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Easy enough, right? Click through to enjoy the Best And Worst Of WWE Raw for August 19, 2013.
Best: The Easiest Side-Picking In Wrestling History
Ask me who my favorite wrestler is, and I’ll say, without hesitation, “Daniel Bryan.” Ask me who my least favorite wrestler is, and I’ll say, without hesitation … well, Rob Van Dam’s my least favorite wrestler, but if you wanted to know who my least favorite person in ANY aspect of wrestling is, the answer is “Stephanie McMahon.” How great (and easy) is it when your favorite goes up against your least favorite? It’s how 5-year olds watch wrestling, and it’s the best way to watch wrestling.
I’ll get into the specifics of it more a little later when the shit goes down, but I really enjoyed the opening segment of Raw for a few reasons. The first is that I wasn’t expecting it. I was expecting one of those “Y’WANNA KNOW WHY I DID THIS SHAWN, Y’WANNA KNOW WHY I DID THIS” filibusters from Triple H. I certainly wasn’t expecting a recreation of basically every manager meeting I’ve ever had in my life. Stephanie’s “you’re not an A, but you’re a B+” is straight out of the “new Olive Garden manager who has to teach the servers to respect her” playbook. I think I’ve heard that “you’re talented and people like you, but you’ve got to calm down and stop being such a weirdo” speech from everyone I’ve ever worked for. I once had a Blockbuster Video manager tell me to my face that I was never going to accomplish anything. When I was 17. A BLOCKBUSTER VIDEO MANAGER was telling me this.
So yeah, I love how easy it is to pick sides. I desperately want D-Bry to start running-dropkicking people in the mush right the hell now, and I’m anxious to see how much agony they put me through before that happens. As has been stated several times by a lot of smart people on the Internet, WWF put 21 months between the Austin 3:16 speech and WrestleMania XIV. That’s a lot of time, and if the best wrestler in the world is getting a fat paycheck for a bunch of great matches and ugly t-shirts between now and Spring of 2015, I’m okay with that.
Worst: A Thing I Don’t Want To Type
You guys have read a lot of soapboxy stuff from me, right? I’ll keep it short. “Try not to go straight for ‘bitch’ when a lady does something that makes you mad.” He didn’t CALL her a bitch, like how Batman didn’t KILL Ra’s al Ghul in Batman Begins, he just “didn’t save him” and left him to explode in a bunch of crashing trains. And when he called her “trash,” he could be speaking ill of her character in a gender-free way, which she deserved. The problem there is that Chris Jericho called her a “trashbag ho” or whatever for like 25 straight years of Smackdown, so somebody could say “howdy” to Stephanie at this point and I’d be like WHOA DID HE JUST CALL HER A BITCH
So … let’s not call ladies bitches. Okay!
Best: I Guess Cody Vs. Damien Isn’t Going Anywhere, But I Like Watching Them Wrestle
The announcers seemed hellbent on getting over the “CODY RHODES HAS BEATEN MR. MONEY IN THE BANK TWICE, THAT MEANS HE SHOULD GET A TITLE SHOT” thing, so I guess they’re putting any future Sandow/Cody issues on hold to run the still-fairly-hottish Cody Rhodes against Alberto Del Rio for the WHC when Van Dam craps out and takes two seasons off to sell back issues of Jay and Silent Bob comics or crash jet-skis or whatever he does in his personal time.
Sounds good to me. For the second night in a row, Cody and Sandow had a fun, too-short match with a clean finish and entertained me. Cody challenging a motivated Alberto Del Rio could be extra great, especially if the scourge of an opportunistic former tag team partner was waiting to pounce with his novelty contract. Let’s just make sure we don’t irreversibly turn Sandow into Top Loser Wade Barrett while we’re waiting for him to cash in.
Best: Paul Heyman, Friend ‘Til The End
Speaking of disingenuous dirtbags, imagine my glee when Paul Heyman’s talking point was, “CM Punk, you lost to my strongest summon so I’m gonna assume you learned your lesson, I would like to make money off of you again/not have you try to choke me to death and punch me every time you see me, so let’s be friends, okay? Love you lots, BFF forever, Paul Heyman.” LOTS OF GLEE. Like, prepping for a Sports On TV column levels of glee.
