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Please click through to enjoy The Bray and Worst of WWE Raw, July 8, 2013.
Best: Daniel Bryan Is Opening And Closing Raw, Which Is Pretty Important
Big ups to the various image macro boards across the Internet who have decided I am a wrestling hipster who hates Daniel Bryan for not being a real-life vegan anymore (or whatever their excuse is), but yeah, I’ve been cautious about his career and forward momentum ever since I sat in Sun Life Stadium and watched my favorite wrestler lose the World Heavyweight Championship in 18 seconds.
So sometimes, yeah, when my favorite wrestler is in the beginning stages of a legitimate push to the top of the company (fingers crossed) and randomly gets hurt during a match, or they have to redo it with a predictable ending that kills all the spontaneous joy a victory without the stoppage and the week drag would’ve caused, or rumors of WWE going with a Cena/Henry/Ryback triple threat instead of a Daniel Bryan match … that traumatizing 18 seconds comes back and kinda kicks me in the ass. I’m sorry if I ever sound pessimistic about him. D-Bry is the best wrestler in the world in a walk, I am always sitting on the edge of my seat wishing the best for him, and did not give a shit about his meat intake for the 8 years or so he was my favorite wrestler and NOT a vegan.
Daniel Bryan (more or less) opened the show with a great back-and-forth match against the very guy that 18 Seconds’d him, beat him right in the middle of the ring with a clean pinfall and got to celebrate in his face. Sheamus even shook his hand after the match, which I think is the first time Sheamus has acted like an adult since 2006. THIS is when I get to mark out like a doofus. So switch your Brandon Opinions from “joyless douchebag” to “wanking mark.”
OH! And the best part:
Best: Mr. Small Package!
Daniel Bryan forever-and-ever gets a Best for any match he wins with a Small Package (or an “inside cradle,” or basically any roll-up a schoolboy wouldn’t use). If you missed his Ring of Honor title run where he was so much better than his peers he could beat them with old-timey wrestling pins and did so because he was such a prick, this is your semi-regular suggestion to check that out immediately.
Also, this was bad ass:
Worst: WWE Has Not Learned Its Lesson About Big Heavy Guys
I have never understood why WWE employs so many fat guys just to turn them into dancing sight gags. They’ve been doing it forever. They have Brodus Clay, they turn him into a dancing dinosaur. They bring back Tensai, push him briefly with his oft-missed MOUNTAIN DEW SPIT HAND and then turn him into a Hip Hop Hippo (twice!). Remember when they brought in The Giant from WCW and within a few years had him dressing up like other characters for laffz and made a movie about how stupid he looks wearing underwear? Remember when they got a nearly 8-foot tall guy and made him dance with a farter and a leprechaun? Remember when they brought in the One Man Gang and turned him into a BLACK GUY?
I guess in a world where your shows aren’t seen one town at a time there isn’t as much money in a “monster” character, but there is a legitimate need, especially in tag team wrestling, for fat guys. What’s keeping WWE from turning Brodus and Tensai into a new Miracle Violence Connection? Just two big guys who are gonna kick the shit out of you. Not slow, plodding guys who bear hug you and brain chop you or whatever, and also not Mike Awesome types who do dives and hurt themselves all the time. Two guys who could beat you up in real life, beating up people like they would in real life. I’d NEVER put my money on Primo and Epico or whoever if Brodus and Tensai were throwing hands for real. Or at least making it LOOK like they were.
But yeah, how sad is it that “treat the fat guys like they’re tough consistently” is such a fantasy booking pipe dream? Mark Henry had to be the cock-voice Kool Aid Man for 14 years before somebody let him be tough. Viscera wrestled in pajamas. Whatever.
Best: Wait A Minute, This Is Actually Pretty Good
Newsflash: The Shield is great at wrestling matches. NEWSFLASH.
This got really good toward the end. I think this the first time Tensai’s gotten to do something besides shoveling motions on Raw in months. Both sides pulled their weight, The Shield worked their “we are entertaining at everything” magic (complete with the Seth Rollins bump on the side of his face) and we got a shockingly believable nearfall off a Baldo Bomb. Lipton Bomb. Whatever they’re calling it now.
The tag team division is the EASIEST THING TO FIX EVER, and the only thing stopping them from doing it is THEM. The Shield are a great tag team (in any combination, in any number), and they aren’t big individual stars so you can build up the idea of teams competing for titles. You know, like they’re supposed to. You’ve got a lot of teams already who can probably go harder than we’ve been allowed to see (Tons of Funk, the Colons, Rhodes goddamn Scholars, Double Dutch, Kofi Kingston and Disposable Partner, the Wyatts now) and could be having matches like this — or better than this — on the regular.
Worst: Jesus Christ, Are We Breaking Up Dolph And AJ Already
I was happy to see Big E Langston, AJ Lee and Dolph Ziggler get to be in the same place at the same time, then immediately unhappy when I realized Dolph was moments away from giving AJ a bad case of Maria Face.
I think we can all agree that that’s the LAST thing AJ should have.
I know WWE’s determined to shove Ziggler into their “this is a good guy” mold (more on that later), and part of that is divorcing himself from all the fun, interesting characters he’s been hanging out with during his heeldom, and, most importantly, becoming asexual. Only heels have relationships. Teen girls can’t dream of you if you’ve got an on-screen girlfriend, right? This is the difference between Matt and Jeff Hardy. John Cena will kiss a girl if he saves her or something, because that’s the RIGHT thing to do, but if she starts trying to see him in her spare time? HO HO HO BACK UP, YOU CRAZY.
