– 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.
– Comments have been great lately, so do me a solid and click the “like” button to share this post. It really helps me out, and getting a lot of people reading these reports is the only way to make sure they’ll continue. Also, hey, leave me a comment.
– Thanks to Casey of Hammerlock Dialectic for gifs, because he is a true friend.
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.
Best: Zack Ryder Tries To Survive
Destiny was texting when Zack Ryder entered, and without looking up she started singing along with his entrance theme. Then she looked up and said, “I don’t like him. I like his song, but he sucks.”
My reaction to Zack Ryder was a brief explanation about how he was cool for maybe six months last year, then me going OHHHH SHIT YOU BOUT TO GET RYBACKED MOTHERF**KER when Alberto Del Rio showed up WITHOUT A CAR and WITHOUT RICARDO GETTING HIS OWN RING INTRODUCTION because serious business. I wanted it to play out like the ADR/Sin Cara matches (kick wham armbar), but was pleasantly surprised when Ryder got to fight back without having to get in a bunch of spots. It played out like a guy trying to survive, and less like people taking turns hitting moves. That’s great, and one of the reasons I fell in love with Ryder circa his matches with Santino on Superstars back in the long long ago.
Best: Rey Mysterio Is Back, And His Legs Work
Guess what? When you let one of the best wrestlers of all time heal up so he isn’t trying to do lucha transitions on grandpa legs, he is AWESOME. AWESOME TO THE MAX.
I’m really, really excited to have Rey Mysterio back, and not just because I’m going to SummerSlam. How bad did that ONE rad headscissors takedown make Sin Cara look, seriously? Mysterio was moving fluently and naturally, and I’m totally down for him to finally get a quick, month-long feud with Del Rio where he can stay healthy and come out on top. Then we can move him into a main event thing with WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION DOLPH ZIGGLER and SHOULD PROBABLY PAY ATTENTION Sin Cara for that mask record they want, and by WrestleMania Sheamus can be back to losing to Great Khali in pre-show battles royal.
Rikishi “looks great” but Vickie Guerrero’s a cow? Okay, Jerry.
Best: Heath Slater vs. Gran Uso
I want to formally applaud WWE for their choice of randomly occurring legends over the last two months. If I was making a list of guys I’d want to see on an all-time roster, Vader, Piper, Sid, Diamond Dallas Page, Bob Backlund and Rikishi would all make the cut. When this started I was so sure Slater would be getting Cobra Clutch’d by Sgt. Slaughter and Fist Dropped by Jerry Lawler every week, and I’m happy to say I was wrong. Next week’s Raw 1000 group should be more of what we’re used to — Bret Hart, The Rock, Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley — but this One Man Band World Tour was really cool.
I still hope Slater gets jumped by a bunch of legends on Raw 1000 only for Wade Barrett to show up with the Nexus (including Daniel Bryan) in tow to literally beat the piss out of them. I also hope Ricky Steamboat is involved.
Best: RIP Umaga
I never thought I’d say the words “Aww, Samoan Spike. Awww” and make a frowny face, but when Rikishi busted out his Samoan Spike in tribute of Umaga my heart grew three sizes. I didn’t get to write this column when he was around, but I loved Umaga (and Armando Alejandro Estrada) and still list his Last Man Standing match with Cena from the Royal Rumble as one of my favorite matches. Hell, I even loved 3 Minute Warning.
I also never thought I’d say “Jesus, Rikishi is looking FAT”, but here we are.
Best: Raw Just Got Heartwarming, You Guys
Heath Slater video package to in-ring Heath Slater promo to brief Rikishi match with Umaga tribute to RIKISHI DANCING WITH HIS SONS TO THE TOO COOL MUSIC was one of my favorite five minutes of Raw this year. I get mad at lot watching wrestling. I get bored, or I get excited, or I run upstairs to jump on the computer to tell people what I thought about whatever, but I very rarely watch wrestling and smile. This moment made me smile, because sometimes wrestling should be about love, and “wedding proposals” are “people making out” are not the only kinds of love.
In a better world, this moment would lead to the Usos incorporating Samoan Spikes and Sitting On People into their moveset en route to a WWE Tag Team Championship win to honor their family and heritage, and not just be another example of the Usos never being as cool as their dancing. They’re talented young guys, and talented young tag teams (that make sense) should be nurtured. That being said, I’m not gonna front — when the lights went down, I said “oh man, when they come back on I hope Grandmaster Sexay and Scotty 2 Hotty are in the ring with him”. I said that.
