– 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 Serbian tennis player cheesecake slideshows 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. Two is greater than one, as they say.
– If you’re the type who listens to podcasts, don’t miss my two latest appearances: as the host of the With Spandex podcast with special guest the lovely Veda Scott or as the special, extremely uncool guest on the Wear The Cheese “Crash Down” podcast about Pokémon. No, seriously. They’re both pretty dorky, so pick your poison. Or pick them both!
Anyway, please enjoy the Best And Worst Of WWE Raw for June 5, 2012. Less about The Troops this week.
Worst: Big Show Is Awesome And Makes Great Points About Cena, So Let’s Have Michael Cole Yell At Him About Nothing For 20 Minutes, Then Wrestle
Last week I wrote extensively about how The Big Show had transformed pretty seamlessly from an aimless, stupid, fat dope who’d step through a table in his own tables match to an unstoppable, bad-ass personification of everything I wish for in wrestling. They continued that with Show this week, airing a pair of video packages that made him look great and could’ve only been better had he spent a portion of them going on about how Cena was gonna piss and sh*t his pants. Show rules, and our big fear from last week was that Cena would show up as a Pet Detective and make wacky faces and thrust obnoxious gay jokes at him until he collapsed back into the sack of crap he used to be.
Oddly enough, what we got was worse.
Sure enough, Cena showed up without a care in the world, but instead of loo-hoo-sir-her’ing in Big Show’s face we got a 14-minute conversation with Michael Cole about how each thinks the other is pedantic and overrated. That somehow led to Cena getting to choose his opponent for the night and once again proving why he’s the worst f**king Magnum T.A. ever by refusing to be the bigger man and beat up an announcer. Michael Cole does deserve to get beaten up, preferably on a regular basis, but throughout the segment I couldn’t ignore a few truths:
1. Michael Cole has been WAY BETTER lately. He hasn’t screamed over matches in a while, and aside from a few moments where you could tell he had to say a certain thing to get a plot-point over he’s been relatively laid back and harmless. Now is certainly not the time I would’ve chosen for someone to call him out and assault him.
2. John Cena shouldn’t really have a beef with Cole. If you think of people who’d want to beat up Cole, who do you think of? Daniel Bryan. Jerry Lawler. Eve, maybe. Teddy Long, if he was suspended above the ring in a shark tank and could drop a foreign object down to somebody. Certainly not Cena, but in the same way WWE wrote themselves out of a corner by having Average Everywoman Eve Torres go full-on SCANDALOUS BITCH~ in a heartbeat, they gave us 14 minutes of Cole being a dick to Cena so Cena would want to beat him up. Nothing really sustainable, so it was a short-term payoff, and nothing we’d really been asking for.
3. And why does Cena want to beat up Cole? Because Cole said he didn’t like him. Cole because WWE’s “voice of the detractors”, and if he’d said the same things at the end of the show when the crowd wasn’t hot and desperate for wrestling, they probably would’ve cheered him.
4. The only reason to beat up Cole is for all the horrible things he said and did in 2010-2011, but that was paid in full when Bret Hart Sharpshot him, Jim Ross slathered him in barbecue sauce (more on that later) and Jerry Lawler stuck his foot in Cole’s mouth. How many times do we punish him for the same crimes? What’s the worst he’s done since then, kiss up to John Laurinaitis?
5. “Be A Star” joke aside, what kind of guy is Cena when he’s given an open contract against anybody in the world and his first two options are “46-year old executive in a wheelchair” and “43-year old non-wrestler”? Cena could’ve given himself a match against WWE Champion CM Punk, a match against World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus … hell, The Rock is still on the Raw roster technically, he could’ve called out Rocky and tried that whole thing again. If Cole had gotten out of it, would Cena have challenged Eve?
6. Remember when Big Show got to choose his own opponent? He threatened Santino about it, but he ended up accepting a challenge from Brodus Clay, then wiped the f**king floor with him. Don’t know why anybody would be on Cena’s side in this.
