The Best and Worst of WWE Raw 7/25

By: 07.26.11  •  135 Comments

Similarly to last week, I’d like to cover a few things before we begin.

1. If you like these reports, be sure to click the Best and Worst of Raw tag and read through some of the old editions. I build on a lot of previous points and try not to repeat myself too much, so checking out the older columns helps fill in some of the jokes. If you don’t want to do that, here are my jokes: Kelly Kelly is awesome, I don’t ever want to see Kofi Kingston vs. Dolph Ziggler again, and … well, actually I think that’s all of them.

2. I’m trying to create a community of people who don’t think I’m stupid for covering wrestling, so if you read this, please consider sharing it with other wrestling fans, “liking” it, giving it a +1 (we have a button for that now) and, most importantly, leaving a comment. Comments are the only way I can tell if I’m doing a good job, and they help me put my own opinions into context. I actually give a sh** about what you say, and you can’t say that about 99% of people writing about wrestling on the Internet.

3. Kaitlyn still hasn’t called me. What the hell, you guys.

4. If you’re the type who just clicks through for these reports, yes, we just redesigned, so there’s a lot more white. A lot more white. If you think hard enough, a rack of machine guns comes flying out from either side of the column. It’s pretty cool, so stick with it.

Enjoy.

Page 2

Worst: The Spinner Is Dead, Long Live The Spinner

With CM Punk chastising John Cena’s WWE Championship spinner title, then winning it and bailing, fate and circumstance allowed us the easiest lay-up belt redesign purpose of all time. Everyone agrees that the spinner sucks (especially now that it doesn’t spin and just looks like something you’d buy at Citi Trends), even the guys who want it. A modern Cena belt would be blaze orange (or whatever) and have eagles and service stripes all over it, even he doesn’t want to carry it around. Looking at it from a purely kayfabe perspective, maybe it makes sense that Vince McMahon would want to wipe CM Punk’s title victory under the ring and proceed with an identical championship, suggesting the Money in the Bank change never happened. That would be fine, but the week-long wait between Vince’s compromising to a permanent end and the belt’s unveiling nerfs that. There’s really no imaginable reason to keep the belt looking like that other than “we’re lazy and don’t want to come up with another belt”.

And trust me, I’m not one of those rubes begging you to bring back the classic “Winged Eagle” design. I’ve always hated that name. Every eagle has wings. That’s like calling John Cena a “legged person”. The “spread eagle title” would sound worse but be more accurate, but I think that’s how they describe the Diva’s title. I’m going to be an elitist and say they should bring back the bright green one with the nameplates Hogan won from the Iron Sheik, or at least the Undisputed Championship circa Brock Lesnar. That looked like something that would come with a Big Lots action figure, and I think that’s what they’ve been going for for the last ten-or-so years.

(Can you tell how poor I am by the stores I’m referencing?)

Best: Rey Mysterio is Working His Little Big Ass Off

Anyone in the know should be able to tell you that Rey Mysterio is our North American Jushin “Thunder” Liger, and that we should be happy to have him around.

Sure, as a fan I get pissed by some of the stuff he pulls (never losing, making people fall into the second rope against any reasonable laws of physics and stay there for no reason, headbutting those kids) but there isn’t a single other professional wrestler who has had the career, longevity and impact of Mysterio in our hemisphere. I compare him to Liger because Liger’s done it all. He’s wrestled (and wrestled WELL) for almost thirty years, competing all around the world and achieving every definition of “success” a wrestling fan could throw at you, even the dumb ones. In kayfabe (sorry to keep using that word), Liger has been successful wherever he’s gone, winning everything from the J-Crown to the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship to the Open The Dream Gate and WCW World Light Heavyweight Championships. Do you know how much ground and time that covers? As a wrestler, he’s earned the respect of his co-workers and is recognized as one of the best of all time, inspiring folks like Mike Quackenbush and, by proxy, everyone Quack trains. As a wrestler observable by the Internet, he’s had an official “five star match” and has wrestled equally as a heel and a face, adapting his style as he ages and as wrestling changes, always remaining relevant and always counted on to be a good-to-great match whenever and wherever. As a wrestler observed by a stupid person on the Internet, he does “cool moves” and innovated the shooting star press. There’s no reasonable way to say Liger isn’t one of the best of all time.

And who comes close to that on our side of the world? Bret Hart won a lot of championships and was a great wrestler, but his influence stayed mainly in that Dungeon in Calgary. Shawn Michaels was great, but a dick. Hogan had success, but wasn’t seen as a great wrestler. Austin’s biggest innovation was doing an Ace Crusher wrong. The Rock kept his talents in one place and stayed the same. Only Mysterio comes close. He debuted in 1989. Can you believe that? He’s competed in different styles all around the world and been important to all of them. When he arrived in ECW and WCW in the mid-90s he changed the game. When he arrived in WWE people thought he was at the end of his career, but he changed up his style and added 10 years and three World Championships. He’s a five-foot tall luchador who has had THREE WWE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP WINS. You can see the moves he innovated or perfected in the performance of any young high-flier. He can always be counted on to have a good-to-great match whenever and wherever, as long as you keep that mask on, and yeah, he does some cool moves. He’s nearly bulletproof, and as his knees get worse he seems to get better and better.

