… somebody just told me it’s Tuesday afternoon, so that means we’re live on With Leather for the Best and Worst of Monday Night Raw! Unfortunately we still have to decide who will win Tough Enough, so let’s just sort of stand here ad-libbing and looking at them for several minutes. Your name’s Luke, right? Like in the Bible? Good ol’ BIBLE LUKE, ladies and gemen! Do you have what it takes to be a WWE Superstar? Yeah, you KNOW you’re the best! Each and every one of them have never seen someone like you, you know you’re going straight to the top. Sorry! You lost. We’re giving it to the guy with long hair.
His hair is long, Luke, what was I supposed to do?
R.I.P. Good Ol’ Bible Luke, 2011-2011
Worst: Congratulations on Winning That WWE Game Show, Andy
The announcers made sure to say what a bright future Tough Enough winner Andy “the Slack-Jawed Yokel” Levine will have in WWE, and they made sure to repeat it a few times. That’s all well and good, except for the fact that WWE runs a WHO WILL BE THE NEXT SUPERSTAR contest almost constantly, and the last two winners (Kaval and Johnny Curtis, respectively) are slumming it against Kevin Steen at your local armory or commandingly pouring milk on themselves on Smackdown (respectively).
Also, I know I only spent a short time in wrestling school and maybe this is a “European style” thing I’m just not trained in, but I’m interested in Andy’s choice to take a flat back bump on a bitch slap, lying on the ground for what felt like five minutes, only to roll out of the ring and stammer around looking for beers and handshakes to sell a Stone Cold Stunner. Nobody wanted to sell the Stunner tonight. Andy, Miz and Michael Cole all got Stunners and all popped up from them. And I mean yeah, basically all he’s doing is making you bend over at the waist, doing a neckbreaker that takes all of the neck breaking properties out of a neckbreaker, and you could just stand up and kick him in the back instead of flopping around and dying, but PRECEDENT, PEOPLE.
And you know, now that I mentioned “precedent,” I wonder what would happen if the PRECEDENT OF THE UNITED STATES were to hold a PRESS CONFERENCE about UPCOMING PAY-PER-VIEW.
Best: R-Truth Makes Audience Boo the Union Point of View
I love R-Truth, all of a sudden. I’m enjoying him more than I’ve enjoyed someone since Santino was a genderphobic guido dating out of his league, or at least the heyday of The Dirt Sheet. I guess if you read these columns, you knew the second he marched out onto the stage dressed as a Confederate Soldier, improperly singing a war hymn about Little Jimmy, that he was going to be a “best” here. How can you deny him? He’s doing something nobody else is doing, and doing it well enough to be in the ring with Vince McMahon and Stone Cold Steve Austin and not look out of place. And he called Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee “inbred rednecks” and got a crowd in 2011 to inadvertently cheer for guys who would rather leave the country than stop owning black people. I’m sorry, he got them to boo for “states rights.”
Truth makes every segment he’s in better. He temporarily made the Barack Obama press conference gag hilarious (“LITTLE JIMMY GOT A BOAT, I DON’T GOT A BOAT, AND YOU’D PROBABLY TRY TO PUSH ME OUT THE BOAT!”) in spite of Jerry Lawler’s awful, scripted politics (I mean seriously, jesus christ at “imagine if President Obama told the truth for once”). Even the backstage WRESTLING IS COMING UP NEXT pantomime segment was great, with Miz doing this tortuous bug-eyes thing, trying to talk some wordy sense into a guy who might come to the ring dressed as a giant banana.
Worst: And Speaking of the Confederacy
…it was pretty hilarious to see Cena’s stars and bars t-shirt on display right there next to a black guy dressed like a Confederate.
John Cena loves to talk, and he can do it quickly. I read a great point earlier today that Cena was the “writer’s voice” in the segment. The other characters got to wander out and do their thing, and it all felt organic, and then Cena had to jort down to the ring and explain the “point” of everything. I think that’s the major problem people have with Cena, they just can’t articulate it. It’s not that he “can’t wrestle,” because he can. It’s not that he wears bright shirts or the jeaniest of the jean shorts, its that he’s somehow allowed to be both narrator and protagonist. He’s Nick Carraway AND Jay Gatsby. That’s why it doesn’t work. If Raw is the West Egg, Cena can be the Gatsby, but he’s got to let Zack Ryder narrate.
