– Do me a big favor and click that “like” button at the top. If we get 100+ comments on these reports, we should be getting just as many likes. This is my job, technically, and I get paid based on some really weird stuff.
– Thanks to Casey of Hammerlock Dialectic for gifs, as always, especially the one at the very end.
– We’ve got a Smackdown discussion thread happening for tonight’s Great American Bash live special, so be sure to check back in a little bit for that. It’ll have a Ryback badge, and I don’t want you to miss it.
Short list this week, so let’s get right to it. Please click through to enjoy the Best And Worst Of WWE Raw for July 2, 2012. Yes. YES. YES! YES!
Best: NWA Smoky Mountain’s CAGE OF DEATH~
Okay, so this didn’t happen on Raw, but I’m spending the week at my parents’ house in Bristol, Virginia, and had to share it. If you follow me on Twitter you know about this already, but I ditched a minor league game in Bristol to catch NWA Smoky Mountain’s CAGE OF DEATH show, and it was the type of show you have to write about in CAPITAL LETTERS. It featured:
– Ricky Morton, who is still alive (and awesome)
– A two ring battle royal
– A black guy in full Hayabusa gear
– A homeless man dressed like Psicosis with velour shoulderpads (he was the champion)
– Post-match respect speeches with no microphone
– A fat guy pretending to be Heath Ledger’s Joker (this is at every show)
– Two intermissions, one of which was to fix a malfunction in the ring, which would’ve been fine if they did not have TWO RINGS
And to top it all off, the show was main-evented by the CAGE OF DEATH, a War Games match advertised as “one fifteen foot high steel cage, one barbed wire cage” that delivered roughly fourish sides of steel cage and two hastily put-together arrangements of lumber with maybe four strings of rubber barbed wire wrapped around them. It was amazing.
As you can see from the video, none of the cage walls touched and they had to have a Young Boy (or whoever) stand under each one and hold it up. Before the match, they told people in the front row to relocate if they “could not move quickly”, because the cage walls were just gonna fall on us. Nobody got thrown into the barbed wire cage walls (to avoid a lawsuit, I’m guessing) but the Joker guy did try to roll around in the wire for a minute. It didn’t even stick to his clothes. The War Games match ended with only two guys in the ring, doing the Cena/Umaga Royal Rumble finish.
So please understand that it is with the CAGE OF DEATH ringing in my head I tried to watch an episode of Raw at my parents’ house.
Worst: All Right All Right, I’ll Recap John Cena’s Nonstop Reiterations
That’s what’s bugging me the most about Cena right now, and what’s bugged me since the first few weeks of the formal Rock feud — Cena’s not really saying anything BAD (Star Wars promo notwithstanding), he’s just saying the same thing over and over.
With the Rock, he mentioned that the Rock was never there, he’s ALWAYS there and the Rock played the tooth fairy in a movie once. Then he mentioned it on repeat for weeks. Against Brock, he said he was gonna FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT, and he said it again the next week, and again the next. He did something similar with Show, and now that the feud with Show is over he’s moved on to explaining how he’s in the Money in the Bank ladder match to keep Show from winning. He mentioned it last week, he mentioned it again last night. He’ll probably mention it next week.
I know you’ve got to speak a little more slowly than natural and reiterate some stuff to drive it home to the WWE Universe, but damn dude, we get it. We understand your motivation. If Travis Bickle had spent the entirety of his movie saying “I’m socially awkward and feel like I need to save people who don’t want to be saved” he wouldn’t have been in Taxi Driver, he would’ve been in Garden State. Don’t be Garden State, John. Nobody should have to be Garden State.
Best: Chris Jericho And Daniel Bryan
One of the major highlights of last night’s show was the pretty-obvious-in-retrospect reveal that Chris Jericho and Daniel Bryan are great together, and should either be blood rivals or a regular tag team. It worked in the opening segment, when Jericho managed to obnoxiously point out that Bryan’s insecure about his catchphrase because it’s the only thing that’s ever gotten him over and he’s afraid he won’t have another because that is absolutely true, and it hit without making Bryan look less important. It made him look like they’re trying to make him look.