Think back over the last few years at all the great work Mysterio has done. The matches with Punk, with Jericho, the Elimination Chambers where he’s a Viking. In the last two weeks on Raw he’s wrestled four, almost five times. There should be a joke here, but there isn’t. He’s just one of the best ever, and we should notice it more often.

Best: The Continued Best of Alberto Del Rio

All that being said, how much do I love Alberto Del Rio as the most confident man in the world, who is also too gun shy to pull the trigger on his Money in the Bank briefcase? I’d love it if they dragged it out all year with Del Rio starting to cash it in, then calling an audible and fleeing when somebody wakes up and jumps on him. Then it gets to be Wrestlemania and the night’s almost over, and like The Rock wins the WWE Championship and Alberto’s either got to cash it in or lose it. I think that’s a compelling place they haven’t gone yet, and a great way to get your money’s worth without having to have every guy who wins it become champion.

Best: This Rey Mysterio WWE Championship Run Is Really Going To Mean Something

Yip.

Page 3

Best: Dolph Ziggler

You don’t need me to tell you this, but Dolph Ziggler is the important, destructive Anti-Monitor to John Morrison’s heroic, crappy-looking big-headed Monitor. Ziggler is doing what pro wrestlers should do — he’s making everything he does seem important. When he wins the United States Championship, he treats it like an honor, not just as a thing he wears when he comes out to pin Carlito. When he gets a t-shirt and a song that says “I am perfection” over and over, he adopts that as his gimmick, and instead of just saying “I am perfection” a bunch of times like a lesser wrestler would do, he says WHY he’s perfection. Do you see that subtle difference? A guy in an “I am perfection” shirt sucks if he smirks and says “I am perfection”, but he’s awesome if he holds up the title and screams THIS. STAYS. WITH. ME. after he’s kicked somebody’s ass.

That’s the trap Alex Riley fell into. He started getting a following when he showed up and beat the sh** out of The Miz, but when he had to talk and couldn’t really deliver an ass-whomping outside of tackling and punching, people lost interest. Ziggler can’t fall into that, because he can do everything. Except properly bump on a trampoline, but that’s water under the bridge.

Worst: Dolph Ziggler Only Has Four Opponents

You guys know me well enough by now, don’t you? When Ziggler’s music hit I started saying “please be in a suit, please be in a suit” because I didn’t want it to be a match. When he stepped out in his gear it changed to “be Evan Bourne, don’t be Kofi Kingston. Be Evan Bourne, don’t be Kofi Kingston”. This presents two huge problems:

1) If Kofi Kingston wrestles Dolph Ziggler again, so help me God I will kill myself.
2) Dolph Ziggler only has four possible opponents: Kofi Kingston, Evan Bourne, John Cena, Rey Mysterio.

Now, if Ziggler faces Cena or Mysterio, he loses. Always. So with his recent U.S. Championship victory and winning streak going you can’t put him in there against someone who’ll beat him, especially not Cena, and Mysterio is already involved in the WWE Championship tournament. So that adds a modifier to problem 2:

2b) Dolph Ziggler only has two probably opponents: Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne

My brain only let me deal with those two guys, and sure enough we got Bourne. The match was fine, but this is one of those situations where we need to observe that the problem isn’t the brand separation, the problem is that they cast brands based on roles they need filled. Bourne is “guy who can wrestle Dolph Ziggler but not beat him”. Kofi is “guy who can wrestle Dolph Ziggler and sometimes beat him”. Also, “guy who f**king constantly wrestles Dolph Ziggler”. Why not let Ziggler beat Ryder? Or Kozlov? Or think outside the box, put him in there with Michael McGillicutty or one of your NXT rookies. Let him Zig Zag Silent Rage, whose rage was so silent this week we couldn’t even find him. In real sports they don’t just pair up the teams that hate each other and make them play 400 times. Sometimes the Cubs play the Diamondbacks and it doesn’t matter, but it still gives one of them a win. It gives the Diamondbacks a win. You know what I’m saying.

Worst (But Secretly Best, Shh): Derrick Bateman On Raw

There were two great things that happened during the backstage celebration for Rey Mysterio’s title win: The first is a cameo by NXT rookie Derrick Bateman, who earns a “worst” here for two reasons:

1) I like wrestlers who aren’t given a “push” on television, but as soon as they show up I declare them “stale” and “misused” and stop cheering for them.
2) He got covered in alcohol, but at no point flipped out and turned over a table.

Although I guess that only happens when he’s wearing sweet USA zubaz pants. Here’s the first of many Worsts for Derrick Bateman on Raw.

Best: Chris Masters TRYING To Be On Raw

The second great thing was Chris Masters being involved in the handshake line for Mysterio, then wandering around to the back to peek his head in and desperately try to stay on camera during the interview. Watch him back there, he’s amazing. I just wanted him to break out a Joe Swanson YEAH REY MYSTERIO AWRIGHT in the middle of Josh’s question. Also, how hilariously left over were the people back there to wish Mysterio well? I watch this all the time and even I didn’t recognize a couple of them. I expected Braden Walker and “Savannah” to come around the corner. If Tyler Recks gets to be back there, but they don’t have a spot for Ryan Braddock? Where’s Eric Escobar? That guy in the vest, was that Eric Escobar?

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