“In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice, bro.”
Best: Superstars on Raw
I’ve read a lot of negative criticism about the wrestling on this show (including the 411 Wrestling recap, which says the show was “energetic” but “held back” by the wrestling), and I can’t disagree more. I was in love with last night’s presentation of Raw, and the biggest, most sparkly BEST ever to the production guy who decided to start going to commercial break between entrances instead of crashing to break in the middle of the match. Cole even did his elevated CAN EVAN BOURNE CAPITALIZE WHEN WE COME BACK voice, but they stayed on the action. I was, lit-trully? In love with it.
So I also enjoyed the Santino vs. Michael McGillicutty match. The Attitude Era created a certain mindset about what does and doesn’t make a good TV match, and I understand I’m in the minority when I say THIS is the kind of match we should be seeing more often. If I want to see John Cena wrestle Randy Orton, I should have to pay for it, because those are the top dogs in the company. I should be taught to WANT to see this by matches like Santino/McGillicutty, where lower level guys go back and forth and we’re sort of allowed to form our own opinions. Situations like this make wrestling feel like a real thing, where guys are sometimes just paired up because that’s the schedule. I hate feeling like the Raw GM shows up without any matches planned and waits for main event guys to meander out at the top of the show and challenge each other. Sometimes he should have “Otunga vs. Sheamus” written in his planner, you know?
McGillicutty sucks a dick (don’t get me wrong, he totally does) but I’m enjoying the recent Santino singles matches, especially the one on Superstars against Ryder featuring the Cobra to the leg~.
Worst: A Complete Waste of Beth Phoenix
The team of Kelly Kelly and the diva that beat the pink candyfloss stuffing out of Kelly Kelly for like two and a half years are the perfect pair to teach us a story about bullying. Beth Phoenix is pretty good at her job, and a great, contextual explanation to why WWE mostly hires Hawaiian Tropic girls instead of independent wrestlers — the stories they want to tell in the ring and best performed by bikini models. It’s the truth. It’s why Gail Kim fails whenever she steps into a WWE ring. You’d think wrestlers would be the best at wrestling, but nope, when “wrestling” means “clapping your hands, pointing at nothing and sometimes doing a cartwheel,” who is going to be better at that, Christina Von Eerie or a high school cheerleader?
Beth Phoenix should cut her losses (and her hundreds of thousands of dollars) and head to Japan, or convince the guy who runs Wrestleicious to give like 1/10th of his money to SHIMMER so they can be a real thing on television. Or, I guess she can keep getting paid to do almost nothing, which is probably a great job.
Best: Kelly Kelly’s Boobs
I’m going to say it. I try not to get any more lecherously Internet sounding than “Maryse is hot,” but Kelly Kelly has fantastic breasts. A lot of it has to do with her wrestling in a water bra (or whatever they’ve upgraded to since the last time I dated a girl with a flat chest), but real, actual boobs are a great thing for a woman to have. They’re as rare in pro wrestling as a good Kane match, and I wanted to take a paragraph to calmly, maturely express my appreciation for them. Whenever I see Natalya choking herself to death with her own internal chest protector, I consider that Kelly might look like a Hebrew school kid with the sun in his eyes, but at least she didn’t do THAT.
And of course, this isn’t mean to condemn fake breasts, because I’m also mature enough to understand that fake breasts are perfect breasts, and that Maryse has orange skin and horse extensions and her incredible falseness is sort of what makes her hot. I think you have to shoot for one side of the spectrum or the other, so you land NEAR the edges, but not too close to Chyna or a grizzled naturalist. Or, you know, you can do what you want. I’m just going to keep calling myself mature until I can get through these paragraphs about boobs.
