Like Max Payne, it’s bullet time.
– Before you read this week’s column, please make sure you’ve read The Best and Worst of Summerslam 2011. It contains important, mostly-positive information necessary to understanding last night’s Raw. I’m just kidding, a mentally handicapped child could tune in to Raw and know what was going on in the first five minutes, I just want you to read and enjoy my stuff. Also, you have to know Kevin Nash is there.
– As always, comments are appreciated. My self-deprecating approach to asking for comments has gone around to being worthy of deprecation, so I’ll try not to beg. I’m trying to form the column around what’s most palatable for everyone, so if it ends up as just pictures of Maryse and a bunch of nerd references you’ll know who won. I’m going to toss a picture of Maryse on the side here, because she never shows up on Raw. Likes, Facebook shares, Plus-ones and Twitter re-Twitters are also appreciated.
– Don’t forget to watch NXT. Maryse shows up there, and I have insider information that Maxine will return as a surprise contestant. MAXINE, people. The show is in week 77 of its 280 week run, so now’s the time to jump on board. Vote Bateman. I can’t write “the big guy barks like a dog” as a worst every week.
Worst: Time To Play The Game
But I’m just kidding. I’m actually going to give Mistah Ayches a “Best” for being largely incidental last night and at Summerslam. The first two weeks of the Helmsley-Helmsley Regime were about how he’s one outrageous dude and totally in my face, but if we keep him as a low key veteran trying to do a good job and occasionally screwing up we might actually get to the fireworks factory. That is, of course, pending little to no more involvement from the Original Dog From Hell (Stephanie).
Worst: Where The Hell Is My Elaborate Ricardo Rodriguez Introduction?
Raw knocked me out quickly with three mild disappointments.
1. Triple H’s music starting the show
2. The complete absence of Alberto Del Rio’s personal ring announcer during his championship declaration
3. Alberto still having the “spinner” WWE Championship belt and neither the giant gold and black undisputed title circa Brock Lesnar nor a beautiful new one
Number one got itself out of the way quickly and number two was made passable by Ricardo showing up later (although he still did his normal ring introduction and nothing special), and the best rationale I can muster for number three is such: Del Rio is so rich that he doesn’t care about having a nice looking belt, he’s more interested in status, so he’d rather lug around the one John Cena and CM Punk were fighting over for months. But man, that thing is still hideous. It will forever remind me of the crimes committed to urban culture by Bumpy Knuckles and Da Trademarc. In fact, almost all of the belts look terrible right now. The United States Championship looks like something you could buy for your truck at a Texas gas station and the tag belts look like somebody put a quarter and a penny into a machine and made souvenirs at the zoo. The Diva’s title has been available since 2008 in the dangling rock necklace section at New York & Company. All we’ve got left is Big Gold and the Intercontinental title, and God knows they’ve probably been trying to turn them both silver for years.
Best: My Name! My Name Ess Albertooooooooooooooooo, et al.
Casual fans hate Alberto Del Rio. You’ll see it in our comments section sometimes. Even smarkier types will say “John Cena sucks, CM Punk is awesome and I like Dolph Ziggler. But I HATE Alberto Del Rio! He’s so arrogant!” or “I don’t know why he’s getting pushed to the moon!” Let me explain to you why Del Rio has become a big deal, fairly quick. He is literally everything WWE could want in a champion right now. I used numbers up top, so I’m gonna break this down in letters.
a) He’s big (6-foot-5, 260 pounds).
b) He’s handsome. But you, you already knew that.
c) He’s a second-generation wrestler, and if WWE has employed Michael McGillicutty for four years Del Rio’s probably already got a guaranteed contract through 2048.
d) He’s from a foreign country WWE visits, so he’s cash money on tours. See also, Sheamus.
e) He’s good at wrestling (at least this kind of wrestling, he was cold boogers on a paper plate in Mexico).
f) He doesn’t randomly hurt everybody he wrestles.
g) He has a convincing finisher he can do to anybody.
h) He has an MMA background (please remember how long Steve Blackman stuck around because of that sh*t)
i) He is HILARIOUS.
I could go on, but i is the important point. i “am” the important point. Whatever. I think he’s been funny since day one, but it’s taken a lot of people to come around and last night was a big jump forward. Del Rio telling San Diego that they were “his people” and that he was going to be a great champion who signed autographs and posed for pictures with their children was great, made even better that he transitioned straight into making fun of Rey Mysterio without changing gears. He’s one-part f**king with people and one-part detached aristocrat who just assumes everyone thinks he’s charismatic and hilarious.
No matter what you think, it’s a better character than most people get. Titus O’Neil played professional football and his character is “black Festus”.
Best: Second Best Sign Of The Night
If this was just words on posterboard I’d say “ha, awesome” and move on, but there’s something unbelievably charming about the effort put into drawing not only a photo-realistic van, but grass and trees and a river. It reminds me of how much effort I’d put into signs to take to shows at the Greensboro Coliseum when they weren’t even taping. I’d draw a hill with Ivan and Nikita Koloff standing at the bottom with a street going up and Hawk and Animal at the top that read “END OF THE ROAD FOR THE RUSSIANS”. I was six, I don’t know why I thought that needed to be illustrated.
