I wrote this week’s Best and Worst of Raw immediately following last week’s, so by the end of it you’re going to be tired and not cheering for anything and wishing you could just go home. Or, somebody copy-pasted this week’s Best and Worst to Rajah.com last Wednesday morning and you’ve read it already.
Either way, enjoy. Your comments, thoughts, shares and donations of out-of-print UltraMantis Black memorabilia are appreciated. The only way to affect change in the way wrestling is reported online is to get people to support those trying to change it. Visit Fair to Flair, Dirty Dirty Sheets, the Art of Wrestling Podcast and anywhere else talking about wrestling without a fat head and a lisp.
But, you know, mostly me.
Worst: I Still Think This CM Punk Promo Might’ve Been A “Worked Shoot”
I don’t know for sure, guys, but I think the use of CM Punk’s shoot promo from last week in a stylized video package means, probably, that it was a worked shoot. Can anyone verify this? While we’re on the subject, I think Kelly Kelly shot on Nikki Bella last week with that Boston Crab, Sergeant Slaughter is a legitimate member of our Armed Forces and that The Sandman and Hardcore Hak were two completely different people.
In a loosely related anecdote, I’m originally from Southern Virginia and “hack” there can be a synonym for poop or pooping (as in “I have to hack” or “to take a hack”), so “Hardcore Hak” is the funniest wrestling name of all time to me.
Best: Super Cena is Super Cereal
During previous installments of Best and Worst of Raw and my appearance on TH’s The Wrestling Podcast, I’ve discussed the Voices of John Cena. To recap, they are as follows:
1. The “Heh, I’m just an average guy recapping the events!” narrator voice, where he speaks frankly about wrestling characters (“R-Truth is crazy!” et al.). This is his worst voice, because it’s the one he uses to introduce humorous TitanTron photoshops and call Heath Slater a f*ggot without TMZ noticing.
2. The Super Excited Preacher Voice. This usually follows the Average Guy Narrator and is used to hype up an event or happenstance by including everyone around him. “I want to see this match, YOU want to see this match THEY want to see this match COUNT CHOCULA WANTS TO SEE THIS MATCH EVRAH-BODDAH WANTS TO SEE THIS MATCH!”
3. The Leftover Rapper voice, which doubles as his “serious business” voice. He can’t really sound like a serious human being without affecting the Doctor of Thuganomics tone, which leads to him using phrases like “punk card” or “that’s real talk”.
I like the third voice best, because it allows me to settle into that comfort zone where Cena is making things MATTER~ and I can enjoy his cornball sincerity and white-bread to the point of a Food Lion warehouse delivery. Cena flipped the switch (hip hop phrase) on me last night by amalgamating his first and third voices to recap Things That Are Old Or Had Happened In the Past in a joshing, expressive way to the WWE crowd without losing his stone-faced seriousness. I consider that character evolution. Not only is Cena THE MAN upset about this, Cena THE CHARACTER is upset, and I’ve never seen Cena The Character get upset about anything, really. The closest we got was when Nexus fired him and that lady in the crowd screamed DON’T GIVE UP and he was all “OKAY I NEVER WILL”.
If roles were reversed and Cena had been the one sitting Indian-style on the stage last week waving to Colt Cabana and namedropping New Japan Pro Wrestling nobody would’ve thought it was a “shoot”, because (controversial opinion ahead) John Cena is better than CM Punk at conveying a child-driven Pro Wrestling Reality. With Cena, he’s always a part of the show. Punk sort of drifts in and out of it. I like CM Punk way, way, way more because the parts you drift to when you drift out of WWE are f**king outstanding, but I’m not five years old anymore, and nobody is buying me six sets of sweatbands when WWE comes to the Frank Erwin Center. If I was five and the Internet didn’t exist, I wouldn’t have any idea what CM Punk was talking about and would want the extremely nice super hero to beat the sh:t out of him for being such an aloof, facetious jerk.
The hack. Beat the hack out of him.
Best: Explaining Kelly Kelly’s Offense to The Layman
I realize now that my Fire Pro Wrestling jokes from last week’s column may have gone over some of your heads. I apologize for that, and would now like to explain Kelly Kelly’s offense in a more palatable way. In case you don’t watch CHIKARA (and you should), this is Brodie Lee.
And that’s my girlfriend on the far left in the black tanktop, but focus on Brodie Lee. Notice how he literally (literally) kicks Tim Donst’s face off of his body? Not a lot of guys in CHIKARA (especially during the era of CHIKARA featured) hit like that, so when Brodie throws a kick, it really matters. Guys get hit with moonsault armdrags and wrapped up in transitional cradles from World Of Sport and they sell it like death, but then Brodie kicks them in the face and it’s SO MUCH MORE that selling goes out of the window and they are legitimately fighting to maintain consciousness and a working skull.