It got even better later. What’s with this Raw setting up payoffs for later in the show? It’s like they want me to keep watching for three hours or something.
Worst: Oh No, Total Divas Are Interacting With Actual WWE Divas
So far, the “Divas Division” has been AJ Lee and Kaitlyn over in one section having wrestling matches and trying hard, and “Total Divas” has been the Bellas, the Funkadactyls, Tyson Kidd’s neckless farting girlfriend and some models in another. Last night probably wasn’t the first time the two sides have come together since Total Divas got big, but it’s the first time I paid attention to it, and pretty much anything related to Total Divas that isn’t Damien Sandow no-selling boob jiggles is off my radar.
It was … not good. I got some shit in the comments section of The Best And Worst Of WWE SummerSlam 2013 for skipping any in-depth commentary on the Natalya/Brie Bella match in favor of moving on with my life in peace, so I’ll try to be a little more giving here.
Worst: Can We Get A Semi-Competent Referee For These Divas Matches Please
The match was extremely short and featured three performers I regularly enjoy and Cameron (who should stop shit-talking Sid on the Internet and visit TheBomb.edu), but as I write this the only thing I can remember at all is the botched finish. Layla jogs in and knocks a Funkadactyl off the ring apron. The other one rolls her up and “gets the pin,” and I put that in quotations because the referee counted AS SLOWLY AS POSSIBLE, and Layla kinda rolled out of the pin attempt before his hand actually came down for three. If you’re one of those folks who doesn’t blame Natalya for everything, that’s two weeks in a row that a referee has ruined the finish of a Divas match. Are they writing Black Ref into Total Divas? Is he gonna be Eva Marie’s Superstar Boyfriend?
That would actually be pretty great, now that I think about it. A WWE Refs reality show would be WAY better than Total Divas, especially if it involved Charles Robinson sitting around being all emo about Molly Holly.
Best: Roman Reigns Ends Dolph Ziggler’s Life For Realsies
Dolph Ziggler has been one of those Alex Riley “mystery opponent” silhouettes for me since he dropped AJ and Big E Langston, and after pretty much ignoring everything he did at SummerSlam, I thought to myself, “what’s been so different?” My conclusions were twofold:
1. he’s acting like a tanned, miniature Sheamus, and I hate that (especially when Sheamus AND John Cena are out for several months and Miz is relegated to hosting duties, leaving us dangerously low on main-event butthole good guys)
2. it had been a while since he’d done one of those things he used to do where he takes a basic wrestling move and makes it ridiculous, like adding a handstand to a chinlock or selling a hip toss like he’d just jumped out of a plane and hit the Earth
Want to see a guy jump out of a plane and hit the Earth? Watch Dolph Ziggler go for a Stinger Splash and get turned into Inside-Out Boy by a Roman Reigns spear. Holy SHIT that thing was massive. Dolph Ziggler and Roman Reigns might need to wrestle each other more often. In fact, if Dolph spent the next, oh, I don’t know, eight months feuding with The Shield guys one at a time (possibly alongside Daniel Bryan and Kaitlyn for MAXIMUM BRANDON ENJOYMENT) en route to a big WrestleMania thing, sellin’ headlock drivers and spears and jumping knee strikes all the while, I would spend the next eight months happily clapping my hands.
Worst: Seriously, Sin Cara, Are You F**king Kidding Me
Sin Cara returns to face Alberto Del Rio, and his music gets a small “Oh, THIS guy still exists!” pop. ONE GODDAMN SECOND INTO THE MOTHERF**KING MATCH Sin Cara gets kicked in the hand and collapses in pain, having taken exactly one offensive move before failing. A few seconds later he goes for a dive to the outside and connects, which is a great idea if you’ve just gotten your hand kicked off. That causes a ref stoppage, complete with exaggerated “come here and observe my Avian bones being broken” gestures. Jesus Christ. Didn’t John Cena JUST get finished wrestling a match of the year candidate with a torn tricep and an elbow the size of Hornswoggle’s head?
I’m done with you, Sin Cara. I don’t care about your stupid Mexico comic book, you deserve ever “LOL BOTCH” MS-painted 60s Spider-Man meme you get. The best part is how much Del Rio still wanted to kill him, possibly for being such a f**k-up, and how those baby-sized referees had to keep dragging him away and shoving him into the corner.