The inconsistent returns of the picture-in-picture promos during match introductions always get me excited, because they are the easiest and most effective way to get characters and concepts over without having to sacrifice TV time. I mean, we already enjoyed watching them pose on the stage and walk down the ramp, by the time they’re near the bottom you’ve got a solid thirty seconds to kill before turnbuckle posing and the introduction of the next guy. They should give these to everybody, like a fighting game. I want to hear R-Truth’s thoughts on how Evan Bourne may be a literal Jimmy. I want to hear Jack Swagger say ALL AMERICAN AMERICAN AMERICAN AMERICAN, because that’s the only thing he can say. I want John Cena to tell somebody to “Go home and be a family man!”
The quick and easy steps to improving Raw presentation are (1) picture-in-picture promos, (2) a brightly-colored cardboard wall in front of which wrestlers may be spoken to, (3) talk show segments happening outside of the ring and ring carpet never happening again, (4) Bob Uecker, or Bob Caudle. I know for sure we could make three of those things happen on the reg.
Worst: R-Truth’s Music Returns
Tell me this was a mistake. At least give him a slow, foreboding version of “What’s Up”, don’t just play it without him skipping to it.
Worst: John Morrison’s Terms Are Not In A Wrestling Ring
My favorite part of John-Mo’s picture-in-picture is him challenging R-Truth to a falls count anywhere match, which Morrison referred to as being “on his terms”. The announcers made it worse by explaining that Morrison “feels comfortable outside of the ring”. I guess that explains why he can’t hit normal moves with believability or accuracy; to him, fighting in a ring is like trying to play Super Smash Bros. Brawl on “Final Destination”. It’s just flat, how the hell are you supposed to hit anybody with bombs if you can’t jump around and screw with the physics? It also explains why he excels as a tag team wrestler — he gets to stand outside of the ring for large portions of the match, and that makes him more comfortable, like picturing people naked to get through public speaking.
It’s weird that Morrison becomes this fantastic, crisp athlete jumping around on security barriers but couldn’t hit Viscera with a Starship Pain if you lined the ring with Visceras.
Worst: Cardinal Fang, Fetch The COMFY CHAIR
John Morrison pinned a guy who has been beating him for weeks by suplexing him comfortably into a cushy office chair, then delivering a shining wizard that was mostly absorbed by the padding on the chair. Morrison seriously should’ve held a pillow in each hand and tried to poke Truth in the ribs. I don’t go into my John Morrison matches expecting stiff puroresu strikes, but I’m not being glib when I say Kenny Omega was hitting a 9-year old girl harder than anything from this match. Comments on wacky Japanese kid wrestling videos are always like “HEH THIS KID COULD SHOW THE DIVAS SOME TRICK OR TWO!” but no, they couldn’t, Kelly Kelly was running hard and throwing embiggened forearms at Summerslam — the most impactful thing John Morrison throws is a capoeira legdrop like he’s the f**king koala from American Dad that starts coming down about six inches up and annihilates the one believable part of a leg drop. Kelly Kelly is fine, John Morrison needs to watch some tapes.
Best: Jared From Subway Should Stop Going To Wrestling Events
Poor Jared Fogle can never catch a break. I’m giving a “Best” to his segment with The Miz (which went a little deeper into the reasons why Miz is like he is — he’s not being a dick, he’s just obsessed with being the face of WWE and legitimately believes he could be a better spokesman for Subway than Jared, who hasn’t really done anything but hold pants and talk to D-level gymnasts for the last five years. This explains why Miz would shill for 7-Eleven to the point of talking up John Cena and The Rock, and why he’s always at Kids Choice Awards and doing talk shows and Summerslam commercials and acting affable in a role some do-gooding a-hole like John Morrison should be … but I digress) because how hilarious is it that Jared carries around fresh, fully-wrapped Subway subs, not even in the plastic bag, just wrapped in the paper? Would people not recognize him otherwise? Does Lorena Bobbitt carry around a cleaver and a dildo so she can get free tickets to shows?
Jared’s appearance gets an inconsequential but pretty major “Worst” as well, because I’m an absolute sucker for continuity and most of Jared’s past rivals were or should’ve been in attendance. CM Punk was there. Remember when CM Punk tried to get the Straight Edge Society to abduct Jared? “Bring me Jared from Subway” is one of the greatest phrases ever uttered on wrestling television. Where was Santino, and why wasn’t he running out there to steal Miz’s delicious Subway sandwich? They could’ve made a thing of it and given us a Miz/Santino Superstars match next week on Raw. Who wouldn’t want to see that? Better yet, make it into a huge thing and run a Deep Fryer match at Night Of Champions. I just want Miz to say “Santino, I’m like the New Oven Crisp Chicken Sandwich from Subway … I’m NEVER fried.”