So yeah, we could’ve followed up the hot ending to a pretty-good Raw by building effectively to the cage match main-event at the pay-per-view that is TWO WEEKS AWAY, but instead we spend a quarter-hour setting up a dated announcer vs. wrestler match with no real build for no real reason.
Best: Johnny In A Hoveround Is Going To Be Funny Forever
It is. When open segments are bad, I can at least count on The Executive Vice President Of Talent Relations And General Manager Of Both Raw And Smackdown Mr. John Laurinaitis to roll out with a rubber chicken or one of those headbands that make it look like somebody shot an arrow through your head or whatever and entertain me out of thin air.
One of the things I like about Laurinaitis and “People Power” is that he thinks he’s actually doing something to help people. He’s underhanded, sure, and he’s out for his own interests, but so is everyone else … and I can buy that Laurinaitis is trying to do that in secret and thinks he’s doing a great job of hiding it. So occasionally he gets the itch to play fair and give Cena a chance to pick his opponent, because hey, HE’S not gonna have to wrestle Cena, and it’s the only chummy thing to do. That’s a perfect dickhead boss. He doesn’t hate you, he just doesn’t give a sh*t about you.
Best: The Brogue Kick Taunt Actually Ending Matches
One of my biggest complaints about Kofi Kingston (if Kofi Kingston gripes were members of X-Factor from when I was reading X-Factor, this one would be Strong Guy) is that he always tries to set up Trouble In Paradise by doing a Shawn Michaels thing where he backs up into the corner, starts clapping his hands together and gets everyone to chant “boom” … but he has never once hit Trouble In Paradise after doing it. He always misses it, and by now I guess hearing the crowd chant “boom” is code for “duck my dumb kick”.
So as much as I don’t want to see Sheamus beating Dolph Ziggler, I appreciate that his thing where he stands in the corner beating his chest and yelling BROGUE~! actually leads to him Brogue Kicking dudes and pinning them. It makes his taunt feel special, like when he starts doing it you can think to yourself, “okay, the match is over, here comes the Brogue Kick” and actually buy it when people interrupt or reverse it, rather than Kofi’s sh*tty thing where you just sit on your hands and wait for f**king Lucky Cannon or whoever to suddenly have the dexterity to dodge signature moves.
And in case you were wondering, “he jumps too much” is the Jamie Madrox of my Kofi Kingston complaints.
Best: Well Hello, Vickie Guerrero
All I can really remember from the Sheamus/Dolph Ziggler Smackdown rematch (besides the fact that there were so many Smackdown rematches … seriously, when did Raw become the follow-up B-show?) are the commercial break that eviscerated it about three minutes in and how the camera guy kept jumping back to Vickie Guerrero every ten seconds. And I’m not usually the blatant “her boobs looked great” guy, but her boobs looked great, you guys. Jerry Lawler may have seen “better heads on a pimple”, but one time he had sex with a 13-year old and his last wife left him to marry Kizarny. So.
You’re pretty great, Vickie. If you won’t let me marry you, at least let me wear your shaul.
Worst: Sorry For Talking About Her Boobs
Please accept my apology.
Best: ADR And Ricardo Are Doing God’s Work
And speaking of people of Hispanic heritage I’d like to marry, Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez interrupted Sheamus and his celebratory on-stage hammerfisting by jumping him, tripping him up into the Mike Mizanin Memorial WWE Statue and armbreakering him while he was hanging off the stage. This is easily the best Best of the show, and if they built an entire pay-per-view cycle around Alberto mangling Sheamus’ arms only to forget that Sheamus can also kick people I’d buy it.