Worst: I Love You Guys, But Enough With The Wedding Proposals
I’m giving Raw 999 a pass on stuff like this, because Raw 1000 is obviously WWE’s next touchstone show where Important Things Happen, so if they tread water this week, whatever. As I see it, a Daniel Bryan/AJ wedding (on next week’s show… Christ) can lead to any number of cool happenings, including:
1. Daniel Bryan and AJ just getting storyline married, allowing them to formally be the Macho Man Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth of the 2010s. This gets us back to the dynamic that worked so well pre-WrestleMania, gives AJ a reason to stick around and tough it out when Bryan’s mean to her, allows AJ to remain prominent without siphoning Bryan’s heat, yadda yadda.
2. Bryan and AJ are on “The Peep Show” on Smackdown, so any advancement of a Daniel Bryan/Christian Intercontinental Championship feud is welcomed, especially if it leads to neither guy committing to one side of the heel-to-face fence and wrestling their asses off.
3. Sara Del Rey interrupting the wedding as Daniel Bryan’s actual love interest, Royally Butterflying AJ out of her novelty Vans and being all “actually I’m not a love interest, I’m your best student and you should stop doing this dumb romance shit and be the best wrestler ever some more” about it.
4. Dean Ambrose crashing the wedding, preferably with a blimp full of Joker Venom. AJ gets her next logical character step, Bryan gets a cool GUY FROM THE INDIES opponent, Ambrose is instantly cool and important.
5. The reverend rips off a mask, says DID SOMEBODY SAY THREE MINUTES for no reason and the Usos show up and Samoan Drop AJ to death. Okay, that one probably won’t happen.
Pro-tip: If you are a pro wrestler, don’t get married during the wrestling show at the wrestling arena. Guys who work at the post office don’t get married at the post office.
Best: New Miz
In the Best And Worst Of Money In The Bank 2012 report, Danny “Dan Dan” Downes wrote the following about Miz’s return:
I couldn’t give this a best or a worst because, honestly, I didn’t really care. You had to know that someone else was going to be in the second MITB match because even though the original four could carry the match, the WWE seems to always love adding new stipulations to matches. At least this time we didn’t find out via text message.
As true as the last 80% of that paragraph is, I naturally like The Miz (Cleveland represent) and want him to be a good part of the show again. I’m really digging Adult Miz, partially because we get what’s good about him without what’s so overwhelmingly bad about him, and partially because this is the first time since Tough Enough he’s been on WWE TV with a grown-up’s haircut. It makes him look 100% more like a wrestler, and 100% less like a guy from a reality show pretending to be a wrestler. Miz needs character evolution more than anybody in the f**king fake sports world right now, and this is a great, great step forward.
And no, you don’t have a reason to care about him right now, but hopefully that’ll change. His grin to AJ when she dropkicked him off the apron was fun, so maybe he’ll be the one to interrupt the Bryan-Lee wedding. Hopefully Brian Lee will not get involved.
Worst: I’m Skipping The First 20 Minutes Of Next Week’s Show
It was helpful of Michael Cole to announce that during next week’s show, right at 8 o’clock, Raw would kick off their three-hour era with a D-Generation X reunion, and “all of them will be there”. Of course, the graphic just showed Triple H and Shawn Michaels, who I’m pretty sure are “all of them” in modern WWE lore. I mean, if Raw starts off next week with Hornswoggle and Chyna crotch chopping over Rick Rude’s casket or whatever I’ll tune in, but if not I will be shoot skipping the first 20 minutes of the show.
There aren’t a lot of ways it can go, given Triple H’s issues with Brock Lesnar, Brock Lesnar’s appearance on the show being announced and Shawn Michaels firmly settled into his new role as “smaller guy who gets threatened/beaten up for the sake of Triple H angles”. DX reunites, some insider jokez are made, t-shirts or glow sticks or baldspot-covering winter beanies are shilled and Lesnar handcuffs Triple H to the ropes a la Randy Orton and NBTs the shit out of Shawn Michaels. Or, worst case scenario, we get a Lesnar/Triple H in-ring promo where Feels are felt and they go back and forth about how one is scared of the other. Then punches are thrown, Shawn Michaels kicks somebody (probably by accident) and the inevitable Lesnar/H match gets special guest referees or sudden No Disqualification stipulations and … yeah, I’ll see everybody here at 8:22 sharp.
Worst: What Is This Shit You’re Doing With The Ryback Now
This is probably a weak Worst considering the f**king killing fields of last week’s Raw, but my least favorite part of the show was how excited I was for Ryback to Ryback Jack Swagger, then how immediately confused and sad I was that they spent two minutes beating up Ryback only for him to get some Dave Batista-style chest-high powerbombs in and celebrate to his music. What was that? You have Ryback facing off against a guy with a losing streak gimmick. You either:
a) Ryback him, because shit, or
b) Have Swagger f**k him up out of nowhere and win to evolve Ryback’s character and give Swagger some cred for once.