It worked again during the backstage YouTube Poop segment a little later, when Bryan took the first opportunity to start shouting “yes” and Jericho responded by just mindlessly screaming his own catchphrase. It’s not something that should work, but these guys are great at what makes pro wrestling great, so it does.
Give Bryan the belt at Money In The Bank, pair the new Macho Man with the new Elizabeth, do a double turn to get Punk closer to fine and feud Bryan with heel Jericho for the next six months. Everybody in the world is suddenly super happy.
Worst: The Most Important Person To Your WWE Career Isn’t Vince, It’s The Music Guy
You don’t need connections in The Business, an incredible amount of talent, indescribable charisma or impossible luck — you just need to be friends with the sound guy, because whoever’s music plays at the end of the segment is the winner.
That’s what Show did. He interrupted the Interruption Segment and a fight broke out, and when he knocked everybody down, Jeff (the sound guy, I’m assuming) hit the “WELL IT’S THE BIG SHOW” button and declared Show the victor. I mean sure, the other guys could’ve stood up and resumed fighting … they get knocked down like that in wrestling matches all the time, they’re just waiting for you to pull them up so they can start throwing back elbows or whatever. That’s how wrestling works, Jeff. You should until 1) official match entrances and 2) a bell ringing and a referee’s decision before playing somebody’s theme. Otherwise you’re just accompanying their walking, and that’s weird.
Worst: I Guess The Ryback Has Been Quarantined To Smackdown
Those stupid Goldberg chants are going to make me have to start recapping Smackdown, aren’t they.
Best: Team Brandon
I noticed two major things in the first 30 seconds of this match:
1. How sad are the current WWE Champions? I like Christian as much as the next guy, but Christian, Santino Marella, Kofi Kingston and invisible child leading R-Truth as the statistically 3rd-6th best people in your company is depressing. There’s something to be said for giving title belts to people who need them instead of to people who deserve them, but man, if Vince believes that shit he said to Daniel Bryan about D-Bry “not looking like a wrestler” he should watch these Raw showcase matches. They end up being less important than the dancing dinosaur, is what I’m saying.
2. The heel team of Cody Rhodes, David Otunga, Darren Young and Titus O’Neil is basically my perfect mid-card eight man tag squad. Not for winning matches, really, but for Brandon’s Enjoyment. I’ve grown to love these guys, even if Cody SERIOUSLY needs to start hanging with a more impressive gaggle of jobbers.
Fantasy booking in my head involved The Ryback wandering out and Muscle Busting eight guys at once, but we don’t always get what we want.
Worst: One Of My Least Favorite Tropes Leads To My Least Favorite Trope
The match wasn’t great (I’ve gotten spoiled by Chikara, Dragon Gate and others making trios matches and eight-man tags into something special), but it gets a big smelly steam-lines Worst for evoking my second least favorite wrestling thing right now — heels giving up five minutes into a match and walking to the back for a count-out with nobody stopping them — and having it lead directly to my LEAST favorite thing about wrestling right now — babyfaces ganging up on a heel, beating him down and getting cheered for it.
WWE babyfaces are being really awful about this lately. Cena needed help against the Big Show, so five guys run out and help him win. Brodus Clay gets shanghai’d by David Otunga, so Brodus AND Christian AND Santino AND R-Boom all take turns beating him up and a bunch of kids dance on his corpse. Otunga deserved comeuppance, but shouldn’t that have just come from Brodus? That Sheamus-ass thing of attacking your foe from behind and serving him up on a platter to somebody else to beat up is at LEAST as cowardly as the purposeful count-out thing. It’s happening so much the “be a star” gag has gotten tired. Just have wrestling matches, don’t be afraid to let wrestling matches end, and don’t systematically humiliate everybody on your roster.