Again, to clarify to readers who can’t seem to understand it, yes, I’m giving Alberto a best for jumping Sheamus with his friend and trying to break his arm out of spite, and yes, if CM Punk did the same thing I’d give him a Worst. The reason why: Alberto Del Rio is a bad guy. Bad guys are supposed to do reprehensible sh*t to make you want to see them get their asses kicked, they shouldn’t be running around in circles whimpering and holding tights and fleeing at the first sign of trouble like modern WWE heels do. On the same tip, WWE babyfaces — or hell, at least ONE f**king WWE babyface — should attempt to be the better man and not stoop to this level. All WWE babyfaces DO is stoop to the heels’ level, which is why I like the heels more. At least I can understand where they’re coming from.
Worst: John Laurinaitis Doesn’t Care What’s On WWE.com
Me either, Johnny, me either.
So let me get this straight … John Laurinaitis is in charge of both televised wrestling programs AND he’s in charge of the talent available to be used on those shows, but he doesn’t know Vince McMahon is going to be on next week’s Raw until David Otunga shows up with an iPad to tell him what’s on Dot Com? Does the WWE.com article mention that while Vince is still the CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, Triple H and the Board Of Directors relived him of his day-to-day duties as COO, which means (or should means) that Vince shouldn’t be able to show up and handle day-to-day operations, such as giving performance evaluations? That should be Triple H’s job. But John Laurinaitis power-played Triple H out of the picture enough to end up running both shows (after Triple H gave him a job evaluation, right? Or was it the other way around? How many job evaluations from how many different people do you have to have per year?), so …
I don’t know. As far as I can tell now, the hierarchy goes
1. What These People Want
2. Board Of Directors
3a. John Laurinaitis As VP of Talent Relations and GM of Raw and Smackdown
3b. Triple H As C.O.O.
3c. Wrestlers Making Impromptu Matches
Both 4. and 2b. Vince McMahon As C.E.O.
5. Eve Torres, Head Of The Knockouts Division
So who knows? They should’ve filmed a follow-up segment where Otunga approaches Laurinaitis backstage, Laurinaitis tells him he’s busy, and Otunga’s all, “Have you seen WWE.com? They ranked Layla above Big Show on the Power 25. Isn’t he supposed to be main-eventing your pay-per-view?” And then he shakes his head derisively, and they stare off into the distance for way too long until somebody says “cut”.
Worst: They Have A 3-Hour Raw Next Week And All They’ve Announced Is A Performance Evaluation
I seriously might have to give up this column when Raw goes to three hours in July. Or I’ll just cover the first hour, and the last five pages will be the Best And Worst Of Whatever Episode Of Adventure Time Is On. Not sure I’m mentally prepared to write about the same 20-minute sneak peek of Common Law I’m gonna have to recap every week.
But yeah, next week is a three-hour show, the go-home Raw before No Way Out and one of the big Raws leading up to the milestone 1000th episode and the ONLY THING ANNOUNCED is Vince McMahon showing up to have a business meeting. I’m not asking for the Attitude Era to come back or anything, but can somebody PLEASE put everything in a dumpster and shove it off the stage?
Best: Remember Sin Cara? He’s Back, In Pog Form!
Sin Cara is back, and he’s taken some important steps toward erasing his legacy as the guy who f**ks up a lot on his way to rightful lucha glory:
1. He got rid of the “jump the top rope” entrance, reducing his chance to botch it by 100%.
2. He’s taking it easy in comeback matches against Hunico, who should really probably try leaving Sin Cara alone forever now.
3. He’s integrating simpler lucha moves into his WWE moveset – for example, it’s a hell of a lot easier to springboard at somebody than it is to stand up safely on the top rope with your head in their armpit and backflip without either of you getting hurt or slipping off and killing yourself.
Steps 4 and 5 are
4. Get rid of the stupid moodlighting, because Jesus, seriously
5. Immediately get into a feud with Alberto Del Rio, then only wrestle guys who have seen more lucha libre than Chavo Guerrero cruiserweight title matches.
Sin Cara should be a big deal, and I’m never going to shake that image of being at WWE Axxess during this year’s WrestleMania and seeing 50 people in line to meet Tony Atlas, then looking across the room at 4 f**king people waiting to meet shoot lucha legend Mistico. My brain doesn’t want to process that, and of all the people who need good will right now, Sin Cara is the one for whom I wish the best.