Best: Brie And Nikki Bella Are The New Arn And Ole Anderson
The Bella Twins as quick-tagging limb-work specialists is pretty amazing. I think they learned the first part about working the leg (“if you hurt her leg, keep trying to hurt her leg”) but missed out on the second and third parts (“if you hurt her leg enough, try to win the match” and “have more wrestling moves that hurt the leg” respectively). I wanted Nikki to pin Kelly’s leg behind her back and bodyslam her onto it. This is another reason why you should be cheering for Alberto Del Rio — he spends the entire match attacking guys in the shoulder and arm because his best move is a cross armbreaker. How hard is that? Why would Brie Bella spend two minutes bending your leg around when her finisher is … what is her finisher, a neckbreaker? A facebuster? At least have Michael Cole toss in a “Brie Bella working ONE Kelly Kelly’s legs … you know King, if Kelly can’t walk effectively she’s more susceptible to Brie’s facebuster”.
Or have him work in “I heard Kelly Kelly likes popular music. What a nerd!”
Worst: The Leg DDT
If you have put your downed opponent’s ankle under your arm and fallen backwards, congratulations, you’ve just executed the stupidest f**king legitimate wrestling move in history. You can let a lot of the Bellas moves slide … when they grab Kelly’s leg and drop down three feet to make it bounce on the bottom rope, I’m going to suspend disbelief and accept that it hurt Kelly’s leg. Same with that sorta-spinning toehold they broke out. Sure, they bent Kelly’s leg in a way that it naturally bends (and I’m guessing a gymnast can put her foot near her head, I can do that and I got a negative 60 on the V-sit and reach) but Kelly’s screaming so we’ll say that hurt her too. Not for one G.D. second am I going to pretend like the Leg DDT is a thing.
Here, try it. Lie down on your back and put your left leg in the air. Now bend your knee. Lower it to the ground. Did it break your leg, or did it feel like you took a step? F**king stepping hard is not a wrestling attack. At least contort the ankle or something before you drive it down so it looks like you’re causing awkward pain. Or God, just hold the leg up and kick it with your foot. That’s ten times more painful and you didn’t have to bash your head on the ground to accomplish it.
Worst: Eve Is Probably Still On That Top Rope
Eve Torres went up for a moonsault and perched up there for about an hour and a half. She should’ve started out the match backwards on the top rope in her corner, squatting and waiting for Kelly to finish up and bodyslam somebody near her. She was up there so long I expected her to yell COME ON JEFF GODDAMMIT. Once Kelly had successfully pressed Lou Thesz, Eve fell off the top rope into a back handspring that looked and felt a lot like one of Ashley Massaro’s kip-ups. She got the win, if you could call it that, accomplishing more in one bad instance than Gail Kim did in four years.
Man, can you believe Gail Kim’s been back in WWE since 2008? What the hell happened there? Four years and all I can recall are her making out with Daniel Bryan and clapping happily on the apron from whatever Diva drew the short straw in the 7-on-7 tag matches. I think she “eliminated herself” in like January of 2009 and nobody noticed.
Best: Best Sign Of The Night
This sign made my girlfriend laugh out loud. “Is there supposed to be more to that sign? Did she run out of time?” I love that she capitalized it properly. It looks like one of the signs they give somebody in Smackdown when they don’t have catchphrases or identifiable traits. Like, Undertaker gets “AMERICAN BAD ASS” and “THE DEAD MAN” and a logo but Chuck Palumbo’s sign just says “CHUCK PALUMBO”.
Worst: The Complexities Of Explaining Chyna
This exchange happened moments later when Beth Phoenix and Natalya stepped out onto the stage and golf-clapped for Eve.
Destiny: “Is that the new Chyna?”
Brandon: [long pause] “Come on, she doesn’t look like Chyna.”
But my thoughts went much deeper than that. My first internal reaction was to tilt my head to the side like a dog (or Classic Kane) and say “no, she’s more like the new Asya”. How do you explain that to a casual fan? “She’s like Chyna, yes, in that she is stronger than the other womens wrestlers and she’s supposed to be a great wrestler but never has great matches … and yes, we like her because she’s muscular and looks like she could beat us up, the reason why some people liked Chyna, but she’s actually very pretty in addition to being muscular, the reason why some other people liked Chyna. But no, no she’s nothing like Chyna.”
That makes it sound like I’m sarcastically inferring that Beth Phoenix is Chyna when dear God no, of course she isn’t Chyna. If Beth Phoenix ever ends up on Vh1 having drugged-out celebrities protect her from a belligerent X-Pac and parlays that into a career of foxy boxing and getting cornholed by Mason Ryan-looking pornstars I’ll say sure, Beth Phoenix is Chyna, but no, she’s not right now. Maybe she’s Chyna done right? I almost typed “Beth Phoenix would never wrestle Lita and spend 90% of the time trying to keep her boobs from falling out”, but then I remembered Summerslam. Damn, is Beth Phoenix the new Chyna?