Best: Teddy Long Dancing At His Television
Ladies and gentlemen, the best moment from last night’s Raw:
They cut away from the Funkasaurus Dance Party to backstage, where Teddy Long is happily dancing along. Or he’s riding an invisible dirt bike, I’m not sure.
Teddy being in charge of the @WWERawGM is probably the most infuriating thing happening in my life right now. He tweets “Hey playas! Kane and Big Show are having a match!” and it’s totally harmless and I’m still typing and deleting YOU’RE A PIECE OF SHIT TEDDY 10 times in response. As a young fan of the Steiner Brothers a teenage fan of White Boys and an older fan of John Laurinaitis, Teddy has made my wrestling life Hell for like 25 straight years.
Best: I Don’t Miss Shane McMahon, But The Vince Training Video Is Amazing
I bet Stephanie’s favorite Smackdown moment is “that time I compared my Dad being investigated for steroids to 9/11”.
Anyway, Vince McMahon doing sit-ups while screaming I HATE AUSTIN, I HATE AUSTIN is one of the best and most pure moments of character development in wrestling history, and those Vince training segments still hold up today. He’s chasing a chicken with VIDEO CAMERAS IN ITS EYES for Christ’s sake. When Vince power walks out onto Raw these days to make both literal and figurative wanking gestures over his own talent, remember that he used to earn it.
Best: ADR F**king Up Sin Cara, Rudo Style
This was an emotional roller-coaster for me. It went something like this:
1. Alberto Del Rio has a mystery opponent, Teddy Long picked it, but he’s wrestling Sheamus at the pay-per-view. Is Randy Orton back yet? Maybe it’s THE UNDATAKAH
2. AWWW HERE IT GOES
3. did michael cole just say sin cara was a “popular lucha libre”
4. Alberto just attacked Sin Cara during his entrance, this is gonna be so awesome. I’m happy they’re finally pairing up the two legit lucha guys they have, becau-
5. Wait, is that it?
And then I settled into a happy place where Alberto Del Rio is tired of the stop-and-go bullshit he’s been plagued with since WrestleMania 27 and is ready to once again snap arms in the name of destiny. He’s made it this far without them doing a dumb split angle with Ricardo Rodriguez, so if he Rybacks Sheamus like he Rybacked Sin Cara we’ll be set.
An additional Best goes to any largely Latino wrestling audience. You guys are the best.
Best: AJ Lee, Florist
And the most popular moment of Raw from the perspective of the With Leather open discussion thread commenting community goes to AJ, for responding to Daniel Bryan’s Corey Matthews-esque apology attempt by biting off the head of a rose and spitting it at (I’m assuming) Primo just off-screen. I know this had to be particularly stressful for a vegan to watch.
As socially concerning as the AJ angle can get, I like the dynamic of a woman forced to choose between a guy who doesn’t give a shit about her and a guy who only gives a shit about her to keep her from hurting him. That’s an indescribably realistic situation for a woman to find herself in these days, and I like that AJ keeps getting more and more obviously in control of it. I also like that the only guy smart enough to get out of it was the guy who once killed his girlfriend and raped a lady into marriage.
On that note, part me of feels like Kane was the only one of the three AJ liked, and his rejection of her is what’s taken her from “confused crazy chick” to out-and-out anarchist. Kane’s exactly like her, when you think about it — he can go from Spinaroonie Pal to “shocking your balls with a car battery” in like two shows.
Best: Calm Paul Heyman, or
Worst: This Is Seriously A Six Week Engagement For A 20 Minute Conversation
I’ve been loving Paul Heyman for as long as I’ve been hating Teddy Long. He single-handedly birthed my love of heels with the Dangerous Alliance in the WCW of the early 90s, made me a Black T-Shirt Wearing Prick On The Internet with ECW a few years later and made me laugh out loud on the reg when he was Jim Ross’s color commentator and wouldn’t stop calling JR out on his stupid inconsistencies and mistakes. As good as Ross is, remember that he spent about 10 years there not being able to differentiate Hardyz and calling Chris Jericho Chris Benoit.