Best Camacho Exists Solely To Be Knocked From Ring Aprons
Michael McGillicutty’s dad is Mr. Perfect, one of the most beloved in-ring performers in modern wrestling history. McGillicutty doesn’t get to be Junior Perfect or Joe Hennig, but he’s come around, and he’s having good matches on NXT. If you extend that scale in both directions, you have Camacho. Camacho’s dad is MENG, aka Haku, aka King Haku, aka one of the very coolest and toughest people to ever walk the pro wrestling planet. Camacho doesn’t get to be Haku Jr., he gets to be Hunico’s boyfriend (this isn’t canon, but they aren’t giving me a lot to work with) on a bicycle and the only thing he gets to do is climb up on the ring apron and be immediately knocked from it. He got to lose to Ryback once.
What weird world do we live in where Cowboy Bob Orton’s son is supposed to be the ace of your promotion, but Mr. Perfect’s son and Meng’s son are chumps? This shouldn’t be happening. If Raquel Diaz and Richie Steamboat end up slumming it in a company where f**king Carlito won four f**king championships I’m calling shenanigans on the entire operation.
Worst: La Mistica Is Not An Impact Finisher, n00bs
I know saying “Mexican guys in masks doing submission holds” to Vince McMahon is probably like saying “here’s what I know about organic chemistry” to a basset hound (I’m convinced they took off Alberto Del Rio’s mask so he could do an armbar), but the move where Sin Cara spins around you and slams you to the ground in a Fujiwara armbar is, funny enough, supposed to end with you in a Fujiwara armbar. It doesn’t make any sense that he lands like that, then has to release a submission hold immediately to roll you over and hook your legs. If you’re gonna leave off the last half of the move, at least get him to spin around on the ground and Quackenbush you over, don’t make it a “David Otunga doesn’t know where he is in relation to the ropes” situation.
Imagine if AJ Styles hit the Styles Clash, then unhooked his legs from under your arms, rolled you over slowly and tried to laterally press you. Doesn’t really work when he could just turn slightly and have your shoulders on the mat, right? Let Sin Cara rip out Hunico’s arm. He’s barely using it anyway. Dueling armbar finishes make your upcoming Sin Cara/Alberto Del Rio feud even better. Wrestling is great and writes itself 90% of the time, don’t rip out the pages and lob them into the garbage when you’re almost finished filling up the notebook.
Worst: Triple H’s Favorite Raw Memory Is People Loving Triple H
Best: Holy Sh*t, Synchronized Jobbers
I know I already used my LOL for Camacho, but loooooooooooooooooooool
The HD WWE Fan Nation videos I usually link to edited out the two best moments of the match — the military press from Hell (pictured, right) and the UNSTOPPABLY AMAZING opening salvo from “local talent” Stan Stansky and Arthur Rosenberg in the form of an epic poem. The gorilla throw speaks for itself, but at the risk of overstating it I think Rosansky turning into Tomax and Xamot from G.I. Joe to threaten Ryback is probably the funniest thing to happen on Raw all year. I want these guys on NXT, and I want them to always speak in stereo. When one gets clotheslined, I want the other to sell it.
Jobbers doing “2 Become 1” before matches is the greatest. The snark in his voice when he said “Arther ROSE-enberg!”, Art’s leftover Paul London pants and Michael Cole hatefully referencing “their little POME” made this one of the most enjoyable possible things for me. We should get a backstage segment with Stansky next week where he’s in a lab coat in front of a bunsen burner yelling things like “but two IS greater than one! The match checks out! WHERE AM I GOING WRONG”
Best: Ryback Just Brutally Murdering Dudes
The reason Funkasaurus matches were getting boring to me is that they were all the same. Brodus entered, danced, hit a couple of moves, pinned the guy and danced. That happened a little too often without any upward momentum, the act turned into Madea’s Jurassic Park and it cooled for me. Ryback’s matches are the exact opposite — he is F**KING THESE DUDES UP and I don’t care if he squashes them from now until 2015 if he keeps executing them with extreme prejudice.