Worst: So The True Hero Of The Latino Community Is … Rob Van Dam?
Ricardo Rodriguez returned to tell Alberto Del Rio that he’s NOT a Mexican hero, and to announce that he’s thrown in with a NEW wrestler who is everything Del Rio isn’t. Then he brings out Rey Mysterio, who looks great and isn’t wearing a sadness shirt and … wait, sorry, that’s what we were expecting. So he brings out Hunico, and Camacho rides out with him on those bicycles and … sorry, that didn’t happen either. Memo Montenegro maybe? I don’t remember.
OH WAIT NOW I REMEMBER IT WAS F**KING RVD
What is Ricardo getting out of this, exactly? Is Van Dam paying him in wellness violations? Hopefully Van Dam’s getting some of those fat burners that got Ricardo suspended. Ugh, man, the only way this is gonna be okay is if Ricardo starts wearing a whistle and calling everybody “daddy.”
Note: Rosa Mendes would make a pretty awesome Hispanic Beulah. She can pose in Cereza magazine*.
*Unless I make a Live Bait joke at some point, this is the most esoteric 90s wrestling valet porn joke I’m ever going to make.
Best: I Might Love The Babyface Prime Time Players
When Zeb Colter started in with his speech about WWE making headlines, my brain went DANGER, DANGER and I started swinging my arms around like that robot from ‘Lost In Space.’ Thankfully nothing came of it and Zeb just did a thing about how he hates Los Angeles, and that was that. The Prime Time Players got to wrestle (and win!) a match without the announcers, wrestlers or crowd mentioning anything about Darren Young’s newly-known-to-everybody sexual preferences. Awesome.
The weird thing that happened is that Darren Young coming out turned The Prime Time Players FACE, which is probably the most promising development for decency in the wrestling industry in … ever. A lot of people are doing the “why’d they turn them face out of nowhere just because he came out” thing, and that’s valid, but if you’ve watched any of the backstage stuff on YouTube, seen any interviews with Darren or Titus or hell, if you watched NXT Redemption, you’ll know that they’re charismatic, funny, likable guys who really should’ve been being themselves on TV a long, long time ago. They’ve been face pretty much since Pancake Patterson, haven’t they? Darren had that great singles match on Raw with CM Punk not that long ago, too.
It makes sense. The crowd seemed to like it, and I like it a lot. Let’s keep this going, and let’s hope Michael Cole’s reiterated “we’ve got GOOD TAG TEAMS you guys” talking point and Big Show’s mention of a title challenge means somebody remembered tag teams are a thing again.
Worst: Let’s Ask The WWE Universe What They Think About Darren Young’s Big Victory On Raw
(This is why we can’t have nice things.)
Worst: Oh God, Primo And Epico Are Going To Be Matadors
THIS IS ALSO WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS
Primo and Epico are being repackaged as LOS MATADORES~, a pair of masked matadors who have combined three terrible gimmicks:
1. Tito Santana’s hilariously racist “El Madator” period
2. Aldo Montoya’s hilarious pastel jock strap mask
3. Los Conquistadores’ hilarious “we’re Hispanic-themed guys who lose” act
If we’re gonna bring back teams and give them rehashed, racist 90s gimmicks, let’s go all the way with it. The American Wolves can dress up as Akeem The African Dream, right? Sign Takashi Iizuka and Toru Yano and have them do nothing but run around threatening to “choppy choppy your pee pee.”
Best: Deep Sea Adventure Big Show
I’m so happy to have Big Show back on the show, especially if he’s gonna switch up the camo singlet and be those alternate Batman action figures featuring Batman doing things he’d never do that stores stock 30,000 of whenever a Batman movie comes out. DESERT MISSILE ATTACK BATMAN in that beige and mustard Batman costume he wears when he needs to strike fear in the heart of dudes in the desert! I’m naming Big Show’s dark blue get-up DEEP SEA ADVENTURE BIG SHOW.
Either that, or Big Dad likes the Dallas Cowboys. Doesn’t EVERY Big Dad like the Cowboys?
Show was great last night, from his matter-of-fact interview with the lovely Renee Young wherein he announced that he and Mark Henry would be making a run at the tag titles to his 3-on-1 handicap match with the already tired, already done with this shit Shield. I bet they wish they’d gotten Ziggler second. Oh, and while I’m thinking about it, a big shiny supplemental BEST goes to WWE for finally making The Shield’s DAMNED NUMBERS GAME a thing that exists. Three against one is bad numbers, I agree, Michael!
