful motivation for A.W.’s stable creation, I’m all for it.
Think about it. He tried to sign Mark Henry, who is the World’s Strongest Man. He succeeded in signing PERM, who are more or less the most (forgive me here) ethnic tag team in the company. They might as well wear potato sacks with PUERTO RICO written across the front. On Raw, he was joined by Mason Ryan, who, in addition to looking like Peter Gallagher as The Incredible Hulk, is Welsh. If Washington uses the world as his outline, he could stock his crew with a TON of WWE castaways from various parts of the globe (Drew McIntyre, Natalya, Aksana, Ezeikiel Jackson, Khali, Jinder Mahal, Yoshi Tatsu, whoever) and create this huge conglomerate of guys who need a chance and can’t get one because the main event scene is Alberto Del Rio, the whitest guy in the history of Europe and the top six white Americans in WWE.
Worst case scenario, Justin Gabriel gets something to do.
Worst: Dolph Ziggler Versus Kofi Kingston
I started writing this column at With Leather during the Summer Of Punk and was fortunate enough to launch it for a new audience during some of the best Raws in years. That also happened to be during the six-to-eighty year stretch when they had Dolph Ziggler and Kofi Kingston wrestle each other (sometimes in 2-out-of-3 Falls matches, sometimes best 5-out-of-9) on every single show. It was a rivalry so tired I once literally put my television in the toilet over it.
They wrestled again last night, and while it’s been a few months since they wrestled 1-on-1 and I want Dolph Ziggler to win matches on every show and be rich and popular forever, I can’t completely clean the sh*t-stains from the underside of my TV. I don’t want to see them wrestle each other. It’s fine, but I don’t want to see it. About 20 seconds into the match my brain went to a PLEASE STAND BY graphic and switched back on for the Zig Zag. It’s sorta like going to that place where you hear voices, except all I hear is screaming.
Worst: Jerry Lawler Can’t Follow Basic Wordplay
Vickie: “Excuse me! Excuse me! Allow me to introduce you to a man for whom the show does not go on, he shows off! Dolph Ziggler!”
Lawler: “For who the show does not go on? What?”
Best: THE ZIG ZAG MAN RIGHT HERE
That being said, it was nice to see Ziggler get a clean (enough) win over someone of note on Raw, especially after the last month or two of him eating Funkasaurus headbutts. The finish looked phenomenal, due in part to the camera angle and in another part to Kofi having been Zigged-Zag more than he’s brushed his teeth.
This seems like a great place to move Swaggler into tag team title contention, ease Ziggler back into that Punk/Bryan corner of the WWE main event scene or into my fantasy universe where 2005 Ring Of Honor became the new ECW, Adam Pearce never existed and nobody at WWE HQ could find Irish Whip Wrestling’s contact info. Also in this fantasy universe I am Callie Thorne’s love interest on ‘Necessary Roughness’, ‘Necessary Roughness’ is non-fiction and the only character welcome on USA is Rhonda Shear.