In the context of Diva World, every move Kelly Kelly does is that Brodie Lee kick to the face. Kelly jumps in and hits a Lou Thesz Press, Brodie Lee kick to the face. She runs over and forearms the Additional Bella, so the Bella helplessly FLIES off the apron. A smack to the ass, a headscissors takedown, a butt rub and a bulldog later and that Bella Twin has suffered five huge yakuza kicks to the brain, putting her somewhere between comatose and legally brain dead. The K-Driller (or whatever she calls it) at the end was just overkill.
In the future I hope Kelly can consider keeping her number of moves performed to two or fewer.
Worst: Look at Eve, Acting Like She Helped
It’s been established that you can beat a Bella Twin with one basic submission hold, so how funny is it to watch Eve struggle in a BELLA TWIN ARMBAR for a minute and a half, then stand around triumphantly after Kelly has done the work and pretend she contributed? Even at the end where she has to run off the Errant Bella, all she can manage is a Sweet Shin Music and an awkward slide out of the ring, followed by wandering. Kelly made it through her portion of the match without having to take a single offensive move.
In this tag team, Kelly Kelly is the Ricky Morton and Eve Torres is the Ricky Morton’s dead friend he’s forgotten about from elementary school.
Best: Wear Pants With “What’s Up” Written Across the Ass in Chalk? DISCOUNT!
R-Truth shouting about car insurance to “Flo” was great, and it got even better when he made the “I just saved a bunch of money by switching to GEICO” joke. Not because of the joke, but because Flo works for Progressive, and based on my knowledge of car insurance commercials I’ve pieced together the narrative.
Flo from Progressive is extremely passionate and helpful about insurance. Progressive offers a service that compares the rates of other top insurance companies to help you find the best deal. Now, Truth was on the phone with Flo. He was all YOU CAIN’T HELP ME, YOU CAIN’T HELP ME FLO, THIS A CONSPIRACY, but eventually she (on the other end of the phone) relents, and by the time Scott Stanford shows up Truth is all YOU CAN HELP ME FLO, NOW THAT’S WHAT’S UP. Moments later, he mentions saving money and switching to GEICO.
So, Truth called Progressive to get a good rate, got a high one for being an at-risk driver, and Flo found out he could actually save money by going with GEICO’s offer. Who says wrestling doesn’t make sense?
I just wish they’d followed it up by having Alberto Del Rio mention that unicorns and glitter are his destiny.
Worst: Silent Rage is Angry, But Quietly!
Tough Enough winner Andy Leavine (Dugout screen name “LeavineConditioner”) isn’t on the show, but he’s got a video package about how he’s difficult to motivate and has a lot of internal rage, but you can’t see or hear it. Great idea for a character, guys. I can get behind a guy who doesn’t care or try until he’s about to lose, and then he flips out and starts shouting and hurting people. Actually, that sounds exactly like John Cena, so nevermind.
The last guy who worked a “silent but deadly” gimmick turned out pretty great. He won the World Heavyweight Championship! And also did other things.
I was going to make a joke about how his character should be “Guy who won a wrestling game show, but they never had plans to do anything with him other than make him look like a stupid chump and you’ll never see him again”, but I had to delete it because they’re already doing that with Johnny Curtis.
Best: Support Your Local Derrick Bateman
And speaking of wrestling game shows, one of the best things to happen all week was the return of Daniel Bryan’s NXT season 4 rookie Derrick Bateman to NXT Redemption. If you haven’t been watching the show, it’s like watching Superstars with Maryse standing slightly to your right for 48 minutes. Last week’s show had a great Tyson Kidd vs. Yoshi Tatsu match on it, continuing WWE’s weird tendency to put all the subversively good stuff where the fewest people are watching.
Anyway, Bateman’s return to the show didn’t make a hell of a lot of sense (returning from a week 12 elimination in season 4 17 weeks into season 5) but is still worth of your continued, undying support for a number of reasons. The number two.
1. He is from Cleveland (well, Willoughby, but I lived in Bedford for four years and tell people I lived in Cleveland. Besides, Miz is billed from Cleveland he’s from Parma, which is sort of like living in New Jersey and saying you’re a New Yorker).
2. WWE has a tendency to be Paul Blart: Zookeeper funny, but Bateman is shoot funny. I would even say he’s WORKED shoot funny. If you didn’t see his previous stuff, don’t sleep on the funniest WWE segment ever, his double date with Daniel Bryan and the Bella Twins.
I quote “no my pants. No, my pants. NO, my pants. NO! MY PANTS!” all the time, and if you don’t laugh at a bag of change to pay for drinks on a date you aren’t my friend. Do what you can to keep Bateman on this show, whether it be texting in Redemption Points to NXT or however it works. No matter what, it’s better than this:
Sorry, a Darren Young YouTube clip was supposed to be there, but I couldn’t find any.