– Before you read the Raw report, make sure to check out UFC vet and UFC.com writer Danny Boy Downes’ spectacular Best And Worst Of Money In The Bank 2012 report. Writing alongside you is the best, so thanks for letting me do it.
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Without further ado, please enjoy the Best And Worst Of WWE Raw for July 16, 2012.
Best: The Terrifying Notion That John Cena Could Swoop In And Steal Your Relevancy At Any Moment
I think I’ve found a way to stop worrying and enjoy the “coolest person in the room” slash “Triple H’s jacket buddy” babyface CM Punk.
Punk’s biggest strengths have always been 1) a massive, massive ego and 2) sounding like he believes everything he says. Part of the reason I haven’t been enjoying him since … well, last August, is because so much of what he began to say sounded like deeply-scripted fan-pandering. Why are you calling John Laurinaitis an “ugly dork” or whatever when he represents the soulless chain of command you fought so hard to get in a word with edgewise? You got at least 20 opportunities to stand across from the Worst Man In Wrestling and tell him what you think, how you feel, how ALL of us feel about Hawaiian Tropic models and bodybuilders getting signed and pushed at the expense of hardworking people like yourself who toiled in armories and civic centers across the country because they love pro wrestling and you’re calling him an ugly dork? The voice of the voiceless became the Voice Of The People In WWE Shirts On Tout, and that was depressing.
All that being said, I’m enjoying the slow, steady burn of CM Punk as a guy who can hold the top championship in the pro wrestling world for almost an entire year uninterrupted and still not get treated like the ace of the promotion, because there’s always someone more important than him to focus on. That’s what Eve said to him point blank last week — he’s not as important to WWE as The Rock, Brock Lesnar, Triple H or John Cena. Punk responds with NUH UH I’M THE BEST IN THE WORLD, because to him, to a WRESTLING FAN, being the champion means you’re the best and most important. But the casual fan world has moved beyond that, and they only care about what the big names are doing, whether they’ve got a title belt or not. In fact, having a belt means you’re on the show less frequently than guys like Alberto Del Rio. The biggest perk of being champ now is getting on the first page of the roster slideshow on WWE.com.
I can start to identify with Punk again because he’s starting to realize it. He’s too proud to face it, but being the “best in the world” is f**king meaningless and having the respect of THESE PEOPLE gets you nowhere. His brain won’t let him think something else, but now people like Eve and Big Show — people who have been systematically treated like dogshit by the WWE brass — are saying it to his face. He’s a cog in the machine that runs to sell John Cena t-shirts.
If Raw 1000’s title match leads to something more important at SummerSlam, let it be Emotionally Indifferent Corporate Dynasty John Cena taking on the Voice Of The Voiceless who took on the monster from the inside and got lost within it.Subscribe to UPROXX
Best: Hey, That Wasn’t A Bad Little Tag Team Title Match
I’m hoping somebody in the back hooked Vince up to one of those A Clockwork Orange torture chairs to watch last week’s Raw and screamed LOOK AT THIS, LOOK AT HOW BAD THIS IS, WHAT ARE YOU DOING until he broke free and screamed ALL RIGHT DAMMIT and put some wrestling on his wrestling show.
“R-Truth and Kofi Kingston versus Darren Young and Titus O’Neil” should not be a good wrestling match, but with the upward momentum of the NXT crew and the addition of TAG TITLES DEFENSE in capital letters, it turned out pretty well. Tag matches are great for hiding individual weaknesses, so no matter how bad of a wrestler Titus might be going one-on-one with someone, he’s pretty fun when he’s just wearing a sparkly custom t-shirt, doing a wacky dance and running in to hit bodyslams.
I also really enjoyed this as a rare example of WWE creating and executing an unimportant midcard wrestling story. R-Boom have the tag team championships. Upstart team The Prime Time Players have a new manager who can worm them into a title match. They face a few other undercard teams (PERM, The Usos) and show nothing but cowardice in the process, walking out on matches or using shortcuts to win. They finally get their shot against R-Boom on Raw and try to use those same shortcuts, but the champs are a better team and overcome it, winning the match. The Prime Time Players look more important for having had a title shot, but not as important as the champs, BECAUSE THEY AREN’T SUPPOSED TO BE AS IMPORTANT AS THE CHAMPS. Applause, everybody. Do this more often. Do everything else less.
Best: Kofi Kingston’s Skeletor Gear
I shit on Kofi a lot in this column (because with John Morrison gone he’s the worst Jumping Guy on the show), but his Skeletor from He-Man trunks were tops. It succeeded in doing three important things:
1. Getting rid of Kofi’s still-awful “smiling black guy” logo without compromising the aesthetic completely
2. Gave me my first ever reason to like Kofi Kingston by topping Cody Rhodes’ Triforce boots in the nerd specificity department
3. Introduced that swank powder blue and lavender color scheme to WWE
I only wish R-Truth had gotten rid of the airbrushed jeans and coordinated. He’d make a pretty great Trapjaw, and the colors would match. At least throw on some green and yellow and start gurgling during your promos. Little Jimmy as Orko is a given.