Maria Face is coming, and that’s depressing. My only hope is that Big E and AJ stay together, and that maybe another arrogant, ass-wiggling dude steps in to become the new cool heel while Ziggler kisses babies and hugs fat girls.
Best: Visiting The Wyatt Family, In The Good Way And The Jokes Way
This is THE BEST, YOU GUYS. I don’t think the WWE Universe has the capacity for abstract thought enough to handle a character as layered and well-crafted as Bray Wyatt and the Family, but I’m going to enjoy it as long as WWE puts this much effort into it. Man, these videos of a “reporter” (or whatever) driving out into the middle of nowhere to try to get the scoop on the Wyatts were glorious, and I guarantee you motherf**kers like Carlito are sitting at home right now, taking a bite out of an apple and musing, “shit, all they let me do was walk on the beach and spit at a grocer.”
I think my favorite part of the quest, besides the two locals calmly observing a caged chicken, was the random guy in a room chanting OBEY over and over. That is straight-up the guy I’d shoot with a shotgun in Bioshock, because you KNOW he’s gonna sprint after you in a minute. They should’ve thrown all the recently-released NXT guys in the house somewhere as a send-off. How great would it’ve been for Derrick Bateman to show up in a goat mask, rambling SEE YOU NEVER, SEE YOU NEVER, SEE YOU NEVER
And SO MANY JOKES! “Is this Leslie Nielsen?” “Are Stevie Richards and the Blue Meanie wandering around out here somewhere?” And Luke Harper even sets you up for the fun, “wow, no wonder Chikara’s not making any money, look at where they’re running.”
You deserve an award for these things, WWE. Thank you for giving this much of a shit about the Wyatt Family.
Best: Mark Henry Has John Cena’s Number, Or
Worst: John Cena’s Totally Winning, Isn’t He
“I knew who you was before YOU knew who you was.”
Mark Henry was amazing here as always, hitting all the right notes and showing up John Cena for the what, fourth week in a row? Three out of four weeks, at least. But I’m increasingly concerned about WWE’s love of putting Cena against a guy who seems tougher, hungrier and more passionate AND makes a ton of great, logical points … and then loses anyway. Ryback was the best character on the show for a month, smartly reasoning his way out of confrontations with Cena and attacking him when necessary, openly discussing Cena’s flaws and self-indulgence. Then Cena made him look like a wiener and put him through the roof of an ambulance.
I want Mark Henry to destroy Cena and win the WWE Championship so badly I’d trade you five Wyatt Family debuts for it, but this is following the same path. Henry is totally right … he’s hungry and wants the belt. John just makes asinine Snickers jokes. Henry tells Cena he’s got his number. Cena YOU WANT SOME COME GET SOMEs all over the place. Henry f**ks with him, then attacks. Cena can’t handle any of Henry’s attacks. He’s looked shaken, scared and helpless. In the real world, this ends with Henry whomping him and taking the belt. Cena is Anderson Silva, the champion who almost seems tired of being champ, even when he’s yelling about how much he loves being champ. Henry is Weidman, a great wrestler who is not afraid to punch you in the face if you start acting stupid.
In the WWE Universe, Silva just wins anyway. I can’t see Henry winning after this many weeks in a row of John showing ass, but if they want John to look vulnerable EVER (and make Henry look like the baddest motherf**ker walking en route to his Summerslam title match against, again, fingers crossed, Daniel Bryan), here’s where you do it.
Best: Kudos To All This Wrestling On The Wrestling Show
I really can’t complain about all the wrestling in the first hour. Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan with a clean finish, The Shield vs. Ton of Funk with a clean finish, and an extended Chris Jericho/Curtis Axel match that let Axel look better than he has since he was rolling with Tyson Kidd on NXT. This one didn’t have the clean finish I wanted — the spot the WWE Fan Nation video begins with with the Codebreaker counter into a stun gun, into the Perfectplex REALLY should’ve been the finish — but if you’re gonna go with something assy at the end, at least entertain me until we get there.
Worst: And Here Come The Non-Title Match Losses
The assiness I mentioned, as it often does, begins with The Miz.
Miz was on color commentary, and he’s a good enough talker, but he never seems to know WHEN to talk. The match is almost over and they’re going through these big finishing spots, and Miz is still hitting his “this will be a one on one match between me and Curtis Axel” like ANYBODY F**KING CARES. WATCH THE MATCH, MIZANIN.
Anyway, Axel hits the Perfectplex on Jericho and Jericho kicks out, so he starts to get flustered. He finds himself on the outside and Miz just kinda stands up and starts undressing, so Axel’s all HEY YOU, to the point that it almost gets him counted out. Because babyface distraction is SUPER EFFECTIVE, Axel walks right into a one-legged Codebreaker and eats the loss. The announcers play it up like it’s a huge deal, the first loss for Axel under Heyman’s tutelage! But they’re not paying attention to the obvious … Axel’s the IC champion now, so his job is to take pointless non-title losses to build to a title match. The Shield has been doing the same thing. It happens. It’s the worst, and it happens.
Best: I Am So In Love With The Smackdown Money In The Bank Match
Here’s something obvious you may not know about me: I love smarmy mid-card heels. THIS IS ALL OF THEM.
I don’t watch Smackdown, but the Smackdown Money In The Bank match is going to be the greatest thing for me. I wish we’d spent all month having these guys interact. Rhodes Scholars (despite their ongoing tension) having pissing contest arguments with Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro, Wade Barrett showing up randomly to pretend like anybody gives a SHIT about Wade Barrett in 2013 and Fandango appearing out of nowhere and trying to say his name like a Pokémon. LOVE. IT.
If you replaced Barrett with Heath Slater you’d have the Best And Worst Of Raw All-Stars.