– Before you read this week’s report, make sure to stop over and read The Best And Worst Of WWE No Mercy 2012. You guys are always bugging me to do pay-per-view reports, so get over there and comment/like/share and what have you. If you don’t read that, you won’t know what’s going on on Raw! Haha yes you will
– Thanks to Casey of Hammerlock Dialectic for maximum Gif-age.
– If you just tune in to With Leather for the wrestling reports, make sure not to miss With Spandex episode 6, where I talk to WWE Superstar Derrick Bateman. I’m trying to get the podcast over as a thing, so help me out.
Because I promised you two columns this week, enjoy the Best And Worst Of WWE Raw for June 18, 2012. A single tear.
Worst: Mick Foley Is Great, But Not Interesting
… with a smaller, less professional Worst for that angle they shot from as he was walking to the ring. I thought, “Jesus, what happened to Mick?” and then they moved the camera up and stopped framing him to look like Mark Henry’s back.
I think I wrote about this at length the last time Mick was on Raw, but he just doesn’t seem special anymore. He’s a legitimately awesome guy, one of my favorite wrestlers ever, the sport’s greatest feminist and a welcomed addition to any pro wrestling show, but at some point his legendary status as “cool guy who did dangerous shit back in the day” morphed into “one of the old guys from TNA” so he’s actually got to be doing something special for me to see him that way. Rowdy Roddy Piper is very similar. These guys can still really contribute to your show, you don’t need to cart them out every four months for a “heh, remember this guy” Sgt. Slaughter thing.
It also doesn’t help that Commissioner Foley was the worst ever version of Mick, and that includes the Abyss Disappointing TNA Mick and the Lost In Cleveland amnesia version “Swampy” sees. If we’re bringing back past GMs, bring back William Regal next and let him stay forever.
Worst: Tonight On Raw, A Main Eventers Tag Match And A Handicap John Cena Thing!
Raw had a lost of Bests, so I feel bad starting it off with two straight Worsts, but building the show around four unrelated main eventers tagging against each other, booking multiple “wrestler wanders away from the ring” endings and main-eventing a John Cena handicap match that ends with him winning and humiliating an old non-wrestler is the most obvious, predictable, lazy Raw outline ever. It’s what I’d write if I was making a joke about the obvious things I’d see on Raw. That’s a first draft, not what should end up on screen. Wrestling has hundreds and hundreds of predictable stories and moments that work, you don’t always have to go for the same five.
Kayfabe suggestion for WWE: Instead of bringing back all the old authority figures, bring in somebody new who thinks impromptu tag matches and battles royal for title shots are dumb and see what they come up with. CM Punk likes to complain about John Laurinaitis not being creative, let’s see what he’d do with a Raw. Worst case scenario, we get one of those Randy Orton lingerie fashion shows. Best case scenario, we get to see Ryback ryback Colt Cabana and Ace Steel.Subscribe to UPROXX
Best: Blockbuster Tag Matches Are Great, But Not Interesting
So like I said, the concept is tired, but it’s hard to not enjoy a tag team match involving Best In The World CM Punk, Actual Best In The World Daniel Bryan, Worker Boots Kane and perfectly acceptable World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus. Tag team matches are an easy way to build momentum, and when you put a bunch of guys who can go into them, they can really get going.
I’ve watched so many Raws now and written about them so much that sometimes I start to drift away in the middle of these. I think I played a round of Scramble With Friends for absolutely no reason about three minutes in. That’s my fault, though, because I am a Stupid Dummy with capital letters for not celebrating the first 30 minutes of Raw having 15-ish minutes of Daniel Bryan chinlocks and superplexes in it. This was good, and the kind of thing I’ll find tape of on Thursday afternoon or whatever and really love. More wrestling, please!
Best: “AJ Is Just Like Harley Quinn!” – Everybody
Near the end of the match, AJ skips down the ramp in a f**king Kane mask and some red and black yoga pants and the UPROXX commenting system explodes because that is the exact thing we joked about happening. “AJ should come out dressed like Kane!” we’d say, holding in a deep laugh and downing a 32-ounce Mountain Dew in a Miz 7-11 cup. “We know how to run the wrestling!” And then it happens, and we’re all OH GOD and start frantically digging through our air vents like Jesse Bradford in Hackers.
But yeah, this happened. This really happened. Maybe next we can get a backstage segment where AJ announces she’s vegan, then bites into the face of a living goat.
I don’t know if AJ’s yearly bonus is going to be a card with “several years of employment” written on it, but she’s knocking this story out of the park and leaving everything she’s got in the ring, or in a weird path around it. I’ve never been able to settle on whether or not I like where she’s gone, and I think that inability to focus on a judgment is the biggest compliment I can give her. She’s making something interesting, when by all accounts it should’ve been dismissively wanked away as a worst last month.
If only we could get her in matches against other Divas and remember that Crazy Chick™ is a wrestler description and not a category on OK Cupid, we’d be set.
Best: Combo Finishers
Combo finishes are great, and the kind of thing you try to do with guys in video games before you realize the hit detection is wonky and interrupting the final 0.5 seconds of the Go To Sleep animation with a Brogue Kick just registers as “breaking it up”. WWE Super Tag Teams in main event impromptu tags should be built around how cool their finishes would look together.
The Go To Sleep into the Brogue Kick was great, and convinced even the biggest Daniel Bryan fan (me) that he was dunzo. I want to see more of this. I want to see Daniel Bryan put a guy into the YES Lock only for Ryback to pick them both up and Muscle Bust them. I want to see The Rock and R-Truth do their finishers to a guy at the same time, leading to a triple knockout.