Best: CM Punk Is Pissed Off, So Let’s Just Go With It
I’ve expressed a few times how much I’m in love with the Paul Heyman/CM Punk shouting matches and how I want their thing to keep moving forward until WrestleMania, because it’s been a WHILE since two guys this good on the microphone got into a year-long argument. Punk has finally found his promo soulmate in Heyman, after wasting so much time nuking guys like Kevin Nash and Jeff Hardy and trying to drag 1998 Chris Jericho out of 2012 Chris Jericho.
I love when Punk gets all enraged, and the crowd hits their cheering cue but he doesn’t stop, so THEY don’t stop, and it just builds until Punk’s screaming a bunch of stuff and the crowd’s just going REAGGGHHHHH in the background. And the one guy booing. Did I mention the one guy booing?
Predictably I’m not a fan of all the BE A MAN AND HAVE BALLS stuff Punk considers knockout blows, but I’ll forgive him if it involves him snatching a fan’s weave. Oh man, that fat guy in the crowd is gonna have to live with being the “Punk And Heyman Hate You, Obnoxious Fat Guy” in his circle of friends forever.
Worst: Paul Heyman Is Suddenly Really Bad At Plans
Remember last week when Heyman’s big “swerve” was to challenge Punk to a one-on-one fight, then come out first, announce that he was planning to trap Punk by making it a stupid-obvious two-on-one fight, then talk for 10 minutes to justify it as some kind of cerebral masterstroke? Remember how oddly stupid that seemed? This week he has an even worse solution: get Curtis Axel to tape up his fists and fight Punk, but only after he’s had a commercial break to stand around and prepare. YOU’RE BAD AT PLANS, PAUL.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. His entire plan for the Dangerous Alliance was just “have good wrestlers, hit people with my big Zack Morris phone.”
Worst: Curtis Axel Takes The Worst Bump Of The Year
The Punk and Axel fight was fun, but Axel continues to be mass garbage on Raw, and may have taken the least believable bump of 2013. Go back a page and watch Dolph Ziggler get speared by Roman Reigns again. Shit, go up and watch that soft-ass bump Show takes on the spear. Now watch Curtis Axel take a “Go To Sleep” on the ring steps.
Let’s take a look at the point of “impact”:
What is that, a foot? Seriously, look at this:
You might be the least perfect guy I know, Curt.
Best: I Am Booking The Wyatt Family Now, I Guess
One of the cooler parts of SummerSlam was WWE using my prediction for the Ring Of Fire match, which was “Harper and Rowan stop being stupid for five seconds, throw some blankets on the fire ring and do whatever they want to Kane because Ring Of Fire matches are stupid.” Confident, I named myself the personal booker of the Wyatt Family and made a suggestion for the following night’s Raw.
Tonight on Raw: Harper and Rowan squash R-Truth and somebody. Maybe Kofi. Make it so.
The match ended up being Bray squashing Truth, but f**k it, I’m calling it a win. Let’s see if we can keep this going! So far the big flaw in the Wyatt Family booking has been putting the new guy in the ring with 46-year old slow-ass Kane in a gimmick match and having his first Raw one-on-one against a guy who’s had exactly zero great matches in a 17-year career. My suggestion is to put Bray up against a guy who can go but isn’t important, so he can take the ass-beating he needs to take, make it look like a million bucks and eat the Sister Abigail like you’re supposed to.
Ziggler. I know I shouldn’t expect a Ziggler/Wyatt match on Raw with a clean ending, so let’s say Ziggler runs his mouth again and gets put into a 3-on-1 thing against the Wyatts. Big boots and splashes happen, and Ziggler gets all shaky-spaghetti-hair on the Sister Abigail.
Best: Everybody On The Indies Is Stealing That Hot Tag Dive
The pointless but fun Usos tag matches continue!
This week they get default Best 3MB, and the match features a thing I’m gonna see at 50% of indy shows I go to for the next two years: one Uso tagging the other as he dives over the top rope to the outside for proper tag legality. That’s cool as hell. If Okada ever does it I’m bumping the percentage up to 80.