So honestly, I could listen to Paul Heyman talk about anything for any length of time and enjoy it, especially when he’s using his Inside Voice. Heyman’s voice is right alongside Bob Caudle and the guy who voiced Pac-Man on the Pac-Man cartoon on the list of voices that send happiness to my brain.
At the same time, it is taking Brock Lesnar and Triple H nearly two entire pay-per-view cycles to have a conversation that could be introduced, explored and wrapped up in a single Raw opening. “Brock Lesnar will be here to address some concerns in three weeks” isn’t something to get excited about. Imagine if they did that with everybody. Imagine if Epico held Kofi Kingston’s trunks during a match, and the next week R-Truth announced that in three weeks, Kofi Kingston and his representatives would air a brief statement about how Kofi feels. You’d hate the shit out of that, right?
Best: Vickie Guerrero As Queen Diva
I feel oddly compelled by the Vickie Guerrero aspect of the AJ angle. That’s what’s been great about AJ’s rise to prominence — she’s been directly connected to so many people recently, they can be tied in. AJ’s never been a very successful wrestler, but she gets to look like f**king Akira Hokuto wrestling Stalker Ichikawa against Vickie.
I was worried that Vickie wasn’t going to wear her awesome EXCUSE ME singlet from WrestleMania, but she rocked a slimmer, bedazzled version and made my day. On paper Vickie isn’t great at her job … her cadence is weird, she’s not TV Pretty or TV Ugly, she’s just this normal lady who was close enough to the good Guerreros to approximate them for a living, and shit, approximate Guerrero is better than exact anybody else. Chavo should learn to approximate the Guerreros.
When Dolph has finally had enough of Vickie, it’s gonna be a big deal.
Worst: SHH, Punk Is On The Phone
Okay, it wasn’t so bad, but AJ getting offended because CM Punk was on the phone with his drug addicted sister and not closely watching Teddy Long’s Next Tag Team Match Of The Night approaches “you spilled coffee on me once” and “I wanted to do the shampoo commercial you got” as a bad WWE idea. When Punk is at long last revealed to be the evil mastermind he’s always been, I hope they replay this segment and reveal that he was actually on the phone with whoever John Laurinaitis was texting.
Alternate suggestion: “Who are you on the phone with?” “My ex-girlfriend Traci, she just realized she could’ve hooked up with anybody in the wrestling industry and ended up married to Frankie Kazarian.”
Or: “Who are you on the phone with?” “Tiffany. You remember, the ECW General Manager? Apparently she just split up with her husband, we’re gonna get together for lunch so she can show me how to be a human being.”
Or: “It’s Ace Steel. I don’t know what the hell he’s talking about.”
In all seriousness, Punk gets a small Best for the completely reasonable reaction of, “I was on the phone, sorry”.
Worst: Those Anti-Drug Commercials That Are Videos With Fake Matt Hardy Version 1 Video Player Frames Around Them
You know who’s even stronger? People who didn’t give in in the first place, or do a bunch of drugs before deciding drugs were bad. Also, people who do drugs and aren’t little wieners about it.
I don’t love being old, but I’m happy I didn’t grow up in the era where strangers on YouTube were responsible for my self confidence. Kids my age relied on something stronger — the combination of Garfield, Muppet Baby Kermit and Michaelangelo from the Ninja Turtles telling us to just say no.
Best: The Topes Win A Game!
Match aside, the Heath Slater video package gets a huge Best for hitting all the high points of Slater’s recent Legend Killed-By run: “celebray-en”, Vader, “the one man baaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaand”, Sid, and the Three Stooges sound effects we all imagined when Piper and Cyndi Lauper were beating him up.