Best: Swaggler Explodes
Watching Raw with my girlfriend always puts things into perspective. Her two biggest observations from last night (before she got bored and wandered away):
1. Kane should pay attention to his matches and stop wandering away and falling in love every time anything happens
2. On Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger arguing: “This is terrible.”
And it is (and Kane should), so while the argument segment gets a Best for Jack Swagger calling Vickie Guerrero a saint, it’s important to remember that the whole thing was pretty terrible. Why are they arguing in the hallway? Why are they standing shoulder to shoulder? Why is a camera man filming this?
The match itself gets a big Best, though, as it was my favorite of the night. Dolph Ziggler wrestling as a good guy is weird and kind of a revelation, because he’s able to do his exaggerated bumping and Evan Bourne Family Guy death sells and look like he’s really being killed, so it’s easy for an audience of 10,000 people to all pick up on the same story and cheer for the same thing. Telling a story to an audience that big is a really under-appreciated aspect of big leagues wrestling, one I started picking up on watching Bushwhacker Luke wrestle in Ring Of Honor years ago. Guys like Kenny King are wrestling for the 20 people in the front row, but Luke is overdoing everything so the people in the very back (of a much bigger venue) can follow along.
Ultimate Babyface Dolph Ziggler could be something special if they
1. Don’t change his hair, ever
2. Give him back I Am Perfection, because f**k you for changing it in the first place
3. Don’t ever let him insult another wrestler on behalf of the WWE Universe
4. Ass roll
What the hell happened to the ass roll?
Best: Paul Heyman Verbally Rybacking Triple H
Oh man, Paul Heyman responding to Triple H by laughing in his face and more or less saying “derp derp” was the most glorious thing ever. Inappropriate Ponytail Theater is a hard thing for me to find joy in (especially with a ponytail as inappropriate as Paul Heyman’s), but he avoided Kitten Pictures and Hayley Williams Gifs territory by saying what needed to be said: No, Brock Lesnar isn’t going to be goaded into dropping a lawsuit because Triple H challenged him to a fight, no, he’s not going to drop HIS lawsuit against Triple H because one of his clients got challenged to a fight, and Triple H is a stupid bully who just starts strangling and punching people every time he doesn’t get his way.
Which led directly to:
Worst: Triple H Has No Point, Should Have No Job
Honestly, when did Triple H convince himself that he was Stone Cold Steve Austin? His point about never wanting the C.O.O. position and having it thrust upon him is Big Bullshit when you remember the last, I don’t know, 13 years of Triple H’s character being THE CEREBRAL ASSASSIN, the guy who would pretend to rape and drunk-marry the boss’s daughter to help her weed him out of power. The guy who had the line “yo the years went by with your lies/the marks, the suits, McMahon” in his entrance theme. The guy who has “it’s all about The Game and how you play it” NOW. That guy. The one who can’t finish a sentence without shoehorning THIS BUSINESS into it. “I’d like a #4 please, because I have always ordered a #4 FROM THIS BUSINESS” etc.
It was weird listening to Cole and Lawler guffaw under their breath about how Triple H had outsmarted the dastardly Paul Heyman, when for all intents and purposes he should be f**ked. That punch to Heyman should be the end of Triple H’s job. Heyman isn’t a WWE employee, and as weird as it was for John Cena to assault John Laurinaitis after he was fired, it was weirder seeing Triple H’s grand chess move be “this guy’s suing you and your company for putting your hands on him? PUNCH HIM”. The Board Of Directors has already fired two other guys for making things personal, and here’s Triple H having never done a single thing impersonally since becoming C.O.O. If Zack Ryder asked him for a raise he’d get thrown through a window and challenged to a Three Stages Of Hell match at Night Of Champions.
Heyman showing up and sticking around in the ring when he should just bail makes sense, because he’s an Ambulance Chaser who knows if he pushes H’s buttons he’ll get punched out on national television in front of millions of witnesses. H is just coming across as the dumbest, most aggressive jock ever and there’s no imaginable reason to cheer for him besides “Triple H is cool I like him”.
Best: Alberto Del Rio Actually Rybacking Santino
“Alberto Del Rio is not medically cleared to compete for the WWE Championship at No Way Out, but he’s TOTALLY FINE to have a non-title match the next night!” – the same doctors who haven’t wellness’d Mason Ryan 75 times by now
Anyway, watching Del Rio “young boy” Santino around the ring for a minute and a half is usually my favorite part of Raw. I’m happy to have him back, especially when he’s calmly avoiding diving headbutts that would make him look stupid and locking on an armbreaker for a victory he could’ve gotten by staring hard enough. There are a lot of little Worsts here — WWE getting into shifty TNA concussion storytelling, the United States Champion being squashed by a guy with no interest in his worthless belt — but ADR should always be considered top shelf and shouldn’t be going back and forth with guys like this like he’s the f**king Miz. He should grab them by the arm, murder them, and move on.
Best: Ricardo’s Cowardly Revenge
Just to recap, Santino Marella spent the last month beating up a ring announcer, culminating in a match at the pay-per-view where he stripped him to his underwear. Alberto Del Rio shows up to defend the honor of his friend and cleanly, decisively beats Santino in a one-on-one match. Why should I be cheering for Santino and not Del Rio again?
Ricardo waiting until Santino was thoroughly beaten up to pounce, attack his arm and make threatening Bro Gestures was great, because Ricardo is a goofy little coward who should be getting booed. I guess the only problem is that he can’t get his comeuppance, because all he’s ever GOTTEN is comeuppance. So this is like… reverse comeuppance? Inverted comeuppance. I don’t know the terminology. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is this is the first time in a while Ricardo’s actually given us a reason to want to see him beaten up, assuming “he’s Mexican” and “he’s got on gay clothes” don’t do it for you.