Best: Ryback Pretends To Be JBL
A few people have dropped a WHY DIDN’T YOU MENTION RYBACK GETTING ALL SEXUALLY DOMINANT AND WEIRD WITH TOMMY DREAMER JR. OR WHATEVER on me, so I’m adding this back in by request.
I could go either way on this segment. Unless this leads to The Ryback running afoul of the wrong jobber (say, a newly-thin-by-order Kassius Ohno) or a bunch of nobodies banding together to form the world’s least effective Nexus and fight back, I don’t know where it’s going. “Ryback is rude to people who aren’t on the show” isn’t an important plot point. On the plus side, I like that he didn’t waste a bunch of food. And if a bunch of nobodies DID form the Shitty Nexus, maybe Ryback could Shell Shocked 9 of them at once.
I wish they’d filmed a follow-up segment with the local talent walking up to a merch table and being all, “got any pants?’
Worst: Wade Barrett Makes Clowns Sad
You don’t seriously want to watch a Wade Barrett vs. The Miz match, do you? Seriously?
This is how bad Wade Barrett’s gotten … he locks in a chinlock on the Miz, and the combined boredom is enough to make clowns sad. No, seriously, look up above them, in the crowd.
THAT IS A BORED-ASS CLOWN.
Actually, wait …
Is that Jeff Hardy?
Best: I’m Starting To Understand Nihilistic Fandango
Lately I’ve been down on Fandango, because he doesn’t make any sense. He takes purposeful count-out losses all the time, he can’t win a dance off despite being the only guy who is a dancer and his catchphrase just gets tacked onto the end of everything, even when it doesn’t make sense. He gets knocked out, rolls to the outside, then yells IT’S FAAAAAN DAAAN GOOOOO, when nobody has asked him about or mispronounced his name. He’s just saying it to say it.
His backstage appearances at SummerSlam, his interference in the Miz/Barrett match and the AMAZING Foot Locker segment made me reconsider my position on Fandango. See, I’ve been approaching him as a wrestling character. He’s not. He’s a performance artist. He’s an avant-garde interpretation of what a pro wrestlers is, this absurd person who drifts in and out of life accompanied by an entrance theme, his only goal to interact awkwardly, fight a little and hit his catchphrase. He’s BEYOND Raw. He’s existing outside of it and influencing it, but only a little. It’s wonderful.
And that Foot Locker segment was incredible. I wish they’d upload it. Zack Ryder is backstage all NO WAY ARE THESE SHOES COMFORTABLE BRO ARE YOU SERIOUS because I will be African-American before he’s over again, and Justin Gabriel’s also there because he’s the go-to “also in the locker room” guy. Fandango interrupts, Ryder and Gabriel IMMEDIATELY LEAVE because they’ve been usurped by a more popular character, and Fandango says a series of hilarious things about wanting to dance in Nike shoes. To me, this was the opposite of that time Damien Sandow slummed it and ate Subway.
Best: Shield Security!
Before I get into the segment you’re assuming I hated most, I wanted to give a Best to The Shield for being adorable security guys on the outside. I had a long discussion with Impact columnist Danielle Matheson about how The Shield can be a great team who legitimately care about one another, but are also heartless scumbags. This is a great example of that.
They are, irrefutably, a TEAM. They’re in this together. They’re a bunch of NXT guys who decided to improve upon the Nexus formula by showing up as a unit, raising hell and actually sticking together and winning instead of developing supporting cast Decepticon drama. You’re never gonna see a Shield “Corre.”
They’re also terrible, opportunistic, violent people. The backstage segment where they were intimidating to Vickie but sorta licked Vince’s boots was the first sign of them being liars about the whole “justice” thing. They want to topple old regimes and jack legends who are hogging the spotlight, sure, but they want it for THEMSELVES, because they are wrestlers who are trying to win and keep their jobs on the main roster. This is when remembering NXT exists comes in handy. NXT is all about “who’s gonna make an impact and go to the main roster.” All about it. The Shield made the biggest impact of ANYONE, won a bunch of title belts to justify their spots, and do whatever they can to keep them. Purposeful DQs, working as Triple H’s thugs in a long con, whatever.
Believe in The Shield, even when they’re lying.
Best: This Stable Of Unbelievable Dickheads Is The Collective Heel I Was Born To Boo
I loved this segment so much I can barely explain it.