And no matter what you do, you start the match. When the announcers kept hammering home how the match hadn’t officially started yet I knew they were gonna go this route, and I never enjoy it. If the match is scheduled, the match should happen. Shouldn’t the Board Of Directors get super pissed about stuff like this? If the match gets out of control before it starts, don’t you just get it under control, or push it back to later in the show to give it a little heat? I don’t know how wrestle works and I’m not gonna pretend to, but damn, baseball teams wait out the rain delays before packing it in, don’t they?
This just kinda made everyone look bad. Give Ryback the big win in his hometown. You do not have to protect Jack Swagger. He lost to Evan Bourne like 75,000 times last year. This is THE RYBACK.
Worst: Dolph Ziggler’s MITB Briefcase Is Not The One From The Picture
A blue Smackdown Money In The Bank briefcase? That’s it? Are you serious, bro?
What happened to that glorious, hot pink DZ briefcase with the cougar claws across it? That’s what I want The Zig Zag Man Right There to carry around for six months, not that thing. He should’ve at least draped an Ass Cape over it.
Best: Literally Everything Else About Ziggler/Jericho
I loved this. I loved this SO MUCH.
The Ziggler/Jericho segment took three people I love — Dolph Ziggler, Vickie Guerrero and Chris Jericho — and gave them instant, new directions as characters. Vickie supplemented “EXCUSE ME” with an Ash Ketchum style thing where she repeats the last word of your sentence, then sorta took to the background (literally and figuratively) to agree with Ziggler without getting in his way. Ziggler spoke with logic and confidence, doing so in a way that was HYPER OBNOXIOUS without an excess of catchphrases or You Peoples. He knows he’s going to take the John Cena-condemned ADR briefcase route and he’s proud to announce it. The best was Chris Jericho, who descended from his weird, depressing thing as the guy who thinks everyone stole from him to become GRUMPY OLD MAN JERICHO, a guy who is JUST past his prime and hasn’t figured it out yet.
On Twitter, I compared it to Jumbo Tsuruta and Mitsuharu Misawa, and while Jericho and Ziggler aren’t in the same multiverse as those guys, it’s contextually accurate … when Misawa first came up, Jumbo could destroy him. Beat him without any effort. Jumbo was in his prime, and he could knee the young boys into oblivion. At some point Jumbo’s body began to betray him, and as that was happening Misawa was going from the worst Tiger Mask to date (there were only two, I guess, but still) to the most promising young athlete in his promotion. Jumbo had another match with him, and right in the middle of it you can see the world in Jumbo’s face — he realized this little asshole was going to eventually take his spot, and there wasn’t a thing he could do about it.
When Jericho first ran afoul of Ziggler, he was BEST IN THE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION and could beat him without a lot of effort. Now Jericho’s on the downside of an unsuccessful comeback run and Ziggler’s got a Money In The Bank briefcase, killing himself every night and getting LET’S GO ZIGGLER chants from the traditionally babyface-blowing WWE Universe. When Ziggler told Jericho to his face that he was all hype, hadn’t won anything in years and had lost his touch, it pissed Jericho off … because Ziggler is right. Jericho’s face told the story. He realized this little asshole was going to eventually take his spot, and there wasn’t a thing he could do about it.
I’m so excited for this feud to play out I can barely contain myself. The only downside is that this may have inadvertently made Kenta Kobashi into Jack Swagger.
WORST: SO HOW ABOUT THIS F**KING TOUT
“HI MY FAVORITE WWE RAW BRAND MOMENT WAS THE TIME JOHN CENA WON THE WWE, THAT WAS MY FAVORITE MOMENT” — Keith, The Internet
“My name Churles my favorite moment when Kane make fire come out of he ringposts” – Charles, age 4, the f**king Internet
“THIS IS STACY FROM NEBRASKA LOOK AT THE SHIRT I’M WEARING UM OKAY MY LAST THING I REMEMBER FROM RAW IS AJ PROPOSING TO CM PUNK AND OTHER GUY” – Stacy, the goddamn f**king Internet
Every Monday from now on I’m going to record 15 seconds of me saying “I hate you. I hate you for doing this. Stop doing this.” Isn’t it funny how everyone’s favorite memories from Raw have nothing to do with the wrestling on Raw? At least that one guy liked CM Punk cashing in his Money in the Bank contract on Edge, that was …what, 15 seconds of wrestling? That’s something. Way better than MY FAVORITE MOMENT WHEN TRIPLE H PUNCH PAUL RAYMOND IN A MOUTH.
Tout is the worst thing they’ve ever done. Do we need to see 15 additional seconds of you congratulating yourselves? That’s what WrestleMania commercials are for. String three touts together and they’re like the first 45 seconds of any episode of The Daily Show.