Best: Jack Swagger and Trish Stratus
Trish Stratus and Jack Swagger have never had a natural sounding conversation on television in their life, but for some reason when they come together they have outstanding chemistry. Jack talks to Booker and he’s all, “WHY DOAN YOU HAVE A WASSLIN MADCH WIF DA ALL AMAWICAN AMAWICAN AMAWICAN AMAWICAN etc.” but when he turns to Trish he’s all, “heh, hey Trish” in that perfect, American frat boy with a crush kind of way. Trish’s matter-of-fact “hello jack swagger” was also great, especially since Trish always sounds like she’s on an infomercial and doesn’t mean anything she’s saying.
I’m not saying you should put them in a romance angle or anything, but Trish and Jack seem to make it work together, and if I was the type who had a Deviant Art page and knew what “shipping” was I would ship them. Of course, my shipping wouldn’t involve Swagger losing badly to a 40-something retired tag team wrestler before being emasculated by an athletic, smiling 12-year old, but I don’t write for Deviant Art OR wrestling, so what do I know.
Best: Punk vs. Mysterio 2 (Hundred)
I have a bad habit of comparing the performance of a current wrestler to the performances of those who came before him, so I think Mason Ryan might be the f**king worst person ever at outside interference. You are the size of a goddamn mobile assault vehicle, you should be able to do more to 3-foot-6 Rey Mysterio than climb up on the apron and stand there Welshing at him. I’ve seen everybody from Christy Hemme to Nicole Bass reach in under the rope and grab a foot, you can’t do that? You cut the sleeves off of your shirt, you should have that mobility.
Anyway, Punk vs. Mysterio was as all right-to-great as you’d expect from them, and these days a 9-minute match on Raw feels like a 60-minute Broadway. People should put away the “TOO MANY 619s!” talking point for Rey, because he seems to have taken it to heart, and (at least against Punk, who is better than most) seems to be trying to work in the stupid “lay across the middle rope like you would never do in a match against anyone else” thing naturally, and only once or twice per match. Punk hit the backdrop earlier in the match, so him going for another one was a great place for Mysterio to escape and dropkick him in the ass. The finish was really fun for this one, if you make sure to look at it from behind Mason Ryan.
Hopefully next week we’ll get Punk Mysterio 3, so Mysterio can get two wins in a row and not look vulnerable ever.
Worst: WWE All Star Night
What’s the best way to sell a three-hour pay-per-view featuring wrestlers from the Raw and Smackdown brands? By having a free, three-hour Raw featuring wrestlers from the Raw and Smackdown brands! Kofi Kingston will be making an appearance, I hear!
WWE All Star Night should involve an appearance from the Ultimate Warrior, a Sheamus vs. Bret Hart match, and five minutes devoted to watching Shawn Michaels try to backflip to the top rope from the middle of the ring.
Worst: Alberto Del Rio is Getting Wade Barretted
Poor Alberto. I think feuding with The Big Show is your default “sorry, we don’t know what to do with you” spot. It’s made even worse when your feud with The Big Show involves one of those pre-taped vehicular manslaughter segments and a midget/lackey dressed up as your opponent. All they need to do is add a birthday cake, a stunt fall through some obviously cardboard boxes and the in-ring comedy of John Morrison to make this the most obvious thing of all time.
Alberto Del Rio should’ve been the champion back at Wrestlemania. Think about what would’ve been different. Edge would’ve never done that spear to Brodus Clay that made him retire. Christian wouldn’t have had a cup of coffee with the World Heavyweight Title and wouldn’t be locked in this endless loop of losing to Randy Orton. Del Rio might be having a CP (the PPV, not the other CP) match against Daniel Bryan or Sin Cara right now. The only downside is that we would’ve lost that Big Show/Peter Griffin segment from a few weeks ago, but that’s the kind of thing I’m willing to sacrifice. Edge, you shouldn’t have dropped an elbow on his car — you ruined his life.
Also, does anybody know what Wade Barrett is doing right now? Is he selling insurance?
Best: Zack Ziggler On Raw!