Aside from two small Worsts — Doink the Clown being (I assume) Brooklyn Brawler Doink instead of Doink Doink or even Eugene Doink and Heath Slater’s finisher being the David Otunga Memorial Finisher Sprint Neckbreaker — I loved Slater finally getting a win over one of these guys. I was worried he was gonna lose to Doink, and we’d invite those awkward kids back into the ring for another round of dancing. I should’ve realized that “is Doink the Clown going to beat Heath Slater” was a clown question, bro.
Best: It’s He, It’s He, It’s DDP
At some point during the night, Casey brought up the idea of Diamond Dallas Page showing up to wrestle The Ryback, and that magical image (complete with Ryback doing a backflip out of nowhere) made it impossible for me to enjoy any actual Diamond Dallas Page content.
That being said, the guy looks great, the Diamond Cutter is still light years better looking as a finish than the RKO and Page is one of the few aging wrestlers who still looks great and seems to be doing something positive for the world. I only wish he’d wrestled Slater instead of Doink, so we could get more than the cutter. My kingdom for a Spiral Bomb. Hell, we didn’t even get his funny Altered Beast WISE FWOM YOUR GWAVE comeback thing out of the corner where he pulls himself up like Frankenstein.
Next week Slater should seriously try to say the worst catchphrase he can remember to have the best chance of winning his impromptu legends match. My advice: show up on Raw and say “Tygress, touch my belt … THAT’S ENOUGHHHHHHH” and neckbreaker the shit out of Konnan.
Worst: Oh Great, Eve’s Back
Is that Cherry back there?
Anyway, hey, remember when “hoeski” wasn’t an offensive thing after all and was gonna get her over? Remember how she vanished for like three weeks and returned to the most mumbley pregnant pause ever? Way to go, everybody!
Eve’s post-segment facial response was 0.5 on the Maria Kanellis Just Got Broken Up With scale, but I liked AJ sorta passively aggressively being mad at her for attention while desperately needing attention herself. I also liked them simultaneously making the other look like a circus freak. Why were they standing so close? The whole segment all I could think was “bite her in the boob”.
Fantasy booking: Eve is not around.
Worst: This Was Fine, But Kane Lost In Four Minutes, So
The match itself was surprisingly okay (partially due to how brief it was), but here are a couple of things that should be obvious:
1. If you can market this as “WWE’s biggest monsters colliding in a No Disqualification Match”, why are you doing that as a throwaway near the end of an unimportant Raw? Couldn’t this be one of those things you get people excited for? It’s Show and Kane I know, but work with me here.
2. If Show and Kane have both recently been in the main event picture, why are you having either of them lose in four minutes on Raw? Wins and losses might not matter, but HOW people win or lose does. Nobody cared that Stone Cold lost at WrestleMania 13, because he lost brilliantly. Nobody’s gonna remember who won this match, how they won it or why it happened. That’s fine for Ryback v. Rosenberg, but these are 10+ year veteran millionaires.
3. LOL at Big Show’s spear. It “bounced off the skull of Kane”, sure, but at least he didn’t jump face first into it.
Worst: Alberto Del Rio Loves The WCW Moment He Was Told To Love
For the record, this is the first time I’ve ever disliked Alberto Del Rio. Of all the guys to have one of their own moments be their favorite, Berto’s the guy.
Furthermore, DX invading WCW isn’t a great moment for WWE, it’s just a missed opportunity for WCW. I sincerely feel like if WCW had opened their doors, let five of the least threatening WWF guys ever into their arena on live WCW television, invited them to get into the ring and sent out Meng and whoever else to beat the dog shit out of them for real, WCW would still be in business and Triple H would be main eventing the Kingsport Civic Auditorium against black Hayabusa right now. Worst case scenario, DX would’ve chickened out and done some dumb “suck it” stuff in the audience, and you would’ve gotten their ratings.