The Best And Worst Of WWE Raw 8/20/12: Tonight's The Night (To Retire Via Tout)

Brock Lesnar King Of Kings WWE

Pre-show notes:

– Before you read the Best And Worst Of WWE Raw column, make sure you check out the Best And Worst Of WWE SummerSlam 2012, my live event recap including exclusive photos, encounters with Sheamus and open, gratuitous mouth-loving for THQ and WWE ’13. It was a great weekend, and I’m pretty happy with how anecdotal the whole thing turned out. Give it a read, a comment, a like and a fourth thing of your choosing.

– When you’re done Social Media Ambassadoring that post, make sure to click the like button and leave a comment on this column. Those things mean a lot to the life of the report, so if you want to keep them going and not devolve into a crummy “ziggler went for a cover, jericho kicked out at 2” thing, show some love.

– Follow us on Twitter @withleather, follow me personally @MrBrandonStroud and like us on Facebook.

– Also, don’t forget, the With Leather Pro Wrestling Community is having its first get-together at Chikara’s King Of Trios 2012 in Easton, Pennsylvania, so if you’re anywhere in the area or are coming in for the show, let us know so we can high-five you. It’s going to be a grand time.

Anyway, please to enjoy the Best And Worst Of WWE Raw for August 20, 2012.

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Best: The Master Of The Brocktagon

I have to preface the report by mentioning how tired I was watching the show. I jumped into a van headed to LAX at 7:15 on Monday morning and didn’t walk through my front door in Austin until about 6:45 that evening, roughly 15 minutes before Raw started. Flying West to East is a drag because you lose hours of your day, and when you factor in the negative 9 minute layover I had in Houston completely eliminating any chance for me to have lunch, I was on 10-ish hour travel schedule with two plastic cups of water in my stomach. It wasn’t fun.

So I blanked out for large parts of this Raw, and if I missed some glorious Heath Slater Intercontinental Championship win or something, don’t tell me. The reason I mention it here is because my favorite segment of the night was the opening, partially because it was the most energy I had all night and mostly because it was 15 minutes of Paul Heyman saying names over and over and making up nicknames as he went. Sample dialogue:


And so on. It was like that time Zack Morris recorded subliminal messages so everyone at Bayside would think he was a 10 and the blonde Tom Cruise. I’m not sure why Heyman had to say Brock’s full name in every sentence, but it worked. I was very clear about this man’s name. He is a variety of things. It was the PERFECT WORD STORM. Brandon Stroud thought it was great. BRANDON STROUD COULD’VE LISTENED TO IT ALL DAY.

Best: And The Academy Award For Besting Acting By A Referee In A Sports-Entertainment Program Goes To … Scott Armstrong!

I don’t think I mentioned it in the SummerSlam report, but I really hated Triple H’s clandestine backstage segment with Scott Armstrong. His whole “bend the rules so we can have a fight to the finish” thing was melodramatic and dumb, and I wanted Armstrong to respond to “the only way this match is gonna end is by pinfall or submission” with “I know how wrestling works. My job is to end matches by pinfall or submission. You guys are the ones who linger around the ring and hit each other with shit, how about you don’t do that and I’ll call the match like a referee”. I also would’ve accepted, “what about a knockout?”

But when Scott Armstrong got called down to the ring, I felt for the guy. I felt TERROR for him. There was something really nightmarish about Lesnar not speaking for himself, and Paul Heyman repeatedly doing that BROCK LESNAR WISHES TO SPEAK WITH YOU thing, like Brock’s f**king Pyramid Head or whatever. I had no idea what Brock was going to do … I thought he was just gonna break another arm, because Lesnar’s only two playable WWE scenarios right now are “quit” and “break somebody’s arm”. Even the smile and “good job” seemed ominous, and I think that speaks to Brock’s credibility — he really does seem like a guy who would bully and hurt you for no reason, because he can. And not pretend hurt you either. Really, really hurt you.

I always thought that referees should be subtle characters with different styles and personalities, because matches (especially WWE matches) could stand to have a few extra variables. Scott Armstrong would be great as the former wrestler who is gunshy and does what wrestlers want because his first two major on-screen interactions as a Ref Of Note were against crazy water-spitting sledgehammer guy and crazy prairie-dog-murdering monster frat boy guy.

Best: Hey, Cody Rhodes Is On Raw Again!

Raw’s crummy six man mid-card filler match had two great Bests this week:

1. That clip of Little Jimmy getting a Gatorade bath after R-Truth’s SummerSlam victory, because that is f**king hilarious, and

2. Cody Rhodes!

Cody is a valuable card in WWE’s hand, and I barely ever get to see him anymore because a combination of piped-in crowd noises and Being On On Friday makes me never watch Smackdown. Cody being in a feud with Sin Cara is a great idea, because Cody’s obsession with image and masks works perfectly against a character who says and does nothing, and because Cody can work his ass off and make Sin Cara look as good as he should look.

I’ve also got to give a small Best to Sin Cara for acting excited and making Fire Up hand gestures when he was onscreen instead of just standing still, pointing and spinning to his death like usual. Sin Cara’s going to work, I think. He just needs to stay okay and not screw up anything important until the Internet decides “Sin Cara botches” is an old meme.


David Otunga made his glorious return to Raw last night and accomplished two major goals: looking weird without his goatee and getting everyone in WWE to say “Holly Berry” instead of Halle Berry. Okay, three goals … he continued my slow burn turn on AJ Lee.

Worst: General Manager AJ Is Really Shitting In My Cereal

I’m going to write about this at length later (argh, don’t make me do it) (I am so sick of writing about this) (gonna just start recapping old Chikara tapes), but nothing gets my goat worse in Modern WWE than a heel acting like a completely rational, reasonable person and getting treated like ass by a childish, asinine good guy. Here, David Otunga made his return, offering his legal counsel to AJ (his Harvard EDUCATED legal counsel), saying he’d drop a fast lawsuit on anybody who called AJ crazy. AJ hears the word “crazy” and puts him in a match of her choosing against The Big Show, who murders him. Because she’s upset that he said “crazy”. That he said I DON’T LIKE IT WHEN OTHER PEOPLE CALL YOU CRAZY AND WANT TO HELP YOU. Otunga should’ve said “why don’t you try listening to the OTHER words in the sentence”, shaken his head and sipped his coffee.

This is why I liked John Laurinaitis so much. He’s the only General Manager in recent memory who seemed like he was trying to do his job. He was an asshole, sure, and completely clueless, but a GM who wants to make exciting matches and “please the people” while clearly trying to further his personal success in the background is a clear, identifiable character. The reason Vince was fired (and Triple H was fired … and John Laurinaitis was fired) was because he was so caught up in personal vendettas. AJ has done nothing since becoming GM besides personally vendetta all over everybody and waste time skipping around sticking her fingers in her mouth. It’s agonizing, and she had no reason to be an asshole to Otunga.

But of course, David Otunga has done heel things in the past and is backdoor bragging instead of bragging for cheers, so he “deserves it”, I guess.

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