Okay, here goes: remember that stuff I said at the beginning about how it was fun to root for Daniel Bryan against Stephanie, because he’s my favorite and she makes me want to throw myself into a wood chipper? Imagine that amplified by A BILLION and you have the ending to Raw. It’s my favorite against Stephanie McMahon, a woman who “earned her spot” by being the boss’s daughter, then gave herself a rap song about how she worked hard and earned her spot. Against Vince McMahon, the grand dragon of evil pro wrestling, the guy who laid waste to the territories and defined “successful pro wrestler” in the 2000s as “people willing to do what we say.” Against Randy Orton, the most boring, pantsless, third-strike motherf**ker in existence, a guy who has every personal problem in the world and gets TEN CHAMPIONSHIPS handed to him because he’s handsome and related to the guy who main-evented the first WrestleMania. Against TRIPLE H, who is THE DEVIL in EVERY IMAGINABLE INTERPRETATION OF THE DEVIL. The guy who represents everything regressive, counterproductive, self-serving and stale about WWE. The guy on the tank who went to Little Peoples’ Court, bagged the boss’s daughter and survived a deadly fall from a crane with varying degrees of realism. Combined, they are every. single. thing.
On top of that, the coronation was perfect. Triple H addressed a lot of the nitpicky problems a guy like me would have with him, like the whole “Randy Orton once DDT’d and made out with my knocked out wife” stuff that should make them NEVERFRIENDS and the past month of now-unnecessary “c’mon, Daniel Bryan’s all right” stuff backstage with Vince. He touched on why the guys on the stage wouldn’t help out, because they’d get suspended and face the same fate. Covered the plot holes. He then progressively got more and more evil, going from “I didn’t enjoy doing it” to a sing-songy “show some guts” after he’s ORDERED THE SHIELD TO JUMP BRYAN AND LIED TO HIS FACE ABOUT LETTING HIM SPEAK. He went from being a fictional asshole in my brain to being a fully-realized evil, and I would be dumber than a brick to not see that and applaud him for it. Whether I like it or not.
That’s an important distinction to make. As a Daniel Bryan fan, I HATED this. I started smiling when he temporarily dispatched The Shield, and felt SO MUCH RAGE when H squatted by the ring rope and looked down on him and his “little career.” I wanted to see Bryan kick Vince in the dome, headbutt Orton’s face off, lock Stephanie in the Cattle Mutilation and somehow small package Triple H in a way that breaks every bone in his body. I wanted — and want — to see Bryan kick their asses. As a guy who loves wrestling and wants his show to be entertaining, this was IT. Absolutely killer, and the constant support and reaction of the crowd for Bryan for three hours helps me believe that the ending will be what it should be (the WrestleMania XX triple threat) instead of what I always assume it’ll be (Booker T getting slurred, pedigreed and made to lie there motionless for half a minute before being pinned).
The revolution will be YESSED.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night
A new WWE cartoon: the Shield drives around in a van with their hound, Justice, and solve mysteries! The first one: finding Andre the Giant’s g-g-g-ghost!
I’ve never trusted that Triple H, he really hated cheerleaders
pace Monkey Mafia
Daniel Bryan’s Official WWE Performance Review reads “B+, Not A Star”.
So only a reunited Nexus can defeat Sauron Eye Randy Orton, right? I mean, there’s nine of them, and they’re the only ones we know who can destroy the ring.
This Ricardo/RVD tandem is proof that the bond of people who happen to share an ethnicity is nowhere near as strong as the bond of people who love drugs.
Who just hit “Random Character” and “Random Manager” on their controller?
With all the positive press around Darren Young I’m surprised Triple H hasn’t made it clear that Young wasn’t gay until he saw Triple H’s match with Undertaker at Wrestlemania
“Mac Pisses Off a Professional Wrestler”
I, John Cena, of sound mind and body, hereby leave my JACK to The Big Show, and my RIGHT HERE to CM Punk.
Using all of his backwoods magic, Bray Wyatt pulls Little Jimmy from the astral plane into this one, pulling stray atoms from inert matter around the arena to craft him a corporeal body, only to force R Truth to watch his little buddy die before him once again, sending him, finally, irreparably, into a madness he will never escape.
See you all next week!