Michael Cole deserves the biggest and most thorough “worst” for messing up Zack Ryder’s name during the only match we’re going to see him wrestle on Raw. The Superstars-on-Raw theme continued with Ryder taking on Kingston, and honestly, I don’t care that Ryder got in about four seconds of offense, I just feel happy for the guy. I’m emotionally attached to one of the Edge Heads. I want to see him succeed, because he seems like a funny, nice guy. Is that a bad reason to support a professional wrestler? I think that’s why I liked Dusty Rhodes when I was little. He shook his Santa belly and wanted to do what was right.
Anyway, the match was okay, highlighted by Ryder’s chest bump, which is like being through the looking glass on every college dorm fight ever.
Best/Worst: Ziggler and Vickie on Commentary
Dolph Ziggler has never sounded great on the microphone. I mean, I guess when he was screaming his name with the Spirit Squad he was pretty good, but his charisma is mostly in what he does, not what he says. I said that about Edge and Christian, too, because they randomly showed up on Raw after Wrestlemania and were hilarious surfers. Ziggler may’ve had his hilarious surfer moment here, doing commentary and managing to put himself, Vickie, Zack Ryder and Twitter over in the process. This is a best.
The production team gets a worst for cutting to them on commentary every four seconds, causing us to miss about 75 seconds of the 80 second Zack Ryder match. They’re on commentary, we can hear them. We don’t need to see them actually saying things. You’ve got a worst almost any time we see the announcers actually saying things.
Vickie gets two additional bests here: one for looking great (Lawler really should’ve apologized to her for last week) and one for not being able to stop shoot laughing at the dumb jokes.
Best: Alex Riley in “Still Over”
Did you ever think you’d hear a “LET’S GO RI-LEY” chant? I didn’t. Okay, I’m lying, I thought that when Riley got released and got brought in to Ring of Honor as this bad ass pro wrestler who just DIDN’T GET USED RIGHT++ I’d hear a Let’s Go Riley, but not on Raw. But, well, here we are. Three weeks into the Alex Riley experiment and he’s still looking like one of the biggest babyfaces in the company. Last week I thought it was about how much ass he was kicking, but this week he kicked little-to-no-ass and still got the chants.
If I’m the WWE here (and I am not), I want to back away from Riley in these Raw main events. Put him in the undercard, but keep him looking great. The Internet will complain that you aren’t striking while the iron is hot, but there’s a deep truth here: Riley isn’t that good. He’s not. He’s a good heel on the microphone, but he’s sounding a bit John Morrison when he’s being affable. He’s okay in the ring, but he’s not setting the world on fire. If you expose him too much before he’s really, really there, you’re going to blow it. Chris Masters was wrestling Shawn Michaels on pay-per-views, and now four years later he SHOULD be, but nobody cares.
Alternate plan: Alex Riley needs to start Burning Hammering everything that moves.
Worst: The Second Worst Dropkick In History
John Cena, dropkicking like me itt
He really should’ve just punched him in the face, or done that scoop up into the Attitude Adjustment that instantly breaks his opponents’ hands and causes them to drop whatever they’re holding. Or just kinda shove him out of the way, he’s just R-Truth.
Worst: The Raw GM is Sending E-mails From an Insane Asylum
And a great episode of Raw ends with insanity. Stone Cold Steve Austin is the special guest referee and does what you’d expect Stone Cold Steve Austin to do (stunner people, drink beers). The GM sends an e-mail reversing the decision, saying Austin abused his power and the decision will not stand. So what does he do? He quickly sends a second e-mail saying next week’s WWE All Stars general manager will be Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Okay, what? How does this make sense? Did the Raw GM give up his power willingly, and if he didn’t, couldn’t we have had Vince strut out and bell all DAMMIT NEXT WEEK STOOOONE COOOOOLD STEVEAUSTIN? Did the GM act tough, then give up his power temporarily to keep Austin from destroying Michael Cole’s laptop and lectern? The only way this makes sense is if the GM is Mick Foley, who has brain damage and a history of making bad decisions. He’s also a homer for Austin, so he’s the type who would reverse a decision because it’s the “right thing” and then make it up to Austin by letting him run over Jack Swagger in an ATV next week. Yep, figured it out, that’s got to be it.
I want the GM to be something fun, like a child, or the computerized ghost of somebody. Or possibly a child helping the computerized ghost of somebody.