– 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 tweets about Skip Bayless from Jose Canseco or whatever like a normal popular sports blog should, do your part.
– Thanks to Casey of the WWE Magazine awareness-winning Hammerlock Dialectic for pics and gifs.
– If you’re one of those people who got to the report early and don’t see all the pages, please consider spending some time listening to today’s epic edition of the With Spandex pro wrestling podcast. It’s about the greatest fan fiction of all time, Adventures In Bitchsitting, and deals with Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle as single fathers. It’s amazing, and you should hear it (plus it’ll by me a little time).
Enjoy the Best And Worst Of WWE Raw for June 11, 2012. Three hours of it. Jesus.
Worst: Vince McMahon Doesn’t Watch Raw
Last week (and during at least 100 other columns) I wrote extensively about how WWE’s kayfabe corporate ladder makes no sense. Vince McMahon is the CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, but he was ousted as COO by a board of directors and replaced by Triple H. John Laurinaitis is the Executive Vice President of Talent Relations and was the interim general manager of Raw, and he leveraged that against Triple H and became general manager of both television shows, giving him power (occasionally) over both Vince AND Triple H, but not the board of directors. Now Vince is returning to Raw to give Laurinaitis a job evaluation. You can pull the “stop thinking so much about it” card if you want, but when you add A and B together its comforting to get C, and not “37” with a remainder of fart.
When Triple H relieved Vince of his duties, he removed Vince from “day to day operations”, which included sh*t like making matches, evaluating peoples’ jobs and firing people and getting into matches with contracted wrestlers on a whim because of personal vendettas. Triple H began using his power to fire people on a whim because of personal vendettas and have a bunch of matches. Laurinaitis used his power to fire people on a whim because of personal vendettas and wrestle John Cena in the main event of a pay-per-view. Now Vince is back to fire Laurinaitis. There are only two explanations:
1. Vince doesn’t watch Raw and has no idea what’s going on, but he’s too proud to admit it and people are too terrified to correct him.
2. The Board of Directors is Moppy, Eugene, the Boogeyman and Freddie Prinze Jr. and they make decisions by sitting in their own filth and screaming until somebody shows up to help them.
Imagine any other show operating under these rules. Imagine if Joffrey ordered Ned Stark’s execution for plotting to steal the throne, and then 10 episodes later Ned shows up in a limo and orders Joffrey’s execution, but before it can happen Don Draper shows up and you think it’s gonna lead somewhere, but he just disappears and nothing is resolved. You would f**king hate that show.
It’s not even fun to watch. St. Valentine’s Day Massacre-era Vince got a lot of credit for putting his body on the line, not being afraid to look like a wimpy asshole and generally doing anything he’d ask his talent to do. 2012 Vince just seems like he’s above it all, and he shows up to make a few insider references and make fun of whoever he hates this week and either gets beaten up or dies at the end and nothing gets accomplished. Last night’s Raw was maybe the worst ever evidence of St. Valentine’s Day Massacre Vince’s erosion as a constructive part of the show, and proof that he’s forever a quick-fix Special Guest Star and will never be that guy again.
Big Johnny saying we’re approaching the 100th episode of Raw was pretty choice, though. I wonder if he signed Mantaur to an ironclad contract?
Best: Who Cares If Lord Tensai Isn’t Over, He Beat The Sh*t Out Of Sheamus
Welcome to New Japan, fella.
I don’t know if Sheamus tells people he’s wrestling to just punch and kick him as hard as they can, but it’s something about him I legitimately love. It’s what made the match with Otunga a few weeks ago better than it should’ve been, and part of what makes his non-WrestleMania-bullsh*t matches with Daniel Bryan great. The match with Tensai on last night’s show wasn’t anything to write home about, but by the end of it Sheamus looked (moreso than people usually look) like he’d been in a fight. When Punk shakes his left arm a bunch and holds it to his side and grimaces, it looks like he’s selling. Look at this picture of Sheamus immediately following the pinfall:
That’s not selling, that’s a guy bleeding from the face, trying not to roll his eyes back, collapse and yell JESUS CROIST FELLA. Tensai beat the red dye out of him, and if those welts on Tensai’s hilarious babydoll stomach are any indication, Sheamus gave it right back. That’s one of the major things missing from pro wrestling these days — the idea that these guys are hurting each other to win, and not 1) pretending to fight, or 2) doing that weird YOU HIT ME OKAY NOW I HIT YOU GRR LET’S SO WHO’S TOUGHER thing. Also missing from wrestling: fat guys and ugly guys. This match had it all!
Worst: Nobody Cares About Sakamoto
There was a lot to process and digest on Raw, from the complicated social implications of the AJ As Crazy Chick angle to the simple “f**k you, nerdlinger” of Seth Green’s favorite Seth Green-related Raw moment, but I think the one thing we can all agree on is that nobody gave Splinter’s ass about Lord Tensai beating up Sakamoto.
Last week I mentioned how funny it would be if Tensai shoving Sakamoto out of the way was the quickest-ever version of the WWE manager/valet break-up story, but nope, here we are spending 5 extra minutes watching a guy who isn’t over beat up a guy who has never gotten character development beyond “he WORSHIPS Tensai!” The announcers kept hammering that home, didn’t they? He’s beating up this guy who WORSHIPS him! He WORSHIPS Tensai! And the dumb guy in the nWO red and black shirt behind the announcers keeps smiling and trying to make Too Sweet and Diamond Cutter hand gestures at the screen because he’s bored and waiting for the next thing to happen.
I know you aren’t starting a Sakamoto/Tensai feud, so wouldn’t it have been just as easy to write Sakamoto out by just having him never show up again? Worst case scenario, Tensai could say “I got rid of the guy who worshipped me”. I don’t need to watch him get Wataru Sakata’d.
Worst: Really, Teddy Long Is Your Matchmaking Genius, Really
When Teddy Long started speaking I began chanting “tag team match, tag team match, tag team match, tag team match”. When he mentioned there were four former champions on the show, that became TAG TEAM MATCH, TAG TEAM MATCH. It ended up being a Fatal Fourway (probably because Teddy didn’t want to give Johnny his awesome idea for a tag team match, or because Randy Orton and Undertaker are both out and Teddy hates making tag matches without them), which was fine, but Johnny took credit for it and Vince thought it was a great idea.
Hey, you know why you think it’s a great idea? Because it’s what you always f**king do. A great idea would be something we haven’t seen (or something we haven’t seen in a while), something fresh, something that would make us go “wow, they’re doing that on Raw? I should watch this!” Not “midcard guys have a match to get a match”. Teddy should’ve proposed a system of statistics to justify title shots and show placement on the basis that WWE is sports entertainment and therefore should have as much emphasis on “sports” as “entertainment”. Or he should’ve just put Christian and Dolph Ziggler in a tag team match against sports and entertainment. Who cares?
Best: CAW CAW BANG F**K I’M DEAD
Made all the better by the “I just checked on R-Truth … HE AIN’T DOIN’ SO WELL” later in the show. Sorry you got punched once, Truth, but that is a straight-up “Wicked Witch dies if she touches a small amount of water” situation for a pro wrestler.