When I was a kid, I loved the “chumps”, as I called them. Jobbers. Guys who’d never win. So when those guys show up on Raw or Smackdown, either in the form of “local talent” or guys I know with weird costumes and names (example: Lichtenstein Champion Johnny Gargano), I enjoy watching them perform. I liked watching Ray Rowe get squashed by Umaga more than the last 10 blockbuster Raw tag team main-events. There’s a sincerity to it, and in a TV-PG world you occasionally have to have guys get shoot destroyed in the most violent way the rating will allow. Ryback throwing a guy 20 feet into the air is a good example of that. Him propping them up together and turning them into paste with a lariat is another.
I’ll put it to you this way: If the Funkasaurus went up against a guy like CM Punk, I’d expect Punk to win. If Punk went up against Ryback? I’d order flowers for the funeral.
Best: The Punk/Daniel Bryan Feud Is Making Kane Pretty Good By Proxy
WWE Fan Nation did a terrible job of editing that Ryback match, but they did a great one with Punk vs. Kane – they show the entire pre-match Daniel Bryan Q&A, then jump right to the end where Bryan and A.J. interfere. We’ll call this one a push, guys.
Anyway, the WWE Title feud is built around three absolutes:
1. Daniel Bryan’s inability to have a bad match
2. Kane’s inability to have a good match
3. CM Punk’s inability to have a segment anybody but me dislikes
And surprisingly enough, it all goes together well. Daniel Bryan is getting put into high-profile segments on the A-show with the most popular guy on the show, so he looks more important. Punk’s segments gets a dose of QUALITY PRO WRES, something missing from Punk’s life between September and April. Kane gets put into good matches AND into good segments, and lo and behold, here I am giving Bests to Kane’s involvement in non-accidentally hilarious moments on Raw.
That’s not meant to be backhanded. Kane apparently works well in situations where he doesn’t have to carry them, especially one built around two little guys who keep passive-aggressively sniping at each other and having romance drama and need a 7-foot guy in a flame speedsuit to show up and choke them and throw them at the ground. It worked back in the long long ago when Kane was feuding with World Heavyweight Champion Chris Benoit, and it works here. Who knew that pairing your best wrestlers with guys who’d have fun wrestling great wrestlers would end in great wrestling?
Best: AJ’s Craziness Is Becoming A Joss Whedon Metaphor
This is one of the ultimate WAIT AND SEE WHERE IT GOEZ moments for me right now, but AJ’s sudden craziness has become a plot point, and (thank God) one deeper than “women be trippin'”. I wasn’t a fan of watching her whimper through what I was assuming would be multiple mentally abusive relationships, but if she’s gonna own it and turn into one of the Children Of The Corn and scare Kane away with her smile I am all about it. Let’s go a step farther and figure out a way to make her eyes glow when she gets emotionally distraught. She could stand to hover a little, too.
The only complaint I can come up with for AJ here is that she’s getting a character because of a valet romance angle, and not as an important hook for the Divas division. It sounds simple, but if you give the women in your employ television characters and personalities and last names they could probably come up with something great. AJ’s the Firestarter, Eve Torres wears glasses … we’re almost there!
Best: Josh Mathews Is Afraid Of Everybody Now
AJ and Josh backstage reminded me a lot of that scene in Rushmore where Rosemary confronts Max in the classroom and is all DO YOU WANT TO FINGER ME, OR MAYBE I COULD GIVE YOU A HAND JOB and Max backs out with his head between his ass. Remember when Josh Mathews spent six months clamoring on about how AJ was his dream woman? Suddenly she has a rough couple of months and this little d-bag can’t handle it. That’s what happens when you put a woman on an pedestal, Josh, you end up disappointed. “She reads Batman comics and likes the Internet! I had no idea she’d have feelings and emotions! /makes turdface”