Worst: I Thought JTG Was Gonna Win For A Second
Sometimes I watch wrestling and get excited for some magical thing I’ve imagined to happen, like there’s any possible f**king chance of that happening. The big one from last night was the Brodus Clay/JTG match, where I suddenly got the image of made over JTG getting a huge upset win on the Funkasaurus out of nowhere, getting paired up with Alicia Fox on Raw and becoming a thing, because shit, he’s been there for almost six years. When he started taking out the knee and getting way more hope spots than I’m used to in a Brodus match, the smart part of my brain that keeps dreams from coming true by sheer force of will shut down and I started typing in capital letters about how JTG was gonna pull it off.
He didn’t, and all we’re left with is the question, “why the hell did Brodus Clay appear on the same Raw as Rikishi, because honestly”. I found two GIF’able highlights.
1. Brodus Clay enters and does the Kenny Powers “wank and toss” gesture.
2. This kid in the front with the red hair dances like he’s a rescue beagle touching grass for the first time.
“LOOK AT ME, I’M A DINOSAUR” was also funny, but I’m not GIFing JTG.
Best: Thank You For The Wrestling Tonight
I got a little distracted during the main event (Destiny had wandered off to bed and I think I played Scramble With Friends though most of it), but it was pretty entertaining and reminded me of those little guy vs. big guy matches I like to do in the video games. Punk has always worked best as the underdog, and with Show’s recent surge of importance they worked together well. I’m a little sad that they didn’t mention their long, long history together (or at least Show ripping off Punk’s mask when he got his head shaved) (yes, because I wanted to see Serena highlights on Raw), but that’s to be expected. The only Worsts for the match are pretty obvious:
1. DQ finishes where a guy won’t stop beating up another guy are dumb, because this is your job and you’ve obviously beaten the guy to death (and it’s NON TITLE even) so why not just drag him back to the middle and easily pin him and get your paycheck-slash-title-opportunities? This is what you were complaining about before.
2. CM Punk’s elbow looked better tonight, but it’s still a 0.1 on the Macho scale. Note: The Macho scale goes to 100.0.
But yeah, after last week’s abomination I’m happy we got so much wrestling, even with non-finishes and rushed stuff to get to the angles. That’s fine for a Raw, just let the guys wrestle a little before it happens. I’m usually good with that.
Worst: John Cena Is NOBLE And Also Confrontationally Verbose
CM PUNK, I, JOHN CENA, MONEY IN THE BANK WINNER, DO HEREBY ANNOUNCE THAT YOUR REIGN AS WWE CHAMPION, LONG AND STORIED THOUGH IT MAY BE, WILL BE COMPROMISED TO A PERMANENT END NEXT MONDAY WHEN I, JOHN CENA, CHALLENGE YOU, CM PUNK, FOR A WWE CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH FOR THE WWE CHAMPIONSHIP ON THE 1000TH EPISODE OF RAW, TWEET TWEET MEEP MOOP
When did John Cena become Low Ki? We knew you were gonna announce a challenge, dude, announcing it next week instead of SummerSlam is a little unexpected but hey, you probably could’ve just told us instead of teasing a Tout announcement and waiting until the time after the main event you didn’t know you were gonna have to say it.
Best/Worst: Raw 1000
So, next week is the 1000th episode of Raw. The show goes to three hours and features tons of big matches and special guests, so it should be fun to recap. Then every episode after that, even the really bad ones, are three hours. That means I may have to find a pool house to cage my dogs by the end of the year.
Regardless, I want you guys to help me out with the 1000th Raw (episode) report. Here’s what you want to do:
1. Invite everyone you have ever known to the open discussion thread. We hit 3,000 comments on a normal 2 hour Raw, so let’s get enough people in and enough discussion going to break the UPROXX commenting record and tackle 5,000. We can do it, and hell, we need some new commenting blood anyway.
2. Sign up for a Tout account and send me a clip of you announcing your favorite moment from the Best And Worst Of WWE Raw column. This can be serious, condescending, a parody of actual Raw tout messages or whatever you want. I’m going to try to feature a bunch of them in next week’s column, because you know that show is gonna be 99% Tout.
3. Keep me in your thoughts and prayers.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
DBry is so good at small packages he can pass the win over to others.
Daniel Bryan – “AJ, I’m in lesbians with you”
CM Punk could never marry a girl who has “let’s light it up” in her entrance song
Nobody tell my wife, but the first time I asked her to marry me it was so I could become WWE Champion.
Good thing Cena didn’t win last year’s MITB…his wife woulda gotten half of his title shot
Half Nelson Muntz
BETTER…THAN EDDIE GUERRERO
Christian better start the Killswitch now if he wants to get it all in before the end of next weeks Raw
What, WWE couldn’t get Chyna to come back for the DX Reunion? Were her demands too anal?
“I fixed the handle!”
*points to Raw 1,000 sign*
As an added bonus, this week’s report features a live Raw report from Mr. Alejandro Lopez, a man generous enough to send me his words and sit in on the open discussion threads all the time. Check that out and send him some love. Remember kids, people who bring @MrBrandonStroud or With Leather signs to Raw get the best treatment.